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text 2016-01-01 05:50
Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- December

So that's a wrap for December.  In keeping with my anal retentive need to keep to certain patterns, even with the 2015 wrap-up post, I still felt the need to post a monthly reading wrap-up.


I'm planning on reformatting my monthly reading wrap up posts for future postings (maybe), but only because I know I tend to get long-winded and try to add more details than necessary.  I'll probably just simplify things into "Books Read", "Books Reading", and "Books Planning to Read", or something like that, and then maybe do a few random book haul posts every so often.


I just wanted to finish out the full year without completely revamping my monthly wrap up posts because: Obsessive Compulsive Illogical Reasonings.


Anyway, as per usual, I've found my average number of books read per month and have accepted that I probably won't surpass that number unless miracles happen.  And I'm cool with that now--no more attempts at squeezing in more books to reach the 20+ range, especially if I want to find some time to write reviews and plan other bookish blog posts as well, or slack off and make multiple lists of which I may or may not use for future posts.


However, for all the blog writing I've been doing and all the list making and all the new years planning... I think I've done quite well for myself in my reading life for December.



Books Read


 Audio Book


Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken

Unexpected Endings by Elena Aitken (short story)

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore

Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel 


Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Out of Her League by Kaylea Cross

Vitro by Jessica Khoury

Slow Burn by Julie Garwood


The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

Kissing Santa Claus by Jill Shalvis (part of A Small Town Christmas anthology)

Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Risky Christmas / A Romantic Suspense anthology -- Jill Sorenson, Jennifer Morey


Shadow Dance by Julie Garwood

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr

Desert Heat by Cindy Gerard


What the Dead Know by Kylie Brant 


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens -- audio book narrated by Simon Vance



Books Dropped/Put On Hold


Currently Reading



Reviews & Notable Posts

  • Reviews

Unexpected Gifts and Unexpected Endings by Elena Aitken

Taste Test by Kelly Fiore 

Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Out of Her League by Kaylea Cross

Vitro by Jessica Khoury

The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis

Kissing Santa Claus by Jill Shalvis

Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis

Risky Christmas anthology -- Jill Sorenson, Jennifer Morey 

Packaged Review for Books I Read in 2015 

Spinning Starlight by R.C. Lewis

Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr

Desert Heat by Cindy Gerard


  • Other Posts

2015 Reading Assignment Challenge -- November Report

Christmas with Dickens

First Impression: Risky Christmas -- Holiday Secrets

2016 Reading Assignment Challenge

2015 Reading Challenges Wrap-Up

2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge

2016 Bookish Resolutions

2016 Reading Challenges

Merry Christmas to all!

My 2015 Year in Books!

My 2015 Year in Books @ Goodreads

Read-a-thon: Bout of Books 15


Reading Wrap-Up

18 books total were read in December.  I think I mostly made it because of the one audio book, two short stories, two novellas, and several short Christmas fluff pieces.  Okay, so not several, but enough that it added to my numbers this month.  And to be totally honest, with the exception of one book, the rest of the books I read in December were easy reads or reads that had me hooked enough to keep going.


  • Series I started reading in December:

Romancing Wisconsin by Stacey Joy Netzel

Suspense series by Kaylea Cross


  • Series I completed in December:



  • Series I have made progress on in December:

Corpus by Jessica Khoury

Buchanan-Renard-MacKenna by Julie Garwood

Lucky Harbor by Jill Shalvis

Mindhunters by Kylie Brant 


My favorite books read in December include The Sweetest Thing and Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis.  There was also A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens as my Christmastime "read"--a book I actually listened to as an audio book, narrated by Simon Vance that I really, really enjoyed.  Then there was Spinning Starlight that I enjoyed, but still have some reserves about.  Mistletoe Mischief by Stacey Joy Netzel was a surprisingly enjoyable short holiday read.


I was a bit disappointed in Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, if only because I hyped myself a little over than was necessary.  And I was surprisingly disappointed that Unexpected Gifts wasn't as fluffy and holiday romance-y as I'd wanted it to be--mainly because the book started out well, but then spiraled into "what the heck is going on here?" as the novella came to a close.  Sadly, I was also disappointed in Shadow Dance because I'd been under the impression that Julie Garwood's Buchanan-Renard books were getting better and more enjoyable with each installment--Shadow Dance was a step back.


Coming Up Next (tentative scheduling)

  • Tentative TBR for January




Book Haul / TBR Additions

  • Freebies:


  • Discount Deals:


  • Bought as New:


  • Audible:


  • Checked Out From the Library 



Final Thoughts

Aside from one or two books, December was actually filled with books I could really get into.  And when I can really get into a book, I automatically find time to read them no matter what else is going on.


So December was actually a very productive month for my bookish life.  On top of getting more books read than I've been able to do in a while, I've also been spending time planning my bookish activities for the new year:  choosing reading challenges, making lists, preparing more bookish spreadsheets for each reading challenge... in general, determining how I will go about blogging my bookish life in 2016.  I've even managed to format and post all of my reading challenge wrap-ups and yearly bookish wrap-up for 2015.


And then, in a final hurrah, I made the decision to participate in Bout of Books' January Read-a-thon; then I spent one evening formatting and planning all of my update posts.


I feel like I've accomplished a lot more in these last two weeks of December than I have for the past few months.  It's a good feeling.



Surprisingly, my plans for spending money on certain books and getting some bonus reward points and the like hasn't really followed through.  I haven't bought as many books as I'd been expecting to buy--not sure how I feel about that.  Though I DID do a brief freebie spree while looking for some cheap and fluffy holiday reads.


Here's to hoping that next month, and next year in general, will be a better one.  Although I'm already determined not to push myself too hard with books I can't get myself to enjoy.  I might work on being less stubborn and letting myself drop books if they just aren't working for me.


Previous Wrap-Ups

Reading Wrap Up:  2015 So Far (Jan., Feb., Mar.)

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- Looking Back at April

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- What Happened in May

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- So That Was June

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- Oh Sigh, July

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- And Now For August

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- September, September

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- Um... October

Monthly Reading Wrap Up -- November



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review 2015-12-31 05:30
Very Brief Thoughts: Desert Heat (novella)
Desert Heat: A Novella - Cindy Gerard

Desert Heat -- Cindy Gerard

**novella -- originally published as part of Rescue Me anthology alongside:

  • Tropical Heat by Cherry Adair
  • Atlanta Heat by Lora Leigh



I love Cindy Gerard!  A little Cindy Gerard novella to keep me over until I start reading her One-Eyed Jacks books in January (That's in two days!  Yes.  I'm on a schedule here.)


This was an enjoyable and fun, fast-paced read. Standard Cindy Gerard characters, bantering, sexy times, and suspense and action. A little on the formulaic Cindy Gerard Romantic Suspense-side, so it was predictable.


But I still loved it!  I'm not even certain that I'm able to dislike a Cindy Gerard book anymore.




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text 2015-12-29 15:41
Read-a-thon: Bout of Books 15

Bout of Books Bout of Books Read-a-thon Sign-Ups

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team



As part of my 2016 Bookish Resolutions, I DID say that I would try to participate in at least one read-a-thon for the 2016 year.  So, you know... why not this one?  I've seen the Bout of Books Read-a-thons floating around and have been interested for a while.  But I always feel like I'm too bogged down with Real Life activities to focus on reading.


Of course, there are no rules that dictate you must read during the entire time of a read-a-thon, so I might be able to swing this week-long one.  If I could manage some good reading during the Dewey's 24 Hour back in October, I should be okay with this one.




I honestly don't have any actual goals to complete for this read-a-thon aside from: Read as many books as I can manage.  I'm going to be participating in this read-a-thon in as laid back a fashion as I can.  I still have to work and have a lot of things planned for January already anyway, so I'm just going to feel my way around this Bout of Books Read-a-thon and see how I do before I try again and actually set some goals. However, I tend to be able to read around 4 books a week if I'm on a good roll.  Maybe I could set that as my goal.  Maybe not.



Read-a-thon Hopefuls


I have plans to start reading The Immortal Heights and The Apprentice at the beginning of January and may still be reading both books when the read-a-thon starts up.  So hopefully these two books will be finished within the week duration of Bout of Books. Followed by Frost is one of 48 of 2016 Reading Assignment books I will be reading in January and probably the second one I plan on reading for that challenge, which I feel I'll probably start reading that second week of January. And I just want to read Hungry Like the Wolf... for my own reasons.


(Clicking on the covers of each book will take you to the book's Goodreads page.)



I've been contemplating my next audio book and on a whim, just decided that I would like to listen to Let's Pretend This Never Happened, an autobiographical memoir by Jenny Lawson.  I bought it with an Audible credit months ago and haven't quite been in the mood for another autobiography since Neil Patrick Harris.  I might start into this one for January, and it'll spill into the Bout of Books Read-a-thon.



Links to Update posts

(coming soon -- subject to change)

The following post links are subject to change mainly because I don't know how often I will update on this read-a-thon during the week even if wishful thinking has me updating daily.  


We shall see how it all works out.


Bout of Books 15: Starting Day 1

Bout of Books 15: Day 1 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 2 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 3 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 4 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 5 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 6 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 7 Update and Overall Read-a-thon Wrap-Up




I'm going to try to have as much fun as I can.  If anyone else is interested in joining the read-a-thon, the badge at the top of this post will take you to the Bout of Books official website.  The link under the picture takes you directly to the sign-up post. Let's all have some fun for this week of a read-a-thon!



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review 2015-12-28 14:23
Thoughts: Deep in the Valley
Deep in the Valley - Robyn Carr

Deep in the Valley -- Robyn Carr

Book 1 of Grace Valley trilogy



After two months of putting it off, apparently I was still bound and determined to finish this book for reasons I don't think I will ever understand. While things DO happen throughout the book and there are moments of excitement, really, a whole lot of NOTHING actually happens in this entire book. It's really just an accounting of several, everyday mundane activities surrounding the people of Grace Valley with a lot of side tangents, Cliff's Notes history-telling of the town's founding and development, talk of drug runners and DEA agents crawling all over the mountains, and a lot of domestic abuse.

And for a Contemporary Romance, there is extremely little romance. What little romance there is in this book isn't even easily acceptable by yours truly, if only because we REALLY take instalove to a higher level. There were three prominent interactions between the heroine and her love interest before the word "love" started getting thrown around. And so the main romance for our main heroine, June Hudson, was barely even there. There were three encounters and this love interest can't even be filed under the category of main hero or even main character because he's never even in the story.

After the first meeting in which our love interest pretends to faint so that he's no longer holding a gun on her and so his criminal partner wouldn't be suspicious of him, June is obsessed with said love interest. She speculates that he MUST be an undercover law enforcement agent because there's absolutely NO WAY she could fall for someone who's a criminal--because that makes so much sense... Then he shows up again and suddenly the two are contemplating becoming a couple. And then the guy keeps entering her home and doing little things for her, like feeding her dog and leaving flowers on her bed WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE. And she's okay with this. He even shows up in her home, waiting for her when she comes home... and again, she's okay with this.

Because obviously he's a good person because, and she repeats over again, she would never fall for the criminal type and because he'd pretended to faint so that he wouldn't be pointing a gun at her anymore.

It would actually be a nice Meet Cute if there had been more interaction between these two before the instalust and instalove got thrown out there. Because, yes, he turns out to be one of the good guys... except I still don't see how that justifies him just wandering into June's home without being invited first. I mean, during their second meeting, June was even hesitant about inviting him into her house while she was there because that would be taking their relationship to a higher level than she's prepared for. And yet, when she's NOT at home, he's just making himself at home. Because when is it ever okay for some strange man to just show up in your home whenever he feels like it without your knowledge, even in a community where no one locks their doors?

Anyway as for the rest of the book: character interactions were awkward, lots of decision-making processes made little sense, and despite being a small town priding themselves on being close-knit and there for each other, these people don't even know how to communicate with each other properly nor look out for each other properly considering all the bad stuff that happens throughout the book that could have been avoided if people really DID just step up and try to help each other.

Anyway... rambling aside (so much for not planning on writing a review), I'm not sure if I'll continue reading the rest of these books if they are written in the same vein of logic. Because for a Romance, this book has very little of that; for a piece of Chick Lit, self-revelation piece about a woman's ticking biological clock, there's also very little development in that aspect as well.

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review 2015-12-28 00:46
Thoughts: Spinning Starlight
Spinning Starlight - R.C. Lewis

Spinning Starlight -- R.C. Lewis


**This book is a fairy tale retelling based on The Wild Swans, according to sources.  It is a sister spin-off from Stitching Snow, but takes place in a different world with different characters, so does NOT require reading Stitching Snow first.



This is one of those books where I really can't think of anything to say aside from a few generic "This was an enjoyable book, but some things just didn't work out for me," comments. Of course, I say this, but in the end, I always end up rambling up a storm when random thoughts start to hit me as I write.

Spinning Starlight really is quite enjoyable and attention-hooking, with a great premise, great world-building, great characters, great story-telling, and great narration.

But it's not my pick for "really, really, really awesome read" if only because of a few factors:

First: The world building is creative. I thought the same of Stitching Snow--kind of a Star Wars meets Fairy Tale worlds retelling type of deal. But the world in Spinning Starlight is just so much more complex... and confusing. I can tell a lot of thought was put into the world creation and it's pretty awesome. That is, it would have been very awesome if I had a better understanding of the world, its' cultures, and the tech and the people and the history. But I got lost a lot reading some of the tech explanations, about the portals, about the Khua, about the conduits, about the planets... I'm not even sure if it was just me or if the book really was that confusing.

Second: The main villain was mostly absent throughout. And so the main conflict--Liddi's brother's safety and the safety of the entire universe in general--had to be the one factor everything hinges on for Liddi's actions and decisions. Which, in a way, isn't too bad, but it made our main villain seem kind of insignificant

especially since she was neutralized so easily once everything was said and done.

(spoiler show)

Third: The romance felt lackluster really. And I'm not even sure why because there's a great development from savior to friendship to romance. Liddi and Tiav are pretty great together. But they don't seem to have much chemistry.

Lastly: The other characters felt very back-seated. There was so much to learn and so many new people to meet and everyone seems to have their own uniqueness. But none of what was presented felt like it was enough for me. I would have liked to know more about Kalkig and how his hostile relationship develops into a reluctant alliance with Liddi. I would have liked to see more about Tiav's mother Shiin. I would have liked to get to know Liddi's eight brothers a bit more. And I would have liked to learn more about the Aelo and the other alien races introduced.

This book felt entirely too short, but at the same time, the main plot felt like it dragged along without really getting anywhere.

But this book isn't without things that I liked about it.

Again, the story premise, narration, writing, attention-to-detail, and world creation was wonderful! Even the characters, given more of a chance to shine, would have been excellent. I especially loved the relationship between Liddi and her brothers being such a tight knit and close one. And given more time and more story, I would have loved to see all the new friendships and alliances Liddi forms throughout with Kalkig, with Quain, with Yilt, or with Spin-Still.

See. Lots of names, lots of characters, lots of interactions (as much interacting as a girl who cannot speak can do), but little insight into these characters and their defining relationships with Liddi. Sure, you can see a connection of some sort forming between our heroine and these side characters; but there's not chemistry, no feels, no intrigue to bind them. The interactions feel lackluster, much like the romance felt lackluster.

On the other hand, I DO like the way in which Liddi's inability to speak was handled. How she communicated with each character was done quite well, even if I'm maybe a little doubtful that all the characters could so very easily pick up Liddi's meaning without elaborate pictures and pantomiming. Still, her communication with everyone without actually speaking and without knowing a written language was interesting enough, and the author didn't make it easy on her just because she's the special heroine.

This book also does a great job of emphasizing the troubles that people have with media and social networking--how easily and readily other people use it as a means to cut other people down because they can, how easily it is for another person's private matters to be broadcast into the public... etc. At first, I thought the little tidbits of Liddi's childhood flashbacks were kind of awkward, but I ended up liking them by the end.

Back to Liddi and her brothers, again, I loved the interaction and relationship between them and wished we could have seen more of that. In fact, there were some feels to be had and it DID help in favor of me liking this book more.

Anyway, of course this supposedly "short" review becomes a bit more rambling than I had intended.

Spinning Starlight is enjoyable and entertaining, well-written and well-thought out. It's safe to say I will still be watching out for future works by R.C. Lewis and am now a bit interested in the fairy tale that this book is based upon (The Wild Swans? I think.)

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