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?


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)

I Like BAD Books and I Cannot Lie

I almost called this “In Defense of the Bad Book” but I thought that title was more funny. But truly, this is the purpose. I want to defend the bad book.

Let’s talk about this. I read a lot. Everyone knows this. I.READ.A.LOT. Obviously, when you read as much as I do, not every book can be a winner. Even if you only read 2 books a year, not every book can be a winner, it’s just human nature. Some things you won’t like. Some things you’ll actively dislike. Sometimes your mood will affect how you feel about a book. Sometimes you’ll be tired when reading and, therefore, less invested in that story.

There are as many reasons for not liking a book as there are books themselves. I am well aware I won’t like every book I read. I used to be the person that read every book, if I pick it up I will read it, end of story. But I am not like that any more. I have no problem stopping a book if I am not into it. Maybe I don’t like it, maybe it’s just not my cup of tea, maybe, maybe, maybe. I won’t hesitate to stop reading a book.

Why then, would I ever read a bad book?

Here’s why: They make good books better.

When you read a bad book, a book that unsettles you or puts a bad taste in your mouth, or just something that didn’t float your particular seacraft, and then you follow it with a book you enjoy, the good book suddenly seems better by comparison.

Here’s an example. In January I read a bunch of books I did not want to read. Many of them were outright terrible. It was not a fun reading time for me, on the whole. Then, I picked a book I was excited about to be the first book of my choice to follow those. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Was this the best book I have ever read? No. But you know what? It’s close. I read it on January 28, and I have such a deep and abiding love for this book, I want to read it again. It has not even been two months and I want to read it again, because in my mind, it was magic. It doesn’t mean it was the best book ever, it is just at the time that I read it I was craving something good like it. And BAM, there it was.

If you read neverending good books, they all begin to blend together in your mind, and, honestly, they become fairly boring. Like your tolerance shoots up. But if you mix in the occasional bad book, suddenly they are shiny and beautiful again. It’s the contrast that makes the beauty stand out. Like the lone daisy in a field of weeds. Among a field of daisies, you’d never even notice her, but the contrast makes her beauty truly shine. That’s what bad books do for me.

Here’s another reason. Bad books help clarify what you do NOT like. I think this is just as important as figuring out what you DO like; when you are a reader. My example here comes from the book that prompted this post. The alpha male. I love me a good alpha male. Every time I have read a good book with an alpha, I tell myself, yes, I do like alphas. But then I read a book, like the one I just finished. The alpha in this story, while certainly, on paper, meeting all the traits, is like an alpha on steroids. He treats women like dimwitted, helpless, foolish, children and expects that this makes him look strong and handsome. In reality, this makes my skin crawl. I do not like characters that are too over the top. I do not like characters that don’t have respect for other characters. I do not like gratuitous sex. I do not like domineering men. I do not like simpering females. I do not like manufactured drama. These are just a few examples of things I’ve learned from bad books.

That isn’t to say that good books can’t have these things, they can. But it is unsurprising how quickly a book will turn from good to bad because one of these things will occur in a book I may have otherwise loved.

Lastly, I like bad books because they serve as a repository for the things I don’t like. We can keep the domineering disrespectful alphas in the bad books and reserve the generous, tender and kind alphas in the good books. It’s a system that so far seems to be working for me.

So, what did we learn from this?

Well, bad books are inevitable, but I don’t mind. I’m actually glad to read a book I don’t like. It brings balance to my reading life. I don’t want all my books to be bad, but every once in awhile, I am happy to read a bad book. I cannot lie.

February 2017 Books

Second month of the year went pretty well. I read quite a bit and some decent stuff. Now we are in my favorite month of the year and there’s some good things coming out I’ve been waiting for, so things are exciting.

Here’s the list:

February: (18 books)

  1. Managed – Kristen Callihan^
  2. Ransom – Rachel Shurig^
  3. Good Boy – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy^
  4. Hard Hitter – Sarina Bowen^
  5. The Goal – Elle Kennedy^
  6. By Your Side – Kasie West^
  7. Attraction – Penny Reid^
  8. Heat – Penny Reid^
  9. Capture – Penny Reid^
  10. Blind Attraction – Eden Summers^
  11. Try – Ella Frank^
  12. Bittersweet – Sarina Bowen^
  13. The Playboy – Madeline Ash^
  14. Her Secret Prince – Madeline Ash^
  15. The Way We Fall – Cassia Leo^
  16. My Life Next Door – Huntley Fitzpatrick^
  17. Caraval – Stephanie Garber
  18. Heartless – Winter Renshaw

Standouts from this month include Managed, the second in the VIP series, which I enjoyed. Good Boy, which is the third in a series I adore, this was cute but not as good as the first two. Hard Hitter the second in a series, which I liked much better than the first. By Your Side, the newest book by Kasie West, one of my faves and this was fantabulous. My Life Next Door, a very sweet book in the style of Kasie West, so I will try another by Huntley Fitzpatrick and, finally, Caraval. This is a book recommendation I got over a year ago and I have waited and waited for it to come out. It was very good. Not excellent, but it could have fallen victim to The Oversell. I hate that. Still, it was a worthy read.

And there you have it. My February books. I am at 45 books on the year, currently on pace to read 270. Since my goal is 175, I’m not too concerned. Goodreads tells me I am 17 books ahead of schedule. I could technically take the month off and still be on pace. But I won’t. See in you April!

August 2016 Books

Well, September is upon us, which means it is time for fall, back to school, and my August book list. I’m not going to lie, I went a little crazy in August. I mean, every spare second, EVERY spare second, I was reading. I haven’t watched tv in ages. The fever had me and it showed in this month’s tally.

August: (37 books)

  1. 30 First Dates – Stacey Wiedower^
  2. Day Zero – Kresley Cole
  3. Poison Princess – Kresley Cole*
  4. Endless Knight – Kresley Cole*
  5. Dead of Winter – Kresley Cole*
  6. Paper Princess – Erin Watt^
  7. Broken Prince – Erin Watt^
  8. The Forbidden Wish – Jessica Khoury^
  9. Nuts – Alice Clayton^
  10. Cream of the Crop – Alice Clayton^
  11. Pretend You’re Mine – Lucy Score^
  12. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me – Mariana Zapata^
  13. Just Kiss Me – Rachel Gibson
  14. Six Month Rule – A.J. Pine^
  15. The Play – Karina Halle^
  16. P.S. I Like You – Kasie West
  17. Trust Honor Love – J.M. Witt^
  18. Marrying Winterbourne – Lisa Kleypas
  19. Winter Wishes – Karina Halle^
  20. The Lie – Karina Halle^
  21. Close to You – Kristen Proby^
  22. The Year We Fell Down – Sarina Bowen^
  23. The Year We Hid Away – Sarina Bowen^
  24. Blonde Date – Sarina Bowen^
  25. The Understatement of the Year – Sarina Bowen^
  26. Arcana Rising – Kresley Cole
  27. The Shameless Hour – Sarina Bowen^
  28. The Fifteenth Minute – Sarina Bowen^
  29. The Serpent King – Jeff Zentner^
  30. When Lightning Strikes – Kristin Hannah*
  31. Coming in from the Cold- Sarina Bowen^
  32. Falling from the Sky – Sarina Bowen^
  33. Shooting for the Stars – Sarina Bowen
  34. Him – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy^
  35. Us – Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy^
  36. Bet on Us – Rachel Higginson^
  37. Bet on Me – Rachel Higginson^

First off, can we take a second and marvel at how freaking many books I read this month!?!?!? Prior to this my highest monthly totals were 26 in 2013, 32 in 2014, and 29 in 2015, followed by my June of this year, with 35 books! I thought 35 would be the permanent record, but then I surpassed it by TWO this month. So it seems silly to me to say that this might be the most books I’ll ever read in a month, but that is how it feels. But hey, it’s good to have goals, maybe one day I will read 40 books in a month!

Onto the books themselves, there’s a lot to talk abou this month, so I’ll start with Kresley Cole who writes my all time favorite series and I’ve been waiting two years for the next installment. First she put out a companion guide, Day Zero, which I really enjoyed, and then the book Arcana Rising, which I did enjoy. Elena did not. But I did. Not going to make best book of the year (she usually does win this, but definitely will not this year), but it was definitely a good installment to the series.

The absolute most interesting, shocking, different, cool thing I read this month (and likely this year) is the duology Him and Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. Elle Kennedy I already know and like and I read Sarina Bowen’s backlist this month, all of which I enjoyed, so I decided to try these books that they teamed up on. And guess what? A huge shocker for me. Remember how I said I’m rarely ever surprised by books? Well, this surprised me because I didn’t know much about it, but it was a gay romance. Yes, really. Jamie and Wes, which I assumed was M/F when I read the description and was plenty surprised to find out I was wrong. But, turns out, I liked them both (the books, not Jamie and Wes, though I liked them, too), immensely. I’ve never avoided gay romance, but I’ve never sought it out, either. It was good. Then one of Sarina Bowen’s books was a gay romance, so I went from zero to three in this month alone.

Excluding repeats, which you already know I like, I liked nearly everything I read this month. It was an astonishingly good month of books for me. The only things that were flops are:

Just Kiss Me – Rachel Gibson, disappointing because I like RG a lot, but this book was not good.

Trust Honor Love – JM Witt, this was just a bad book. Terrible.

That’s it! The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and Pretend You’re Mine were not my favorite books, they weren’t bad, but even if I add them to this list, that is four out of 37 that I didn’t like. That’s a pretty good average.

So not only a ton of books, but a ton of good books. I’m just so happy about this month. Let’s hope the momentum keeps rolling into September. The first book I plan to read in September is the new Colleen Hoover, whom I LOVE, and wrote what is still holding as the best book of the year, the first book I read this year, November 9. This new book, It Ends with Us, may be the only shot at knocking her other book out of first place. Though knocking yourself out of first place to take first and second is a problem I think we’d all like to have.

Lastly, I have now read 136 books on the year. (Funny side note, I was telling my brother Zack about this and said my goal is 175…he is not a reader at all and said, “You can’t read 40 books before the end of the year!” and I said, “are you kidding because I almost read 40 books this month! and he said, “I don’t think I’ve read 40 books in my whole life”. Okay, maybe not funny, kind of sad, actually). I am on pace to read 204 books this year, which would be a new record. We will see what happens with only four months left to go.

Reading in the Rain

I know I’ve talked ad nauseum about how much I love to read outside. I LOVE it, it’s just the best thing in the world. I’m honestly surprised I don’t go into depression when I can’t for nine months out of the year.

At my house, I have a three season porch off my living room, which is on the second floor, that means my patio has a roof, the floor of the porch. I have my swing  hanging from the porch and that’s where I spend 99.99% of my outdoor reading time (once it was too sunny and I sat on the bench for 15 minutes, that’s the other 0.01%). Because of the way the three season porch is designed, it doesn’t get wet underneath. The rain has to be blowing virtually sideways to get rain underneath. The same is true inside the porch, so I’m lucky I can leave those windows open day and night, from April to October.

Okay, so this means I don’t have to stop reading when it is raining. This is a HUGE plus for me, especially this summer when it has been super rainy. And since rainy days are prime reading days, it’s basically heaven on earth for me.

Cut to Tuesday night. I was out reading and it rained a bit. No big deal. Then it got dark and a storm blew in. It was rapidly cooling off outside and I was considering heading in (I was reading on my iPad, so the dark didn’t matter) but it was a good part of the book and I was enjoying the sounds and smells of the storm, so I stayed put.

Suddenly, something wet and slimy landed on my bare leg. Okay, I just got a chill typing that. Truly. It was dark outside, so I couldn’t see it. Instead, I just freaked. FREAKED. Remember this? It wasn’t quite that bad, because I wasn’t naked, but still, I was in capri pants and it was on my bare skin.

So I freak out and start kicking both legs, which were previously resting on a footstool. Kicking like a maniac with one hand holding my iPad to keep it from crashing to the ground, I felt whatever it was leave my skin.

I calmed down and finally brought my legs to rest on the footstool when whatever it was touched my other leg! Again with the freaking and kicking and not knowing what the hell was happening. So I removed my feet from the footstool, but I was so freaked out I didn’t want to put my feet on the ground because I didn’t know what was happening and I was barefoot (my sandals were under the footstool where I had slipped them off) so I simply stuck my legs straight out. And, naturally, because I was on a swing, I start swinging wildly about in the dark with nothing to anchor me. During this time I was chanting, out loud, pleasebealeaf, pleasebealeaf, pleasebealeaf.  After maybe 20 seconds, my legs were starting to hurt, but I was calming down and I realized I needed to figure this out. On the heels of that thought was the reminder that I was holding an iPad IN MY HAND and it emits light. Um, duh?

So I flipped the screen toward the ground and, obviously, saw nothing, since the fear of the ground was all in my imagination, and finally put my feet down. As I stopped moving I was able to turn toward the footstool and I aimed my iPad again.

There it was, the source of all this drama.

A tiny green tree frog. Okay he wasn’t tiny, like maybe 1.5″ long. Which is sizeable, but by no means terrifying. Frogs do not bother me in the least. Except when it is storming, and dark and they are wet and land on my skin, uninvited, then, I guess, they bother me plenty. But I was laughing as I saw him, and I leaned forward and pushed him off the footstool with my hand. Because frogs don’t bother me. I touched him, he hopped off, I resettled in my spot and dove back into my book.

But something was bugging me, niggling in the back of my brain…

Finally, I switched over from the book to my browser and googled how high tree frogs can jump. I mean, I see frogs and toads frequently and they hop a bit, I’ve seen them jump great distances, forward, but never have I seen one jump high. Maybe and inch or two off the ground, but that’s it. However, this particular frog landed on my leg, on the footstool, which I am guessing is close to four feet off the ground when all is said and done. Four feet in the air! So my brain was wondering if he was on a tree or something and got blown onto my leg? I mean, it sounds crazy, but how else did he get there.

And then Google told me that tree frogs can jump up to 7 feet in the air, or 50 times their own body length. Wowza. I mean, that’s impressive, but also strange that I never knew that. Now I’m a little creeped out. Before I saw frogs and thought nothing of it, but now, knowing that if I am walking and see a frog on the ground, he could literally leap up and land on my head. That’s a little creepy.

Anyway, I filed that information away for later and finished my book. I was so close that even though I was cold and living in my own private dramedy, I wanted to finish. So I did. As soon as the book was done, I shut off the iPad and lifted my feet to the ground. I stuck my left foot under the stool and slid it in my flip flop. Then my right, but I couldn’t quite reach it, it may have gotten moved in the frantic flailing of the aforementioned dramedy. So I stood up on my left foot and reached further and my toe caught the edge of my shoe. I scootched it toward me and finally slid my foot in…and my toes met something slimy!

Again with the instinctive reaction, my foot kicked and the sandal went flying. Not far, mind you, just off my foot. STILL standing my my left foot, I leaned backward and grabbed my iPad, turned it back on and shined the light. My flip flop was about a foot away and now sole side up. I leaned forward with my hand and picked it up and that little frog was sitting underneath. Apparently, he thought he could make himself at home in my sandal.

Not true my freaky, jumping, little nemesis. This time I picked up the shoe in my hand, put it on, and grabbed my iPad to head inside. I kept the light pointed at the ground the whole time so I didn’t accidentally step on this frog, or worse, he didn’t hop right inside with me. As I stepped across the threshold, I turned back for one last look and the dim light from the screen could barely touch him several feet away, but it was enough to see the gleam of mirth in his froggy eye as he sat there mocking me.

Damn frog.