My Top 10 Favorite/Most Memorable Books of 2013


First off, I just want to wish everyone a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May the dreams that came true in 2013…continue to flourish and may the dreams that didn’t…come true in 2014. New Year and New Beginnings!!

I also want to thank each and every one of you for giving me and my blog a chance. I started Book Reads and Reviews in August and it’s been quite a learning experience and so much fun! I hope as I continue to learn & grow, I can become a better Blogger and someone you all will look forward to seeing more often. I’ve met some amazing Authors who have given me the honor of reading and reviewing their books and a couple who have even given me the highest honor of all…which is bouncing ideas around with them as they write the books you all love so much!! I just feel so extremely blessed!! So Thank you!!! ♥ ~Robin

OKAY! Let’s get this party started…

*NOTE* These books are in no particular order.  They’re books that were released in 2013 and they have touched me in some way or another. The story/characters are forever burned into my brain as one of my favorites. I’ll give little notations as to why and if I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the books, I’ll add the link to the review! 🙂  Again, no particular order….

My Top 10 Favorite/Most Memorable Books of 2013

 

Symphony of Light and Winter by Renea Mason

This was an exceptional Paranormal Romance. It made me excited about reading that Genre again!  In fact in my review I said “This entire story was literally like Christmas day for me. Why? Because it was one of the most pleasant, wonderful surprises I’ve opened in a very long time and I was jumping around like a kid at this amazing discovery.”  I can’t wait to read the next book in this amazing series! *NOTE* She DOES have a novella out for this series, titled “Impostors’ Kiss”.  You can find the Review for it HERE and buy it on AMAZON.

 

 

Reckless by Skye Jordan

Reckless was the first book I’ve ever read written by Skye Jordan Aka Joan Swan.  She took Erotica to a whole new level and made me see it in a classy, sexy, make love way, instead of the raunchier ones I’ve loved in the past(and still do love!) In my review I said “Whether you are whips and chains or feathers and whip cream, this book will keep you entranced, enthralled, in love and in heat the whole way through. Skye Jordan(Aka Joan Swan) is truly the Michelangelo of Erotica!”

 

Rebel by Skye Jordan

I got emotionally attached to Rubi when I read Reckless. Reading her personal story made her become more real. We were able to learn more about her childhood and why she acts the way she does with Wes. In my review I said “In “Reckless”, Rubi and Wes captured our attention. In “Rebel” they capture our hearts!” This couldn’t be truer.  I was also given the honor of being listed in the Acknowledgements section in the book. This not only made my year, it’s one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me! I am SO blessed!!♥

 

Fender Bender Blues by Niecey Roy

The pure orneriness of Rachel gave insight into the smart ass author that was lurking behind the scenes. It proved more true when I read Another Shot At Love.  I read Fender Bender Blues prior to starting my review site, so I’ve never gotten around to “officially” reviewing it.  But what I WILL say is…it’s exceptional and hilarious!!  Niecey Roy’s writing makes you almost think you just might be reading about her own adventures, they’re real, embarrassing and possible. THAT’S what makes them so damn funny!!

 

 Cherry Tart by Scarlett Jade

This was the first book I’ve read that featured a plus sized woman as the main character and it was phenomenal.  It’s another book that let me see behind the scenes and into the author’s true heart and personality. It was refreshing and I loved it.  I loved Cherry’s sass and confidence! My favorite part was her description of some “mean girls” who were ridiculing Cherry for her weight. I found it to be the funniest line I’ve read from a book all year, if not ever!! “At the table sat these two perky blondes with high, fake tits and badly done weaves. They looked a lot like Oompa Loompas had caught them in the back alley behind a hairdresser, snatched their weaves while they got boned from the back, and then beat them with a 64 color box of Crayolas before letting them go.” BAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

 

Another Shot At Love by Niecey Roy

Another book by Niecey Roy that has a smart ass character. She’s funny, vivacious and I love her “Oh Shit” moments! An example of one that had me laughing out loud was this part in the book: “I pushed away the plate of spaghetti and turned in my seat to grab my purse hanging on the back of the chair.
And ended up face-to-crotch with a man in a pair of slacks.
If the guy had been wearing jeans, I wouldn’t have felt every single curve of the male anatomy. Under the soft material of his slacks, nothing was left to my imagination. My nose rolled over his penis and when I gasped, my lips brushed against the slacks, like a kiss. I jerked around in my seat and clutched the edge of the table with both hands, my shoulders squared and back ramrod straight.
“Oh my God,” I choked out in a mortified whisper. Could this day get any worse? HAHAHAHA!!!!

 

Remembering Love by Nadine Christian

I loved this book so very much! It had all the emotions that make a book wonderful and memorable! Secrets, love, adventures, drama, tears, laughter, anger, happiness, etc. etc.  The author is very memorable too! I’ll never forget the day I posted my 5 star review.  She was like a kid who found out Santa was real. I know authors appreciate 5 stars, but I don’t think I will ever have one who exudes the happiness and thankfulness that Nadine Christian did that day. ♥

 

Castles In The Sand by Annie Daylon

Castles in the Sand was a book I won in a Goodreads contest. As much as I love so many other books, this book is one that I wish I could force people to read. It’s a book that is truly a diamond in the rough and had I not won it, I know it’s one I would’ve never read. Thankfully I was one of the blessed chosen ones to receive it.  It teaches you about life and yourself. It’s hard to describe, except to say it’s a wonderful journey for the soul.  This is coming from a hardcore Romance, paranormal and erotica fan! lol

 

Trouble With The Law by Becky McGraw

This book was my introduction to the Texas Trouble Series. Yes, I realize it’s book #11. However I have a very good excuse.  I’d never heard of the author or the series until I had signed up to do a promo tour for the book. When I read the excerpt that was provided and I was left with the mini cliffhanger on whether the heroine would give the hero a specific sexual favor….I begged to be allowed to read the book and review it.  Luckily the tour host and the author were so busy laughing their asses off over my reasons, they didn’t say no. lol But now I’m completely hooked on this series!♥

 

First Ink by Laura Wright

This story was first published/introduced in the Wicked Firsts Anthology, but it’s now sold as a stand alone. I loved it and became addicted to “Rush”, the hero of the story.  There is a kitchen scene that had me panting and made it extremely memorable to me and easily one of my favorites! Laura Wright has recently released #2 in the series, Shattered Ink.  You can read it’s review HERE and buy it from AMAZON.

 

This might conclude my Top 10 LIST of Favorite/Most Memorable of 2013, but it in NO WAY implies there are not others who have made an impression and deserve to be on this list! I’m a lover of books, it’s why I read…it’s why I review.  I’ve read many others that could easily be on this list as well…and would be, but my list would be never ending, so I settled on 10. I love Travis Luedke’s books, Dani Harper’s, Alexandra Ivy’s, Lara Adrian’s, Randi Alexander’s, Jettie Woodruff’s, etc. just to name a few that I could add easily. But again, I had to settle on 10 and these 10 had a little something extra that pushed them over the line for me.

If you TRULY want to see an entire list(Let me rephrase that…a list of books I’ve read/reviewed since I started Book Reads and Reviews), that I would recommend to everyone, check out Robin’s Favorites. ♥

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

~Robin

Thoughts of a Reviewer: I apologize for my absence!!


I just want you all to know I’ve had a good reason to be MIA. My daughter was recently in a bad car accident(She’s ok, thankfully just a broken wrist…she was lucky) and because of that I have fallen behind and neglected my website, facebook, twitter and everything else outside of family.

I’ve just had a chance to look over comments and feedback and Oh my goodness!!  I can’t believe how much I have missed!!  All of you AMAZING people who have commented on my reviews and MOST OF ALL the “28 Days To Be Thankful Giveaway” post……WOW….you truly humble me.  Thank you for your comments and stories.  I have so much to be thankful for, especially now…but reading your comments makes me feel even more thankful.

I started several things prior to the accident…Giveaways, Tours, Indie Spotlight on Niecey Roy, Street Teams, etc. I’ve struggled to keep up and many things fell along the wayside, so to those I wasn’t able to fulfill my obligations to, I apologize and will try to make it up to you in the coming days and thank you to those same people for your understanding.

I do need to address my recent Review Requests. I had to halt accepting requests a few weeks ago, due to an overwhelming TBR List.  I made a sticky note with the Notice and it is also on my Review Request Page right above the request form.  I’m not deleting your requests at this time, but please understand I won’t get to them until my current list has been completed and I don’t know when that will be.  The only allowances I’ve made to this rule has been for Authors I’ve worked with in the past and Tour Coordinators.  I’m trying very hard to dwindle my list down and once I do I will contact those who have submitted requests and open my doors up again for new ones.  This is nothing personal, I’ve just put off those on my list long enough and I don’t want them to keep being pushed aside for new requests.

Thank you again to everyone and if I don’t get the chance to say it before…

HAVE A VERY SAFE AND HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!! ♥

~Robin

Thoughts Of A Reviewer: What Constitutes A Spoiler??


Since I started my blog back in August, I have “Advertised” myself as being someone who would never post spoilers.  I think I’ve done a pretty damn good job of not doing that too.  However as I review more and more books, I realize I’ve done too good a job.   My reviews are so generalized, there doesn’t seem to be much personality in them, except the occasional smiley.

There have been books that I didn’t like quite as much, that I couldn’t express exactly WHY I didn’t like them, because I didn’t want to cross that line of adding spoilers.  Which as I look back on my reviews, I realize, that also compromises my honesty and fairness rules.  Instead I leave stars or lack of to make that point for me.  But how does that help the author or reader???

Then there have been books I ABSOLUTELY LOVED with all my heart, but I couldn’t express exactly WHY I liked them that much, because again, I didn’t want to cross that line of adding spoilers.  So once again, I am doing a disservice to the author and the reader….AND THE BOOK!!!!

So without truly meaning to, I have unfortunately tied my hands as a reviewer.  Which then makes me more like a blurber vs a reviewer.(Yes I created a new word there. lol)  My reviews are boring.  The most excitement I offer up is the excerpts and blurbs, which people can get off amazon.

I’ve honestly always just wanted to express my opinions and in the process help out the authors and the readers.  I want to make a difference. I want to have someone read my review and say I MUST HAVE THIS BOOK!!

SO…that all being said, I need authors to help me out here.  I need you to help me become a better reviewer, so in the process I can help you become better/more successful authors.

So what is crossing the line when it comes to a reviewer ruining a book?  Is it giving away the ending? But what happens if it’s the ending that I have an issue with? Is it giving away the sex scenes? But what happens if that’s the part I loved/hated?  Is it exposing a character’s flaw? But what happens if it’s that flaw that makes a difference on how emotionally involved I became in the book???

PLEASE…I’M ASKING ALL AUTHORS OUT THERE!!!

What Constitutes a Spoiler??

~Robin

PLEASE!! I want your Opinions!!!


I’ve made a LOT of changes to the website(I still have some tweaking, for example black text color will become pink).  I’ve of course added sidebars and changed the look of the site.  I’ve added an Amazon search app that allows you to search amazon directly from my site. It also will have random books available.  Most of the ones I clicked on were FREE.  Is this something you like or do you prefer I get rid of it and stick to my SWEET DEALS only??  I’m not able to update my SWEET DEALS as often as I like, so I thought this widget would help fill the void in between but I don’t want it to become a nuisance for anyone or drag down the site for anyone.  Please let me know your thoughts in the comments and/or in the poll. You should only be checking 2 boxes, since there are only 2 questions. Please don’t check all…I need to keep it accurate as possible. Thanks!! ~Robin

Thoughts of a Reviewer…Is 3 Stars really so bad?


While riding along in the passenger’s seat as my husband drove, I had some time to ponder my rating system.  All review sites seem to have their own rating system.  Some have Grades, such as you would receive in school, which would honestly be a better and safer way to go.  You can rate a book a B- and still not hurt someone’s feelings…even a C in school was considered passing, so it’s considered acceptable too!  I’ve considered doing this.  But then, how do you apply those to the almighty STARS on Amazon and Barnes & Noble?

I’ve always taken pride in being honest with my reviews.  I didn’t want to be a site that didn’t post reviews for anything below a certain star.  Now I see the point and attraction to do this and I finally get why so many sites go by that system.  It is really hard to be honest and not hurt feelings, no matter how much you cushion it with sweet words.

But the question is…how do they determine their stars?  When I first started my review site, I created this rating system based on how I read and view books in my every day life:

Book Reads and Reviews Rating System

  • 5 Stars: Omg! THIS is why I read!! I couldn’t put it down until I finished it! I turned into a vicious monster when anyone interrupted me and a fire wouldn’t have budged me from my reading spot. My friends will be spammed with “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS! messages! Will DEFINITELY end up in My Favorites!
  • 4 Stars: Loved it! Had a couple dull moments, but all in all it was an awesome book.  I was able to fold laundry and cook while continuing to read. Only took my eyes off the pages for a couple blinks. Will tell my friends they should really check it out. Couldn’t sleep till I finished it. Will probably end up in My Favorites!
  • 3 Stars: It wasn’t too bad. I put it down for a couple days to catch up on some cleaning. I might mention it to my friends in passing, but will probably ask them if they’ve read one of the 4 or 5 Stars yet, instead.
  • 2 Stars: I ONLY finished it because it had a few moments where it looked like it might pick up. It didn’t.
  • 1 Star/DNF: I either forced myself to finish it with tears in my eyes or had to give up before I threw my kindle/book across the room.

Now, as you can see…my 3 Star rating, really isn’t so bad if you look at it how I do.  But how do Authors view the 3 star rating??  Is a 3 star an insult?  Or is it simply average?  Of course everyone loves a 4 and 5 star…but is a 3 star really so bad?

~Robin

Thoughts of a Reviewer……To Close or Not To Close? THAT Is The Question!


 photo 14234_100349213326471_1056770_n_zps40663044.jpgYes…this is me…Robin. *waves* ♥

As a reviewer, it’s very hard to keep personal feelings out of a review…it is after all just a post with my opinions with a peek or two inside the book.  I write reviews with 3 rules for myself.

1. Honesty.  If I can’t be honest, why review and why ask for a review?  It’s what readers expect of me and I hope what writers do as well.  My goal as a reviewer is to help both readers and writers.

2. Fairness.  I try to balance things as carefully as I can.  It’s a very delicate, thin line between fairness and honesty.  Too much honesty can hurt, not only feelings, but spirit.  It can also belittle someone’s sleepless nights, lost moments with their families, heart, sweat and tears that is all wrapped up into one rectangular package, called a book.  But too much holding back can cross that line of no longer being honest.  When I write a review, I try to keep many things in mind.  What made this book/author special? What made it fall short?  What mood was I in at the time?  Is my rating being based on the content? Or am I basing it off of genre, or even the ending?  I ponder all of these questions and more…questioning my own logic and opinion.  I do this to make sure I maintain that balance between fairness and honesty.

3. No spoilers.  As you read my reviews, you will notice a pattern.  I try to take quotes from the first chapter, add a little back story and then I finish it off with my personal thoughts.  I think when reviewers throw out spoilers…it’s the same as an adult telling a 3 year old there is no Santa.  It ruins the fun for not just the child, but those who love them.  Same goes with a book.  When you give a spoiler, it ruins it for the reader AND the author and it takes away their excitement of “seeing” someone’s reactions when they discover these special secrets on their own as they go along.

That all being said. I was able to catch up on some reading this past week, due to an illness…still not up to par, so I’ll be reading more.  Two specific books were really good. I was riveted….then….the ending. I’ve read cliff hangers, I’ve read series, I’ve read happy endings and I’ve read sad ones.  But these endings frustrated me to no end.  Both books had couples battling through relationship obstacle after obstacle.  Get together, break up, get together, break up, cry, laugh, love, hate. Repeat on all.  I get to the end…after all that…you expect some kind of ending to it right?  Either shit or get off the pot kind of thing by the time I got to that point.  What happens with both books?  It’s left with one person going away and a soap opera type comment from the author, along the lines of….”next book in the series, will she get with he? or will she find love with another? or will he find someone else? blah blah”

Honestly…I loved those two books, but I have no intention of reading the next in the series. I feel let down and to be blunt…pissed off.  If you are going to do a happy ever after, and then have the next book, with the same characters and more chaos, that’s fine.(A perfect example of that is Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress Series…Cat and Bones…those two always keep you on your toes and although you are always rooting for their love, there is other excitement to divert your attention away from just focusing on that. So whether they are together at the end or not, the rest of the story keeps you coming back)

But this type of book, with this ending…no.  If it’s a short story, it’s understandable, but when you dedicate an entire novel, to strictly those two characters relationship and not much of anything else, then don’t give them some kind of closure…Hell, give them a happy ending, then break them up in the beginning of the next book, that’s fine!…but to just leave the book open ended like that…Ugh…  Why not make the next book in the series about one of the other characters you introduced us to? Why why why stretch this one relationship out between more than one book!!???

Why am I mentioning this now?  Because I’ll be reviewing them in the near future and I won’t be pointing these thoughts out in my reviews, so you’ll never know which book(s) I’m talking about or when.  Because my 3 rules won’t allow me to divulge this little information. But I felt it’s something that should be noted for authors who have or who are thinking about doing this same thing.

That being said…I want to know from my readers and authors too, how you feel about books that have focused completely on that one single couple with no diversions to keep you intrigued, EXCEPT FOR THAT COUPLE…that end with no closure.  Will you read the next book? or will you decide you wasted enough of your time on their relationship and bullshit fighting in the first book?

~Robin