Books I read this week 3/25/2017

I made a thing.

Man, last week was sparse. Only 3 books! That was mostly because I spent a bunch of time making THIS:

Cocoa Belle Chocolates

I made a website! It’s a pretty website. Do you want a pretty website? I will make you a pretty website for $$.

Guilty Pleasures (DNF)

Author: Laurell K. Hamilton

Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #1

Tags: Paranormal romance, kick ass heroine, vampire slayer, vampires, zombies, necromancy

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

DNF is something I learned recently! Did Not Finish. When I first read that I was reminded of DTF (down to fuck), and thought maybe it was something related. Did Not Fuck? Down to Not Fuck? DoN’t Fuck?

I finished it moooostly…. I’m pretty sure I was in the denouement when my audiobook expired and OverDrive deleted it from my phone. I could check it out again…but, nah.

I’ve heard a lot about this series. It’s been around for a while, and is a cult classic. I wasn’t particularly impressed.

It’s a little too dark for me. Lots of killing, pain, black leather, and that 90’s psuedo-goth-kink that reminds me of the club scene from Matrix. The character Anita falls flat. She is supposed to be funny, but isn’t. I kept hoping she’d be more like Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrews’s series. I wasn’t interested in any of the characters.

I assume Anita’s love interest is that French asshole Jean Claude, but as of this story he just shows up, chides her, and slips her some of his blood without her consent. It’s gonna be another one of those Might-Be-a-Relationship-Might-Be-Stockholm-Syndrome relationships, isn’t it?

Also, hilariously, the audiobook tries to up the bad-assery of this book by randomly playing tense music and sounds of chains clinking in the background. SpOoOoOoOky! Is this a thing? Is this supposed to make me feel scared? It just makes me remember haunted houses put on by high school thespian troupes.

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (RR)

Author: Jennifer Ashley

Series: The Mackenzie and McBrides #1

Tags: Historical Romance, Victorian, Highlanders!, Nebulous Victorian Autism

Format: ebook

Rating: Super yay!

This is a reread. I’m gonna save my review for my next podcast with Ilana. Except, to say….I love it.

I love it in a way that I shouldn’t love it because I usually rail against the exact same things that happen in this book.

It reminds me of one of my favorite books from high school, a YA Novel called Only Alien on the Planet. I lurrrve that book. Where is that book? I should read it again. That also has some nebulous form of autism/ something else totally made up that I love.

I realized that I am doing a Greatest Hits type rereading with Jennifer Ashley’s stuff, now that I have read all the books I could find of hers in the Central Arkansas Library System. I think it’s kind of like going to a buffet: 1st trip a sample of everything. 2nd trip to get more of the favorites.

I would also like to reread Tiger Magic (Tigers + Magic!), where I said to myself, “This is silly. Wait, I actually really like this. Whelp, this is who I am now.” And probably Mate Claimed as well.

Of the Mackenzies and McBrides series, I’ve read (in bold):

1     The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (Super yay!)
2     Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage
3     The Many Sins of Lord Cameron
4     The Duke’s Perfect Wife (super yay!)
4.5   A Mackenzie Family Christmas
5     The Seduction of Elliot McBride
5.5   The Untamed Mackenzie
6     The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie
6.5   Scandal and the Duchess
7     Rules for a Proper Governess
8     The Stolen Mackenzie Bride
8.5   A Mackenzie Clan Gathering

I am very reluctant to read Lady Isabella because I am not interested in either Isabella or Mac at all. I don’t like polished Society Ladies, and she is one of those. The Stolen MacKenzie Bride is about their ancestor during the Jacobite Rising, I think. I don’t like it when series go back in time to do a prequel, so I purposely skipped that one.

Also, Jacobite Rising, mehhhhhh…. After slogging through two of the Outlander Series, I’m full up on Jacobite Risings thankyouverymuch.

Once Burned

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Prince #1

Tags: Paranormal romance, vampires, Dracula!, Circus!

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.

It’s turning out to be a vampiric week, I guess.

What’s up with that way of spelling Jeaniene, by the way? How many vowels do you need in one name, really??

I think I’m coming to terms with Jeaniene Frost. I read Beautiful Ashes and was frustrated. I tried to read Halfway to the Grave and couldn’t finish. But this one I finally managed to get through without being frustrated.

It’s probably because of the Vlad.

Oh, Vlad. Yet another vampire that claims to be (and supposedly is) Dracula. Yet another super old, super powerful vampire trailing on the heels of a young, silly human woman.

I’ve been trying to find the right word to explain the humor in Frost’s novels, and I think the word I’ve settled on is glib. There is humor, but it’s a little too hardy-har, too trite. They are the kind of jokes that slide off a B rated TV show, but annoy when found in print.

Frost writes like a person who watches a lot of TV. The stories are very visual; I can imagine the special effects in CGI. The character Leila actually sees the past, and she sees it in black and white. How flashbacky is that?

This is actually a spin off of the Night Huntress series, which I attempted to read but didn’t even get past the first book. Just couldn’t get over the main character’s insecurities. “Why doesn’t he like meeeee…?” She whined about some guy who’s not worth it, stereotypically drunk, stereotypically hanging off the guy who will later like her. That was the last part I read from Halfway To The Grave.

It didn’t help that her love interest was repulsively sarcastic and immoral. His name is Bones (wtf) and he’s British. The narrator put on the worst possible cockney accent for him, so there was no way for me to take him seriously. ‘Ello Guvneh!

Both Bones and his opposite show up as cameos in this book and I could not give a flying fuck.

But Vlad, though! He’s just your run-of-the-mill uber-masculine, old, powerful, overbearing vampire. This was more familiar territory, and I was ready to accept the mediocrity with open arms. I will read some more!

It cracks me up that Leila spends a lot of time worrying over Defining the Relationship, and other modern romance nonsense with Dracula. He’s over there, killing, torturing, destroying his enemies, burning people to a crisp with his fire powers, invading her space, reading her mind, binding her to him, and she’s like, “Wait, does this mean that we are exclusive?”

$10 says she calls Vlad the Impaler her boyfriend in the next book.



Author: Julie Garwood

Series: Buchanan-Renard #8

Tags: Contemporary romance, mystery, FBI Agent, film student

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

I reviewed another from the Buchanan-Renard series last week, and this one is pretty much the same. Charming, calm, innocent.

One of the antagonists is a tragically comic (or comically tragic?) character. Do you know what I mean? He is an idiot. He thinks highly of himself, without real cause. He bends reality to his view. Things usually go embarrassingly wrong, and he ends up in one scrape or another. When things go right it is pure serendipity. Things get progressively worse until he meets an awful, laughable end.

What is the word for that? There should be a word. I can think of so many examples. Kinbote from Pale Fire, the guy with the gorilla suit in Wise Blood, the guy from Confederate of Dunces, Mr. Bovary from Madame Bovary, everyone in As I Lay Dying

This guy is a hitman that wants to be James Bond, and puts on ridiculous disguises while investigating. At one point he is violently orange from too much spray tan, and missing skin around his face from a beard disguise gone wrong. It’s funny.

The hero of the story–Sam Kincaid, Scottish brogue swaggering FBI Agent–is a warm blanket. Something so terribly indulgent in having a romantic opposite that can do no wrong. He’s cute and calm and saves her and does nice things. Spoiler: he also owns a CASTLE in the Highlands of Scotland, is a laird and an earl as a fun end surprise!

I love how the characters in Garwood’s books go from no-strings sex to marriage proposal in 2.5 seconds. The only thing you need is someone trying to murder you. As if it were that easy.

*Raises hand* I would like one near death experience, please, in exchange for a marriage proposal from a nice guy that is hot and owns a surprise castle. Kthanksbye!




Author: Jay Crownover

Series: Marked Men #3

Tags: Contemporary romance, punk rock, tattoos, piercings, tattoo artist, tattoo shop, ex-military, PTSD, bartender, bar owner

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!


Every time I like a character, I end up doing that ^, which is basically me shaking my fist in the air and calling out his name like I’m Marlon Brando and he is “Stella!”

The names in this series crack me up. They are so Grunt Grunt Masculine.

Masculine Names of Guys in Crownover Novels Masculine Names I Just Made Up










Lit Match



A-1 Steak Sauce


Get Er Dun





I read the first book of the series, Rule, and then stopped. When I circled back around this time, I was reminded why I stopped the first time. Oh yeah, because Rule from Rule was a jackass. When all the characters paraded in and out of this book, Rule walked in and I said to myself, “you are the one that I hate the most.

Rome, though. Rome is Rule’s more responsible older brother. An ex-soldier back from war and now torn up mentally and physically. He’s the big brother to everyone and likes to care of them all. He’s older, straight laced, and laconic. I like how the author handled his solidierness and PTSD. It wasn’t just a gimmick to get the girl to “save” him. It was respectful at the same time as exploring how much it sucks to suddenly lose his identity.

Call me shameless, but I… also like when PTSD is a gimmick. They are just so tortured! *sigh*

Rome reminds me of another character that I love from the shifter series Seven by Dannika Dark: Reno.


*shakes fist in the air*

They are cut from the same cloth, and I would call that cloth Second in Command, Right Hand Man, or Beta Male in the “right below the alpha male” sense.

Ahhhhh, Second in Commands. They are the caretakers, the coolheaded ones, the behind the scenes guys. While the Alphas are running around strutting and yelling at people, the Second in Commands make sure shit gets done. Reno is also vaguely ex-military, a big fella, straight laced, laconic, and takes care of people. He also happens to change into a wolf from time to time. In Dark’s Seven series, every character has their own little catchphrase, and Reno’s is “I’m not gonna church it up for ya…” I could almost see Rome saying that.

Rome vs. Reno is an epic battle with homoerotic possibilities, but I think in the end I like Reno better. I will say, though, that the Crownover really does a great job describing Rome physically. He’s a big guy, and while most romance heroes are big, tall, muscular lugs to the point of what-are-they-feeding-them, most authors just kind of say “big” and leave it at that. Crownover continues to describe his arms and height and… oh lordy. *fans self*

If you want to read about Reno, his story is Six Months, the second of Dannika Dark’s Seven series. I recommend the whole series, if you are into shifter paranormal romances.

Anyway, back to Rome. The series is punk rock funky, centers around a tattoo parlor and the people who work in it. An interesting schtick is that there are playlists designed for each of the main characters listed at the end of the book. Theoretically, you could make the playlists and listen to them while reading the book. Some songs are mentioned during the course of the novel, so you could be like, “hey! I know that song!”

That’s cute.

If I was a different person, I would make the playlist. But I 1) am listening to it on audiobook 2) am lazy and 3) don’t like music. I was trying to think of someone who would care, and the only person I could think of was my friend Rosie, who likes music but doesn’t like romance novels. If we were the same person (a scary thought) we would TOTALLY BE DOWN for making playlists for characters in romance novels.

Alas, no such luck.

Maaaybe I will continue to read the Marked Men series, since I liked Rome so much. Not interested in #2, Jet, but maybe I’ll read Nash and Asa. Though, WTF?! The narrators don’t know how to say the name Asa. They keep saying “Ah-suh” when it should be “Ay-suh.” I looked it up. There is no place that said it should be said that way.

I will leave you with a youtube video where a sultry gentleman whispers the name Asa to you repeatedly:


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