Book review of Globejotting by Dave Fox

Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!)

Interestingly, I read half of this book before my big UK trip last year, and half of it afterwards.  My thoughts on travel journalling changed significantly after my trip.

Here are my thoughts from before my trip:

This is less of a book review, and more a practice at speed journalling.  I am familiar with this concept. I actually find it fairly easy to turn off my brain and just write.  We call it a brain-dump, although that sounds weird now that I’ve written it out. It’s also a technique used when doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  With NaNoWriMo, you’re trying to write 50,000 words in a month, and in order to do that, you have to turn off your inner editor. You can’t be constantly deleting and re-writing paragraphs or pages, because if you do, you’ll never write 50,000 words in a month.  While I find it easy to just blurt out the words in my head onto the page, turning off my inner editor is crazy hard. I really struggle with it. I can definitely see that it would speed up my journalling and allow me to get more of my day down on the page, thus allowing me to a) enjoy more of the day ‘in the moment’ and b) encourage me to keep up with my journalling and not fall behind.

He recommends that instead of writing about your day from start to finish, just choose 1-4 highlights from the day and write about those.  I actually love being able to see the teeny tiny details like what I ate on the plane, as it makes the experience seem more real to me, but I get what he’s saying.  When you write down the chronological facts, you do sometimes tend to leave out the emotions, thoughts and impressions. I know I do this. In my everyday journalling, if I write about something as it happens or immediately after, my writing is far more emotive.  I might write about how my husband being in the hospital with possible appendicitis makes me feel scared and lost, even while I understand that it’s a routine procedure and everything is going to be fine. I am reminded of how much he means to me, and how absolutely broken I’d be if anything happened to him.  I think about how much my happiness depends on him, and I worry about what kind of person I’d be if I lost him. I start thinking about the way relationships can work and whether co-dependency is a good thing or a bad thing. I start creating wild fantasies about how I’d react to grief and what we’d need to do to sell the house and how long I’d have to be off work.  And I’d write about how quiet the house is, and how I miss listen to his breathing as I fall asleep, and how tempting it is to find his aftershave and just smell it, like some creepy stalker person. But if I write about it after the fact, several days later or maybe weeks or months, I’m more factual. He went into the hospital at this time. I went and saw him, we chatted.  The op kept getting pushed back and he was hungry and sore. He nearly passed out in the bathroom at one point. The op went well, and I took him home the next day. Boring. And so different. I need those little details to make it seem real.

I’ve kind of gone off track here.  See, Dave isn’t recommending the latter version, the mere basic facts.  He actually wants something more like the former emotional rambling. Yet, my babble above kind of indicates the opposite.  I suppose I was doing that whole brain-dump thing, and not clarifying what I was writing as I was writing it.

So I guess I’m saying that if I catch those little details, like an actual quote from the day (maybe something he said when he was groggy on anaesthetic) or the crappy meal he got when they finally decided he wasn’t having the op that day but he’d already missed the proper meal, then it feels more real.  Like, those are the tiny details that you forget when you leave the journalling for a while and try to capture the experience at a later date. I remember the big things, like that he went for an op and I was scared. In a travel journalling context, I remember going to the Tower of London and the awe I felt at being surrounded by history. It’s the little details that fade, and so those are what I feel like I need to capture immediately.

I do see Dave’s point about capturing the highlights though.  It’s a good suggestion. I think it’s particularly important if you’re short on time.  I tend to do my journalling in the evening, before bed, when I travel. But if I was tired and wanting to get to sleep, I’d definitely consider just touching on the highlights instead of recapping the whole day.

Dave reminds us to take the advice that works for us, and leave what doesn’t, which is frankly the best advice ever.  I give the same advice to new parents. Take what works, discard what doesn’t. It’s different for everyone. So yep, must remember to practice what I preach.

He talks about choosing one interesting person each day of your trip and jotting down a character description.  I love this idea. Not sure if I’d be able to do it every day, but it sounds like such a fun thing to read back over.  He says to capture a quote they said that shows the way they talk, share their physical description, their mannerisms, their attitude and expressions.  I’m not very good at including this kind of detail in my journalling, so I like this. I actually have a terrible memory for faces. Like, I’d be a terrible witness.  I bet I couldn’t even describe my own or my husband’s face in sufficient detail for a police artist to draw them. I’d struggle to tell you what needed changing on the picture to make it more correct.  I just…I have a terrible visual memory. I think this is why I love photography. Words are fine, and I think I’d be fine with remembering a quote to write down at the end of the day (especially if I was actually aware of the need to note it), but physical descriptions are hard for me.  If you’ve read my short stories, you’ll know this too. One of the most common remarks that reviewers on Writing.com make when reading my stories is that I don’t describe characters or surroundings. Sometimes I’ll write a short story about a guy and a reviewer will comment on ‘her’ and I’ll realise I’ve put in so little description that the reader doesn’t even know if they’re male or female.  Actually, I have multiple stories like that, where the character is gender-neutral. It’s not deliberate though, it’s just a lack of description. Sometimes I use a name that gives it away, and that’s the only clue my reader has. Anyway, back to this book. I love this idea. It’s certainly not my strong point, and I’m going to find this a really tough challenge, but I’d like to give it a go. I think my husband and kids would have fun with it too. Like, I could choose a character from the day that we came across and ask them to give me details over dinner or while we’re on the train or in the car.  Could be a fun family exercise!

Another thing was the idea of a theme to tie multiple places or multiple days together.  Like, one day you could just write about foods you’ve tried on your travels. Or even more specifically, just desserts you’ve tried.  Or whatever. Like when I go back to Scotland I could do a journal entry about haggis, and the various ways we’ve tried it (including in a Cornish pasty!) and how the kids liked it (they’re fully expecting to, even though all they’ve tried to date is the canned stuff) and how I liked it (I did, but I really wasn’t expecting to), etc.  That could be a journal entry on its own, not specific to a particular day. I think these kinds of posts (or journal pages) are in addition to daily writing. For me, at least. But fun to do.

And here are my thoughts after my trip:

I did everything Dave told me not to do.

If you travel intending from the start to share your journals with others, you’re likely to hold back certain details.

I started off trying to write a recap of the day either that evening or the following day, and posting it to my blog.  It meant I didn’t turn off my inner editor and just write.  In fact, the opposite.  I was trying to create perfect blog posts on the go.  Ugh.  So stupid.

So guess what happened.  Go on, guess.  Right, I fell behind.  Then I gave up.

You know all those trips you’ve taken in the past where you wish you had kept a better journal? Well, it’s not too late. People assume if they don’t write their journals while they’re traveling, they can’t do it later. But journaling has no deadlines. There are no late fees, no penalties if you forget to file for an extension. You can write about a trip years after it’s finished.

So here I am with this major family holiday (first overseas trip for the kids, my sister got married, etc.) and I only have journal entries (or blog posts, call them what you will) for the first couple of days.  Dave says you can blog about a trip retrospectively, but that leaves me with one major issue – I don’t remember what we did every day.

Mediocre writing is better than no writing.

See, this is where Dave’s ‘highlights’ technique would be invaluable.  I should have jotted down a couple of bullet points from each day, and then I’d at least have those memory joggers.

What’s the biggest challenge in journaling about a trip that happened long ago? Remembering. Many people think post-journaling about a long-ago journey is impossible because so many details have left them. Speed journaling can bring those details back. Often there’s a snowball effect. One tiny memory triggers a bigger memory, and so on, until suddenly, your mind is fully immersed in your long-ago-and-far-away journey.

I think I can start by going back and looking at the photos and the tickets, etc., what we did on most days.  Perhaps even check the bank statements to see where we spent money.  That would give me a rough timeline.  The days we just spent at my sister’s house playing with her kids, those are probably lost.  But I think Dave’s right, if I start writing based on the photos and a brief timeline, I’ll get a good proportion of the trip written down.

So ultimately, bullet pointing a couple of highlights from each trip is my biggest takeaway from this book.  It’s so fucking obvious, I know, but I didn’t do it, and now some of the days on that trip are gone forever.  And that sucks.

Beyond that one tip though, I was constantly inspired by Dave as I read this book.  He made me realise that I have a unique view to share, even if I’m blogging about a place that has been often blogged about.

Each of us has a set of personal cultures, based on a wide array of factors:
• Where we live
• Where we have lived before
• Language(s)
• Accents or dialects
• Race
• Religion
• Gender
• Sexual orientation
• Education
• Career
• Body size
• Family size and structure
• Marital or relationship status
• Whether or not we have or want children
• Age
• Income level
• Political views or affiliations
• Medical conditions
• Clubs, hobbies, sports, or other activities we participate in

These are just a few of them. What are your subcultures? Using the preceding list of defining elements as a guide, make a list of your different subcultures. After you make your list, ask yourself the following questions:
• How many of your subcultures are cultures you were born into?
• How many are cultures you have adopted or stumbled upon later in life?
• Which ones are your core cultures – those you feel fully connected with – and which ones are cultures you understand to an extent, but are not fully immersed in?

Now, make a list of at least ten subcultures that do not make up a part of who you are. Among your list of subcultures that you don’t feel you belong in or understand, are there any you would like to experience? What could you do to make that happen? Are there others you choose to avoid? If so, why?

This was just one of many exercises Dave urged the reader to try, and I found this one particularly fascinating.  It gives you a greater awareness of the uniqueness of yourself, because your history, background and experiences are different to those of your spouse, your parents, your siblings and your children.. Not to mention all the other people visiting the same place as you.  And then it expands on that and urges you to consider subcultures that you don’t relate to, which can only lead to greater tolerance while travelling and that’s awesome.

So, here’s what I’m going to do now.  I’m going to make a timeline of my trip (bullet points!) based on the photos, tickets, etc.  Then I’m going to turn off my inner editor and just brain-dump as much as I can about each day.  I’m not going to forbid myself from overviews or themes (I usually do because I blog chronologically), and in fact I’m going to challenge myself to make theme headings and write as much as I can for each.  Then I’m going to see how much I can write about as many ‘characters’ from the trip as I can.  I know there was the guy from Struy Inn who did falconry with us, and also the falconer at Dunrobin Castle, both distinct (and different) characters.  There was the guide at Tomatin Distillery too.

I loved this book.  I found it inspiring and educational.  It’s definitely going to change how I journal on my next trip.  Bullet points for the win!  And bonus bullet points under characters.  Ha ha!  But seriously, there was so much in this book that I can’t capture it in a simple blog post.  Definitely read it for yourself.

 

Book review of North to Nara by Amanda Marin

North to Nara by Amanda Marin

I’m not entirely sure when this story is set, but it appears to be America in some dystopian future.

Neve is a fairly ordinary girl, although she is sweet and compassionate. Through a series of events, she ends up meeting her Sufferer. Every week, citizens like Neve go to the Center of Compassion and transfer their suffering – physical and emotional – to another person, a Sufferer. It’s an anonymous exchange, designed to leave the citizen healthier and happier. Most people, including Neve, never think about the effect of the Suffering on the Sufferer. If the citizen is happier, healthier, and lives longer, what happens to the Sufferer? Those are all questions that Neve starts asking when she identifies both her previous Sufferer and her current one.

Micah is a wonderful character, and the author does a fantastic job of showing us the goodness in his heart, and how perfectly suited he was to the role of Sufferer. He simply cannot stop himself from helping others, even at risk to himself.

The author has done a tremendous amount of work in world building and creating a history for the world in which Neve and Micah live. My only problem with the book is that this history and world-building is fed to the reader by telling, not showing. There are chunks of ‘info dumping’ right through the book. It seems unnecessary. We could infer the vast majority of the required information from the scenes, and a lot of the information comes out naturally in scenes like the one in the courtroom.

If it weren’t for the ‘telling’ or ‘info dumping’, whatever you want to call it, I’d have given the book four stars. Micah’s character is excellent, and the plot is solid.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

I’m young enough to be a millenial… right?

Prompt: What is your preferred book reading medium? Kindle, computer screen, audiobook, or good old fashioned paper? How come?

While I love the tangibility of physical books, and I believe I will always have a small library (or a big library if I win the lottery!), the reality is that electronic books are far more convenient for me.

*BurstP* Electronic books are cheaper than physical books for the most part. Yeah, I can sometimes get cheap physical books at used bookstores or online or whatever, but most of the time it’s cheaper to buy the electronic version. And it makes sense – there are no overheads for the publisher. You’re not paying for the physical costs of printing a book.

*BurstO* Electronic books weigh less and take up less room. Boy, do they ever! I have a bookshelf in my bedroom that I’d estimate has about 100 books on it, give or take a few. That’s combined, mine and Steve’s. And it includes the books I’ve received from some amazing WDC authors. *Bigsmile* It takes up half a wall in my bedroom, and has three shelves, with books shelved two deep. In contrast, I have 1,404 books in my Kindle library. It takes up no room at all. I can carry all 1,404 with me everywhere I go. I can decide which one to read on a whim, and it’s right there. I love it.

*BurstG* No one can tell what you’re reading when you read an electronic book. *Wink* As you know, I only read romance novels. Well, 99%. I’m currently reading a fantasy novel, but there was romance in the first book in the series, so it counts, right? *Pthb* Anyway, romance novels have terrible covers, and worse reputations. And yes, I read some that are non-conventional, such as gay romances and romances with multiple partners. I’m not ashamed of reading those, but on the flip side, I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry on the train judging me, and I certainly don’t need my work colleagues judging me while I read on my lunch break. So yeah, I love the anonymity of electronic books.

I read on my phone. I own a proper Kindle (I think it was a gift) but I don’t use it. I’m not sure why I don’t use it, honestly, other than that I always have my phone on me rather than having to remember to take the Kindle with me. Oh, and my Kindle doesn’t have a backlight. Which is a feature they’re proud of, because it’s better for your eyes, but it makes it harder to read in bed at night with the light off. *Pthb* So yes, I read on my phone. Yes, it’s a small screen. It doesn’t bother me. The only thing that bothers me is that I can get a sore neck sometimes on the train or at lunch, because I’m leaning over to look at it instead of holding it closer to my face.

I used to listen to audio books when I was commuting by car. Sometimes audio books frustrate because it takes SO much longer to listen to a book than to read it at my own pace, but I do love a really great narrator. I’ll be honest, sometimes the audio version is better than the ebook version. Examples are Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh, which is narrated by Justine Eyre, and A Restored Man by Jaime Reese which is narrated by Greg Tremblay. Thoroughly enjoyed those. I have also enjoyed narrations by Spencer Goss and Amanda Ronconi. The worst one I ever had was Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker which was narrated by Abby Craden. That was a real quick ‘did not finish’. Ugh. Terrible. Whereas the audio version of Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands, which was narrated by Marianna Palka was hilarious. Marianna did the accents perfectly, but used a hilarious witchy voice for the ‘bad stepmother’ character. It was even funnier because the book literally says that the stepmother has a beautiful voice that didn’t match her personality, and I listened to the narrator read that out right after doing the witchy voice and burst out laughing. God it was funny. To this day, my mother, sisters and I still giggle when someone mentions chicken necks, thanks to that story.

Thinking about Marianna Polka brings me to an interesting thought on audio books. Accents. I’m a New Zealander, and I have a good understanding of some accents, but obviously not all. For instance, I can read a book where a character has a Scottish, English or Australian accent and hear that quite easily in my head. Even knowing that there are multiple variations of those accents, that’s fine. I’m familiar enough with them. I’m not very good at picking where exactly a person is from in Britain by their accent, unlike my father who grew up there, but while reading the dialogue, I can hear the voice in my head. A recent example of that was Misfits and Strays by Garrett Leigh. Two of the characters have Cockney accents, and the other two have more northern English accents. The words and phrases they used were 95% familiar to me. There were a couple of terms I didn’t know but I could easily put them into context. I read both books hearing the characters speak in my head. But when it came to Janvier from Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series, I had no idea. He has a Cajun accent or something, which means nothing to me. Anyway, I listened to the audio book and heard Janvier’s accent, which was awesome. Now I can imagine what he sounds like.

Audio books are more expensive than ebooks though, for obvious reasons. I have an Audible subscription (which I’m actually thinking of stopping now that I can read on the train and I’m not driving to work) so I can get one audio book a month for a reasonable price.

So yup, there you go. Ebooks with a side helping of audio books. But I do admit, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hands. That new book smell, or the fragility of an old, well-loved book. Yeah, I’ll always have a little library of special books.

Book review of Alluring Attraction by A F Zoelle

Alluring Attraction (Illicit Illusions #1)

Ryder and Hunter are in the same classes at university, but they don’t get along. They compete for the top grades and often get into heated debates that consume large portions of class time. One night Ryder reluctantly accompanies a friend to an exclusive brothel only to find that Hunter works there. He selects Hunter, to find out if it’s really him, and they both admit to being attracted to each other. They sleep together, and a few nights later, Ryder comes back for more. Hunter isn’t working at the brothel voluntarily, and Ryder’s visits are the highlight of his nights there. Until the brother owner, Hunter’s adoptive dad, realises that Ryder and Hunter are getting too close, and threatens them both. Meanwhile, Hunter has a new co-worker that he can’t resist.

This story is told in third person omniscient point of view, which would be fine, but the point of view changes from paragraph to paragraph, and sometimes even within a single paragraph. It took me a long time to be able to move past that. Aside from that, the writing style is very good, but I definitely think the book would be greatly improved if the author was able to maintain a single viewpoint for each chapter.

‘Ryder shrugged, not really caring one way or another. “I don’t know. I mean, I guess it could belong to a relative or something?” He sounded somewhat uncertain.’

 

I thought the characters were great, and I thought Hunter was particularly strong. It would be good to be able to see some balance in Hunter’s dad, because no one is totally evil, and yet we don’t see any balance there.

The author mentions multiple times that Hunter and Ryder are rivals, but we don’t really get to see that. It’s still being mentioned at the end of the book during sappy romantic or sexual times, when the characters are WELL past thinking of each others as rivals, and it feels a bit forced. Like the author can’t think of another word to use, because boyfriend and lover don’t quite fit.

‘Letting his thumb trail from the knuckles down to the tips of Ryder’s fingers, Hunter maintained eye contact as he slowly leaned forward and reverently placed a kiss on the back of his rival’s hand.’

Although Hunter works at a brothel, I was surprise by the steamy scenes between him and Cesare. The first one felt like it was moving the story along and letting the reader know more about Hunter and the situation he was in, but the more that Hunter and Cesare were together, the more Hunter seemed to be falling for Cesare. He thought Cesare was more satisfying in bed than Ryder. At that point I was like ‘Woah, where is this story going again?’ Actually, the title of the book, Alluring Attraction, seems more suited for Hunter and Cesare than Hunter and Ryder. But Cesare isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. I’m so confused!

‘Being with Ryder was its own form of incredible pleasure, but getting fucked by Cesare was physically gratifying all the way to the core of Hunter’s soul.’

The book finished without resolving anything. At this point, Hunter could end up with Ryder, he could end up with Cesare, or the three of them could decide to get together. Who knows?

I think the story has potential. If the point of view issue was fixed, it’d be an easy read. Aside from that one (major) issue, the writing style is great. The story has good pace and a perfect level of conflict to keep the reader engaged. The main characters are interesting and likeable, and it would be easy enough to add some depth to Christophe. I’m just not sure where Cesare fits into things. And ugh, cliffhangers. I gave the book two stars because I think it needs some more editing.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

My dream library

Do you ever dream about winning the lottery?  I do.  Probably more often than is healthy for me, but whatever.  I was re-reading an older post recently about my plans to spend my millions if I one day won, and one of my dreams was to build a house with a library in it.  And I was thinking to myself ‘Since I read all electronic books these days, what books would I fill my library with?’  So that’s what I was pondering last night as I drifted off to sleep.

Here’s what I came up.  It’s a mix of the books I’ve rated 5 stars, series I’ve really enjoyed and books I’ve already found myself re-reading.

The Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian
The Kick series by Lynda Aicher
The Seer trilogy by Maree Anderson
The Innkeeper Chronicles series by Ilona Andrews
Idle Bloom by Jewel E Ann
Belonging series by A M Arthur
The Perspectives series by A M Arthur
Restoration series by A M Arthur
The Mackenzies and McBrides series by Jennifer Ashley
The Highlander series by Maya Banks
The KGI series by Maya Banks
The Wild series by Maya Banks
The Montgomery and Armstrongs series by Maya Banks
The Others series by Anne Bishop
The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Duke’s Obsession trilogy by Grace Burrowes
Ridiculous by D L Carter
Mackerel Sky by S Jade Castleton
Let It Go by Mercy Celeste
The Aftermath series by Cara Dee
Auctioned by Cara Dee
The Camassia Cove series by Cara Dee
Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley
The Gifted Ones series by Dianne Duvall
Immortal Guardians series by Dianne Duvall
The Ruin series by Rachel Van Dyken
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
The Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
The Reed Brothers series by Tammy Falkner
The Shadow Quest series by Kiersten Fay
Edge of Honor series by Lori Foster
The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost
The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
The Senses series by Andrew Grey
For Real by Alexis Hall
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
The Scoundrels of St James series by Lorraine Heath
The MacNachton Vampires series by Hannah Howell
The Murray Family series by Hannah Howell
The Wherlocke series by Hannah Howell
Morganna by Jackie Ivie (I already own this in paperback)
The Essex Sisters series by Eloisa James
The Pleasures series by Eloisa James
When Beauty Tamed The Beast by Eloisa James
The Royal Brotherhood series by Sabrina Jeffries
Letters to the Lost series by Brigid Kemmerer
A Taste for Scandal by Erin Knightley
The Urban Soul series by Garrett Leigh
Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers
The Brainship series by Anne McCaffrey
The Catteni series by Anne McCaffrey
The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
The Talent series by Anne McCaffrey
Desires Entwined series by Tempeste O’Riley
The War Poems of Wilfred Owen
The Men of Halfway House series by Jaime Reese
The Search and Rescue series by Katie Ruggle
The Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens
Devil of the Highlands series by Lynsay Sands
The Sanctuary, Texas series by Krystal Shannan
The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh
The Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
The Healer series by Maria V Snyder
The Broken City series by Jessica Sorensen
Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
Static by L A Witt
Sin Brothers series by Rebecca Zanetti

What books would you buy for your dream library?

Looking back over 2018 and forward to 2019 (but it’s all about the books)

I’ve seen a few ‘recaps of 2018 reading’ posts, and a few ‘reading plans for 2019’ posts and I figured I’d just combine them!


Goodreads reading goal:
120
Total number of books read in 2018:
112.  Yeah, it’s not bad, but I missed my goal by a mere 8 books!

Average rating for 2018: 3.7 out of 5.  That’s pretty good for an average actually, I think!

My five star books for 2018:
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Auctioned by Cara Dee
Riven by Roan Parrish
For Real by Alexis Hall
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

The big disappointments of 2018:
His Obsession by Violet Noir
Match Day by Mercy Celeste
Cowboy Outcasts by Stacey Espino
Dragon Desire by Amelia Jade
No Fear by Nora Phoenix
No Shame by Nora Phoenix

Favorite passages/quotes from books I read in 2018:

‘Upon entering, we were served champagne, which I sipped once before putting it down, because it tasted like a thousand smarmy assholes.’ – Lev by Belle Aurora

‘There in the distance was St Paul’s Cathedral, pointing up into the sky like a silicone-stuffed Hollywood breast.’ – Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell

‘It wasn’t the guy, or his smile, or the sound of his voice. It was the promise of the dream. And, at the time, he probably would have accepted that from a three-legged iguana shifter if it had been able to speak that promise to him.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

‘He imagined he would be crapping sugar cubes at any moment.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

‘Wall didn’t know shit about computers, programming, and wouldn’t be able to find the dark web in a well-lit room.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

Goodreads reading goal for 2019: 120 (because I’m an eternal optimist!)

Books on my TBR pile:
Unwritten Law by Eden Finley (56% read)
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Shadow Touch by Marjorie M Liu (87% read)
Dark Longing by Aja James
One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Globejotting by Dave Fox (67% read)
Play of Passion by Nalini Singh (21% read)
The Proposal by Mary Balogh
The Healer and the Warrior by Bekah Clark
Tiger Eye by Marjorie M Liu

What’s on your TBR list for 2019?

Book review of The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)

Stella has a gift for numbers and does a fantastic job as an econometrician, predicting sales based on collected data of consumers, but she’s constantly turning down promotions.  Why?  Because they want to give her direct reports, and Stella doesn’t deal well with people.  That goes double for her personal life.  She’s tried dating, but can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys, and frankly, she finds kissing and sex distasteful.  Ugh, some guy putting his tongue in her mouth?  No, thank you.  She has a sensitivity to smells and touch and taste, and the men she’s dated don’t make any allowances for that.  But that’s probably her fault too because she won’t tell them why she’s struggling.  Because she doesn’t want their pity.  When people find out she’s autistic, they treat her differently, and she just wants to be normal.  Or does she?  Her mother has made her promise she’ll try on the personal relationship front, so Stella can’t give up even if she wants to.

After a ‘ex’ tells Stella she needs more practice in bed (!), Stella hires Michael, an escort, and asks him to teach her about sex so she can get better at it and therefore be more successful in the dating arena.  After a couple of false starts, a failed date and a spectacularly atrocious family dinner, Michael puts two and two together.  Once he understands what Stella needs and why, it’s much easier to work with her on the skills she wants to improve.  But the more he learns about her, the more he realises it’s going to be hard to walk away from her.

There was only one thing I didn’t like about this story.  Stella doesn’t tell Michael she’s autistic because she’s worried that it will change how he views her.  He figures it out, it doesn’t change how he feels about her (if anything, he feels more strongly for her), and yet because they don’t communicate on the subject for ages, it remains an issue preventing them from being together.  Similarly, Michael doesn’t tell Stella what forced him into the escort business because he’s worried it will change how she views her.  She figures it out, it doesn’t change how she feels about him (if anything, she feels more strongly for him) and yet because they don’t communicate on the subject for ages, it remains an issue preventing them from being together.  Ugh.  I hated that.  But it was still a solid four star read, and I really enjoyed it, so don’t let that stop you.

I thought Stella was really well written, and she felt natural.  Sometimes with characters who have ‘labels’ such as autism, it feels like the author gives them characteristics, habits or issues just to make them more stereotypical of whatever they’ve been labelled with.  Stella didn’t feel like that.  She felt more natural.  And she wasn’t ‘cured’ by Michael.  That was made evident in a few ways, including when Philip kissed her and when she was wearing the top with the open seams when talking to Janie.  Interestingly, after I finished reading the book, I found out the author is also on the autism spectrum, and wrote a lot of herself into Stella.

If you enjoy contemporary romance novels, I think you’ll enjoy this one.  It’s not gritty per se, nor is it clean and sweet, but it feels real.