August 2017 Books

So here’s the thing, August in Minnesota was bizarrely cold. August is usually blisteringly hot and humid and oppressive and while I don’t enjoy that weather, per se, I do enjoy it as someone who likes to read outside. LOVES to read outside. I can sit up half the night reading and it is warm and perfect for swinging away. However, this particular August, by the time the sun went down I was needing long pants, long sleeves, and my sweatshirt. And several nights I had to bring a blanket as well! Honestly, there was more than one night when I was shivering in my swing and wondering why I can’t be normal and just go inside? But knowing that fall is imminent and my days of outdoor reading are numbered for 2017, I wouldn’t give up.

That dogged determination led me to a stellar month of reading.

August: (32 books)

  1. Beauty and the Mustache – Penny Reid^
  2. Ninja at First Sight – Penny Reid^
  3. Happily Ever Ninja – Penny Reid^
  4. Dating-ish – Penny Reid^
  5. The Sure Thing – Marie Harte^
  6. Alex – Sawyer Bennett^
  7. Garrett – Sawyer Bennett^
  8. Zack – Sawyer Bennett^
  9. The Player – Claire Contreras^
  10. Ryker – Sawyer Bennett^
  11. Hawke – Sawyer Bennett^
  12. Wired – Julie Garwood^
  13. Off Base – Annabeth Albert^
  14. Barely Breathing – Pamela Clare^
  15. Find My Way Home – Michele Summers^
  16. Made for Us – Samantha Chase^
  17. Love Walks In – Samantha Chase^
  18. Always My Girl – Samantha Chase^
  19. This is Our Song – Samantha Chase^
  20. A Sky Full of Stars – Samantha Chase^
  21. Hot in Hellcat Canyon – Julie Anne Long^
  22. The Rule Book – Jennifer Blackwood^
  23. The Rule Maker – Jennifer Blackwood^
  24. Easy Nights – Kristen Proby^
  25. One More Kiss – Samantha Chase^
  26. Never Loved – Charlotte Stein^
  27. Never Better – Charlotte Stein^
  28. Breathless in Love – Bella Andre^
  29. Absinthe – Winter Renshaw^
  30. Country Nights – Winter Renshaw^
  31. Beard In Mind – Penny Reid^
  32. Some Kind of Hero – Suzanne Brockmann^

 

So that’s a bunch of books. And most of them were even pretty good. A couple of stinkers, notably Off Base, The Sure Thing, The Player, and, regrettably, Wired by one of my all time favorite authors, Julie Garwood. She hasn’t written a winner in so long it actually makes me want to cry when I think about it, so I try not to and keep hoping for the best.

Here are the standouts for the month. Dating-ish by Penny Reid, this is the penultimate book in her Knitting in the City series and, wow, is this by far my favorite. I’m surprised when books get so much better toward the end but this one did. I just adored it and it makes the whole series seem more worthwhile. I’m really looking forward to the finale (hopefully that sentiment won’t come back to bite me in the ass) due out early next year. I very much enjoyed Hot in Hellcat Canyon by Julie Anne Long, I have always enjoyed her historicals, but was eager for her first foray into contemporary, so are many people I think as the library wait was long and I am still waiting for the next two, but this was great. I also really enjoyed The Rule Book by Jennifer Blackwood, which was a recommendation by Amazon (thanks Amazon!) and it was awesome. Great story. Most of the rest are very good, too, but just not outstanding.

Finally we end with the last book of the month. This is book 17 of Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. I started reading these years ago, like she was on book 6 I think, and this was before I understood I don’t care for romantic suspense as a genre. So I stopped reading them. Then this one came out and I liked the synopsis and thought, “why not?” and read the thing. Well, READ is probably a bit strong. I really don’t like romantic suspense and found myself skipping all the suspense stuff in favor of the romance stuff. If you like that sort of thing, (MOM), then this might be a good series for you, Brockmann is a great writer and tells a well-crafted story, I just don’t care. All the B plots detract from the good stuff, in my opinion. So this is my reminder to myself to just…stop. Stop picking these up thinking “maybe this one will be different” because they never are.

And there you have it, my August books. When I finished this month I was at 170 books, five shy of my annual predicted total, so I feel good about my chances. I’m currently on pace to read 255 books this year. While I do not expect to keep up that pace, I will definitely beat my guess, so if you bet on me, then kudos, go buy a new book.

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July 2017 Books

Okay, now that July officially ended only three days ago, I’m feeling much more on track. I’m surprised at how much I read in July, given the holiday, various and sundry to-dos and events, and a family vacation. Yet, I must have been reading constantly during the moments I wasn’t with friends and family. Alright, well, I pretty much always read constantly when I’m not with friends or family. That should stop surprising me at some point.

July Books (16 books)

  1. Blurred Lines – Lauren Layne^
  2. Royally Screwed – Emma Chase^
  3. Royally Matched – Emma Chase^
  4. Royally Raised – Emma Chase^
  5. Royal Scandal – Marquita Valentine^
  6. Royal Affair – Marquita Valentine^
  7. Walk of Shame – Lauren Layne^
  8. Now That It’s You – Tawna Fenske^
  9. Edge of Chaos – Molly E. Lee^
  10. After All – Karina Halle^
  11. Hello Forever – Sarina Bowen^
  12. Way Down Deep – Charlotte Stein^
  13. Sex Symbol – Laurelin Paige^
  14. Dream of Me – Gaelen Foley & Jaz Kennedy^
  15. Friends Without Benefits – Penny Reid^
  16. Love Hacked – Penny Reid^

Now that I’m looking back, this was not a terrific reading month. It was okay, sure, I mean, any month with a new Sarina Bowen is good for me, but a lot of these books are wholly forgettable. As in I read them a month or less ago and I still can’t remember anything about them. Yet, nothing was truly terrible. I did not like Sex Symbol. Not a worst book, just not good. And there was good, for sure. Hello Forever was good, but, again, Sarina Bowen. I finally dove into the Knitting in the City series by Penny Reid, which I waited too long to read, given my love for Neanderthal Seeks Human, and enjoyed it. I really liked Walk of Shame. It was surprising how much I liked it. And I was super shocked by how much I enjoyed Way Down Deep. A romance where the two characters literally never meet. Go figure. And yet, I loved it. So, some gems, but not a truly standout reading month.

At the end of July I had completed 138 books, putting me on pace to read 237 books this year. We shall see how it goes. We’ve just dipped into August, which is usually a big month of reading for me. See you in a month!

June 2017 Books

I’m basically just plowing through these lists now, just to get back on track. We finally hit summer and I got a new swing and intended to wow you with my outdoor reading, but then the weather got wonky and it didn’t go as planned, but I think I still managed okay.

June books (29 books)

  1. The Duff – Kody Keplinger^
  2. Geekerella – Ashley Poston^
  3. When It’s Real – Erin Watt^
  4. Pipe Dreams – Sarina Bowen^
  5. Buns – Alice Clayton^
  6. Famous in Love – Rebecca Serle^
  7. Truly, Madly, Famously – Rebecca Serle^
  8. The Hook-up – Kristen Callihan^
  9. The Friend Zone – Kristen Callihan^
  10. The Game Plan – Kristen Callihan^
  11. The Hot Shot – Kristen Callihan^
  12. Come Away With Me – Kristen Proby^
  13. Left Drowning – Jessica Park^
  14. Thoughtless – SC Stephens^
  15. The Debt – Karina Halle^
  16. Before I Ever Met You – Karina Halle^
  17. Steadfast – Sarina Bowen^
  18. Louder than Love – Jessica Topper^
  19. Love to Hate You – Anna Permoli^
  20. The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband – Julia Quinn^
  21. Lost Without You – Molly O’Keefe^
  22. Where I Belong – Molly O’Keefe^
  23. The Knocked Up Plan – Lauren Blakely^
  24. Hot Mess – Emily Goodwin^
  25. Twice Burned – Emily Goodwin^
  26. Easy Magic – Kristen Proby^
  27. Strong Enough – Melanie Harlow & David Romanov^
  28. The Rocker that Holds Me – Terri Anne Browning^
  29. The Rocker that Savors Me – Terri Anne Browning^

And there’s June. A lot of goodness here, but mixed with a lot of crap, which is probably to be expected by 29 books in 30 days. Here’s the good: Geekerella, an adorably geeky take on the Cinderella classic. When It’s Real, Erin Watt is quickly becoming a go-to author for me. Liked this even more than the Royals series. Buns, because, well, Alice Clayton’s humor. The Kristen Callihan series is good if you like sports romance, which I do. This one is football and enjoyable. Karina Halle is on my must read list and I enjoyed these both. The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband is a favorite. This is a stellar new series by a beloved author and she, again, knocked it out of the park.

Molly O’Keefe started a new series after her wildly successful (with me at least) series Everything I Left Unsaid, which is also the name of the first book, AND the best book of the year for me in 2015. This was a bit of a letdown. Good, yes, but in comparison they left me wanting.

The Knocked Up Plan. I really like Lauren Blakely’s humor as well. What I don’t like are books about pregnancy and babies, etc. Yet this one? Blew me away. I loved everything about it.

The one from the dark side that pops out was Thoughtless by SC Stephens. Let me just say this. I HOPE this is the worst book I read all year. I shudder to think there are worse out there.

And there you have it, a worthy June. I ended the month with a grand total of 122 books, and, as you know, July 1st marks the halfway point. Which means that I was on pace to read a whopping 244 books this year. Yowza.

July is coming….but tomorrow. I need to organize my thoughts. Stay tuned…

May 2017 Books

Sweet Mary and Joseph, I meant to stay on top of my book lists this year and then I blinked and I’m three months behind. How does that happen? I honestly can’t remember much about May, so I’ll just jump to the list and hope the books were somewhat memorable.

May books (15 books)

  1. Complete Nothing – Kieran Scott
  2. Devil in Spring – Lisa Kleypas
  3. Wicked Abyss – Kresley Cole
  4. The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy – Rick Riordan
  5. Shy Girls Write it Better – May Sage^
  6. The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig^
  7. The Perfect Illusion – Winter Renshaw^
  8. Bitter Rivals – Winter Renshaw^
  9. Arrogant Playboy – Winter Renshaw^
  10. The Ship Beyond Time – Heidi Heilig^
  11. The Crown’s Game – Evelyn Skye^
  12. The Crown’s Fate – Evelyn Skye^
  13. 180 Seconds – Jessica Park^
  14. Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor
  15. Red Sister – Mark Lawrence^

Whew! This was a surprisingly good month of books. Devil in Spring is the continuation of a series I enjoy, where the characters are related to the characters of another series I enjoyed. Sounds convoluted, is actually quite nice. I always enjoy Kresley Cole’s IAD series, and this new entry did not disappoint. The same goes for the new Rick Riordan.

The duology from Heidi Heilig was delightful and completely unlike anything I’ve read before. I enjoyed them both and recommend them heartily if you don’t mind a bit of fantasy and history in your reading.

Same with The Crown’s duology, which I found browsing about the Heilig books.

Strange the Dreamer is a book I was looking forward to for a long time. It was okay. It was a bit of a letdown. I wanted it to be so much more than it was. It was so close to being an excellent idea.

Red Sister was another unusual choice that I enjoyed. Nun assassins. Need I say more?

Lastly we have 180 Seconds. I was woefully unprepared when I read this book. I simply wasn’t expecting it. And it may well be the best book I read all year. We shall see.

And that, my friends, was May. At the end of May I had 93 books completed, on pace to read 223 books. Stay tuned….

April 2017 Books

And apparently I never blogged my April books. As I am prepping for the May blog, I probably should get this one in.

Plus, this was a great month of reading for me, so I want to remember, and share with you.

April: (15 books)

  1. Daughter of the Pirate King – Tricia Levenseller
  2. The Opposite of You – Rachel Higginson^
  3. Never Sweeter – Charlotte Stein^
  4. How to Keep a Boy From Kissing You – Tara Eglington^
  5. Retrieval – Aly Martinez^
  6. Shadow’s Seduction – Kresley Cole
  7. Twist – Kylie Scott^
  8. Ex Games – Stella Rhys^
  9. If You Were Mine – Melanie Harlow^
  10. The Conspiracy of Us – Maggie Hall^
  11. Map of Fates – Maggie Hall^
  12. All Chained Up – Sophie Jordan
  13. Hell Breaks Loose – Sophie Jordan
  14. Fury on Fire – Sophie Jordan
  15. Only Everything – Kieran Scott

And there you have it. Surprisingly high count of print books this month, 1/3, which is way above average. The first book of the month, Daughter of the Pirate King, is a debut author and I adored this book. Fun and intriguing read, just entertaining from cover to cover. I did not know, until the final few pages, that this was a series and I have to wait a year for the next one. ARGH (as the pirates say.)

The Opposite of You is the new romance by a beloved author. I liked this one a lot. I didn’t love it, but I did like it.

Conspiracy of Us and Map of Fates are the first two in a trilogy that I really enjoyed. The final one is out this summer and I can’t wait to read how it ends.

All Chained Up, Hell Breaks Loose, and Fury on Fire are a trilogy by Sophie Jordan that I did not know what to expect but turned out to enjoy more than I thought.

Overall, a great reading month. Not without its bombs (Retreival? Can I get those two hours back please?) but overall a pleasant month of good books.

The end of April found me at 78 books on the year so far, headed for a total of 234 books on the year. We will see how it all shakes out.

Stay tuned for May, in a couple of days. I still think I can squeeze in another book or two. We shall see….

March 2017 Books

Well, well, well, no one thought to remind me that I hadn’t posted this yet?

In my favorite month of the year I’m always a busy girl. Things to do, presents to open, that sort of thing. Therefore, my expectations are pretty low for books. In fact, 19 books is the most I’ve ever read, the other three years I’ve been tracking were 7, 6, and 5, reverse chronologically.

Imagine my surprise to pack eighteen new books into my calendar in my birthday month!

Here’s what I was reading.

March: (18 books)

  1. Royal – Winter Renshaw^
  2. Six of Hearts – L.H. Cosway^
  3. Lucian Devine – Renee Carlino^
  4. Goodbye Days – Jeff Zentner
  5. Rock Addiction – Nalini Singh^
  6. Three Little Words – A.J. Pine^
  7. The One Real Thing – Samantha Young^
  8. Wait for It – M. O’Keefe^
  9. Blush for Me – Kristen Proby^
  10. Unexpected Fate – Harper Sloan^
  11. Goodbye Paradise – Sarina Bowen^
  12. Truth or Beard – Penny Reid^
  13. Grin and Beard It – Penny Reid^
  14. Beard Science – Penny Reid^
  15. Every Little Thing – Samantha Young^
  16. Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg^
  17. Openly, Honestly – Bill Konigsberg^
  18. Honestly Ben – Bill Konigsberg^

What a great month (in so many ways!). The first three were duds. Then Rock Addiction and Unexpected Fate, both of which were unimpressive. But, the other 13 books I read this month were terrific.

Goodbye Days is already a contender for best book of the year, seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. (In case you’re wondering, Elena, you will hate this, Kelly, I would assume no, but you could try it, Mom, I think you would like it).

Three of these (Blush For Me, Three Little Words, and Wait for It) were continuations in a series. All three were excellent entries to their respective series’.  I also tackled two new series, the three by Bill Konigsberg, which is a completed trilogy and The Beard books, which is an ongoing series, these are just the ones completed.

I have written previously of my love of Sarina Bowen, so kudos to her for putting out her new book for my birthday. It was stellar. I adored it.

I adored the readings. All of them, even the bad ones. I love a good month of reading and this one was exemplary. What a ‘happy birthday to me’ sentiment that is.

As for our update. Through the end of March, I had read 63 books, which put me on pace to read 252 books this year. Yikes. That would be amazing. I guess we’ll see how it goes. We are headed into nicer weather and you know how I love to read outside!

How Technology Changed Reading

You’re thinking this will be a post about reading on a device?

Wrong.

It’s not about that at all. It’s about how technology, social media, and computers have changed the way we interact with the book world. Authors are everywhere. Social media, newsletters, Goodreads.

If I have a question for an author, I can post it on GR and it will get answered. Or I can Tweet to that author. Once, I Tweeted to a beloved author (Teresa Medeiros) that I was recklessly in love with one of her heroes. I don’t normally crush on fictional heroes (except Captain America), but no matter how many times I read that book or others, I just plain love him. (I said all this in 140 characters or less) and she responded that of all her heroes, she has a soft spot for him as well. Swoon! So, like any good fan, I said to her, if you had to cast him in a movie, who would play him? Not that I was interested, but even though he was described in the book, I had a picture of him in my mind and I wanted to know what he looked like to HER, his creator. Very shortly, she replied. Christian Kane! No kidding. My favorite book hero ever and she thinks my favorite celebrity should play him? Oh my. I think I may have passed out. But now that I’ve fully recovered, I view that book and that author differently. My love for them is a bit deeper having interacted with her.

Another author (Sarina Bowen) I like let me join a behind the scenes team that gets the opportunity to talk about her books in advance of their publication. That just makes me feel cool.

An author (Jeff Zentner) I recently discovered published his second novel. Before it came out he Tweeted a link to the first three chapters. I got to read a preview. When I thanked him online, he responded. It made me feel valuable. There is a connection that had never before been present and it enhances my reading life.

Let’s scoot forward to today. If you know me, you know I am a crazy emailer. Pretty quick response time. But I don’t often check email on weekends. And weekends that include my birthday? Not even a bit. So when I saw this email this morning, in the form of a newsletter from an author I enjoy, I read it.

It included a short blurb about 20 free copies of one of her books being available on iBooks. you just had to be one of the first 20 people to respond to this email. Normally I am all over this sort of thing. I am ready to be one of the first 20. But this email came out on Saturday. I didn’t see it until today. That is DAYS later. I figure there is ZERO chance that there are any free copies left.

But, never one to leave a stone unturned, I respond back, regardless. I said “bad weekend to be off email for my birthday, I’m guessing, but is there any chance I’m the 20th person to respond?” Again, I figured zero chance and didn’t even figure on a response. I cannot imagine that at least 20 people didn’t want a free book, especially if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter

Imagine my surprise, when, a couple hours later, I get a response from the author. She wrote, “the 20 were gone days ago, but I just contacted them now and got another free code, for you. Happy birthday, here’s to being the 21st!”

No kidding, she did that for me. Eve Silver is her name and I’ve been reading her books for years. I was so touched. I mean, she did not have to do that, I totally did not expect it, but by doing so, she made me a fan for life. I probably already was, but this cemented it for sure. Now I have the book and gratitude for her kindness. This is something that couldn’t have happened before technology put us in touch with people we will never meet.

Thank you, Eve Silver. I’m super excited to read your book, it was an amazing birthday gift.

(For anyone wondering the book is Sins of the Heart by Eve Silver)