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goldendarter

The Golden Darter

My Life Through Books

 

Middle School was a weird mix of classics and Star Wars. I was obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux to the point of the book falling apart. I also discovered that while I love Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters can go hang. As for Star Wars... I've read almost every meta-verse book that was published up until the New Order cannon. I can still go into detail and recite storylines of a few beloved books. Hence, my nerd life began.

 

High school was very paranormal, vampire, scifi, etc. I would literally go online and search for book series that concerned vampires and read everything on the list. We are talking Anita Blake, Charline Harris, Anne Rice, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Tanya Huff, Steven King, etc. This was before they sparkled, ya'll. Early college was philosophical and political theory for school, and mainstream fiction in my personal time. Wicked, Life of Pi, Memoirs of a Geisha. These are the 3 books that pushed me into my next phase, mostly because of how ambiguous I felt about them, and their questionable endings.

 

Late-mid college I was introduced to LaVyrle Spencer by way of Hummingbird courtesy of a gripe session with my Mom about how depressing the books I had been reading lately were. I've never looked back and have been hooked on the romance genre ever since. I've read and loved a ton of LaVyrle Spencer (who is a little hit and miss), Judith McNaught (of the rapetastic 80s era of romance), and Georgette Heyer (who writes in the vein of Austen). More recently I've discovered the joys of contemporary authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

 

Lately I've been trying to read more non-fiction. I really do enjoy learning about subjects that interest me, but non-fiction can feel like work sometimes. So I fall back to romance. You just can't go wrong with knowing that there will almost always be a happy ending.

Currently reading

Playing Dirty
Jennifer Echols
Searching for Someday
Jennifer Probst
Mara TP
Ming Doyle
The Quest
Susan Kearney
Play by Play (Play Makers #1)
Kate Donovan
Mrs Ronnie The Society Hostess Who Collected Kings
Sian Evans
Playing Dirty - Jennifer Echols

Copy courtesy of Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Searching for Someday - Jennifer Probst

Copy courtesy of Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Mara TP - Ming Doyle

Copy courtesy of Diamond Book Distributors, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Down on Love

Down on Love - Jayne Denker After having read several dish-rag heroines latley, George is so refreshing in Down on Love! The idea that she is a blogger who gets internet-famous for her blog on hers and others failed relationships is a unique idea that I haven't read before. That her snark and advice to "dump his ass" are her trademarks made me laugh. And she always stays true to who she is. Having mentally fought her way out of a relationship that not everyone would be able to see was abusive, she had to figure out who she was again, but through it all she stayed true to her.

Oh yeah, and then there is poor Casey who was just a goner from word one. Thank goodness someone in their relationship was. I will say that I can't see George actually being happy in Marsden due to how angry (not mad, not irritated, I'm talking angry) she gets at times about the nosiness of her neighbors, but I'm sure they worked it out in the end.

This was also a book where all of the side characters shine! I love authors who can do that! There wasn't one person on the sidelines who you felt you didn't know by the end of the story.

Really, really enjoyed this book and I am looking for more by the author!

Copy courtesy of Kensington Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Nowhere Men, Vol. 1: Fates Worse Than Death - Eric Stephenson The premise of this comic series instantly hooked me. "Science is the new rock and roll." Come on, who wouldn't want to live in a world where physicists supplanted the Beatles in popularity? I really enjoyed the entire conceit put forward through the issues of these four wonder-scientists and the eventual combustion of their group, much like a few rock bands I could name. I felt like the central idea of their being rock-stars could have been delved into a little more, but maybe that shows up more later...

The only gripe I have is regarding the non-comic supplementary articles. They were formatted to look like they came out of books and magazines, but most just broke the action for me and irritated me to the point that I ended up skipping most of them, reading the plot, and coming back later to read those. It's mostly just background material on their breakup. I can see how it would be less annoying in the original serial format, but in this trade it just slowed things down.

Otherwise, I am really looking forward to continuing this series and really can't wait to see where they are going with the interesting mix of characters we are left with at the end of this first volume.

Copy courtesy of Diamond Book Distributors, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Eclipse of the Heart - Carly Carson Oh, goodness... This book... My mouth was literally hanging open at parts due to pure incredulity. This book gives me a headache just thinking about it for longer than a few minutes so I'm just going to put some of my notes and observations here and call it a day:

Note: These points just started and I couldn't stop bitching so this is longer than planned... But damn this book pissed me off.

- First of all, this is one of those crazy melodramatic stories. You know, the ones where people have histrionic moments because the sky is blue. This is a thing that drives me crazy no matter what the book is. It just added to the bad here.

- The beginning of this book is just ridiculous. He was interviewing escort ladies? At his office? I just... What?

- Despite being told that the whole reason Amanda must have this job (not the escort one, another one... I know, they are confused for a bit on this point as well) is because her sister is sick and her mother needs to quit her job to help with the treatment. Aside from this plot device, you never really meet her family or learn anything about them besides these basic facts. Bothered me since they were such a huge part of Amanda ever doing anything.

- Amanda would regularly be told something by one character on one page, and then five pages later be told the same thing by a different character and act like she had never heard it before. I'm sorry, not "act", she genuinely didn't. This happened several times. Poor editing.

- Amanda constantly has thoughts along the line of "what choice did she have", generally in response to something that Logan was forcing her to do. These things included but are not limited to eating when and where he wanted, going to events with him, letting him buy her a new wardrobe, etc. She has exactly one moment of showing a spine and it is over what to wear to an office party (which she ends up regretting, so make of that what you will...). Most of the time she complains about how bossy he is, tells him that he doesn't run her life, and then lets him do exactly that. At one point near the end, she has the thought "I don't choose to let my life be manipulated by what he thinks is best.". People, my eyes almost rolled right on outta my head at that one.

- Speaking of that douche-canoe Logan, when Amanda decides to raise their child (yea, it goes here) alone because she doesn't want it to have an emotionally detached father who basically told her that he hates children, he tells her that he is going to file a lawsuit against her for exclusive rights to the child unless she does everything he tells her. DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP TO YOU? And guess what she does? I mean, after all... "What choice did she have"? Oh and his response when she gets upset about all of his highhandedness? "I know you feel trapped. I'm proposing to make your sentence lighter." HER SENTENCE PEOPLE! To me, that is admitting you are a jailer. This is NOT sexy. Ugh.

- There is some slut shaming that I am not even going to get into because it was part of the plot that was just a whole 'nother barrel of sweaty monkeys.

- Nearer to the end he has packed her off to his house out of the city... So she can rest? I dunno, but this was the whole reason he threatened to sue her for parental rights, cause she didn't want to go. So while she is here, his housekeeper is going on about how mean Amanda is for not making Logans life easier and just giving in to him. When Amanda explains how abusive he is (my words, not hers...), the housekeepers response is "Good for him". Amanda's "friend" gets snarky with Amanda at one point saying that Amanda "can't be bothered to take his calls", to which I reply WTF? The one call it talks about Amanda receiving from him while she is there makes her excited because its rare/he hasn't called before (can't remember which), and she answers it so this is either another example of terrible editing, or Logan was lying to her friend. Either way...

- To put the cherry on top of this cake, she finally has the baby and, wonder of wonders, he shows up. Keep in mind that he hasn't been to see her since he packed her off several months before. Turns out that he was in the city cleaning up some loose ends (re: slut shaming) and, oh yeah, buying a house for them to live in. Without consulting Amanda. Cause you know, that's just how he rolls. And everyone is happy. The end.

TLDR: lolwut the hell did I just read?

Copy courtesy of Aspendawn Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.p

Preservation (Preservation, #1)

Preservation - Rachael Wade Ryan and Kate are that couple that are always either together or breaking up, in a constant state of flux. And their reasons for "ending" their relationship always had a solid basis in reality. They are both volatile people who let their emotions tun their lives. Unfortunatly, even after they make semi-sane decisions to leave the other, they end up back together every time. For no reason that I could understand. Their issues were never solved. It was like they just got tired of not being together, so they forgot why they broke up. Now, like I said, I know people like this in real life, and it is utterly exhausting to be around them. So I sure don't want to read about it. Apparently this is a series, but I just don't see this ending as a HEA since it was just following the pattern of getting back together after a legitimate breakup (and Ryan being a total freaking ass), except this time he put a ring on it. I just don't buy it.


Other than that I liked the writing style, and would like to see what the author could do with more logical problem solving. Haven't decided if I want to read the next one or not. Despite the major issues I had, I still enjoyed reading this book.

Copy courtesy of Rabbit Hole Press, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mrs Ronnie The Society Hostess Who Collected Kings

Mrs Ronnie The Society Hostess Who Collected Kings - Sian Evans

Copy courtesy of Anova Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment - Phaedra Parks I love watching the crazysauce that is The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and Phaedra has always been one of my favorites so I was absolutely thrilled when I saw this book on Netgalley, and it didn't disappoint! Living in the South and being raised by a mother who is a "Southern Belle" in so many ways that I never could be, I enjoyed reading this and comparing it to my life experiences here in the Deep South. I am not personally what I (or for that matter, Phaedra) would consider a Southern Belle but I know more than my fair share of them. It's not as common among people my own age as it is in a generation ahead of me, and I think it is a gradually dying ideal. Still, it was amusing to read her anecdotes and tips (though at times they would directly contradict each other, a few times from one page to the next).

A great read if you enjoy watching Phaedra stay classy on Housewives and want to get some background information on how and why she does it.

Copy courtesy of Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Five Ghosts, Vol. 1: The Haunting of Fabian Gray - Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham This graphic novel series was a bit confusing at first which meant I never felt a firm footing with the story. Add to that a somehow-cheesier-than-Indiana-Jones vibe and I ended up feeling underwhelmed. The basic idea is apparently that Fabian is trying to cure his sister of... something. At some point he has managed to get the ghosts of fire archetypes lodged within himself and he uses their abilities in his adventures. Except when he can't. Overall, it just read like an Indian Jones style story, with a lot of camp. If that's your thing, I will admit that they do it really well. I am just not the audience for this particular story type.

Copy courtesy of Diamond Book Distributors, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A Man Above Reproach - Evelyn Pryce A Man Above Reproach was full of so much promise. I absolutely loved the set-up and the meet-cute. But after the first 50 or so pages it started going downhill. The decisions Elias and "Josephine" were making began to seem confused, and plot jumps began happening all over. It was like the beginning was written and polish but the rest was just a rough draft. It was quite disappointing, because the bare bones of a great story were all there, but the execution just didn't happen.

Copy courtesy of Montlake Romance, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I Am Pusheen the Cat - Claire Belton This was such a cute book! I was expecting more of a story, not just a collection of comics, but it was so adorable that I didn't mind. I think this is more for cat parents who can see their cat doing/acting like Pusheen does. I was raised with cats, but realized as an adult that dogs are the pet for me. Still, these cartoons are adorable, even if the length of the book itself was a bit disappointingly short.

Copy courtesy of Touchstone, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
All I Want is You - Elizabeth Anthony Within a few pages of beginning All I Want Is You, I knew this one wasn't going to be my cup of tea. The writing style is not one I enjoy reading. Full of purple prose, full of actions and emotions but no real reasons behind them. But I wanted to see where it was heading instead of just judging it by all that. Unfortunately, it just became more and more not my speed as the story went on.

I didn't like the main characters. Sophie has absolutely no reason to fall in love with "Mr. Maldon", he never seems to have a real reason to be interested in her, and I think everyone knew that Beatrice was going to be bad news from the beginning. Sophies relationship with her never seemed to have a point besides setting up a villain.

And goodness, if there was a drinking game for every time that Sophie ran away from a situation she didn't want to deal with/Lord Ashley... Well, I probably never would have made it to the end of the book. It got pretty ridiculous. Especially the last one. The ending of this book just made me want to throw my Nook across the room. When there is finally no real reason they can't be together, Sophie still insists on leaving for America and leaving Ash behind. Wtf lady. Do you just WANT to be unhappy? Cause that was the impression I was getting. That and sequel bait. Which I will not be interested in if it happens.

Copy courtesy of Redhook Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Isn't She Lovely: Flirt New Adult Romance - Lauren Layne This was such an adorable Pygmalion story. I will admit to a huge weakness for these stories, even though I know that they are all about loving a false creation and not the real thing/person. Stephanie and Ethan are so freaking adorable. Stephanie with her goth persona-as-armor, and Ethan as the non-apologetic rich kid. The whole set-up is a bit contrived, but who cares! They almost always are in these tales. And the confrontation with reality at the end... You really want to hurt Ethan. Where it will hurt. But he comes through in the end, and you can mostly forgive him. Just too cute! Look forward to more from this author!

Copy courtesy of Random House Publishing Group - Flirt, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Everything Bared (Six-Alarm Sexy, #2)

Everything Bared (Six-Alarm Sexy, #2) - Kristine Cayne I really should have written this review right after I read the book, but I didn't. And now I am all foggy on my impressions. But I have a few highlights, so we'll see how this goes...

So the setup of this book is interesting and involves one of my favorite tropes. But then we got about 50 pages in and everything just started going downhill. Both the the mains irritated me for one reason or another.

William was fine, until he started getting all confusing on what he actually wanted out of their relationship. He went back and forth between wanting their relationship a secret and wanting it out in the open, between being happy with their sexual relationship and then not, between wanting Dani to change/quit her job/stop being so crazy in bed to none of those things... and then back again. Seriously, he was all over the damn place.

Dani just plain pissed me off. She is made out to be this strong woman in a man's field. She is a K-9 unit for fire rescue, so the lady has balls. But when it comes to William saying that she needs to change herself/her job or they can't have a relationship? Folds. Completely. UGH.

The writing itself was good, but the characters... They just made you want to slap them. And since I didn't like either of these confused souls, I don't think I will be looking for more installments in this series...

Copy courtesy of Aspendawn Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Hard to Handle - Jessica Lemmon So, on the one hand I really liked this book. The H/H had some rough emotional baggage (Aiden winning, hands-down, but Sadie's isn't pretty either) and their relationship goes through some bumps. Not the least of which is Aiden breaking it off for no good reason what-so-ever. More on that later. I loved the voice, the writing, the motorcycles. I loved that Sadie was a driven woman, and was (mostly) unapologetic about that. I loved that in their relationship Aiden was the one who was more in touch with his feelings and where he saw them going. So much so that he just doesn't know how to deal with the "let's back off a little" speech, other than assuming that things must be over. Yeah, gung-ho kinda guy.

BUT there was some crazy sauce that also drove me insane.

1 - I never understood the reason Aiden had to break things off to begin with. Something about... Not upsetting his mother with change? For some reason he had never told his family he was divorced (his problem), but that doesn't mean that he had to totally cut out on Sadie. Why couldn't he have just said that they needed to lay off a bit cause he was moving to Oregon but they could keep in touch while he dealt with family stuff? Why???? No idea. None at all.

2 - Sadies. MF'ing. Family. Are they for real? I mean... Obviously this is a work of fiction... But seriously? So, imagine the situation for a quick sec. You're engaged to a guy you've been with for two years. While you are engaged, this guy falls for your step-sister (that you don't have a great relationship with anyway), and before even bringing this little fact up to you asks your dad for permission to marry your step-sister. So this, in my mind, makes the ex-fiance and sister world-class assholes anyway, but then to make matters worse, your entire family thinks you should just forgive and forget. Act like it's all fine. When Sadie finds this a bit of a hard thing to do, she is berated for it. And Sadie ends up thinking that she is the one that acted badly. W.T.F. Maybe this is just a abnormal reaction that is coming from me, because I have no problem with cutting people (aka assholes) out of my life when I realize that they are... well, assholes. Nobody has time in life to deal with that kind of crap. So, in my mind, Sadie should have at the very least not felt like they (fiance and co) were the wronged-parties. At. The. VERY. Least. At the most, I would have cut those people out of my life so hard it would be like I had entered witness protection. That scene where the sister and fiance were getting irritated that Sadie wasn't falling all over herself with joy because "they" were pregnant wouldn't have happened because I wouldn't have been there. Have a nice life... But maybe that is just me...

So, yeah. Partially hair-pulling-insane, and partially really good. Might be willing to try this author again, but only if there isn't any of that family craziness.

Copy courtesy of Forever (Grand Central Publishing), via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.