Saturday, 26 January 2013

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber

I took a trip last weekend to meet some amazing authors, and I think the flying messed with my sleep a bit. And that's why it took me longer than my average 7 hours to read this book, but not for the lack of trying. I drank more coffee than usual to ensure that I wouldn't fall asleep on my commuter train. I could not fathom giving up a spare moment for anything other than Taryn and Ryan. At some point, I should have probably been doing some laundry or studying for an upcoming exam, but I just couldn't bring myself to close the covers.

I am a huge romantic, and this is exactly how I want a book to be written. It doesn't throw the characters together first chance they get, nor does it sugar coat the more difficult issues in relationships. I cannot for even one moment imagine what it would be like to be that "public", but I was very grateful that the author didn't make it seem like everything was coming up roses.

I get that every story has the main characters that the readers are supposed to devote themselves to, but I think it speaks volumes to the skill of the writer when I find myself captured by the secondary characters just as much. This book doesn't have random characters thrown into the mix just for s***s and giggles. All the players seemed to be well-thought out, thus ensuring their relevance to the story of Taryn and Ryan.

Doing an hour-long kettlebell class on 3 hours of sleep at 9am on Saturday is not recommended. I have authors I will make this exception for, and Tina Reber is now one of them.

Effortless by S.C. Stephens

OH HELL YES! I feel like I should elaborate more on this, but if you read the book and loved it, there really is no need.

If you haven’t read the book, you need to start with Thoughtless, and then read this one – Effortless. You’ll understand why everyone wants to work in a bar. Why mornings are the best part of the day, and why sleeping on a futon is the best thing since sliced bread when it’s with a rock star.

The character development in this book really took all of the main players to the next level. I even found myself loving Griffin (not in the same way as Kellan, but a close second)!

If you read this book or know of the series, then you might know that the 3rd and final book is coming out March 5, 2013. DO NOT READ the excerpt for Reckless! Unless it’s at 11:55pm on March 4th and you know that it will be on your e-Reader at 12 on the dot. There are not enough swear words in the English (or Estonian for that matter) dictionary to explain how angry I am that I let myself read it, knowing that I have to wait. Luckily, I was sitting at home (and my son was already asleep), when I let out this long string of expletives that would make even truckers blush.

Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens

I specifically picked this book because of the number of pages. I was heading to Texas and I desperately needed something to read on the plane. I also got Effortless, but more on that one later. But don’t read Effortless before you read Thoughtless – that mistake will drive you insane.

I have to admit that it took me a while (about 2 chapters) to get into this book, but I can assure you that I loved Kellan Kyle the first time I read his name. As the story progressed, I became a nervous wreck. I was having trouble concentrating on the words. I was battling myself because one part needed to read the end, while the other part kept screaming at me if I tried. I stopped biting my nails about 3 years back, but because of this book, I restarted the nasty habit (I’m hoping to kick the vice after I finish this series).

When I finally arrived in Allen, Texas, I had been up for 18 hours, 7 of which were spent either at the airport, on a plane, or getting shuttled to the hotel. I was exhausted but I was only ¾ through the book. When I finally had to put it down so I could get a few hours of sleep, I felt like I was saying goodbye to an important part of my life. Oh for the love of Pete’s – I knew it was only for the night, but it still took immense willpower. This book consumed my being. It got under my skin, but in the best possible way. I woke way too early the next morning. I felt like Denny, Kiera, and Kellan were screaming at me to finish the book.

I felt every ounce of angst that these characters were going through. At times, it was extremely difficult to turn the page because I didn’t think my heart could take any more. I noticed myself sighing as there were fewer and fewer pages towards the end. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like when I finally closed the book. How I would feel when I could no longer imagine Kellan saying “Mornin’” – AGHHH! Just writing this is driving me mad!
Now – go and read Thoughtless! When you are done (or if you read it already) start reading Effortless NOW!

Why are you reading this when you should be reading one of the above?

Really, the all caps NOW wasn’t enough? Stop reading this and start reading one of those books.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

a bone of contention

I went to purchase books for my Kobo, and as I was looking at several titles, I came across Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. As I was looking at it, I noticed that it was grouped in a certain genre of books. I looked at the list a bit more, and noticed that it also had Easy by Tammara Webber, and Slammed, Point of Retreat, and Hopeless by Collen Hoover. They were all grouped in "What to Read after Fifty Shades...". This list also had Bared to You and Reflected in You by Sylvia Day, among others.

This really pissed me off to no avail. I've read the entire Fifty Shades trilogy as well as the two by Sylvia Day and I have nothing against any of those books. I've also read all the other books listed above. They should not be grouped together. And here are MY thoughts:

There are people out there who would say that Fifty Shades is tame compared to other books in that exact same genre that are out there. Yeah, but there is still a lot of explicit sexual material and covers topics which some would still consider taboo. Same goes for the ones by Sylvia Day. And this point leads to my main qualm...Because if someone objected to the content of Fifty Shades, they would more than likely pass judgement on Beautiful Disaster, Easy, Slammed, Point of Retreat, and Hopeless, and therefore not read them. And if this happens, then how will anyone know how great these books are? The books by these authors are intense in their own way, but not in one that would make you need to Google what a flogger is.

What I really want to know is who decided to group them together in the first place. Did these people actually read the books? Did they use a software program to search similar words from the synopses, and if they got, say 75% or more, then they would be grouped together?

If I read one more article, or see one more list that has all of the above authors group together, I'm going to lose my s*** and start snail-mailing copies of the books to: the companies that have these list, the writers of the articles, and any other name that seems to agree with this inaccurate perception.

I guess in the end, and publicity is good publicity, but my point is that people should actually read the books they are writing about, or comparing others to.

Vent over - thanks!

Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines

This was the book where I needed to have read something about it beforehand. If I had, I would have saved myself the torture. I mean the kind of torture where you reprimand yourself in the mirror for being so stupid for not knowing there was going to be a 2nd book. The kind of torture where you can't sleep, and any thoughts about this book make you growl (even in public places) quite loudly.

I sat in the same spot for 5 hours reading. I could not make myself move. I think I had an apple for dinner that day. My husband was being very supportive of my reading binge (I was on my 15th book in as many days), and I noticed I was getting irritated with him. I didn't want him to be nice. I wanted him to act like an ass - like Rush! That boy got under my skin like no ones business. When bad is done well, it's soooooo good!

The ending threw me into a tailspin and had me reeling for days. I had this image of the author sitting by her computer and laughing diabolically knowing she had us eating out of the palm of her hand. Not cool Ms. Abbi Glines, not cool at all.

I'm still contemplating on cashing in our investments and buying a Range Rover. It would be the perfect car to drive down when we finally move to the South (still trying to convince the husband of this, and that's the excuse I'd give him). I want to learn to make my "y'all"s sound authentic and learn to incorporate "roll tide" into my everyday language so I don't sound like a complete idiot. Now if the book was set in NYC, I'd move there instead. You get the picture...but I'd still buy the Range Rover.

Wallbanger by Alice Clayton

I love celebrity gossip, but I guess there are worse vices to have. That's how I found out about this book. Mr. Perez Hilton mentioned it at 2:10pm, and I had it ordered less than half an hour later.

Holy mother of all apple pies. This book is hot! As a matter of fact, it's so hot that the comparisons to Fifty Shades are not necessary. This book should be held up on it's own merits. Besides being bat-shit-crazy sexy, it was absolutely hilarious throughout, and just like with certain other books out there, it will start a baby-boom. You definitely won't need a BDSM dictionary for this one, but you'll want to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer and bake incessantly. And you'll catch yourself hoping that the plumbing goes haywire. And you might even book a trip to San Fransisco. If you really like the book, you might even consider getting a cat - but not in a creepy way that will make you a 'cat lady'.

Word of warning if you are considering the paperback version - people will stare at you when they see the cover. If you are the type that cares, buy the ebook. Otherwise, read proudly, because this book is so worth every sideways glance!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Vincent Boys & The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines

For the love of all that is pick-up trucks, bon-fires, and the Vincent Boys! I am in love (sigh!). I get that this is probably geared towards a younger audience, but I'll probably be reading these books well into the next decade.

I had to ask the author which one to read first, because I didn't want to glance at the back covers. Besides seeing on social media that everyone was enamoured with the books, I really didn't have anything else to go on. I honestly just went to the bookstore, picked them up, rushed to the checkout, hauled-ass home, and started reading.

I read both in less then a day and totally neglected my 3-year old son. I'm currently sleep deprived and jacked-up on too much coffee, but the books were so worth it. Thankfully, my son is understanding, even when I accidentally called him Beau, andthen Sawyer, while reading the second book.

There are some out there that would take issue with the way that some of these characters act. They are teenagers for crying out loud! Don't even try to look at either of these books from a different age perspective. It won't work. You'll ruin two great stories. As a teenager, it was fun to lust after someone and to do things that you wouldn't be able to get away with in your twenties (or even later). Both these books really capture the best (and sometimes not the greatest) moments of what it is to be young.

I've never want to relive my high school days, but if they were anything like these books, I would go back in a heartbeat. I'd even put up with a certain bitch (because there really isn't another word for her) if it meant I'd get to experience even a tenth of what any of these characters had. For a reader to want to relieve those days speaks volumes about the awesomeness of these books.

I really can't say much more without giving the stories away. Just start with The Vincent Boys and make sure you have The Vincent Brothers ready to go for right after. Call in sick to work if you have to.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Best Kept Secret by Amy Hatvany

When I first started reading this book, I was very hesitant about staying with it. Something about the honesty of the writing and the topic itself made me feel like I was intruding on a very personal matter which I had no right to be a part of. I soon realized that the way I felt was a testament to the writing. If an author could stir up that much emotion, it's because they have that exceptional ability to connect with the reader through their carefully chosen words.

I actually imagined myself in the house, on the streets, and near the computer, watching Cadence slowly destroy her life. I was closing my eyes when things got bad, hoping the next line would bring reassurances that never did materialize. My heart broke for Charlie, and I really wanted to have Martin buried in the foundation of a building. I was begging for the cashier to stop her just once. There were other characters that I would have loved to have slapped, and others who I would have hugged.

This is not a book for people who only like sunshine and rainbows.This is a gut wrenching book that gives an honest account of a person struggling with her flaws. The ending doesn't have a neat bow on it, and I think if it did, the author would have been a sell-out.

This is not a book that deserves to be in bookstores or in e-carts waiting to be checked out. It deserves to be on peoples bookshelves and e-readers everywhere.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Recently, I've stopped reading the synopses for books. I also try to avoid reviews that give away the whole plot - especially when I still haven’t read the book yet. So you are probably wondering how I pick up a book? I go to the store, look at all the books, and then put them in my basket. There are some I seek out because I notice the author on reading lists.

I was so glad I stuck to my new rule when it came to this book. Had I read it, I would have thought “Blue Lagoon” and ceased to pick it up. A part of me also thought “Castaway” during the first several of pages, and I honestly thought that this was going nowhere good fast. That was a VERY long movie and how would one cram so much of a timeline into a 329-page book?

I was honestly surprised by how easily all of it flowed from one narrative to the next. On the Island covers a significant time period, but it has the perfect amount of detail in each chapter to make it believable. It didn’t go into every minutia of Anna and T.J.’s lives, and I was really grateful for that. It gave the reader the perfect amount of insight to these characters and their internal trepidations both before and after. As a reader, I feel absolutely horrible if I finish a book and my first thought was that the author tried too hard. And this was definitely not the case with this book.

There was a significant event that caught me completely by surprise. From that moment on, I honestly went from just liking the book to considering it amazing. I don’t think it’s an easy feat for authors to build suspense and catch the reader off guard. There are so many books with similar plot lines, and it’s very unfortunate when you get to the end and you realize you saw it coming a mile away.
This is a book that I will read again and again.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

I never gave two shits about normal. I wanted extraordinary.
As a readers, we sometimes scan over words, and even sentences in books we adore. Books that we have never read and should really devote all our attention to. Books that we have reread so many times that we lost count years ago. This is not the book to do this in. This is THE book where you need to read every single verb, noun, adjective, etc. Don't even think about skipping the "THEs", "ANDs", and the "ORs".

Every single word that is written is with absolute purpose. Every word pertaining to Sunshine should be revered. Every word about Josh should be considered. Every word about anyone or anything in this book is there because it's important. All the words in the 58 chapters (59 if you count the Prologue) make this one of the most amazing stories I've ever read.

There were parts that had me laughing in stitches. I didn't have any "black shit", but it was still very ugly. It was excruciatingly heartbreaking. My e-reader came close to multiple untimely deaths with the wall because I didn't have the emotional capacity to deal with the myriad of emotions that this book so eloquently conveyed.

I honestly feel like my axis has shifted from just reading this book - thank you for giving me extraordinary.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

I just love printed books more...

I should really start by saying that I own an e-reader and am not an e-reader hater. Please keep this in mind when you keep reading.

Have you ever received a gift from someone close to you, and when you open it, you think to yourself "What the Butterfly (thank you Colleen Hoover for curbing my occasional swearing) - this person has no idea who I am"? That was the thought that went through my mind when my mother-in-law got me a Kobo last year for my birthday. The look on my face must have given my thoughts away, because she immediately started justifying the gift - it can hold so many books, the books cost less, you can get books that aren't in print, the battery lasts a long time, etc, etc, etc.

I actually started crying. I felt like she was telling me that I no longer could buy books. That I couldn't spend my lunch hours in a bookstore, making a mental wish list of all the books I wanted. Dread washed over me when I couldn't imagine myself cracking the spine of another soon-to-be favourite. That I would be going to sleep at normal hours after just watching TV. That the bookcases I recently purchased would remain bare.

A new wave of waterworks came when I thought that I'd never smell another book again (if you love print books, you know what I'm talking about). That I'd never look at a word, wonder how I learnt it, and run my fingers across the text. You can't put an open e-reader over your leg while you check text messages on your cell hone. If that falls, it might crack the screen, and then you are really SOL. With a print book, the fall will add more character and the worst that will happen is that you lose your place for a second.

Then there is the mother of all reasons I didn't want an e-reader - illegal downloads. I don't work in publishing (I work in HR for a bank) and I have no idea how these things work or the bureaucracy behind it. For me, this is a very contentious issue.

I wiped my eyes and excused myself. 2 weeks later, I purchased my first ebook. I felt like I was cheating on Print.

I'm not going to stand on a soap-box and start lecturing. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do. It absolutely pains me to know that authors pour their souls into words that make a direct impact on me, and that there are people who are of the mindset that because the books are out there in cyberspace, they have a right to it them at no cost. I didn't want anything to do with it. And that included owning an e-reader. After my family and friends, books are the things I treasure the most.

Going back to my first sentence - I'm not a e-reader hater. I find that it has come in handy at times. For example:
  • when the book is not available in paperback (i.e. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover - this is actually causing me physical heartache)
  • when I'm not sure about the book and whether I want it on my bookshelf
  • when I've ordered the paperback online, but I'm dying to read it and cannot wait another moment

(What about the indie writers and their editors? And the graphic designers who illustrate the covers? Books (no matter their format) are their bread and butter. There is no way I can buy all the books I really want, but these people work VERY hard. They deserve the recognition, even if it's just one book at a time.)

To the 2nd point: If I'm not sure about a book, I will get the ebook. But if I love it (please see Easy post), I will haul my arse to the closet bookstore as fast as I can and buy the paperback. I will also buy the audio version, and I have been known to buy 2nd and 3rd copies of the paperback format as well. I figure with so many people not giving these great authors their dues, I can do my part to make up for the injustice.

When people find out I average about 3 books a week, the question I get asked the most is: Why?

Like a person who has just fallen in love, I'm told I get this sparkle in my eyes. I stare at the person asking my this ridiculous question, and just answer "because books are (sigh) magic".