Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

December bookshelf – the final reads

The final reads for the year. Some good, some painful, some a little different then expected, but all part of the wonderful reading journey. Books can be there for you in so many different ways. Even re-reads often offer different insights, not because they change, but you, the reader, changes. You come to the book as who you are in that moment, and between the pages you are offered a variety of things; education, entertainment, understanding, visibility, anger, revenge, a way to sort through your own human turmoil. I have experienced all of these and more, just this year.

But enough of me waxing lyrical, here are my December books

An Unexpected Gift by KJ – Washing machine of emotions. As I read each of these stories I made little notes throughout and then my main point for each on their titles.
Some of my favourite comments (the ones that aren’t spoilers) range from:
It’s the hallmark movie I want to see
Ooh stealing this wording, not even sorry
The KJ line in a KJ story.
Well now that’s rather sexy isn’t it
Good god woman
Ooh the threads and Easter eggs. A tapestry tale.
So basically what I’m saying is, every single story has something beautiful to add to this Southern Hemisphere Christmas. And I loved each of them for their own unique characters, story, and wording.

All at Sea by Cheyenne Blue – Total Gilmore girls vibes at parts and damn I’ve never wanted to feel a deck beneath my feet so much. A brilliant adventure that starts with a chance meeting. This book is so much more than the coincidences I often roll my eyes at.
Everything flows and the real human insights that are delved into are so spot on.
I got frustrated with one character near the beginning but as you get to know her, the reasons for her frustrating actions become understood and even acceptable.
I loved that neither character is perfect. There is no idea of ‘but they are too good for me.’
I adore Cheyenne Blue’s way with words. Beautiful phrases from ordinary words. My book is a neon sign of highlights and scrawled writing in the margins.
Cheyenne is a master of relationships. The relationship between the two characters is beautiful. I love that it wasn’t Insta love and the development is real. Best of all, they find themselves arguing, and then they talk it though. Then don’t clam up despite lumps in the throat. They don’t create unnecessary tension (human lives have enough of that already) by biting their tongues. The relationships don’t end there. I fell in love with the sisters and their support for each other, and the focus on family obligations. *chefs kiss*.
Well worth a read if you love brilliant character development, insights into human nature, and want to find yourself smiling while you read.

Cosa Nostra by Emma Nichols – 3.5 Stars for me. I loved the gangster story here. From the beginning I adored Maria and understood that she wanted out of the life she’d been born into, and the job she had unwillingly inherited.
I was less impressed with the insta-love of the characters. I understood what the authors was wanting to achieve here but for me it felt like there were no moments between the two characters that showed me why it was anything more than lust. A little too much telling of events and not enough showing their growing attraction beyond the physical.
The writing was interesting and I really enjoyed the lines of family, love, responsibility, and friendships.
I enjoyed the gangster story, but if I were to read it again I would skip a lot of the repetitive love story that stated the two were in love with each other without showing how lust grew to love.

Slattery Falls by Brennan LaFaro – If you like well written horror and ghost stories, give it a go. I did a video review of this amazing book. After a week of finishing this book I still found myself thinking about how LaFaro managed to build and drop the tension with such seeming ease. This book is the best example of a written rollercoaster ride I’ve read. I’ve read many books where the rollercoaster feels as though it’s just going up and down the same slope, the same issues, but this pushed forward with each dip and climb. The end left a few things unanswered but that sort of made me feel like it was more realistic, we don’t always get closure, and for me that made it even more terrifying and wonderful. Note, I also LOVED that one of the characters appears to be on the autism spectrum, go LaFaro.

Jericho by Ann McMan – What a wonderful book to listen to. Over 20 hours and I couldn’t get enough of it. Christine Williams did an amazing job narrating.
My first, but will not be my last, Ann McMan book.
The BEST slow burn that focuses on the two main characters truly developing a friendship before attraction and complications arise. The banter is wonderful and the characters, Main and side are all so well rounded and relatable.
I’m excited about their being a sequel 😀 

Go Around by E J Noyes – A second chance romance with amazingly realistic and terrifying stalking aspects and law enforcement thrown in.
Did I squeal with excitement and glee at the Easter egg of Alone that happens just after the halfway mark? Why yes, yes I did. I love the self referential deprecation as well as the internal monologues. If anyone was going to make a gamer geek kick arse, I’m not at all surprised that it’s this amazing author.
Noyes has smashed it out of the park once again. I listened to the audio version of Go Around and damn, the combination is a heady experience. Noyes’ amazing build up of arousal and heartbreak, tension and fear mixed with the husky tones and amazing voice acting from Abby Craden … gurgle and puddle.

Ask, Tell by E J Noyes – Recommended for those needing to be emotionally ruined and put back together in loving and beautiful ways. I bought this book months ago, but I’ve been so nervous to start it. I needn’t have been worried. Yes, the book handles some very heavy themes and is set in a time where our community was allowed to exist as robots and something less then human. But this book. The fifth book this year to have me in tears.
😭
The writing is beautiful and heart wrenching. There are pages now highlighted and margins with scrawls. So often a line would get me for the beauty and emotion pressed into the words surrounding it as much as the words of the line itself.
📝
I had moments where it reminded me of the movie Serving in Silence and tension would tighten around my chest. Would someone overhear? Did someone know? Did they have proof? But my god, the way Noyes writes it is everything.
😚
The story itself is insightful and the insight of armed services and family made me smile and weep.
🎖
And though I feel like it goes without saying, for anyone who hasn’t read an EJ Noyes book before. As always her sexy scenes are 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Language of Love: A Flirty, Festive anthology – A beautiful collection of Christmas short stories set in all different places in the world. I laughed, I awed, and I loved the stories. Was a brilliant read over the holiday period.

Shattered by Lee Winter – This was a reread. It was my first Lee Winter novel and it hooked me right from the start. This time I listened to it and that only increased my love for this story. The characters, the world, the dynamics are all so wonderful and powerful.

Happy Holidays and however you welcome in the new year

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen xo

Posted in Life Adventures, Writing Adventures

Conversations this-week-Neen needed

I had two conversations this week that really effected me, and I wanted to note them down. Neither topic is new for me, neither conversation lit a lightbulb but both made a big impact on this-week-Neen.

The first conversation gave me warm fuzzy feelings. It was online, with a fellow author. I won’t go verbatim but in the end I felt so seen and acknowledged. I write sapphic fiction, but not sapphic romance. One day I might but this presumption that sapphic (or lesbian) fiction is assumed to be romance is so prevalent and can be really frustrating and disheartening. Especially for an author starting out. Having a fellow author agree that it shouldn’t automatically be assumed as romance made me so happy. Perhaps with more voices I won’t always have to feel insignificant and irrelevant and often unable to promote my writing.

The second conversation happened this morning. My health has been semi-craptacular of late so off I went to get several vials of blood taken. The pathologist was so lovely and managed to get my introverted self happily talking. She asked what I do, as verbatim as I can remember:
*clears throat*
Me: I’m a writer, that’s what I go gooey about
Pathologist: oh what do you write?
M
: horror and dark fantasy
*insert wide eyes and slightly opened mouth*
P: you don’t look like you write dark things, you’re so happy.
M: and that’s how I stay happy, putting all the darkness into the words.
P: That makes sense. I love that. Stay lovely and happy.

Since then I’ve wondered, what does a horror writer look like? What does any writer look like? Was she shocked I was a writer or the genre which I write? What does each specific genre author look like? I don’t have the answers, but I feel like a meme might be in my future.

Be safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen xo

Posted in Book Review, Reading Adventures

November Bookshelf, reviews and thoughts

November is a crazy month. NaNoWriMo takes up so much of my time. But with that being said, I love that reading is still a priority. In fact, I think I would be nervous to call myself a writer if I gave no time to reading. To me, they have and always will go hand in hand. So six books in November isn’t terrible, but I think it is my least amount of books all year.

Fetish by Tara Moss – This was a re-read and this time I listened to it. It’s a really awesome book. I actually enjoyed it more this time than I can remember enjoying it years ago when it was first published. There is some awesome tension and mystery going with Mak, and I still LOVE this character so much.
I think it’s held up pretty well, as long as you remember it’s set before EVERYONE had mobile phones. Great read, looking forward to listening to the rest of the series. I’ve not read all of the books so that’s exciting to look forward to.

Compass Rose by Anna Burke – There are so many things I adored about this book. The dystopian world and all it’s dynamics, the star trek gone wrong underwater sort of vibes and the characters, of the characters. Yes, of course I related to Rose, I damn near swooned over Miranda, but heck the other characters were what made it such a fun and interesting journey.
I adored the pirates and the powerful balance of action, responsibility, lust, longing, and humour.
I can’t wait to read the sequel. I squealed a little when I found out there was a sequel. 

A Place to Call Home by Jae – So in the past I have said that I prefer Jae’s longer fiction … bite my tongue. This was the most delightful and delicious short story. It is a beautiful insight and wonderfully realistic portrayal into the dynamics of Luke and Nora as they start their new lives. They struggle against the social norms and finding a place to call home in each other. One of my favourite short reads of the year. If you are after a historical short feel-good read that has beautiful representation of characters fighting against the roles society this is definitely the read for you.

Brimstone Bound (Firebrand #1) by Helen Harper – If you’re looking for a British take and twist of true blood, without the overly sexual focus and more on the crime and mystery. This is the book for you.
I had so much fun reading this book. The crime and mystery were fantastic. The characters were great.
It had a grittier, more realistic sort of feel to it and ooh the breadcrumbs and red herrings throughout the whole thing had me loving every reveal and twist.
Now if only we could get some sapphic in the mix this would be an ultimate book for me 😜

Sliced Ice by Lee Winter – Everything I wanted and more. 10 incredible short stories, each with their own one two punch. Here’s my break down (I also did a reading Vlog of it, there is blushing and fangirling here:
Five Times Felicity Met Elena – Oh Elena Bartell, my all time favourite of Lee Winter’s Ice Queens. I mean, what a perfect way to start this collection. And from Felicity’s point of you, I always found her snarkiness rather interesting, but now I’m even more excited about The Awkward Truth. It’s on my list I promise!
Aliens in New York – OMG I didn’t know we would be getting more than one story about the wonderful Elena. I mean, it’s awesome to see what happens to Madeliene with her writing after The Brutal Truth. *phew, got away with that one*. A magnificent snap shot into Lee Winter’s ability to craft beauty and emotion.
The Brutal Lie – ELENA! Cold shower required, and a truly interesting look into the ideas of outing others and the growing acceptance of people, irrelevant of sexuality.
Skye Storm’s Invite Absolutely Everyone Ultimate Pool Party – I adore Skye and her eccentric and wonderful take on life. An LA hippy. I also laughed out loud (in the middle of the shops) at her openness with her children, and ability to make them groan. She’s wonderful. Oh, I had also forgotten just how much I love Bess, so charmingly british and wonderful.
The Friend – This was a surprising addition but I think it might possibly be my favourite. Christmas in Australia, family drama, an Ice Queen in the most unexpected of places (or at least that’s how I interpret it)
Number Five – BLUSH! Holy Hannah. This is what happens when I refuse to know what’s coming up … BOOM! Hot as hell erotica story from the Madame herself of Duxton Hotel.
Flash Bang – Indeed. A nice hot scene with amusing insights into the crazy world of fashion.
When DC met Iowa – I LOVED this story so much. I am adoring Lee’s insights into side characters. This starts hilariously with a wake up in an unknown room and unknown woman in bed. Turns, with snarky humour, into something quite sweet.
First-Class Villians – All for a special bottle of Champaign, three of Lee Winter’s most delicious villians and one insidious bitch tell their stories for the prize. Yeah, there’s no secret that I hate Grace, but seeing others not put up with her shit was brilliant.
Love Is Not Nothing – My very first Lee Winter writing and it was the story I fell in love with her characters and her writing. A melted ice Queen, but only for her faux mouse. Sexy delicious writing with assassination and protectiveness thrown in.

Worthy of Love by Quinn Ivins – There is something truly beautiful about the way Quinn Ivins writes a balance of the beauty of humans and the worst part of humans. Characters you wanna cuddle and others you want to throttle. The characters in Worthy of Love are so real I feel like I’ve known many of them (not always happily) my entire life.
I adore the sex scenes in this book. Not only are they hot as hell without being an instruction manual but the realism even down to consent and internal monologues are balanced and smooth.
Quinn Ivins also manages yet again to make me care about things I’ve never really known much about before in my life.
Another great tick in the box is the way the characters talk to each other instead of having long drawn out angst because they simply won’t have a conversation.
Definitely recommend this book if you love real dynamic and diverse characters, hot sex scenes with realistic consent, an interesting story, and brilliant writing. Worthy of Love ticks all the righ

Paper Love by Jae – The beauty of this books makes me wish I could fly overseas right now and explore the beauty of Freiburg that Jae describes within the pages and step over (or into) a Bachle, grab a coffee and go sniff some stationary.
Susanne and Anja are pitted against each other in the beginning. A softish Ice Queen and a stationary junkie. And it’s delicious on so many levels.
In true, wonderful Jae style, the angst is low and conversations that need to happen actually do happen, and before 75% of the book. In fact, most issues of communication get resolved pretty quickly and I’ve never been so happy. The development of the relationships between the characters, all the characters not just Susanne and Anja, are realistic and human.
I also have a bit of a soft spot for Anja’s best friend, Miri. I feel akin to her, and her huge family and the effect of being the only childless sibling (at least until I was in my mid thirties). Of course, Miri is the funnier, cuter, and braver version of my life but I really adore this side character.
So if you love low angst, slow burns, steamy sex scenes that are 100% worth the wait and characters you hope to meet when visiting the sunniest city in Germany, Paper Love might be just what you are looking for.

Hope you enjoy my reviews of these books. I’d love to know if any interest you enough to try them out.

Be Safe
Be Brave
Be Kind

Neen xo