2012 – A Year in Review

fireworksAnd with it being  January 1st, 2013 we can officially end 2012 and all its reading goals.  I’m very happy to say that I have succeeded in reading my 110 books for the year and exceeded that goal by a whopping 74 books!  With the success of this year I’ll up my reading goal again for 2013.  Keep an eye out for my annual New Year, New Challenges post for a breakdown of what I’m looking to accomplish.

2012 has definitely been a year of eclectic reading for me.  It’s difficult to pick my favorite books of the year since I read so many, but here is my best go:

  1. The Girl on the Cliff by Lucinda Riley
  2. The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley
  3. Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander
  4. A Million Suns by Beth Revis
  5. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James
  7. The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
  8. Short Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer
  9. In A Treacherous Court by Michelle Diener/The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
  10. Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Damn. That was difficult.

My reading challenges wrap up is as follows: I once again blew through the Historical Fiction challenge (woot woot!).  I also succeeded in my first year participating in the Around the Stack challenge!  Now for the bad parts. The TBR challenge and the Audio challenge both got only one completed review each out of me.  I know I failed the audio challenge because of 1Q84 (AH SO LONG), plus my addiction of reading newer books killed any hope I had of finishing the TBR challenge.  A 50% completion rate for the challenges isn’t terrible, but I’d still liked to have completed 100%.

Even though it’s 2013 I still have some books to review that I finished in 2012, so keep an eye out for them.  You can also see a listing of EVERYTHING I read this year, including review links, here.

Well, there you go folks.  My 2012 year in review.  Enjoy the rest of your New Year’s and join me again tomorrow as we kick off a new year and new challenges!

The June Round-Up!

Half the year is over! To make my goal of reading 110 books by the end of the year I should have completed 55 books by June 30th.  I can happily say I was finished with 95 books at the end of June!!! WOOT WOOT!  I’m clearly going to make my goal of 110 by the end of July, so upon completion I’ll re-evaluate my goal and up it.

My cousins with my sister and her EPIC hat

This summer has proved to be one of the busiest of my life, and June continued that trend.  The beginning of June was my sister’s bridal shower, (her wedding is the end of July – YAY!) and man was it fun!  My sister BEGGED us to play toilet paper bride at the shower.  If you’re unfamiliar with this game let me enlighten you.  You split up into teams, are given toilet paper and other “accessories”, and must dress one member of your team in a bridal gown of toilet paper.  It is by far one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and the creations are hysterical.  Two of my mother’s friends must have been dressed in four rolls of toilet paper a piece.  Then of course my cousins made my sister an EPIC hat using all the ribbons from her gifts.  Seriously, the hat was enormous. (Just check out the picture)

Wedding!

The weekend following  Todd and I flew out to Columbus, Ohio for his cousin’s wedding.  This trip marked the farthest west I’ve ever been in the US!  We don’t get to see Todd’s extended family much since the majority of them are in Ohio, so not only was it great being there for the wedding, but it was wonderful visiting with Todd’s family.

Our Relay For Life event took over our lives for the third and fourth weeks of June.  The event went off WONDERFULLY and we’ve raised over $100,000 to-date!  I met my personal goal of raising $1,000 and was SO damn happy!  We had beautiful weather and the event was just perfect.  It was unfortunately my last year as an event chair (as I’ve been a chair for three years) and I couldn’t have asked for it go any better than it did.

Probably my favorite event of the whole month was last weekend when I got to meet ROBERT GOOLRICK!!  If you don’t know who he is then you’ve been living under a rock!  Robert wrote A Reliable Wife and just came out with his newest novel, Heading Out To Wonderful.  My favorite bookstore R.J. Julia hosted an evening with him in their bookstore and honestly I’ve never looked forward to something more than this!  He was absolutely hysterical and I was mesmerized as he read two chapters from Heading Out To Wonderful.  Being able to chat with him later on as he signed my books was heavenly.  AH. I’m still in disbelief that I got to meet him!

Anyway, enough about what I did. What did I read!?! I finished 12 books this month and The Siren by Tiffany Reisz was HANDS DOWN my favorite of the month.  I keep telling people that it’s 1,000 times better than the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy and that they should read it instead! The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen came in at a close second! I kept it eclectic for June – erotica, historical fiction, Jane Austen fan fiction, etc.  Someone needs to give me a romance novel intervention.  I literally can’t get enough. HELP.

Alright folks, enough of my rambling.  What have been some of your favorite author meetings? Who do you want to meet?  What did you read this month?  Any good books you want me to add to my list?

As always…..happy reading!

#59 A Review of The Siren (The Original Sinners #1) by Tiffany Reisz

Y’all know that I read and pretty much hated the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.  My friend, Jeanne (@einfach_mich on Twitter) and I started discussing the Erotica/BDSM genre and soon became fast friends over it.  Her being the pro and me the newbie began discussing what it meant to read about what I call abusive relationships.  She promised me that she’d scour her mind and the web and find me a series that depicts what a true BDSM relationship is like, with two consenting adults that are 100% into that lifestyle.  (Ana from Fifty Shades is a “vanilla” sex character and never delves into the BDSM world as deep as Christian has)  First came the recommendation of the Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rice, written under her pen name A.N Roquelaure.  Let’s just say that it’s one of the few books in my history I couldn’t complete.  I made it about 60-65 pages in before it became entirely too much to handle.  Jeanne promised me she’d keep looking and I promised I’d keep an open mind.  Yesterday, (yes you’re reading that right. I read a book and am reviewing it in under 24 hours) Jeanne contacted me RAVING about Tiffany Reisz’s book The Siren.  Remembering our deal I pulled open my nook, purchased The Siren and began my exploration back into the world of BDSM.

The Siren begins by introducing us to the author Nora Sutherlin.  A famous erotica writer, Sutherlin’s books are becoming more and more popular, but she hasn’t quite reached the point where she’ll be a full-time writer.  She needs a critical bestseller, something that will shake up the traditional fare in bookstores and make her a household name.  Fortunately, she thinks she has something in her latest book.  Unfortunately, she needs a good amount of help to finish and publish it.  Enter Zachary Easton, the well-to-do British editor who agrees to take on Sutherlin’s project before he leaves on a promotion to the US in six weeks.  He only agrees to this if he has complete (and I mean complete) control of the writing process.  This is something completely new to Nora, and her writing sessions with Easton are something that she’s never experienced before.  They are in fact so new and exciting that she even finds them arousing despite how long and grueling they increasingly become.  What will Nora do with this new submission she is experiencing?  What sparks will fly between her and Easton?  Will she be able to handle this new lifestyle?

Guys. For real I finished this book and was speechless.  It blew me away and tore away any preconceived notions I had about the BDSM/Erotica genre of writing.  Hell, frig that. This book doesn’t even belong in that genre!  This is a work of literary fiction.  All throughout my reading I kept highlighting whole passages that literally made me just stop and think.  Case in point:

“I know people think erotica is just a romance novel with rougher sex.  It’s not.  If it’s a subgenre of anything, it’s horror.”

“Horror? Really?”

“Romance is sex plus love.  Erotica is sex plus fear.”

Mind blown. I’ve never thought of erotica (both literally and literary) in this light.  The entire book changed my view on so many things, not just those related to erotica.  When a book forces you to step back and acknowledge that there could be another angle to something besides your opinion, it’s just amazing.  This is what books are all about.  They change your views, your opinions, your thoughts.  They make you think. They open your mind.  Challenge you. Excite you. Frighten you.  The Siren is ALL of these things and more.  It’s about so much more than a woman who writes about and participates in a BDSM lifestyle.  It’s about being you in all aspects of your life.  Being you even if that means giving up what you want and what you think you need.  There is a great quote that sums this all up:

…sacrifice can only get you so far.  And although two people can love each other deeply, sometimes love alone doesn’t cut it.  We can only sacrifice so much of ourselves in a relationship before there’s nothing left to love or be loved.

Reisz is so freaking astute.  This idea: how much can you change before you’re not you anymore, is the main theme strung throughout the novel.  This is why I say this book breaks the mold in selecting a genre.  With the turning of each page you are continually bombarded with thought-provoking statements that make you forget you’re reading “erotica.”  There are even large passages in this novel about art, music, and religion that all continue this rapid attack on your brain, forcing you to re-think everything.  My favorite quote, which I view as the most poignant of the novel is:

“Tell me something boss.  What do you think is the highest form of art?”

“Literature,” he answered without hesitation.  “Painters and sculptors require elaborate supplies and tools.  Dancers must have music.  Musicians must have instruments.  Literature needs nothing but a voice to speak it or sand to scrawl it in.”

(Can we all just cheer for literature here for a second?)

Another fabulous aspect of this novel is its use of sex in a non gratuitous way.  One thing about Fifty Shades that bothered me were the CONSTANT sex scenes. (Literally every sixth page was a sex scene just because).  The Siren uses sex to unravel character layers and to ignite plot movement.  There was nothing grotesque and abusive about these scenes even though they’re done in an erotic format.  One thing I couldn’t get over in Fifty Shades was how abusive the sex scenes felt.  As an outsider of this lifestyle I couldn’t understand why people chose this pain and abuse.  The Siren was written so well, and gave such insight to this lifestyle, that I felt like I get it now.  Maybe not 100%, but I have Jeanne to keep choosing new books for me to read and explore this topic.

The Siren will take you on a tumultuous and heartbreaking story.  It will beat you, bruise you, and make you love it with each exquisitely written page.  When it’s over you’ll feel torn apart yet sated, aching for the next chapter in Nora’s life.  For those of you who are interested in this undertaking, I can assure you that it will be a journey you won’t forget.  Comment below and let me know what you think!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin (2012)
eBook: 400 pages
ISBN: 9781459234499