Friday, June 20, 2014

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Mid Year Reading Goals

Ahem. So, apparently I did not write a list of reading goals for this year.  Shame on me.  So I can't review them and do a mid year check in like Kate did.  So, instead, I'll make "rest of the year" reading goals!

  1. Read at least two more Rough Riders Books.  I started this series by Lorelei James Kay (now Naughty Book Snitch Kay's) recommendation.  I really like them, but I have to be in the right mood.  Up next for me are Shoulda Been a Cowboy and All Jacked Up.
  2. Read a Tessa Baily book - this is to see what my book club is raving about.  I'm definitely late to the bandwagon on this one!  I'm planning to start with Protecting What's His.
  3. Accept a reading challenge from Kate.

That's all I've got.  I have a Goodreads goal to read some number of books this year, but I totally low balled it.  Seriously.  I wanted to set a goal I knew I'd acheive, because it makes me anxious when I'm falling behind when I log into Goodreads!

I am accepting other reading suggestions, so feel free to leave a title or author in the comments that you think I MUST read!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Copper King by Vivian Arend

Grade: B+
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Shifter, Bear, novella
Series: Takhini Shifters #1
Published: 5/6/14 
Reviewed by Anne
*Note: This book is part of the Alphas After Dark Anthology

Jim is on a yearly vacation.  He's a workaholic, especially since his parents died, but his good friend pulls him out to play at least once each year.  This year they're in Vegas.  Lillie is also in Las Vegas.  She's having her very first and last wild weekend.  When Jim sees Lillie, sparks fly.  When he offers to show her around the shifter side of Vegas, her bear can't resist his.

I really enjoyed this novella.  I can't believe I haven't read Vivian Arend before.  She does shifters right!  Not the over the top humor of Shelly Laurenston, who is a favorite of mine, but just really well written shifters.  I love it when a shifter's animal side shows through in her human side, both in actions and little things like Lillie wearing a shirt polka dotted with teeny tiny teddy bears.  There is plenty of humor, too.  Not over the top humor, but the kind that makes you smile while you're reading

I did predict the twist coming in this novella, but it still worked really well, so I didn't care.  The whole setup (for the twist) stetched my willingness to suspend disbelief a bit, but again, overall the story worked for me.  I'm definitely going to be reading more Vivian Arend!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ink and Flowers by J.K. Pendragon

Grade: B-
Hotness Level: Inferno
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Contemporary, m/m, Coming Out, novella
Published: 6/4/14
Reviewed by Anne
89 pages
Luke, a shy anxiety ridden college student, needs a place to live.  He's practically broke and determined not to have to move in with his overbearing family.  There's a guy that comes into the flower shop every week who scares the heck out of Luke, just due to his rough looks and many tattoos, and the fact that he hit on Luke once.  His name is Cooper.  Cooper makes Luke a hideous bargain - have sex with me and you can sleep on my couch.  Luke has spent a lot of time telling himself he's not gay, but he agrees to the bargain anyway.

This is a fairly straight forward set up for a novella, and you certainly get the story promised, but there's a LOT packed into this novella!  You've got a controlling and repressing family, severe depression, anxiety that's not really addressed, the question of paying for art school, Cooper's career and mysterious trauma, Cooper's habit of handling problems by running away, and erectile dysfunction!  It's a bit too much for this short of a story.

It was refreshing to read about a couple who didn't have immortal hardons for each other, but I was disappointed that it seemed like their sex life depended on the ability to have an erection.  I expected to see a discussion or practice of non-ejaculatory ways to be intimate.  But, then again, I'm already complaining that there's too much packed into this book!  It was also interesting to read about a character with anxiety and see how it affected his life.  But, again, it was disappointing that no treatment was pursued.  Luke's anxiety had a big impact on his life.  So much so, that it's difficult to believe that it will go away just because he's come out.

This story is told solely from Luke's POV, but that worked for me.  The mystery around Cooper's motivation and his transformation from jerk to sympathetic character was well done!  Luke's character growth made me want to stand up and cheer!  Despite having so much packed into it, I enjoyed the story and would read more by this author.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Static by L.A. Witt

Grade: A-
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Sci-Fi, Gender Bending
Published: 1/20/14 (first pubbed 6/17/11)
Reviewed by Anne
208 pages

Imagine a world where some people can shift into the opposite gender. And just like the werewolf shifter romances I've read, these shifters consider each of their forms/genders a part of them. It's a setup I couldn't refuse! Then you add in a society only starting to accept shifters, and you've really got an interesting world.

Damon has been dating his girlfriend Alex for two years. Her relationship with her parents is very strained. When he doesn't hear from her after a visit home, he goes looking for her and discovers that she's a shifter, and due to some surgery her parents forced on her, she's now stuck in her male form. 

I didn't want to put this book down! It made me think about gender and sexuality and it was a sweet romance to boot!   The world building was easy to understand, and the shifting was no harder to accept than any kind of animal shifter.  The re-developing romance was realistic and easy to read.  The process by which Damon fell in love with Alex again was slow, not immediate, and that read very true to me.  It also involved Alex accepting that someone could love him in whichever form he was in.  That made for a slow paced romance, but it was realistic.  There were times they were on the verge of having a conversation that got put off.  When they finally got around to it I could see that it was a good thing they had waited - they'd each grown over the course of the story to the point that they could discuss it without hurting each other as much.  That's some good writing!

I highly recommend this book - it's going on my best of the year list and it was one of my most interesting reads as well!  In the past year I've really enjoyed some other reads that have made me think about gender and what it means.  I recommend Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight and Wallflower by Heidi Belleau.   I also found the blog  Raising My Rainbow  about a family raising their gender non-conformist son.  The blog and books have all made me think, and I hope they've made me a more accepting person.  How about you?  Any stories about gender bending sexuality and stereotypes you would recommend?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Educating Caroline by Patricia Cabot

Grade: B
Hotness Level: Blaze
Kink Level: No Kink
Genre: Historcal
Published: 10/30/01
Reviewed by Kate
439 pages

This one read like a soap opera-in the best way possible.  I feel like a who's who might be the best way to start.

Cast of Characters:
Braden Granville-our hero, aka the Lothario of London
Lady Caroline Linford-our heroine, prim, proper, and, of course, virginal
Lady Jacquelyn Seldon-Braden's fiance
Marquis of Winchilsea-Caroline's fiance

Do you have it all straight now?  All right.  Here we go!

We start off with Lady Caroline walking in on the Marquis of Winchilsea (her finance, remember) in the arms (well technically, in the legs) of Lady Jacquelyn (Braden's fiance).  She's ready to call off the engagement, but her mother tells her there's no way she can end it without causing a reputation ending scandal.  Instead, she should use her womanly wiles to make her fiance fall for her.  Which wouldn't be a bad idea, except Caroline's not really sure if she has any wiles. 

Braden knows that Lady Jacquelyn has not been faithful to him.  But he can't call of their engagement without losing a lot of money.  Unless he can prove it, with a name or a witness.  Caroline decides Braden is the perfect person to teach her how to make the Marquis fall in love with her-all hands off of course. In exchange for teaching her, she'll be his witness against Lady Jacquelyn.

And from that point forward we have the story of Braden and Caroline coming to love one another.  My reading experience was filled with happy smiles, chuckles, gasps of shock and outrage, outright laughs, and contented sighs.  With just enough intrique thrown in, this one kept me turning pages from start to finish.

Thanks to Anne for the recommendation.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mid Year Check In With Kate

Back in January I set some reading goals for myself and I thought it was time that I update you on how I'm doing.

1.  My first goal was to read 200 books this year.  Not a terribly lofty goal, I'll admit, since I read just over 200 last year.  However it seems life has stepped in this year.  I am currently at 60 books read this year (gulp!).  I'll really have to get cracking if I want to meet that goal.  I am going to say that life has kept me away from my books more than usual this year.  Job changes, busier children, house fires.  At least I've come to appreciate a day that I can spend quietly reading.

2.  I wanted to read more romantic suspense this year.  At least one a month.  And yeah.  That's not going to happen.  I've read 2-3 of them.  And struggled through each one.  I'm just not ready for that kind of suspense in my life.

3.  The Wallflowers (Lisa Kleypas) challenge from my friend Kay.  It's a good thing I'm doing this mid-year check, because that's a goal that I can still meet.  I've enjoyed the ones that I've read so far.  Memo to self:  get the rest.

4.  An challenge from Anne.  Hey Anne, did you ever give me a challenge?  If so, you'll need to remind me again what it was.

I have started so many good series this year but sadly for every good book I read, it seems that 5 more get added to my TBR list.  And there's no way to get caught up.  There are few that I just can't get out of my mind lately that I wanted to share with you.

The Mountain Masters/Dark Haven series by Cherise Sinclair.  I have re-read the entire series again this year and loved the new addition Edge of the Enforcer.  I wish she could write them faster.

The Naughty Bits series by Joey W. Hill. My biggest complaint is that it's being released one little part at a time.  Arg!  I want the whole story now.

And I'm looking forward to the latest release by Reece Butler.  No Strings Attached (release date 6/6).

How are your reading goals coming along?