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March 11, 2015

Quick Hits: Absolute Beginners by SJ Hooks & The List by Anne Calhoun





Absolute Beginners by S.J. Hooks
Absolute 1 | Erotica | Full Fanthom Five Digital | March 18, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

When I saw ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS on NetGalley I felt like I have to read it. First of all, I love how Julia Wilde and Stephen Worthington, the student and professor respectively, are somewhat total opposites, and yet they complement each other perfectly. Julie is this hippie wildchild, very sexual and uninhibited, while Stephen is conservative and has a stick up his butt. Julie had to coax out Stephen's inner sexual beast and it was a fun role reversal in the bedroom. 

However there's not much character depth and growth in ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS. Stephen in particular irritated me a lot. I adore sexy geeks and I found his inexperience adorable, but I got so annoyed by his immature ways. Julia's character was very flat too, there's not a lot of facet in her character including Stephen's, and coupled with the stereotypes incorporated, this formula novel fell short in a lot of ways.



The List by Anne Calhoun
Irresistible 3 | Contemporary Romance | Berkley | March 3, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Why haven't I read Anne Calhoun before? The girl's writing is so beautiful reading THE LIST is like eating a very tasty treat. Though this is the third book in the series, I believe the couple featured is a different one and it doesn't seem like there's a series arc because the book can be read as standalone. 

That said, THE LIST is labeled as erotica, but to me, it was more like a really poignant contemporary romance that features a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. Matilda Davies (shop owner) and Daniel Logan's (FBI agent) love story is of the whirlwind type and the book opens with the couple in therapy because Tilda wants a divorce while Daniel doesn't. The story is then told in flashback with Daniel narrating the story of how they met, fell in love, and eloped. But things got complicated in a lot of ways and Tilda felt very overwhelemed and eventually withdrew from Daniel and their marriage. 

I loved their love story, it's very daring and romantic IMO. Daniel is such a lovely guy, he really fought hard for his marriage and really batted for Tilda. He made excuses for her even when it's obvious she's gotten cold and distant from him. Tilda I connected with, I don't know why I related to her character so much. Maybe it's the paradoxes of her character? Or maybe it's her penchant for the old-fashioned? I just love her drive and strength. Tilda is a carefree, unabashed, self-made woman who runs cold on the inside and in molten on the inside. 

The reason THE LIST wasn't a solid 5-cauldron for me is because ACalhoun held off of Tilda's backstory until almost the end. So for most of the story, I'm left on the ledge, wondering WHAT Tilda's problem is. It wasn't a dramatic revelation and Tilda's history wasn't that bad, and I liked that it wasn't over the top. Just normal baggage that snowballed into something bigger as time went by which resulted to Tilda lacking skills to deal with strong emotions such as love. Overall I recommend THE LIST to romance lovers and readers. I can't say enough how beautiful this novel is.

Life happens Tilda. You don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing until later.
Life's going to come at you. You have to take the joy when you can.







34 comments:

  1. Oh grrr. I skilled Calhoun because of the cover. Just didn't catch me. I have really enjoyed hers in the past. Looks like I'll be adding it into the pile now :)

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    1. It's my first time, loved her writing, beautiful, not cheap or even dirty.

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  2. Would the first one be acceptable mindless fun? The second book sounds more like my forte. :)

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    1. Well it could be. For us, Absolute Beginners would fall under the "mood read" category because it's so shallow

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  3. One out of two isn't bad right? I do like the cover on the first book, it would have made me pick it up, glad i know not to now. ;)

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    1. Definitely. It's all about balance :)

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  4. Ah man, too bad on the 1st book...it does look promising. I like premise if the 2nd one and that it felt more like a romance is good.

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    1. The List is so decadent. I will be reading more Calhoun in the future.

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  5. I hate when they hold off on the backstory so long so you never really fully understand some of their behavior and decisions.
    It's too bad the first one you reviewed wasn't so great but I'm glad you enjoyed the other!

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    1. Yeah, I skimmed a lot of parts in Absolute Beginners, I just read the non-sexual parts to get a better grasp of the characters. Eh...

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  6. I have this problem, Braine: you're writing beautiful reviews to books I wouldn't normally think to read. But the way you talk about The List makes me want to try it. It's a terrible dilemma, and it's giving me a migraine, and it's totally your fault :D But I do love your reviews so! So I'll be coming back for more migraines, I guess... :)

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    1. Welll thank you, but my review doesn't do The List justice! I wish I have an excerpt to share, Calhoun's writing is divine!

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  7. I am disappointed the one with the sexy geek didn't work. I adore a sexy nerd. Bummer!

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  8. Nice quickies! I try to do quick, but I need to make it even quicker

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  9. The List looks interesting, and side note but I'm wondering what lip product on the cover she's using lol it's pretty!

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    1. Right? Maybe it's MAC? I did love the Rimmel red lip product Anya sent me. Perfect!

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  10. I was interested in Anne Calhoun's Walkers Ford series and never got to it. This one sounds good too.

    Oh bummer, on the student/professor one. I like role reversals too.

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    1. I will be looking up for of Calhoun's work... yeah, I was looking forward to some serious time with the nerdork

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  11. A book in a series that can be read as a standalone is a gift for those who don't prefer to read a series. But I'm not that so I might read the first two books first while holding on to the idea that the List sounds like a good read.

    Ella @ The Filipina Booknote

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    1. So true! Series are great but they can be such a drag sometimes.

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  12. Anne Calhoun is now on my list!That's just the way I like the stories in my erotica reads. I love that there's some mystery in the plot! That's the reason I loved Lisa Renee Jones' Inside Out series.

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    1. Yeah, I mean sex is sex, there's only so many things you can get. Human stories are different though

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  13. Anne Calhoun is now on my list!That's just the way I like the stories in my erotica reads. I love that there's some mystery in the plot! That's the reason I loved Lisa Renee Jones' Inside Out series.

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  14. I added the List to my wishlist, it sounds fantastic. Too bad the other book missed the mark because I loved the premise.

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    1. Erotica needs to be erotic, right? Needs to be seductive and addictive, not just a hook up

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  15. I'm sorry Absolute Beginners was pretty much a bust, Braine. But at least you had The List! I haven't read Calhoun either but I'm going to check her out. Oh, and I think the label erotica is given out too freely lately. I've read a lot of books with that label that I think are really more contemporary romance. I wonder why publishers are doing that? Because it sells???

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    1. I guess that's the draw. I don't mind contemporary romance labeled as erotica, I hate porn labeled as erotica.

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  16. I read one of the Calhoun books from that series (I think he 1st one). I didn't quite connect to the characters fully but I really enjoyed her writing so maybe I'll give this one a shot.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. The writing is definitely THE draw for me.

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  17. I read Absolute Beginners when it was fanfiction and also found the characters to not have much depth. The List I would consider! Thanks for your quickie reviews!

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  18. Oh The List sounds really good and I've heard good things about that author in general. Great reviews!

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  19. Shame you felt there wasn't much character growth in the Absolute Beginners read.
    The List sounds fantastic though, shame some details were held on for too long though!

    Naomi @ Nomi’s Paranormal Palace

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