Book 22: Too Busy For Love – Tasmin Baker

Baker, Tamsin - Too Busy For LoveI always wonder whether to count novellas as full books when I’m tallying for the year, but why shouldn’t I? I won’t lie and say I requested a copy of this book from the publisher because of the blurb, I’ll be completely honest and say it was the cover. I received a copy of this from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

So clearly this is a case where the marketing worked and will probably get the book a lot more readers than the story itself. I mean just take a moment to appreciate it. Now, I don’t want to completely mislead you, the novella wasn’t horrible, it just could’ve been so much better. I think the biggest problem I had with the novel was that I couldn’t tell where the story was set and the language was off. There seemed to be a strange mixture of American, British and Australian English and this really kept me out of the story.

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Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 18: Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

Helprin, Mark - Winter's TaleAfter nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.

I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!

Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!

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Book 16: It’s All Geek to Me – J. L. Merrow

Merrow, J. L. - It's All Geek To MeWhat a quick fun read! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and if Merrow were to expand this story into a longer novel, or even a series of short stories, I would definitely check it out. I received a copy of It’s All Geek to Me from the publisher, Riptide Publishing and received nothing in return for my honest opinion.

From the adorkable premise of the comic book store to the “aww” worthy ending, I couldn’t help but smile through this quick novella. I of course loved the two main characters, the gorgeously described Welshman Rhys and the adorably emotionally fragile protagonist Jez. Merrow did a great job building the tension between the Rhys and Jez and adding in a (not completely) unexpected turn. I wasn’t quite sure what the hidden secret was but I was so worried it was going to be something completely different and the actual reason was so adorable and their reactions were so adorable that I couldn’t help but smile.

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Book 13: From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian - From Russia with LoveFor my first, and probably only, foray into James Bond this was definitely a good one. Compared to other spy novels I’ve read like The Talented Mr. Ripley or The Thin Man, I enjoyed this one the most! I’m not sure if it is because of the history of the novel, or because of the character James Bond.

So it will come as no surprise, that this is my local library’s books into movies book group February read. What is surprising is that I suggested it. I did so because for some random reason, I have always been obsessed with the title—it’s one of those iconic titles that everyone knows and for some reason it’s always stuck with me even though I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. The second reason is that it’s February and well, Valentine’s Day. And finally Caroline made another connection: oh Russia, like Sochi, and the Olympics. So yet another great reason.

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