Book Review: The Gilded Cage by Lauren Smith

Title: The Gilded Cage
Series: Surrender
Author: Lauren Smith
Genre: Romance, Erotica
Publisher: Forever Yours
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Passion that takes no prisoners, and love that tests the limits of ecstasy . . .

Fenn Lockwood comes alive in the shadows. Though he might have physically survived the kidnapping that stole his childhood, the trauma and pain he lived through have marked him forever. Now the only place where Fenn can be himself is within the walls of his private BDSM world—a place of erotic obsession, where desire isn’t just captured . . . it’s bound.

Hayden Thorne knows that behind Fenn’s hardened exterior is a man worth fighting for. Yet to save him from the past that still haunts him, Hayden will have to abandon every inhibition she’s ever had and venture into Fenn’s intoxicatingly sensual world. Each tantalizing second she spends in Fenn’s searing embrace is more delicious than the last and soon Hayden begins to think that she may never want to leave such torturous bliss . . .


It took me a bit to get into this one, but once I did, I was hooked. I admit, I have a BDSM fetish when I read–if the fan fiction I tend to read is any indication–so any book that includes that is generally a winner with me. I have to say though, this is the first time I’ve actually liked any of the erotica novels I’ve tried reading.

I usually find romance/erotica novels to be poorly written and laughable with what the characters are trying to do in the bedroom, but I definitely didn’t find that issue in this novel. Plus, most romance/erotica novels have little in the way of actual story other than the copious amounts of sex that are featured. This book actually has a story that goes with it and it’s an intriguing one at that.

Yes, this is the second in a series, but you don’t need to read the first book, The Gilded Cuff, to understand what is going on or enjoy this book. The story line is a great one and it stands on its own very well. I have to say that I do want to read The Gilded Cuff and the story that comes after this one, The Gilded Chain, because if I enjoyed The Gilded Cage this much, I’m sure to enjoy those as well.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Starve Vol. 1 by Brian Wood, Daniel Zezelj, Dave Stewart

Title: Starve Volume 1
Series: Starve
Authors: Brian Wood, Daniel Zezelj, Dave Stewart
Genre: Graphic Novels
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★

Once the world’s most famous chef, Gavin Cruikshank’s been in a self-imposed exile for years. His little foodie television program has since evolved into STARVE, an arena sport that pits chef against chef for the pleasure of their super-rich patrons. It’s a stain on a once-noble profession, and Chef Gavin is ready to go to war to stop it. Two things stand in his way: his arch rival Roman Algiers, and his adult daughter Angie, who probably just wants her dad back and acting normal.


Starve was, in a word, amazing. I was absolutely captivated, only breaking when I need to blink my eyes away from my screen for a few seconds. I didn’t want it to end and was sad when it did.

What intrigued me was the fact that the graphic novel was based around a cooking show. Around a celebrity chef who’d disappeared for years on the other side of the world and suddenly is brought back to compete on the show he created. It’s so hard to describe how I feel about this graphic novel. I’m sincerely hoping I can have a chance to read and review Volume 2 because the way this ended, there has to be a Volume 2 or I might just cry!

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Southern Cross Volume 1 by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, Lee Loughridge, Serge LaPointe

Title: Southern Cross Volume 1
Series: Southern Cross
Authors: Becky Cloonana, Andy Belanger, Lee Loughridge, & Serge LaPointe
Genre: Graphic Novels
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Now boarding: Southern Cross, tanker flight 73 to Titan. Alex Braith is tracing her sister’s steps to the refinery moon, hoping to collect her remains and find some answers. The questions keep coming though-and they lead her down a path of intrigue, betrayal, and galactic horror. Collecting: Southern Cross 1-6


Ok, here goes. I am not usually a comics/graphic novel person. Probably because I’m not big on pictures in my books. I literally dislike graphics, pictures, graphs, charts, etc., in my books when I’m reading. I’d rather have the information with nothing breaking it up other than maybe different colored/sized headlines.

I have to say, Southern Cross was very interesting. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading it and I certainly didn’t expect the ending! It kept me interested from beginning to end. While in some spots it seemed the artwork could use some work, that could also have been due to my reading it on a computer screen instead of on paper as comics/graphic novels were meant to be.

The story line is fascinating and honestly, I’m hoping that the author/artist is intending to continue past the ending of this volume because I’d love to know what happens next!

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Unlimited by Davis Bunn

Title: Unlimited
Author: Davis Bunn
Genre: Christian, Fiction
Publisher: B&H Books
Release Date: September 01, 2013
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy, and he needs Simon’s help.

But once he crosses the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel.

Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause.

With Harold’s help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the worldchanging device and his own unlimited potential.


At first glance you’d never know this was a Christian fiction story. The way the book starts out, you’d think you had started your ordinary, run of the mill action/adventure/mystery novel. But as you go on, you see sprinklings of why this is a Christian fiction story.

The story was a very good one–and I admit that the mark of Christianity is not over done so the reader isn’t feeling left bombarded by calls to become a Christian as often happens with books that contain members who aren’t yet a Christian. In fact, while the Christianity in the book is obvious, it shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable if they simply wanted to read a good book.

This book moves fairly quickly, which is nice. There isn’t a lot of superfluous writing here–no lengthy descriptions of inconsequential things, just good solid storytelling. I kept wondering who was the mysterious “Jefe” and honestly I had the wrong person pegged, which is actually kind of unusual for me. I have to say, this book deserves every one of the four stars I gave it.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: The Race by Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Froman, & Billy Mauldin

Title: The Race
Author: Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Froman, Billy Mauldin
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: B&H Books
Release Date: May 05, 2014
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Boogity, boogity, boogity! Let’s go racing!”

Winning is in every racer’s blood. They continually push themselves to the edge, physically and emotionally, in pursuit of the checkered flag and a visit to Victory Lane. It is the racer’s way.

We too are racers in the middle of the greatest race known to mankind: life. We want to live in a way that, when we reach our finish line, we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished. We want to be an example for our family and friends. And if we are a follower of Christ, we want to hear the words “well done my good and faithful servant.”

In The Race, Motor Racing Outreach leaders Billy Mauldin and Kyle Froman share the lessons they’ve learned in the pits and among the NASCAR community to help others with their personal mission—preparing for it, receiving it, and then living faithfully on mission.

Throughout, three-time NASCAR champion and Hall of Fame inductee Darrell Waltrip offers related stories on what it takes to win the race, giving fans an inside look at his profession and the personal belief in God that keeps him on mission.


I’ve been a NASCAR fan for quite a while so I know who Darrell Waltrip is. And I’ll admit, I thought this book was going to be more about racing than about being a Christian. I suppose I should have expected the Christianity bit by the publisher, but I wasn’t paying attention when I picked it.

The book is surprisingly good and shows how you can live a life on the road, working every Sunday, and still keep and spread your Christian faith. While Darrell doesn’t so much talk about how he’s shared his faith–he talks more about how he kept it than how he’s shared it–Kyle Froman and Billy Mauldin talk about sharing faith as chaplains for MRO (Motor Racing Outreach).

The Race brings a new perspective to Christianity. It brings the perspective of people who know that it is a struggle to be a Christian in our world and what kind of struggles one might have based on the profession he or she has chosen. It is clear to see that the message is that we can still be Christians regardless of what we choose to do with our lives and we can still be shining lights for others at the same time.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: I Will by Thom S. Rainer

Title: I Will!
Author: Thom S. Rainer
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: B&H Books
Release Date: July 15, 2015
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Could you be the answer to the problems you see?

Every day we are faced with the needs of those around us. Emotional. Physical. Spiritual. What are we to do about it? Are these problems for our pastors to address or is there a way for the church member to make an impact that will last?

Bestselling author Thom S. Rainer answers these questions by offering nine simple traits that you can incorporate into your life no matter your background, stage of life, or sense of capability.


This book will definitely step on some readers’ toes. I’ve always heard that a good sermon or a good book on how to be a proper Christian will step on your toes. That’s not always a good thing. In the case of I Will, it is.

Too many times Christians (and non-Christians as well) focus too much on themselves. What they want. What they feel they need. How they think the church and other people in it should act. I fully admit even as a non-Christian that I have a specific idea of how a church I attend should handle their affairs. I have a specific idea of how the music should be, how the preacher should preach, how the congregation should act. And that’s not OK.

I Will is about changing the attitude of church members from being focused on themselves, what they want, what they feel they need, and putting that focus on others. Serving others. Becoming involved in the church not because you “have to” but because you desire to.

Your toes will be stepped on if you exhibit any of the “bad” behaviors in this book. But if you take the time to read and learn, you will grow and leave those behaviors behind.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Book Review: Autopsy of a Deceased Church by Thom S. Rainer

Title: Autopsy of a Deceased Church
Author: Thom S. Rainer
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction
Publisher: B&H Books
Release Date: May 01, 2014
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

No one wants to see a church die. And yet, far too many churches are dying. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thom Rainer has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died. From this experience, he has discovered twelve consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, it’s not gloom and doom because from those twelve themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged.

Whether your church is vibrant or dying, whether you are a pastor or a church member, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!


I found this book to be quite interesting and eye opening.  I’d always wondered what could possibly cause a particular church location to shut its doors and now I have a fairly good idea of what those reasons are.

Rainer doesn’t sugar coat the truth about why churches die. While to someone who might be a member of a dying church might see this as Rainer being a jerk, he really isn’t. He’s telling it like it is – this is a fairly apt description of what is killing your church and here are some ways you can fix it.

I like that the book doesn’t just cover what’s wrong with a dying church but also gives ways in which it can be fixed–or in the case of a church that is clearly dying and unable to be turned around, how it can die with dignity. I’ll admit some of the suggestions made me curious–especially the ones for how to allow your church to die with dignity–because in all honesty, I see some of the signs of a church that is becoming ill in the church my roommates attend.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone who feels their church may be on the path to death. This book is a great tool for pastors and congregations to help determine what stage a church is in and how to reverse it if possible.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.