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 🙂

video: off the shelf – June reads

It’s been an emotional and physical roller coaster of a day, but that’s a story for another time. In the meantime, June reads 🙂

(sorry about the shaking, I think I kicked the tripod a few times)

off the shelf: spies, forgers, and lovers unite!

a little departure from the Friday vlog.

I like to sneak some sweetness between the “serious” reads (you all know that), so I took a chance on a couple of prepub selections from Loveswept (via Netgalley).

512k37PVBiL._SY346_The first was Sharon Cullen’s Wed to a Spy, a historical romance set in the court of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Synopsis:

When Aimee de Verris is caught with her sweetheart, her aunt, Catherine de Medici, packs her off to Queen Mary’s court, where she is to spy on Mary or lose her chance to return to France.

Sir Simon Marcheford is one of Queen Elizabeth’s best agents. When the Queen sends him on a mission to Spain, until fate delivers him to Mary’s court. Things get heated when the two get caught between a forced marriage and a plot against Mary.

Thoughts:

With the exception of Philippa Gregory, this is a time period that I rarely see in romance (maybe I’m not looking in the right place?). Like most romances, this was a fun read and an easy romp. I liked the change in setting (I tend to read Regency or Victorian), and I found the dynamic between Aimee and Simon believable for the period. It wasn’t until I reached the end that I realized I Sharon Cullen also wrote Campbell’s Redemption, which I read a few months ago and found refreshing in its depiction of romance and widowhood. Definitely recommend if you want something Elizabethan.

Find Sharon Cullen on amazon.

51dwAl4i9FLThe second selection was K.C Bateman’s A Counterfeit Heart.

Synopsis:

Sabine de la Tour is on the run. A forger and a woman, she had everything to lose if caught. Unwilling to let her friend Anton take the fall for her actions, she flees with him to London, where she presents herself to the one man who came close to learning her secret: the relentless Lord Richard Lovell, agent of the crown and lust incarnate. Can a forger change her ways? Can she be more than a counterfeiter Lord Lovell’s eyes?

Thoughts:

I really liked this one. The moral ambiguity in particular added an extra something to the romance, as well as the “meeting of equals” feel between Sabine and Richard. In addition to history, there’s a lot of art in this novel, which made for a smart read (Bateman is an art appraiser and antiques expert, as well as a historical romance writer, which makes for some really rich description). If you want Regency with a dash of mystery and danger, check this one out.

Find K.C. Bateman on amazon.

Disclaimer: Previews via NetGalley. Not affiliate links. Just sharing the book love.

off the shelf: latest reads, a book binge

Mini Review time… for more detail, watch the video 🙂

Campbell’s Redemption by Sharon Cullen (via NetGalley)

Highland romance featuring a widow and a misunderstood laird. I liked that it was original in its take on life and romance after loss. Post-Culloden setting (totally missed that in the video, what was I thinking?!). Perfect for Outlander fans looking for a bit of fluff between seasons (and tomes).

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify  by Francine Jay (via LibraryThing Early Reviewers)

Easy to read manual on everyday minimalism. Not as intense as KonMari and very approachable if you’re just looking for an intro to minimalism as a lifestyle.

The gods lie. by Kaori Ozaki

Japanese light novel… not light at all. Reminds me of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden. Very dark and melancholy with a touch of hope.

A Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano

Another light novel… reminds me of Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. Teens in very adult situations. Rated 18+ and well-earned.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

The Dregs at their finest. I loved the intricate plots and the “just when you think all is lost” feeling of it.

After You by Jojo Moyes

Not my usual cup of tea, but I’ve really fallen for Jojo Moyes’ writing, and this one did not disappoint.

off the shelf: Danielle Walker’s Celebrations

celebrationsbook_zpsevsvpinjAgainst all Grain is my grain-free bible. Of all the paleo/grain-free/gluten-free/Whole30-esque cookbooks I’ve read, Danielle’s has been the best resource for home-style, every day recipes that I a) want to eat and b) can actually make (skill and ingredient-wise). When I learned that she was publishing a book of holiday menus and recipes, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Celebrations is a beautiful, inspiring collection of recipes for a delicious, grain-free holiday. The book is divided into holidays and features a full menu (including drinks, desserts, entrees, appetizers, and sides) for each event. Some of these include specialty flours, but these are regularly available at Whole Foods and similar markets. I’ve already marked my holiday menu and can’t wait to try the Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes. 🙂

I received my copy of Celebrations from Blogging for Books.