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 – 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 – 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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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.