I am soooooo far behind on my reading challenge that it’s almost embarrassing. However, my defense is that, so far, in 2016, I have written (not published…actually WRITTEN) five books and am currently working on two others simultaneously. Doesn’t leave much time for reading but I’m not giving up! Since my last update was through the end of March, these are the books I’ve read since April (through July):
I know, I know…I haven’t written a post in the last two weeks. But, you have to cut a writer a little slack during and right after a release. Especially when it’s for a book like WILD AT HEART! I worried about this book more than I did any other book. Mainly because I had so many readers looking forward to Bailey’s story, had it in their minds how her story should be, and I worried (like a madwoman) that it wouldn’t live up to expectations. As a result, I’ve made sure I was too busy to read most reviews and hid in a cave writing something (anything) else, including my grocery list!
I’ve also been able to spend a little more time reading this month. As a result of my “goal setting” in January (see here for my article about goal setting), I have decided to up my reading for pleasure this year. It’s the one thing I miss most from my pre-published life. And, I have found, as most authors will attest, that reading the work of others, whether good or not-so-good, makes ME a better writer. Not only can it spawn new ideas but show me what works, as well as what doesn’t, with stories. I see good examples of storytelling, how to make unlikable characters likable, ways to use setting convincingly, good dialogue and why I love (or hate) certain stories.Now, that said, sometimes I’ll be posting my thoughts and recommendations on my Facebook page. Other times, I won’t. It’s in no way a commentary of how well I like the book but, more likely, a commentary of how much time I actually have on my hands at a given moment. I will also be rating some of the books on my Goodreads, but not all of them. Again, this isn’t any indication of how much I like a book but rather whether I have time to even rate it. I will, however, be keeping track and trying to post each month (again) the books I’ve read recently that I like the most. These will be my favorites for each month. Some you’ll know, others you may not. But stay tuned and join in the fun!
I love book recommendations. If you know of a book you think I’ll enjoy, post a comment. I have a huge TBR list (probably something close to 2000+ on my Kindle and another 300 paperbacks) but I’m working on getting that shorter. If I see something I simply MUST read, I’ll fit it in. 🙂 If you just want to see how I’m doing on my goal, click here.
Well, I definitely didn’t make it to 100 books! However, I did read A LOT more than I did in 2015 so it’s a big win for me. I also remembered why I love reading, found some great new authors and fell in love again with some favorites.
If you’d like to recap from my original updates, you can see those here (4 total). Otherwise (since I haven’t updated since August), these are the books I’ve read throughout the last half of the year (in no sort of chronological order).
These are all of them! I know that many of you read fast and will devour a book (or more) a day but, with my writing schedule, managing to get seven books written in 2016, I’m pretty happy with my results of 54 books read. I’ll be aiming for 100 again in 2017 but don’t plan on having the heavy writing schedule I did this year. We’ll see how it goes. Want to join me? Just post a comment below!
*Yes, clicking on the covers will take you to an affiliate link with Amazon but feel free to order these books from any retailer!
I get asked a lot what I’m reading and it really depends on what sort of mood I’m in. Let’s face it, now that I’m writing even more, I’m having to put reviewing books on the back burner. I just don’t have time to give reviews to everyone who asks these days and, unless I take on a few reviewers for this blog…well, you get the picture. So, instead, I thought I’d try something different.
I’ll tell you which books I’m reading all at once. In fact, I list them for you each month. I won’t be writing reviews, ratings or even synopsis of any of them, just listing what I’m reading each month. Not my best reading month (only six books) but I managed to finish one book and edit another so a successful month all in all.Have you read any of these? Feel free to comment and make your thoughts known in the comments!
So, without further ado – My Books for July 2014 (in no particular order)
Where I got it: ARC from author for fair and honest review
Where you can get it: Amazon, B&N, AvonRomance.com
The bad girl who stole his heart …
Valerie Willis has done it all: tattoos, one-night stands, even strip poker. And now she can add getting a messy public divorce to that list. Back in her hometown of Rock Canyon, Val just wants to bury her head and wait for the scandal to pass. But when she suddenly finds herself at a singles’ weekend face-to-face with former flame Justin Silverton, hiding from her heart—and the sexy Marine—won’t be that simple.
Is just too good to let go …
It’s been ten years since Justin kissed Val, but he still remembers the way they just seemed to … fit. Since then he’s served his country and helped his father keep their ranch intact, but he’s never forgotten Val or her wild ways. So when a twist of fate brings him the chance to chase her across state lines and spend a weekend winning her heart, Justin’s all in. Because when he sees something he wants, he fights for it. And he’s ready to fight for the right to call this bad girl his one and only.
In Bad Girls Don’t Marry Marines, Codi Gary has written her most complex and memorable characters (in my opinion) to date. Valerie is the “bad girl” from the right side of the tracks and Justin is the “good guy” from the wrong side. Together they spark like lightning in a dry forest and create a raging wildfire of a story. I LOVED it!!!
There is so much going on with both of these characters, both emotionally and plot driven circumstances, that I never wavered in interest to see what would happen throughout the entire story. What’s going on with Valerie and her dad? How does her sister play into this? Where is the author going with the singles weekend and then – BAM – loved where the plot unexpectedly went. Woven through is a troubled relationship with Justin’s father.
Justin is a heart-throb in his own right. Like many of Codi Gary’s leading men, he’s a strong, provider/protector but I wouldn’t call him an Alpha. He’s more of a Beta (with Alpha tendencies) without those annoying Alpha cave-man, Me-Tarzan-You-Jane, knuckle dragging tendencies.
While some of the plot, at first, might seem cliche, (person from wrong side of tracks falls for someone from the ritzy area) Cody Gary does a magnificent job of twisting it into something completely new and unformulaic while remaining true to “happily ever after.” This is definitely my favorite of all her books to date!
Where I got it: Provided by author for fair & honest review
Where you can get it: Amazon
The second book in The Return series, Return to Newport picks up right where The Return (reviewed previously and highly recommended) leaves off, continuing the relationship between Jake and Eve. She must now return to face the people she left in Newport, the life she once had there and tie up loose ends before she and Jake can finally have their “happily ever after.”
But once they arrive, things don’t go the way either of them expects and circumstances threaten to tear their relationship to shreds. Can their love survive?
I was so excited to read Return to Newport but I knew AL Parks was going to have a difficult time outdoing her first in the series. I LOVED it! The first plus in my book was that this one didn’t leave you hanging for one second, picking right back up where The Return left off. LITERALLY!
I also really enjoyed seeing more from Jake’s perspective (no spoilers, Tina, no spoilers!) and it was easy to feel the emotions Jake (and Eve) felt – the pain, jealousy, fear – as well as the depth of his love. Eve also shows more depth in Newport than we were able to see in The Return. While she didn’t act in some situations the way I expected, it was a delight to see the author keep her in character or explain why she acted differently (you’ll see!). I love that many times, when something happened, the resolution wasn’t a typical cookie-cutter romance formula.
I also enjoyed that we are able to see more characters in Newport who were mere mentions in The Return and can’t wait to see if AL Parks branches off to give Clarissa her own book.
For those who want to read an adult romance that steps outside the box and will have you sighing in pleasure, with some steamy love scenes to boot…did I mention a sexy fireman and the judge/attorney who loves him? Return to Newport is a winner you don’t want to miss.
For Kayden, suffering in silence was the only way to survive. If he was lucky, he could keep his head down, do as he was told, and make it through the day. But one night it seemed like his luck-and his life-might finally end . . . until an angel named Callie appeared just in time to rescue him.
Callie has never believed in luck. Not since her twelfth birthday when everything was taken from her. After the worst was over, she locked up her feelings and vowed never to tell anyone what happened. Now, six years later, she continues to struggle with the painful secret that threatens to consume her.
When fate lands Kayden and Callie at the same college, Kayden is determined to get to know the beautiful girl who changed his destiny. Quiet and reserved, Callie still fears letting anyone else into her world. But Kayden is certain that Callie has come back into his life for a reason. And the more he tries to be a part of her life, the more he realizes that, this time, it’s Callie who needs to be saved . . .
Coincidence is one of the books that is near perfect. Characters with depth that can’t quite be figured out, act in ways you don’t understand but completely in line with the person the reader knows them to be and linger in your head long after you put the book down. Callie is a beautiful soul that will grip your heartstrings and draw you inside to share her torment and the beauty she hides. Kayden is a tortured soul who hides behind the persona people assume for him. Together, their romance is magical and beautiful without being over-dramatized.
Jessica Sorensen had crafted a romantic masterpiece that weaves beauty, love, hope and drama between two broken young adults realistically. She has added a lovely supporting cast in Seth and Luke. The romance between the couple isn’t forced and, throughout the novel, is touching. Rather than relying on sex scenes as so many authors tend to, this book, while still creating a little steamy warmth has genuine emotional connection that was refreshing.
There was no shortage of perfection in this story – from the plot and characterization to the twists and inner angst. Ms. Sorensen has woven them seamlessly to create a young adult romance that will surely be one of the all-time classics.
After reading Beautiful Chances by Alicia Rae, I continued reading the series with My Beautiful and the final book in Kyle and Lily’s story, Beautiful Dreams. I don’t usually do it this way but I’ll be reviewing both together so you get twice as much info and “bang” for your time spent reading. Keep in mind, today’s post will be a little longer than normal though.
Blurb: Still trying to recover from a tragic loss, Lily’s worst fear is falling in love. Distancing herself from everyone is the only way she can keep heartache away. Deep down though, Lily realizes that living without Kyle is too painful. She finds strength in Kyle’s arms, and he gives her the courage to face her past. With every step forward, Lily continues to nurture and mend her damaged heart. Just when Lily feels closure within her grasp, secrets from the past finally catch up with her, and Lily will discover that more than her heart is on the line. Will love be enough to save Lily?
For those who have read my review of Beautiful Chances, this one will sound almost repetitive. Ms. Rae has a lovely writing style that draws you into her character’s head and makes you feel the pain and joy first-hand. This is tempered; however, with a tendency to allow wandering which can sometimes detract from the plot of the story. There were a few points in My Beautiful where there was just too much information being given, too much detail, that simply didn’t matter (eg. a scene in a diner). I love Ms. Rae’s attention to detail but at times it was details that simply didn’t add to the story line.
And the romance in this story…well, be prepared for the steam to come off the page (or for your Kindle to start smoking!) There was so much sex in this book that I needed a nap. But I have to give Ms. Rae props for the fact that with the copious amount of sex scenes she has in this book, none were ever the same. Nor were they the same as the first book in the series. She scores points on creativity!
That said, I found myself waiting for something more to happen. The build-up to the meat of this story was slower than in Beautiful Chances and it bogged down the story. Once you reached the suspense and subsequent action, it was great and most people wouldn’t figure out the plot twist thrown at them. I also enjoyed getting to meet Lily’s family, especially her cousins, and can’t wait to see where their stories lead in the future. These two secondary characters, especially, have great depth to them and will almost certainly make wonderful “spin-off” stories.
Kyle has helped Lily work through her grief, and he has mended her broken heart. She has learned to move on from her tragic loss without feelings of guilt. As she falls in love with Kyle, all Lily dreams of is finally having her happily ever after.
But as time goes on, Lily can no longer ignore the desire to know more about Kyle’s past. She recognizes the hurt in his eyes as it reflects the same pain Kyle saved her from.
Will Kyle be able to share his secrets? Will Lily have the strength to heal Kyle’s heartache? Is their love enough to make their dreams come true?
Let me start off immediately by saying, Beautiful Dreams is my favorite book of the Beautiful series (to date).
Now, to elaborate on that –
Beautiful Dreams is the conclusion of Kyle and Lily’s love story but unlike the first two books, Ms. Rae wastes no time getting her readers right into the thick of the action. In this last book, we see Lily and Kyle’s relationship take a big step to the next level of maturity. Ms. Rae’s writing takes the same steps in maturity, becoming more concise while still maintaining the detail we love to read.
Unlike the other two books in the series, the sex in Beautiful Dreams was almost tame and, in my opinion, sweet while still maintaining a sensual quality. It wasn’t overdone and added to the romance instead of making it feel forced. It’s still steamy but in a good way that leaves you understanding Kyle and Lily’s love versus just wanting them to “get a room.” (off-page)
With continuing linear fashion, we see more of their families, especially Kyle’s sister, Abbey, and Lily’s cousin, Jason (*foreshadowing alert!!) We also see Lily drawing out the secrets of Kyle’s past. This is the only (and I do mean ONLY) complaint I had with Beautiful Dreams. There is such ominous allusion to Kyle’s past and the darkness of it but it didn’t feel that way when the reality was revealed.
However, Ms. Rae beautifully (did you see what I did there?) ties up the romance between Lily and Kyle in the final scenes. I can’t wait to read more and to see Lily and Kyle in subsequent stories, which is the sign of a good book – you miss the characters when you leave them.