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

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