Hat on Top, Coat Below


archives    home    e-mail   

Books 2014

Books I read in 2014, organized by category and then alphabetically by author:

< < 2013  2015 > >

Non-Fiction—Memoir, Autobiography, Biography:

Relapse, Jake Anderson (K)
I’ve watched a fair bit of Deadliest Catch, and it was nice to learn more about parts of the author’s life that weren’t on the show (or weren’t on the episodes I’ve seen, anyway). The voice was plain spoken, and the editing was good. I only wished for a bit more emotion.

Living in China: Our Year in Shenyang, Brian Borgford (K)
I liked the descriptions about various facets of living in China and the author’s interactions with the Chinese people he and his wife encountered (students, merchants, and others). I wasn’t as keen on the critical comments about other employees of the school; of course dealing with those people was part of the author’s experience in China, too, but from my perspective, I didn’t care what the other teachers were doing or not doing. Very good editing, especially for a self-published work; there were only a couple turns of phrase I found distracting.

High Heels & 18 Wheels: Confessions of a Lady Trucker, Barbara Cecchini and Roger Radford (K) 3
This was not as much about trucking as I’d expected; it’s more of a confessional autobiography that jumps around in time to an almost confusing extent. Ms. Cecchini undoubtedly had a rough life, so I suppose it’s fitting that this is somewhat of a rough book. In addition to the fragmented narrative, there are more than a few editing problems (homonym issues like “break lights” instead of “brake lights” and “Lake Eerie” instead of “Lake Erie” as well as sentences with missing words).

Own Less & Live More: A Sailing Adventure That Take You from the Cubicle to Key West, Conrad Cooper (K)
This was a pleasant enough read, though there were enough typos to be distracting (admittedly, I am easily distracted). It’s neither a how to book nor an in depth travel memoir, but something in between.

Life on Foot: A Walk Across America, Nate Damm (K)
Unlike the last walking across America book I read, I liked that this author didn’t have the self-imposed restriction of not spending any money; he didn’t have a lot of it to splash around, so there was still a large kindness of strangers component. The stretches when he’d walk with just a daypack and get picked up and dropped off for his daily segments seemed odd; I guess I didn’t realize that was part of such a journey.

The Charms of Miss O’Hara, Phillip Done (K)
There is a fawning over celebrity feel to this book, but nonetheless I enjoyed the stories of old Hollywood, realizing they are one woman’s recollection and perhaps not the objective truth in all cases.

Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store, Freeman Hall (K)
I enjoyed this memoir of a gay male handbag salesperson more at the start than at the end. At a certain point, it started to feel repetitive and mean rather than entertaining and funny. I could have done without the fantasy screenplay sections; maybe one would have been fine, but the subsequent times things faded to white, I was bored. The Kindle edition has a fair few typos that might be format conversion artifacts—words smushed together and mid-line hyphens where none are called for.

Way Below the Angels, Craig Harline
Found this memoir of a Mormon missionary’s experience quite engaging and honest. I especially liked the sections where the author incorporated discussion of other belief systems in addition to Mormonism, showing connections between them that I hadn’t thought about before.

Spirit of the Road: The Life of an American Trucker, Rick L. Huffman (K)
This book about a trucker was actually mostly about trucking, unlike the other one I read recently. Once I while I felt there was too much detail about the loads and destinations, but I suppose that’s an important part of the trucker’s life so it makes sense to have all that. The asides about some of the places his driving career took him were fun additions, and of course I loved that he had a cat with him.

Life by the Cup, Zhena Muzyka
This is two books in one: a memoir about the founding of a tea company and a self-help guide with exercises to do. I liked the memoir part better, but perhaps I’ll come back to the self-help aspect when I’m at a different place in my life. Things got a bit New Age-y for my taste in a few spots, but that didn’t make me stop reading. I hadn’t heard of, much less tried, Zhena’s Gypsy Tea before I picked up this book, but found some flavors are sold at my grocery store and bought some. The ones I’ve tried so far are very good, and knowing the story behind them adds to the drinking experience somehow.

Speak Swahili, Dammit, James Penhaligon (K)
This is a long book, and it took me a very long time to read it. This autobiography does take one to a different time and place, and for that I appreciated it. I liked how it wrapped up, though an epilogue or even followup book about what happened in the author’s life afterward would be appreciated. I think this could have been edited to tighten up the storytelling without losing any of the effect.

Wang Yang: A Memoir, Ryan Andrew Peters (K)
I thought I was getting another “teaching English in a foreign land” memoir, and there is a very tiny bit of that here, but mostly it’s not at all about teaching or students. I have really nothing much in common with a young, gay South African man (we’re both people who speak English is about it), so I appreciated this window into his experiences, even the ones where I thought he was being reckless or dumb.

Oh Myyy! , George Takei (K)
A fun look at what it’s like to be George Takei on social media. Some of the illustrations were very hard to read on my Kindle.

Happy Time Go Fast, Wes Weston (K)
This was a quick and pleasant read. For someone who is an English teacher, there were some odd turns of phrase and a few more typos than I would have expected.

Watermelon is Life: Invaluable Lessons from Teaching English Abroad, Wes Weston (K)
I enjoyed the author’s previous book about teaching in Korea enough that I picked up this one about his further adventures teaching in Namibia. I appreciated the view into his experiences living in this rural part of Africa and of how the educational system works there.

Maximum Insecurity, William Wright M.D. (K)
This is partly a memoir of what it’s like to be a doctor in a supermax prison and partly a history of the Colorado penal system, with a fair bit of complaining about bureaucracy thrown in (not that bureaucracy should be lauded). I didn’t notice any typos; either there weren’t any or they didn’t register because the writing was engaging enough to distract me. There was one term, “kite”, used in prison context before being explained (though it was in the next chapter). I appreciated the look into a world I’ll likely never see for myself.

The Only Sounds We Make, Lee Zacharias
I was left with the feeling that Ms. Zacharias is a better writer than I am a reader, as sometimes I had to go back over sentences to be able to follow the meaning. This collection of autobiographical essays winds back and forth in time, some of them overlapping with each other. I connected with some parts of this, like those set in Chicago and Indiana, places I’ve spent some time in, and in her descriptions of her early married life, felt like I might be getting a glimpse into what life was like for my mom during that same time period. One of the stories was about a trip she took with her teenaged son and elderly mother, and how the boy and his grandmother fought over how far back the grandmother leaned the seat in the car, and how the boy couldn’t sit on the other side because that’s where the camera equipment was, and I am still wondering why the camera stuff couldn’t have swapped places with the boy.

Non-Fiction—Personal Finance:

How to Retire Early: Your Guide to Getting Rich Slowly and Retiring on Less, Robert and Robin Charlton (K)
I wish this book had existed and I’d have read it a couple decades ago. It’s not that it has a lot of new information about saving or investing I hadn’t already heard/read/learned about elsewhere. It’s that it gives a person hope that early retirement is really possible and do-able, in that the authors share specifically how they did it—without super high paying jobs or an inheritance or lottery win, etc. Reading this made me feel better about my own possibilities, along the lines of “if they did it, so can I” (well, I can’t exactly, what with being about a decade older than the authors when they retired, but I feel confident I won’t have to work as long as my parents did). I would have liked to see more details about their spending in retirement.

Garage Sale Tips and Ideas, Jenny Dean (K)
Lots of what seem like good ideas here, nicely organized and to the point. I plan to re-read when the time comes for us to finally have a garage sale.

Pocket Your Dollars, Carrie Rocha (K)
The subtitle of this is “5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, & Keep More of What You Make”. I am getting more interested in personal finance books like this with Mr. Karen’s retirement targeted for next year, which means we’ll have less income than we’ve grown accustomed to. I didn’t find anything eye opening here. I wish there’d been more time spent on the attitudes and how to change them and less on specific budgeting/spending tips—that last section seemed tacked on.

How To Early Retirement, Frank Smith (K)
This was on the Kindle free books list one day; I grabbed it based on seeing the words “early retirement”, which is something I’m hoping to achieve myself. I am very happy I did not pay for it. The ungrammatical title is representative of the quality of the rest of this very short book. The writing is full of awkward phrasing and very generic statements, and the editing is poor. For instance, 401(k) plans are variously referred to as 401’s, 401k, and 401K. I’m giving it two stars rather than one because I was able to make Mr. Karen laugh by reading aloud some of the more amusingly bad sentences.

Rethinking Retirement, Keith Weber (K)
Like Life by the Cup, this is also two books in one. The first part is a self help guide to finding one’s purpose in work and life, complete with exercises; the second is a course on investing. I admit I did not do the exercises, though that’s not to say I never will. The investing part was mostly things I’d already learned elsewhere, but it did make me feel better about the type of advisor we’ve been working with, so that made it worthwhile for me.

How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any, Erik Wecks (K)
The title is a bit misleading because the strategies the author talks about won’t work if you truly have no money. Fortunately, I have some money (at least right now), so that wasn’t a hurdle for me. I liked the emphasis on financial stability rather than trying to get rich; that was a different take than most of the personal finance stuff I’ve been exposed to.


T-Shirt Quilts, Linda Causee
This jumps right into the patterns, with the information about how to prepare the shirts for quilting in the back; that order seemed backwards to me, but maybe the thought was to get people interested by showing the product first rather than the process. Most of the quilts shown don’t appear to be quilted, which I thought was odd.

Color Essentials: Crisp and Vibrant Quilts, Amanda Murphy
There are some nice quilt designs in here, with good photographs (including some with colorful still life assortments of objects next to the quilts, which I liked), and color options for each. It does tend to feel like one long commercial for Kona cotton solid precut packs, as those are the only fabrics used in the book.

Amish Quilts: Crafting an American Tradition, Janneken Smucker
Combines interesting and well-researched quilt history with beautiful photos. I’ve read a fair bit about Amish quilts over the years and learned so many things I hadn’t known by reading this book.

Non-Fiction—Everything Else:

Once Upon a Playground, Brenda Biondo
Mostly photos, but with enough text that I felt like I got a good idea of the history of playground equipment in the U.S. Also a good dose of nostalgia when it got to the mid- to late-60s stuff.

Hawaii Big Island Unanchor Travel Guide, Connie Coutain (K)
I wish I’d read this before we went to Hawaii; it would have helped with our planning. We did do some of the things covered in this book, and the descriptions and maps were accurate for those attractions, so I assume they’re good for the others.

Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies, Chris Kluwe (K)
Because we are a Minnesota Vikings fan household, I heard of Chris Kluwe first as a punter and followed his Twitter and internet essay exploits as a result of that. Thus, I’d already read some of the essays included in this book. I found this collection somewhat uneven and choppy; it was best read in small chunks. I hope someday he writes another, more cohesive book. I’ll buy it. I also hope he meets someone who can enlighten him on why most people who have homes need mortgages to buy them.

The Blind Side, Michael Lewis (K)
Since I never know when things are going to disappear from the Kindle Prime Lending Library, I grabbed this when I saw it even though I’d just read another Michael Lewis book (Moneyball). I enjoyed both the human interest storyline and the football and economics sections.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis (K)
This is well written, and I learned a lot about the subprime mortgage collapse that I hadn’t gleaned from other sources. It also made me worry about what the heck Wall Street firms and banks are doing now that could bring on another economic crisis, as it doesn’t seem like the system got fixed in any meaningful way.

Why Your Flight Attendant Hates You, Morgan Carver Richards (K)
I think this was supposed to be funny, but I didn’t find it so. An offhanded crack at Detroit early on didn’t help one bit to dispose me kindly toward this work, nor did the numerous editing issues. I was left with the impression that this particular flight attendant really did hate passengers and had no empathy for them. “Make sure to give yourself enough time in between connections” might better be directed at the Delta website that routinely gives me 35 minutes in Minneapolis.

Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (K)
Seemed odd that the book had sponsors. I was hoping for more on the “future of privacy” part of the subtitle. Very few editing errors.

How to Embrace a Minimalist Wardrobe, Kristen D. Smith (K)
If you’ve read magazine articles about organizing, you probably already know most of what’s in this very short book. I was amused by the suggestion that a minimal women’s wardrobe would include up to 3 bras “one white or nude, one black, and one sexual”. Not sexy, sexual.

Sex Games: 52 Bedroom Challenges To Spice Up Your Love Life, Terry Winterfield (K)
I think this could have been edited down to maybe 30 challenges, since there were many that were variations on the same theme, but it’s worth a look if it shows up on the free list for Kindle again (where I grabbed it).

Disney World Secrets: How to Conquer Walt Disney World, Leanna Ziolkowski (K)
I need to stop reading books that claim to have secrets about Walt Disney World in them, as I never seem to come across anything particularly secret in them. That said, this guide has solid information in it and is better organized and edited than the last WDW “secrets” book I read.

Fiction—Paranormal, Romance, Erotica:

Time to Upsize, Graeme Aitken (K)
It’s bad news when I sympathize and connect more with the hero’s partner than the hero. I can only hope that this story suffered from being the product of a complete novel being sliced up into three parts for ebook publication. I can only hope because I didn’t like this part enough to buy the other installments to find out.

Rocky Mountain Heat, Vivian Arend (K)
The heroine was a little too perfect for my taste, and I wish these folks would just use birth control already, but other than that I enjoyed the story and could see myself reading more in the series (it’s one of those books with a whole passel of heroes just lined up ready to go).

Parched, A Vampire Romance, Z. L. Arkadie (K)
I didn’t buy into this world with all the fantastical elements and super powers. The writing was clunky in too many spots, and the author really lost me when the heroine shopped for hours to get ready for an expedition yet she does not manage to find proper hiking boots. She’s visiting a major metropolitan area in the US in the time of cellphones and the internet and has the help of a driver who knows the area. Dumb.

Giving an Inch, Heidi Belleau and Amelia C. Gormley (K)
This m/m short didn’t try to take on too much, and the writing and editing were pretty good, so it’s unfortunate for me that the flavor of BDSM here is not really to my taste.

Before Midnight, Jennifer Blackstream (K)
I only knew this was a werewolf book before I read it, not that it was a retelling of Cinderella. Once I realized that, it added a layer to the reading experience. There’s a fair bit of gore here, which I’m not that into but it made sense in context.

Her Husband’s Harlot, Grace Callaway (K)
I liked this freebie enough that I plan to get more in the series. Sure, it stretches credulity in some places, but I was entertained enough that I was more than willing to go along for the ride.

Her Wanton Wager, Grace Callaway (K)
Enjoyed it as much as the first book in the series. Is it realistic for the time? I’ve no idea, and I liked the story and characters enough that historical accuracy doesn’t matter to me.

Her Protector’s Pleasure, Grace Callaway (K)
I liked the first two books in this series and enjoyed this one as well.

Her Prodigal Passion, Grace Callaway (K)
I love this series, and this installment was no exception.

The Widow Vanishes, Grace Callaway (K)
More goodness from Grace Callaway. This was a novella, but felt complete to me. Of course I wished there were more, but fortunately there’s another book coming in this new series in a couple months.

Fangs of Anarchy, Dakota Cassidy (K)
Undecided on whether I want to pay for the rest of the installments in this werewolf/vampire serial.

My Savage Wolf Lover, Reg Charming (K)
Too savage for me, with a few too many editing errors for such a short story.

Five Dates, Amy Jo Cousins (K)
Yes, very much yes. It’s short but feels complete, and the two main characters stuck in my head after I finished.

His Only Desire 1: Taken by the Billionaire, Lucinda DuBois (K)
The title alone should have warned me way, but it was free, so I tried it. It’s on the overly dramatic side, and the hero is overly controlling. I guess I should be glad it ends mid story.

Hooked, K.C. Falls (K)
Solidly written and plotted. Not overly cliff hanger-y given that it’s the first book of a trilogy. Safe sex is not practiced, but the author acknowledges in an afterword that she made that choice deliberately. There were a few typos but not a crazy distracting number of them. My first exposure to the world of deep sea sport fishing, and I thought the heroine’s, too, but when the big fishing scene came up, she seemed to know things about the sport that a novice wouldn’t (like fighting poles and chairs).

More Than Friends, Aria Grace (K)
This was too short to properly develop the main relationship, since one of the guys hadn’t been with a guy before and didn’t identify as bi much less gay. I did like what was there, though.

Straight Roommate, Mandy Harbin (K)
This is a free teaser done right; this short story doesn’t try to cover too much ground and doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, plus it is followed in the ebook by a decent length excerpt from the novel which features the main character from this story at a later point in his life. I’m not sure I’ll buy that book since it’s priced a little high for the length shown on Amazon and I wasn’t in love with the characters (or the product that features prominently in the excerpt) but perhaps I should just to reward good freebie behavior.

Deviant, Callie Hart (K)
I feel like I shouldn’t have liked this, what with the questionably consensual breath play and the editing issues and the British-isms in a story set in Seattle (“tannoy” for “intercom”, for instance) and the cliffhanger to get me to buy the next book, yet I did like it.

Mr. Virile and the Girl Next Door, Gwen Hayes (K)
This is a fun fast read. The characters and plot didn’t really grab me, maybe because of the “girl next door” aspect—my tastes run toward escapist fiction, something that couldn’t be happening next door to me in real life.

Sackmaster, Ann Jacobs (K)
This was just okay for me. If I shared the fetish that the hero and heroine do, it might have been more than just okay, but I don’t, so it wasn’t.

Revenant, Janet Elizabeth Jones (K)
I liked this vampire tale very much and hope the author writes more in this world. It was one of those cases where I was so taken with the world that things that might have otherwise bothered me about the plot or characters just didn’t.

A Twisted Bard’s Tale, Selena Kitt (K)
So short I am not sure I should even list it as a book; around half of the pages in the version I got from Amazon are previews of the author’s other work, which was not clear from the description.

I Love My Breakup, Sabrina Lacey (K)
I enjoyed this erotic short enough that I probably will buy the followup stories. Yeah, I wish the heroine had taken fewer risks with her health and safety, but it is fiction, after all.

I Love My Healed Heart, Sabrina Lacey (K)
This set contains I Love My Breakup, which is the story I read that led me to buy the set, along with I Love My Office Fling, I Love My Freak Out, and I Love My Destiny. I didn’t enjoy the set as much as I had the first story I read. There was a little too much Devil Wears Prada (and why is the HR guy at the shows anyway?), a little too much risk taking, and the resolution was a little too out of the blue. I didn’t like that men were discarded when they were no longer convenient to the plot. On the plus side, there’s no slut shaming.

Tempted by His Touch, Anthea Lawson, Darcy Burke, Eva Devon, Erica Ridley, Lila DiPasqua, Bronwen Evans, Emma Locke, Erica Monroe, Gina Danna, and Delilah Marvelle (K)
Next time I read one of these big box sets of full length novels, I am going to have to remember to jot down notes at the end of each story. It’s been so long since I started this that I barely remember the earlier books, perhaps because some of the later ones dragged.

Temptation Road, Kimball Lee (K)
There are some interesting aspects to this world. I don’t plan to seek out the continuation of this story, though, in part because I don’t like to reward authors for publishing cliffhanger teasers as if they were stand alone books, and in part because the writing and editing were subpar. For instance, there are many references a group of women all named Mary where they are referred to as “the Mary’s”.

The Tycoon’s Make-Believe Fiancée, Elizabeth Lennox (K)
The fake engagement trope is not executed at all well here. This novella is just too short for the ground the author wants to cover, so there’s a lot of telling instead of showing and the transition from fake engagement to real relationship is not believable even by romance novel standards. The writing style involves a lot of exclamation points and repetition of words. I think this is set in England, but there are enough American references that it’s not entirely clear.

The Sheik’s Intimate Proposition, Elizabeth Lennox (K)
Just no. The heroine does very dumb things. The hero is way overbearing. The ending stretches credulity way too far even for this genre.

One More Day, Minx Malone (K)
I must have read part of this as a teaser offered with one of the author’s other books, as some of it seemed really familiar. I very much appreciated that there was no cliffhanger. I was less entranced by the investigation subplot and the mistaken identity that went on way too long and was then cleared up with very little comment.

Nobody’s Angel, Kallypso Masters (K)
I bought this because I liked the first book which was a free teaser on Amazon. I liked this, too, but not as much as the teaser. In this longer format focusing on one main couple, there’s more plot and therefore more chance that the plot will not make sense, and there were a few too many times in this that I was pulled out of the story by plot points that either didn’t make sense or seemed overly dramatic. Still, I did enjoy it and probably will read on in the series.

Nobody’s Hero, Kallypso Masters (K)
A lot of drama here, but it seemed more reasonable than in the last book in this series. I was distracted by the heroine’s tiny hands being mentioned more than once, as I got the impression that she was tall and not at all tiny. I was disappointed in how the couple handled the immediate aftermath of having unprotected sex.
Checking Him Out, Debbie McGowan (K)
Wow. I got way more than I expected with this M/M romance; parts of it really tugged at my emotions to the point where I got teary eyed.

Mr. Jaguar, K. A. Merikan (K)
I quite enjoyed this novella, which did not, as so many do, leave me hanging.

Nothing But Trouble, Lisa Mondello (K)
The heroine was hard to like, mostly because she made decisions that seemed irresponsible or impractical, the biggest of which was hiding her insulin-dependent diabetes from the guide she’d hired to take her into the wilderness for a month.

All I Want for Christmas is You, Lisa Mondello (K)
The romance moves unrealistically fast even by the standards of the genre. Editing problems distracted me, such as the hero’s hair changing from blonde to dark back to blonde over the course of the book.

Swinger’s Club (Episode 1) , Mia Moore (K)
This was just not to my taste. The plot jumps ahead too quickly, the dialog tends toward awkward, and the characters felt flat to me. Some of the word choices used to describe bodily fluids made me cringe. It’s a teaser story, and I was not enticed to follow up.

The Unicorn: It’s Only Sex … Right? , Mia Moore (K)
I know this is fiction, but it’s set in the real world, and I didn’t find the heroine’s actions realistic for the setting. There’s also a cliffhanger for no good reason.

First Class Package, Jay Northcote (K)
Short and sweet.

Bound by Sacrifice, Reyna Pride (K)
I seriously considered abandoning this one. The premise is interesting, but the writing frustrated me. The timeline is unclear, for one thing. The heroine was made immortal by Satan 78 years ago. The events of the story are taking place in near present day, since the characters use cell phones and the Internet. Yet the heroine sees a pendulum used to keep time and says she knows how it works because similar devices were used in her youth. What? Clocks have been around for centuries and commonplace for more than the 100 years or so the heroine has been on this planet. Timeline aside, a lot of the dialog sounds stilted to my ear, such as this character describing bacon: “It’s strange but ever since I visited my daughter overseas, I have been craving the stuff. It is horrible for me, I know, but it is so good. She used to cook it every day for me and now I am addicted.” Or another character, describing how the heroine looks at him: “…like I am some distant rainbow, mythical and holding all you desire, but not real enough to find that pot of gold at the end of.” Then there are the typos: “low and behold” instead of “lo and behold”, “handy work” instead of “handiwork”. And other sentences that needed more editing, like this one: “…there were two very young girls sitting on a couch, chatting with two men in chairs that were way too old for them.” I did persevere and finish it, only to find the heroine came down with a touch of Mary Sue disease and the book ended on a cliff hanger.

Bad Boys and Billionaires, Lynn Red, Melanie Marchande, Synthia St. Claire, Isabella Brooke, and Aurora Read (K)
The Alpha’s Kiss (Red) was a new adult werewolf story that took me a while to get through because I just wasn’t engaged by it. I Married a Billionaire (Marchande) was a green card marriage of convenience tale that didn’t quite work for me even though I have a big soft spot for that trope. Lost in Blue (St. Claire) was an action adventure romance that stretched my credulity way too far. Last Lord of the Moors (Brooke) was the slowest paced, most realistic, and least steamy; I’m not sure what it was doing in this collection as the hero was neither bad boy nor billionaire, but it was my favorite of the set.
Amy’s Bear (Read) took shifter romance to a place it doesn’t normally go, a place I wasn’t especially fond of.

Noah, Elizabeth Reyes (K)
On the plus side, I didn’t find many typos to distract me. On the minus, the age gap between hero and heroine would have worked better for me if both were a bit older, and the heroine seemed rather weak/immature overall even though she was the older of the two, and the hero isn’t interested in the heroine until she loses 40 pounds (something that happened in an unrealistic timeframe as far as I could tell).

Charming the Alpha, Liliana Rhodes (K)
I quite liked one of the supporting characters, but overall there was too much telling, especially about details of the characters’ outfits, and not enough showing.

A Gay Holiday Box Set, C. R. Richards (K)
Loved that this included a transgender romance; that was a nice surprise.

Weekend with the Tycoon, Kaira Rouda (K)
I’m not sure if I need to stop reading this genre (business proposition leads to sex/romance) or if I just need to read better executed examples of it. The heroine was too much of a pushover for me, for one thing. On the plus side, condoms were used (though not entirely correctly).

Drowning Mermaids, Nadia Scrieva (K)
I chose this because a) it was free, b) it was a decent length, and c) it has mermaids, which was intriguing. I’m torn on rating this, because parts of it were interesting and kept me reading, but there were a lot of things that didn’t make sense and weren’t explained well. Language sometimes was odd, like when someone “wiggled her eyebrows menacingly”; wiggling and menacing just don’t go together in my mind. The world building was sometimes iffy; I never got a good sense for the home of the heroine despite many scenes set there at the end of the book. I’m not sure what part of Alaska this is supposed to be set in; it didn’t seem much like the fishing towns I’ve seen on the Discovery Channel. The hero does something definitely not heroic at one point, which tainted him for me for the rest of the story.

Scrum, P. D. Singer (K)
A sweet m/m short that doesn’t try to cover too much ground.

Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (K)
This felt like a return to form for this series, where I got sucked right in and didn’t want to leave. If I’d taken a few steps back, I could have spotted some issues (superhero powerful leading man AND woman, for instance) but I didn’t want to step back.

Tempest’s Course, Lynette Sowell (K)
I came for the quilting and almost left early because of the moralizing.

Forced to Comply, Natasha Stories (K)
The stranger forced premise is not my cup of tea, so I probably should have guessed based on the title that this was not for me. It’s very short, which is why I finished it rather than putting it aside, which I otherwise probably would have due to the bad porn vibe I was getting from it.

Wrangled, Natasha Stories (K)
This gets bumped up to 4 stars because it surprised me a couple of times, and that’s rather rare when I’m reading genre romance. I also appreciate that it stands alone; I didn’t even realize it was the second in a series until after I’d finished and was looking at Amazon.

Sexy and Funny, Hilarious Romance Bundle, Mimi Strong (K)
I liked that each section of this anthology started with a summary, length, and spice level, so I knew what I was getting into; a cliffhanger is not as annoying if I know it’s coming. The proofreading was pretty darn good in this, which I also appreciate. I don’t remember laughing all that much, so I guess the author’s sense of humor is not a good match for mine.

Out from Under You, Sophie Swift (K)
This one just caught me and made me want to keep reading.

The Viking, Marti Talbott (K)
The romance was a little too tame for my tastes, but I did like the setting. A few editing problems with homonyms, missing words, and misplaced commas.
Fair Play, Samantha Wayland (K)
I liked this one so much I bought the followup almost right away. The plot didn’t go quite the way I thought it would; it was nice to be surprised. I was delighted that the heroine didn’t compromise her career goals for the hero. I was not delighted by spoilers for the next two books in the series being in the end matter, but obviously that didn’t dissuade me from continuing.

Two Man Advantage, Samantha Wayland (K)
I very much like seeing a healthy monogam-ish relationship represented here. A couple plot points confused me a bit, but I could overlook that because I was having so much fun reading.

End Game, Samantha Wayland (K)
Enjoyed this as much as the previous two in the series. There were some editing problems and crazy coincidences here that would have really annoyed me if I didn’t like the characters so much. I do wish the heroine and man #1 had communicated a little better about bringing in man #2, but it all worked out. I do hope the author writes more in this world; there was a hint of a subplot in this book and the previous one that never got followed up on, and I’d like to know what’s up with that.

A SEAL’s Surrender, Tawny Weber (K)
I read this having forgotten that I didn’t like the first one in this series. This one was better.

Big Girls Do It Boxed Set, Jasinda Wilder (K)
I am all over the place with these stories. I like that the heroine is fuller figured. I don’t like that she’s not comfortable with that (except she dresses like she is). I don’t like some of the things she does, but they’re not necessarily unrealistic. There are some confusing typos (though not too many) and some confusing plot issues. At one point, having arrived in New York, the heroine mentions she should have stayed in Detroit. Detroit? This is somewhere around halfway through the book and I didn’t even know it was set in Detroit, and I think I would have noticed since I’m Detroit-adjacent myself (was in Detroit proper as recently as this morning, even.) This ends on a cliffhanger; apparently there are several more installments. I’m not sure about getting them at this point.

The Viking’s Witch, Kelli Wilkins (K)
This is set in 803 A.D., a period I don’t know much about so I can’t intelligently comment on the historical accuracy. It did seem appropriately brutal from what little I do know about that era. The brutality was balanced by the quieter, more personal moments. I didn’t especially care for the big misunderstanding near the end, but that’s sort of a requirement for a romance it seems.

The Off World Collection, Rebecca York (K)
These short stories were decently plotted, not feeling too rushed, and refreshingly well proofread. I wanted to know more about these couples and worlds when I was done, which is always a good sign.

Fiction—Everything Else:

Serafina and the Black Cloak, Robert Beatty (K)
Even though I am decades older than the target audience for this tale of a strange girl who lives in the basement of the Biltmore Estate, I enjoyed it quite a bit and even found it rather scary in parts. I love that a female character gets to be brave and clever and adventurous. (Note: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

Pomegranate Soup, Marsha Mehran (K)(BC)
One of my friends remarked that she wished Ms. Mehran had written a memoir, and I agree; I would have rather read that, I think, as I did like the author interview in the back of the edition I read. I had trouble keeping it in my head that this was set in the 80s. A lot of this reminded me so strongly of Chocolat that I kept expecting Johnny Depp to show up at any moment.

So Say the Waiters, Book 2, Justin Sirois (K)
I didn’t read Book 1, so was a bit lost here, as this is definitely not a standalone. While some things confused me (the money flow, for instance), I did find some of the ideas and characters intriguing.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan (BC)
I loved the premise, but didn’t love the execution. Many of the characters felt like caricatures and many obstacles were overcome too easily.

This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Trapper (K)
I had to wait so long for my name to get to the top of the ebook hold list that I forgot why I’d wanted to read this. For most of the book, I tried to figure it out, as the family seemed not at all like my family or any family I’d like to get to know, then quite near the end there was a perfect, perfect line that made me cry—for my dad who’s gone and my mom who one day will be—and that made the experience worth it, regardless of why I’d put this on my to-be-read list. I would have loved an epilogue.

archives    home    e-mail   

Powered by WordPress