Monday, August 15, 2016

Vacation - The Books

One of the best parts of a vacation is the extra reading time. However, I didn't read the books I thought I was going to. I downloaded some YA, some sci-fi, some fantasy to my Kindle and iBook apps. I brought along Tigana, a book I won from Goodreads, which I thought would be perfect for my very long car rides, but nope.

You can read a bit about my trip in yesterday's post, but this one I thought I'd focus on all the books. I had started The Wicked Will Rise right before we left, so it was the first book I read on this trip. Afterward, something about the car, the busy-ness, the heat, I ended up reading a few short romance novels. I don't read a lot of romance in general, but I have read some. Many stories I read have a "romantic element", but they're not usually the focus. 

When it was time for me to pick something new, there was one story that jumped out at me. I had downloaded it a very long time ago and thought the plot sounded interesting. It also described itself as a romantic comedy and when I finished The Wicked Will Rise, I thought it would be fun. Then one thing led to another and suddenly I had a whole digital stack of romantic reading material. They were all good, but the ones I liked the most had a good story, and an interesting character or two trying to find herself or himself. There were family issues and/or career issues often weighing on their decisions. They, of course, find that one person who can help them balance their life or whatever. Some of the books were steamier than others. Nothing was too outlandish, I don't think. I thought I'd post a few thoughts about each "vacation book", since they were all read in a two week span. So, here they are, in the order I read them.

The end was a bit like, Bam! I don't know what's going to happen next. Amy Gumm is not the girl from Kansas anymore. She's a badass witch. She's a Wicked Witch. She is very special. The Order of the Wicked see it, Glinda sees it. They all want her and I wonder what she'll choose.

I was a little disappointed in Pete's behaviour. I had figured out the dual-identity thing in Dorothy Must Die, but I was a little surprised at how easily he could be dismissed. So, I understand the choice he made, sort of. It was still a glaring mistake.

I really liked that we got to revisit the Queendom of the Wingless Ones. The queen herself, there's so much more to her than we first realize. I really liked Bright and Polly. I liked that not too many new characters were introduced. We got to know the people we had already met better, and we got to know Oz better as Amy made her journey, searching for Nox and the remnants of the Order.

I'm really not sure what's going to happen next, but I'm excited to find out.

Let's Be Just Friends was cute, though the title trips me up every time I try to type it or say it. It's about a male/female friendship. They're best friends. Should they be more than friends? The story is short, but a lot happens. Over a year goes by and the relationship between the friends, Rose and Tyler changes. Friends, more than friends, less than friends? There's a lot of twists, other love interests, poor decision making. Rose and Tyler are at Harvard Law, so young, but not too young. It was enjoyable.

Have you ever watched The Wedding Date? Well, this is kind of like that.  I really thought the story was interesting, the game show was a unique tool that moved the plot along. Kate was neurotic, but cute. Joel was amazing and more than what he seemed. I hated the Ex and the Lady Dragon. They were just terribly perfect antagonists. I think there could have been more sexual tension, though I did like that Kate was a grown up, who understood that her child had to come first. I also liked that Joel was multi-dimensional, not just eye candy.

Seized by Love had a unique and modern story. I liked that Lizzie and Blue had gotten to know each other over the course of the year. I thought Lizzie's secret was not something Blue, or anyone, would have ever expected. Her relationship with Blue, was tense, then not, then angry, then tense again. I also really appreciated that Lizzie was her own person. She had a family, a business, and responsibilities. Those things remained a priority throughout; she wasn't going to change for Blue, she wanted him to understand. I don't know what it was exactly, the heat, the story, the independent character, but after reading Seized by Love, I really wanted to read more stories by Melissa Foster.

She's a hockey player! The main character, Billie-Jo Barker, one third of the Barker Triplets, was an Olympic, professional, hockey player. She comes home due to injury and isn't sure what to do with her life. She desperately misses hockey though, and when she joins the local team, the men don't like it. Like several of the romance stories I've read recently, it's a small town. So there are rumours, fights, innuendo and her car gets very damaged.

Not that Billie is completely innocent. She might have more hockey skill than all the men in the town, but she isn't perfect. A long time ago, back when she was known as just a jock, before going off to the Olympics, something happened. I kind of saw it coming as Stone skirted around it, but it was still a doozy. I really liked, for some weird reason, that Logan had this secret that he had to tell Billie, but hers destroyed it. I really enjoyed this story and I might read the rest of the Barker Triplets stories.

I hesitated about this one, but because Melissa Foster wrote it and it was free on Kindle, I downloaded it. I wasn't sure I liked the idea of a therapist falling for her patient, no matter how hot he is or how much she thinks she can fixed him. In the end, I enjoyed the story. Their relationship started outside of therapy. When things start to get heated, I think Danica reacted appropriately. I think Blake could have controlled himself a little more, but that was part of his problem.

What I really liked was how Danica's life wasn't just work or this new romance, but she had a life, interests. She was a Big Sister and I liked how she was concerned about this girl. This second storyline was full, not just filler. The relationship between Danica and Michelle was important to how she grew as a character. Danica is flawed, she is self-conscious and hides behind her professional exterior. It isn't just a man that has her accepting herself, but other aspects of her life too. I think that's why I kept coming back to Foster, her characters are looking for more than love.

This is my favourite book by Foster so far. I loved Dr. Daisy Honey. The name is hilarious and it plays a part of the story. I liked Daisy's parents and her best friend. I thought the decision she had to make was interesting. I liked that Luke was not the reason she made that final choice. I liked that she got to resolve her troubled past with the small town girls who were mean to her. There were so many issues touched on, bullying, health care, alcoholism, domestic abuse. It was a full story, with a fairly decent variety of situations the doctor had to deal with.

I also liked that Luke wasn't a bad boy that Daisy had to "tame". He was settled. He had been building his ranch and business. He was at a place in his life where he wanted to find that special someone. He didn't decide to suddenly stop his serial dating or scratch some kind of itch. He got reacquainted with Daisy and he wanted to get to know her. While it was definitely a steam story, it was grown up, not just "adult". I mean, the whole thing with the drunk man in the tub was just great (though terrible). Also, I hope her best friend gets his own story.

Speaking of future stories, most of these ebooks have a little sneak peak of the next novel in the series. The one after this, Fated for Love with Luke's brother Wes, sounds fun. The main character is a librarian! Callie just seems super sweet and I'd like to see them interact outside of the library.

For the last of my road trip stories, I read Laini Taylor's novella that is a companion piece to her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Why did I change gears for the final leg of the the trip home? I think part of it was that I couldn't download Fated for Love on the road. The other was that I really wanted to read the story. I recently got the final book in the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters and I want to read it. Before I can read it, I had to read this.

I'm glad I did. It's a cute side story, featuring Karou's best friend, Zuzana, and the boy she's pursuing. I like the perspective of a regular person trying to go one about their life, while their best friend is involved in supernatural pursuits. I also enjoyed Mik's perspective and his surprise at the end. He's such a sweet guy. I hope he does okay in the final novel.

Night of Cake and Puppets didn't expand a lot on what we already knew about Karou and the world of this series. It was a good stand alone story, you definitely don't have to have read the series to appreciate the magic that happens between Zuzana and Mik. I think it was a good way to end the trip as we cruised home, a feel-good kind of fantasy story.

That's it. Certainly enough. It was a great trip, filled with a lot of good reading. 

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