A book review of Match Day by Mercy Celeste

Match Day (Adventures INK, #1)

I’m not sure what compelled me to read this book, but whatever it was, I wish I’d ignored the urge.  *Rolleyes*  I’ve read other books by this author and some have been great.  I rated Let It Go five stars, and I’ve re-read Crazy From The Heat a number of times.  So don’t let me put you off the author.  But skip this book.

There are two things that let this book down.  Okay, so bear with me here.  The two main characters, Brian and Zack, have been comfortable getting each other off in the shower from when they’re in their early teens.  Their entire relationship builds on this foundation.  Despite this, Brian is 100% sure that Zack is straight.  And when we meet Zack, he’s just about to marry Brian’s sister.  Um, what?  Straight guys don’t jack off or get jacked off by their male friends in the showers.  That’s not a thing that happens in real life.  Straight guys don’t touch each other’s genitals, mkay?

I’d suggest that the author just take out any references to these prior shower sessions, but truly, you can’t.  Their whole relationship builds on that beginning.  *Headbang*

Eventually both Brian and Zack realise that Zack isn’t straight.  Like, no shit Sherlock.  *Rolleyes*  The truth is that he probably isn’t gay either.  The author doesn’t label him, but I’m guessing he’s probably demisexual.  He doesn’t seem interested in men or women, just Brian, with whom he has a strong emotional connection.  Anyway, Brian eventually admits that he’s never had shower scenes with any other friends and they realise that the shower scenes are not a normal part of male friendship.  Like, duh.

The other issue with the book is that it needs editing for correct punctuation.  But I could have overlooked that.  It’s not a major hindrance to enjoying the book.  I guess if you can get past the idea that they think it’s normal for two friends to ‘help each other out’, you can enjoy the book.  I kept rolling my eyes all the way through it.


The Kingmaker

“Good Gods!” the ax-wielder booms. “She has bigger balls than I do.”
Humor flashes in the warlord’s silver-hued eyes. “Balls don’t necessarily come with brains.”
“Mine do.” If my smile were any more syrupy, my teeth would rot.

I’m currently on book two of the Kingmaker trilogy by Amanda Bouchet. The first book was called ‘A Promise of Fire’, and the second one is ‘Breath of Fire’ The third one will be ‘Heart on Fire’, and I’ll definitely be reading it. Probably this week. *Laugh*

A Promise of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #1) Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #2) Heart on Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles, #3)

The books are set in a land called Thalyria. It seems to be based largely on Ancient Greece, with Greek language, Greek Gods (who are real in this world), etc. Half the world is ice and half is desert, or so it seems. Magic is stronger in the regions with ice, and weaker in the regions without. Magic is might in this world…

Our two primary characters are Cat and Griffin. Cat is hiding from her evil family, and has made a home with the circus. She is kidnapped by Griffin, who is a warlord who has recently taken control of one of the three Kingdoms in Thalyria. He wants Cat because she has the magic his family lacks.

Cat takes a long time to warm up to Griffin and his team, but I felt that was understandable considering that he literally kidnapped her, put her in danger and made her leave the only people she loved. Yup, fair enough. They are good guys though, and she can’t help but warm to them. Sometimes she resents liking them, which feels like it fits the situation pretty well! I’ve read other reviews that say Cat is a bit whiny, but frankly, I would be too if I was treated the way she was!

I figured out who Cat was about 40% through the first book. We officially find out at the start of book two. I know there are more reveals ahead, it’s that kind of story, but Cat’s identity was most obvious.

I’m currently 70% through the second book and I’ve never felt like the story has dragged. It’s an epic adventure and story, and so it feels okay that it takes three books to tell it.

There is an enormous amount of world building that has gone on behind the scenes, and the creatures (some are mythical creatures I’ve heard of, some aren’t), the Gods, the secondary human characters, etc., are all well described and feel like integral parts of the story. You get enough scenery to picture the scene, but not so much that you feel the need to skip pages of description.

There is plenty of action, and if you’re squeamish, it might squick you out a bit. Even the healing scenes can be pretty gory or squicky in their own right.

The general plot of the story is obvious, but the story doesn’t feel predictable. So many things happen that I don’t expect, and things don’t go how I thought they were going to, and it all adds up to keep me interested and keep me turning the page.

The romance between Cat and Griffin is secondary to what is an epic fantasy adventure story. But it’s there.

The secondary characters are fantastic additions to the story, and Kato is a clear favourite. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s Cat’s favourite or mine. *Laugh*

All in all, it’s been a fascinating read, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story. I rated book one five stars, and I expect to rate book two the same. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy or epic adventure stories.

A book review of Protecting Elliot by Sloane Kennedy

Protecting Elliot (The Protectors, #9.5)

So, for week two of my reading challenge on Writing.com, I had to read a book written in first person point of view.  Protecting Elliot is actually book 9.5 (it’s a novella) in Sloane Kennedy’s Protector series. I haven’t read the nine books that come before it, but I have read books #1, #3 and #7 in the series. The great thing about this author is that she writes each book so that it can be read as a standalone book, however characters from other books do make appearances. In this book, rather than featuring characters from earlier in the series (to my knowledge, although I’m sure there are cameos), it features Declan from Saving Ren, which is book #3 in the Barretti Security series. And I know the Barretti Security intersects with with Logan’s Need which is book #3 in the Escort series. *Laugh*

Anyway, this book starts with Declan, who is a police detective, hiring Cruz as a bodyguard for Elliot, without Elliot’s knowledge. Declan was, in a twisted fashion, involved in the death of Elliot’s father, and harbours a lot of guilt over it. Elliot blames Declan, and hates him. So Declan can’t help out in the normal fashion, so he hires Cruz as a sort of undercover bodyguard. When Elliot was attacked in his office, he made a police report, but Declan is sure there is more to the story.

There are immediate sparks between Cruz and Elliot, and an instant connection. I was worried that this was going to be a super obvious ‘You lied to me and therefore everything between us has been a lie’ thing since that seemed obvious and predictable. Whenever you’ve got a guy going undercover or acting without the other person’s knowledge, that seems to be how it works. Cruz does acknowledge that their connection means he’s going to have to tell Elliot the truth, sooner rather than later.

There is a small part of that ‘You lied to me and therefore everything between us has been a lie’ but it was significantly overshadowed by everything else that happened. Which is good. I can’t say the book is predictable. I knew there would be a bad guy, because obviously someone attacked Elliot, but I didn’t predict who it was or why. I couldn’t have predicted quite how that whole scene went down, and I didn’t predict how it would resolve some of the drama between Elliot and Declan.

The relationship between Cruz and Elliot was rock solid within the space of…what, a day? That’s a bit ridiculous. This is a novella though, and we get an epilogue that gives us the impression that they continue to get to know each other and strengthen and deepen their relationship.

I gave it three stars. It was a good read.  Because it was a novella, it lacked a little depth, but I enjoyed it. It made me want to read other books in the series, which is always a good thing. I probably wouldn’t re-read it, because I think it gained something from the unpredictability, which would be lost on a re-read. But yeah, a good read, and I think if you were reading the series, it’d be well worth including.

A book review of A Temporary Situation by H L Day

A Temporary Situation

I’m doing a reading challenge on Writing.com, and the first challenge is to read a book where the title starts with the letter A.  I read A Temporary Situation, by H L Day.  It was the first book I’ve read by this author. It’s a pretty cliched romance, with the PA falling for the boss. I wasn’t expecting much out of it. It was very funny though, and that made up for the cliche.

Tristan was like the human equivalent of a puppy – loyal, excitable, enthusiastic, loving, sweet, forgiving…  Dominic was gun shy. He had preconceived opinions about Tristan, he was stubborn, he was grumpy, he was defensive, he was difficult, he was downright rude at times…. but he was hilarious. Very witty. I know what you’re thinking, but Tristan was the boss and Dominic was the PA. Weird, huh?

The spider scenes were my favourite. Tristan had a true phobia about spiders, like he experienced real physical fear reactions when he saw one, no matter how small. It was used to good effect in the book. I cracked up when he freaked out after Dominic disposed of one. “WHERE HAS IT GONE?” *Rolling*

I rated it four stars. It wasn’t the kind of book you get lost in, but I really enjoyed it. Sometimes I wanted to slap Dominic upside the head. He clung to his preconceived notions even when all the evidence pointed to the exact opposite. It got ridiculous. And I saw the hospital visit coming a mile off. *RollEyes* But I still enjoyed it. It made me laugh out loud, and it wasn’t a hardship to read all the way to the end.

My year in books

So, it turns out I read 118 books in 2017.  That’s considerably less than the 159 I read in 2016 and the 141 I read in 2015.  It’s also below my goal of 120 books, which is based on maintaining my average of 10 books per month.  Sigh, only two books away from my goal.  Ah well, I won’t be crying in my Weetbix about it.

44% of the books I read in 2017 were m/m romances.  52% were m/f romances and the remainder didn’t fit in either of those two categories (including transgender romance and menage romance).

92% of the books I read in 2017 were contemporary, and the remainder were historical.  That’s probably the biggest proportion of contemporary books ever for me.

Two of the books were anthologies, which makes me want to count them as multiple stories/books, but I haven’t.

Approx 22% of the books were paranormal, and one was science fiction.  Actually that one science fiction book wasn’t even a romance.  That was Pegasus in Flight by Anne McCaffrey, and it was the only non-romance book I read all year.

The author I read the most of was Dianne Duvall, by a long shot.  I read 10 of her books.  After her, it was Maya Banks and Katie Ruggle with 5 books each.  Then Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell at four books.

Most interesting read of 2017: 
I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of shifters who, instead of changing species, change genders.  In the story, Alex is a shifter and can change gender at whim.  Alex is not male nor female, but both.  Alex’s shifter nature is an integral part of Alex’s identity.  But while shifters are a known phenomenon, they are a minority and not as accepted in society as Alex would like.  So when Alex falls for Damon, a straight man, Alex stays in female form around Damon.  Over time, this puts a huge toll on Alex, and eventually on their relationship although Damon doesn’t know why Alex is so troubled.  Alex’s parents are not accepting of shifters, and urge Alex to undergo an operation to get an implant that would force Alex to be static.  When Alex refuses, they use drugs to force the operation without Alex’s permission.  Alex wakes up as a male, unable to shift.  How will Alex cope as half a person, and what will Damon do when his girlfriend is suddenly…a guy?

The author had not just an amazing idea, but they pulled it off too.  It’s well written and easy to read.  I’m not 100% sure that Damon’s actions and reactions were always realistic, but that didn’t really stop the book from being enjoyable.  The coworkers added enormously to the realism factor.  Definitely recommend it, especially if you’re interested in m/m or transgender reads, and don’t mind a touch of the paranormal.  There’s really nothing paranormal beyond the whole shifter idea, but you’ve got to take that with the rest of the otherwise contemporary book.

If you enjoy books where characters don’t fit a traditional male or female stereotype, you could also check out Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers, Hard Wired by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell, and Ghost by J M Dabney.

My average rating for books was 3.4.  I have a system.  Yup, I do.
*Star**Star**Star**Star**Star* – This means I got totally lost in the book, to the point where I forgot I was reading.  I cared about the characters.
*Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw* – A great book, one I’d be happy to re-read.  For whatever reason, I didn’t get ‘lost’ in the book, but I really enjoyed it.
*Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw* – A good book, but nothing special.  Nothing wrong with it, it was just nice.
*Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw* – Something prevented me from enjoying this one.  It could have been poor editing, a crappy plot, whatever.  I didn’t like it.
*Star**Starw**Starw**Starw**Starw* – Seriously, how did this book get published?  This is ridiculous.

So it’s not bad actually, that my average rating was between good and great, huh?

Books I rated 5 stars and recommend:
A Mended Man by Jaime Reese
A Worthy Man by Jaime Reese
Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers
Pegasus In Flight by Anne McCaffrey
Never Seduce A Scot by Maya Banks
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
The Heart As He Hears It by A M Arthur
Burning Bright by Melissa McShane
Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
Tall, Tatted and Tempting by Tammy Falkner

Books I rated 1 star and suggest you avoid:
Head Hunter by Alexis Angel
Just One Touch by Maya Banks

It’s bizarre that Maya Banks is on both my five star and my one star lists.

There are less one star books, because I often read a sample before I buy the book, so if it starts off crap, I just don’t bother buying it.  I’m sure there are a few ‘did not finish’ books too, but those are harder to track.

What were your favourite reads of 2017?  Do you have any recommendations for me to read in 2018?

Books read in November

Inarticulate by Eden Summers *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*

Tell Me by Abigail Strom *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Highland Spring by Elizabeth Rose *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Twin Passions by Miriam Minger *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Chase by Candice Blake  *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Lachlan by Hazel Hunter *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Locked in Silence by Sloane Kennedy *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Royally Screwed by Emma Chase *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers
Seriously, if you like m/m romance, read this book.  Don’t read it for the spy theme or the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope.  Read it because it’s unique and hilarious and sweet and easy to read.  A perfect book to get lost in or to lounge by the pool with or to read on a rainy day.  Okay, whenever.  Ha ha!  I enjoyed it, can you tell?  The very beginning had me thinking ‘Wait, is this the book I thought it was?’ and then I was like ‘Oh damn!  That’s different.  Love it!’  From then on, I was in.  Let me know if you read it, and if you do, if you enjoy it!

Twin Passions by Miriam Minger
I didn’t have particularly high expectations of this book, but I did come away with a few grumbles.  If you can believe that a man can’t tell that the stable lad is actually the same lass he’s sleeping with, when the only thing to change is the clothes, then that’s fine.  I had my doubts, but you suspend your disbelief with books like this, don’t you?  I did feel the ‘disguise’ needed a little more substance, but whatever.  The thing that really bugged me was the head hopping – literally different points of view from paragraph to paragraph, and the fact that the author kept referring to things from a character’s point of view that the character couldn’t or didn’t know.  For instance, we’d be in the hero’s point of view, and the author would refer to him calling out to the girl working in the stables, but the hero didn’t know it was a girl and so it should have been referred to as the hero calling out to the boy working in the stables.  That makes sense, right?  I think if the book was written so we stayed in one character’s point of view completely for a whole chapter at a time, the book would be a decent three star and have potential for a fourth.  I think it would be a light, easy read.


End of The Year- Book Tag

This tag always weirds me out when I see it pop up, because it seems like something you should do in late December, reviewing your year of books. Instead, it’s more like an ‘Oh shit, the end of the year is coming up, have I read everything I wanted to read this year’ tag. Which is weird again, because are people really that anal about reading books in a particular year? It shouldn’t be that much work. Read what you want to read, when you want to read it.

Anyway, despite all that, I’m doing this tag. Why? Mostly because I just read the perfect book to answer the second question with. Ha ha!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?
Need is too strong a word, but yes, there are books that I’ve started this year and left unfinished.

Between These Sheets

There is a LOT of sex in this book.  And angst.  Sex and angst.  I needed a break, and haven’t felt the urge to go back to it yet.  I think it’ll end up being a three star read, so it’s not awful, just not enthralling, you know?  58% complete.

Play of Passion (Psy-Changeling, #9)

While I think the Psy Changeling series is brilliant, and Nalini Singh is a fantastic author (and a Kiwi!  I’ve met her and have an autographed copy of the first book in this series), these two characters aren’t grabbing me as much as others in the series have.  I do, however, really want to finish this book, because I want to read others in the series.  This series has a strong story arc, so while each novel tells the romance of one particular couple, they really need to be read in order.  So yep, gotta finish this one.  21% complete.

Hard For My Boss

I couldn’t remember what this one was about (other than being an obvious office romance), and the blurb doesn’t give anything more away, so I opened it up and read a few pages… still nothing.  Ha ha, oops.  Clearly not memorable.  46% complete.

Served (Breaking Free Standalone Book 3)

This was good, but then I felt like they’d resolved the tension, and at that point I kind of gave up on it.  I know from the blurb that there’s more drama and action to come, but it’s frustrating when you get that to point in the book where you could happily say ‘The End’ and yet you’re only… 53% complete.  *facepalm*

Duty Bound

This book is old-fashioned and set in historical America.  I’m not wowed.  I’m leaning towards two stars at the moment.  39% complete.

Charming: A Cinderella Billionaire Story

I enjoyed the beginning of this book, but like Served, I felt like it got to a point and then just…kept going.  Hopefully there’s some more action ahead to gather back some momentum, but right now it feels like I’ve read the good bits and I’m just waiting for the end.  45% complete.

What Goes on Tour (The Texan Quartet #1)

I enjoyed this one, but just felt like a change in pace.  I’ll go back and finish this one, it’s good, but sweet, and I was looking for something a little meatier.  Not that I found it, but that’s why I put it down.  71% complete.



Do you have a spring book to transition into the end of the year?

This question originally asked for an ‘autumnal book’, but in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re in spring, not autumn.  And see, this is why I had to do this tag:

Highland Spring (Seasons of Fortitude Book 1)

Just finished this one.  I liked the plot, I liked the female lead, but the writing style meant it was never going to be a five star read.  Too much telling instead of showing.  I think the author had some great ideas, but the story didn’t deliver the wow factor that it could have.  And there was some heavy handed foreshadowing too, which made the book entirely predictable.  But still an okay read.  I’m giving it three stars.


Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

Not really, I’m terrible at knowing what books are coming out.  I went and checked out Maya Banks’ page, and saw she has some coming out next year that I’ll get.

Although the last one in the Slow Burn series sucked ass, I’ll still get the next one.  The first three in the series were fantastic, so I’ll give her a second chance to redeem the series.

I wish Maya would write the next one in the Montgomerys and Armstrongs series.  I’ve re-read them multiple times, and there was supposed to be a third book but she hasn’t written it yet.


What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

Ooh, tough call.  Um…  I was thinking about reading the next three in the series after Highland Spring.  Mostly because the plot of the last one in the series intrigues me.  They’re called Summer’s Reign, Autumn’s Touch and Winter’s Flame.


Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

This one kind of depends on you knowing what you’re going to read, doesn’t it?  Which I don’t.  Well, um…  I guess any of the unfinished ones above could.  Mum’s just bought the Shattered Sisters series by Maggie Shayne, so I’ll probably give that a go.  They could be good.  I’ve got a couple of samples to try out, so maybe Sensing Danger by Wendy Vella or Mr Rich by Virna DePaul…  I guess you’re always hoping the next book is going to be amazing.  I mean, you’d much rather read a five star book than a three star (or worse) book, right?


Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Nope.   I get daily emails with book recommendations, and when I’m stuck for books, I go through the emails and download a bunch of samples, then I just work my way through the samples, buying the books that catch my interest and deleting the samples that didn’t appeal. That’s pretty much my modus operandi.  There’s not really even a TBR list or pile.  It’s just whatever I feel like, when I feel like it.