What the heck…

Young Couple Sharing Special Moment and PresentLately, I’ve been struggling with my writing time. So much going on in my life. Nothing bad, just a lot of things and several changes. One is that we’re moving this summer out of our home of twenty-four years. Plus the summers are crazy at the day-job. Lots of overtime. And I need to learn to say no with volunteer work, but I love helping people.

I’m not sure when I’ll finish the book I’m working on. Only ten chapters left before I write the two most beautiful words in an author’s work: THE END. Luckily (oddly), no editor is waiting for it, but my agent wants to see it.

Funny, but I rarely talk about my current manuscripts, not because of superstition. It’s because I don’t want to hear someone say, “Oh, that’s like so-and-so’s book.” That always pisses me off. No one writes a book like I write. Yes. I do understand what they’re saying. The book is similar in a key point of the plot, character(s), or location of the other author’s. I can tell you most authors don’t want to hear that. We all think our books are unique. In one way particularly. Our voice. That is, our word choices and rhythm.

But, here I am writing a blog post, and telling you about a book I listened to. Another time suck, but one I love to do it. Side note: this isn’t a review site, but I love books. That’s why I love to read (or listen) and write them. So I figured when I especially enjoy one, I would pass on a little recommendation.

CAKE by J. Bengtsson   (Audio)

For the blurb, click on the link above. As many current contemporary romance books, the hero and heroine are 23 years old. The girl is sweet and pretty level-headed.  No diva attitude or oversexed heroine. Considering my heroines are very demanding sexually, 51jggA8BjOL._SL300_that’s saying something about the author’s writing. HA! For it held my attention. And if you’re wondering, the hero wasn’t a horn dog. They were very likable. Great sense of humors for both.

Overall, I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a soft “rock star” book (pun intended). No drug use by main characters, no drinking, or too crazy groupies. Light on the sex. It played with how to have a relationship with a celebrity. How people have certain expectations from those who are famous, including expecting they do not deserve privacy.

A thread in the story included that the hero had a horrible trauma when he was a young, and it comes up throughout the story, but not in a heavy angst-y way.  In fact, I thought the author handled very well.

Only negatives were, their families were near to perfect. If you read any of my books, you know my heroes’ and/or heroines’ families were more like real ones. Neurotic, self-centered, demanding, in general, big pains in the butt. Or is it only my family? Hmm.

By the way, it does not end in a cliff hanger though you will think so at first.  Good twist. I don’t consider that a spoiler. For I freaking hate cliff hangers. I was getting mad, and so I searched on the review site to see if someone talked about it. There wasn’t one, so I continued on and was very happy with the ending.

I checked out the second book in the Cake series. It’s the middle brother (though the blurb mentioned he’s a younger brother).  Looks interesting, but I think I want a hot book next. I can take all the sweetness between the two and their families only so much.  Maybe I’m jealous of the couple.

Almost forgot, the narrators did a great job.  Once again, I was so happy to come across a male narrator who didn’t make a woman sound whiny.

My Latest Recommendations

Woman Reading a DiaryAs I mentioned before, I listen to audio books on my drive to the day job and back. Well, actually anywhere that takes tens minutes or more, such as trips to Nashville (Go Preds!), luncheons, conferences, and writers’ meetings.

This week, I enjoyed Shadow Music: A Novel by Julie Garwood. A story set in the Middle Ages (King John). In the range of my favorite time period. Plus, it reminds me  of why I love Ms. Garwood’s books. The story is captivating, lightly sexy, charming, and well-written. A note about the story: some people may think the heroine is too accommodating to the hero’s dictatorial attitude. But I think it’s perfect for the time period. Besides, the heroine knows when to pick her battles. She’s a sweetheart. The hero gives in when she explains her reasoning. A great balance. Makes you fall in love with both of them.

The icing on the cake is the narrator. Davina Porter is massively talented. I love her Scottish accents. If her name sounds familiar, she was/is the narrator for the Outlander series. Her narration got me through the first three books of that series and thoroughly made me a happy girl with this book.

In April, I listened to Maya Banks’ The Enforcers series: Mastered, Dominated, and Kept. I will say I would have enjoyed this series better if I had read them. The narrator had an awesome voice, but the female voices and nuances were off.

When it comes to reading, I’ve gone through about six books since my last recommendation with a few DNFs. Only one is worth mentioning, and I’m not finished with it yet. Not that it’s great, it’s kept me reading. The writing is rich with wonderful detail. That can be a catch-22. It can drag down the story. The title is The Warrior’s Game by Denise Doming. Another one set during the King John’s reign. I guess I’m stuck in that era.

Happy reading!

 

What Have I Been Reading?

Woman Reading a DiaryIf you’re wondering how I find time to read, what with a full-time demanding job, and writing a novel at the same time. That doesn’t include attending my writing groups’ (two beloved RWA chapters) meetings. On top of all that, I’m a hockey fan, and I watch every game my team plays (GO PREDATORS!), and go to games when I can. And even more important is my family who I love most of all and deserve my attention.

But I’m a book-aholic. So I find time.

How you ask? Well, I read between hockey periods, during commercials, before turning in for the night, at doctor appointments, sitting out in the parking lot before walking into work, during lunches, while cooking or/and eating. E-books are great when it comes to finishing one book, you can immediately start a new one. Feed that addiction. Plus I listen to audio books.  (All of that and writing!)

Now for the recent books I’ve read. Just a reminder, I only mention the ones I enjoyed.

A couple of the books by Zavarelli surprised me with her unusual heroines and unique plot choices. I’m rarely surprised and ended up enjoying them, especially Ghost.
Boston Underworld series by A. Zavarelli
Crow
Reaper
Ghost
Saint

I guess I’m on a criminal kick.  Enjoyed the first one that came in this set.
Romanian Mob Chronicles (series) Books 1- 3 by Kaye Blue
Keep

Here’s one from an old original favorite author, and it’s been several years since I read one of her books. This one I enjoyed because the heroine was hated by so many people, including the hero, but she persevered and won over the hero and many others.
Make Me Love You by Johanna Lindsey

Many others books, I kind of enjoyed, but not enough to recommend here. Some, I couldn’t finish. When I don’t finish a book, it is often because I became bored with the plot or characters or both. Rarely, does it have anything to do with the quality of writing. Amazon’s Look Inside feature helps me check that out before I purchase.

Here are the audio books I enjoyed recently.
Roman: Cold Fury Hockey Series Book 7 by Sawyer Bennett
A Rouge By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Three, Two, One (A Dark Suspense) 321 by J.A. Huss
The Darkest Night: The Lords of The Underworld Book 1 by Gena Showalter
The Duchess War: The Brothers Sinister Book 1 by Courtney Milan

One series I’d listened to on and off over the last three months or so is Sylvia Day’s Crossfire. I have to say she did a wonderful job layering the personalities of the hero and heroine. She did hook me into listening to all five books. Heck, I couldn’t get further than Outlander’s Voyager. So that has to mean something. But by book three (even after breaking it up with other authors’ books), I became tired of hearing how beautiful they thought each other were. I really wish she had condensed them into three books. If so, they probably would have been one of those I listened to over and over again.

I do need to stay away from series that have the same main hero and heroine throughout. I have a tendency of getting fed up with the characters and story. Totally my hangup there.

Audio Book Favorites

Iphone-headphone-jackOn and off for many years I’ve listened to audio books from cassettes to iTunes to Amazon’s Audible. Overall, the narrators have gotten better. At one time, authors wanted well-known actors narrating their books. You can even see a few still do. But I have to say they are not always the best choice.

The ones I enjoy the best is 1) a female or male who can change their voice enough to sound like or make you think of the character they are speaking for.

My favorite audio books

I’ve actually listened to these more than once (partly because I enjoyed the story so much and partly for the savings. HA!)  You may notice some of the audio books below are repeats of my favorite books to reread. Goes without saying, I loved these stories.

Alex by Sawyer Bennett
Cris Dukehart did a great job on the female narration. The male narrator, Graham Halstead, has the kind of voice I love. Since the character is in his twenties, he has a young, but still mature, sexy voice.  He’s the narrator in all of Sawyer’s Carolina Cold Fury books. Smart move on Random House’s part. Hockey!!  Love hockey, but not all hockey books are equal. Just as the teams. Go, PREDATORS!

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath
The narrator, Faye Adele, did a fascinating job. I completely forgot it was a woman talking during the male parts.

The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Ditto above, but the narrator is Angela Dawe. I don’t know how the women narrators do it.

Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren
I love it when they have female and male narrators. It appears they only do when it is first person. Grace Grant did a wonderful job narrating for the female voice. Jonathan R. Cole is the male narrator, and his British accent is perfect to me. Very sexy, and I quickly learned not to listen to the male narration in the dark, before going to sleep. It felt like I was cheating on my hubby.  LOL!

Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks
Kristen Potter did a great job of giving us a little of the Scottish accent but not overwhelming.

What am I listening to now

Easy Love by Kristen Proby; narrated by Sebastian York and Rachel Fulginiti.

I enjoyed the female narration most the time, except when she spoke with a “New Orlean’s accent” for the hero and his family. Horrible. She really shouldn’t try. The male narrator did not, thank goodness. As always for Sebastian, he has a sexy voice, but I cannot tell when it’s the hero’s thoughts or if the hero is speaking it. His voice doesn’t distinguish between the two.

The story was cute, hot, and laugh out-loud funny at times. Loved the Taylor Swift drinking game. The only problem I had with the story was the heroine was late often to work and never called in when she wasn’t going to show up at all (I don’t care if she was sleeping with the boss. Her co-workers were not to know.) Working in an office for most of my life, the girl would be fired before the month was out and her co-workers would resent her. They would have to do her “pretend” job. Someone had to. Plus I kept wondering how the heroine was going to find out who was stealing money from the company if she never worked? And how did she expect to keep her affair with the boss a secret if they were running around town?

I kept telling my inner, anal reader to shut up and enjoy the story. I did and I did. Besides, it is fiction and for pure entertainment. Certainly worth listening to one time. I bet if you’ve never worked in an office, you’ll enjoy it a hundred times more.

Side note about listening to Outlander.

Davina Porter is the narrator. I have to say, if not for her, I would’ve never gotten through the whole book. Well, her and Jamie. The author did great on him. But so many stretches were so boring with unnecessary details and don’t get me started on Claire. That review/comment post will be for a later time. It’s written, but I prefer letting it sit for a while. So far it’s been over a year. Anyway, Davina is a wonderful narrator and deserves every dime she receives.

Recommendations

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. In the past, I’ve done a few blog posts on books I’ve loved but nothing consistently. In fact, the few I’ve done are on my old blog if I remember correctly. So I thought every once in awhile, I’ll recommend books and let you know what I’ve recently read.

But first, I’ll start with a few favorites of mine that I love to re-read. I was talking with some readers the other day and was actually shocked to hear a couple say they never do. Too many other books out there to read the first time they said.

Oh, well. I do know that I find a new book at least once a year that I enjoy re-reading. I guess because I learn something from each one that can hopefully improve my writing.

So here are a few.

The Rainbow Season by Lisa Gregory (aka Candace Camp) 1989 – a bad boy wanting to improve his life and he falls for a good girl. Yet, the girl believes she’s not so good as she’s in love with her brother-in-law. I love wounded misunderstood bad boys and good girls who are not quite good.

The Madness of Lord Ian McKenzie by Jennifer Ashley 2011 – an man with autism (I believe) who pursues a widow. So well written and oddly because of his extreme concentration on the heroine, it’s quite sexy. And unique. I love unique.

All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard 1999 – A super spy asks for help from a former female associate and during their new mission they fall in love. Doesn’t sound exciting, but the hero is awesome and Linda has a wicked sense of humor that comes out in her books. This book is the one that encouraged me to write Circle of Desire. My female assassin book. I love spy/assassin/mercenary books.

It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips 2002 – A ditzy blonde (smarter than everyone thinks) inherits a football team. The coach isn’t happy but finds love with the new owner. It’s funny and unique. At the least, that’s what I think.  If you get a chance, read the first line. It’s a hoot!

Ryker by Sawyer Bennett 2015 – A goalie and the team’s female manager fall in love. This book has so much heart. Ryker is the near perfect man and the heroine isn’t no wimp. Strangely, I’ve listened to this at least three times. So it edged out the true favorite of this series, Alex. Alex is the bad boy of the series and you know how I love bad boys.

There are more, but it’s getting late and I need to go to work tomorrow.

Hope you’ll check them out. Just remember the older the book, the older the style and some people don’t care for them. Then again, I consider them classics even if they’re a year old.