Mid year book freak out

I found this quiz over at Maxxesbooktopia and thought it’d be fun to give it a go.

Just to be clear, I’ve excluded all re-reads. So this only covers books read for the first time in 2017.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?
Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle.

28108000

It’s tells the story of Lou, who moves to a small, isolated town in the Rocky Mountains and joins the dive rescue team.  There’s pretty much everything you could want in a book – suspense, action, romance, humour…  This book has it all.  The humour was what made it a five star read in the end I think.  The rest gave it depth and made it a great read, but the humour elevated it above other books I’ve read.

Best sequel of 2017 so far?
I’m going to have to go with Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell. This is the third book in the Cyberlove series, and I wrote some more about it in a previous blog post – Cyberlove.

33803072

It features two gamers, and although they know each other online (and we met their online entities in the first book of the series), this book is where they meet in real life for the first time. It’s definitely worth reading the first book in the series before reading this one. I’ll be honest though, I skipped the second book in the series. If you’ve read it, let me know how it was.

Anyway, the two main characters are wonderfully crafted, and the book has depth. Despite that, I found it a really easy read and flew through it. The characters lingered with me though, as all good characters do.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to read?
Ooh, really tricky.  I assume by new release it doesn’t mean ones that are releasing later this year.  See, if I’m waiting for it, I usually read it straight away.  So I don’t have any that jump out.  However, I went for a browse (yep, while writing this post) and realised that a novella epilogue to Katie Ruggle’s Search and Rescue Series was released earlier this year.

After the End (Search and Rescue) by [Ruggle, Katie]

It’s actually free on Amazon, so saying I ‘bought’ it is a bit misleading, but I’ve downloaded it, and am looking forward to reading it.  Apparently it gives an intro to her Rocky Mountain K9 Unit series too, so hopefully it will lead me into another good series.

Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017?
That would have to be The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

Merida Falcon is a world-class beauty, a trophy wife who seems to have it all…except she has no voice. For nine bitter years, she lived to serve her wealthy elderly husband. On his death, Merida vanishes…and reappears in Virtue Falls with a new name, a new look, and a plot to take revenge on the man who loved her, betrayed her and walked away, leaving her silent, abused and bound to an old man’s obsession.

I just hope I can get it in electronic format. I would read the earlier books in the series while I waited (nope, haven’t read any of them) but Amazon doesn’t seem to have any of the ebooks.  Does anyone know why?

Biggest disappointment?
That would definitely be Just One Touch, the fifth book in Maya Banks’ Slow Burn series.

31551607

I’ve already written a review of this book so I won’t repeat all my opinions, but wow. A one star book that came with so much hype, and followed some great books earlier in the series.

Biggest surprise?
Hmm… I think I’m going to go with Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg.

21853870

The blurb doesn’t really grab me, and I’m still not entirely sure what made me decide to give it a go. I had already read good books by the author, so there was that, and it had good reviews. Maybe that was enough. Anyway, it was well worth the read. The best part was definitely the humour. I love a book that makes me laugh without trying too hard or losing the connection between the characters. This was well done.

Favourite new author (debut or new to you)?
That would definitely have to be Katie Ruggle, whose Search and Rescue series I really enjoyed. Her first book was actually published last year, but I didn’t find it until this year. Interestingly, she released all six books (four full length novels and two novellas) in quick succession so that ‘readers didn’t have to wait too long to find out what happened next.’ Yes! I’m on board with that! Ha ha!

Newest fictional crush?
Ooh, I think I’m going to have to go with Zach from Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardian’s series. We get glimpses of Zach and I couldn’t wait to read his story which we finally get in Night Unbound.

22035977

Zach is strong, both physically and mentally. He does what he thinks is right, regardless of what others think and he’s definitely got that mysterious vibe going for him. But ultimately, he won me over when the big badass sat on the roof with Ami, eating lollipops.

Newest favourite character?
I think that has to be Kai Bannon, from Strong Signal. That’s the first book in the Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell.

28561501

Kai is a wonderful mix of contrasts – somewhat of an exhibitionist, and yet suffering from crippling social anxiety.  I just loved him.

Book that made you cry?
Hmm… I’m a little embarrassed to admit there’s more than one! Okay, first one is Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake.

23563687

There’s the death of a secondary character that hits one of the main characters really hard, plus some really emotional scenes.  Definitely a tearjerker.

Okay, second one is Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett.

34450968

This book comes with a trigger warning for a reason.  Jason is suffering serious trauma as a result of childhood abuse, and his breakdown is just heartbreaking.  He truly reaches rock bottom, and it’s so hard to read.  I challenge you to read it without shedding a tear.

Okay, and my final one for this question is Logan’s Need by Sloane Kennedy.

Logan's Need (The Escort #3)

Again, this one features the death of a secondary character which hits both main characters really hard.  As the story goes on, we learn more and more about the character who died, and there are some truly bittersweet moments that make you wish that character was able to play a more current role in the story.

Book that made you happy?
Interesting question! Let me see… I’ve already mentioned Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle and Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg. Both had great humour. What else? How about Be True by Stella Starling.

33874558

Trevor was such a fun character, and this was a really easy read without too much angst and darkness.

Favourite book to movie adaption you’ve seen this year
Ooh, tough. I don’t watch many movies. Erm… Maybe Allegiant? Did I see that this year or last? The BFG? I think that was last year too. Erm… I guess you could count Beauty and the Beast, but I honestly didn’t think it was that great, so not sure I wanna count it as a ‘favourite’. I know it’s not a movie, but I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones from season one, so I’m gonna count that.

Favourite review you’ve written this year?
I guess that’d have to be The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher.

28099716

Here’s what I wrote:
Grady is a white water rafting guide, and his cousin invites him to join up with his company. On his first trip in the new job, Grady’s raft hits a submerged log, killing a man and putting his cousin in a coma.
Grady is overwhelmed with guilt, and currently waiting to hear if his name is cleared or if he is going to jail. In the meantime, he is visiting his cousin in hospital and trying desperately just to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Micah has experience with comas, and enjoys reading to coma patients. When he meets Grady, he offers to help him by answering some questions, talking things through and generally being a friend. But Micah works at a leather bar frequented by most of the guys that work at Grady’s job. The last thing Grady needs is for any of those dominant men to find out he has a submissive streak. No way can he work with them once they know that, they’ll never respect him.

This book was emotionally intense, and I got sucked in by both the main characters. They both have secrets and issues, which makes for a really well balanced book. Both characters grew and evolved over the course of the book, and both had to learn to accept themselves as they were and fight through their obstacles. Neither one was magically ‘healed’ of their issues, rather they had to learn to embrace themselves and figure out how to make their relationship work with those issues.

I’m not into the BDSM scene, but these characters are not heavily into it either. They’re more on the fringe of it. There are some scenes, but the actual relationship between the two men is very equal (which I liked). I think the next book will be heavier on that side of things, as the main character in the next book has already admitted to being a sadist. Whether the book is accurate about such things, I can’t say, you’ll have to form your own opinion.

Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?
Does that mean the one with the most beautiful cover? If that’s the case then, maybe it’d be Wondering Sight by Melissa McShane.

32978677

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I don’t really have a ‘to be read’ pile at the moment, but one thing I hate is having half-finished books. Currently I have two books that are sitting half-finished and I am determined to get them read. The first is Between These Sheets by Devon McCormack.

34370637

This book has some great characters, some great scenes, but oh my god, so much sex! Every now and then I get a bit fed up of reading all the sex and take a break from the book. Need to just finish it and be done with it.

The other book is Play of Passion by Nalini Singh.

Play of Passion: Book 9 (Psy-Challenging) by [Singh, Nalini]

This is book 9 of the Psy-Changeling series, and it’s a fantastic series. I know it gets better too, because I went to the Auckland Writing Festival and heard Nalini read from what was then a new release in the series, but I haven’t got to it yet. I have a signed copy of the first book in this series too. So yes, I will read this. I just have to be in the mood for it.

Ha, this quiz took me way longer to finish than I thought it would. I’d love to hear your answers. Tag me if you do the quiz so I can see what you’ve been reading!

Books read in May

The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Strong Medicine by J K Hogan *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Rendezvous With Yesterday by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Seven Years by Dannika Dark *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tracking You by Kelly Moran *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Phantom Shadows by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Books read in January

Stay With Me by Ann T Cee *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Smoky Mountain Dreams by Leta Blake *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Quinn by Lily Baldwin  *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

A Cowboy’s Home by R J Scott *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Snow In Montana by R J Scott *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Second Chances by Jerry Cole *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Switched by N R Walker *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Speechless by Kim Fielding *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Stay With Me by Ann T Cee
There was no conflict in this story.  I was hoping for something…more.  It was sweet and…boring.

Switched by N R Walker
We’ve all heard stories of babies being switched at birth, but few of us can imagine what it must feel like to be in that situation.  N R Walker gives us a fascinating insight.

At first I felt like Israel’s parents were too evil.  No one is black and white.  But the author corrects this by giving us insight into their behaviour and showing other sides of their personalities making them more multi-dimensional.

Overall, I found the concept and story quite fascinating.

Bloodline by Barbara Elsborg
The characters in this were well fleshed out, which made them feel real and believable despite the paranormal aspect.  I loved the Princess Bride references and the general humour.

Books read in December

Downtime by Tamara Allen *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Fractured Hymns by A M Arthur *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

The Alpha’s Hunger by Renee Rose  *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

An Ordinary Girl by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Ricky by Ashley John *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

A Cowboy’s Christmas Promise Maggie McGinnis *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Talking Trouble by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Chosen by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Downtime by Tamara Allen
Morgan Nash is a 21st century FBI agent. He is somehow accidentally ‘summoned’ back to the 19th century by some scholars who were testing their Latin.

The book with the spell in it is stolen and as they hunt for the means to send Morgan back to his own time, he becomes embroiled in the legendary Jack the Ripper case (irresistible to an FBI agent!) and starts falling for Ezra, his housemate.

Sometimes when writing time travel novels, authors go to the ridiculous (or tedious) trying to convince us that they are familiar with the time period and to help us ‘see it’. In this case, the author focuses on the characters and the plot, and the time periods are secondary, to the point where they feel natural rather than forced. It’s well done.

I actually ended up researching ‘Prince Eddy’ online to find out more about the real man and what happened to it. It’s always great when an historical story prompts you to do real research.

Talking Trouble by Barbara Elsborg
The plot was good, but I would have enjoyed it more without all the gratuitous sex scenes.

Chosen by Barbara Elsborg
Kate is kidnapped by Jack.  He not only rapes her, but threatens every good Samaritan that Kate tries to seek help from, and kills the one man who does try and help her.  Then Jack kidnaps a child from a McDonalds and takes Kate and the child to live in a remote house in the woods where they are going to be happy families.  The raping and violence continues, and Jack threatens the child to help keep Kate in line.  She tries desperately to seek freedom for herself and the child, enduring increasingly more violent punishments each time she is caught.  Meanwhile, Jack’s half brother Nathan has been stalking and monitoring Jack ever since he came out of the mental hospital he went into after sleeping with Nathan’s fiance.  He doesn’t really have any better motive than revenge, but it does mean that he is the one that notices that Jack has disappeared right after buying flowers for a mystery woman.  He hunts Jack down and when Kate appeals to him for help, Jack draws Nathan into his sick and violent plot.  When Nathan and Kate finally manage to escape with the child, Jack goes straight to the police with a twisted sob story that is practically impossible to unravel.  Now Nathan and Kate are wanted for kidnapping and the police believe that Kate is not only mentally unbalanced, but involved in an S&M relationship with Jack and not only enjoys the pain but invites it.  There is little hope of ever being free of Jack’s machinations.

For me, this wasn’t a romance.  Kate and Nathan don’t even meet until 75% through the book, and by the time the book has finished, they’ve probably only known each other a week.  That week has been spent either in the hospital or on the run and filled with constant danger.  They really know nothing of each other.  On top of that, Kate has just endured rape as well as physical and mental torture by Nathan’s half brother.  There is no way she is in any state of mind (or body) for what is her first consensual relationship.  No way.  It was completely unbelievable.

The plot was incredibly convoluted.  I haven’t even gone into all the twists and turns the plot takes.  Not only is there the current events which are convoluted, there is Jack’s twisted interpretation of events which are exceptionally complicated, there are events from history which feed into the current events that we learn about in bits and pieces, and on top of all that, there are other people manipulating the main characters.  By the end of the book I was so confused.  It would have been a better story without all the drama from the past, and without the other people who were doing the manipulating.

It is an incredibly dark story.  There is a lot of violence, both sexual and not.  The violence escalates as the book progresses, and I simply can’t imagine that Kate could come through it without horrific mental scars to go with the physical scars she would bear.

The writing style itself was good, and easy to read.  It was the convoluted plot and the fact that the romance was not only far from the focus of the plot but also utterly unbelievable that led me to give it two stars.

2016

Prompt: It’s nearly 2017. Go ahead and rant about 2016 or what you want to see happen in the new year.

So, in 2016

  • I wrote 11 site newsletters for Writing.com
  • I wrote 2 short stories
  • I wrote two novel chapters
  • I wrote 113 poems
  • I wrote 172 blog entries
  • I read 159 books

These were my five star reads for 2016:
A Restored Man by Jaime Reese (audio version)
A Mended Man by Jaime Reese
My Viking Vampire by Krystal Shannan
Demon Possession by Kierstan Fay
Demon Slave by Kierstan Fay
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
Nameless by Jessica Sorensen
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Moon Called by Patricia Briggs
Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs
Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews
Tall, Tatted and Tempting by Tammy Falkner
Let It Go by Mercy Celeste
The Bloodline War by Tracy Tappan
Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
Ridiculous by D L Carter
Mr. and Mr. Smith by HelenKay Dimon
This Isn’t Me by T.A. McKay
Don’t Tempt Me by Lori Foster
Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shalvis
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
Signs of Attraction by Laura Brown

Books read in November

It Was Always You by various authors *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

In The Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Crash by Nicole James  *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Drawn In by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Falling by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

With or Without Him by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Breaking by Barbara Elsborg *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Resurrection Heart by Wendy Lynn Clark *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Three Dirty Secrets by Nikki Sloane *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Falling by Barbara Elsborg
Harper has been released from prison after serving 10 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He runs into Malachi several times by chance, and the pair hit it off.

Malachi has his own issues, and the two lean on each other, learn from each other and grow close.

There are unresolved issues on both sides, and plenty who don’t want to see them happy. The obstacles seem insurmountable, and both men are struggling to find the inner strength required.

The book didn’t gloss over all the ways that Harper’s life had changed, now that he had a criminal record, nor the attitudes he received from people regarding the crime he’d been committed of. That felt realistic.

When we first meet Harper, he is paralysed with indecision after spending 10 years without having a say over even the smallest aspects of his own life. Choices simply overwhelm him. However, after that first meeting, this issue appears to vanish. He becomes decisive and even demanding, bargaining like a pro. It was this huge discrepancy (it felt like huge because I had been led to expect one thing and got another) that prevented me from giving the book five stars. It needed to be either toned down in the beginning so that it was more believable when he got over it so quickly, or he needed to take longer to get over it.

One other thing – Harper took a HUGE risk at one point, doing something he knew breached his parole restrictions. I couldn’t understand why he would. It was such an unimportant thing to do, yet could have such huge repercussions, and he just…did it. Like he didn’t care if he went back to prison or not, when we had been led to believe he did. It was out of character and it annoyed me.

It’s hard to say too much more without giving away spoilers. The book felt real, mixed sweet and gritty very well, and I enjoyed it.