off the shelf: what I’ve read so far – 2023 reads

Once again, I didn’t mean to take 5 months to post a reading update, but here we are. Some of these are briefer than others because I failed to write my notes as I read, but the ratings are as arbitrarily cakey as ever.

Currently reading

I Didn’t Do the Thing Today: Letting Go of Productivity Guilt by Madeleine Dore

Ironically, I set this one aside for a month or so because I couldn’t do the thing… I’m almost done and it’s been a great read so far and a solid reminder to let go of what isn’t serving.


The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today, vol. 1 by 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

If you’re looking for a sweet, slice-of-life manga about a somewhat hopeless mess of a 20-something and her human-sized cat, this is the one for you. Randomly picked it based on the title and it became an insta-fave. It’s only 5 volumes long, so worth a read if you’re looking for a short manga series.

Sweat and Soap, vol. 1-6 by Kintetsu Yamada 🍰🍰🍰🍰

One of my coworkers recommended this series after I mentioned that I like the more adult romance manga. It’s the story of a girl who suffers from excess sweating and a perfume expert who is captivated by her scent. Shenanigans ensue. It’s 11 volumes long, so I’m working my way through it.

Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai 🍰🍰🍰

I had mixed feelings about this one at first. Thought about DNF-ing at first, but I was stuck at the Dr.’s office and it was on my Kindle so I kept going and am happy I did. I prefer Alisha Rai’s earlier books (pre illustrated cover era), but this was a fun change and I enjoyed the heist element.

Rowankind by Jacey Bedford 🍰🍰🍰

I started reading this one in December 2021 and I kept setting it aside, distracted by new books and library holds, until I considered DNF-ing it. But I persisted and here we are. Book 2 is the strongest in the series IMHO, but if you’re into alternate British history with a fantasy element, and want to read something that isn’t set in Medieval England, give it a try.

The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

Britta and Wes were just what I needed to get out of a reading slump. Jess Owens mentioned this book in one of her reading vlogs and I was curious so I ordered it from the library and set my other books aside. It was perfect. A sweet but spicy slow burn romance between a writer embarking on a body positivity-inspired wellness journey and the CEO/fitness coach who takes her on as his client. You can feel the tension rolling off the page as they fall for each other.


Get a Life, Chloe Brown 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰 and Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert 🍰🍰🍰🍰

Lumping these two together because I binged them one after the other. Why only books 1 and 3? Because I read book 2 when it came out and had these on my TBR for-ever! Talia Hibbert can do no wrong. She gets the humor just right and hits all the marks with the romance. I loved Chloe and could relate to her struggles with chronic pain and really enjoyed Eve’s journey of discovery.

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

Is Ali Hazelwood my new fave? Yes. Yes, she is. Tropey and familiar, but just what I needed when I was going through a rough time and desperately wanted something light and fluffy. I also love the side characters that Ali Hazelwood creates. They’re just a fleshed out as the mains and it makes for a good side plot.

A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn 🍰🍰🍰

YES! After DNF-ing the last installment, I’m happy to find that this one reignited my love for the mix of mystery and sexual tension that Deanna Raybourn does best. However, I kind of wish I read the book, rather than listened to the audio because the narrator’s rendition of male voices really messed with the one in my head. I’m not sure I would’ve gotten behind Stoker if the narrator’s rendition had been my first experience of the character.

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren 🍰🍰🍰

I did it. I finally found the Christina Lauren series that checks my box. I don’t know if it’s a reflection of the current trends in romance publishing or a sign of my penchant for high heat reads, but I’ve never been able to get into any of the other books I’ve tried by Christina Lauren. This being their first published series, I can finally see why they got so popular within the romance reader community. Boss billionaire romance isn’t my usual trope, but this one does it for me.

Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

This. This is the one that ticks all my boxes. If I had to recommend just one in this series, this would be it. Genuinely spicy with well-developed characters.

Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren 🍰🍰🍰

Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. I’m not into the “I knew her as a kid” trope, so this one didn’t quite land for me.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

I was ambivalent about this one for a while, but I finally gave in to the hype and have 0 regrets! This was just the fun sort of campy romance I think of when I think of true RomCom, with the perfect amount of angst to balance it out. So glad I gave it a try.


The Christmas One Night Stand by L. Steele

Got about a third of the way through this one but the plot dragged a bit and too much was tied to other couples in what I figure was an earlier part of the series or a related, sister series. 🤷‍♀️ I lost interest in the story.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

I DNF-ed her second book and now her third. I think it’s safe to say Helen Hoang’s series isn’t for me.

On Hold

Chase Wilde Comes Home by Jennifer Ryan

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writing: revealing my not so secret project

In honor of Valentine’s Day (my favorite holiday, matched only by Halloween), I thought it would be fun to finally share some details about the romance novel I’m currently querying. Before You Called Me Baby is my mid-2019 NaNoWriMo U-Turn, a story so vivid in my mind that I set aside another project to embark on a whole new journey in a genre that I love, but had never written. It’s gone through multiple rewrites, edits, proofreads, and betas, and now we’re in the query trenches…

Before You Called Me Baby moodboard aesthetic

Yane has spent years pining for her best friend, James. Right when it looks like James noticed, his ex walks back into the picture. But with less than three months to put together an art show, or kiss her grad degree goodbye, the last thing Yane needs are messy feelings distracting her from her goal. Too bad life never goes as planned.

BEFORE YOU CALLED ME BABY is a slow burn, friends-to-lovers romance featuring a Cuban-American art student on the brink of graduation secretly pining for her best friend, who may or may not be back together with his ex.

off the shelf: books I read in 2022 – a recap list

books I read in 2022 (more or less)

My last reading update was posted in March and then life kind of ran away from me… I’m making no promises, but I’d like to do better this year. For the sake of closure, here is a very brief, purely subject list of my favorite reads, re-reads, and disappointments of 2022.

You’ll notice that my reading trended towards fantasy romance and romance for the most part. This list does not include non-fiction that I reviewed or read for work, but those happened too.

🎧 indicates audiobook

some titles are linked to my original review

Books I Loved in 2022

These are my 5 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰 reads. The reads that got me out of a funk. The books that made me want to stay up late. The ones I purchased in print and added to the permanent collection…

  • From Lukov with Love by Marianna Zapata
  • Lothaire by Kresley Cole 🎧
  • Dark Skye by Kresley Cole 🎧 (this one hit all my kinks. I listened to it twice(!) and bought it in print)
  • A Promise of Darkness and the rest of the Dark Court Rising Series by Bec McMaster
  • Sapphire Flames and the rest of the Catalina arc of the Hidden Legacy Series by Ilona Andrews (🎧 and book)
  • The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling (so happy I loved this as much as The Ex Hex)

Re-reads I read for comfort and fun

Disappointments and DNFs

indicates DNF

  • The Impossible Impostor by Deanna Raybourn ❌
  • Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne ❌
  • Theirs for the Night by Katee Robert
  • It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover ❌
  • Take Me Home Tonight by Erika Kelly ❌

lately, a list.

Writing a novella while querying the project I started writing in 2019.

Struggling with family stuff – health, mental wellness, housing insecurity, the whole she-bang. It’s been a lot.

Teetering on the edge of burnout at work.

Let’s not even talk of recent unexpected expenses.

Most of my recent reads are audiobooks. Maybe I’ll post about them, maybe I won’t. The most fun was the second series in Ilona Andrew’s Hidden Legacy series.

Started PT for my arm after two years of diagnosis guesswork. It seems to be helping. Still looking into other issues (like the weird pain I get in my jaw that goes beyond TMJ).

Sitting here, trying to figure out how I’m going to fix my mom’s latest disaster.

Still vlogging as an exercise in creativity and joy seeking.

off the shelf: what I read – November 2021 through March 2022

A long overdue reading round-up. Everything I’ve read from November through March (with arbitrary cake ratings).

Currently reading

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Listening as a re-read 😊

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

My experience with Mariana Zapata has been hit or miss, but I was hooked from the start and glad I’m finally giving it a shot after nearly 2 years on my book wish list.

Rowankind by Jacey Bedford

This is the last book in the Rowankind series, a Georgian era fantasy series. Currently on hold while I read through a recent rush of arrivals from the library…


Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare 🍰🍰🍰

Part of the Spindle Cove series. Really wished the heroine had been a little older given her knowledge of emotion etc. fun read. The kind of tasty morsel I needed in February. The sexy bits were extra spicy for Tessa dare imho and ( ˘ ³˘)♥

Baby Mine by Kennedy Fox 🍰🍰🍰

I had this one in my Kindle collection for well over a year or two. What I’m learning is that the Kennedy Fox duo love a baby story. I am not a bebe person. It takes a while to get to the heart of the story and leaves you on a cliffhanger. However, they didn’t lose me, so I’ll be reading the second part sometime soon.

Neon Gods by Katee Robert 🍰🍰

A modern Hades/Persephone? I was sold.

My expectations were high. Sadly, I found it kind of boring and skimmed most of the last two-thirds. Katee Robert is supposed to be super steamy, but I found the story (and the “steam” scenes) pretty meh. Tempted to read Electric Idol because I love the Cupid/Psych myth, but my expectations are low.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

Such a treat! I absolutely loved this smalltown witchy romance with a Welsh hero who almost meets my constant search for a Howl type wizard. This is technically a Halloween-themed book, but I think it’s perfect any time you need a magic-filled read.

A Lot Like Adios by Alexis Daria – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

I ordered this from the author’s local book co-op because it included a signed copy and a really cute illustrated keychain. No regrets! The book was a great blend of rom-com antics (hero sneaking around to avoid his parents, runs into father in a compromising situation), and a realistic take on complicated family and friend dynamics. The romance was also 👌 chefs kiss


The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod – 🤷🏻‍♀️

It didn’t transform my life… also, nothing I hadn’t heard or tried before.


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 🍰🍰🍰

Re-read for the last episode of the Podcast. For my thoughts, check out the episode.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

A “re-read” listen. Every time I read this book, I love it more. If you’re a fan of the movie, but haven’t read the book, you’re really missing out (and I say this as a huge fan of the movie). The narrator was perfect and even gave Howl a slight Welsh accent to be true to the book. 🥰 Howl and Sophie forever!

Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole 🍰🍰🍰🍰

If you’re into dark fantasy romance, this series is dark and getting darker by the book (just 7? books to catch up to the latest). The first book is my least favorite, but I’m hooked to the audiobooks. The narrator always does a fabulous job at making this steamy paranormal sound extra steamy.

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quiet day diaries: week of January 24

quiet day diaries logo
in which the well runs dry






Saturday – Sunday

I started so many of these in the last two months and failed to post them. In short, I’m burned out. All my creative juices are flowing towards edits, but my general mood is one of exhaustion, particularly at day job. I’m just managing to work on the stuff I need to check off, not much mental space left for distant goals.

I’m not sure how much longer this feeling will last. It started before the pandemic and has gotten worse since.

In an effort to take control of some aspect of my life, I started a No/Low Buy for 2022 and will be documenting it on my channel.

My 2022 Low/No Buy Rules and Goals
2022 Makeup Inventory

I am also finding new ways to engage in non-spending activities at home.

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we’ve come a long, long way together…

After 4 years, 100+ episodes, and countless laughs, rants, and reading recommendations, the Bluestocking Circle podcast is coming to an end. If you ever gave the show a listen, drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, you can listen to our latest episode on Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, or work your way through our back catalog, which will be available on your podcatcher of choice until Sept. 2022.

After that, we’ll find an alternative archive.

The lady nerds say so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.
  1. The Grand Finale
  2. Minisode 50.5: Follow-up & First Impressions
  3. Episode 50: Sense and Sensibility
  4. Minisode 49.5: Follow-up & First Impressions
  5. Episode 49: The Matrix Re-Examined

off the shelf: what I read – May through October [a summer to fall round-up]

I debated posting these, but I DID read a lot of books during the interim and I wanted to get back on track, so why not. These are micro reviews because it’s been months… Mostly impressions and an impromptu rating system of 🍰

Read (listed from most recent)

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – 🍰🍰🍰

A long delayed read, but worth it. She’s creepy y’all. More so than Affinity and definitely a spooky read if that’s what you’re into.

The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt – 🍰🍰🍰

My first Hoyt and likely not my last. This was fun. I think it’s her first novel, if I recall correctly, so it’s a little dated and some phrases made me giggle-snort, but fun time had by all. (The “prince” has the same name as the Boy so that made me giggle-snort 10xs more)

And then it became my summer of Sarah MacLean…

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰

Lady in pants! I love a lady in pants. I was super excited to get to this one (the big twist in the Scoundrels series), but I think I hyped myself up to hard and I felt a little meh about the heroine after seeing her character in the earlier books.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

Oh, this was a good one! More angst (gah! I love it!). Lots of groveling. A woman with a past who is skilled at knocking men out, and a man with a reputation for doing the same. Also, see adorable troupe of meddling boys.

Bombshell by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

We’ve reached the Victorians and it’s a hell of a ride. Girl gangs, secret identities, and a spot of explosives.

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

This is the most “controversial” of Sarah MacLean’s books, but I ate it with a spoon! Complex second chance romance (because he done f*cked up) with a LOT of angst. This is my catnip.

TW: miscarriage and cheating.

A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

Ward/Guardian romance with a ward who knows her mind.

Broke Millennial Takes on Investing by Erin Lowry – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

The Broke Millennial series is great if you’re interested in upping your finance game without Business Bro speak or convoluted finance jargon. The different “tracks” make it easy to learn what you need without reading material you know.

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

The book that started me on this binge… The first in the Scandal & Scoundrel series. Sophie is everything that I love in a “wallflower” heroine – takes charge and isn’t afraid to handle a man (too often, writers use the “I’m a virgin and don’t know what a man is” trope and I HATE it – this book does not do that). Runaway adventure with a touch of second chance.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

I started reading this and within days I learned that my mom and gran had covid… had to go on a hiatus until they recovered because reading about a dying mother and having a mother in peril was a little too hard.

Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 🍰🍰🍰

One of those SEP classics that gets name-dropped on Fated Mates on a regular basis, so I finally had to read it. SEP does not shy away from weird, questionable plots. There’s some serious consent re: secret baby (and how she gets it), but it is what it is. You also get a trio of mountain women eschewing men with a firm hand (and maybe a shotgun).

Flirting with Forever by Cara Bastone – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

A sweet, sort of enemies-to-lovers because of a silly misunderstanding love story between a slightly older woman and an adorable lawyer who wants to help everyone. See also, man with cat 💖

The Queen’s Triumph by Jessie Mihalik – 🍰🍰🍰

The third in the Rogue Queen series. Space opera romance FTW! Also, one of my insta-buy authors 😉.

Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

This book is bonkers in the best way. It’s older, so beware dynamics and situations that wouldn’t fly today, but it’s such a random, fun read. Broke rich girl forced to marry circus performer by her Russian royalty obsessed father (I told you it’s bonkers).

TW: It came out in the mid-90s, you’re in for some dubious consent moments.

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami – 🍰🍰🍰🍰🍰

Vignettes and a very slow, unexpected romance between a salary woman and her former sensei.

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai – 🍰🍰🍰🍰

This may be my favorite in the Modern Love series. Influencer gets catfished by her celebrity crush (or does she?).

Taming Him by Kennedy Fox – 🍰🍰

This one’s on me. I wasn’t expecting a baby plot, so I kind of meh-ed on the latter half of the book. Want to read more of the series though, as cowboys are a thing I didn’t know I needed.


Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin – 🤷🏻‍♀️ I liked the concept, but it wasn’t for me. Give me this book with adult characters and less Magisterium style churchiness and I’m in.


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – 🍰🍰

One of those canonical horror stories you have to read. Read it for the podcast, so you can hear my thoughts here

Episode 48: The Haunting of Hill House The Bluestocking Circle Podcast

In which we break down the horrors of solitude, learn that ghosts will improve most stories, and, as always, expect more murder. All this and more as the Bluestockings discuss the book The Haunting of Hill House.

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in memoriam

of a very good boy

Oreo was my pandemic cat. A sweet street cat who experienced several traumatic infections between 2019 and 2020. He was around 6 years old based on my mom’s neuter records, but we’re not sure the day he was born (his mom brought him when he was a few weeks old).

I adopted him a few months after losing Caramelo in October 2020. I wasn’t ready to adopt a cat, but I didn’t want to risk his having a third infection (they were brutal, turned into massive, hard to treat abscesses, and required surgery), so I brought him home and hoped for the best, knowing that he might be a hospice case.

After so long, I thought he was clear, but his heart was too big. He was so big-hearted, his little body couldn’t keep up. We lost him on October 30th at 3am, a year to the day I adopted him.