off the shelf: what I read – December 2020

Still Reading

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo – I’m so glad I ordered this book from my local indie. It’s a feminist powerhouse in the most subtle of ways.

Finished

A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai – I am stumped as to whether this is straight erotica or kinky romance but it is DIRTY. And I say that without judgement, I really enjoyed it, but if you’re coming to this after Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series, just know that her earlier books are 10000% spicier than the love scenes in her current series. Lots of personal angst, lots of mommy/daddy issues, lots of kink.

The Beast of Blackmoor by Milla Vane (novella) – This is a prequel novella to the A Gathering of Dragons series. More along the lines of A Heart of Blood and Ashes in terms of consent play and violence, so TW if that doesn’t work for you (also, TW for mention of sexual violence). Leans into BDSM. Complex character-development and just as much world-building as the novel-length titles in this series.

A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane – I loved 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! Excellent Dark Fantasy Romance with heaps of world-building.

The Devil in her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne (via NetGalley) – I expected historical, what I never expected late Victorian, dark romantic suspense! This is a ride from the start–it’s not every romance that opens with murder. Conflict from the outset, and it’s easy enough to follow the occasional callback to earlier books in the series even if you haven’t read them. Secret societies! Ritualistic orgies! Women in pants and secret identities!
I thought I read Kerrigan Byrne before but after a quick search through my book lists, I realized this was my first. Won’t be my last.

Audiobooks

N/A

DNF

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – I need to stop trying to read CL’s books – I just can’t get on with them… I got about 20 pages in and knew this was going to be a slog I didn’t feel like slogging through. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t aged down to YA (the main character is 26 but reads like 16).

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off the shelf: what I read – October 2020

Still Reading

Temptation’s Darling by Johanna Lindsey – a new story by an old-school romance author to round out my genre education. (Johanna Lindsey’s last novel before she passed earlier this year)

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer – (just started) I was so charmed by Netflix’s Enola Holmes, I had to read the book.

Finished

Silverwolf (Rowankind) by Jacey Bedford – Magic and mills! I love how Jacey Bedford blends rich fantasy with a historical setting (Georgian era Britain in this case). I’m so glad I found this series!

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – Tune into The Bluestocking Circle podcast on November 1st for my full thoughts, but this did not meet my expectations.

Skincare by Caroline Hirons – You can watch her channel and get the gist of it… I guess the book is a nice collectors’ item if you’re a big fan shrug

The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn and Euan Lawson – In writing about reading writing advice while dealing with anxiety and depression, Joanna Penn notes, “I was able, in moments of clarity, to see that the reason well-meaning advice left me feeling so dispirited was not that I wasn’t cut out to be a writer but that I wasn’t the audience people were writing for.”

This is everything I needed and more. As a writer with chronic illness and chronic pain, the advice to write every day and push through isn’t practical, at best, and damaging, at worst. I can’t push through a head-splitting, three-day migraine that leaves me feeling drunk. Nor can I write through the exhaustion when fatigue takes over. Conventional writing advice isn’t for me and that’s ok.

Audiobooks

None this month

DNF

Hex, Love, and Rock & Roll by Kat Turner – I DNFed around 30%. I liked the concept but the plot was too messy for me and didn’t hold my interest. (LibraryThing Early Reviewer copy)

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See – I only got a few pages in. I usually like Lisa See, but the tone wasn’t what I needed at the moment.

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off the shelf: what I read – September 2020

Still Reading

Silverwolf (Rowankind 2) by Jacey Bedford – part two in a three part series… more adventuring in alternate-history, 18th century England.

Hex, Love, and Rock & Roll by Kat Turner – I won a copy of this title as part of a LibraryThing giveaway. Urban fantasy with witches? Sign me up!

Finished

Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest – What a perfect gem of a book. I needed something happy and uplifting after everything that has happened (take your pick) and this book delivered. Evie is a young actress with a family legacy who has a lot to learn about her worth as an individual. She gets caught up in Hollywood drama and is forced to confront plenty of truths about friendship, family, and herself. It’s a sweet story and I highly recommend for anyone who needs a hopeful read.

The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan – This has been recommended on a couple of the podcasts I follow, but I had the same issue that I had with The Hook Up — I’m not convinced these are people in their early 20s. Not around 2017 when this was printed. They read like older 30-somethings from the 90s, down to the pop culture references. Part of me wonders if these books were written long before they were published and revised to sound current. So many questions… Anyhow, her Darkest London series remains my favorite. I skimmed most of the second half.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare – This might be my favorite Tessa Dare book ever! It has some Beauty and the Beast elements, a little Jane/Rochester vibe, and a heroine who knows what she wants and will do what she has to do to get it (including staging a Regency-era LARP situation).

Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare – Part of the same series as Romancing the Duke, but this one didn’t hit the mark for me. A sweet story about childhood crushes and redemption, but the characters didn’t hold me in the same way, plus there was weirdness about parental abuse and starvation that mostly came out of nowhere…

The Duke’s Stolen Bride by Sophie Jordan – Apparently, I had a copy of the first book in this series on my Kindle (I really need to stop impulse buying all the books), so I read it out of order… Sophie Jordan is still new to me, so I don’t have much basis for comparison. Her books lie somewhere between Tessa Dare and Sarah Maclean in terms of romance and comedy IMO. Part of me wanted to Marian to get real with her sisters and tell them to find jobs without her having to scheme to become a courtesan (also, make the brother get a job FFS)… I wasn’t sold on the conflict.
TW for threat of rape as a plot device.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip – I picked this up during one of my last trips to Barnes and Noble during my brief winter break in the beforetimes. The cover is gorgeous and this is a classic, but the story fell a little flat for me. I think the reader I was in 2004, when I was new to fairy tale fantasy and gobbling up everything that smacked of British folk lore would’ve loved this, but I am not that reader anymore and the use of physical and mental rape as conflict was a deal-breaker.

Audiobooks

Misery by Stephen King – podcast “read” so join us on October 1st to hear my thoughts! Let’s just say I had to speed up the audio to 1.50 to get through it.

DNF

Checked out Midnight Sun, saw that it is 25(!) hours long and decided to wait for the book from my library. I’m curious, but not 25 hours curious.

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off the shelf: what I read – July 2020

Still Reading

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane – barbarian romantic fantasy is a flavor I haven’t tried…

Finished

Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins – Selected purely for the pirate lady cover. I was thrilled to find that the heroine is a Cuban pirate/rebel/thief, but wish it had played a larger role in the plot. My one pet peeve: the Spanish is not quite right (including the main endearment), but I doubt anyone involved in the editing was aware of it shrug.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai – A sweet romance with a thoughtful look at PTSD and trauma. It’s cute, but I prefer Alisha Rai’s earlier series. This series leans into Women’s Fiction territory more than contemporary romance IMO.

Daring and the Duke (Bareknuckle Bastards series) by Sarah MacLean – Brazen and the Beast is still the best in this series (IMHO), but this was a great follow-up. I love a redemption story (not a surprise, if you’ve been following my recent reviews), and this one hits the spot.

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Rules of Scoundrels series) by Sarah MacLean – I didn’t love this. The “nerd girl who is clueless about sex” trope is popular, but not one that works for me. I skimmed to the end, so I could move on to the next book in the series.

Audiobooks

Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole – back at it…

DNF

none! yay!

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off the shelf : what I read, March – April 2020

I debated recording a video, but I don’t have the mental space to record, edit, and try to upload on my mediocre connection, so here’s what I read in March and April… with super short reviews.

Also, I’ve read a lot of romance and fantasy in the last 4 years… the current state of the world is leading me further down this rabbit hole.

Read

The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard – Regency romance meets Beauty & the Beast in this story about a spinster who will marry a “beast” to save her sister.

The Queen’s Gambit by Jessie Mihalik – the leader of a refugee planet crosses paths with the emperor of one of the warring factions that put her people in danger. Misunderstandings, political intrigue, and a rogue with a heart of gold in SPACE.

The Queen’s Advantage by Jessie Mihalik – All I can say is give me more!

Tycoon by Joanna Shupe – a Gilded age novella. Sassy heroine witnesses a murder, runs straight into the arms of a sexy older bank owner. Old old timey billionaire romance

Boiling Point by Tessa Bailey – sexy thriller with lots of dirty talking con artists
Asking for trouble by Tessa Bailey – enemies to lovers with even more dirty talk… Tessa Bailey scratches an itch.

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas – a classic romance (1994) by an author I’ve never read. Fun and not too much of a cringe re: older romance tropes.

The Wicked Deeds of Daniel Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley – A spiritualist and her mother run afoul of the law when she accidentally knocks out a Duke’s nephew. More misunderstandings, Victorian sexy times. TW for rape and trauma.

Winterwood by Jacey Bedford – Georgian adventure fantasy – pirates! faeries! magical revolution! An under the radar read.

Listened

The Immortals After Dark series – Immortals of ALL kinds. Lots of sex. This is the ULTIMATE paranormal romance series (and it’s 18 books long to date). Mostly enemies to lovers.

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole – Vampire/Valkryie meets crazed, tortured Lykae. Rapey times ensue.

I initially DNFed this book. It’s extremely rapey, but I’m glad I decided to try the audiobook because the other books have grown on me. Listening is a better experience than reading it because I don’t have to get into the character’s heads. I’m kind of surprised this is the opening to the series because Lachlan’s treatment of Emma is a big NOPE for me.

*still, I persisted*

The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole (technically a prequel to book 1, novella) – Valkyrie warrior meets Estonian Vampire. It’s a better start than the actual first book.

No Rest for the Wicked by Kresley Cole *loved – Estonian Vampire 2 meets cold-hearted Valkyrie assassin on a magical version of the Amazing Race.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night by Kresley Cole *loved – Prophecied witch meets grumpy Lykae on a quest to revive his dead mate.

*Kaderin and Mariketa are my favorite heroines so far

 

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video: off the shelf – what I read – January 2020

A little bit of everything this month… What I read, what I started, and what I gave up on in January.

What have you been reading lately? Any female-driven fantasy recommendations? 

📚 Read

Harleen, v.3 by Stjepan Sejic

A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking

Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

Atomic Habits by James Clear (audiobook)

📖 Reading

On a Wild Night by Stephanie Laurens

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison

🚫 DNF

Twice Upon a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

🤔 Forgot to mention

Stuck-up Suit by Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland – this is a billionaire romance, which is not my style normally. It was ok. There was some weirdness re: possessiveness and unprotected sex that I didn’t like.

 

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video: off the shelf – what I read: Nov – Dec 2019

Another marathon #romance reading session… What I read, what I started, and what I didn’t finish in November and December 2019.

What have you been reading lately? What are you loving? I’m open to all genres and recs ❤️

📚 Read

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai (audiobook)

Forbidden Hearts series by Alisha Rai (I read them in reverse, don’t judge me.)

  • Hurts to Love You (book 3)
  • Wrong to Need You (book 2)
  • Hate to Want You (book 1)

Trade Me by Courtney Milan

The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

📖 Reading

Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

📕 DNF

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

 

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video: off the shelf – what I read in August

And I’m back! More books, more mini reviews 🙂

 

MENTIONED

You can buy these titles using the affiliate links or find them at your local library via WorldCat

 

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video: off the shelf – what I read in May

 

mentioned

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off the shelf: re-reading Harry Potter, part 1

One of my 2017 goals was to re-read Harry Potter. I’d been meaning to re-read the series for a while, and was completely unaware that it was the 20th anniversary of its debut, but that was the plan. I FINALLY started reading it in July (again, happenstance), and am finding it just as charming as ever. However, it got me thinking about my original interest in the story and how I came to read it in the first place. Check out the video and find out what sparked the magic for me 🙂