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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 June

Darkness Dawns by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Darkness Rises by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Night Unbound by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Blind Faith by Teresa Gabelman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Sound of Her Warrior Heart by M L Buchman *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

An Unconventional Meeting by E V Darcy *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Unforgiven by Ruth Clampett *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Working It by Riley Hart and Devon McCormack *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Touch of Fire by Jasmine B Waters *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Adam’s Song by Spencer Spears *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tartan Two-Step by Grace Burrowes *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Phantom Embrace by Dianne Duvall
I had a pretty good idea of where this story was going, because in the previous novel, Yuri was killed in action.  Now, we step back in time a little and he’s the main character in a romance?  Oh, wait, the girl he falls in love with is a ghost.  Hmm, predictable much?  So yeah, Yuri dies and the two ghosts get to be together forever…as ghosts.  Ugh.  This was definitely not up to Dianne Duvall’s normal standards.

Before You Break by K C Wells and Parker Williams
Although it was well written, this book wasn’t for me.  I would have rated it two stars for my personal enjoyment of the book, but it seemed a little unfair to the author.  I mean, it’s a novel featuring a gay couple who are in a dominant/submissive relationship – it seems unfair to reduce my rating because I didn’t enjoy the dom/sub aspect of it.  But I didn’t.  And I was unable to give it more than three stars.

For me, a relationship has to be equal.  These two were equals at work, equals in strength, etc.  They were not equals in their relationship.  To me, it seemed that Wayne didn’t see Ellis as an equal.  Instead, Wayne felt superior, smarter, more of an ‘adult’, and he patronised Ellis.  I felt like it was more like a parent/child relationship than one of equals.  This was emphasised by the way Wayne addressed Ellis as ‘boy’ and made Ellis call him ‘Sir’.

I also felt like the last third of the book was an extended epilogue.  The book just kept going and going and going…  I was so over it by the time I finally finished.

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*

Top ten books

Prompt: If you were creating a list of top ten books, what would you choose and why? Is there an ongoing theme?

A Restored Man by Jaime Reese
A Sorceress of His Own by Dianne Duvall
Keep Me Safe by Maya Banks
Love Comes in Darkness by Andrew Grey
Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey
Morganna by Jackie Ivie
Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
The Harder He Falls by Lynda Aicher
The World As He Sees It by A M Arthur
Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks

Putting together a top ten of books was crazy hard. They’re not in order of preference, by the way, that would have been even harder! I started off with all the books I’ve rated five stars on Goodreads, and then removed the ones that didn’t immediately leap out at me. Then I went with the ones that I’ve either re-read the most often or the ones where the story or characters have stayed clear in my mind over time.

It’s interesting to analyse.

  • 100% are romance. Duh.
  • 30% of my top ten are by Maya Banks and 20% are by Andrew Grey. That speaks highly for both those authors.
  • 70% are contemporary and only 30% are historical.
  • 30% are paranormal.
  • 50% are m/m and the other 50% are m/f.
  • 20% involve military or similar. Yep, those are both Maya Banks books. She does the military ones well.
  • A whopping 60% involve disabilities of some sort, whether physical or mental. And I know that some of the ones that I was humming and haaing over whether to include in my top ten did as well. Apparently I like characters with disabilities. If I break it down even further, excluding disabilities arising from the paranormal, it’s 50/50 for physical or mental disabilities. Interesting. And I haven’t included temporary disabilities arising out of injuries that will heal (which you tend to get with the military style ones).
  • I think 70% of them are based in America, which is interesting because I wouldn’t have said that’s my preference. I think there’s 20% Scottish and 10% English.

Yeah, very interesting.

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