Confessions of a Bookworm

Whiskey Beach - Nora Roberts Nora Roberts has this uncanny ability to take what sounds like even the most boring plot and turn it into something that drags me in and keeps me hooked from start to finish. That's definitely what happened here - a book I thought I'd have very little interest in, and once I started, I couldn't put it down. No matter how many stories she writes, she always manages to keep them fresh and fun and engaging, and that's a real gift. For her and for her readers. :)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman I had trouble settling on a rating for this one because, to be honest, I have no idea how to feel about the book. It's beautifully written, of course, because Neil Gaiman is a master with words. But I think it's hard for me to appreciate the content the way it's meant to be appreciated. I think maybe I just haven't reached the age where I can look back on childhood and think of it as something magical, because it doesn't seem all that long ago yet. And I think to fully appreciate this story, that's something you need to be able to do.

There were things in here I deeply enjoyed (and other things I found rather disturbing, which I think is par for the course with a Gaiman work), but overall, I found it...more tedious than anything. One day, maybe I'll re-read it and have a complete change of opinion. I think it's probably brilliant in its own way, just...not for me. At least, not yet.
Learning Curve (Life Lessons, #4) - Kaje Harper This is the book I've been most looking forward to all year, and it did not disappoint. Mac and Tony are probably my all-time favorite couple in this genre, and the author did an incredible job making their final book the beautiful ending they deserved. Everything tied together with previous stories so well, and it was wonderful meeting new characters while also getting to see old favorites. There was so much packed into this story, but it never once felt rushed or cluttered.

I'm going to miss Tony and Mac fiercely, but I couldn't ask for a better way to say goodbye to two characters I love so much. ♥
A Reason To Believe - Diana Copland What an enjoyable story! I really loved the main characters, but the side characters also had so much life to them and were really wonderful. Not quite as big a fan of the mystery aspects (I figured out the whodunit far too early, for one thing), but that didn't detract from the story. There were just so many adorable, sweet, lovely moments. ♥
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green I've had this book on my shelf for a while, but kept putting it off because a) it's not my usual genre these days and not something I thought I'd be interested in, and b) I thought there was no way it could possibly live up to the hype I've seen over it.

I was wrong on both counts.

This is the sort of book that you rate 5-stars, but it doesn't seem like enough because most of your other 5-star reads just pale in comparison.

I'm going to go continue drowning in my lake of tears for a while now. (And, Self, when you look back at this review later, don't let that stop you from re-reading it. Because it's worth every single painful, heart-wrenching moment.)
Time and Again: Time Was / Times Change - Nora Roberts This is, in spite of the rating, one of my favorite Nora Roberts books. I've always loved the idea of time travel, and when I first started reading the author, this was one of the first books of hers to draw my attention. I've read it several times since then, and loved it every time. It's not a perfect story, and I do have some issues with certain things (the blatant manhandling that happens once or twice could definitely trigger someone who has issues with rape, which is not something I've often run into in Nora Roberts' writing), but I still can't help but love it.
Nor Iron Bars a Cage - Kaje Harper There's nothing I could say about this story that would do it justice. Just...read it. Read it now.

And then bow before the awesomeness that is Kaje Harper for offering this as a freebie, because it's worth SO MUCH MORE than that.

Meanwhile, I'm going to let this one settle in my head and my heart for a few days before I try to write any sort of coherent review.
Human Frailties - Jaye McKenna I had no idea what to expect here, with an unknown author and a fantasy element I rarely see done very well in this genre, especially in anything shorter than a full novel. But this was wonderful, and just hit so many of my buttons! I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, and especially loved watching the changes in Ash as the story progressed and he grew to care about Tor. Jaye McKenna accomplished in only 130 pages a rich, vibrant story that left me both deeply satisfied and desperately craving more. Well worth a read, and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more by this author for sure!
Human Frailties - Jaye McKenna I had no idea what to expect here, with an unknown author and a fantasy element I rarely see done very well in this genre, especially in anything shorter than a full novel. But this was wonderful, and just hit so many of my buttons! I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, and especially loved watching the changes in Ash as the story progressed and he grew to care about Tor. Jaye McKenna accomplished in only 130 pages a rich, vibrant story that left me both deeply satisfied and desperately craving more. Well worth a read, and I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for more by this author for sure!
An Intrepid Trip to Love - Charlie Cochet I think I'm in a minority of people who didn't care for this one. I love shifter stories, and this had a fair bit of potential, but it fell apart under the weight of too many characters and a plot device that has been used to death in this genre. And while the character exchanges were fun in many places, the constant banter got to be old after the first couple chapters.

But my biggest issue with this story...can we talk about the changes Trip went through after the bonding? Because I find I am very much not okay with a main character going from a sort of plain guy to this hulking, muscled, nearly-unrecognizable specimen of perfection. For real. The character's son actually didn't recognize him after all these changes took place, and there were several comments about how much more attractive he suddenly was and. Just. What?

I don't know. There were a lot of cute moments, and for the first two-thirds of the story, I was content to let my issues with it slide, but the last part kind of wrecked it for me. Between the big WTF moment I had reading about the aftereffects of the bonding, and how much the author tried to cram into the very end, trying to resolve almost everything while still setting up a sequel, it just didn't work for me at all. :(
Sole Support - Kaje Harper I haven't had a lot of time to just sit and enjoy a good book lately, but Kaje Harper is one of the few authors I would pretty much drop anything for when she releases a new story. I'm so glad I took the time out of my schedule to read this one as soon as I was able. So lovely, in so many different ways. Though there are also some really difficult things in here, especially for anyone who's had an older loved one in need of full-time, long-term care, but it's well worth the read if your heart can take it. Every character is a joy to learn about, even the ones who only get a few pages of face time. And even though Kellen in particular frustrated the hell out of me sometimes, it was in that way that kept me flipping pages way past my bedtime because I needed to see him learn to move past his issues and give Mike their happy ending. ♥
Prisoner 374215 - Angel Martinez Considering it's short length, this story still manages to pack quite a punch. Well worth the read!
The Witness - Nora Roberts This is Nora Roberts at her best, with characters you love in an instant and a plot that keeps the pages turning well past your bedtime. I adored it from beginning to end.
Kestrel's Chance - Harper Fox A lovely story set against a gorgeous landscape. I wish it had been a bit longer and more drawn out, but that's probably more because I'm never ready to leave the worlds and the characters Harper Fox creates. I could happily read about all of them forever. ♥

Loyalty in Death (In Death, #9)

Loyalty in Death (In Death, #9) - J.D. Robb One of the more powerful books in the series thus far, with an added bonus of finally hitting on the relationship between McNab and Peabody - something I've been waiting for! Roarke and Eve continue to be one of my favorite couples, and I really enjoyed finally getting to meet a member of Peabody's family.

Completely unrelated, and nothing at all to do with the story, but something that struck me toward the end - I guess it's been long enough since 9/11 that seeing such a casual mention of the Twin Towers had me blinking in surprise. Especially given the plot of this particular book.
Conspiracy in Death  - J.D. Robb This was a really terrific part of one my of current favorite series. A good mystery and some solid new characters. What I really loved, though, is that the main purpose of this one seemed designed to showcase the family - and support group - Eve has managed to make for herself over the course of the series up to this point. Some fatastic moments with several characters, including, of course, Roarke. ♥

Also nice to know that I can pick up one of these books several months after the last one and still find just as much enjoyment in them. :)