1 Stars
Finished — Ugh.
Your Heart Belongs to Me - Dean Koontz

This book was a giant waste of time. It made no sense. Seriously, none.  I'm just . . . confused.

4 Stars
Finished — Man, I liked this.
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline

I really did. Even though it's first person (blah). I enjoyed the creativity of the story and the world-building. I loved the 80s references (great music mix!). It was just a very enjoyable story to listen to. The only downsides for me was my dislike of Wade's love interest. I thought she was an ass and he had nothing but hearts in his eyes and let her treat him, crappily. And Wade made other frustrating, stupid choices/actions. But that's about it. 


I also really liked the narrator. I felt stupid though. I had listened to most of the book thinking his voice sounded familiar but I couldn't pinpoint it. Then I saw it was none other than elected Oasis overlord, Wil Wheaton. Duh! He did a really good job with this story.


I definitely see myself listening to this again.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
0.5 Stars
DNF at Page 174 — Severely Disappointed
Love Overdue - Pamela Morsi

There is nothing worse than looking forward to reading a book—especially for a long time—only to not enjoy it when you finally do get to read it. It's even worse when it is so I unenjoyable you have to flounce it.


I have been wanting to read Love Overdue for quite some time since I love library/librarian stories. But between plot elements I hate and how unlikeable I found the characters—as well as reading spoilers about the end of the book—this story doesn't seem to be salvageable for me.


First, the plot entirely hinges on the hero (Scott) and heroine (D.J.) having gross stranger sex eight years ago. You all know how much I hate that. To make matters exponentially worse D.J. did it to ~not he like herself~. On spring break, dressed like a hooker complete with plexiglass heels (who even?), encouraged by her friends she went out to find a stranger to fuck. (Here are my thoughts on that.) And she was a virgin. Just, why would you . . . just, why? That will never make any sense to me. Sorry I'm not sorry that I'm never going to find that to be in any way empowering and not stupid.


And Scott. He apparently cheats on his girlfriend in having that fling. Not that I abide or forgive cheating in any way, shape, or form, but worse—it didn't just happen, he set out to cheat. In reading other reviews apparently he had some convoluted reason: to get better at sex to please his girlfriend. Uhm. What? No . . . wait, what? I get his girlfriend made him feel insecure through no fault of his, but still! How in the world does cheating make things better??


So this entire scenario is off-putting, unromantic, and gross on a few levels. But I probably could have dealt with it as usual if the characters were at all likeable to me.


With Scott, the book had barely started when we're told he had carried on a sexual relationship with a married woman for sometime after his divorce. Given context clues, it didn't sound as if the woman and her husband had an open marriage, which makes him a homewrecker and he had no guilt about this at all. Worse, he got divorced because his wife cheated on him. What would possess him to do the same to someone else? So, between this and the previous cheating I did not like him at all. Add in what other reviews have said about the way he thought about women, particularly D.J., later on in the book and he apparently reaches dudebro levels of douchey.


D.J. was more actively awful, at least when it came to Scott. She, deservedly, feels stupid and mortified over her actions eight years ago. Lucky for her, Scott doesn't recognize her. So she takes her prim librarian persona to an extra degree with him so he won't remember. For some weird reason she thinks her life will be destroyed if he does. Okay. But on the other hand she gets pissed at him for not remembering! What? She already acted like an ass the morning after back then when she fled without a word. Now she meets him again and treats him like crap. With outright disdain. Initially so as not to tip him off, but then she starts making up shit about him in her head that makes no sense. According to her, because he jumped into bed with a stranger he's a liar (I still can't work out how she came up with that one), and a player. Then adds on more thinking he's a bigot against the town's lesbian couple. At no point in time, at least not before I DNF'd, does it occur to her that maybe he was pretending to be something he's not that night, too. That maybe she doesn't know anything about the guy whose name she refused to even hear then let alone learn anything else about him. That maybe there is some history between him and the lesbian couple that precipitated his attitude toward them. (Granted, it is a bigoted little town, of course, but she was just looking for more ammunition to hate him for no reason. Turns out half of that couple was his ex-wife, and the other half is the woman with whom she cheated. And she did get wind of the married woman affair, but it only reinforced what she had already convinced herself of.) Her whole bitchy, dismissive demeanor toward Scott and her nonsensical judgment of him made me really dislike her, too.


At this point I'm not enjoying the book and I don't think it's going to get any better. The only thing I do like is D.J.'s dog, Mr. Melville Dewey. So I go and look at reviews and thank the Book Gods I did. Turns out the only reason to even attempt to push through the book—Scott finally realizing who she is, the big reveal, and working things out—is completely absent. Most reviews lament the sudden abrupt end when he realizes it's her and it cuts to an eight years later epilogue. The climax is entirely absent. What?! Why would you do that?!?! I . . . am SO happy I didn't waste my time finishing this book. I think everyone would have felt my indignant rage. On top of that, everything to do with Scott's mother, D.J.'s landlady/boss, is so utterly ridiculous I almost started beating my head against something hard just reading reviews! (She tries to commit suicide with a botulism pie?! WHAT ARE YOU I CAN'T EVEN!!!)


So, yes. One very emphatic and heartbreaking DNF for me. Dammit.


Yet More Bothersome Tropes
Love Overdue - Pamela Morsi Extreme Exposure (Audio Download) - Kaleo Griffith, Pamela Clare

Of course this complaint isn't far off what I usually complain about, but I feel like this is something n which we can all agree . . . maybe. I keep reading these over and over and it really gets under my skin now.


First: The (framed as) "prudish" heroine who wishes she could be promiscuous or go out and bang random dudes, etc. Usually she has a best friend or sister who does and she laments not being more like her. Okay, if you're me you're annoyed because what in the hell kind of thing is that to aspire to? Less STD and pregnancy scares, ooh, life is so boring! Physical intimacy actually means something to you, you're so juvenile! (Reference back to my irritation at heroines considering this sophisticated behavior. ) 


But where we all can agree is on wondering why is what these heroines are so bad? What is making them feel that being who they are is a bad thing? Are we supposed to nod our heads in agreement and say "you suck, change!"? I don't get it. You do you, girl. Let the grass stay greener because if you're not that person, trying to be is just going to cause you problems.


Second: The best friend who encourages the heroine to change who she is to be more promiscuous or whatever. Sorry, but I think you're best friending wrong. Aren't you supposed to be telling her she's great as she is? Not trying to dress her up like Streetwalker Barbie™ and telling her to throw herself at the first available cock that passes muster. Shouldn't the BFF understand who she is and know that this isn't going to work out well for her? It just reeks of, "I love you, but . . ." to me, something that drives me bonkers. Supportive is one thing, pushing her into something emotionally and physically dangerous is another.


Again, these things are probably just me and I likely wouldn't have noticed myself if I hadn't read them over and over. But unfortunately what has been noticed cannot be unnoticed. 


Unnecessary Sex
Extreme Exposure (Audio Download) - Kaleo Griffith, Pamela Clare

Because romance authors are so desperate to shove in as much superfluous graphic sex as possible now, the hero and heroine go ahead and have sex at the end here even though the heroine:

  • is concussed
  • used her head to break someone's jaw while concussed
  • was knocked out with a blunt object after breaking someone's jaw with her head while concussed 
  • has two broken ribs
  • was shot (though a flesh wound)
  • bruised all over from being beaten multiple times
  • chemical burns in various places


Then talks about how sore she is afterward. Well, no shit. 


Like, really? That's all I'm saying. Same complaint different book.


Overall, though I really liked the suspense storyline and characters. Even if she's a journalist. 

2015 Audiobook Challenge Update #2

Here is my second quarter update.




My Challenge Main Post


List of Audiobooks I've Listened to the Second Quarter of 2015 (narrator in parenthesis):

  1. Horrorstör: A Novel by Grady Hendrix
  2. His Love Match by Shirley Hailstock
  3. Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner
  4. Sweet Revenge by Zoe Archer (Veida Dehmlow)
  5. Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
  6. Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan (Jim Gaffigan)
  7. If You Hear Her by Shiloh Walker
  8. Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare
  9. True Love by Jude Deveraux
  10. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
  11. Seraphina by Rachel Hartmann
  12. The Proposal by Mary Balogh
  13. Hope Ignites by Jaci Burton
  14. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Kirsten Potter)
  15. Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh
  16. The Intercept by Dick Wolf (Peter Ganim)
  17. Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke (Anne Flosnik)
  18. If You See Her by Shiloh Walker (Cris Dukehart)
  19. Rock Hard by Nalini Singh
  20. The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
  21. Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare
  22. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan (Heather Henderson)


4 Stars
Finished — #CakeSounds
Say Yes to the Marquess - Tessa Dare

I really liked this. Much better than the first. Another romance where a great relationship was established before sex (well, before full on sex). I couldn't get enough of Rafe and Cleo. Their conversations and, joking, and overall silliness with each other. There were quite a few times this book had me laughing out loud. My biggest complaints were that when the sex did come it was overly long and exceedingly explicit. Of course, that things with Rafe's brother weren't squared away before they started. And that (the sister) Phoebe's upset was never fully explored as it should have been. I loved her though. I wish she'd get her own book. Though clearly she is on the Spectrum and I don't know enough to know whether that could work or not (she doesn't like touching, so. . .). She and Bruiser were such great side characters, and part of what made the book so entertaining. I'd really like for Bruiser to have his own book, too.


Historical romance is killing it for me lately!

Swerve - Vicki Pettersson



Why does anyone think a mystery or thriller should be in first person?! Or romance! Soon there will be nowhere to turn for non-tedious/ridiculous storytelling. Looking at some quoted lines from this book . . . really, people think like that? No, they don't. It doesn't make sense!


Why are so many of the books that sound really interesting in frigging first person now?! It's like the authors-pandering-to-adult-YA-readers is infecting everything.


I really truly want want to do harm to the people encouraging authors to abandon third for God awful first. The worst are the ones like the book I finished today. Switching from first to third and back. If you can't tell your damn first person story in one POV without switching that should be a flashing neon sign that your story needs to be in third. Which is probably why I'm so extra mad that this book that sounds so good is in first. I wasn't expecting the last one to be in first at all—totally unpleasant surprise—and then even more heinous that it was mixed third/first. That on top of constantly getting excited over a blurb or newspaper review only to find out the story is in first has lead to severe frustration. Sigh.


In a completely OT aside: Some of the "how I'm feeling about this" emojis or whatever are hilarious. They make no sense!

5 Stars
Finished – Five. Freaking. Stars!
The Escape - Mary Balogh

I'm so excited, you guys! I haven't given anything five stars in nearly two years!!! Contrary to some BBA belief, I really, truly hate not loving the books I read. So I'm beyond giddy that I loved this book so much.


This book is the very antithesis of all the crap I keep complaining about in the romance genre. Ben and Samantha are two very well drawn, fleshed out characters. The did a lot of talking. Not just about themselves, but about everything. All before ever laying a finger on each other! I never had to wonder why or how they could possibly be in love. I didn't have to wonder how they could possibly have an HEA when they have nothing in common but sex. No, they built a relationship, a friendship, a foundation for a love and romance from the very beginning (okay, not from the very beginning, they had an acrimonious first meeting and had to get over that disastrous event first). I loved their banter and the way they joked around with each other. They were really fun to read! The only thing I could have asked for is some more of the conversations on page. Sometimes it would shorthand: 'they talked about favorite books, etc.' and I would have liked to have seen more of it actually happen. And, of course, I loved the dog Tramp.


Then when they finally did have sex, much later in the book, it was actually satisfying. Balogh built up the sexual tension along with the relationship and that is what makes a romance novel sex scene worthwhile. Not all the gratuitous, empty, right off the bat sex we see so much of. And it didn't take over the story when it happened. It became a part of their relationship like all the other elements, we still got to see them as the couple we had come to know.


I've read/listened to this series out of order and was worried after listening to the first book even though I liked the second book, which I had read first. I'm glad there seems to be an upward trend and I hope it keeps up through the rest of the series.


There was a really short novella at the end of this book that took us back to the second book when Vincent's female relatives were trying to marry him off. It is the story of the girl, Philippa, they brought to stay with them hoping he'd offer for her and instead she caused him to run away. It's the story of why she did what she did. It was short and sweet and I liked the insight to a kind of toss away character from the second book to show she wasn't an awful nitwit.

13% — Ughhhhhhhh
The Inner Circle - Brad Meltzer

You are so lucky you were interesting enough to hook me, book. Otherwise I would have flounced you quickly. There is no more shitty storytelling than switching from first person to third and back. Tell it in either first or third! If you can't, you need to reevaluate your story. And while you're doing that, ENOUGH WITH THE FUCKING FIRST PERSON. GOD. Why is it infecting everything? I'm being assaulted with it more and more in mystery-thriller, and romance, and OMFG it's the worst. 

A Case Of Plagiarism

In which Lynn Hagen appears to have been caught plagiarizing from Raythe Reign. 

7 hours in — What . . . just, what?
Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss) (Volume 1) - Nalini Singh

Heroine: I don't want to be like my mother! Pathetic and unable to be a person separate from my father. I don't want to be like my mother!
Hero: If you're going to be with me you need to give up everything to come with me.
Heroine: Okay!
Me: *deep eye roll* Idiot.


They've been together all of two and a half weeks and haven't done anything but fuck constantly. Nothing to indicate that they have the sort of long-lasting relationship that makes sense for her to give up her entire life and move halfway around the world. Not even the unbelievable I love yous.


Not to mention his "you are mine, I'll do what I want" and physically restraining her when she's mad borderline if not actually abusive bullshit. And they have one fight and she's throwing stuff in a suitcase, what even?


This book is freaking stupid.


And somehow there are four hours left. 

More than sex?
Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss) (Volume 1) - Nalini Singh Hope Ignites - Jaci Burton

'. . . They had a special connection, this was more than just sex.'


'They had something more than just sex.'


'They recognized this was something special. It wasn't just sex.'


Methinks the authors doth protest too much. First of all, saying something like that in the middle of sex kind of renders it meaningless.


Second, when everything comes back to your genitals . . . come on now.


Third, when the characters have not spent any time together that hasn't started or ended with sex, it's just not true.


The most conversation we get out of these couples is about their pasts and where their "relationship" is going. Nothing else. Nothing to indicate they're compatible in any way. Nothing to show they can talk about something that isn't sex and themselves. That they can joke and have fun (again, outside of sex). Or have intelligent discussion. SOMETHING that would tell me that there is some sort of foundation for an HEA besides really good sex.


Don't tell me they have something more than sex. SHOW. ME.

The above is just a sign of crappy writing.

Chapter 3/43 minutes: To flounce or not to flounce, that is the question.
Rock Addiction (Rock Kiss) (Volume 1) - Nalini Singh

How many things do I hate about this story already, let me count the ways:


1. So far it has mostly been sex talk. (Only some ~the heroine's traumatic past~ vagueness.) 

2. The hero and heroine seriously said pretty much no words to each other before they were off to her place to screw. (Frigging ew.)

3. The idea indiscriminately screwing randos is somehow "sophisticated".

4. The heroine is a virgin and is jumping into bed with this stranger (third book in a row with this trope, I hate it. I love stories with virgins, but not doing that. The only difference that makes this slightly better than the others is that this is a famous dude she'd been fantasizing about. Only slightly.).

5. Where the hell is the plot? (Will there be a plot?)

6. No, but seriously, there has been no plot (yet?) but we're already in an extremely explicit sex scene.

7. The heroine apologizes for being a virgin. Just, no. (At least the hero didn't get mad about it, that reaction really pisses me off.)


That's a lot in 43 minutes and they're not even that far into the actual having gross stranger sex. You know what would have been a more compelling story and an actual romance? Rock star used to getting any woman any time he wants finds girl intriguing, is made to wait, to his surprise falls for her, building of an actual relationship and delicious sexual tension. Why don't romance authors care about the latter two elements any more?


I don't know why I want to give the book a chance to hook me. That may be a mistake. Anyone read this who can advise me? 

2.5 Stars
Finished, thankfully. Siiiigh.
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel, Kirsten Potter

This was massively disappointing. And it could have been brilliant. It had that potential. The premise was great, particularly what caused the fall of civilization. But that was all wasted with all the irrelevant nonsense that had nothing to do with the premise. An ungodly amount of time was spent on only marginally relevant characters years and years and years before the apocalypse. And the story would keep going back to years before and the utterly mundane details of the lives of barely relevant people. Like history and journey of everything they had in the decades after the fall had to be explained in excruciating detail including everything happening the lives and work of the person then. I can't even adequately explain how ridiculous it was. Especially in addition to the jumping all over the place in time.


The real killer is when the story was focused on civilization falling, the direct aftermath, and the story a few decades after it was great. I was really into what was happening and the world Mandel set up. But then it'd come to a grinding halt and we'd be in the past being bored to tears. I actually started screaming, "WHO THE FUCK CARES?!" at it in my car. So much time was wasted that could have been spent weaving a rich and fulfilling story in the aftermath. The resolution of the Prophet could have been better if given the proper time. Even in the last thirty minutes of the audiobook, most of that time was spent on the last two days in the life of the actor who died at the beginning of the book and who was, for some reason, the lynchpin connecting most of the characters. Almost no time was left to wrap up the relevant stories. And so much freaking time was spent excruciatingly establishing intersecting paths between these characters and then we didn't get to see them unravel those connections.



63% — My thoughts during a lot of this book right now . . .
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel, Kirsten Potter


There is is so much extraneous story about this actor's life and people connected to him! Why?? It's so unnecessary and aggravating.


We're in the collapse with our leads story going, she's looking at a book about the actor's life then it's a chapter excerpting the book, then it's back in time to his second ex-wife letting a friend of his know about the book, then it's about the friend's feelings on the book, then it's the friend interviewing a random secretary about her boss for his job THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING AND YET GOES ON AND ON AND ON.








What relevance does this have to the story??


Now the chapters are all over the place in the present and the past and it's so annoying! This book had so much potential.