Sam's Reading: A Work in Progress

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Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye, Vitamin - Rachel Khong A super solid and engaging read that was funny, sad, bittersweet. This rounds in on 4 stars, but I can’t quite do it. It’s quick, though it took me a month, that’s mostly because of the month it’s been....

The Duchess Deal

The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare So look.


I don't think this offering put much effort into the actual characters. And I can let the plausible set ups go with fairy tales, plus her meet cutes are absolutely the best. But the supporting characters didn't ring true at all, and were really there so they could tell us what was happening without having to delve into making it happen.

I didn't buy his baggage. I didn't really buy hers. Kinda seemed like he loved her for loving him because... Well lots of because. She thought he was sexy. He realized she thought he was sexy. Happily ever after.

And, true to the book, that's all the effort I got here despite an enjoyable and even charming read, my bells weren't a-ringing...or something.

Lift Off

Lift Off - Lamar Giles, Nicola Yoon, Malinda Lo, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon Flake, Eric Gansworth, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang Eraser Tattoo: 3.75
Meet Cute: 3
Don't pass me by: 4

Bound by Your Touch

Bound by Your Touch - Meredith Duran This was so good, and in no way should the time I took reading it reflect anything. It was incredibly engaging and in many way less heavy than other MD I’ve read. It’s not her best, certainly, but it’s very easily still a five star book.

Lydia and James start out with an antagonistic relationship but quickly come to realize they respect the challenge the other presents and are fascinated. It’s no easy road with underlying mystery, danger, and family drama that indeed serves to fully flesh out two lovely characters making a go of it. They are witty, funny, and loyal. And their dialogue, good gracious:
“Even when you break the rules, you insist on reminding me of them? Really, Miss Boyce, have mercy.”

Her voice sharpened. “But I wanted to appeal to you in person.”

“Oh, you do.”

I have entire passages and pages highlighted, from one on family being a coincidence to the lovely ending. Both characters make grand gestures and know and respect each other. I shouldn’t be surprised, but what a delight.

Sounds Like Summer

Sounds Like Summer - Six de los Reyes WARNING. This ain’t a light review. It’s kind of not even really a review, it’s pretty personal. And it’s got spoilers. Let’s call it a book-related essay.

It was dark winter nights about 15 years ago when I would start to forget how I even got home. When I blanked out my whole commute, not because of my mind being too distracted or active or even out of habit, but because I just didn’t care.

This book is about a character who doesn’t fit with her job or where she works. Rationally, Lux is very aware of this. Emotionally, she can’t quite process the idea of letting that go. The idea that if she’s not good enough at this job, if she can’t make this work, then she’s not good enough.

What I didn’t realize for a few weeks in that January, once showers became difficult to take and alarm clocks too easy to ignore, is I was going through the second major depressive episode of my life. What felt like harmless and insignificant drives home weren’t, they were more likely the tiny beginnings of suicide ideation. (“What if I don’t care about the breaks, about steering?”) Remembering this is a bit traumatic. Seeing it in a character is really painful. While I enjoyed the romance portion of this book, and I’d like it even more if I hadn’t read it on the heels of a little quiet and similar book (for the romance/mental health) called Waiting for the Flood (apparently the academic women really cut to the core) and it became so relatable. Micah is definitely the shit if you like sweet boys. But that should not be why you read this little novella. You should read it for a young adult’s (grad student) experience with her struggle with depression and self-harm.

Sweet Cheeks

Sweet Cheeks - K. Bromberg You know that feeling, that great feeling, when a book has all your catnip. The writing seems nice enough, it's keeping you entertained...and then it's about 200 pages too long or something?

This book is a great example of that. It was so promising at the beginning, showing so much potential, and then they have sex.

And for some reason, I lost all interest after that. Sex scenes were great, and all buried to the hilt and all. Nothing wrong there. The place where second chances go so wrong? Easy, they rely on long ago stories, feelings, and places of who the people were and DEAD stop. This book resolved the issues faced by the characters really simply, thus avoiding all delicious and development-related angst. Once again, in a second chance, I'm left with the shards of childhood stitched together with adults who still have chemistry but no actual work to show for it. When I didn't show work, I got a C-

For a better version of a wildly similar book, really--the leaving without a trace boy [b:Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap|33295720|Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap (Hellcat Canyon, #3)|Julie Anne Long||54026781]

I recommend that whole series. This I do not recommend.

Reading Frenzy Book Blog

On Point

On Point - Annabeth Albert I must be in a mood, because I kinda teared up during this one. or I am a sucker for friend-to-lover types. I don't know, there was so great drama/angst in this one and ended up being my favorite couple.

the dialogue is still an odd sticking point for me in these books, it doesn't wow me. And until the couple works through feels, I really hated to sex scenes. Maybe I was feeling all their awkward and that was good, but it was rough.

At Attention (Out of Uniform #2)

At Attention (Out of Uniform #2) - Annabeth Albert I found the age Gap in this one troubling. Not cause of the amount, but how they knew each other. 12 years might not throw me much generally. I think it's fairly common in romance, but they kept bringing up how they meet when the younger hero was 15. I would've been ok if it weren't for constant reminders.

Other than that, it was fairly middle of the road. Looking forward to the next one though.

The Spencer Cohen Series, Book One

Spencer Cohen (Spencer Cohen #1) - N.R. Walker Look, I've got library books piling up. Glorious rereads going, and I'm reading this book. And I just don't care. In fact, maybe I'm a little annoyed. So much talk about how sexy the other one is and one doesn't know it and one's weak, and one's meh...blah.

Here's Angry's review. And if this isn't a ringing endorsement, IDK what is (to borrow from her last line).

Spinning Silver

Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik Too much of a chore, and no great indication of a payoff based on my friends. DNF @17%

It was a good try, though wasn't it,Heather?

A Lady Awakened

A Lady Awakened - Cecilia Grant I'm really not sure how to review this book between a cold, upstanding widow and a charismatic land management student, but I will say that it in its everyday approach to intimacy it really did wow me. There's this scene, when fondness of the part of the hero was building, that made my heart kick just right.

And here's a heroine I admire, working to do the right thing the only way she can. This book did not rely on sex, but a genuine friendship between the two main characters. Conversely, sex only served to alienate them from one another in the absolutely stiff and uncomfortable scenes.

I guess what I'm trying to say is this book felt weird realistic for the beginning of a relationship...and it was such a good read.

A Destiny of Dragons

A Destiny of Dragons - T.J. Klune Setting this aside for now or forever. The OTT locker room humor isn’t hitting the spot this time. 25%

The Score

The Score - Elle Kennedy June 26 update:
OOF, harsh. I loved this one on reread (5), wasn't as impressed the first time (4). Rereading reminded me why. About 80% of this book is spent on talking about Dean's charmed life. It was frustrating to me as a plot point. As if having a supportive family and 'no trouble' in your past immediately indicates to your girlfriend's father that you can't be there when something gets hard.

EXFUCKINGCUSE ME. Reliable people come from all walks of life. Those that are self-made and had to be and basically had no one to count on, fed themselves and worked from the time they are young to do just that. And get this, never complained. And have empathy still. (HI DAD!) Those self-righteous who feel they've earned their place and that whatever comes to them they deserve or don't. Shades of many. Those who grew up in incredibly supportive and loving much so that they can spread that love and support to others, even if they can be clueless about what it means to not have a loving parent. I mean Dean and his awareness and his honesty could've read like that. He's basically broken because of an experience in high school. But he also always shows up. Sure he doesn't do things he doesn't want, he's a hedonist. Word. Also seems to be a steady friend, coach, whatever. So his character kind of fell apart for me here. And the foreshadowing of it is all external. He thinks about his friends and often acts for them...So when the 'big event' happens and he goes on a three week bender? We all agree, not healthy. Unfortunately the way he hits bottom is so trite and the way he comes back is so immediate you can't count it as development. And this as the great sin-having three weeks where you handle things in a not super positive, moving-on manner? Please. I HATED THAT.

Which also brings me to the reason I feel like this binge is an interesting exercise. I'm looking forward to Tuck's book because the three heroes read so similarly (Garrett funniest, Logan charm-ingest, Dean horniest) They are all cocky, all have this self-assured sense of humor, all think they don't like the idea of girlfriends, and are all open and honest.

And the same happens with the heroines, only their interests veer in a different direction-all related to arts and media. And there's always another almost makes me look really forward to Tuck. Because he's already been cut from a different cloth. A steadier, calmer, quiet one.

Don't get me wrong. I like to love Elle Kennedy's Off-campus series. Just not as much as I used to. And that's ok. 3, just 3 stars.

Hollis has also accompanied me on this binge. Her review is here:
Entering my old review because somehow my fussing made it get lost....

June 2017:

UpGRADE upon reread to 5:

What happened here? I have no idea why this was only rated a 4 from my initial reading (unless I lost a .5 from my import over to GR?)

I love a reformed playboy (hello, especially ones good at the seduction and worshipping). I love the exhibitionism. I love athletes (oh and he's great with kids? *Faints on couch*). I love this series. Tears burned my eyes around 85% with how familiar what Allie went through in that scene was and how she gave me all the feels. So what gives with the 4?

So many of the scenes from this book are memorable, I'm not sure what I was thinking before. I found no goatees, so it couldn't have been that.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite series, and I apologize for the weird review from my confusion based on my first rating of this book. Someone must have hit me upside the head.
The Mistake - Elle Kennedy

This definitely does not pack the punch of The Deal, but is told in the same breezy, quick, engaging and frankly realistic style (speaking of the banter/conversation here). I also don't think it has the humor. I don't love comparing within series, I don't think it's fair. I just did it though, and I'll stand by that.


Frankly, I like these two characters backstories and conflicts far better than I like the predecessors because it felt more fresh, and in a lot of ways they weren't fixated like the way the characters in the prior novel. It features another sweet and open hero who basically just wants love.


So, why deduct a star-ish you ask? Grace. I thought she was realistic in a college freshman, kind of insecure way, but she flipped so quickly in her assertiveness,  it was annoying. And in the final conflict at the tail end of the book, I cannot be convinced that her behavior was sensitive or in any regard in character for her. I didn't get a great sense of her. She was shy and wasn't, she was sensitive but wasn't. 


That said, I enjoy this series more than nearly any NA, and it is tops for hockey. In some respects, I liked the pacing of this book better-and it shows another college couple getting to their happy ending in a very different way with a very different start. (And my eyes do get wet at one point, man, what the hell is happening to me)

The Stone Sky

The Stone Sky - N.K. Jemisin And I will tell you everything of how, later, as the quiet of death descended, I whispered:
Right now.
Right now.
And the earth whispered back:

So look. I buddy read this with Joanna, and I'm glad. I sucked at it, we mostly touched base about where we were at...because if you read the above passage what I can tell you is how that feels-how that seems to hit a little too close to home right now-it's what I felt when I read nearly every word of this work. It was a stunning, aching conclusion to this trilogy that started off in its usual way. NKJ somehow creates engagement with a strange sense of detachment. I caught myself wondering if I was catching it all (probably not, it's rich as hell) I feel like an observer in the world. I don't know how this happens, but then it reaches out and crushes you.

And then somehow, she brings you back to life. In the final ten pages of this book, it hurt so deeply and a few pages later, she gave me hope.

In reading her author's note, I burst into tears. I can't explain how difficult this book was for me to read (yet enjoyable) and how timely it feels. I think you're going to have to just go ahead an take my 5 stars-for the entire series and figure it out yourself if you read it.

Unmasked by the Marquess

Unmasked by the Marquess - Cat Sebastian Not my favorite CS, perhaps my least favorite (which is likely still shelving it in my top 75 romances). It wasn’t the threads and complication for me, but I felt like it took a good 20-35% to sink my teeth into. In the end, it was lovely and sweet, though Charity’s decision irked me at the end (not how the come back together, rather that she basically doesn’t accept his proposal without conditions?) , I indeed understood it, but felt something missing. All in all, another delightful story from Cat Sebastian.

Currently reading

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The Mistake (Off-Campus) (Volume 2)
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