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?

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.

Book review of Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter, #7)

This is the 7th book in Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series.  When I looked ahead in the series, I was disappointed to see that I was going to have read through Ashwini and Janvier’s story, and then Naasir’s, before getting back to the primary and secondary characters.  I felt that Ash and Janvier were tertiary characters to date, and we’d seen so little of Naasir even though he was on of Raphael’s Seven, and what we had, I didn’t like.  I wasn’t looking forward to his story at all.

But I’ve been enjoying the series, especially since switching to the audio versions, and I wanted to continue to follow the overall arc.  I wanted more of Illium and Aodhan in particular.  So it was with some reluctance that I started on Archangel’s Shadows.

Firstly, as someone who lives in New Zealand and has never been to America, I’m glad I listened to the audio book.  I could never have imagined Janvier’s accent correctly!

We knew already that Ash was pretty kickass, and a little crazy, and she didn’t disappoint in that regard.  There was a big build up to finding out why Ash was holding Janvier at arm’s length, and why she refused to consider becoming an immortal.  I was sceptical, I admit.  I was afraid this was going to be one of those ‘if you’d only talked to me’ tropes, where she had misconceptions and it had kept them from being together for ages and once she ‘fessed up, Janvier would sort them and they would have wasted so much time.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  I should have known not to doubt Nalini Singh!  I don’t want to give away any spoilers, because that would truly ruin the book for you, but it’s a good reason, and even Janvier has to agree that it’s a good reason.

The hunt that runs through the book helps keep the momentum going, and provides action, conflict and insights into both Ash and Janvier.

We see a lot more of Naasir in this book, and now I really want to read his book!  I hadn’t expected that AT ALL.  He is sweet, amusing and fascinating, and I really want to see how Nalini expands on that.

I was a tad disappointed at how neatly things were wrapped up at the end of the book, but unsurprised.  And that was really the only part where things were too easy for the characters.  Both Ash and Janvier stayed in character the whole book, which is good.  I gave it four stars.

 

A book review of Daring Fate by Megan Erickson

Daring Fate (Silver Tip Pack, #1)

This was a paranormal m/m romance. To explain the plot, I first have to explain the different species in this world. And the first of the two things that annoyed me about the book. But bear with me, it’s not all bad.

Humans used to exist in this world, but don’t anymore. Now there are just three main species. Werewolves can shift between human and wolf forms at will. Weres can shift between human, wolf and some kind of hybrid werewolf form that’s bigger and badder than either of their other two forms. And there are noweres, which are basically zombie weres, who are stuck in were form, and they’re undead zombies. *Rolleyes* I fucking hate zombies. I hate zombie books and I hate zombie movies. And what the fuck is up with naming all the species with such similar names? *Confused*

But anyway. The story starts with Reese, who is a werewolf. He awakens in a dungeon, chained to a wall, badly beaten. His brother is also in the dungeon. The last thing he remembers is trying to rescue his brother and sister from the small settlement they belonged to, as his sister was being forcibly mated to the leader of the settlement. He saved his brother, but was found before rescuing his sister, and beaten and left for death. His brother, with no other options, went to the weres for help.

Reese is hauled before Dane, the leader of the weres. Generally, werewolves and weres don’t get along. As it happens though, when they meet for the first time, Dane and Reese are shocked to realise they are Fated Mates. Don’t panic, it’s not insta-love so much as it is a knowledge that they’re destined to be together. They still have to go through the whole process of getting to know each other and falling in love.

Dare has to put his pack first, as he is their leader. Reese is still determined to rescue his sister. This is the major conflict between them. But there are also run-ins with zombie noweres, and weres that are trying to usurp Dare’s position, etc.

My only other niggle in the book was very minor. This is a romance between two males, which is fine. There are intimate scenes, also fine. But the author skips the whole concept of lube and just makes the male weres and werewolves ‘self lubricating’, much as human females self lubricate. *Think* I felt it was just that the author thought that it was too hard to figure out lube in a world where they live off the land, and so she just magically fixed the problem. No, no, no! *FacePalm*

But that was a very minor thing, and the book was a decent read. I rated it three stars, which means I liked it, but it wasn’t a stand-out for me.

A book review of In His Keeping by Maya Banks

If you’re following along with my reading challenge for 2018, this book was for ‘A book by your favourite author’.

It was hard to decide who my favourite author was.  So I went to my read books on Goodreads and reviewed all my five star books.  My top three authors were:
Maya Banks – 7
A M Arthur – 5
Nalini Singh – 5

So I went with Maya Banks, despite the fact that the last new book of hers I read was a pitiful one star disappointment, and the three before that were crappy two star reads.  Sigh.

So it was definitely with mixed feelings that I went with Maya Banks as my favourite author, but I couldn’t think of any better way to choose.

I went with the safety of re-reading one of her books that I’d enjoyed.  A safe bet, so to speak.

In His Keeping (Slow Burn, #2)

In His Keeping is the second book in the Slow Burn series.  It’s a modern paranormal romance series.  If you’re not familiar with Maya Banks, she also writes historical romance, modern military (or paramilitary) romance and menage romance.

There are five books in this series, with a sixth due to be released in March.  I rated the first one five stars, and the second and third I rated four stars.  I couldn’t finish the fourth one, and the fifth one was the one star read I’ve already mentioned.  So it started great, then seriously fizzled out.  But anyway, I enjoyed In His Keeping.

The series is based around the Devereaux family. Caleb and Beau Devereaux run a private security company.  Some of the men who work for them star in the later books.  This book, In His Keeping, is about Beau Devereaux.  A young lady comes to him for his help after her parents are kidnapped.  But she’s not an ordinary young lady.  Ari has paranormal powers.  For the most part I think she’s telekinetic.

The book moves really quickly.  I might be wrong, but I think there’s about a week from the beginning of the book to the end of the book.  Ari and Beau commit to ‘forever’ with each other by the third day I think.  It’s insta-love at its finest.  But the action is great, and the paranormal aspect keeps you wondering.  The plot kind of unfolds, revealing that it goes back to a long time before Beau and Ari were even born.

Ramie, from the first book, is the best secondary character in this book, but Zack definitely leaves us wanting to know more about him.  He’s the star of the third book, which is worth a read.

I haven’t done it justice, I don’t think, because a book is rarely as good on the second read through.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but I guess I was less absorbed by it than the first time.

Anyway, the first three books in this series are a decent read if you like modern paranormal romance. Maya Banks typically tortures her characters, especially the women, and this series is no different, so they’re gritty. For me, I think the speed of Beau and Ari’s relationship was the only real negative. The rest was good. And I’m tempted to re-read Zack’s story. Maybe that’ll even inspire me to finally finish the fourth book. Or not. *Smirk*

 

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: 
Static
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 August

Depth of Field by Riley Hart *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Revealed to Him by Jen Frederick *Star**Star**Starw**Starw**Starw*

Entangled by Jessica Sorensen *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Entranced by Jessica Sorensen *Star**Star**Star**Star**Starw*

Enchanted by Jessica Sorensen

Blind Faith by N R Walker *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Finding His Place by Nic Starr *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Tanner by Sarah Mayberry *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Hold Me by Talia Ellison *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

Unfold Me by Talia Ellison *Star**Star**Star**Starw**Starw*

 

Revealed to Him by Jen Frederick
I have to say, I got the audio version of this book, as well as the ebook, and it was awful.  The narrators were so bad.  There was no emotion, no feeling…  It really put me off the book, and I was struggling with it as it was.

The heroine suffers from crippling anxiety and agoraphobia, and yet when she’s outside and totally freaking out, a kiss from the hero overcomes all her fears and they end up having sex in the car.  Um, what?  She’s so agoraphobic that she passed out and threw up just trying to walk to the lift on her floor of her own apartment building, but she’s in a condition to have sex in a car, as they drive to his house?  Whatever.

The worst part for me was after she had a major freak out and had thrown up from sheer fear, and he put his fingers down her pants and commented on how wet she was for him.  Of course, then they had sex.  She hadn’t even brushed her teeth after throwing up.  Ugh.  It was such bullshit.  I’m sorry, but when people are in a state of extreme fear, they’re not thinking about how hot you are, or about sex.  No.  That is not realistic.  It’s ridiculous.  I struggled with her letting him into her apartment and them having sex, when she has such a fear of strangers and meeting new people, but I overlooked it, but the sex at times of extreme anxiety and fear?  Nope.  I almost put it down as a ‘did not finish’ but I detest not finishing a book, so I struggled through.  Kinda wish I hadn’t bothered now.  Maybe I can save you the time though.  There are definitely better books out there.

Enchanted by Jessica Sorensen
I really struggled to rate this.  I enjoyed it, and I would love to read more, and what I read I’d probably be happy to rate as four stars, but….  It wasn’t finished.  It was an incredibly short installment in the series and it didn’t even really feel like a cliffhanger so much as it felt unfinished.  I was very disappointed in the length.  Not the writing, which was fine, but the length.  I’d read more by this author, for sure, especially in this series, but I know now to be aware that I may not be buying a whole novel or even novella.  It’s more like a serial installment than a novella.

Blind Faith by N R Walker
Predictable but sweet.