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Danielle Donaldson blogs here. What I'm reading now. What I'm writing now. My various thoughts about romance novels, publishing and writing at large and the sexy stuff that comes to mind! 

Filtering by Category: Book Review

Beyond The Friend Zone - Story Spotlight!!!

Danielle Donaldson


 "A Weekend at the Lake" by A.E. Snow


Meet the Story:

Alison lives in a tiny apartment in New York with her roommate, a reality tv junkie. As a writer and freelance juggling projects, she’s pushed her novel aside to do work that actually pays and she’s stuck in a rut. When she gets an invitation to a weekend-long birthday bash for a college buddy, she accepts, hoping a few days at beautiful Lake Tahoe will inspire her. But instead of being inspired, she just feels like a failure, being surrounded by her friends whose lives seem so perfect. She begins to wonder where she went wrong with her life, but could Daniel, an old friend, help her see that the key to her success has been in her all along.

Meet the Author:

A.E. Snow writes MG, YA, and the occasional essay. She’s a Potterhead (Ravenclaw) and spends too much time reading about Duchess Kate. She loves all shades of blue and doesn't go anywhere without her kindle. Nowhere. Sometimes she takes a book too.

Catch her online! 

 BEYOND THE FRIEND ZONE is available on Amazon! 

Reading List: Did Not Finish (Why I Would Mark a Book DNF)

Danielle Donaldson

Recently, I was reading a hot erotica paperback that I picked up at The Ripped Bodice, a bookstore dedicated to romance and erotica titles. The writing was great. The sex scenes were hot. I was invested in the characters, but as the timeline flashed forward and readers were filled in with what had happened to the characters in the years since we last saw them.  

Like a great writer, the author didn't give the readers an info dump on what had happened in those 10 years. Instead, she was feeding us cookie crumbs of information. From the first little bit, I had an uneasy feeling. She mentioned that the character had nursed a baby, but there was no baby in the story yet. That was around page 20. Around page 35, we learn that she has bullet wound scars. Oh, no. That doesn't bode well. Around page 45, we found out that the female main character had panic attacks and four locks on her door. Okay.... Around page 50, I had to put the book down. I realized that the heroine had lost a very young child or baby in some sort of gun fight/crossfire situation. 

I couldn't do it. No fault to the author. It was all on my emotional mentality. I'm not in a good headspace to handle reading something like that at the moment. My anxiety is too great.   

It's Me, Not You

It's okay to break up with books that you aren't feeling. Maybe you don't connect with the characters, maybe the word choice is driving you bonkers, maybe the subject hits too close to home. It's okay to stop watching tv shows that are boring to you. (I'm look at you Fear the Walking Dead.) It's fine to donate clothes that no longer suit your style. Stop eating food that makes you feel crappy or tastes bad. Stop listening to music that you don't actually like just because an old boyfriend tried to convince you that the Violent Femmes were, like, the best band ever. You don't owe anything to anyone. 

Maybe I'll pick this book up again. Maybe I won't. It won't stop me from reading. It might not even stop me from reading something by this author again. But, I am not obligated to finish something that doesn't serve me.  

Know Your Why

If you stop doing something, it's always healthy to know why. As a writer, it is important to me to know why I stopped reading a book or why it feels like such a burden to bear when I should be excited and entertained by a book. It informs my own work. If I am bored as a reader, chances are that if I do something similar to my readers, they will also be bored. 

Know why you're doing something. If you are finding yourself grinding your jaw and powering through something (ahem. Season 7 of Gilmore Girls), you should also know why you can't give it up. I find that I keep hoping that something will turn a corner. That it will finally get better. But, most of the time, ain't nobody got time for that.  


We Can Do Better

I find myself coming back to this thought since I put down that book. As writer, as story creators, we can do better than to give our heroines an overused, lame storyline. We can do better than to rest on the violence against women trope to give our characters conflict (I'm calling you out: Outlander the TV series). As women, we have more internal conflicts than child loss/miscarriage, sexual assault, abuse in relationships, or infertility. Black Widow is rich and dynamic character. We don't really care about the active state of her uterus and she didn't seem to either until that disaster of a movie. 

Yes, those issues are intense and demand a lot out of a person. But, we lean on them too hard. Women have other issues. People have other issues and conflict and desires. Let's look at those. Let's tell those stories. The story of the accidental mother who regrets having children would be a harder story to tell. The story of abusive (but not abused) female is harder to tell. The story of the sociopathic female is harder to tell. The story of the career driven, child free by choice, female is harder to tell. The asexual or transgender or pan sexual or gender fluid or.... Those stories are harder to tell and can be rich and dynamic in their own right. 

I know that I'm going to challenge myself to write better stories, to read better stories. We should expect more.  


What is something that you have started but never finished? Why? Let me know in the comments.  


Danielle Donaldson

Review(Synopsis below): 

FLIRTING WITH FAME by Samantha Joyce

If you loved Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL (like I did!) then you will LOVE the characters in Flirting with Fame. Not only is Elise an amazing writer but she's also a survivor. She's trying to balance her secret life as a world famous author to a hit series with being a "normal" college freshman. Her voice is fresh, self-deprecating but in the best of ways. Her new friends are adorable and real and I feel like I both already know them and I want them to be my friends too. (COME ON! CLINT! THE POET COWBOY?!) Obviously, this story is full of what the fandoms call "feels" and I have lots of them. 

Yes, Elise isn't perfect and a lot of the time she is standing in her way towards her happiness, but a perfect character would be so eye-rollingly boring. The men are steamy hot. The friends are true and loyal. And the story keeps you hoping until the end for that happily ever after. 

If you want to read about more diverse characters, this book is for you. A disabled, deaf female main character. An Asian theater geek gay best friend? A man from Chicago that obsessively wears a Stetson? A bad girl with an armor of attitude that you can't help but hate a little? You got it all, man. Did I mention the super hot famous actor? 

Pick up this book and you won't be able to put it down. 



Elise Jameson is the secret author behind the bestselling, cult hit Viking Moon series. But when a stranger poses as Elise, the painfully shy, deaf nineteen-year-old starts to see how much she’s missing. Can she really hide in the shadows forever? This clever, coming-of-age debut is for anyone who has ever felt unsure in her own skin.

After a freak childhood accident leaves her deaf and physically scarred, nineteen-year-old Elise Jameson retreats into a world of vibrant characters she creates on her laptop. She is shocked when her coping mechanism turns into a career as a phenomenal bestselling novelist. Fans are obsessed with Elise’s Viking Moon series and its author—a striking girl with zero resemblance to Elise who appears on the back covers. Elise sent the randomly Googled photo to her editor following a minor panic attack. Now, horrified to learn she is expected on set of the television pilot based on her novels, Elise tracks down her anonymous stand-in. To Elise’s surprise, Veronica Wilde has been taking credit for Viking Moon for years. She eagerly agrees to keep up the charade if Elise will pose as her assistant.

It’s hard for Elise to watch a stranger take credit for her work and get all the perks she desires, including admiration from the show’s heartthrob star. Edged onto the sidelines of her own life, Elise reconsiders her choice to stay anonymous. Is she ready to come to terms with her true identity—and with the long-buried secrets that could cost her her career, her fans, and the few precious friendships she’s made?

Cupid's Curse by Rebekah R. Ganiere CHECK IT OUT!

Danielle Donaldson








Raine’s a Fae with no magic. Banished to live among “Mundanes” in the human world she works as an Inquisitor for Otherworlders. And she is having a very bad start to her New Year!  


Her dragon Sam wants a girlfriend. Her weretiger boyfriend Jordan is being strangely hormonal. And old enemies are emerging from the woodwork, forbidding Slade, her only friend, from giving her any magical assistance. 


Things start to look up when Cupid offers Raine a job with a fat paycheck- if, before Valentine's Day, she finds the person screwing with his dating service and getting his clients killed.


But Raine isn’t the only one trying to figure out what's going on. The Guardians have their eyes trained on Raine. And as the Otherworlder version of the Secret Police, she can't afford to get on their bad side.

Raine must discover who wants Cupid to close his doors for good, and deal with Jordan's sudden need to take a Valentine's Day trip to Vegas, all while trying to keep herself out off everyone's hit list.


What I'm Reading Now: Make it a Double by Sawyer Bennett

Danielle Donaldson

Goodreads & Amazon 

Heat Level: 3 out of 5 

Synopsis: Brody just got out jail for a terrible crime that he didn't commit. Alyssa is trying to prove to everyone and herself that she can be happy with her non-profit animal rescue. Both of them seem to be missing something and it might just be each other.

I never read the first book in the Last Call series but this story stands alone very well. Bennett's second book in the series follows Brody Markham, the seemingly too intelligent, brooding bad boy that just got out of prison and Alyssa Myers, the heiress with a chip on her shoulder. Part steamy romance and part intense suspense, the story keeps the readers on their toes. 

The heat level is only 3 out of 5 because a lot of the steamy action takes place off the page, the kisses and will-they-won't-they is enough to get your heart pumping. 

Pick it up if you get the chance. You won't regret it.