Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Reading in new ways (aka discovering a love of fan fiction)

According to my Goodreads account, I have read a total of nine books this year. NINE BOOKS. I was very outraged at myself when I discovered this because, hello, it's only nine books! I've read well over 200 books in previous years.

Of course, this should NOT surprise me given the fact that I have avoided reading as much as I can this year. Nothing really holds my interest. Re-reads of past books, new romance books, favorite YA authors, nothing. I am quite content watching TV and just basking in the joy of not reading.

When I discovered Teen Wolf earlier this year, my non-reading habits DID change however. I was reading like never before. I was also reading something I had never really read before. Crazy to believe it now but I have never been a fan fiction reader. Even during my obsessive Harry Potter days, when I tried to get into The Shoebox Project, I just... never did. I may have read a few chapters but I did not feel compelled to keep up with it. Why would I want to read a made up story about characters I liked when the real author could do such a better job on his or her own?

Well, what a fucking asshat I was, me of ten years ago. Fan fiction has really opened my eyes to some great writers, some terrible writers, and just some plain old fun storytelling. Much like real, published book, fan fiction can be AWESOME or pretty lack luster. But most importantly of all to me right now is the fact that it has me reading. It's like candy at this point, I just can't seem to get enough of it and even though I have a few ARCs on my Kindle by some favorite authors I should, theoretically anyway, be reading, I'd much rather reach for some of my bookmarks and read all about the sexy times of Stiles and Derek.

So, my reading has become somewhat untraditional for a change which is astonishing to me. Why, I don't know, but I feel like my joy of reading has been somewhat revived lately. I can read short pieces which hold my attention. I get the romance angle I love in my stories. I feel NO NEED whatsoever to attempt to review fan fiction which is a huge burden off my shoulders. And frankly, sometimes I just love spending time with characters I have grown to love. I am also really, really impressed by the output of fan fiction writers. Holy goodness do they stay busy with writing.

Another bonus? Fan fiction does not get the hype machine put on it by publishers and marketers. I am not inundated with constant updates on all my social media networks that SO AND SO has a new book coming out. And I don't have to read reviews of that same book over and over on the various blogs I follow.

Basically, fan fiction is the best possible thing to happen to my reading habits lately. I know I will find time for books again in the future but for now, I am quite content in exploring this new facet to my reading habits.

And hey, if you need any Sterek recommendations, I've got you covered!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

Once Upon a Billionaire by Jessica Clare
So, you may remember that I have a slight author crush on Jessica Clare? Her Billionaire Boys Club series is pure addiction and I for one am so, so glad I am addicted. I reviewed The Wrong Billionaire's Bed awhile back and I liked it well enough but this book, Once Upon a Billionaire had to have been written specifically for me because it combines some of my favorite, favorite romance tropes. Grumpy, disgruntled, intelligent hero? ROYAL FAMILY? Heroine who is a bit plain at first glance? Heroine who is not afraid to give the hero a set down? CHECK CHECK AND CHECK. I had been looking forward to Griffin's story since he was first introduced but I admit, this book turned out even better than I expected.

Synopsis: As a member of the royal family in a small European country, Griffin Verdi’s presence is requested at the wedding of the century. The scholarly billionaire feels out of his depth in social situations, so a good assistant is required—especially when dealing with royal etiquette.

Unfortunately for Griffin, he’s stuck with Maylee Meriweather, a pretty, charming, and thoroughly unsuitable woman who doesn’t know a thing about high society—but she sure can kiss. Her lack of polish may sink Griffin, because after all, even his money can’t buy class. But through Maylee’s eyes, he’s starting to appreciate the simple things in life—if simple means the most complicated woman he’s ever met.

Maylee is everything Griffin isn’t—and everything he wants—if he can let down his guard and step outside his sheltered world… (Goodreads.com)

Griffin is a dick. I mean, I hate to say it, but at first he is just not very nice at all. I know this doesn't work for all readers but for me, well I have long enjoyed the hero who is a scornful and sometimes cruel (I know, I know, I shouldn't, but I do). Fortunately, he does not remain a jerk for the entirety of the story. He does however remain pretty clueless about Maylee and how to treat her for quite awhile. He just does not understand the real people thing, much as he claims he is basically a commoner himself, what with only ONE SERVANT (yeah, I know, I scoffed too).

Maylee puts up with a lot of hurt and well, poor communication from Griffin. Like, a lot but she has her reasons. Maylee is the first in her family to leave her home state, Arkansas, for new chances in New York City. Her family is proud of her and wants her to succeed and Maylee is determined to not let them down. She truly is just a sweet and kind character and it would take a hard heart indeed to not root with her.

For me, this book is just the kind of story I love passing the time with. It is of course, more than slightly imaginative, what with a nonexistent country and royalty, but those are plotlines I deal with and enjoy. If you're a reader who likes their story perhaps grounded in a bit more reality, this book may not be for you. I can also see people becoming irritated with the characters, especially Griff's dunderheadedness but for me, it works. I truly believed at the end that he was as madly in love with her as she was with him. I need that kind of ending and Jessica Clare provided it in spades.

Once Upon a Billionaire is a great combination of fairytale and true love. Griffin is no prince (in fact, he really isn't. He is a Viscount) and Maylee perhaps sometimes personifies Southern stereotypes a bit too much but I was able to forget those things and become absorbed in the story. Once Upon a Billionaire is another fabulous installment in this series and I look forward to the next book already. In the meantime, I may just re-read THIS book.

Once Upon a Billionaire is available on April 15, 2014 from Penguin.

ARC provided by publisher for review.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Tumblr

So, though I haven't been all that active on the blog (again, but not feeling guilty for it anymore) I have been active on my Tumblr if any of you want to follow along. I mostly post pics and gifs from TV shows so if that won't bother you, please add me. Also, I am currently majorly kind of obsessed with Teen Wolf (and Tyler Hoechlin!), so you will see a lot of him on my posts.

And if you add me, let me know in the comments so I can add you back please.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare

The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
I have been a big fan of Jessica Clare since I started reading her back in 2013. I have thoroughly enjoyed her Bluebonnet series for a number of reasons but firstly, because it combines small town living with some VERY, VERY hot and heavy love scenes and dirty talk. Yep, you heard it hear first, I like that in my romance books.

To date, The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild is my favorite of the series. I knew Brenna and Grant were going to have great chemistry from the moment they were introduced in the first book in the series, The Girl's Guide to (Man) Hunting and boy was I right! What I expected and what Jessica Clare thankfully did NOT do, was throw all kinds of roadblocks in their path and have them bickering left and right. Yes, there were a few scenes featuring what I think of as lovers quarreling, but it was not enough to make me want to pull my hair out, so kudos!

Synopsis: Grant and Brenna have been like oil and water ever since the Wilderness Survival Expeditions company opened up. Grant likes organization. Brenna thrives on chaos. Grant likes quiet. Brenna thrives on chaos. Grant likes clothes that match. Brenna thrives on chaos. But when Grant's family shows up and begins to harass him about why he isn't dating, Brenna decides to take matters into her own hands... (Goodreads.com)

Brenna is not afraid to speak her mind. She does not hold back much of anything and she loves to tease Grant, her boss. However, she does not like seeing him being put under pressure from his parents so she makes a grand and dramatic gesture that changes their relationship. By spontaneously kissing him, Brenna creates a fake relationship and Grant, though hesitant at first to go along with it, soon dives in and wants more. He wants a real relationship. Brenna does not and this has her running scared.

So, I knew of course that these two would end up together. I knew from early on in the story what fears Brenna was facing when it came to her past and I knew what issues Grant was facing. But yet, I was never once bored by this story at all. In fact, I've re-read it several times since I first read it in January and still love it. Jessica Clare is quite the naughty writer, in a great way! One of the phrases that Brenna uses often in the story is "a deep dicking" which, in all my many years of romance reading, I haven't come across yet. However, as odd and dumb as it sounds just to say it, when Grant and Brenna are involved, it is one sexy phrase. I really enjoyed these characters and watching Grant let loose. For me, the best part of the story was Brenna and her sassy personality. (Yes, I used sassy. I think it fits perfectly!). She just has a vibrancy about her that makes her dialog and her character come alive on the pages of the book. I thought I would find her somewhat annoying honestly, given that I was not a fan of her scenes in the other books, but she won me over! There is definitely vulnerability and bravery beneath her fun-loving facade and it is great that she finally felt comfortable showing that to Grant.

This book is scorching! Seriously, hot sexing coming up between the characters. LOTS of love scenes but whereas that can kind of make me roll my eyes lately, I truly felt like the characters became closer to each other every time. There is one scene in particular that is heartwrenching and it shows layers of character for both Grant and Brenna.

Bottom line: The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild is going onto my rotation of romance books I love to re-read! Brenna and Grant are so wonderful for each other. Playful, sexy, and genuine, theirs is a romance I happily look forward to revisiting!

Other reviews:
Dear Author
Smexy Books
Fiction Vixen

ARC provided by publisher for review.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton and contest!

Some Like It Wild by M. Leighton
Today I participating in the Some Like It Wild book tour by author M. Leighton. This is the second book in Leighton's Wild Ones series and features Jake and Laney.

Synopsis: How far will a good girl go for the bad boy she loves?

Laney Holt is a preacher’s daughter. A good girl. Her only goal was to get married, have babies, and live happily ever after, just like her parents. Only that didn’t happen. The two people closest to her betrayed her, and Laney’s dreams came crashing down. Now she’s left with an empty space she doesn’t know how to fill. Until she meets Jake Theopolis, a daredevil with a death wish who has heartbreaker written all over him.

Jake has no interest in thinking beyond the here and now. All he wants out of life is the next rush, the next “feel-good” thing to keep his mind off the pain of his past. His latest rush? Showing Laney there’s more to life than being a good girl—and that going bad can be so much fun. Her only concern now is how she can ever hope to satisfy the wild side of a boy like Jake. She’s looking forward to trying. And so is Jake. (Goodreads.com)

I read a few New Adult books back in 2013 as a mixer to all the YA books I was reading. I certainly do not have a wide variety of New Adult books under my belt to compare this book to but if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say this is a pleasant story. There are parts I really liked and some parts that I thought were a bit cliched.

Laney is almost twenty-three and is back at home working on a new case as a paralegal. That case involves Jake, who she only vaguely knows, but it is a memory that is deeply ingrained in her. They shared a passionate kiss when she was eighteen and now her career has thrown her in his path again. Laney has just ended her engagement and despite the fact her parents are constantly telling her to get back together with her ex, she refuses. She is an adult now and wants to be her own person and that means getting closer to Jake.

One thing I really liked in this book is that Laney never lost sight of her goal. She was very firm in knowing that what she wanted in her future is a husband and children and a home to raise them in. This is mentioned several times in the book and I cannot help but like the fact that she never wavered from this goal. Yes, she definitely is taking some detours along the way but she is clear, even to Jake, about what she wants for her future.

That being said, Jake is a pretty stereotypical bad boy and Laney is a stereotypical good girl. Their relationship has a lot of chemistry but they do not deviate from those roles until the last third or so of the book. Readers who enjoy the bad boy and good girl trope story will definitely like Some Like It Wild. It plays up those characteristics perfectly. I was rather unimpressed sometimes because Laney, despite her claims that she is all grown up, whines quite a bit in the book. And she seemed to act more like a sixteen year old around Jake than a nearly twenty-three year old woman. Now, I can definitely forgive part of that given her religious upbringing but I just felt like her character's development was very uneven.

Jake (of course!) has a wound that makes him unlovable (or so he claims). Laney has feelings for him and it is obvious that he starts to see her as more than a girl to get into bed. I think my favorite scene in the book was where Jake and Laney went to a party at the Blue Hole (a local watering hole) and actually start to talk and get to know each other as the people they are now. It doesn't hurt that there is a very enticing tire swing scene with Laney gripped in Jake's arms.

There is also very little action in the story. It is a very character driven story and that worked for me but sometimes I wanted to read beyond their internal dialog. I wanted to see more of Laney's career (and I thought it was a bit unethical for her to start a sexual relationship with a client!) and I wanted to see more of Jake's legacy on the peach farm. I think this would have made these characters a bit more fleshed out.

I felt like I have read this story before unfortunately. That being said, M. Leighton is a decent writer and I was engaged in Laney and Jake's relationship. I liked seeing her come out of her shell and I liked seeing him start to fall in love. For the right reader, this book will be a true winner! And luckily enough, I have a chance for one lucky reader to win a copy of Some Like It Wild.

This contest is open to U.S. residents only and closes on Wednesday, March 12. All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below.


Other reviews of Some Like it Wild:

Find out more about author M. Leighton's books by visiting her website!

ARC provided by the publisher for review.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The blog in 2014

After a whole year of pretty much no blogging, I am somewhat at a loss about how to restart blogging here in
Who am I blogging for? IDEK! Source
2014. I am sure you can tell that considering my blog has still been very slow on the review landscape. My reading has definitely taken a dive so far this year. I am not reading much at all, no matter how much I want to. I DO want to re-read the Harry Potter books. But I also really want to watch Teen Wolf and that is winning out over the written word right now.

I am still reading romance quite a bit. It is mostly YA where I just have no desire to read. Like at all. I already know I am missing out on several great YA reads so far in 2014 but part of me just does not care.

So that being said, my blog is definitely in transition. I WANT to get back into blogging and I WILL, but it's going to take time which I have just now realized. (I know, I know, my brain is late to the party). I am contemplating changing the name of my blog also. I feel like YA Librarian Tales no longer fits since that is not my job really, anymore. And, I hardly ever talk about libraries on this blog and honestly do not want to. I like keeping my lives separated.

So, for the foreseeable future you can expect romance reviews with the occasional YA or MG book thrown in. I realize this will mean losing about all my audience but I don't mind. I enjoy talking about books and I want to spread that joy even if it means exploring a different direction. And maybe, I will gain some new friends and readers along the way.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand

It is well established by now that I am a fan for romance author Laura Florand. In fact, she is one of my favorite romance writers today. Her books have a wonderful combination of romantic wish fulfillment but they are layered by deep emotions and the true struggles of any relationship. The Chocolate Temptation is no different. This is Laura's second effort in self-publishing and it is a knockout success.

This is the story of Sarah Lin and Patrick Chevalier (he is best friends with Luc from The Chocolate Heart). Patrick is a true charmer. He is what you imagine Prince Charming could be like: lively, flirty and ready to sweep you off your feet at any moment. Sarah Lin, an intern in the hotel kitchens, is very different from Patrick. She is a bit shy, more reserved, but like him, a hard worker up for any task Luc may through at her. On the surface, one would think these two would never make a great match but oh how wrong one would be!

Patrick wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to Sarah. If only she would recognize it but Sarah has some issues of her own (don't we all?) that prevent her from believing that Patrick could ever want to be with her. If this sounds like any mundane contemporary romance, it is not! Laura Florand is a genius when it comes to writing sexual tension, burning emotions and the restrained silences that hold so much weight in a growing romance.

I really liked Sarah (of course I did, we share a name!) because she is quiet, a bit shy, not necessarily a Parisian femme fatale (she is not even French), and she yearns for perfection on the job. Many of those qualities I see in myself so I really empathized with how Sarah felt about Patrick, how confused it made her and how excited also. For his part, Patrick just wants to be with Sarah. His career is important to him but as she starts to realize, he believes she is much more important. Their romance grew in a natural way as their feelings were brought to light. Of course, both were a bit hard headed about their feelings. I would not say these two had self-esteem issues but when it comes to each other, they were quick to find reasons why they were not worthy of each other's love and respect.

The Chocolate Temptation is another piece of amazing writing from Laura Florand. Her romance stories always resonate with me in different ways and in this book, I really enjoyed the fact that so much uncertainty played a part in their relationship. That felt honest and genuine to me. This book is somewhat of a companion book to The Chocolate Heart but can still be totally read on its own. For me, The Chocolate Temptation is the better of the two stories, hands down. Sarah and Patrick just have that magical, appealing attraction that makes the reading experience irresistible. This is available in both ebook and print format for all your reading needs!

Other reviews of The Chocolate Temptation:
Dear Author reviews The Chocolate Temptation
Smexy Books reviews The Chocolate Temptation

ARC provided by author for review.

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