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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid

Don't you hate it when you read a book you enjoy, but then fail to write the review until you start to forget details and then you just feel guilty about it?  Yeah. That.

Here's the summary, from Amazon.

Firefighter Cole Everett's life revolves around the firehouse. Committed to saving lives--and to the guys who always have his back in the most dangerous moments on the job--Cole's focus is a coveted spot on the Fairview Rescue Squad. When his captain asks him to mentor a rookie firefighter, he jumps at the chance, hoping it will help to prove his skill. But the new "guy" is none other than Savannah Nelson, a female firefighter as stubbornly determined as Cole is, and a whole lot curvier in all the right places . . .

Savannah won't let anyone extinguish her dream of fulfilling her family legacy and becoming a top notch firefighter--and she's happily surprised when strong-willed, sexy Cole is willing to give her the chance she deserves. Concentrating on the job isn't always easy when the heat between them flares higher every day, but Savannah won't give up--not even when one of Station Eight's veterans seems bent on trashing her reputation. To stop a string of possible arsons, Savannah and Cole will need to eliminate every distraction--but can they let their love go up in flames?

I read the previous book, Reckless, back in the winter, and while I didn't find it to be a winner, I was still looking forward to the rest of the crew. Unlike Katherine, I wasn't really drawn to Cole at all, and didn't really remember him, so it was all pretty fresh. Happily, I turned out to like Cole and Savannah quite a bit and found them both believable. Savannah desperately wants to be a firefighter, and on her own merit. She comes from a family of male firefighters and knows that if she doesn't move away from home she'll never be able to believe if it's her, or her family that leads her to success. She works hard to pull her own weight and doesn't let being a woman limit her at all. Unfortunately for her, not everyone in the firehouse is on the same page.

Cole is given the position of training Savannah to take his place in the rotation after he is promoted to a coveted squad position.  This requires quite the balancing act, he can't delude himself into thinking she is ready, if she isn't, but he's also eager to move into his new role. Cole never hesitates or holds back based on her gender and Savannah never fails to meet expectations. I loved seeing her be a badass in a physical way in a demanding job.

The chemistry between them is certainly there, and their first encounter/kiss ends in a potentially awkward situation, but Kincaid pulls us through. I did find it a bit unbelievable that they could leave all of that heat outside the fire station, so that no one knew. It is strictly forbidden to date within the house, and this becomes a major plot point late in the book. I'm not entirely sure that I'm convinced in the ultimate resolution of the side story with the arsons, but I did believe in the romance, which is what I read it for. While this series isn't one of my go to favorites, I would still recommend it to anyone who is already a fan of this type of setting.

Fearless came out on July 26th.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Reading Update: July and August 2016

About halfway through the month of August I realized that I had never posted an update for July. Rather than be completely off track, I decided to just combine the two months. That makes this pretty long, and I am way too lazy to post pictures and links of every book. You all know how to use Goodreads/Amazon/Google, right?

What I Read:

Duke of My Heart by Kelly Bowen. I completely LOVED this, and have failed in writing a review for so long that I won't do it justice.

Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall. Full Disclosure, I know the author, but it's funny and smart, and probably equally appealing to parents and non-parents.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan. I like this one quite a bit, but it's not out until end of November so you'll have to wait a bit for the review.

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid. Katherine assured me that I'd make it past the scene I was stuck on, and she was right. This one finished strong.

Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle. I pretty much flew through this one and jumped right into the next in the series.

In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle. This one is a bit more tense that the last two, and to be honest I'm not in love with the set up, but still reading.

Head in the Cloud:Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts are So Easy To Look Up by William Poundstone. This is really accessible and interesting, but I've barely started.

Lord Of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. I listened to part of a podcast about this one that called it the "Perfect Romance". I decided I would splurge and buy it, only to discover that I bought it in 2011. So guilt made me start reading, a 20% I'm quite enjoying it. This is my first Chase and the writing style is a bit formal, but I'm getting used to it.

New to my Kindle:

From NetGalley:
Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall
True-Blue Cowboy Christmas by Nicole Helm
In Safe Hands by Katie Ruggle
IQ by Joe Ide
For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne
The Underground Culinary Tour byDamian Mogavero, Joseph D'Agnese
Forks Over Knives Family by Alona Pulde, Matthew Lederman
A Sure Thing by Marie Harte
Hold Me, Cowboy by Maisey Yates
Head in the Cloud by William Poundstone

From Amazon:
The Devil In Winter by Lisa Kleypas. Yes, I've read this, but it was on sale!
Falling in bed With a Duke by Lorraine Heath.
All's Fair in Love and Scandal by Caroline Linden
Chance of a Lifetime by Marissa Clarke. I have zero memory of this one?
The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan

So I read Sleepless in Manhattan in July, and as I said, I was really put to the test on it. It ended nicely though, so I soldiered on and read the next two, Sunset in Central Park and Miracle on 5th Avenue in quick succession.

Sunset in Central Park is pretty much the opposite story line as Sleepless in Manhattan. In Sleepless, you have the hero falling for his BFF's little sister, who he has known forever.  In Sunset, the hero is falling for his little sister (star of Sleepless)'s BFF. It's all very intertwined. Here's your summary, from Amazon:

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race… 

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?

This one was much better than Sleepless, I thought. First, there wasn't really any of the ickiness you often find when someone is dating his friend's little sister, so that was good. Then, even though one of the characters have some big mental blocks to a relationship (Frankie), the other half (Matt) is aware of them, and patiently works through them. In Sleepless this is all kept secret.

Frankie has a lot of issues after growing up with a flake for a mother, some of which I found completely legit and some of which I felt like Frankie used as a handy shield. Happily, Matt is able to gently show her where she was wrong about other people's perceptions and willing to ride out the rest. Matt has been in love with her for years, you see, and he's finally tired of waiting. He pushes, gently but steadily, to make her aware of his feelings and to admit to hers. This sounds slightly aggressive, but it's clear that he's not pushing her somewhere that she's not wanting go.

I really enjoyed this one quite a bit and if it has any flaws it's really just Frankie's endless mental denial  She doesn't really believe that she isn't worthy, but that she will mess it up and shouldn't even try. This one was much better than Sleepless in Manhattan. I loved Matt's brand of slow and steady but not quite a Beta hero. I loved that he knew what he wanted and was patient (to a point.)  It clearly sets up the next (and final) book in the series, so I immediately gobbled that one up too.

Sunset in Central Park comes out today.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich

In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison—who suffered from severe epilepsy—received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.

Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison—and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.

Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world.

Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide

This was a completely fascinating look at brain science, interwoven with a compelling family history that I can easily recommend to anyone who likes non-fiction of this type.The author's grandfather was one of several surgeons who developed and promoted the lobotomy as the cure all for any mental illness or instability, including epilepsy, in the mid-1900s. Many of the patients were from mental hospitals, and the records are unclear as to if they were fully informed of the treatment and/or if it really helped them. What is clear, however, is that much about the structures of the brain and the functions of different areas was mapped out due to the vast numbers of lobotomies and other similar surgeries.  Patient HM is a very special case, for two reasons. One, he wasn't mentally ill when he had surgery. Unlike many of the people in the mental wards, HM was severely epileptic, to the point where he could no longer function. This meant that any affects on his intelligence could be easily noted from before to after, as he could participate in testing and was cooperative. Second, the operation performed on HM had the effect of making him completely amnesiac. He was able to remember small bits of his childhood, but could not remember someone he was introduced to 2 minutes prior. This alone led the researchers to test HM over and over to try to figure out how exactly memory was stored and what types of memory he might could form.

Inseparable from HM's story is that of the author's grandparents, his grandfather's ambition, his grandmother's own mental breakdown, and the fallout of his success. The entire book is full of details and facts that while not necessarily about Patient HM, really round out the picture of where brain science was, and how people came to make the discoveries that they did. It is both fascinating and slightly horrifying, and makes you feel very grateful for the advances in pharmaceuticals that allow us to not attempt things like lobotomies in 2016. The book is well written, as well as interesting, and I would happily recommend it to anyone who likes this type of non-fiction.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Two quick romance reviews

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

I am a complete Sarah Morgan fangirl, but this one, oh it tested me. It's a friends to lovers story, which I love, and for the vast majority of the book I was all in.  Jake had some commitment issues, but he was willing to admit (to himself) that this relationship was a good thing. He wanted it out in the open even. He just didn't want love. Well anyone who has ever read a romance knows what's gonna happen, right?  Even that was fine, because of course that was the point, but immediately after the big showdown there is this scene that is so absolutely mortifying (to them, and moreso to ME) that I put the book aside. For weeks. I just could. not. imagine. seeing how that was gonna play out. Then my NetGalley Guilt (TM) got the best of me and I picked it back up, and shockingly, it was just fine. Because of course it was.  I have the next one in the series locked and loaded on my Kindle, and as soon as I have a quiet moment we're on.

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

Now this one I LOVED. I can't wait to read the next one in the series. In fact, as soon as I finished I ran right to my NetGalley account to see if I couldn't pick up the next book, only to discover that I had missed out on book 2, but could still grab book 3.   Lou is a bit annoying at first, but she settles down a bit as the book progresses, and I loved her interactions with Callum.  Cal is s take charge, alpha leader, but isn't overly loud or obnoxious about it, as heroes can often be. I loved seeing them fall for each other, and thought the ultimate resolution to this book was excellent. However, there is an overarching story line involving the dead body that isn't cleared up and is obviously going to be the thread that ties the series together, so if you're interested, know that there is a completely unresolved plot point.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reading Update June 2016

June was a terrific month for reading for me. For writing blog posts? Not so much. It was also a terrible month for book acquisitions. I don't even want to count.

What I Read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. I'm about 60% done, but have to wait for it to come back up at the library (because you know I'm not about to lug around my paper copy of that one!)

The Obsession by Nora Roberts. I am really enjoying these last few stand alone titles-- but I wish she'd go in for a nice trilogy about  some brothers that didn't include Ireland and magic (sorry Katherine.)

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs. This series just gets better and better. I am never disappointed.

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle. I really enjoyed this one, even as Lou was a bit annoying.

Only You by Denise Grover Swank. I am only 8 or so chapters in. I'm not sure I can handle the boss and the humor is a bit less subtle than I would choose, but will certainly continue.

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham.  I can't stop requesting these, but at 41% read I'm fairly sure she's just phoning it in now, and might actually stop after this one.

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. If you'll recall, I stopped this one at an awkward scene last month. I managed to read through it with one eye and the book finished strong. Other readers may like that style of awkward, but I have too much empathy for mortification.

New to My Kindle:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. This one one has been on my TBR look out list for years and when it was a daily deal I couldn't resist. (Kindle)

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior by Jennifer McQuiston. I now have 5 McQuiston titles on my Kindle and have yet to read even one. I should work on that. (Kindle)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I've heard so many good things about this one, and I did enjoy Let's Pretend This Never Happened. (Kindle)

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. I enjoyed Blue Like Jazz several years ago when I read it, and I think I'd like this one as well. For a non-religious person, I sure enjoy a good religious memoir/essay. (Kindle)

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham. I can't help it. (NetGalley)

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid. Love this series. (NetGalley)

Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt. Like McQuiston, I should really try to read one by her instead of collecting them. (NetGalley)

For Good. Karelia Stetz-Waters. I really liked the first one I read by her. (NetGalley)

Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle. I really enjoyed Hold Your Breath, so had to go see if I could get the others in the series. Sadly, I missed book 2, but managed to snag this one. (NetGalley)

Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich. I love this sort of thing, and then Books on the Nightstand mentioned it in one of the last podcast episodes. (NetGalley)

Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Mike and I listened to an interview with him on The Tim Ferris show podcast during our drive to Alabama, and it was fascinating. (NetGalley)

To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne.  Another auto-request. (NetGalley)

Running Man by Charlie Engle. This is getting embarrassing. (NetGalley)

The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones. No, still haven't read the 9th. Or the 4th. (NetGalley)

Strange History by the Bathroom Readers Institute. NetGalley is gonna revoke my account soon.

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan. I told you it was ugly. (NetGalley)

Whew. That's a lot.  The good news is that my reading is really picking up lately.  The bad news is that it's still probably hopeless.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Next Five Books I Plan to Read. (No Kidding)

I'm so easily distracted by shiny new things. My Kindle is a complete testimony to this, therefore, I'm making a list.  Here's the next five books that I plan to read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is a reread (duh) but I'm having so much fun reading with Tristan.

Only You by Denise Grover Swank. It gave Katherine jazz hands! How could I not?

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle. I need some romantic suspense this summer.

From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne. Don't tell, but I also have the second book in the series waiting.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha.

I think the difficulty I just had picking five tells you how likely I am to stick to this plan, but lets see how I do...

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