All We Want | 4 Stars

All We Want
By J. Daniels
4 Stars

I was so excited for the opportunity to see what comes after “happily ever after,” especially for this couple. I loved that even once they were married and starting a family, Luke and Tessa never really “settled down.” They still fight like cats and dogs, they still f*ck like bunnies. Everything that made us fall in love with Luke and Tessa hasn’t faded into some picture-perfect couple that is so not them. This one will tear at your heartstrings, time and again. And the lowest point? No amount of warnings from the author herself prepared me for THAT punch in the gut. This book will take you through the emotional ringer, but in the best way.

Writing A Book With My Dad: Christmas Music… in February?

Dad and I are back to writing our book! We took a break from Thanksgiving to New Year’s (from past years, I know that I’m so busy with the holidays – and happily so – that no writing gets accomplished during the month of December, so I don’t plan to do any) and I spent the past month storyboarding our pages of notes into a cohesive storyline.

Given that I don’t write during the holidays, in the back of my mind I had to know that I wouldn’t be writing our Christmas story during Christmas. But I never really considered what that would mean. When I write, I create a playlist of a dozen or so songs that I listen to pretty exclusively while writing. Sometimes it’s a single album, sometimes it’s a collection of songs. I assumed that when writing a Christmas story, I would be listening to Christmas music. After all, I love Christmas music. So much so that I begin listening to it on November 1. But listening to it in February? I’m not sure this is going to jive.

I listened to country music while I storyboarded, which fit nicely with the small town atmosphere we’re trying to create. But I can’t shake the feeling that Christmas music would really imbue my writing with Christmas spirit. I just need to see if I can find a way to turn my Christmas spirit on, write, and then turn it back off so I’m not disappointed by the fact that’s it’s NOT the most wonderful time of the year. Wish me luck!

California Girls | 5 Stars

California Girls
by Susan Mallery
5 Stars

This book opens with a sucker punch – several, in fact! You may want to have a tub of ice cream handy to commiserate with these gals.

I love the way the author takes three storylines and weaves them together. All three girls are going through a somewhat similar experience (a break up), but the three POVs allow the reader to experience three completely different reactions to that experience from three completely different people, which I really enjoyed.

This story had it all: sad moments, sweet moments, moments where you step back and wonder “if this was ME, is this how I would handle this?” I thought it was both very insightful and enjoyable. Definitely a book I’ll read again!

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake | 4 Stars

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
by Amy E. Reichert
4 Stars

One of my favorite parts of this book was at the very beginning, before our two main characters had met. Through their different POVs, we were able to see times when they passed each other on the street or were in the same building as each other, but never met.

The first several chapters focus on exploring Milwaukee’s treasures. And while I’m a native Wisconsinite, I felt a bit like the book had turned into a tour guide. But, while it’s not my cup of tea, I’m sure there are others who will love the attention to detail at our Wisconsin-y ways.

I loved that I could see the disaster coming. Time and again, the characters did something that almost revealed their secrets and would put them in a terrible position – and then danced away, leaving me on the edge of my seat wondering when the inevitable was finally going to happen! Very exciting.

When I Fall | 5 Stars

When I Fall
By J. Daniels
5 Stars

Oh, Beth and Reed! I fell in love with Reed so fast. I’m from a small town in Wisconsin, and when I read that Reed was my kind of country boy—Jacked up truck? Works construction? Yes!—that was it for me. Not to mention his big softie heart beneath that rough and tumble exterior. And did I mention that he’s hot as hell, and kinky to boot? Be still my heart!

And Beth doesn’t disappoint. She meets him toe-to-toe in the kinky department, and then some. Talk about a sexy read! And with all the feels, of course. I loved the natural build in their relationship. They both had very intriguing and emotional pasts that come back to haunt them, and I just loved it. That’s the best way to say it.

The Simplicity of Cider | 3 Stars

The Simplicity of Cider
by Amy E. Reichert
3 Stars

I really enjoyed that our heroine had the ability to see tastes – that is, the taste of every apple was assigned a color in her mind. It was an original and intriguing addition to the story.

I wasn’t particularly fond of this story, as a romance. The relationship between the two main characters wasn’t much, and I certainly didn’t feel like this was a once in a lifetime love for them. I also didn’t find them particularly likeable. I felt that they both gave up on their loved ones too easily and without a fight, which made it hard for me to believe that they wouldn’t give up on each other.

I grew to like this story, by the end. It took a while for me to really warm up to the characters, but by the end, I was happy with the story.

Writing a Book with My Dad: The Mustache

A few weeks ago my dad and I sat down to talk about what our characters look like. When deciding on a look for our male lead, we got excited about him having a mustache. (I don’t know why we got so excited, but we did.) I usually write much younger characters in their early twenties, while this character is a more mature fifty, and I’d never written a character with a mustache before. My dad has a great mustache that has defined his appearance for as long as I can remember. We were excited about branding our hero in such a way—and then we did a little research. Our hero is in the military, and my dad did a little research on the rules for a serviceman’s appearance. The limitations for a mustache did NOT fit with the gorgeous mustache we had envisioned for our hero (maybe one as glorious as Tom Selleck’s) … so now, he is clean shaven. It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to that fabulous mustache we dreamed of, but we’ll find other ways to make him dashing!

The End of an Era

My publisher Less Than Three Press announced this past week that they are closing their doors after 10+ years in business. They were my first publisher back in 2011, and I will always be grateful to them for taking a chance on me and giving me the encouragement I needed to pursue a career in writing. Over the past eight years I published more than twenty novellas and short stories with them. This past year or so I hadn’t released any new material as Less Than Three is a queer publisher and I was trying my hand at m/f romance, but I did have several of my stories still available on their bookstore when they announced their closing. I’m planning to release a number of these as free reads on my website and possibly on Wattpad in the coming weeks. They’re stories that I still enjoy and feel others may as well. Stay tuned for more to come on that!

Torn | 3 Stars

by Lauren Dane
3 Stars

I enjoyed this story until the end. The fight they have as the climax of the book seemed to come out of nowhere for me, and I felt that the characters blew it out of proportion. I also didn’t feel particularly satisfied by the ending itself. Yes, it was more realistic than a fairytale ending, but I didn’t get a feeling of resolution.

Writing a Book with My Dad: The Adventure Begins

Last Friday, my dad and I sat down and put pen (or rather, pencil) to paper as we started writing a book together. For the past few years, he’s bounced story ideas off me, and this year, we decided to finally do it. Earlier this year, we had decided on which idea to pursue, and on Friday night, we got started.

First, we sat there. Watched some TV. The cat sat on our notebook. My dad asked the cat to write the book for us, and the ice was broken.

More or less.

Then we stared at an empty notebook page. I said, “I’ve never written a book with anyone before.” My dad said, “I’ve never written a book at all – but I have read one.” So we’ve got that going for us, and it actually made me feel pretty good about things.

Finally, we got down to business. My dad, it turns out, is a lover of backstory. Lots of backstory. Timelines of backstory. We spent the evening backtracking our hero’s family, all the way to his grandfather’s military service. We talked about the different military branches his father might have served in and debated the merits of different officer positions he may have been promoted to.

All in all, a good first night, I think. We’ll see what next week brings.