off the shelf: what I read – January + February 2021

Apparently, I never got around to posting January’s books amid all the new year excitement (and health drama), so here they are along with February’s reads.

Still Reading

Lore by Alexandra Bracken – Of course, all my holds came in at the same time… Loving this urban fantasy take on a Greek-mythology inspired Olympic murder fest. Basically, every 7 years the remaining gods battle it out, but the stakes are higher than ever.

The Art of Flaneuring: How to Wander with Intention and Discover a Better Life by Erika Owen – I’ve been reading this book on and off for the last year. It’s not fault of the book, it’s actually quite enjoyable, I’m just not in the frame of mind to read a book about exploring your city on foot when I can’t explore my city…

Finished

The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas – I never care about spoilers, but when I saw that this was the latest book on Heaving Bosoms, I paused and picked up my Kindle. I LOVED this book. St. Vincent is my surly hero. It hit all the marks for me–enemies to lovers, alpha hero who wants to make you comfortable, mildly high stakes. Just a win on all counts.

Naughty Brits by Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Louisa Edwards, Tessa Gratton, and Sierra Simone – I really enjoyed these stories, particularly Tessa Graton’s, but I couldn’t finish Sierra Simone’s. It hit a few too many hard limits for me and I couldn’t get behind the story. Especially loved the way the novellas evoked various parts of Britain and the British Museum. Really makes me want to put London at the top of my list after the pandemic (I visited in 2005 and have been meaning to go back since).

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo – This book made me mad in the best way possible. Highly recommend! The opening is a little quirky, but so powerful by the time you get to the end. I can’t stop recommending it.

American Girl, Molly Collection by Valerie Tripp – Molly and Felicity are the two original AG’s I never got around to reading. I was feeling the need for a WWII story to remind me that the world has survived some pretty grim times… Is it just me or is Molly a little mean? There’s the usual didactic element to each volume, but Molly is a bit of a spoiled bully, something I didn’t get from the other girls in the original collection. Am I just being nostalgic?

Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day by Ken Mogi – I love starting the year with a self-improvement title. This came out during the wave of books about culturally inspired habits for happy lives… think Hygge and Lagom. Ikigai is a Japanese philosophy that encourages a balanced state of mind. It’s a quick, educational little book with lots of insight into the Japanese way of life.

Audiobooks

Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole – this is the one that Sarah Maclean calls “Torture Island”. There’s definitely torture, not that this series is particularly light in general. I still enjoyed it. The reincarnation plot makes for some interesting stakes on top of the paranormal hunter/vivisection subplot.

DNF

None!

Well, not strictly true but the one book I DNFed ended up being number insert double digit here in a series and completely impenetrable, so I returned it to the library.

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off the shelf: what I read – November 2020

Not the greatest month for reading. It’s been hard to focus and even harder to find the desire to sit still long enough to read, but at least I found some good ones.

Still Reading

A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane – I am loving this sequel! I enjoyed the first book in this series, but generally disliked the hero, so that made it a little hard to finish. No such qualms here!

Finished

Any Rogue will Do by Bethany Bennet – Second chance regency romance with a heroine who wants her own place and a hero who knows he screwed up. It dragged a little towards the end, but I enjoyed it and loved all the side characters as much as the heroes.

Temptation’s Darling by Johanna Lindsey – This is the only example I have of Johanna Lindsey’s work… I don’t think I’ll be delving further. Though this was the last book she published before she passed away in early 2020, it reads like old school romance. Kind of long, kind of rambling, penetration to orgasm in 0 seconds flat is a thing that happens more than once. I finished it because I purchased a physical copy, likely would’ve DNFed if I had borrowed it.

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer – I, like so many others, watched Enola Holmes on Netflix and was charmed by the story. The book is A LOT darker than the film, and the characters are younger and in more peril. Overall, a fun read and a series that I will return to when I get through some of the other books I’ve been meaning to read.

Audiobooks

Emma by Jane Austen, narrated by Nadia May – This is the third time I read Emma, but the first time I listen to it on audio. Nadia May is excellent! I highly recommend this version of the book. You can hear my full thoughts on Emma (and Clueless) in this month’s episode of The Bluestocking Circle Podcast.

DNF

None!

off the shelf: what I read – August 2020

Still Reading

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip – making my way through those print TBRs…

Finished

Act Like It by Lucy Parker – (link to HB podcast) A perfect enemies-to-lovers romance! I heard about this book a long, long time ago and had it on my book list forever… When Heaving Bosoms recapped it on one of their episodes, I decided the time was now. This was the unexpected reading highlight of a slow, but good reading month.

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal – Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan… I’ve long felt that the only way to pull off a beat-for-beat Pride & Prejudice update is to set it in a place where marrying above your station can make a meaningful difference in a woman’s life. Setting it in Pakistan in the year 2000 is chef’s kiss. You get the mother-obsessed-with-marriage without it being weird and out of place. Billionaire boyfriend books aside, the relationship between Alysba and Darsee reads like a real Pride & Prejudice set in “modern” times. Loved how the story was updated and all the references to books scattered throughout (I already ordered a copy of Sunlight on a Broken Column by Attia Hossain).

One random aside, there are some jarring head-hopping scenes where the narrative shifts from the speaker to an omniscient narrator that tells you a different character’s thoughts or backstory. I’m not sure if this is a call-back to Austen, or a writerly conceit that didn’t work for me.

The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan – aphrodisiac gone awry… This is the sort of premise that sounds absolutely bonkers but makes for a very fun, quick read. Couldn’t put it down. I loved the chemistry between the characters and look forward to reading more Sophie Jordan.

West by Edith Pattou – this book has been on my shelf for a little over a year… it was published in 2018, the sequel to Pattou’s East (a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that I love). One of the mainsubplots is a pandemic.
facepalm

That said, it took me back to a world I missed and reminded me why I love re-tellings. Still, if you can’t handle the thought of a plague, maybe hold off on this one.

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane – barbarian romantic fantasy … this straddles the place between erotic and romantic fantasy IMO. If you don’t like female anatomical bits described as c*nt, maybe skip this one. This book is doing things… it doesn’t all work for me, but it makes me think, and that’s always worth the read.

Audiobooks

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole – Not my favorite, but it’s a turning point in the series so…
Unpopular opinion: the Valkyries are the beings I enjoy the least in this series and this one has A LOT of Valkyries. Much of the conflict was of the “this could’ve been fixed if you talked about it” variety; pretty standard, but didn’t fully for work me. Think Jewel of the Nile with a not-quite-unrequited love interest, a god that needs to be killed, and a whole of lot interpersonal baggage.

TW: lots of sexual abuse and torture (the big bad is a really BIG BAD).

DNF

none! yay!

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video: off the shelf – June reads

June was a weird month, book-wise. I had a hard time finding something to love until…
The hits, the misses, and the WHY?! *cough* 5 love languages *cough* that I read in June.

MENTIONED

 

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