December Book Stats

 

 

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Books Read:  14
Books Acquired:  110

Most Read Genre:
Contemporary Romance = 13

With the holidays in full swing last month, I wasn’t shocked to find that I read fewer books in December.  It’s also not a shocker that I read a bunch of romance.  Not only is it my go-to genre all year round, but especially during a nostalgic time like Christmas.  As usual, I had a mixture in my sub-genres though.  Sports, new adult, military, suspense, and most of all…western romance.

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December was another great reading month for me in terms of the quality of stories I read.  I didn’t have as many 5-star books as in November, but having more than one is always a surprise and I had two!  Only For You by Melissa Foster and Tamsin by Abigail Strom.  Plus tons in the 4-star range.

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Although I have a couple of library books that have already been renewed once, all of the books I read in December were on my Kindle.

Net Galley = 9
MCL = 4
Amazon Purchase = 1

Only one new-to-me author in December, Kristin Vayden.  I really enjoyed the book I read by her, Heart of a Cowboy, and will be checking out more from her.

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Since I finished the Chicago Stars series in November, that series is officially off my list of “oldest read” for the month.  I started a new series that started in the 90’s and with its latest book being from 2017, Chinooks Hockey Team by Rachel Gibson.  I read the first book, Simply Irresistible, in December.  It was published in 1998 so it was my oldest read of last month.  In fact, it was my only older read of the month.

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With fewer books read in December than November, there were also fewer pages.  Or about 1000 less if you want to get technical.  I read 4069 pages in December with two books tying for shortest read of the month, both coming in at 188 pages.  Her Leading Hero by Maggie Dallen and Heart of a Cowboy by Kristin Vayden.  The longest, at 389 pages, was Escape to You by Jennifer Ryan.

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Even with a clunker or two in December, my overall average rating was still just over 4 stars.  I’d call that a successful month!

I only purchased one of my books read in December in the month of December.  I know I’ve said before that I always pre-order Melissa Foster’s books and Only For You was purchased last month.  I think I read more ARCs in December than ever before but there’s no charge for those so they don’t count toward my book purchased.  But I did acquire 2 of those ARCs in December, so that puts me at 3 of the book I read last month actually acquired during the month.  Very unusual for me!

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Total books purchased in December = 3
Total money spent on books in December = $8.97
Total money spent on books read in December = $3.99

I got 74 books through my Book Bub email links in December.  Obviously a lot less than the month before, but mostly because there were a lot of freebies available that I already have.  I picked Pretty Girls Dancing by Kylie Brant for my December Kindle First pick.  I mentioned that I got two of the ARCs I read last month during the actual month.  Well, those were actually the only books I got from Net Galley in December.  I also got 4 books through author email links, one from Instafreebies, two from Just Add Spice newsletter, 11 from the Red Feather emails, and 6 through the Shifted Sheets emails.

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Here’s a breakdown of December’s books by genre:

6             BDSM
1             chick lit
69          contemporary romance
18          erotica
6             fantasy
1             graphic novel
8             historical romance
20          holiday
1             horror
1             literary fiction
2             military
1             motorcycle club
1             mystery
9             new adult
9             paranormal
2             regency
2             science fiction
4             shapeshifter
3             sports
7             suspense
1             thriller
2             western
5             YA

I’ll be posting my 2017 round up next week with my favorite reads of the year.  I’ll be interested to hear what some of your favorites were in 2017.

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Top 5 Posts of 2017

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Until 2017 I never had a full year of blogging somewhat regularly.  Therefore, I never did one of these roundups of my top posts.  Let me tell you, when I looked these stats up I was quite surprised.  I guess I expected my top posts to be for more “famous” authors or titles.  Trying to ascertain the reasons these posts were more popular than others, one of the big indicators seems to be not how many fans an author has, but how passionate those fans are.  Regardless of the reason(s) these posts were the most popular, I’m always grateful for an audience.  While I enjoy reading reviews of books, movies, and almost anything else, it often surprises me when others look to my reviews to help them make a decision on their book reading.

So here they are, my top 5 visited posts from 2017:

#5
A SEAL’s Seduction

This one was actually posted back in October of 2016, right about the time I started posting regularly.  And I actually rated it pretty low so it’s a mystery to me why it was so popular of a post.

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#4
Everything You Want Me to Be

One of the last books I read last year and it was phenomenal.  I still think of it now and again and that’s a sign of great storytelling.

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#3

The Turner House

This is another one that has stuck with me, this one for even longer since this post is from September 2016.  I’m not sure if it stuck with me because the story takes place in Detroit (I live in the suburbs of Detroit) or because of the story itself…or both.  Regardless, it is a book I still recommend.

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#2

NemeSIS

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I kind of forgot about this book.  And it’s a really good book!  Now that it’s back on my radar I’m thinking of at least 3 different people I’m going to be recommending this story to.

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Now for my most viewed post of 2017…

#1

Out of Play

I loved this book and keep hoping for another novel from this author sometime soon.  I believe she also writes short stories so I may have to change it up a bit and check some of those out.  This review is from October 2016!  

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Was there another review I posted that is a favorite of yours?  Have my reviews ever helped you with a decision to read a book (or not read a book)?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Cowboy Stole My Heart – book review

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Cowboy Stole My Heart
By Soraya Lane
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Book #1 in the River Ranch series
Number of pages:  304
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 12/30/17 to 1/1/18

This is a new-to-me author but it’s a genre that I love.  Tough cowboy, sassy cowgirl, lots of chemistry.  There are always pros and cons when reading a new (to you) author.  Although this booked is marked as the first of a series, I couldn’t help thinking throughout that it is a spin-off of another series.  Since the author has a bit of a library already it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.  Of course, I checked into it and it seems to be an offshoot from Soraya Lane’s Texas Kings series.  You absolutely do not have to read any of those books to enjoy this one, it was just a feeling I had whenever Sam’s sister and husband came up.  Also, I couldn’t seem to shake the feeling the author is not from the States even though this book takes place in Texas.  Just a few word choices that seemed different.  Again, I checked it out and she’s from New Zealand.  Still not a bad issue.  After all, one of my favorite authors who writes about Americans is Kylie Scott and she’s Australian.  Just an observation.

On to the story.  There was instant chemistry between Sam and Mia.  Even when they were judging each other and bickering.  Their chemistry could not be denied.  Their dialogue and interactions were also fun.  They liked to mess with each other and that, in turn, was fun for me as the reader.

I’d say the first 75% of this story was pretty amazing.  Although I liked the last 25% of the story it fell into a few too many romance tropes.  The jumping to conclusions Mia did was insane and took her from a smart sassy woman to someone who needed to use her brain a bit more in my eyes.  I know fictional stories often have to have a misunderstanding in order to create the conflict between characters and move a story along, but one of the big things seemed like it wasn’t needed here.  There was already enough conflict with Sam’s baggage he carried around.  Not to mention, no matter how private a public figure is in this day and age, most things can be found online.  Truthfully, this issue had me skimming a lot of the end. 

All and all, I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from this author.  I’ll most likely start by going back to her Texas Kings series.

3.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own and given freely. **

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Show Me – book review

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Show Me
by Abigail Strom
Release Date:  January 1, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Contemporary Romance M/F
Book #2 in the Me series
Number of Pages:  253
Kindle Edition
Source:  Net Galley
Rating:  NC-17
Read 12/27/17 to 12/30/17

First, I want to address that when I posted my review of Tell Me I listed it as a standalone.  With this story I realize I was wrong and the author has it listed as part 2 of a series with Tell Me listed as the first book.  That being said, you absolutely do not have to read one book to read the other.  They are more a series in the way they have strong female leads who spent their lives sheltered in some way but find a way to break out of that shell and experience life to its fullest.  At least that’s the way I see them…making the series name “Me” very apt in my eyes.

The books I’ve ready by Abigail Strom tend to be very real.  They have heroines and heroes I can imagine knowing in real life going through experiences I can imagine in real life.  While this story is in no way a science fiction or fantasy book (which, I believe, this author also writes, but under the nom de plume Chloe Hart. I have yet to read those works though), it takes the category of fiction a bit further than those other stories.  I mean, how many of us can really say we know an astronaut?  Or the grown child of a genius billionaire scientist?  So there is a bit of handing over the reins to the author and trusting where she’s leading with this book.  Airin and Hunter are both regular people under their titles and experiences.  They both have their flaws, their weaknesses, and their strengths.  Down deep, people are people.

I always say I can judge how well an author is doing their job by how often I talk to the book as I’m reading.  Let me tell you, Airin’s mom had me yelling at this book.  For that matter, so did Hunter.  Ugh!  The mom is so frustrating!  That she could get me riled up only tells me the author did her job of getting me to feel the things her characters are feeling.  I also cannot tell you how many times I yelled, “Just tell her!” to this book.  My husband may have been counting as I would somewhat startle him each time I did it.

Another indicator of a good story is how badly I want to learn more once I’m done reading.  Well, I really want to go to Hawaii even more now.  And I’m super curious about what strides are being made toward a real mission to Mars someday.  I guess that should tell you something.

I’ve been lucky enough to read quite a few books by this author in the last month.  I’ll have to dive back into her older works (or those of Chloe Hart) to get my fix.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed in my review are my own and given freely. **

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Cowboy SEAL Homecoming – book review

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Cowboy SEAL Homecoming
By Nicole Helm
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book #1 in the Navy SEAL Cowboys series
Number of pages:  354
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance/Western/Military M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 12/26/17 to 12/27/17

In my review of this author’s book Want You More I said something along the lines of when she’s hot she’s on fire, when she’s not she’s still luke-warm.  Well ladies and gentlemen, with this book starting off this new series she is scorching!  Alex and Becca have wonderful chemistry.  I absolutely love this story and did not want it to end.  I’m so glad there will be more to read with these Navy SEALs.

Alex is not necessarily an easy hero to love.  The fact that he’s a Navy SEAL and his military buddies rib him about his personality quirks help the reader to be open to him.  He’s quite the no-nonsense, by the book, not much humor type of guy at first.  Other than when he’s being pushed in certain ways, he’s never a jerk though.  He’s just not a big teddy bear.  That’s not to say he isn’t sympathetic to others and aware of how his actions and words can feed into other people’s feelings.

Becca is like a mighty little mouse.  She has a lot of courage but finds her nerves get the best of her even when she doesn’t want them to.  She’s learning to live in a world outside of her mom and step-dad…all she’s really ever known other than the animals on the ranch.  (You will fall in love with the animals, and their names, on this ranch.) She’s socially awkward only because she was so sheltered.  Once she starts realizing that she can speak her mind when need be and she can contribute to the things Alex and friends are doing on the ranch, she’s like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. 

Most contemporary romance stories that deal with PTSD tend to have the veteran experience a lot of nightmares and/or flashbacks.  While Alex does have nightmares, I appreciated Nicole Helm showing another aspect of PTSD (in my opinion one of the scariest) with Alex losing time and going into a sort of fugue state.  It put a bit of a different spin on the issue.

Seeing Becca learn to not only stand up to her mom, who means well, but also stand up to Alex was heartening.  Their relationship had so much joy while there was still so much pain.  There was a point that I noted these words “my heart just cracked in half”.  The story was truly breaking my heart.

I did have one issue with this story that I must address.  I read a lot of contemporary romance with the military sub-genre and, if you follow my reviews, you may know this is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Something I’ve addressed with other authors in the past.  A SEAL is not a soldier.  I have yet to meet anyone in the Navy who will call themselves a soldier.  Because of other stories (again, by different authors) having this issue I’ve asked around and looked online.  I cannot anything to contradict what I know…Navy = Sailor, no matter if it’s a SEAL or not.  I can only hope this gets corrected in the next installment of this series.  It is a very great testament to this author and the story she told that this book is getting a high rating from me as this is an issue that often will distract me from a story thereby annoying me to no end.  This book was so engaging and spectacular that I am able to overlook the issue.

If you love contemporary romance, western romance, and/or military romance you will be blown away by this story.  I am kind of bummed to realize the next installment won’t be out until the summer.  I am anxious to see what happens with Gabe and Jack.

4 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own and given freely. **

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Kiss the Sky – book review

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Kiss the Sky
by M.K. Schiller
Release Date:  January 2, 2018
Publisher:  Lyrical Shine
Stand Alone
Number of pages:  228
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating: NC-17
Read 12/23/17 to 12/26/17

Okay, I can no longer have any doubts.  M.K. Schiller is officially a top author for me.  This is my third book by her and I absolutely love every one of them.  One of the most wonderful things about her writing is the amount of research she seems to do for her stories.  With Eight Days in the Sun she writes about a Marine, in The Scars Between Us it’s also a Marine but he also runs a dog rescue.  Here we have mountain climbers.  I’m not a Marine, a dog rescue worker, an MMA fighter, or a mountain climber, but her writing sure seems to be pretty accurate to me.  I appreciate the time she puts into getting her stories as true to life as possible.

The beginning of this story is a meet-cute slow-build romance with a majestic backdrop to really make the characters come off the pages.  Once the half-way mark hits, the action starts to pick up.  While it takes the chemistry and light flirting between Farah and Tristan to the next level, it also starts adding danger and intrigue to the mix.

As this story moves along there are things the reader can deduce.  Some of those thoughts may actually end up being correct. But other things don’t become apparent until the suspense part is already notched up.  There are many layers to what is happening in this book but the romance and chemistry never seem to get lost.  Instead, the bond between Tristan and Farah gets tighter and tighter.

I really cannot say enough good things about this author.  I am thoroughly enamored with her work.

4.5 stars

**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely.**

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The Bad Boy Cowboy – book review

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The Bad Boy Cowboy
by Kate Pearce
Release Date:  December 26, 2017
Publisher:  Zebra
Book #4 in the Morgan Ranch series
Number of pages:  352
Kindle Edition
Source: ARC from Net Galley
Contemporary Romance/Western M/F
Rating: XXX
Read 12/22/17 to 12/23/17

This series has been just amazing.  I’m not sure if this will be the last book as all of the brothers have had their stories told and the main mystery of their mom has been wrapped up.  Yet there’s still their sister, Rachel, who can have a story I suppose.  Not to mention the people in town.

The chemistry between HW and Sam is hot and I love their banter.  Both have so many issues to deal with but are also very used to putting on a false front for everyone around them.  They’re both extremely stubborn and hate asking for help…one because he doesn’t think he deserves the love and support of his family and the other because she doesn’t ever want to be considered weak or needy.

It is almost comical how Sam and HW each think they know what is best for the other and assume they are doing what the other wants of them.  I swear, sometimes I couldn’t keep track of who should be upset with who and why…in a good way.  It was highly entertaining.

I have been very impressed with this author throughout this entire series.  I have yet to read any of her other work but feel I need to get cracking on working through her library.  She has quite a range and it should be interesting.

4 stars

** I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the Net Galley and the publisher.  All opinions expressed in my review are my own and given freely. **

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