Back from China!

Hello one and all! Well, I just made it back to the US from an unbelievably short one week trip to China for work. It’s always fun going back, even if for business purposes, and even if it takes an entire day to travel there. Nothing like a 5 hr 30 min layover in the Beijing airport to pass the time. And the worst jet lag you could ever imagine.

But I must say the interminably long flights did help me catch up on practically every super-hero movie which has ever been created in preparation for watching Avengers: Infinity War when I got back.

Anyway, sorry if I’ve been kind of quiet on my blog here, and non-responsive to emails and review requests, but it’s been quite a busy week! Thought I’d share some pics with y’all from my trip to Nanjing, China.


Definitely bought about 5 too many books, but when you find the Hunger Games trilogy in Chinese? Can’t say no!!


Best breakfast ever. Coffee drink and baozi.


Confucius Temple area of Nanjing.


Nanjing Normal University


Pearl S. Buck house in Nanjing.


I for one do love a heart-warming toilet.


Confucius Temple area in Nanjing.


And as with every trip, I already miss the foooooood!!!!


Cocky Roomie by Faleena Hopkins

Oh come on, the guy’s last name is Cocker?!?!?! They’re not even giving us a chance here.

What’s it About? 


DREW: Having this arrogant twenty-five-year-old man as my roommate is a VERY bad idea. He’s just introduced himself, hotter than hell in August, in only a damp towel and a smirk. He mistakenly thought I was a boy because of my name, so now he won’t rent to me. I can’t stay where I’ve been – secrets are there I’m not even aware of. I know I should leave now that Jake’s turned me down. Instead I’m imploring him to give me a shot. What other choice do I have? Leave Atlanta, my dreams, and give up?

JAKE: My brothers and I come from old-money. Our dad’s Congressman Michael Cocker. So women throw themselves at us. It’s boring. We hate it. But Drew Charles is from a small Georgia town. She doesn’t know about us. She’s not impressed. I only rented to her out of pity, because I hate to see a woman cry. Then I braced myself for a nightmare…But she just hides in her room, studying. Why has that given her the starring role in all of my fantasies?  And how can I convince her to make them real?

First Impressions

This novel certainly starts off with a bang. Or, a hot, naked-ass man wearing nothing but a towel for that matter. Not only does Jake answer the door to Drew as damn near close to his birthday suit as you can get, but the towel drops to the floor, and he proceeds to grab himself by his door knocker (if you know what I mean) to try and convince her that him having a female roommate isn’t the best idea. I will say this was the one main feature of the book I thought was pretty ridiculous. Let’s fact it, we all know how male/female roommate romance novels end, but they usually try to put up a good fight hiding their attraction for one another for a decent portion of the book, or try to prove they can just be “friends”.


These two though are practically salivating for each other from the moment he opens the door with his schlong trying to play peek-a-boo from beneath his towel. Somehow in spite of this they decide to try out being roommates. For Drew, she’s sick of Craigslist, which I cannot blame her for at all. It’s a verifiable hell-hole. She also kind of wants to prove to herself that she can resist Jake, which just sounds like the most outrageous form of torture I’ve ever encountered. As for Jake, he’s convinced at the outset that having Drew as a female roommate is a big no-no. But when she throws her own cockiness right back in the face of his, he can’t but be intrigued. And when she starts crying at the prospect of having to continue her apartment search? Well, he’s a goner. Just like his towel.



Let’s get right down to brass tax here. This book is predictable, cheesy, the writing is just ok, and Jake and Drew’s dirty talk is borderline bad porno level. But dammit if I didn’t also find the freakin’ thing entertaining. First of all, I loved that we weren’t’ dealing with a college romance here, as most roommate romance novels tend to be. Second, I absolutely loved that Drew was older than Jake, with her at 33 and him at 25. How often do you see that happen in romance novel world I ask ya? Now, if she had been able to teach him a thing or two in the bedroom it would have been fantabulous, but alas he is still the more experienced of the two.

CsTOmpfWIAE3uQM.jpg large

But that’s what I really enjoyed about Drew’s character. She’s brave enough to completely start her life over on her own after discovering her husband cheated on her. She’s in a new city, in a new apartment, trying to find a job for the first time ever, and for the most part she’s able to keep her distance from Jake to focus on starting her new life out right. Now, does she eventually succumb to his dirty talk by having sex on his desk in his office at work? Sure! But it’s all part of the experience of starting over. Especially considering she’s never been with another man besides her husband. Can you really blame the girl for eventually succumbing to his lustful glances?


A Cocky Family Man

Another reason I was surprised to find I enjoyed this book was because of Jake. I usually hate overly cocky male leads, but I gotta say he didn’t annoy me as much as I assumed he would. He’s cocky, for sure, but Drew manages to give back as good as Jake puts out there. This way their verbal sparring matches become the most delectable and silly form of foreplay. But the thing which made me warm to Jake even more was his complete and total love of his family, and the fact he wasn’t afraid to admit it. When he learns he’s being transferred to another state for an undetermined amount of time for work, Jake is completely devastated at the prospect of being so far from his loved ones. He shares this openly with Drew, and we find that this cocky roomie has a sensitive side in addition to a fine back side. What can I say? It hooked me in.

skyline-of-atlanta 1024xx1600-900-0-1384

Series: Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, book 1. Jake is one of 6 brothers, so there’s plenty of Cocker boys to come. Good God I still can’t get over that name.

Should you read it? If you’re looking for a funny, sexy, lighthearted read to take to the beach that you can easily finish in a day, I’d say go right ahead! If you’re looking for a deep and meaningful love story that rivals Pride and Prejudice, well then you sure as shit won’t find it here. But I’m of the firm belief that every once in a while you just need a fun read that holds your interest, and might have a surprise or two thrown in there too. It’s not all sex, as a matter of fact they only do it two or three times, and you do see a more serious side surrounding family and friendship. All in all, not the best read ever, but still entertaining.

Smut Level: Holy crap dirty talk. Jake says Drew is like a cat he wants to pet, and then he proceeds to clearly explain the metaphor going on there, in full detail. Hotlanta for sure!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99. Hop Hop Productions. 284 Pages.

What Books Have You Reread?

For those of you who know me, or who have requested that I review one of your novels, you undoubtedly know that I always bemoan how my “to-be-read” list is pretty out of control. Personally, I blame BookBub, since it literally sends me an email every single day where I can select some free reads to add to my Kindle with just the push of a button. Soooo tempting.


As of right now, I have hundreds of books on my TBR list, so I’m not really in the position to reread any of my favorite books. I’ve also never really been one to read books more than once. The way I see it, there’s countless novels out there just waiting to be read, so why would I want to waste time reading something I’ve already read?


That being said, there are some of those few select novels that I’ve been known to read more than once, and I thought it’d be fun to share them all with you! Now, keep in mind that I’m not including children’s books, because frankly I can’t even remember how many times I’ve reread One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, or Green Eggs and Ham.


So let’s start off with the cream of the crop, the novel that I have undoubtedly read more than any other, Pride and Prejudice. I know, I’m such a romance novel fan cliché. Oh well! All in all, I’ve read this little beauty four times, which in the grand scheme of things really isn’t that much. However, when you also consider the number of times I’ve watched the 6 hour Colin Firth version of the movie? Well, I mean let’s face it that’s pretty much like rereading it. I first read this book back when I was a teenager, as my brother’s girlfriend at the time turned me onto it with said Colin Firth movie. The first time I read it again was of course for high school English class. It was kind of humorous that in a class of about 25 students, almost every single female in the class loved it, whereas literally every single male in the class thought it was boring. Couldn’t help but draw a comparison to You’ve Got Mail with that one.


As if reading this book twice in English wasn’t enough, later on in life I decided it’d be fun to try it out in both French and Chinese. If you ever try and read a book in a language other than your mother tongue, I’m of the mind that it’s great to try one where you’re already pretty familiar with the story line so it’s easier to follow along.


That brings me to the second book I’ve read more than once: the Hunger Games. Now, keep in mind that while I’ve read the entire trilogy, I’ve only reread book one. I first read the trilogy while I was in China for graduate school, and finished all three in the span of a week. So, after returning to the US upon graduation I figured a fun way to keep up with my Chinese would be to tackle the first Hunger Games book in Chinese. It was kind of funny how useful the revolutionary vocabulary from my Chinese History class was. Hands down though, the best part was the phonetic pronunciation of the names in Mandarin. Katniss roughly became “Kah-tuh-ni-suh”. Loved it.


And finally, another one of my favorite books of all time, Crocodile on the Sandbank. I’ve only read this book twice, but it has everything I love in a novel. Looking back, it was actually probably the first “series” I ever read. It dealt with archaeologists in 1920s Egypt, had some romance, mystery, comedy and suspense. Man, now that I think about it I kind of want to pick that one up again. I think rereading it the first time around only took one day. Maybe….maybe I have some extra time to fit that one in?


Well, there you have it. This is my list of the only full length novels I’ve ever read more than once. I know, not that abundant of a list, but what can I say? I’m busy!! And now how about y’all? What books out there have you read more than once? Feel free to share in the comment section below!

As the Liquor Flows by Angela Christina Archer

Who knew that being in the wrong place so many different times could lead Evelyn to the love of her life?

What’s it About? 

as the liquor flows

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget. With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park. After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging. Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

First Impressions

This book was a tough one for me to put down! I mean, seriously it has everything you could possibly ask for in a romance set during the early 30s. We’ve got the ramifications and desperation of the Great Depression, prohibition, running hooch, mob bosses, burlesque theaters, and hell we even get an Al Capone mention thrown in there! And in the midst of all this chaos is Evelyn, a young woman who is just trying to survive, and save her brother at the same time. Slightly naive at times, she nevertheless learns that in order to survive in this world she must play along and go with the flow of the liquor, or risk consequences of angering the mob boss who has taken a shine to her.

Peaky Blinders

She’s not alone though in this crazy world of bootlegging, as the right-hand man of the mob kingpin, Max Catalano, has vowed to protect her at all costs. The simmering attraction between these two is electrifying, but it can never be brought to light or else risk the anger and retribution of the man in charge. As their paths continue to intertwine however, and the dangers of this world close in on our lead characters, we start to question if not only will they ever get to declare their love for each other, but if they’ll make it out in one piece. Do you see why it was so hard for me to put this book down?


Shaken Not Stirred

I think what truly draws you in from the first page is the sheer desperation of our heroine. The author successfully paints such a sad and desolate picture which encapsulates the tragedy and hopelessness of the Great Depression. Evelyn is running out of options in life, and although she has the air of a proper lady, she’s at her wits end, and decides to audition for a job in a burlesque theater. Just as she thinks her chances are completely lost of getting a job, in walks Vincent Giovanni, the kingpin of New York. At first I almost wondered if we’d see a developing love story between Evelyn and Vincent, but it’s not long before we discover the true relationship lay between Evelyn and Max. And lemme tell you, I was allllll for it.


Their immediate connection was entirely believable, and the fact they can’t really act on their feelings for each other makes this read all the more intriguing. To do so could put both of their lives in danger, not to mention Evelyn’s brother, Frank, who we discover owes a massive debt to Vincent. And this draws together the idea of being in the wrong place so many times over. By auditioning for a burlesque show Evelyn encounters Vincent, and when it’s revealed her brother owes him money she offers to bootleg on his behalf to help work off his debt. This pulls good girl Evelyn even further into this dark web from which there seems no escape. When a turf war begins between Vincent and a rival family, the stakes are raised even higher.


An Extra Shot or Two Required

Now I’ve always been a huge fan of this era of history and storytelling. I mean, Boardwalk Empire was my freakin’ jam! And while overall I really did enjoy Evelyn and Max’s story, there were a few areas where I wanted more, and they all actually revolved around the character of Mr. Vincent Giovanni. First of all, I found it remarkably unbelievable that he never tried to sexually take advantage of Evelyn. Don’t get me wrong, that would have been utterly devastating, but considering his character as a mob kingpin and how the story develops, it shocked me that sex was never really a major point he pushed with her.


When they meet in the club, he is immediately drawn to her, and it’s not long before he’s taking her back to his home to live with him, and throwing thousands of dollars of jewelry and clothing at her. And yet, the subject of sex isn’t even suggested at this point. It’s only when Evelyn offers to take on the role her brother had in Vincent’s employ of running hooch does Vincent broach the topic saying that should she fail, he’ll demand payment from her in physical ways. But even then he makes it sound like more of a nuisance than anything, and I never got the sense it was something he was really looking forward to with her. And again, the fact he never really tries anything with her before that time just didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me considering the lengths he was going to to seemingly set her up as his mistress.


And lastly, I’d have to say I simply wanted more of a focus on Vincent as a character. The majority of the novel is spent developing this relationship between Max and Evelyn, and while it was undoubtedly extremely compelling you can’t help but admit that Vincent is an intriguing villain in his own right. There’s a suggested ensuing battle between Vincent and a rival mob family which is never fully explored, and is seemingly dropped from the story line. In addition, at the end of the novel we get a hint that Vincent is more of a puppet master pulling the strings of our characters than we ever realized, and I so would have liked perhaps just one more chapter which provided us a glimpse into his mad psyche. What can I say? Whenever I encounter an enthralling villain I simply want more!!


*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: I doubt this is a series, but if we could get some kind of short story about Evelyn’s brother, Frank, I’d be first in line.

Should you read it? This story pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. We have a major plot twist later on in the novel that even I didn’t see coming (a rarity indeed), and it made me love it all the more. The whole thing comes together for one exciting climactic conclusion with guns blazing! I will say at times I think parts of the story could have been more fully fleshed out, and there were certain points that crossed the line of convenience over reality, but all in all a fun historical read.

Smut Level: So many longing looks, brushed hands, and captured elbows. Eventually we get a love scene, but the details aren’t excessively raunchy in any way. Pretty clean read altogether.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 272 Pages.



Anchors Away!

Have you all missed me this past week? Sorry for the silence, but I was recently on a fabulous Caribbean cruise, and well…let’s just say I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done for my little blog here.


Let’s face it, there’s nothing like a cruise in December to really get you in the holiday spirit! The fact that Christmas music was often being played through the ship’s speakers and there were Christmas trees in various ports of call was an almost jarring experience! But when you’re laying out in the hot Caribbean sun with a good book on your Kindle who can really be bothered by anything? It was also a family cruise with parents, siblings, and loved ones, so you can’t ask for much more!


First stop on the cruise was a relaxing beach day at Princess Cays.


Then we had an amazing day in Jamaica, and oh my goodness you guys I have to tell you about it. My dad and I decided to take an excursion for a private rum tour at the Hampden rum estate. There was about a 30 minute delightfully bouncy car ride through the beautiful Jamaican countryside before we arrived at our destination.



Upon arrival at the estate we were immediately greeted with a potent glass of rum punch, and then proceeded to have an introduction to the history of rum, as well as the history of the estate. And lo and behold, when our tour guide mentioned the founder of the estate I couldn’t help but exclaim in shock and glee when it was revealed that the patriarch of the family had fled Scotland following the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 to establish the estate in Jamaica. My mouth dropped open, and I whispered an audible “Oh…my…God”, when the tour guide looked to me in surprise and asked, “Oh, you know of the Jacobite rebellion?” Ummmm, I’m an Outlander and Jamie Fraser fanatic, of course I know about the Jacobite rebellion!!!! Such a delightfully unexpected fun fact. After that I couldn’t help but picture Jamie and Claire Fraser walking arm in arm with us throughout the rest of our tour.


After Jamaica we had another relaxing beach day at Grand Cayman, and it was a fun throwback to about 3 years ago when I went for a week-long vacation there with my sister. As some of you may know, that was the trip which first inspired me to start a romance novel blog. Ahhh, memories.


Our final stop was in Cozumel, Mexico, where my family and I rented a catamaran for the day. We went snorkeling, hung out at a private beach, and eventually ate the largest lobsters I’ve ever seen at one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to: Mission. Highly recommend.


All in all, a fabulous trip! There’s really nothing better than having your phone in airplane mode for an entire week as you soak up the sun. Oh, and consuming an average of about 3 desserts a day. I also may have come back with a few souvenirs 🙂


What’s Your Favorite Bookstore? 

I was in a discussion the other day with my friends about a new brick and mortar Amazon bookstore that’s coming to town. Needless to say, it got us all to wondering…um, why? This is a company that’s pretty much synonymous with making actual book stores a thing of the past, yet now they’re opening up right next door to what used to be a Barnes & Noble that went out of business. Basically the definition of irony.


However, while my friends and I contemplated the reasoning behind Amazon opening a physical location, it also got us to talking about our former bookstore loving glory. When I was little, going to the local bookstore was my favorite pastime. I would spend hours roaming the shelves, looking in the bargain bins, and discovering new titles that would whisk me away from small town Ohio.


While I do still enjoy browsing through bookstores, I’m sad to admit that the joy isn’t exactly the same as it used to be. Nowadays I often find myself overwhelmed by such a wide array of books, constantly asking myself if the book I’m holding is actually a later book in a series and I just don’t know it, or what the user review rating might be. 9 times out of 10, I find myself pulling out my phone, and checking Goodreads or Amazon when I’m in an actual bookstore. I know…it’s positively shameful.


That being said, I will say there is one bookstore that, to this day, remains my ultimate favorite. It helps me hearken back to a time when I was like a kid in a candy store, only I’m surrounded by the written word. I can still spend hours upon hours browsing through this particular bookstore whenever I have the great opportunity to be in the city where it’s located, and that would be Librairie Avant-Garde in Nanjing, China.


Hands down, this is my favorite bookstore I’ve ever been to in my entire life. It’s actually a converted parking garage, which is cool enough in and of itself. But it also has thousands of volumes, from Western and Chinese classics that you can find in both English and Mandarin, to art books, law, history, economics, pretty much anything your heart could desire.


I first discovered it when I was studying in Nanjing for graduate school, and whenever I get back to China I always try and revisit one of my favorite places on Earth. It’s quietly serene and 100% unique. The entrance is hard to miss, again, seeing as the darn thing is basically underground. However, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you pop in for a visit.


So that got me to thinking, what are some of your favorite bookstores? Maybe it’s one you’ve been going to since you were little. Maybe it’s a new beauty that you’ve recently discovered. Or maybe it’s a place that’s on your bucket list to one day explore. Feel free to share in the comment section below!