All tagged VIctoria Dahl

Mini Reviews: Three DNFs from Rebeca

I used to be a die-hard, must-finish reader. If I started a book, by God, I would finish it--even if it made my eyes bleed.

These days I’m much more relaxed; if a book doesn’t speak to me I don’t force myself to finish it. Since I started school again full-time I’ve had less reading time and even more DNFs to my name. These are a few of the books that I’ve abandoned over the last few months.

(Keep in mind this may say more about my own reading habits than about the quality of the books themselves.)

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt

I love fairy tales and re-imagined stories of all kinds.

Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Princes Trilogy, a series of historical romances with fables woven into them, is right up my alley and I’ve become a fan of her work. While I haven’t enjoyed her Maiden Lane series quite as much I was still excited to read the fourth installment, Thief of Shadows.

This book follows Winter Makepeace, headmaster of a home for foundling children who is also secretly a Batman-style vigilante named the Ghost of St. Giles. When he is rescued by Lady Elizabeth Beckinhall after another close brush with death he struggles to protect his identity from the lonely society widow.

That post title sounds slightly naughty, doesn’t it?

Mission. Accomplished.

Ever since Renegade wrote her excellent post on a beginners’ guide to romance reading, I’ve been seeking out a big R romance title every once in awhile—particularly books from her list, but also titles that seem like they may suit my taste. A few I’ve reviewed here—my most notable discovery being my a new favorite in the form of Molly O’Keefe’s excellent single-title romances. 

(I bet Renegade is really proud of me for properly using the term “single title romance.”)

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Rebeca wrote a glowing review of Australian author Sarah Mayberry’s novel about love and grief, Within Reach—and since she’s a tough critic, I knew I had to give it a chance even though the weird cover and “Harlequin Super Romance” branding would normally send me running. I have to say, this is an outstanding book that I accidentally read in a single sitting.

Renegade’s review pretty much covered why this book is so good, and I echo all of her thoughts. I was so surprised by what a sad book this is, despite that it’s a romance, and you know a happy ever after is a given. What struck me the most is how much both Angie and Michael love Billie, who died suddenly at 32. Nothing feels forced or rushed, as both have to figure out who they are without their best friend and wife, respectively. The two having to figure a way forward for themselves as individuals first made Within Reach feel emotionally authentic, which is my litmus test for romances. Both are also decent people, who want to do the right thing by Billie’s memory and for Michael and Billie’s children. 

My main niggle with Within Reach would be that there’s a huge time jump between the first chapter when we see Billie’s death and the second, which takes place ten months in the future. I would have liked to see more about the immediate aftermath of losing Billie, because it would have created more context for the connection between the two in terms of losing Billie.  And, again in this book, like in many romances I’ve read, the condom use (or lack thereof) is suspect. The two’s first sexual encounter is a frantic sort of situation and they don’t even discuss condoms, which makes sense in the context of the story. However, after the fact, Michael (rightly) apologizes for that and Angie tells him she’s on the pill and it doesn’t matter. In her internal monologue, she thinks something along the lines of,

“Plus, she trusted Michael.”

First off, “trust” is not adequate protection against STDs. That’s sex ed 101. Secondly, in this case, Michael is the one who should have pressed this issue because while he’d been in a monogamous relationship with his late wife for many, many years, Angie was single and who knows who else she told she “trusted” and didn’t need to worry about condoms. I know people don’t like to deal with this in books because it’s not sexy, but like I always say, gonorrhea is also not sexy.

But, despite these two minor reservations, Within Reach is definitely one I’d put on my yet-to-be-developed list of Romance for People Who Think They Don’t Like Romance. 

Note: Within Reach is currently priced at the odd, but nevertheless low, price of $3.82 for Kindle.

Amazon / Goodreads

Dear Googler: You Ask, CEFS Answers

The other day I was looking through the CEFS web statistics and was browsing my favorite section: search terms. 

A fascinating trend I’ve noticed is that many Googlers put their searches in the form of a question, not dissimilar from Jeopardy! Since we get a lot of the same searches, I thought I’d answer a few of these common questions.

[Note: I’ve paraphrased a number of these searches that appear over and over again. But I swear, I’m not making any of this up.]

Friggin' Great.

General Books/Recommendations

What should I read next?

Um… I don’t know. I just finished Wanderlove and adored it. Actually, I don’t even know what I’m reading next, to be honest. Maybe check out our CEFS favorites page?

What are the main themes in [book name]?

Kid, you’ve got to read the book. I’m not doing your homework for you. 

Where can I download [book name] for free?

  1. Try your library, if there’s one in your area. Some publishers participate in ebook lending.
  2. If you’re a Kindle owner with Amazon Prime, you can also access the Kindle Owners’ Library in which you can access one book for free each month; many of these are self-published books, but there are a number of traditional publishers participating as well. 
  3. Check Books on the Knob for daily deals, including freebies
  4. If you live in a community with a library (not everyone has one, sadly), you can also check out print books for free—the one in my neighborhood actually holds back new releases each week for people who come into the library (Lucky Day Books), so it’s worth actually going in the library too. 
  5. Some ebooks are lendable. If one you want read is, see if a friend will virtually lend you a book for your Kindle or Nook.
  6. Whatever you do, please don’t pirate books. 

What are some books with lots of sex?

That’s probably a question better answered by Rebeca, whose knowledge on that subject is more broad than mine (I’m trying to get her to review the zombie apocalypse polyamorous novel she just read). But, maybe try Victoria Dahl? Her books are a little much for me, but with that said, they don’t have the yucky gender dynamics that can be very problematic. (Yes, this is a very, very common search term.)

What are some books with lots of action/violence?

I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to this subject, but check out our recommendations for my friend Matt in our Book Matchmaker feature. 

I want to read an urban fantasy series with a strong female lead.

Check out these ideas!