Midyear Reading Check-In

As far as social media is concerned, I spend the most time on Facebook (because I’m not a millennial), then Instagram (because I need to know what millennials are doing), and finally Goodreads.

In addition to keeping track of and rating the books I’ve read, Goodreads allows me (a true introvert) to interact with authors and likeminded readers. You can win books, join virtual bookclubs, find out about upcoming releases and even buy books. It’s a dream.

Every year they sponsor a reading challenge to help support you to read more if you’re someone who works better with concrete goals.

This year I set my goal as 125 books and as of today, I’ve read 64 which is 51% there.

Seems like a lot? If you’re reading War and Peace type books, yes. But I read a variety of books including romance, which I can usually finish in a few hours.

Some stats:

  • Of the 64 books I’ve read, 56 were romance novels.
  • Of those 56 romances, 32 were independently published and most were better than the ones put out by traditional publishers.
  • I gave the top rating (5 stars) to 5 books so far this year: When They Call You A Terrorist, A Brief History of Seven Killings, The Wanderer, Children of Blood and Bone, and Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
  • I rarely give romance books 5 stars, but The Wanderer made the cut. Nia Forrester is a great writer.
  • Fortunately, I didn’t give any book I’ve read this year under 3 stars. Three stars means “I don’t consider this book a waste of time, but…meh”
  • I gave the recently released Zora Neale Hurston book Barracoon 3 stars. #sorrynotsorry

So that’s it so far in my reading year. According to Goodreads, I need to read 3 books a week to remain on track to meet my goal. Let me go do that.

Click here if you want to be my friend on Goodreads.

Advertisements

Is This Thing On?

It’s ridiculous how bad I am as a book blogger. Especially since I am great as a book reader. And I was also a really good bookseller.

But writing/blogging and I don’t get along so well. If you ever invite me out to lunch, dear reader, I will gladly sit with you for hours and discuss everything I’m reading, have read, or hope to read soon. Not just because your feeding me (because you will have to pay for lunch; it’s not in my budget), but because I could TALK about books all day. Writing all day? Nah…

Maybe I’m intimidated by all the great writing I’m exposed to. Maybe I don’t think I’m as good as other bloggers. Maybe I’m lazy. Maybe I don’t have time for a blog.

All of those things are false, of course. I’ve read enough self help books to recognize “negative self talk” when I hear it. Recognizing it is easy, fighting it is harder. But I must try. I’m not a bookseller anymore, but I’m still an avid reader and I need to share with others – the good and the bad.

So let’s try this again, shall we? I’m going to read something then I’m going to tell you what I thought of it. Sometimes I will force you to drop what you’re doing and go buy a book. Other times I will invite you to join me as lament having to give up on a book (and maybe it’s author, too). And I’ll continue to try and find my authentic review voice that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Dangerous Consequences

Lisa Renee Johnson

dangerous consequences

Dangerous Consequences is the perfect title for this book. Every character at some point is forced to come to grips with the results of their actions. Donathan James, a psychologist, is known on his radio show as the “Sex Doctor”, where he gives out advice to listeners. Of course his local celebrity status and the subject matter he discusses come along with a certain amount of extra attention from women, and now one of them has turned into a stalker. She is able to get him into a compromising position and begin blackmailing him, all of which he tries to shut down before his wife Sydney, a pediatric neurosurgeon (how stressful is THAT job?) finds out.

I admit that I wasn’t sure at first that I would like this romantic thriller, but the great writing sucked me in. The resulting twists and turns weren’t thrown at you, but eased into the story in a very believable way. Characters who normally appear in books like this aren’t usually written as complex and faceted as Johnson does here. I was constantly re-evaluating the categories that I had placed them in as I read. The subplots featuring Donathan and Sydney’s friends and family fit well into the ongoing narrative.

Books with cliffhangers are usually off-limits to me. I don’t like feeling obligated to read further just in case the initial book isn’t good. Not the case here. Dangerous Consequences tied up a loose end nicely while leaving the others dangling in an interesting enough way to get me to come back.

4stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Breathless

Beverly Jenkins

breathless

I’m pretty sure at this point in my reading career, it’s assured that I’m going to love anything that comes out of Beverly Jenkins brain. Seriously, I love her. I don’t make a habit of rereading books, but I’ve read each of hers several times because they serve as comfort food to me.

Breathless is the second book in the Old West series, but really, since all of her characters are connected in some way, Jenkins’ entire catalog catalog is one long series. Picking up about 15 years later from the ending of Forbidden and it’s aftermath. The Carmichael family have resettled in Arizona and are running a hotel with neice Portia at the helm as the manager. She’s smart and independent which are not really prized attributes in 1885, especially for Black women. Portia is focused on her family’s business leaving matters of the heart to her starry eyed little sister, until a man from their past rides into town and works to change her mind.

There wasn’t as much conflict in this book as in previous ones, but I enjoyed reading about Portia and Kent getting to know each other as adults as well as what the Carmichael family has been up to.

4stars

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Edelweiss and Avon in exchange for my honest review.

The Inheritance

Rochelle Alers

inheritance

Rochelle Alers has always been high up on my favorite romance authors list. I believe I’ve read everything she’s ever published, including single titles and appearances in compilations. That said, The Inheritance was a disappointment.

Hannah DuPont-Lowell is a lawyer with a prestigious investment bank in New York City who is suddenly laid-off along with half of the staff as a result of a merger. On her way out of the building she comes across three other women who were let go and invites them to her nearby apartment to drink their sorrows away. The four women, diverse in race, age, and income spend the morning talking about their lives and what to do going forward. Hannah, the most financially stable of them all, invites them to come visit her at her family’s New Orleans home, where she plans to spend the summer and maybe fulfill her dream of turning it into a hotel. This will allow everyone to relax and decide their next move.

This book promised to be a sweet story of second chances in life and love and it mostly succeeded at that. I felt, though, that it was very repetitive, especially in the telling and re-telling of the history of Hannah’s family and their place in New Orleans. A good 100 pages could have been shaved down from that alone. Also, the dialogue felt way too formal for casual conversations and kept me from connecting fully to the characters. I assume that since this is the start of a series, that the subsequent books will focus on each woman and her path to putting her life back together after the lay-off. I haven’t decided yet if I am going forward with the series, but I don’t like to abandon a favorite author.

2stars

I was given a complimentary copy of this e-book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Taming Her Tycoon

Yahrah St. John

taming

I have cut back on reading Kimani romances as much as I used to because the formula started to get on my nerves. Most romances follow a formula, I know, but the editing was really starting to get in the way of plot development in a lot of cases. I can’t resist a series, though, and I like Yahrah St. John, so I gave this one a try.

St. John admits that the Knights of Los Angeles series was influenced by her watching Empire and it’s depiction of the brother’s relationships (and the name Lucius). Naomi Brooks and her best friend have built their organic beauty products company from the ground up and are quite successful. So successful, in fact, that they are being eyed for takeover by Lucius Knight, a millionaire businessman looking for companies to add to his “empire”. Lucius is also on a mission to discover who his father is, much to his mother’s dismay.

Yes, the tried and true romance formula is here, but Naomi’s fight for her company’s independence and Lucius’ discovery of his roots and a brother he didn’t know about were interesting enough to have me waiting for the next in the series.

4stars

I received a complimentary copy of the e-book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead

underground

It’s a known fact that I have inhaled and loved all of Colson Whitehead’s novels. Whenever a new book of his is announced, I immediately put it on my “to-read” list with no questions asked.

The fascinating premise of the book that portrays the Underground Railroad as an actual railroad underground has been widely shared by this point and deserves all the praise it has received. Cora, an enslaved African on a plantation in Georgia, is seen as an outcast among her own people. When given the opportunity to escape, she doesn’t immediately jump at the chance, but the increasing cruelty that surrounds her soon forces her hand.

Writing in linear form with a flashback chapter every now and then, Whitehead gives us the truth and ugliness of slavery with a little fantasy mixed in. Arriving in South Carolina, Cora finds a freedom unexpected in a state so close to the horrors of Georgia. But the veneer soon starts to peel away, a slave catcher by the name of Ridgeway appears and the journey starts again.

Following Cora on her adventures was at times distressing and celebratory. The 4 1/2 pages of the next to the last chapter broke my heart. I think I read it twice before I could move on.

5stars