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Focus on Me
Megan Erickson
The Best Simple Recipes
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Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen
Jazz Jennings
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John M. Gottman
Taken with You
Shannon Stacey
Until We Touch (Fool's Gold, #15)
Susan Mallery
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Lorraine Heath
The Wedding of the Century & Other Stories
Kristin James, Charlotte Featherstone, Mary Jo Putney
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Untitled - Maya Banks I don't think I can relate to what Maya Banks writes anymore. I'm done.

The Ex (The Boss, #5)

The Ex (The Boss, #5) - Abigail Barnette Two and a half-ish stars

I really like this series and this last book of the series really bummed me out. As in all the books, the struggles that the main characters deal with are relevant, realistic, and sometimes taboo. I’ve been impressed with the care and attention in which the author handles difficult situations, often calling out the thing that no one wants to talk about. So when I finished this book it took me a while to figure out what bothered me so much about the story. What it boiled down to is that I am not completely convinced of their happy ending.

Here’s where the discussion gets spoiler-y. Continue at your own risk.

While the book delivered in emotional intensity, Sophie’s stagnated personal growth and diminishing coping skills concerned me. In the book she loses her professional ambition, isolates herself from her support network, soothes herself with junk food and drugs, and seems to need to receive more pain in her and Neil’s scenes than in the previous books.

In The Ex, Sophie is working with her friend running a fashion magazine. Previously, when she wasn’t pulling her weight at work her friend called her on it. In this book, she has convinced herself that she is just in the way when she goes to work (so she doesn’t bother). Not healthy and no one confronts her.

Then, while Neil spends a good half of the book working on his issues with professional help, Sophie secludes herself in their huge mansion. A couple times a friend would trek out to see her, but it was rare and usually not at her request. Sophie has become a one-way friend. She is not reciprocating support to her friends in any manner. Additionally, we don’t see Sophie having any kind of life (social or otherwise) that doesn’t revolve around Neil. Codependent much? At one point Neil suggests to Sophie that they go back to couples counseling. We never see this. What we do see is a vivid portrait of her laying on the floor eating cookies and getting baked.

The last thing that bothered me with Sophie is that the BDSM scenes seemed to include a higher level of pain being given and Sophie often refusing to safe word, instead relying on Neil’s instincts about when to stop dishing it out. I found this very disturbing. Not the actual scenes, but the fact that Sophie is not in a healthy, clear-boundary headspace when she is playing. She is not taking responsibility for her own needs and physical health. I didn’t enjoy their playtime like I did in the other books.

What I really wanted to see was Sophie grow and do work on her own mental issues. It would have been much more poignant to see her tackle her abandonment issues and her new “motherhood” status with a professional and with her support system so that she rejoins Neil a mentally stronger more focused partner.

Other issues, plot holes, and inconsistencies

What happened to Sophie’s fashion magazine? I guess when you are the wife of a billionaire you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a hobby. She surely isn’t treating it like a serious business.

What happened to Neil’s foundation? Certainly he didn’t lose passion for his charity. I would have liked to see his involvement long-term.

We couldn’t get one super sweet scene with Sophie and Olivia bonding. Really?!?

Where did Emir go? Wasn’t the whole part of the first chapter to put him back in their lives?

Where did Gena go and why didn’t they have a conversation about that relationship?

Where did Michael’s parents go? Do they not care about their granddaughter?

Where did Sophie’s antidotal, wise, caring mother go? The Ex was full of their mutually supportive relationship. I guess now that Rebecca has a boyfriend she doesn’t have time for Sophie’s drama.

All my ranting is just because I was really invested into the series and wanted a tidy ending. Here’s the deal, if you put your characters through unbelievable torment, you have to prove that their current and future happiness is more abundant because of or in spite of their past sorrows. In this case, it fell short.

Brown-Eyed Girl

Brown-Eyed Girl - Lisa Kleypas, Brittany Pressley Had the publisher not pushed back the release date of this book nine months I think I would have liked it better. It's like when everyone raves about a movie and then you go to see it expecting this awesome thing and it turns out to be just okay.
Nope, nope, nope, not for me. I made it about 25%. I think I have grown out of this author. :(

Night Sky

Night Sky - Suzanne Brockmann, Melanie Brockmann I have nothing against this book, it just wasn't for me.

The Best of Danny Proulx's Storage and Shelving

The Best of Danny Proulx's Storage and Shelving - Danny Proulx, Proulx Makes me want to start building furniture and cabinets.

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind - Daniel J. Siegel, Tina Payne Bryson If you like this read:
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Expecting Better: How to Fight the Pregnancy Establishment with Facts

Expecting Better: How to Fight the Pregnancy Establishment with Facts - Emily Oster, To Be Announced I love data and statistics, so this book was right up my alley. I appreciate the detail in which Ms. Oster describes each study that she evaluates in deciding which one is most valid for use in decision making. How refreshing to have data that allows you to make decisions that are right for yourself, regardless of conventional wisdom.
The Imperfect Environmentalist: A Practical Guide to Clearing Your Body, Detoxing Your Home, and Saving the Earth (Without Losing Your Mind) - Sara Gilbert I like the way the book is broken into easily manageable sections about different parts of life and the further simplification of offering three levels of informational depth into a subject.

I think everyone wants to live in a less polluted world, but often the word environmentalist brings to mind someone who is condescending and inflexible about how environmentally conscience everyone should be. I'm glad to read a book that really is practical and more moderate in its approach.

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me (Audiocd) - James W. Loewen Lies My Teacher Told Me A.K.A. Everything I Properly Learned in College History, is an appalling look at the sanitized version of history we teach our children. Now, this book is admittedly before every class had internet access so I hope that our children are a little better educated, but probably not.

On the first day of my college history class (about 6 yrs ago) my professor said something to the effect of, "Everything you learned about history in high school was boiled down to answers that fit neatly on a multiple choice exam. History is complex and cannot fit into an A or B choice. That's not how history will be taught in this class." His favorite quote was William Faulkner's "The past is never dead. It's not even past". I enjoyed that class and learned much of what was mentioned in this book, therefore I was not overly shocked by its contents.

Most themes of the book I agreed with. I felt there was a little bias at the end of the book regarding the over-generalization of what types of people lean toward groups [political parties] and how they come to creating personal opinions [about war]. In addition to the unscientific reasoning as to why they think that way. I recognized it for what it was, an opinion, and didn't let it affect the honest efforts to shed light on history.
Nightborn - Lynn Viehl I think I should have read the Darkyn series first. I kept thinking, "wow there is a lot of backstory already setup for a first in a series," duh. Anyway, I really enjoyed the world and props to Ms. Viehl for building a universe where you can jump in anywhere and understand the major themes of the series.
The Darkest Craving - Gena Showalter This book is BORING, and unnecessarily long. I struggled to finish, and only did because I forced myself to, which is usually never a problem with such a talented author as Ms. Showalter.

Let me break it down. The first hundred pages are an info dump of the Fae realm Seduire and its imprisoned princess Josephine all written in passive voice. BORING. The next hundred pages is mostly Kane's inner turmoil, well kinda, if you count the phrase, "Hands... all over him... Mouths... biting at him... Nails... scraping at him..." (pg 111), said over and over again as inner turmoil. Here's the deal, we never see Kane's history, his relationship to his friends, or how he was before the demon possessed him. Nothing. Who IS Kane? (Shug) I dunno. Throughout the series he has been somewhat an outcast, a mystery. It would have been a really interesting story to find out what he was doing while all the other Lords were living it up in the castle. Anyway, the only insight we get to Kane's past is... wait for it... that he used to be sweet. Ta da. Sorry for the huge spoiler there.

Around page 300 is where things go from dull to meh, which is a huge improvement. At this point, Torin's little side story setup gets good. His bits are really what kept me reading. Somewhere in here we finally understand a little more about the demon Destruction. Unlike the other Lords' demons who target harming the world, Destruction's gig is to torment Kane. This is never explained in detail why their relationship is different. Another thing that would have been interesting to read about.

This last third of the book is where all the action and story take place and, unfortunately, its a case of too little, too late. I did like the ending, for the most part, but the resolution still puts Kane as an outcast from his Lordly bros. Conclusion, Kane was, is and will always be a mystery. Wish I didn't have to read 465 pages to figure that out.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate - Justin  Lee A beautiful view of what a compassionate christian culture could be. I enjoyed the thorough research that gave context to some of the most abused scriptures which have been used to validate the disdain toward gay people.

In Mr. Lee's personal story, he judiciously weighs the topic of same sex attraction that has been maligned for centuries and kept many under oppression. His fearless examination of the scriptures gives new hope to those who fear their mere existence was displeasing to God. With his courage, candor and wisdom, Mr. Lee has liberated a generation of confused christian gays that have been brought up to believe they had to choose between being gay or loving God.
The Bag Making Bible: The Complete Guide to Sewing and Customizing Your Own Unique Bags - Lisa Lam I appreciate the comprehensive step-by-step instruction of the nuts and bolts of creating any type of bag. Great reference.
Susan Mallery's Fool's Gold Cookbook: A Love Story Told Through 150 Recipes - Susan Mallery Loved the story and the recipes. Made the the tamale pie last night and everyone raved.

Styxx (Dark-Hunter, #23)

Styxx (Dark-Hunter, #23) - Sherrilyn Kenyon,  Fred Berman Wow, and I thought the torture of Acheron was intense. I cringed the whole first half of the book and cried for most of the last half. It is definitely an emotional roller coaster and a brilliant weaving of a tale from a different point of view. It is completely amazing to me how Ms. Kenyon continues to create dimension and shape in a world that spans more than eleven thousand years. I am in awe.