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.

Book review of The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

The Problem with Forever

This book seriously tugs at your heart strings.  Have tissues handy.  Mallory and Rider share a very hard, troubled childhood, but it’s not the few flashbacks that get to you, it’s the mental and emotional scars they still bear, and how those affect them today.  It took me some time (as it took Mallory some time) to understand how deeply those scars affected Rider.  There is a lot of focus on Mallory, and the reader has a very clear understanding of her situation, whereas we only really see a surface view of Rider and on the surface he seems fine.  But he’s not.  And eventually Mallory realises that.  The use of the childhood book to illustrate the characters’ struggles was brilliant.  It helped me (who doesn’t have that history or those scars) to understand the way these troubled teens viewed the world and their place in it.  Some parts were predictable (the roles that Paige and Ainsley played, in particular) but there were enough curveballs (Jayden!) to keep you wanting to turn the page and find out what happened next.

The way that Mallory spoke did grate on me a little, and put me in mind of Bella from Twilight and all her teen angst, but it was pretty integral to the character and I can’t see how the author could have written it any differently, so I shouldn’t complain.

I thought Mallory’s speech was fantastic, and really pulled all the loose threads together, but then Rider went one better and gave us an incredible satisfying ending.  The epilogue was also satisfying – no perfect lives, but moving together towards a brighter future.

This book should come with trigger warnings, but otherwise is a must read if you like powerful YA romances.

Book review of Rebuilding Hope by Jessie G.

Rebuilding Hope (Kindred, #1)

This was an interesting take on a shifter romance.  I’m accustomed to such things as fated mates and alphas, but both those things were taken a step further in this book.

Crowley is not the alpha, he’s the Zenith.  That means two things – he rules over not just a group of shifters, but all shifters.  Of all breeds.  There are three Zeniths in the world, ruling over different areas.  Crowley rules over the Americas.  Below him there are the regular alphas who run the groups on a day-to-day basis.  Alphas are the strongest, as per usual.  Zeniths are born to the position, not in terms of bloodlines but in terms of abilities.  Secondly, Crowley can hear the thoughts and feel the emotions of all the shifters under his rule, and vice versa.  That’s what makes him the Zenith.  How that works in reality (can you say reality when it’s a fiction novel?!) wasn’t explained in great detail, but the reader was given sufficient information to get the gist of it and understand how it affects Crowley and how he uses it to affect the shifters under his care.

Then you’ve got mates.  Most shifters in this universe choose a mate, as humans do.  They may fall in love, but they’re not fated.  It turns out that Holden is Crowley’s fated mate, which for a Zenith is known as a Kindred.  No one has encountered a Kindred in so long that they were believed to be myths.

All of the above gave the novel a sense of uniqueness, and made it interesting and different to those that have come before it, which is good.

I found the story hard to follow at first, and I was super confused as to why Crowley asked Holden to join him at his table in the restaurant, although that was sort of explained later.  Their first encounter wasn’t shared with the reader.  From Crowley offering Holden a seat, we skip forward to them in bed together, and that baffled me.  Why didn’t we get to see their very first interaction with each other?

Once the story got going through, everything flowed quite smoothly after that.  I liked the fact that Crowley wasn’t arrogant, that he worried over whether he was doing a good job as Zenith, that he genuinely cared for his people, that he respected advice from those whom he trusted and respected, and yet that he was ruthless and hands-on when it came to necessary punishments.  In short, a good leader.  Holden’s bewilderment and bafflement over the whole shifter thing and also his role as Kindred worked well and felt natural, and yet he instinctively reacted to some things, reinforcing the idea that the relationship was ‘meant to be’.  I thought that was all handled really well.

Some of the secondary characters were quite interesting. The vampire king definitely caught my attention.  I suspect there are sequels to follow on the other two Zeniths as they hunt for their Kindreds. Four stars from me.