Saturday, October 26, 2013

REVIEW: Storm’s Fury by Nya Rayne

***This book was originally reviewed for Storm Goddess Book Reviews.***
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Summary:

A street-wise hustler, Stormy has been running most of her life from the creature that killed her family. However, when she meets Fury, a being so stubborn he could give a mule lessons, running is no longer an option. When he claims he’s her protector and the other half of her soul, Stormy would rather take her chances with the beast chasing her. His dogged determination to protect her and his seductive expertise spark to life dreams she’d all but given up on: dreams of belonging to a family, and of having a life where running is nothing more than exercise. But with vile creatures hunting her, demanding her blood, and pack members who want her head instead of her help, Stormy will have to find away to place her trust and heart in Fury’s care. If she can’t, then neither of them will have a future to dream about.

Thoughts:

In the prologue alone, you’re so intrigued about Stormy and what she’s running so desperately from and why. This isn’t explained until much later, but does still come into play. The description of their binding is mesmerizing and the connection created is very powerful.

I liked the characters, and I felt for them, but I did think that Fury repeatedly acts with complete oblivion to how his words can affect others, and Stormy reacts very extremely to everything she’s told, especially after what she’d been told all her life by her family.

This appears to be a book one in a series, but I repeatedly felt like I had missed a story because of how often and casually Fury’s brother’s experience with his mate is referenced. At first this didn’t take anything away from the enjoyment, but did start to get a little annoying as it went on.

In the end I felt that on one hand, some of the conflict was overly drawn out, while on the other hand, there was still more to the story because we’re left with some unanswered questions.

Overall though it was a really neat book, especially since I’ve never read anything involving this particular Egyptian mythology. The good guys sound pretty badass, and the enemies sound pretty gruesome, making for a very interesting world with a lot of potential.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Scent of a Mate by Milly Taiden


Thanks to Smexy Fab4 for hosting this blog tour. I'm sharing my review of Milly Taiden's Scent of a Mate. Happy reading!

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Summary:

Mission: Scent a Mate Jordan Alvarez knew that a promise to her best friend involved staking out the local wolf pack's scenting ceremony and recording the graphic details, but she was the writer and the only one with the balls to finish the task. No one would know that four human women had sneaked proof of their rituals, or at least, that was the plan until Aric Wolfe showed up.
Mission: Stake a Claim
Aric Wolfe knew his baby sister was up to something, and expected her best friend, Jordan, to be in on the chaos. He finally had an opportunity to lay claim to a mate that had been under his nose for years. Jordan's scent called to both the man and the animal, and he was done fighting the call of the beast. It was time to mark his mate.
Mission: Survive an Alpha
When a good intention creates a problem for the Wolfe family, Jordan finds herself being stalked by a woman intent on claiming Aric as her own. Battle lines will be drawn, love will be put to the test, and Aric will have to fight Jordan's strong personality to keep her alive. Two alpha hearts seeking control will either find the balance or risk losing their love forever.

Title:  Scent of a Mate
Series:  Sassy Mates
Book #: 1
Author:  Milly Taiden
Approximate Book Length:  239 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Explicit

Thoughts:

What a great start to a new series from Milly Taiden! The family dynamics and friendships really made this story for me. I hung on every dramatic development and interaction. The characters are all completely lovable and I can’t wait to get more of them. The love scenes were a little raunchier than some of her other works, but in the best of ways. It was titillating and delicious! There’s even a very realistic anal scene.

The story itself was a little predictable, but very good none the less. I love the promise of future books, and the ending was adorable. However, the ending was pretty open with an unresolved plot line, so while there’s obviously more to come that will tie all the books together, I have to wonder how well the books will standalone…not that I care – I just want them written!

Bottom Line:

Scent of a Mate is a sexy, wolfy read that will have you laughing and smiling. You’ll be hot and bothered as well as rife with anticipation of more!

Rating:



Links:



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About the Author
Want to know about me? Milly Taiden (aka April Angel) was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. She grew up between New York, Florida and Massachusetts. Currently, she resides in New York City with her husband, bossy young son and their little dog Speedy.

She’s addicted to shopping for shoes, chocolate (but who isn’t?) and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. A bookworm when she can get her hands on a good story, she loves reading romance, thrillers and suspense.

Find the author:
Website
Facebook
Twitter


***Lots of goodies up for grabs on this tour. Enter via the Rafflecopter below!***

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

NEW RELEASE: Naughty Tricks and Sinful Treats by Rachel Firasek, Milly Taiden, April Angel, and Jennifer James

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!


Bitten by Night – Milly Taiden
When a wolf hunts for his mate, he'll lay claim and take her for life. But Royce Night never thought Kiara Cruz would be both his biggest chase and the sexiest woman he'd ever had. She’s in heat and he’s on the prowl. And he definitely didn't think he'd tangle with a tigress for a dance at an alpha love.

Pranks & Spanks – Rachel Firasek
No devil should be without his dark angel. Graham Taiden had great plans to torture, Allison McAnders, all through the night, but his sweet sub had a different plan of action. She’s tired of their on-again off-again relationship and ready to lead him to the next level or call a halt to their role playing. Together, through the language of lovers, they’ll reach a truce or risk losing the battle between heaven and hell.

His Naughty Succubus – Jennifer James
Ghost hunter Liam MacDonnell has decided to do a special Halloween investigation on an infamous haunted house. He's hard up for some action of the ghostly kind, and is looking for a sure thing. Lucky for him, cursed succubus Trinity Bell is waiting for him, and has a special assignment only he can bring to completion.

Seduced by Day – April Angel
It takes two to tango, but three's never a crowd. When twin brothers, Bryan and Brent Day set their sights on Stephanie Almonte, their partner's secretary, they won't be deterred from the task of capturing her heart. With a wicked sense of curiosity, and kill-me bits of a dress, Stephanie explores the haunted mansion that sets the tone for their corporate Halloween party. She's in for the shock of her life when she finds out that the men she's panted after for months have arranged for a sweet seduction to claim her body and her future.

Her Wicked Bassist – Jennifer James
The bad news: This Halloween, Holly Darling's sorority is having their annual fundraiser in a haunted house, and she's freakin' terrified.
The good news: Hot bassist Zander Phillips is performing with his band Wicked Lovely, and he's got her back, front, and every other body part in between covered.


Buy at Amazon Buy at Barnes & Noble

****This book is on sale for $.99 for two weeks at which time it will go up to $2.99, so grab your copy quick!****


Saturday, October 19, 2013

REVIEW: Dust of My Wings by Carrie Ann Ryan

***This book was originally reviewed for My Secret Romance.***
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Summary:

Humans aren’t as normal as they think, for within every person’s DNA there is a dormant gene that requires a trigger of some sort to awaken. Lily and her friends are about to get an awakening the likes of which they never imagined. When angel dust falls into the wrong hands, Shade is sent to Earth to find Lily and prevent her from discovering and spreading word of the supernatural. His time with Lily is the shock of his very long life. With their lives on the line, Shade and Lily will both question everything they ever believed in and learn to trust each other for support.

Thoughts:

Shade may be an angel, but only by physical definition – you know, the wings and all – but he doesn’t live in Heaven, and he definitely doesn’t behave like an “angel”. He’s got his own past to overcome from the Angelic Wars, and it makes for a somewhat tortured hero, though not as much as Ambrose; I’m looking forward to his story! Lily is a quirky heroine, making her pretty unique. For being a big bad warrior, Lily certainly seems to bring out the softer side of Shade.

The villain was your typical power-hungry maniac thinking he can take over and reign supreme if only he can remove two warrior obstacles. He sometimes reminded me of a cartoon baddie up to dastardly deeds. I often half expected him to do the “muahahaha” laugh. Goofy, I know.

The conflict, while believable, just felt a little on the weak side. I won’t complain though as it made for a fairly light-hearted read (not counting when Shade talks about what he and Ambrose lost in during the Angelic Wars, I about cried there). The best part about this book is actually the supernatural element. The concept of there being so many different types of creatures and the underlying promise that we’ll get to meet many more of them, makes for a fun, interesting story.

Overall, the romance was sweet and sensual, the ending was satisfying on several levels, and it leaves you waiting happily for more to come. Dust of My Wings is a good start to a new series from Carrie Ann Ryan, and I look forward to more!


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

REVIEW: Tie Me Free by Sandra Bunino

Summary:

She’s forty and vanilla…he’s twenty-eight and…not. Score one for Kate Angel. She’s just signed the hottest erotica author to her start up publishing house, Angel Books, but she needs a crash course in kink to appease her demanding client. Creating a Domsublife.com profile seems like an innocent way to do her homework and satisfy her curiosity. Mason Myers has lived a lifetime in his twenty-eight years. The product of an Irish orphanage, he grew up fast to overcome his lonely, humble beginnings to become the successful businessman he is today. He's also an experienced Dom at the Satin Rose Experience, an elite BDSM club in New York City. A mutual appreciation for modern art establishes their online connection. Mason convinces Kate to meet him at the Guggenheim museum’s erotica exhibit where she reveals her fascination in the art of rope bondage, known as Shibari. Introducing her to the ancient art within the safety of the club, Mason helps Kate surrender her deep-seated hang-ups about her age and body image. As the physical and emotional ties that bind her into the submissive of his fantasies tighten, can Kate learn to break the emotional tethers ruling her life and embrace the freedoms they bestow?

Title:  Tie Me Free
Series:  Satin Rose Experience
Book #: 4
Author:  Sandra Bunino
Approximate Book Length:  54 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Moderate

Thoughts:

As usual, I couldn’t get enough of Tie Me Free. This book grabbed me from the very beginning and never let go. I love a man with an accent, especially Irish, and Mason totally makes this story. The sizzling sexual tension he creates and sustains with Kate is just enthralling.

I have to admit I think I enjoyed the anticipation better than the final love scene, partly because I had trouble following it. However, that is a short-lived issue and I absolutely loved the ending with the author and the elevator scene!

Bottom Line:

This installment of the SRE series is a fun read about a realistic, time built relationship that takes a walk on the wild side with some rope.

Rating:



Links:



Sunday, October 13, 2013

REVIEW: Hunting JC by Dominique Eastwick

***This book was originally reviewed for Storm Goddess Book Reviews.***
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Summary:

Hunter Brooks has spent the last decade staying as far away from the Sherman family and Jacinda Sherman as possible. No matter how much Hunter might want Jacinda, honor dictates a man doesn’t go near a best friend's baby sister. But now, she is safely married so all should be safe. Can Hunter pay J.C.'s price and still come out on top? Her whole life, Jacinda Sherman let everyone tell her what she can and cannot have. That includes Hunter. Now she's grown up, divorced, and what J.C. wants J.C. gets. This time, Hunter won't be leaving without J.C. getting what she desires. Can these two lovers find a way to live happily ever after? Or will life throw a wrench in their carefully laid plans?

Thoughts:

So right off the bat you have to love the adopted family dynamic. You get enough back story and interaction that you practically feel a part of it. What I love about JC in particular is that she knows what she wants and goes after it fairly ruthlessly. Hunter has always been loyal to his friend, Tony, who is one of JC’s brothers, but with her behavior, he’s toast. It’s a good thing we got all that back story though, because without it their initial encounters just wouldn’t be believable. As it is, it still feels a tad rushed.

This story was predictable in places (though let’s face it, what story isn’t to some degree these days?), but there were still some twists and turns thrown in there. The story and the relationship started out a little two-dimensional for me, but it picks up and once it does, it never lets go. It turns into a bit of a tear jerker in fact as obstacle after obstacle is set in front of Hunter and JC and they go through so much turmoil.

A book with such emotional investment that I cried more than once as well as laughed, Hunting JC is a beautiful story about self-confidence, learning to truly love and trust, and the bonds of family. You will NOT be disappointed with picking this one up! I can’t wait to read Tony’s story.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Birthday

THE BIRTH

Today’s my birthday, so I thought it fitting that I post this today. WARNING: I will hold nothing back in this story, so it’ll be long and graphic.

On August 16th, I woke up at 4PM to watch a League of Legends tournament. I went out to the living room and sat down. I was still groggy from my nap, but I thought I felt weird. Couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt weird.

I was having a conversation with the hubby and right in the middle I noticed that I felt wet and squishy. I didn’t say anything to Greg; I just got up and went to the bathroom to look. There was some clear thin fluid. I was suspicious, but just changed my panty liner and made a mental note to keep an eye on it. I stood up and took three steps before I felt another little squish. I turned around and checked again and there was a little mucus in there too, but still it was more of that fluid.

At that point, I called Greg in and told/showed him what was going on. I put an actual pad on and went back into the living room to call the midwife. She said it sounded like my water broke, so I was advised to take a shower, eat dinner, and then come in to the hospital.

It was that moment that two words started repeating in my head: Holy shit. Even with the midwife having said that, we were both a little skeptical. After all, it really wasn’t that much fluid. Even my doula, Holly, was saying that it was unlikely, but to keep her updated. So we planned to pack a bag, just in case we were kept overnight for observation or something or in the unlikely event that this was in fact “time”.

Greg went to start dinner and I went to take a shower. I pulled down my shorts to find they were wet. I pulled down my underwear and they were soaked. I could see my underwear THROUGH the pad I had on it was so saturated. I yelled to Greg and stepped into the hallway. “This is NOT a false alarm, there’s water everywhere!” I’m pretty sure my eyes were big as saucers. I proceeded with my shower in a bit of a daze.

Got out, got dressed, and started packing. Despite knowing my water was broken, we were still packing with the words “just in case” in mind. I ate real quick and we decided to take a walk to see if we could get some contractions going, seeing as I hadn’t had any since my water broke. It was about 6PM at that point and we went for about a slow two mile walk.

Now we were expecting early labor. That means we were expecting like 10-20 minutes between contractions and several hours of easy contractions. I also expected the contractions to feel like the Braxton Hicks ones in the abdomen. That’s not what happened. About 10 minutes into the walk, I noticed I was getting some back pain…periodically, with maybe a little abdominal cramping.

I decided those were probably contractions. Especially when by 2/3 through the walk, they were 4-5 minutes apart and I was having trouble moving and talking during them. I wasn’t too worried though, because I figured it was just because we were walking so much that they were so close together and intense already.

We got home and while we finished packing and getting things together, I called my friend. She was going to give us a rocker for the baby to sleep in next to our bed since the room is so small. It was kinda fun how I told her too. “So has Zac grown out of that rocker yet?” “Pretty much, why?” “Cause my water broke.” Needless to say she was really excited for me.

So off we went to the hospital, where I was stripped, sat on a Chux pad, and put on a monitor behind a curtain while they assessed me. They asked me a ton of questions while I was monitored, and it wasn’t until they were all answered that the nurse looked at the readout. Greg had to answer some of the questions for me towards the end because I couldn’t talk during a contraction anymore and when we asked how they were, we were told that they were 2-3 minutes apart. We looked at her like she just told us she was an alien. That’s active labor, after only about two hours of early labor. She also lifted up the blanket and said “cough”. I coughed and felt a squish, which is apparently what she was looking for.

She finally went to get the midwife and when she came in and introduced herself, she said she had to check me. I was expecting this, but still so unenthused. I had never been checked like that before and kind of feared it. I mean, that’s a whole freakin’ hand going in there kinda far. Sure enough, that was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve ever had. She even admitted that she’d basically just raped me with her hand and apologized (though with a smile on her face, because we all knew it had to happen). I was a centimeters dilated and 75% effaced already. It was official, I was in labor. She said she was the midwife on call until 8AM so she might not be the one delivering.

I was given mesh undies with a gigantic pad in them, and we got settled in our private laboring suite by about 9:30PM and Greg went to get the birthing ball out of the car while I started sending texts. I texted my family that I was in labor and would be turning my phone off until after the baby was out, texted Holly to tell her it was all for real, and called my mom because she wanted to be there. When I told my mom how far along I was, she started getting that “why didn’t you call me sooner?” tone. I just told her “Mom, we are as surprised as you…”

By 11PM my mom and Holly were both there and I was miserable. I was trying to drink water and/or some Gatorade to keep my strength/energy up. I was in the bathroom every 15 minutes to poop, and I was desperately trying to find a labor position I could stick with. I tried walking now and then, but never strayed too far because contractions were so close and it hurt so much.

At one point I told Greg “I think I’ve got some serious back labor going on” to which he replied “nah, you’ve always had some back problems, so you’re probably fine”. Yeah, he later told me that he’d lied through his teeth and just didn’t want me dwelling on the knowledge that I had back labor. So I felt better about thinking that he was so wrong at the time lol.

I lost most of my modesty, just dropping the hospital gown whenever I walked over to the bathroom, not caring if Holly or my mom saw me basically naked. I kept thinking through the contractions that maybe an epidural wouldn’t be so bad, but I had preached about going natural and taken a class to help me do so, so I couldn’t disappoint everyone, including myself.

I lost all track of time, so that’s going to be pretty vague from here on out, but eventually I gave up trying to find a comfortable labor position and just laid down on my side. I began tearless sobs at that point and knew better than to even try to move because I didn’t have time between contractions and moving during them hurt even more.

At one point I had begun the low tones, just letting sound out in “ooooo”s. In class we’d been taught that it helped, but truthfully it’s not so much that it helps, that it lets you vocalize without screaming. It also let Holly and Greg know when I needed to be reminded not to pant so I didn’t hyperventilate.

I did get a heplock at some point, at which time I was told I was dehydrated. I couldn’t keep up with water unfortunately, because things had started just so fast. They never did use the heplock though, which is both good and annoying (that thing hurt my hand and to know it was unnecessary kind of made me mad).

I kept feeling cold and shivering, but was told I was quite warm and that it was just feeling the adrenaline. Well, while I was lying down I started to feel sick and thought it was probably just the adrenaline again, which might be kind of stupid, but it’s what I thought. I had to try to get to the bathroom without causing myself undue pain, which was not easy as fast as the contractions were. I did get sick, though thankfully between contractions.

I went back to bed, and was long past the point of being able to relax through contractions. I tried to relax as much as possible, but it would get to a point where I couldn’t help but squeeze something. Sometimes it was Greg’s hand and sometimes it was the bedrail.

A short time later, I needed to get sick again. I figured I was in transition by now, which is the time between active labor and the pushing stage. I was not so lucky this time though, and contracted while I heaved. That’s another God-awful experience by the way.

I got back to bed and continued to contract, thinking more and more about begging for drugs, but guilt tripping myself out of it saying a word about it. I was still sobbing tearless during contractions and needed to be reminded to keep my tones low and breathing deep more and more. At some point, I kind of felt like bearing down, but was too afraid to because I thought I’d poop myself. I tried going again once or twice, but nothing would happen anymore.

As the urge got stronger, I started to try to push. As I turned over, and contracted again, I was thinking I was done. I was going to actually ask for an epidural because my back hurt so badly with every contraction which just came so close together. At the same time I thought that, I realized my body was pushing whether I wanted to or not. Instead of asking for drugs, I said “page the midwife, I’m pushing” which came out as basically a whisper.

Holly told the nurse that I wanted the midwife and that I was grunting, which I hadn’t noticed, but was true. Only a couple minutes later, the midwife was there and said she needed to check me again to see where the baby was. I think I actually begged her not to, but she assured me it wouldn’t be like before, and sure enough, she only needed to use a couple fingers and didn’t have to go far. The baby’s head was pretty low now and I was in fact working on pushing her out.

I was on my side and a nurse had one of my legs up as I considered pushing from that position. I had a contraction and tried to lower my leg and she would let go, so I whined at her to let me go and yanked my leg out of her hand. I later found that kind of funny, especially when I remembered periodically saying “no touchy” to everyone during contractions.

I turned on my back and was stripped completely. I brought my legs up, but had trouble holding them myself I was so tired. So Greg took my left leg and Holly took my right. They brought a mirror in so I could see the progress and crowning in case I wanted it. I tried to decline, but they politely argued that it sometimes helps.

I was surprised when it did actually help. I could see her head come closer with every push. However, once we reached the “ring of fire” which is the moment the baby’s head is crowning – the phrase is SO TRUE! The burn…omg – is when my allowance of the mirror ended. I watched. Myself. Tear. No one argued when I said “the mirror needs to go away now!”.

I remember saying that I was so tired and couldn’t do it, and what happened it I passed out or was too tired to push or something. I don’t know, maybe I was delirious. Holly was even holding my head up while I pushed. I was stuck at the crowning point though. They kept telling me to keep pushing, and I was, but just couldn’t get past it.

The point of crowning, and even before when the baby is in the birth canal, is kind of horrid. The pressure on your urethra and anus is so tremendous that it hurts and you constantly feel like you’re going to pee and/or poop yourself. I even told the midwife I thought I’d pooped, and she said nope. I could see in the mirror what the sensation was though. It was the fluid coming out of my vagina and passing over my over stressed anus that was causing that sensation. Gross, I know.

So getting past the “ring of fire” became my sole focus in the world. The midwife said it would happen when I got mad. She was right. I finally got so frustrated, that I pushed hard enough to feel that pop, and my daughter’s head was out. I was so freaking relieved. Next were the shoulders, which also hurt, but not nearly as much.

Once her shoulders were out, the midwife said “reach down and pull out your daughter”. I reached down and pulled her legs out of me and brought her up on my belly. At one point during my frustration, my mom’s shoe squeaked and she took one for the team. I couldn’t kick anyone else out, so I said “Mom I love you, but get out.”. So she was by the door and peeked her head around the curtain by the door and I looked at her and just said “I have a daughter”. Tara was born at 2:37AM on August 17th.

Birth hurts, like seriously, nothing else on the planet like it, hurts. But once you have that baby out and in your arms, it’s absolutely euphoric. For one, yes, lots of endorphins, but the joy and elation are like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

So after that, the midwife called me a birthing beast (yes, I’m proud of that). I was given a shot of Pitocin to help with the bleeding as I had a bit of hemorrhaging, but that was short lived and worked out. I got my 2nd degree tearing sewn up, which hurt like a bitch despite the local anesthetic. Holly and Greg had to hold my legs down after Tara was born because the adrenaline was so strong that I was shaking pretty badly.

Once the baby was checked out and I was taken care of, we were wheeled up to a room on the maternity floor. Greg got a little sleep that morning, but I didn’t sleep until Sunday night. During that time, we learned a lot in terms of breastfeeding, diaper changes, crying, and sleeping. Overall, it was an incredible experience and I will forever cherish those first 48 hours of pure wonder at the tiny human. My tiny human.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

REVIEW: Rock Hard and Wet by Jennifer James

Summary:

Poseidon, god of the sea, proclaims that any nymph from his harem who wishes to search out a mate may do so. However, she only has three days to find someone he deems worthy. Welcome to the world of the Nymphs of New York. She’s a nymph on a mission. Callianira, curvy, vivacious, and the life of the party at every orgy, has fallen prey to a depression no amount of hot lovin’ can shake. Her best friend Petra has a plan: a trip to New York City to find mates who can handle a couple of horny nymphs for a lifetime of hot sex and soul deep love. Callie’s not buying the sales pitch Petra is hawking, but goes along for the ride. She figures she can find a male or two who won’t mind acting as multiple orgasm donors. He’s sexy, rock hard, and has just been released from a five hundred year prison sentence. Outcast from the Aerie of New York, grotesque Theo’s focused on guarding the humans of Brooklyn and keeping his twin Logan out of trouble. When gorgeous females who smell like salt water and sex invade his territory, his careful plan for regaining entrance to the secular aerie gets ripped out to sea. They’re completely wrong for each other. Callie’s magic is tied to the ocean. Theo can’t swim. Callie is carefree, sweet, and finds joy in bending the rules. Theo toes the line and is ever vigilant. He’ll sink to the bottom of the ocean, and she’ll fly above it to claim their happily ever after.

Title:  Rock Hard and Wet
Series:  Nymphs of New York
Book #: 1
Author:  Jennifer James
Approximate Book Length:  113 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Explicit

Thoughts:

Hold on to your undies, cause this one starts off with a bang. I began to fear that this story would focus too much on sex, and a lot of it, but I needn’t have worried. Sure there’s plenty of sex, but there’s so much more. The menagerie of creatures that popped up and the mythology were so interesting that I was completely enthralled.

The plot itself was riveting. The conflict was so sad, there’s a horrific attack, a gratifying climax, and a very adorable ending that I can’t tell you about because it would spoil too many surprises. The abilities exercised by Theo and Callie towards the end were really neat, as well as some others periodically, but particularly towards the end.

As for the characters, there’s quite a mixture. The villain is truly evil and thoroughly hateable. I liked Logan as well as our couple right from the start, but for some reason took a bit to warm up to Petra. I worried about Theo and Callie, thinking they were both too jaded and cynical to let themselves love. Callie has such a lonely past and Theo has such a heartbreaking history that you can’t help but root for them. I ended up loving all the characters though (except of course the villain) and very much anticipate future books in the series to get more of them!

Bottom Line:

Rock Hard and Wet is an awesome, well rounded, naughty read that is utterly enchanting and will leave you with a smile.

Rating:



Links:



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Waiting

THE WAITING GAME

So in addition to all the discomfort of the 3rd trimester, there’s the waiting. The constant wonder of “when?!”. There’s worry in that for a lot of reasons, at least for me.

At 32 weeks, your baby has a good chance of surviving if born early, but there’s likely to be complications. The doc will say that if you have more than 5 contractions in an hour – call them because you could be in early labor. Well in class we learned to try some things before panicking. SWEND – Shower, Walk, Eat, Nap, and Drink. If absolutely none of those things stops or slows the contractions, then yes, call the doc. If they help, then you’re pretty safe. I knew that walking tended to induce the contractions so I stuck to the other four to gauge my intensity level. All 5 of those activities play a part in my birth story though, which will post on October 12th.

At 34 weeks, I lost my mucus plug. Nobody warns you that you could lose it early and don’t need to worry. I lost mine on a really hot day after a walk. I called the doc (and when I say doc, I mean midwife in my case, but I always just call them “doc” for ease I guess) and she said not to worry unless I start getting contractions or bleeding or anything. It grows back in a couple days and really isn’t anything to worry about, despite feeling and looking slightly gross and giving the expectant mom a minor panic attack because it’s a change that CAN, but doesn’t always necessarily, signal impending labor.

At 36 weeks, my midwife told me that labor could happen anytime now and they would no longer be worried or try to stop it. I was excited, but you have to remind yourself it’s likely to be another 4 or 5 weeks.

So what to do while you’re waiting. Well, we got the nursery ready, which was good, but also made me impatient to meet the tiny human that it represented. Other than that, we went about our daily lives. We went on walks, got together with our friends weekly, and I read a lot. Greg had started walking with me weeks before because I started getting so many Braxton Hicks contractions and needed reminding to drink more water. I always worried that my walks, especially on particularly hot days, would put me in early labor.

So at about 37 weeks, we started getting realistic that labor was impending and trying to do the little things to get ready. To be safe, we put a waterproof cover over our mattress topper in case my water broke in bed and I put a towel in the car to sit on as well as my favorite chair in the living room. I was worried about clean up and ruining something if my water broke somewhere inconvenient. I figured this was probably overkill because only about 15% of pregnant women’s water breaks first in labor.

The same week we did all that (during week 38), I’d planned on getting a bag together with everything we’d need for the hospital and getting all my blog posts (including these…HAHAHA ><) ready ahead of time.

Dropping and losing your mucus plug and things can all happen weeks before labor, and as my mucus plug went bye-bye at about 34 weeks, I figured there was still plenty of time. As I was expecting a specific experience in terms of the baby dropping lower in my belly, I didn’t notice when it might have happened and fully expected to be the textbook average first time mom and go as far as 41 weeks and 1 day. We were shocked as hell when I woke up from a nap at about 4PM on August 16th intending to sit down and watch some League of Legends action while I wrote up some of these articles. I was glad I put that towel down on my chair…


MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Diapers

DIAPERS: CLOTH VS DISPOSABLE

So when you think of diapers you think of the disposable kind, right? I always did. It’s the most common path to take and it’s the easiest. However, it’s not the best for the planet, the baby, or your wallet. Now for the record, I do NOT mean for this post to be preachy about cloth diapers. I’m just going to toss what I know out there and y’all can take it as you will.

My mom did cloth diapers with me when I was a baby. My grandmother paid for a service to come and pick them up weekly and wash them. They were even the kind that you had to pin closed (my mom admits to having stuck me a couple times – ouch!) and needed to be covered with plastic undies to help protect clothes and stuff from leaks. Guess what? It ain’t like that anymore!

We decided to go with cloth diapers after hearing about the experience from our Bradley teacher and reading about it. We got our diapers from Bum Genius and they’re awesome. There’s cool designs, they snap shut (though you can get the Velcro kind if you want), and they adjust to grow with baby. Plus they’re durable enough that if you take good care of them, you can use them for baby#2.

You buy the detergent for them and wash them yourself and hang dry. It’s really easy. When the baby gets older and eats solid foods, there’s a sprayer that you can get to attach to the toilet to spray off the solid poo before washing. Did you know that you’re supposed to do that with disposable diapers too? Most people don’t it, either because it’s gross and an extra step in the process, or because they simply didn’t know. I certainly never knew it.

With disposables, you don’t have to wash them, but you do have to keep buying them, which gets expensive quickly. Plus you sometimes have to make those last minute, late night runs for diapers because you’re out. I don’t know about you, but that’s annoying.

We got the cloth diapers, but when our little TC decided to come out two weeks early at only 7 pounds, they didn’t fit her. They’re slated to fit 10 pounds and up. You want to use disposables for the first week or so anyway because of meconium. It’s black and tarry and will stain everything it touches. So we used disposables for the first couple weeks, then had to keep using them because she’s so small. She’s almost 2 months old and I hope she grows into the cloth diapers soon so we can just have some disposables on hand for long trips or emergencies.

So yeah, anyway, that’s my ramble on diapers and the debate between cloth and disposables. I’m honestly cool with either at this point seeing as I’m hoping the washing isn’t bothersome and I have to admit the disposables are damned easy.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall


It's time for another Immortal Guardians blog tour! I'm so excited about this release and I'm sharing my review of Darkness Rises to get you excited too. There's also a LOT of goodies being given away too, so be sure to read to the bottom. Happy reading!

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Summary:

Krysta is used to getting the drop on vampires. Her "special abilities" aren't much, but the plan is simple--she plays helpless pretty young thing to lure them in. Then her shoto swords come out and it's bye-bye, bloodsucker. Until one night she finds herself with an unexpected ally. He's a vampire, all right, but different. Mysterious. Handsome. And more interested in saving her skin than draining it. Etienne has been an Immortal Guardian for two hundred years--long enough to know that Krysta is special. He can't stop thinking about her long legs, even more than her short swords. Then he discovers the vamps she's exterminating have friends in high places, and the Guardians are in danger too. He'll have to accept Krysta's help to save them. The stakes for a mortal are high. But the cost to his heart might be higher…

Title:  Darkness Rises
Series:  Immortal Guardians
Book #: 4
Author:  Dianne Duvall
Approximate Book Length:  403 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Moderate

Thoughts:

This book left me speechless. I don’t like to think of myself as one of those people that says “OMG” at the drop of a hat or anything, but that was really all I was left with after finishing this book. Krysta and Etienne are pretty awesome and cute together, as they challenge each other, push each other’s buttons, and continuously get themselves into some kind of trouble, especially with Krysta’s brother Sean.

I love how everyone rallies around Ami, even without knowing the reasons it’s so important to protect her. We get a look at some of our previous couples, as more than just cameo appearances, but an actual visit with them. Bastien and Melanie in particular as Melanie is charged with looking after Ami and Bastien is adorable in his pursuit to protect Ami and be around Melanie. Bastien even goes so far as to involve kittens, I’m just sayin’.

We get a lot of different perspectives in this book, even more than the previous book I feel. The best part is that none of them are from the enemy’s POV. Roland plays a big secondary role, but it’s Lisette, Zach, and Seth that are the major players when it comes to POVs other than Etienne and Krysta. Those passages do nothing but get you excited for what’s to come.

The book in its entirety is great, but it’s really the last quarter of the book that takes your breath away. The ending with Etienne, Krysta, and Sean is adorable, but the climax just prior to it is heartbreaking, especially for Seth. I just wanted to jump into the book and share some hugs. Dianne Duvall’s books have always left me satisfied with the overall plot from the individual stories, but wanting the next book for more in the bigger picture and other characters; the last one especially so as the circumstances and drama were jacked up a notch. However, I don’t think I’ve ever been more anxious for the next installment in a series as I am for book 5 of the Immortal Guardians. She’s once again bumped up the drama and I am left wondering how the long term conflict will be resolved without bloodshed from our favorite characters. The title of this story matches its content so perfectly. I just don’t know how to put into words how awesome it is and how much I am ready for the next one already!

Bottom Line:

Darkness Rises is an awesome chapter in the Immortal Guardians series! It will draw you in so completely that you will be left shaken after the final showdown. With all the characters you love, suspense that doesn’t stop, fun and sexy romance, and more, any PNR fan will not be in the least bit disappointed by picking up this book!

Rating:



Links:



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About the Author
Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series. Her debut novel, Darkness Dawns, was nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance by RT Book Reviews and for Best Paranormal Romance—Vampire by The Romance Reviews. Ensuing books in the series — Night Reigns, Phantom Shadows, and Predatory — have all been deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews. Her latest release, Darkness Rises, has also been chosen as a Night Owl Reviews’ Top Pick.

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and once even appeared onscreen as a machete-wielding maniac not unlike the vampires in her novels.

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***Up for grabs at this tour stop is a signed copy of Predatory and a bunch of SWAG. Enter via the Rafflecopter below!***

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

REVIEW: Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison

***This book was originally reviewed for My Secret Romance.***
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Summary:

Pia has managed to stay under the Wyrkind radar all her life, but finds herself the target of one of the most powerful of all the Elder Races after being blackmailed into stealing from him. Dragos can’t believe that someone would not only have the audacity to steal from him, but actually pulled it off! There are unexpected consequences when he actually finds his thief, and they end up facing more than they bargained for.

Thoughts:

I have some mixed feelings about this book. I will admit I had high expectations, which is usually a setup for disappointment, and it was to a point. I wasn’t blown away by the book, but I did enjoy it. I like Pia, and Dragos is pretty dreamy, however they both had their flaws. Pia’s flaws were endearing, but Dragos took some getting used to. I like an alpha male, but he’s downright overbearing. I did, however, adore how he learned to say please!

The urban fantasy setting was pretty cool. I liked the different races and how they’re set up. It definitely has room for sequels that can go in just about any direction. I also liked that while some of the races were about what I expected, others weren’t quite typical. Not everything and everyone is as they seem and it made for some very interesting experiences.

The plot is where I had some issues. There are some questions left unanswered, some loose ends not quite tied up, and there were some events and experiences that I felt were unnecessary to the book and/or unrealistic under the circumstances.

Overall, I really enjoyed a lot of the characters, including many of the secondary ones, and while it didn’t knock my socks off, Dragon Bound was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to checking out the next book!


Friday, October 4, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - The Shower & Baby's Room

THE SHOWER & THE NURSERY

I think you generally have a baby shower in the third trimester, though not too late. I know someone who had a baby within days of their shower, and I myself did about two weeks after mine. Thankfully we’d gotten pretty much everything we’d need!

So about thirty people were invited to my shower, and only 9 showed up (including my friend who hosted the event). A little disappointing, but it was all family that showed up, so that’s the important part!

We played a bunch of silly games. Baby item bingo that is played while opening presents, word scramble, names of baby animals, and word search are the little ones that are played with a pen and little board. We also did the guess how big my belly is using yarn one (my mother NAILED that one) and the lottery where you guess when the baby will arrive and all the stats (another one my mother nailed).

Then of course there’s presents and cake. The cake was delicious, especially to a pregnant woman with frosting cravings! The presents were great. Got some clothes, a nursing pillow with a Lion King cover, a Lion King nightlight (do you see a theme here? – I LOVE Lion King!), and a few baby items including a Lion King bedding set – though surprisingly no diapers. The key items that really got me though were the baby shoes my mother gave me because they were my first pair of shoes and my first walking shoes. She also gave me her nursing nightgown that my grandmother made for her when she had me. I’m a big sap, plus I was hormonal, so naturally I got all teary eyed, but hey points to me for not straight up crying!

Overall the shower was a hit, but it was really all about after the shower. We went home and opened everything we knew we’d be keeping. Greg put the stroller and carseat together first thing (which was the only big ticket item we received and yay!). But other than that, the first thing I did was sit down and go over everything we still needed.

Greg had promised me after months of not being allowed to buy anything that the day after the shower we’d go to Babies-R-Us and spend lots of money. So we did just that. Got the remaining big ticket items and a few clothing items. We didn’t get any bottles or anything because we planned on strictly breastfeeding. The only thing we didn’t get same day was the crib.

Now I had been obsessing over cribs for months because I couldn’t decide on one. So when we decided to get all the remaining nursery items, I got on the computer and compared like six different ones between Ikea, Target, and Babies-R-Us. I was driving myself crazy, and Greg eventually said to just get whatever I wanted…so no help whatsoever. I finally picked one from Target.

I was obsessive over the following week. I needed to get the nursery put together, despite being very, very pregnant and achy and needing to take it easy. The crib was the important part though. It’s what makes a nursery a nursery. Even if she wasn’t going to use it right away, I had to have it. So once it arrived and Greg put it together the same day, I was finally able to relax.

It’s funny, I’d gotten the nesting instinct some over the pregnancy and it manifested in cleaning the house. I started sweeping more often, being obsessive about the dishes, and all that. Once I was allowed to work on that nursery, it was ridiculous. I got three hours of sleep after the shower and five the next night. I was so relieved when it was finally done. Good thing it got done over the two weeks following the shower since it was pretty much put to immediate use.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

REVIEW: Lucky Break by April Angel

Summary:

Will gambling with her heart bring her luck in love? Lucky is a top event planner with a loving family and the job of her dreams. But she’s not at all lucky in love. Her last relationship ended in a spectacle she’s been trying to forget. Then a chance encounter leads her into the arms of Jared Thomas, one incredibly sexy man who makes more than her heart throb. Jared loves women—he just doesn’t trust them. He’s lived a hard life, where misplaced trust can mean death. But when he meets the sexy Latina, he wants to get close enough to find out if she’s worthy of more than just play time. And the gloriously hot sex doesn’t disappoint. He wants to make her his, body, mind and soul…if two people with trust issues can stay together long enough…

Title:  Lucky Break
Series:  Sizzling Encounters
Book #: 3
Author:  April Angel
Approximate Book Length:  114 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Explicit

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this story. There’s great chemistry between Lucky and Jared that’s evenly matched with the struggle between distrust and deep attraction, making the buildup exquisite. Amid all the drama, there are lovable characters that surround our couple. I couldn’t get enough of the friends and family dynamics.

I could tell there were other stories that came before this one, but it’s handled well so that this could stand alone with no problem. Even better though is that the ending – which was incredibly sweet – hints to more books to come!

Bottom Line:

If you’re looking for a heartwarming and authentic feeling story, Lucky Break is an awesome pick that I think any erotic romance fan will thoroughly enjoy.

Rating:



Links:



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

MY FIRST PREGNANCY - Hiccups

OBSTACLES

There are a lot of discomforts and issues during pregnancy. Thankfully I didn’t have any series issues, but still some concerning ones.

There’s a lot of blood work done in the 1st trimester, but that slows down later. The main thing they check for is a blood count. Now I have had chronic problems with anemia for years so I really wasn’t that surprised when I was told to start taking iron pills early in my 2nd trimester. I was, however, surprised to get a phone call early in my 3rd trimester saying I was anemic. It’s common at that point apparently, but having already been on iron pills, I was concerned. Anyway, I just ended up taking two pills a day and I was fine. It helped with my energy levels some, but it’s really not something that you notice all that much outwardly.

There are some other very common ailments that a pregnant woman is more susceptible to. I had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) once in high school and it was miserable. It hurt to pee, but I had the urge to literally every 10 minutes or so. Well guess what? The doc will ask about those symptoms, but they won’t necessarily present that way.

About 20 weeks into my pregnancy, I woke up and felt a little twinge that developed into full blown pain in my abdomen. After calling the doctor, they had me come into the hospital to get checked out. I’m freaking out thinking I’m miscarrying. It took several hours of monitoring, an ultrasound, and a couple tests to conclude that I had a UTI. I was really surprised because I didn’t have the constant urge to pee with nothing coming out and it didn’t hurt at all to pee. I just couldn’t move without abdominal pain that doubled me over. So some pills and a few days of taking it easy later, I was feeling much better.

In the third trimester, you get what’s called a Group B Strep Test. They swab the vagina and anus to test for Group B Strep, which doesn’t much affect you, but would require IV antibiotics during labor to protect the baby. Other than that, I don’t really know anything about it. Anyway, while they did the swab thing, the midwife noticed I looked a little red and irritated. I hadn’t really noticed any irritation and couldn’t see to notice the redness. Turns out I had a yeast infection. There were no signs that I noticed, just what the midwife saw. So I asked if it was the typical treatment of one of those horrid creams. NOPE! There’s a pill now. And it gets better! She brings in the prescription and I glance at it before asking if I just take them all until they’re gone like most meds (which in hind sight was kinda dumb, I’ll admit it). She goes “well, there’s only one pill, so yes…”. NOT ONLY IS THERE A PILL, BUT IT’S A SINGLE DOSE! It’s weird and silly, but I was really excited about that and wanted to share that with all the women I knew, because what woman doesn’t know what it feels like and hate a yeast infection? So it was good news to pass along.

Another obstacle that is ever present from beginning to end during pregnancy is constipation. It’s not a fun or pretty topic, but it’s a fact of life. It could be from the prenatal vitamins, the iron in your diet, the iron pills if you’re on them, or even the sheer amount of protein you need to eat while pregnant. There are options, like fiber tablets, those dissolvable powders, and all that, but I really didn’t want to fuss with any of that. I went with diet. I tried to incorporate a lot of fiber to keep up with the protein intake. I still had the occasional problem, even popping a blood vessel near my cervix once, but overall it helped a lot. This is just one of those things that is trial and error with some advice from your doctor if necessary to find a solution.

The final obstacle I want to talk about is headaches. I’ve gotten headaches for years. I started getting migraines my senior year of high school and tension headaches in 2010 following a car accident (damned black ice!) that messed up my neck. Some pregnant women get more headaches than they did before, and some less. I can’t really say either, as I just kept getting headaches. It’s tough because all you can really take while pregnant is Tylenol, but that just doesn’t cut it for the level of headaches I was prone to. There’s a debate that in the 3rd trimester you can take stronger prescription meds. Doctors say it’s cool, but I personally was uncomfortable with the idea of any strong meds, believing that none are truly “safe”. That being said, I started getting some bad migraines daily for about a week and began considering meds from the doc if they continued, but luckily they dissipated (DRINK LOTS OF WATER!). Headaches on top of all the other discomforts of pregnancy can be almost intolerable and may require medication. It all depends on you. My drug of choice was sleep and/or quiet/darkness.

There are undeniably more obstacles in pregnancy out there that I was blessed with not having to deal with, but those are the main ones that I faced. Even once they were under control or handled entirely, there was still the fear that they would become an issue again. I feared getting a headache during labor and breaking down asking for drugs. I asked the doc to check for a UTI a couple times because I was paranoid of experiencing that abdominal pain again. I feared even the two iron pills weren’t enough to sustain me and the baby. These hiccups are a pain in the ass, but they are a fact of life that must sometimes be dealt with, and I can assure you from experience that you are not alone, and while it might suck, it is tolerable and you will get through it.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BLOG TOUR: F.A.S.T. Balls by Tara Lain

Thanks to Smexy Fab4 for hosting this blog tour. I'm sharing my review of Tara Lain's F.A.S.T. Balls today. Happy reading!

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Summary:

F.A.S.T. — Firefighter Assist and Search Team
Firefighter and surfing champion, Jerry Wallender, looks like a hero to the world, but he can’t see it. He keeps falling for these intellectual guys who end up making him feel dumb and unneeded. On top of that, Mick Cassidy, super-gorgeous firefighter and total homophobe, makes Jerry’s life miserable with his slurs. Then one day Mick’s nice to Jerry and, at the Firefighter’s Ball, Jerry offers a helping hand and ends up with a hand-job. What the hell is going on? Mick Cassidy is great with fighting fires and solving math problems but rotten with people. Raised by a gay-hating preacher, Mick’s carefully constructed world of gay bashing starts to crumble when he meets Jerry, the nicest, kindest man he’s ever known. Mick’s never wanted a woman and can’t stop thinking about sex with Jerry. In fact, he can’t stop doing it. Does that make him gay? And if he’s gay, what happens to his whole life? A hook-up between sweet Jerry and mean Mick might be total disaster — or the smartest idea Jerry ever had.

Title:  F. A. S. T. Balls
Series:  Balls to the Wall
Book #: 5
Author:  Tara Lain
Approximate Book Length:  158 Pages
Recommended Reader Age:  18+
Sexual Content:  Explicit

Thoughts:

I don’t remember if Jerry was in Volley Balls, but he played a big role in Fire Balls. I was hoping from that point that he would get his own story, but never imagined that Mick would be a part of it.

Reading Jerry’s story and learning more about both characters was interesting and kept me engaged the entire time. Mick’s history and his journey of self-discovery and redemption are tough, but in the end beautiful. I just wanted to hug Jerry and Mick, and smack the hell out of Mick’s parents. The romance was a cute and sweet exploration with a lot of heat, despite a few awkward moments.

I liked the conflict as a whole, but I hated the nature of it from Mick’s parents, but then that’s the point. Beyond that, I liked most of the guys at the firehouse and I adored all the cameos from the guys in the four previous books, particularly the first two.

Bottom Line:

Ultimately I loved FAST Balls as much as Fire Balls, which was my favorite in the series! I can’t wait for more.

Rating:



Links:



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About the Author
Tara Lain never met a beautiful boy she didn’t love – at least on paper. A writer of erotic romance, mostly male/male and MMF ménage, Tara loves all her characters, but especially her unique heroes. In fact, her readers say her tagline, Read the Beautiful Boys of Romance, about sums it up. Her first romance novel was published in January of 2011. She’s now on book 21. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards.

Some people call Tara “the Balls girl” in honor of her best-selling MM contemporary romance series, Balls to the Wall. Readers send her suggested titles for her next Balls book! Three of the Balls books, Volley Balls, Fire Balls and Snow Balls, were on the Amazon list of the top selling 100 gay romances in 2012.Tara also has a popular paranormal series called the Aloysius Tales and an award-winning ménage series titled Genetic Attraction.

In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm, and she carries her promotional instincts into her writing career as well. She lives with her soul-mate husband in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

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