Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Soup - February 7

In The Soup This Week... Avon, Portland RWA, Anna Richland, and Thea Harrison. Maybe a little snark.

Soup Dish:  on my mind
This documentary. If I play my cards right, I might get to go to a screening on my actual birthday. That would be pretty awesome!  I should probably finish making the arrangements to attend the wRomance event in Portland.

A really nice write-up of Avon's recent 75th anniversary in genre and popular fiction. Blogging for the Avon Addicts has been a terrific experience for me. Everyone I have interacted with at Avon has shown the highest professional standards, while still sharing a profound and sincere love of the genre.

While I am not much of a gamer, my husband has been in the industry for decades and my daughters also love playing RPG games (RP games?). The game industry has been looking to capture women's interests forever and the link between storytelling and women's preferences is not new, but here is a specifically-romance oriented entry to the field. I'm still not particularly hooked by this game's premise, but it's interesting to watch gaming and storytelling fall in love. Perhaps someday they'll have a beautiful magical baby.

Facebook's "show 'em what they want" algorithm is starting to understand me. The promoted posts in my feed are now about 80% book posts, and mostly romance of one sort or another. One thing it does not purport to do is to assess or filter on any kind of quality dimension. So those of you who are promoting books on Facebook, here is a little example of how to do it very, very badly:

Let's break it down, shall we?
  1. First, your image is a hot guy. Fair enough. But you distorted the aspect ratio. C'mon now, that is seriously amateur hour.
  2. That text box. Really?
  3. "Kidnapped and thrown in the trunk" -- I'm not here to judge your fantasy, but so far there is zero sexiness about this book.
  4. No author name and no title. What are you even doing?  I did not click through to Amazon to find out what I was dealing with. I don't know who this author is. I hope whoever it is finds some better PR help, stat.


What I'm reading
So I skipped the soup not once but twice, and it's mainly because I didn't have much to talk about. My reading brain has just not been terribly engaged, for whatever reason. I've spent a lot of my normal evening reading time playing mindless solitaire games, and lunches have involved a lot of working and networking meetings rather than me in a corner with a sandwich and my kindle. I think most of that is symptomatic rather than causal, though; not much has really caught my attention.

I read Liam Takes Manhattan and it was awesome, but quite a bit shorter than I had hoped. Really a short story, not a novella. Fun though. It's interesting to watch a supernatural character develop from infant to full grown within a year or two, and Thea Harrison is handling it beautifully.

The one full length book that got me from beginning to end was Anna Richland's The Second Lie. Although these are PNR stories, about immortal Viking heroes, there isn't a lot of magic and paranormal foo; the only paranormal element is that these dudes can't die. The rest is fairly straightforward thriller-style fiction. I do want to do up a full review on this one, but the short version is, well done, great pacing, good characters, possibly a wee bit too many threads going on for a perfect rating. Perhaps it's understandable, if you've been around for 15 centuries you have more than the usual amount of baggage following you around...

I'm still working on getting through The Big Switch for my non-fiction book. Clearly I'm not executing too well on this goal, but it's early in the year, I'm optimistic that I can catch up.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Conference Thursday: Featuring #RT16!

Imaged used with permission from RT Convention

Features for #RustCity16 will resume next week, but for today, I'm mixing things up a little bit and talking about #RT16!

This is the juggernaut of conferences for romance readers, for sure.  Although the magazine is no longer called Romantic Times, fans of romance and all of its crossovers are still a major chunk of this audience, which makes them my people.

Folks who have been reading here for awhile will be aware that I'm on the every-other-year plan for RT, which slightly mitigates my guilt over the amount of money I spend on this big giant party that is essentially a vacation and total indulgence for me. So I've been to Chicago in 2012, and NOLA in 2014 (let's go there every year, please), and my third trip will be Vegas in 2016.  I haven't done a Thursday Thirteen in a while, and happily, the meme has found a new home so without further ado, here are:

THIRTEEN THINGS

On My To-Do List For RT16...

  1. Make my list of can't-miss authors.
  2. Check it twice (wait, wrong list).
  3. Make up my mind about the Book Blogger Con. (Who am I kidding, I am going.)
  4. Register for the Book Blogger Con.
  5. Finish up my scrapbook pages from RT14. I mean seriously, come on.
  6. Write up scrapbooking post.
  7. I have new Moo cards already, so this is done but it's always nice to have something easy to check off, plus I need thirteen things.
  8. Fix my stupid password that I keep forgetting on the registration site so I can
  9. Browse the agenda and pick out some can't-miss events.
  10. Research a few non-conference things to do in Vegas.
  11. Possibly organize a beer-related outing.
  12. Roommate? no roommate? I can't decide. I like having no roommate, but I also like spending less $$.
  13. OMG, what am I going to wear? Gah.

Are you going? are you ready? What do you do to build anticipation?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Marie Piper: Rust City Book Con Featured Author

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Welcome to your early-bird peek at some of the fantastic authors who are already signed up for the conference. Today I'm showcasing

Marie Piper!

Hi Marie! can you tell us a little about your writing?


I'm Marie, and I write Western Historical Romance that's usually on the steamy side. The first book in my FIRES OF CRICKET BEND trilogy, HAVEN'S FLAME, came out in October. The second book, which I'm not revealing the title of yet, is slated for a March release. 

Mmmm, cowboys... Ok, so let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at tap dancing , but these days I'm pretty rusty."
OK, I think we can work with this at the conference. Bring your tap shoes...

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

Aretha. You have to show some respect to timeless legends.   I see what you did there. And I completely agree.

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.


4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? I'm a Michigan native, so I'm excited to visit some dear friends who live in the area. I'm also excited to meet the other authors and talk to readers. I love book people.

5. Which is NOT an actual community in Michigan? (no googling!)
Bad Axe
Mullet Lake
Alpha
Hero
Colon
Kalamazoo
(The correct answer is "Hero." I got very tickled at some of the names, especially when I saw that "Alpha" was one!)

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? If he--with his Grammys and fangirls--thought he was the only one who could riff, she'd prove him wrong.

What's it about? Obviously the sexy banter between a Grammy-award winning R&B sensation and a tight-laced billionaire businesswoman. There's probably a kidnapping, and I'm going to assume I'd write it so SHE rescues HIM.  Well, naturally.

And finally, would you like to participate in the Alpha Heroes Five Words Fiction Game?  Yes please! Did you say Steampunk? Because steampunk!

OK Marie, you are ON for the steampunk story! Your challenge words are: looking-glass, badger, odorous, feet, fire.


Part 1 by Lorelei Brown

Part 2:
 
Engine, Engine, Who's Got the Engine?
When he’d bumped into her, the way the woman—Alma, he knew her name—had reacted by clutching at the valise had been all the proof he’d needed that she carried the item he himself sought. The blasted engine. He’d been poised to steal it himself before he’d heard tell of a woman with fire red hair who had beaten him to it.

That was unacceptable. After all, he--Edgar Stoole--was a Badger. A stupid name for an organization, of course, but as they conducted business mostly at night, were known for surly attitudes, and tended to lay low until provoked to attack, it was apt in the end.

He followed with silent feet at a distance as Alma made her way from the train platform to where an older man waited at a velocimobile. Father, Uncle, Grandfather, it didn’t matter. Either Edgar would get the engine back, or Alma and everyone she loved would be dead by morning.

The crowds on the street were thick with bodies both polished and perfumed and utterly odorous. Edgar pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and used it to cover his nose and mouth. Walking past the vehicle, he positioned himself close enough to hear the conversation and memorize the licensure.

After they’d driven off, Edgar went for a drink at a pub.

As he enjoyed his spirits and scribbled a note to the Badgers who would be nearest, Rawley and Oates, he kept one ear open to conversations happening in the room around him. Most were foolish, the tittering of half-wits speaking of sporting events and novels and politics.

“Bummer at the bar has seen better days, ey?”

They were speaking of him. Edgar glanced up and caught sight of himself in a looking-glass behind the bartender. Oh, the state of his suit. Once it had been a custom, fitted to his form precisely, and costing more than he cared to recall. At the moment, the elbows were threadbare and the cuffs of both the pants and the jacket were frayed. He missed finery.

Finishing his drink, he set the glass down on the mahogany bar.

Get the engine and get the reward. Such simple things, really.

Oh Edgar. I don't think it's going to be that simple. But I'm going to enjoy watching you try!


I'm a Twitter junkie! |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Amazon page

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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Calandra Usher: Rust City Book Con Featured Author

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Welcome to your early-bird peek at some of the fantastic authors who are already signed up for the conference. Today I'm showcasing

Calandra Usher! 

Hi Calandra! Can you tell us a little about your writing?

I'm an artist who fell into the writing scene completely by accident. A four book series later which somehow fits into the Urban Paranormal Fantasy (light) Romance category emerged to my great surprise and presently I'm working on an anthology of follow up stories, as well as a completely new endeavor which is also Paranormal Fantasy. I don't live in reality so I can't possibly be expected to write about it.

That seems fair to me. Reality is overrated, as we fiction fans well know. Ok then, let's talk about RustCity!

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at Twirling a bat'leth , but these days I'm pretty rusty."  Yikes. That seems like a thing you should either do well, or not at all!

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

I lived for five years in Madison Heights practically on 10 mile. I can totally appreciate the artistic genius of rhythm and rhyme that make of Eminem's work, but as a singer... I need a melody to either belt out or harmonize to, so I have to go with Aretha. It also helps that her words are slow enough I can keep up with them. I'd love to hear them collaborate though.  I love when radically different artists collaborate.  That would be something to hear alright!

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.
Yes, either, both... As long as you call it pop

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference? It will be nice to see old friends from The Cranbeook Science Institute, have some good food, see my in laws, and obviously... Meet other amazing authors who I might not ordinarily get the opportunity to encounter since I now live in North Carolina. And books! Lots of books! Muhahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa......Oh yes.  Books for sure!


5. Which is NOT an actual community in Michigan? (no googling!)
Bad Axe
Mullet Lake
Alpha
Hero
Colon
Kalamazoo
(The correct answer is "Hero." But if you're going to have an Alpha, you ought to have a Hero too, amirite?)

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R&B singer. What's the first sentence? "Let me get this straight... you want a LIVE giraffe in the opening number?"

Optional: What's it about? How crazy singers are and the lengths we go to to make them happy so they keep making music that makes us happy. I say give them the giraffe... Hell, give me a giraffe. I promise I will write more books to make people happy if you give me a giraffe. I would love to read this story!

7. And finally, would you like to participate in the Alpha Heroes Five Words Fiction Game?  Yes please!  How about some paranormal?

Yay! You'll be adding on to the Alchemy Rusts story, and your challenge words are: sword, mermaid, stone, dragon, and coffee.

Part 1, by Laura Bickle

Part 2:

Alchemy Rusts
The hiss was so quiet she might have missed it; had she not been specifically listening for the sound. Ever so gently she turned the jar on its side and poured the precious contents onto the firebrick.

A substance like mercury slipped from the glass undulating of its own accord as it wobbled and stretched, finally shaping itself into the form of a tiny silver dragon with glossy black wings. Mara couldn't help but smile. It was lovely, exquisite even, and one of the hardest spells she'd ever attempted. It sat on its haunches much like a cat and folded its wings along its back. It preened, biting at its claws until satisfied then turned its eyes on its maker.

Mara chuckled as the dragon tipped its head to the side exactly as the salamander had. "Sorry, friend. I'm fresh out of popcorn. But how about..." She pointed and the dragon glanced around to where the quarter still glinted on the flagstones. It grinned as only a dragon can, hopped the short distance, then swallowed it whole. An inelegant burp and a spiral of smoke wafted from its nostrils then became a flare as the creature opened its mouth and spit out two identical shining coins.

"That will do nicely." She reached out and lightly stroked its back grinning as it spread its wings and then made a nip at her fingers. "But I've got something much bigger in mind for you, little friend."

Mara held out her hand and it jumped to her palm digging its razor sharp talons into her flesh. She inhaled sharply but did not dislodge him. The pain was worth what was coming. She carried him through the dark room to the backdoor to the decrepit van she called both transport and home.

Mara opened the back door and flipped the worn carpet back to reveal a blade-less sword grip. Beside it in fragments lay the broken blade. She held out a palm sized piece and the dragon, who she was beginning to think of as Spike, and marveled as it devoured something almost twice its size. Ahh but magic is fun, and useful. This time it took a few seconds before Spike belched out the two identical pieces. She felt like kissing the critter but knew better. The pain of its claws was nothing to the burn she was sustaining. Already her palm was seared and the blisters weren't far off. "One more, friend. You're doing great. And then I can get some damn ice."

She picked up the bigger piece and fed it into the eagerly waiting maw. It took a whole minute and her hand was in sorry shape by the end but the fragment it replicated was perfect. Looking at the assembly of pieces she sighed in relief (after swearing some more about her toasted hand.) "That should be more than enough for them to reforge the sword. And if the mermaid doesn't like it she can summon you herself. What the hell a mermaid needs with a magic sword is beyond me, but at least the pay is good." She replaced the shards under the mat, no use having them found and stollen before she could get them to the fish lady. "Maybe I'll charge her a little extra for medical expenses," she grumbled as she slammed the doors and went in search of some ice and much deserved coffee.

There was only one problem. The book never mentioned how to get the dragon off your hand once summoned.


Thanks for coming up with such a fun brilliant idea!

Well, it's only as brilliant as my contributors, and I have to say, it's going awfully well right now! This is turning into a really cool story.  Thank you so much for playing!

Find more from Cali around the web: 

Website  |  FaceBook  |  Amazon  |  CreateSpace under Calandra Usher. 

 And of course, come to RustCity Book Conference for in-person fun!

=====================================  
Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Soup - January 17

In The Soup This Week... Lilith Saintcrow, Robin D. Owens, and more stash reading

Soup Dish:  on my mind
Some good basic advice on cover design, and particularly, working with cover designers.

From Julia Quinn's Facebook feed, an app that can turn a romance novel into a multi-media, interactive experience. Sounds like a neat idea, but an awful lot of potential for it to go wrong.  Part of what I like about reading as opposed to TV is constructing the characters in my head.  Sometimes having too much specificity handed to me is a downside.

It seems pretty clear that between the stash reading goal and the non-fiction reading goal, I'm slowing down quite a bit in terms of books-per-week.  I don't think that's a bad thing, necessarily. We'll see how long I can keep it up!

Facebook promoted posts are actually starting to show me interesting things lately.  Here are a couple book promos that caught my eye.  Does anyone have any recs one way or another on them? I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

What I'm reading
My non-fiction pick for January is The Big Switch, by Nicholas Carr. Given that it's a book about technology pubbed in 2008, it's a little bit dated already, but it's a fascinating look at how "the cloud" is evolving as a utility in a similar way that power production/electricity did, tracing both paths. I'm about five chapters in.

Stash read: I finished the third book in the "Celta's HeartMates" series by Robin D. Owens. I didn't have book two, so I skipped it. This one was a borderline DNF for me-- the whole series is a "fated mates" trope, and while the author attempts to address the issue of choice, this particular hero did not seem to have gotten that memo. He even changed her name! He refused to call her by her chosen name. I just really didn't like him.

I'm going to punt on the rest of the series, so I'm counting that as 4 stash books complete.

 Dead Man Rising, Dante Valentine series #2 by Lilith Saintcrow. One of those series that I've been meaning to get to forever, and now I am! I am a little out of order here, and I think book 2 has spoilered some stuff in Book 1, but I've gone back and picked up book 1, in progress now. Urban Fantasy at its best, this is a really great world. Book 2 is a stash read, book 1 is a new purchase.


January Stash Reads: 3 read, 2 punted
January Bought Reads: 2
January Third Party Site Review Reads: 1
January Non-Fiction Reads: Book 1: 5 chapters

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Josie Kerr: Rust City Book Con Featured Author

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Happy New Year! We are back to #ConThu with Round Two of #RustCity16 author features! Today I'm showcasing:
 
Josie Kerr


Hey! I'm Josie Kerr and I write contemporary romance novels that are like my favorite barbecue sauce - hot and sweet. (Okay, that was *really* cheesy, even for me.) I published my first novel, A Bad Bit Nice, in September 2015, and the second in the Second Chance Neighbors series, The Best Ever, just released.

I want to add that Josie and I have been "internet friends" from chatting on a parenting discussion forum, as far back as pregnancy and toddler days. (My toddler is now in drivers' ed and scheduling college visits--eek!). I'm so thrilled to welcome Josie into Romlandia! But to get on with today's feature, let's talk about RustCity.

1. Fill in the blank: "I used to be really good at knitting , but these days I'm pretty rusty." Hmmm. Rusty knitting needles seems like a bad thing.

2. Eminem or Aretha? Explain.

Lordy, Do I have to choose? I could be totally contrary and say "Iggy Pop," but I'm not. I've loved Aretha Franklin since I saw her in "The Blues Brothers," singing in a diner in her pink houseslippers, so she'll always hold a place in my heart as one of the first singers that I liked because *I* liked her, not because my mother liked her.   Man, The Blues Brothers is one of my all-time favorite movies!

3. Choose One:
Vernors
Faygo
I'm confused. And not from around here.
Co-Cola ;)

4. What are you looking forward to most at the RustCity conference?

I'm really looking forward to talking with book lovers and other authors and just meeting people, even though they really kind of freak me out. I figure, though, that a lot of the participants are introverted, so we'll be introverts together! (I'm a very gregarious introvert, which means that I talk all the damn time but then generally come unglued when I get a bit of time to myself.)  
Yes, the book-con phenomenon of cramming a bunch of introverts together in an intensely social situation is a fascinating psychological experiment...

5. Which is NOT an actual community in Michigan? (no googling!)
Bad Axe
Mullet Lake
Alpha
Hero
Colon
Kalamazoo
(The correct answer is "Hero." I got very tickled at some of the names, especially when I saw that "Alpha" was one!)

6. Your latest work of fiction features a wealthy industrialist and an R & B singer. What's the first sentence?
Terence Garnette looked at the photograph of the supposed savior of 5G Shoes and wondered what in the hell his son was thinking.

What's it about?
Garnette Brothers Shoes needs a complete image overhaul if it's going to survive, and Terence Garnette, Junior knows that up-and-coming R&B singer Ami Fischer (no, not Amy Fisher) is The One. But first, Terence has to convince his father, his brothers, and Ami that she's the right person to be the face of 5G Footwear.

7. And finally, would you like to participate in the Alpha Heroes Five Words Fiction Game?

Yes! The contemp that Shelly started is right up my alley.

Awesome! Shelly left you these challenge words: Detroit, kiss, hotel, book, con

The story begins here.


Hunter needed a drink. Bad.

“Give me a Jim Beam, neat.”

Leave it to his cut-rate travel agent to get him a room in a hotel that was hosting some sort of book convention. He had never seen so many dumpy women in sensible shoes in his life. *God.*

Hunter downed his drink as soon as the bartender placed it in front of him, and then quickly ordered another. He just had to keep his eyes on the prize: tomorrow night he had to sign that fighter, or he was totally, completely, and utterly screwed. But tonight? Tonight he was going to drink himself into oblivion. Well, as far into oblivion as he could venture for under 100 bucks.

The woman next to him laughed and tossed her shiny black hair over her shoulder, and he caught a scent of something he hadn’t smelled in years: Curve. Curve was what *she* wore, the girl that stole his kisses backstage after the play; the girl that stole his virginity, the girl that stole his heart. The girl that he ultimately lost because he was a coward.

*Maddie.*

The heady, familiar scent wrapped around, plucking images from his memory: that shy smile, those unruly, outrageous sorrel curls, those beautiful curves stretched out under him in a twin bed.

He inhaled again. He had always wondered if she was sending a subliminal “fuck you” with her choice of perfume. Probably not. Maddie was way too sweet to do something like that, consciously or otherwise.

Curve Woman shifted on her bar stool and crossed her shapely legs. There was a time that Hunter would have been all over her like white on rice. But now? An entanglement, even for a single night, was the last thing he needed.

Curve Woman shifted in her seat again, but this time it was to groan and roll her eyes. “Oh, come on! ‘Detroit Rock City’? Really? Playing this song in this city is not ironic; it’s just lame.”

Hunter chuckled. “I completely agree. Looks like you need another drink,” he said, nodding at her empty glass. “What’re you having?”

*Oh, God, Maddie. You can do this. You’ve waited four years for this.*

“A Virgin’s Kiss.”

Hunter shook his head. *Where do they come up with the names of these drinks?* “Another Virgin’s Kiss for the pretty lady.”

After the bartender served her, Maddie smiled demurely at Hunter. “Thank you.”

She wrapped her lips around her straw and widened her eyes, just like Jenna said she should.

“You’re quite welcome.” He flashed that megawatt smile at her, but then frowned a bit as he looked closer at her. “I’m sorry, I know this sounds like a complete douche bag pick-up line, but do I know you?”

Maddie froze on the stool. *Did he…? Could he…?* She sucked almost half her drink down, stalling, trying to figure out what she was going to say, how she was going to play this.

Sensing her unease, he extended his hand. “I’m Hunter.”
Thanks Josie! I love the perfume element! (I have to apologize too, my template has a weird override thing in place so that I can't accommodate italics very well. One of these days I'll have to get around to fixing that...)  Anyway, can't wait to hang out with you in Detroit. Is the Virgin's Kiss a real drink? Will lightning strike me if I order one? For the answer to these questions and many more -- register for Rust City Book Conference! (links below)

Josie can be found on various places around the internet: website  | twitter | instagram: @authorjosiekerr | pinterest  | facebook  | Amazon.com 

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Be sure to keep up with all things Rust City 2016, by following it via your own personal social media drug of choice: Facebook |Twitter | Google+ | Tumblr | Instagram | RSVP at the Facebook Event.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sunday Soup, January 3

In The Soup This Week... Thea Harrison, Alyssa Day, Kristin Higgins, Robin D. Owens, and Aaron Michael Ritchey

Soup Dish:  Happy New Year!
I hope everyone out there in RomLandia had a happy and safe holiday, however you choose to celebrate.  Ours was very low-key, just the four of us in my nuclear family. I think my kids are getting pretty bored with low-key though, so next year I might need to plan more.

There are so many lists out there! So many. I spent several hours yesterday sifting through "best of" lists, and I don't know about you guys, but I'm a little burned out on lists. I have three goals for 2016 around reading and blogging though:

1. Read twelve non-fiction titles. I am seriously so oppositional about this. I have the hardest time reading non-fiction where there are no emotions and no dialog and, idk, just everything I love about reading is missing from non-fiction. But there are topics that I am interested in and I need to train my brain a little better. I'm too young to stop learning stuff.

2. Burn down my enormous pile of physical books. Not literally. I'm going to try to make a rule for myself to read two physical books from my stash for every new book I acquire, electronically or physically. I just seriously do not have room for what I've got and it's becoming a bit of a problem. I bought Thea Harrison's Shadow's End and read it yesterday, so next up is two physical books. I've had this series for some time, and seems like the right time for it now:

Oh no! I'm missing #2! so I have to buy it, right? Right.
3. Post two real review posts per month. I'm pretty comfy in my mini-review groove with these Sunday Soup posts, and I'm glad that I've been able to talk about the books I've been reading in a way that doesn't feel like work. But I get a good sense of accomplishment from writing a real review too, even though it's a little more effort.

As a consolation for not posting a list of lists, here's a great article about a list.  Hmmm. I love spreadsheets; isn't it kind of weird that I don't track my reading that way?  Hmmm.

What I'm reading
December for me is 3 weeks of increasingly frantic activity and then a week of laziness. And by "lazy," I mean, I read a whole bunch.

I went on a small Thea Harrison binge this past week, starting with the three novellas in the Dragon Family Album, and then I really really wanted to read Liam Takes Manhattan, but it said in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that I needed to read Shadow's End first, so I ask you, what could I do? I mean, I really had no choice. So I downloaded and read Shadows' End for my New Year's Day read. It was fantastic. Harrison's paranormal highs are so high, and the lows so low. There may have been a few tissues involved in this read. I haven't gotten to Liam yet, but I'm glad I read Shadow's End first.

OK, in keeping with my 2:1 goal, since I bought Shadow's End, I picked up a stash book next, which was HeartMate, by Robin D. Owens.  It was OK. I'm not sure I really want to binge on the whole series though. The beginning was a little clunky, but I liked it better by the end. The worldbuilding... some of it was really interesting; I liked her treatment of the Passages (a physically demanding dreamquest sort of experience), but not being a cat lover, I found her talking cats to be not-quite-equal-parts irritating/endearing. I am probably in a minority here, so that might be the thing that other people love the most. I'll give it one more book before I decide about the series as a whole, since I have them already (I bought 4 books for about a dollar at a thrift store awhile back).

Before I started on Thea Harrison, I had already pre-ordered Alyssa Day's new shifter novel, Dead Eye, so it showed up for me like a Christmas present. First in a new series, it has wonderful characters, Day's trademark wisecracky irreverent humor, and plenty of paranormal action. Quick, fun read.  Looking forward to the next one, already available for pre-order. I'm going to have to get cracking on my stash books to earn this purchase.

I read three paranormals for the March RT edition, and I liked them all quite a lot, but looking for a change of pace, I bought Kristan Higgins If You Only Knew and loved it. Higgins is a bit of a Sure Thing for me, and this was no exception. A little different than most contemporaries, it makes a strong statement about what marriage should be, and reads quite a bit more like traditional "women's fiction" than romance for at least the first half of the book. The romance element is more unsure than usual, more like real life, and the hero is really quite remote. I connected immediately with the characters, which was good because I had to overlook the first-person present tense--a huge turnoff for me.

Lastly, I got an ARC from RUDC author Aaron Michael Ritchey that is well out of my usual reading but OH MY GAHD it was an incredible read. I don't want to give much away here as I'll be doing a full review on it but it's kind of like Jules Verne meets Calamity Jane meets Little House on the Prairie and whoa. I loved it a lot.

January Stash Reads: 1
January Bought Reads: 1*
January Non-Fiction Reads: 0

*I'm only counting the Thea Harrison full length here. Everything else I already owned as of 12/31/2015.

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