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Books 2018

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Read in 2018 (latest finished at top; someday I will group by category):

Thin Love, Eden Butler
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
I don’t know if I was just in the right mood or what, but I liked this book more than other romances I’ve read recently, even though there’s a lot of unhealthy behavior. I even cried a few times.

Suburban Holidays, Patrick Cleary
I don’t remember the last time I read any plays … this collection of holiday-themed ones is fun. I did find myself getting distracted by wondering how some parts of these were staged.

The Storyteller’s Secret, Sejal Badani
I guessed the secret fairly early on. That didn’t prevent me from reading the rest of the book or weeping my way through the conclusion.

The Prince & The Player, Tia Louise
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
This was ridiculous, and not in a good way. Not really a complete story, either, though not a crazy cliffhanger like some series resort to.

Losing an Edge, Catherine Gayle
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
Didn’t realize until I finished this that it’s book 13 in a series (or maybe book 8; Amazon and Goodreads differ); didn’t feel that way reading it.

Love at Furst Sight, Terry Bolryder
Pleasant enough. Had some quibbles with language (when don’t I?) like “deadlocks” instead of “deadbolts”.

Incandescent, River Savage
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
Set in and around a motorcycle club that’s evolved beyond their criminal past; I think how they did that would have made a more compelling story than the one the book tells. This has an alternating first person narrative that misses showing some scenes and instead tells about them after the fact (not always doing them justice).

Homeward Bound, Golden Czermak
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
This was a slog. So much so I finally gave up and didn’t finish. I found a secondary character more interesting than the two leads. The world building left key questions unanswered (such as, if it’s so easy to defeat vampires with light, why not got directly to that instead of messing around with hand to hand combat first). The sex scenes were not sexy. Witness this sentence from when two characters got together: “As he continued to press on, the exhilaration of the night became too hard and she overflowed onto the covers.” She what? Peed? Squirted? Something else?

His, Jenika Snow
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
This has a content warning up front. If this story had been written with better developed characters, it could have lived up to that warning, but it did not. There are creepy, awful situations here, but the writing didn’t make me feel or believe them.

Delicate Ink, Carrie Ann Ryan
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
There were things I really liked about this … the kink was handled well though it wasn’t a part of the story for long. There were things I didn’t … many subplots—some that seemed like they belonged in other books entirely— and some unnecessary drama. I liked it enough that I might check out more of the series.

Better When It Hurts, Sky Warren
(read as part of the Tasted and Tempted collection)
Too bleak for me. Also explained things that didn’t need it and failed to explain some things that did.

You’ve Been So Lucky Already: A Memoir, Alethea Black
I loved this so much I chose to read it instead of sleep one night, and sleep is one of my favorite things. I wasn’t always clear on where in time the story was, but the rhythms the words made in my head were so great that I didn’t mind. I didn’t always agree with the author’s choices but her writing helped me understand why she went the way she did on some things.

Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life, Michael Lewis
I failed to notice before I downloaded this that it’s a essentially a short story. Not being a parent or part of any sports team more serious than intramural softball for one year in college, I had trouble relating, and this was too short a work to be able to give me the context I needed to really understand. It helped not at all that the photo captions were grouped together at the end and it turned out none had any particular connection to the story.

Girl on a Wire, Gwenda Bond
I really liked this, with the exception of one plot point. I understand why it was done the way it was but wish it could have been less dramatic. But the setting and the characters and the magic and the mystery all worked for me other than that.

The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life, Anu Partenen
This book made me feel I was meant to be Finnish. I would so fit in in a land that leans toward pessimism and understands that government provided health care, day care, schooling, and other social services are a source of individual freedom and independence, not a detriment to it. I’m sad that our country is going in a different direction right now, consolidating power and money and opportunity in the hands of a few.

The Couple, Mr. & Mrs. K
I came across this old paperback, the account of a couple who did a two-week course of sex therapy with Masters & Johnson, and breezed through it over a couple of days. It’s a document of its time (published in the early 1970s): sex workers are called whores, and one of the solutions to the couples’ problems is that the wife should not talk so much. It also has some inaccurate information about body parts (hint: the vagina is not the same as the vulva).

Not Tonight Josephine: A Road Trip Through Small Town America, George Mahood
A travel memoir written a few decades after the trip was taken. I’ve been to some of the towns they went to so those bits were interesting to me. I wish they’d done less beer drinking and more exploring (and hadn’t called Detroit a shithole), but they were 20-something dudes so I guess that’s to be expected. I found this a pleasant enough read that I might look into some of his other books.

The Tenth Island: Finding Joy, Beauty, and Unexpected Love in the Azores, Diana Marcum
I didn’t know anything about the Azores before I read this, and now I know a little, so that’s good. I wish there would have been a more cohesive story here, a better focus.

Lover’s Game, Amelia Stone
The best of this author’s books so far (and I think the longest, which may be related). Of course I had a few quibbles as I read because I’m me, but I pretty much forgot those when the ending made me cry in a good way.

Florencia: An Accidental Story, Douglas Bowman and John Mullen
I usually prefer third person narration, but when it’s a memoir and the people writing it are referring to themselves in the third person, I find it odd and off putting. Why distance themselves from the telling that way? The editing was also very distracting, with commas used in ways that should not be. Such as this sentence: “The sandy excuse for a road was uneven with exaggerated, furrows, and paths, undetectable and unmarked.” It was disappointing to only see one photo in here, when a lot of the book covered the efforts to assemble a team to document the experience in photo and video. The Amazon reviews for this are stellar. I’m not sure I read the same book. What these guys facilitated was great; the book telling about it is not.

Friends With More Benefits, Luke Young
Okay, now this was really dumb for me to read. Yes, this third book in the series was already on my Kindle, but I should have deleted it when book 2 was no better than book 1.

Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir, Cinelle Barnes
This memoir sometimes made me very uncomfortable. I wanted more of it, to understand how the author got from the events described in the story to where she is now.

Friends With Full Benefits, Luke Young
Why did I read another installment of the series I didn’t like the first one of? Well, I thought it might get better, and it was already on my Kindle. It didn’t get better.

I wish I’d read the note I wrote on Goodreads about this one back in February of 2015, when I started and then abandoned it: “I gave up on this fairly early in. I didn’t read the first book in the series, so perhaps that’s why I felt no connection to any of the characters in the first few chapters. This reads like a porn movie, complete with stilted language and unrealistic events, but I didn’t find it hot, so I’m out.”

Friends with Partial Benefits, Luke Young
This book has been on my Kindle for years; I think I got it for free, and that’s good, because it’s not a great book. There is a lot of telling rather than showing, some consent violations, and some misogyny thrown in for seasoning. There were a few scenes that worked for me, so that’s something. And now I can delete it from my Kindle, so that’s something, too.

Confessions of a Funeral Director, Caleb Wilde
I didn’t read the blog that was the genesis of this book, though I think I did hear the author on NPR once. I cried more than once reading this. I got uncomfortable with the religiosity in it more than once.

From Mountains to Skyscrapers: The Journey of the Iu Mien, David Saechao
I got this book to learn about a people and a culture I hadn’t been exposed to, and I did get that, though in a rather dry, not very engaging format. The author has obviously done a lot of research and connects with this story on a personal level; I just didn’t connect with how he tells it. There are some editing errors that distracted me further (“whom” instead of “who” and similar substitutions, some missing words).

Mystic, Garrett Robinson
I hoped the plot would advance more in this second installment of the series and that we’d learn much more about the mysterious dagger the protagonist carries.

Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World, Christina Rickardsson, translated by Tara F. Chace
A powerful memoir by a woman who grew up in poverty in Brazil and was adopted by a Swedish couple. I wonder how many similar memoirs we’ll see in future from children separated from their parents at the U.S. border in recent months.

Miramont’s Ghost, Elizabeth Hall
I rather wish I had read spoilers for this, as then I wouldn’t have put myself through reading this tale. There were parts I liked, mostly the settings, and the protagonist as a young girl, but overall there was so much angst and abuse for so little payoff.

Nightblade, Garrett Robinson
I would have loved this book as a kid. As a grownup, I like it fine but wish for more adult themes. It’s not a standalone … one needs to read on in the series to (I assume) get the answers to some mysteries that remain at the end of this volume.

Robby Riverton: Mail Order Bride, Eli Easton
This was a fun read. There was some peril but it felt like it was of the melodrama variety so I didn’t feel too stressed about it.

Go: A Coming of Age Novel, Kazuki Kaneshiro, translated by Takami Nieda
The best part of this for me was the view into the racism in Japanese culture. It dovetailed with A River in Darkness for me, but was emotionally easier to read as I knew it was fiction.

Yellow Crocus, Laila Ibrahim
This is a novel, not an academic treatise. So the slavery here is somewhat romanticized, with a heroine who is a proxy for the well-meaning white reader.

Feast: True Love in and out of the Kitchen, Hannah Howard
Even when I wasn’t agreeing with or even understanding the author’s choices, I loved reading this memoir. There’s a rhythm to the writing that connected with me, a song being sung in my head as I read. There’s a lot going on here; some it felt very familiar to me, some of it very foreign.

Addicted to You, Krista Ritchie and Becca Ritchie
I started this, then put it aside for a while, then picked it back up and got sucked in. Still over dramatic for my taste as New Adult often seems to be.

TRUTHS: Art of Eros Series Book 1, Kenzie Macallan
Maybe too much description of hotel suites and meals; that space could have been used to further develop the main relationship, which felt rushed to me, especially with everything else going on in the story. There were some distracting editing issues; perhaps these have been corrected in later versions.

Edge of Dawn, Lara Adrian
Having dipped back into the world of the Midnight Breed with the prequel novella, I picked up this 11th in the series, which features a female lead, the now-adult version of a character that was a child when she first showed up in the books. I didn’t feel the same spark with this as I did with the earlier books. Maybe it’s me.

There Are Worse Things I Could Do, Adrienne Barbeau
I enjoyed reading this much more than I expected to.

A Touch of Midnight, Lara Adrian
I don’t remember why I stopped reading this series, or why I waited this long to read this novella which is a prequel to books I read quite a while back. It was like visiting an old neighborhood, familiar yet no longer a place I quite understood. I don’t think this stands alone, as it’s too short for much world building. I had some quibbles with a few things but again, maybe that’s due to it being too short to explain the things that bothered me (like what “delivery room” means in the context of a library building and if it’s where packages are received, why it’s decorated with elaborate murals).

Birthday Party in Paradise, Amelia Stone
This year’s short story sent out by the author to her mailing list. As with last year’s (which I read earlier this year just to be confusing), I liked it.

Born of Persuasion, Jessica Dotta
I’m not sure about this one. Overall I think it was well written, yet the ending is unsatisfying. Throughout, there’s lots of foreshadowing, but not all the things foreshadowed happen in this first book in the series. At the end of the copy I read, there’s a teaser for the next book; in that, there’s a framing device that I really wish had been in this book.

Out of the Shoebox: An Autobiographical Mystery, Yaron Reshef
The story of a family in four parts. I felt they could have been stitched together better (though in the afterward, the author explains his reasoning behind putting the two middle sections where he did, which I appreciated). As a non-Jewish reader, I wished for more explanation of the Jewish terms (my Kindle dictionary was not much help).

Trail of Thread, Linda Hubalek
I never connected with any of the characters, despite quilting being mentioned regularly.

…But I’m Not a Racist: Tools for Well-Meaning Whites , Kathy Obear
Some good food for thought here, but too many links to the author’s website for information that I felt could/should have been in the text.

The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter: The Complete Collection, Jennifer Malone Wright
This was not good. There was clunky dialog, characters that weren’t engaging, plot that made no sense, and so on.

The Art of Trapeze: One Woman’s Journey of Soaring, Surrendering, and Awakening, Molly McCord
I liked the sections covering her time in Paris. I didn’t like the numerous flashbacks to other times in her life; I didn’t feel those were incorporated well. I really didn’t like the whole end section of new age philosophy. The trapeze metaphor that pops up periodically didn’t work for me, either.

Totally Tubular, Gwen Hayes
Time travel and teens? Probably not the book for me. I did enjoy reading it, though, up until the end, when I wanted more of an explanation. I pretty much always want more of an explanation, though. (I read this in the So Totally collection.)

So Over You, Gwen Hayes
This is a tough one. A lot of it is fun teen romance/angst stuff. Then there’s the root of the heroine’s issues, and that’s no fun whatsoever. Might even be triggering to some. (I read this in the So Totally collection.)

Crazy in Love, Amelia Stone
This is a side story to the author’s book Desire; now I want to go back and re-read that one to see how this fits in. The shorter length of this one leaves less time for character and relationship development, and I found I missed that compared to Desire. It’s still good, I just wish there were more of it. Being me, of course I have a some nits to pick with a couple of plot points, including wondering why the main character doesn’t have a credit card to use for a hotel room. Yet to balance that, there was a bit of explanation provided for something I would have otherwise questioned that made me quite happy.

Fatal Puzzle, Catherine Shepherd, translated by Julia Knobloch
I wanted more loose ends tied up here. I have questions that the author doesn’t seem to have considered.

Sweet Baby Lover, Jule Kucera
I have such mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it were touching. Parts of it were gross. Parts of it were super frustrating.

Ticker, Lisa Mantchev
Like The Thrill of It All, I took a break reading this for quite some time, but unlike it, this one did grab me more the second go round.

The Thrill of It, All Lauren Blakely
Oh joy, a cliffhanger. I stopped reading this several chapters in, left it for months, and came back to it to find it hadn’t improved in the interim. Things happen that make no sense (unless you’re in a melodrama).

A Thousand Letters, Staci Hart
Not my kind of book. Wanted to shake both of the main characters many times. Yes, they’re young, but not so young they should still be acting the way they are.

A River in Darkness, Masaji Ishikawa, translated by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown
This was just grindingly sad. Not surprising given the subject matter.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson
I don’t read her blog and almost gave up on this book early on, as it seemed so frenetic and performance-like, as if the author was very concerned about looking wacky. I pushed on and did get some laughs out of it, so that’s good.

The Year We Hid Away, Sarina Bowen
It was okay.

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