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Books 2013

Books I read in 2013, organized by category and then alphabetically by author:

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Non-Fiction—Memoir, Autobiography, Biography:

Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries, Tim Anderson (K)
This made me smile and laugh and want to go back to Japan.

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend, Rachel Bertsche (K)
I’m still thinking about this book, which means it was worth reading even though I would have liked to hear more about the research and less about the “girl dates” (and I’d like never to see the word “bestfriendship” again).

The Woman in the Photograph, Mani Feniger (K)
This is the sort of quest I’d like to go on one day.

My Horizontal Life, Chelsea Handler (K)
Chelsea Handler is not someone who has a big presence in my personal pop culture landscape, so I came to this book with pretty much no context. There were some parts that made me laugh, but there were more that made me feel bad for the people she was with.

Queen of the Air, Dean N. Jensen (K)
I shouldn’t have read this nonfiction work so soon after the fictional Water for Elephants, as it also has a circus setting in a similar timeframe, and I sometimes got confused about which characters/people were in which world. I wasn’t familiar with the performers this work profiles and learned a fair bit. I found the photos very interesting, but was disappointed when two of the photo sections had spoilers for events that hadn’t been talked about in the text yet.

Stranger Here, Jen Larsen
I liked it, though I wonder how I’d have felt if I hadn’t met Jen and some of the other people in the book long before it was published.

When I Married My Mother, Jo Maeder (K)
Exactly the book I needed to read at this time in my life. When the author and her brother were cleaning out their mother’s house near the beginning, I could so identify with them.

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America, Mike McIntyre (K)
Didn’t click with me. Seemed like a stunt. Wanted to get inside the author’s head more, not just read about the various people he encountered.

John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood, Michael D. Sellers (K)
I grabbed this one because I thought the movie was entertaining and felt like it should have done better in the marketplace. This book helped me understand what went wrong from the perspective of a fan that is also connected enough in the film industry to have gotten a meeting with Disney prior to the film’s release to talk about the marketing aspect of the project. As a book, it would have benefitted from additional editing; cutting back on things like quotes from blog post comments would have made it more focused. There are some typos and sentence fragments, too, but the subject matter and author’s passion for it were engaging enough that those things didn’t bother me as much as they sometimes do.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed (K)
I almost stopped reading this when she got to the start of her journey having never loaded her backpack, much less practiced walking with it. Poor choices is a theme here, both on the trail and in flashbacks. Of all them, the one that means an animal suffers a horrible death appalled me the most. I didn’t get much of a sense of redemption; a lot of the healing seems to have happened after the hike that’s documented in this book.

Leaving Salt Lake City, Matthew Timion (K)
The author is not the kind of person I’d expect to write a book. I had trouble connecting with him and his life choices; I was hoping there’d be something there that would help me understand but I was left wanting.

Heads in Beds, Jacob Tomsky (K)
Quite an entertaining look behind the scenes at the hotel business. The places I usually stay in aren’t as fancy as the ones the author worked in so not sure the tips sprinkled throughout will help me much.

The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Zhu Xiao-Mei, translated by Ellen Hinsey (K)
I found the first part of the book, covering her youth and young adulthood in China during the Cultural Revolution, both interesting and horrifying. The second part, covering her time in the U.S and France, focused more on music and was less engaging. I felt an emotional distance throughout that seemed at odds with the events; perhaps that was due to the book being written in a language other than the author’s native tongue and then translated into English. I wished for more explanation of some events, too.

Non-Fiction—Everything Else:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain (K)
This resonated with me big time. Unlike the typos and awkward word choices I often make notes to myself about in my Kindle, most of the notes I made here were to mark passages that made me say “yes!” Some of the discussions made things click into place in my brain in a way that was deeply satisfying. I’m an introvert and I’m okay.

The Best American Travel Writing 2011, edited by Sloane Crosley and Jason Wilson (K)
The editors have a different idea about what travel writing is than I do. I wanted to read more stories about people going to places where they did not live, primarily for their own recreation and enjoyment and edification. Some of the articles included here are well written but read more like news stories. One essay involves no travel at all, unless you count the author’s walks around her neighborhood, which I don’t. I did quite enjoy several of the pieces, including ones about NASCAR, Saudi Arabia, and Italy.

Whip Me, Beat Me, Make Me Write Hot Sex, Tymber Dalton (K)
I don’t intend to start writing BDSM erotica but it’s always good to learn about new stuff.

The Luxury of Less: The Five Rings of Minimalism, Karol Gajda (K)
I don’t see myself ever embracing minimalism. I do aim to be less of a maximalist and thus downloaded this book. It’s a short book, but I almost stopped reading several times: when the author said about clearing a room that there was no “keep” pile, when he quoted for the second time at great length from another author rather than coming up with his own content, when I got the feeling that his writing this book was mostly about him making money. I was hoping for a more thoughtful, persuasive approach to the subject than I got.

Cast Member Secrets, John Kenney (K)
The title is a misnomer; there are no secrets about Walt Disney World here. I don’t doubt that the author loves WDW and wants people to have great vacations there, and if you’ve never been to the World and haven’t read any other guides, this book could be helpful, but it wouldn’t be enough, as it skims over many topics. It could have been better edited, both to correct errors like “too” being used when “two” should have been and to make the narrative flow more logically. (My favorite typo: “bottles of Dasani are $250″—WDW is expensive, but not near that bad.)

Cold a Long Time, John Leake (K)
I was fascinated and horrified by this story of a young man from Canada who disappeared in Europe.

Moneyball, Michael Lewis (K)
I’ve liked other books I’ve read from this author and liked this one as well. If I were a baseball insider, I don’t think I would have, since it paints most of MLB as rather dysfunctional.

Detroit: A Biography, Scott Martelle (K)
Picked this up because I don’t feel like I know enough about my adopted home state. Having read this, I now know more. It took me a long time to get through this because there’s a lot of detail and a fair bit of depressing stuff.

A Day in the Life of a Minimalist, Joshua Fields Milburn (K)
This took me quite a long time to get through because I had to take it in very small doses, as reading it in bigger chunks just reminded me how very repetitious it was. The author acknowledges this in the beginning of the book and offers some explanation about how that will help get his message across. I think it’s more a matter of he didn’t want to have to do too much editing of these essays, most of which I got the idea had been previously published on his website. I really need to find a better book on minimalism, as the two I’ve read so far seem to be from the perspective of people who are succeeding at it by writing books quickly to make money so they don’t have to work at anything besides their minimalism.

At Home Anywhere: Six Proven Expat Secrets for Making Yourself at Home in Any Foreign Country, Rob Robideau (K)
I felt like this was a fleshed out outline rather than a full book. I would have liked many more anecdotes and examples than there were.

Fiction—Paranormal, Romance, Erotica, Fantasy:

Kiss of Midnight, Lara Adrian (K) (RR)
I re-read this because the Kindle edition was at a 99 cents introductory price. It was nice to revisit this world in a time when things were simpler there.

The Bro-Magnet, Lauren Baratz-Logsted (K)
I think I would have liked this better as a movie; it reads like a romantic comedy. Depending on the casting, it might translate into a rom com I’d watch over and over. As a book, reading it once was plenty.

Glass Slipper, Abigail Barnette (K)
First in the “Naughtily Ever After” series, which uses fairytales as a jumping off point for erotic romance novellas. I liked that the hero was older. I liked that the plot moved right along. I didn’t like that the hero made a dumb choice that kept him from reuniting with the heroine sooner.

Giant, Abigail Barnette (K)
Second in the “Naughtily Ever After” series. The heroine is more sexually experienced than the hero in this one, which is a nice change of pace. The story is well told, and made me cry at one point I was so touched by it. I liked that some characters from the first book showed up here but did not overshadow the main characters’ story.

Beast, Abigail Barnette (K)
Third in the “Naughtily Ever After” series. Refreshing that the heroine is far from flawlessly beautiful. I wish there were more in this series.

Ravenous, Abigail Barnette (K)
Four words: vampire pirate erotic novella. I am on board with three of those things, just not the novella part. With more length, the transition of the heroine from curious virgin to ménage participant could have been allowed more time to unfold, and some of the many unanswered questions left at the end of the book could have been answered. I wanted more because I liked what I got.

The Boss, Abigail Barnette
Written as a response to 50 Shades of Grey, this has a healthy BDSM relationship featuring a young female heroine as the sub. I didn’t necessarily appreciate the cliffhanger ending, but it helps knowing the second book in the series is already available (and the third is being written). It also helps that there’s a lot of story before the ending.

The Hook-Up, Abigail Barnette (K)
I haven’t read the second book in this series yet, but went ahead and read this bonus short that’s set after it. Since I was already spoiled for some of the second book’s events thanks to a crappy Amazon review of the first one, I figured I’d go ahead and risk the promised mild spoilers for the third book here. This short doesn’t try to cover too much ground.

Exposure, Iris Blaire (K)
I got sucked into this despite some awkward phrasing and editing errors and credulity-stretching plot developments because there was a lot of hot here.

Wetter, Harper Bliss (K)
A f/f quickie that’s mostly believable—maybe I go to the wrong gyms but I’ve never seen one with padded floors in the showers.

New Girl and All of Me, Harper Bliss (K)
Two more f/f quickies from this author.

The Unexpected Dom #1: Jennifer’s Revenge, Meghan Boehners (K)
“Surprise, you’re gonna be my submissive” doesn’t really work for me as a plot device.

Bonded, Nicky Charles (K)
My first exposure to this particular world of werewolves. These shifters can transform into their animal selves and back with all their clothing and accessories intact, which I had trouble buying since it wasn’t explained in any way. Perhaps it is fleshed out in the first book which was written in the series; I didn’t start with that one because I understood this one is earlier in the timeline. The pacing in this one was too slow for me for much of the time and too fast at the end.

The Mating, Nicky Charles (K)
Reading this did fill in some blanks about the world that I was missing, having read a later book first. I wasn’t entirely on board with the very young werewolf heroine in an arranged marriage, but it did make sense in the world of the book.

What He Wants, Eden Cole (K)
Seems to me if you’re going to write a m/m quickie, you need to start with two males who already know they’re into dudes, as otherwise you as an author just don’t have time to make the switch from friends to sex partners believable.

Painted Faces, L. H. Cosway (K)
Bought this because it was mentioned on the DBSA podcast; I was intrigued by a romance with a heterosexual cross dressing hero. This is told in the first person by the heroine, which isn’t my favorite, yet I ended up liking it a lot.

Domme by Default, Tymber Dalton (K)
Much better female dom stuff than the previous two I read. The lead female character seemed a bit overwrought at times, but what do I know, perhaps I’d react the same way in that situation.

Safe Harbor, Tymber Dalton (K)
I liked the short I read from this author so much that I looked on her website to find similar things she’d written. The domestic violence angle in this made me a bit uncomfortable but it was handled pretty well.

Cardinal’s Rule, Tymber Dalton (K)
I had trouble connecting with any of the leads in this story yet I kept reading to see what would happen.

The Reluctant Dom, Tymber Dalton (K)
Erotica with a story so well written it made me cry? Yep.

The Denim Dom, Tymber Dalton (K)
Much more lighthearted than The Reluctant Dom.

Feral Domination, L.A. Day (K)
I liked it enough to finish it, but had some problems with some of the language choices (like “torrid”, “rammed”, and “slurped” in places that seemed inappropriate). Some of the intimate scenes lacked a level of consent I’d have liked to see, and there wasn’t strong enough world building for me to be okay with that being okay in that world.

The Three of Us, Stephen del Mar (K)
I had trouble keeping all the secondary characters clear in my head. This starts out lighthearted and then takes a turn for the dramatic, and it’s so short and there’s so much going on that there’s not time to get to know the characters.

Meet Your Boss, Chris Baker, Ellen Dominick (K)
Yuck. Neither main character was sympathetic, and the office setting just gave me a case of the icks. Well, not the office setting itself, but how the power vested in the female lead by her place in that organization was used. I’m good with a female domme; I’m not good with a boss who keeps a slimy employee on the payroll so she can use him as her sub.

Me, Myself, and I, Natasha Duncan-Drake (K)
I almost abandoned this early on when I wasn’t sure what I was reading—science fiction? fanfic based on some world I didn’t know? It feels like this story needed a longer form to do it justice, as there’s a lot that could be fleshed out that might have made this flow better.

The Light Within Me, Carly Fall (K)
This has potential but the world building is lacking (and the editing is too, with a lot of errors like plain for plane, dappled for dabbled, canter for I’m not sure what, maybe carafe, and lots of passages where details are missing that would go a long way to clarifying what’s happening). There are shades of the Black Dagger Brotherhood here (just once I would like to see paranormal heroes who drive Ford Expeditions or Chevy Suburbans, but no, they all seem to have Escalades). The alien world the heroes come from is not explained nearly enough—how do they fight in mist form, for instance.

Adam, Jacquelyn Frank (K)
I started this ages ago, then put aside almost immediately as the prologue really threw me. When I came back to it, I’d forgotten a lot about this world and wasn’t as invested in the characters, so the prologue didn’t trouble me as much. Time travel is a key plot device in this one, which is not usually my favorite thing so I just had to not think about that part too hard. I was satisfied with how things wrapped up, though I did feel some regret at losing two of the characters in the timeline that disappeared. They do have versions in the current timeline, so perhaps one day they’ll get a book of their own. The main couple in this one could have used more focus; perhaps they’ll get to take up some of that future book, too. The only problem is that I think the author is done with this series.

Gold Standard, Kyell Gold (K)
I don’t know if I knew this was furry fiction when I got it. I must have, since there’s a fox on the cover, but I was still confused for quite far into this. How animal were these anthropomorphic creatures? Why don’t I know more about the mechanics of canine sexual relations? Is there such a thing as homosexual canine sex among real animals? It’s good to be exposed to new things, though I’m not sure these particular things are for me.

The Master’s Choice, Abby Gordon (K)
I so wished this book expanded more on the heroine’s experiences while the hero was not around.

By Chance, Cat Grant (K)
There was a bit too much drama for my taste in this m/m college romance.

You Melted Me, Kari Gregg (K)
I’m not even sure this belongs on a book log, as it’s so very short. There’s no time to get to know the characters or care about them, and I didn’t find the sex hot enough to make up for that.

Dead Ever After, Charlaine Harris
Having loved the early books in this series, I felt an obligation to see it to the end. This installment has the same problems that most of recent ones have, mostly that there’s no depth and some major characters act out of character. I will always miss the Eric I knew from the early books (pre-True Blood). I’m not sad to see this end. (Apparently it didn’t really end, though, as there’s a follow up book coming out this fall. I will probably get that one from the library like I did this one because I can’t seem to stay away even though the love is gone.)

Dane, Liliana Hart (K)
This would have been better as a full length novel, since things happen off the page that I was really curious about.

Natural Law, Joey W. Hill (K)
Because my brain is too full, I didn’t realize until I’d finished this that it was written by the same person who did the dark and somewhat disturbing Vampire Queen series, the first two books of which I read back in 2008. This is not a paranormal but has similar BDSM elements to the Vampire Queen series, just in the context of a contemporary detective story. I felt like the crime investigation took too much of a back seat to the developing relationship between the hero and the heroine and then wrapped up in a crazily overdramatic climax but I did enjoy the non-detecting parts enough to be okay with that. This is apparently the second book in a series, but it read find as a standalone (I haven’t read the first book).

Improper Pleasures, Cheryl Howe (K)
This erotic historical romance didn’t quite click for me, but I liked it enough to keep reading. If I were rating it on proofreading, it’d be knocked down by a star, as it appears to have been proofread by a computer spellcheck program. There are many instances of words which are spelled correctly but aren’t the right word for that situation. “Confident” is not the same as “confidante”, nor is “viral” a proper substitute for “virile”. Also see: eminent/imminent, moray/more, hardy/hearty, flare/flair, fair/fare, mute/moot.

Rule of Three, Kelly Jamieson (K)
Another one I bought based on a mention on the DBSA podcast. Story of a m/f/m triad with hot sex (though I couldn’t always figure out the logistics of how the parts were fitting together) and some actual plot, too. Some of the developments came too quickly for me, but I suppose it is a book and not real life.

At the Cowboy’s Mercy, Emma Jay (K)
The rodeo is not my thing at all, so I’m not sure why I picked this up. There were some hot scenes, but the relationship development was lacking.

Captured by Him, Lady T. L . Jennings (K)
My credulity was stretched a bit too much but what the heck, it was a fun story.

Waking Up Married, Mira Lyn Kelly (K)
Married by Mistake, Abby Gaines (K)
Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a good old fashioned romance like the ones I’d borrow from my college roommate back in the day, and these two fit the bill. This has contemporary trappings, such as the reality tv show that plays a part early on in Married by Mistake or the software consultant job the heroine has in Waking Up Married, but at heart it’s they’re same old story: boy meets girl, there are difficulties, things get worked out.

Seduced by Innocence, Kimberly Kinrade (K)
This is billed as an erotic paranormal romance; the first two yes, the last, not so much, since this ends in a decidedly non-romantic fashion. I guess my dissatisfaction with that is my fault for adding it to my reading list based on the title and tagline alone, as I didn’t realize this was part of a trilogy in which the parts are not standalone. I don’t think I’m going to seek out the rest, as some bad things happen to dogs in this, and I don’t need that sort of thing in my escapist reading.

Taken, Selena Kitt (K)
There’s an age and experience and power gap here I’m not comfortable with. There’s some cheating I’m not comfortable with. The ending is quite abrupt but that part at least seemed realistic.

Free Agent, Roz Lee (K)
Inside Heat, Roz Lee (K)
Going Deep, Roz Lee (K)
Bases Loaded, Roz Lee (K)
Here’s a case where the free teaser worked. I read Free Agent and then paid for and devoured the rest of the series in short order. Yeah, there are things I could quibble about, but I had too much fun reading the series to get hung up on those aspects.

Scandal and Sin, Lynn Lafleur (K)
I signed up for erotica and got a murder mystery and ghost story, too.

Playing with Fire, Taylor Lee (K)
This belongs in the “not for me” pile. I did finish it, but had problems with the main characters and how the plot unfolded (and more typos than seemed reasonable). Having the heroine go from an abusive husband into a relationship with a man who makes important decisions for her just felt icky to me.

Teasing Trent, Minx Malone (K)
Short prequel to something I haven’t read (yet). I didn’t quite buy the heroine’s reaction to an event near the end of the story.

Casey’s Night In, Minx Malone (K)
A little teaser for the author’s other work.

Pleasures of Somerville Park, Ava March (K)
This short doesn’t try to cover too much ground, just gives a peek into one short bit of time in these men’s relationship. I liked it.

Object of His Desire, Ava March (K)
Bought this because I’d enjoyed the free short story I’d read from the series. I’ve no idea if the plot is historically plausible but it was enjoyable to read.

Deliberately Bound, Ava March (K)
A m/m bondage quickie. Made me want to read more about this couple.

Masters at Arms, Kallypso Masters (K)
This sampler with prequel stories for three male leads definitely whetted my appetite for more.

Feather Down, Lorie O’Clare (K)
Apparently this is a spin off from another series, which might explain the lack of world building—I mean, the world was built, but it didn’t always make sense to me, a new reader. Do wereowls not need to use birth control or follow human rules about not putting things that have been in a butt into other orifices without washing in between? Apparently not, but it was never discussed. Why was there no honor in the hero taking the heroine to his hotel room but having sex in a public park was okay? I’ve no idea.

JUMP, Cindy Paterson (K)
There’s a lot going on here, and types of paranormals that I don’t have any idea what they do, and a dab of Mary Sue that I wasn’t sure was necessary. I didn’t feel compelled to immediately continue the series but I might at some point.

Deliver Me, Farrah Rochon (K)
I wish most of the time spent on the subplot had been devoted to fleshing out the relationship between the two main characters. This would have allowed room for a more satisfying ending.

Untamed Hunger, Aubrey Rose (K)
I don’t want to get too spoilery, so let me just say that a couple things are too quick and easy here that should be slower and more difficult. Scope of this would have worked better as a full length erotic novel.

Whiskey Dreams, Ranae Rose (K)
The first explicit encounter between the two leads bothered me, not because it was m/m but because the top was not as considerate a lover as I’d like (I guess they didn’t have a Dan Savage to give advice in late 1700s New York). He felt bad about it, but what he felt bad about didn’t include all of what bothered me about the encounter. It got better after that, and I think I might read the m/m/f book that this is a prequel for.

Ethan’s Mate, J.S. Scott (K)
I hadn’t cared for this author’s free short about a billionaire; I gave her free short about a vampire a try to see if her style worked for me in a different subgenre. I liked this better, probably because I have an easier time suspending disbelief in a paranormal world. I didn’t like it enough to pay for more, though. A free teaser only works to get me to continue if it’s complete and satisfying in itself, and this one was too light on plot and explanation.

Mine for Tonight, J. S. Scott (K)
I’m not sure if the billionaire trope is not for me or this particular instance of it is the issue. This is also another case of what should be one book being broken up into a trilogy so the first part can be given away as a teaser. Well, that only works to get me to buy the other parts if the teaser is really, really good, and this one wasn’t as far as I’m concerned. **Spoilers** The hero seemed a bit creepy and the heroine entirely too accepting of moving in with him and not even going to check out the “your roommate cleared out the apartment and didn’t pay the rent so you have nowhere to live” story.

Club Shadowlands, Cherise Sinclair (K)
Like the Tymber Dalton books I recently read, this is about BDSM in Florida. This felt much less realistic as far as plot.

Tangle of Need, Nalini Singh (K)
This is still one of my favorite series, though this is not one of my favorite installments. It focuses as much on the couple from the previous book as it does on the main couple in this book, and since I was iffy on that prior pairing and iffy on the current one, I wasn’t into the combination of the two. This current pairing violates one of the rules followed by all the other pairings (even those from the short stories), and that bothers me. Maybe it’ll be resolved/explained in the next book. I hope so.

Wild Invitation, Nalini Singh (K)
I’d already read two of these stories in other anthologies. Of the two new ones, I liked the new wolf/wolf pairing the best; the other is a couple that got together in a side plot in Kiss of Snow, so there’s less buildup there, which meant less payoff for me.

Angels of Darkness, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Meljean Brook, Sharon Shinn (K)
Four different takes on angels. I found something to like in all of these stories. My favorite was from Sharon Shinn, a new to me author; I need to search out more of her work.

The Ghost and Mister Moore, Dallas Sketchman (K)
I knew going in that this was an explicit paranormal novella. I didn’t know that it would be so very light on plot. This ran right past my erotica line into porn, which is fine if that’s what you’re looking for but I wasn’t. Characters are introduced and then disposed of with barely a backward glance or any particular emotion shown by the mortal hero. As porn, however, this was instructive, as I learned that one of the particular sexual talents of the ghosts is not a turn on for me.

Game Misconduct, Bianca Sommerland (K)

Defensive Zone, Bianca Sommerland (K)

Breakaway, Bianca Sommerland (K)

Game Misconduct, the first book in the Dartmouth Cobra series, was a Kindle freebie, and I liked it enough to buy the box set and read the next two books, too.
It stretches my credulity a bit that one hockey team could have so many stable poly BDSM relationships, but the author did make a stab at explaining so I went with it. In the second book, Defensive Zone, I was disappointed in how the heroine handled a birth control failure. Sure, it all worked out, but there was an opportunity lost to demonstrate good and responsible communication. Granted, erotica is probably not the place to learn relationship skills like that anyway.

The Girl Who Can’t Say No: Bound to the Billionaire, Ashley Spector (K)
I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey, only some of Jennifer Armintrout’s recaps, so perhaps it’s unfair of me to call this novelette a 50 Shades ripoff. But really, it features a sadistic controlling billionaire and a barely of drinking age virgin—what else am I supposed to think? I didn’t find a lot of this believable or hot.

Devil Black, Laura Strickland (K)
Lots of drama and some graphic violence I wasn’t expecting. The intimate scenes are mostly “off camera”.

The Tradesman’s Entrance, Cameron Vale (K)
With a name like that, it’s no surprise that this m/m short is long on humor. A couple plot points didn’t sit quite right with me, but those were minor. I hope there’s a follow up to this.

Curve Beast, Ann Vremont (K)
This was billed as a “paranormal BBW erotic romance”, which is a lot to pack into 84 pages, and I don’t think any of those aspects got enough attention.

Harker’s Journey, N. J. Walters (K)
I waited too long to write a blurb about this one; Amazon tells me it was 260 pages, but I don’t remember nearly that much stuff going on. Vampires in this series seemed more old school than most I’ve come across in recent years.

Covet: A Novel of the Fallen Angels, J. R. Ward (K)
I’ve been taking another break from J. R. Ward but decided I’d try this Fallen Angels series of hers when this first book in it popped up in the results when I was searching my library’s ebooks for something else. This is set in the same city as the Black Dagger Brotherhood—that must be one heck of a place with all the vampires and “Lessers” and now demons and angels running around. This is similar in tone to recent BDB books, more urban fantasy than romance. The story and characters were okay (the dog was my favorite; I wish he talked) but I wasn’t so engaged that I didn’t get distracted by some of the language choices the author made. I think some of these may be regionalisms; growing up in Illinois, I learned to call the driving maneuver used to reverse directions in a space too narrow for a U-turn a “three point turn”; J.R. Ward calls it a “K-turn” (which Google informs me is a legitimate synonym, though it also informs me that it’s called a three point turn in the New York State DMV manual, and Caldwell is in New York). However, Google does not support using “waxers” for “candles”, and neither do I.

Lover at Last, J.R. Ward
As has become my habit since the BDB series books turned away from the romantic focus I fell in love with in the first several books, I checked this installment out of the library. At first, reading it felt just like the more recent books in the series, with about two subplots too many. But somewhere along the way, I got sucked right back into the world and started gobbling up the chapters. After I finished, I bought the ebook so I could read my favorite parts again whenever I wanted. It helped that most of the subplots were interesting to me. It helped that J. R. Ward went for it and had a m/m couple get a happy ending. Perhaps it also helped that in comparison to some of the stuff I’ve been reading off the free ebook pile, this was so much better.

A SEAL’s Seduction, Tawny Weber (K)
If you like reading about unprotected sex between people who are practically strangers, this is the book for you. I don’t, so this was not the book for me. The part of the story where things went into action movie mode really stretched my credulity, too.

Bayou Noël, Laura Wright and Alexandra Ivy
A prequel to a series I haven’t read, but I didn’t feel too lost. The ending felt a bit rushed, but overall was a feel good story.

Perfect Drug, Victoria Zagar (K)
There is a lot of drama packed into this short story. Too much drama, I think. The one intimate scene comes at time that I just couldn’t believe the guy doing most of the work would be feeling frisky.

Fiction—Everything Else:

A Single Thread, Marie Bostwick (K)
This drew me in by featuring a quilt shop owner as one of the main characters. The quilting parts were quite realistic and nicely done (the only exception was a character giving a finished quilt “a final press”, which can be done but is not a usual step and if done wrong can ruin a quilt). The focus here is on female friendship with a small side order of Christianity. I wanted to connect with it more than I did.

The Bricklayer, Noah Boyd (K)
Like its sequel, which I read last year, this is fluffy fiction aimed at guys. I was hoping this would fill in more of the relationship between the two main characters I met in the sequel, but it didn’t really. I could easily see this as an action movie.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen (K)
So many horrible things happen in this book that I shouldn’t have liked it, but I did, very much, because there’s enough caring and love and surprise to more than balance things out.

Hannah’s Dream, Diane Hammond (K)
I loved this story of an elephant and her keeper and the people around them so very much. It made me cry more than once, both happy and sad tears, and I wanted to know more about every one of the characters, even the antagonist.

The End of Summer, Alex M. Smith (K)
The dialog in this contemporary novella is very stilted at times. The rampant non-use of contractions in casual conversations by several characters especially stood out. This is in the romance section on Amazon, but I wouldn’t exactly call this a romance, especially in light of the ending, but also because the connection between the two main characters didn’t really have a great build up. I wasn’t hot enough for me to call it erotica, either, so I guess it’s just fiction.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany, Susan Vreeland (K)
I picked this up on the recommendation of a friend and because I have fond memories of seeing a Tiffany exhibit with my mom when I was much younger than I am not. I think this would have worked better as non-fiction, with photos, than it does as a novel without them. I was more interested in the story and details of how the Tiffany glass company worked than the characters.

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