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 – 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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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 in June 2020

Still Reading

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Rules of Scoundrels series) by Sarah MacLean – hmmmm… there are tropes I don’t love…

Finished

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik – The last in the Consortium Rebellion series. Polaris Rising remains my favorite, but each book in this series shines with rebel princesses, political intrigue, and the space drama. (Jessie Mihalik is one of my favorite authors of the last two years. I already pre-ordered her next book.)

Reborn Yesterday by Tessa Bailey – A fated mates-style vampire romance—not at all what I expected from this author. It was cute. Not quite for me. I had a hard time understanding the reasoning behind the Ginny’s status as a social pariah. I mean, I got it, but I couldn’t understand why… it just didn’t resonate.

The Baby-Sitters Club, books 1-4 by Ann M. Martin – read for the podcast. I now realize how my mom felt when I was kid and insisted on watching Full House… I’m not the audience for this series and I’m not sure I ever was… (listeners will know that I didn’t jive with what passed as children’s/YA hits in the 90s)

War Storm by Victoria Aveyard – I lost interest in this series midway through Book 3 (when it came out), but something drew me back to this world (can it be the impending sense of doom in our own?). I didn’t love it shrug. It’s very drawn out (war war detail detail) and I interest waned early on, but I persisted by skimming to the end.

A Rogue by Any Other Name (Rules of Scoundrels series) by Sarah MacLean – I love an an angsty redemption story and this one has angst in spades! Childhood friends, a ruined Duke turned scoundrel, semi-forced marriage of convenience, and a whole lot of “How you gonna fix this?” drama.

Audiobooks

Untouchable (also called Deep Kiss of Winter? Why does the audio have a different name?) by Kresley Cole – it’s official, the Wroths are some of my favorite IAD males. I love a broody vampire and there’s no denying it.

DNF

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry – not quite what I was looking for… More on the history of individuals rather than the pandemic (though I DNFed in the first section. I didn’t have the drive to continue).

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off the shelf: what I read in May 2020

Still Reading

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik – my favorite spacey romance series

Finished

It’s Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne Enoch – It was ok. Highlanders, manipulative mothers, and a trip to Gretna Greene. I skimmed the last quarter because I was in too deep and just wanted to know how it ended.

Too Hot to Handle by Tessa Bailey – Siblings with tons of baggage and a road trip gone awry. Also grew a little exasperated with this one, seemed to rely more on love scenes than plot development. I’ve enjoyed all the other books I’ve read by this author; this one just didn’t satisfy in the same way.

Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson – I’m not sure if this reads like old school romance, or the heroine is just that clueless. I received this as part of a blind box from an indie bookstore, so it’s not an author or genre that I normally go for.

A Murderous Relation by Deanna Raybourn – This series is an insta-read for me. Excellent mystery and the slowest of slow burn romance subplots. Historical mystery set against the backdrop of the Ripper murders. It feels like a conclusion, but maybe not?

Audiobooks

Dark Deed’s at Night’s Edge by Kresley Cole – ballerina flapper ghost meets vengeful virgin vampire. We love a virgin vampire! Sort of a friends to lovers in the IADverse.

Dark Desires after Dusk by Kresley Cole – I didn’t love Holly, but I did like Caed. Sheltered, OCD mathematician meets disgraced demon prince. Adventure, betrayal, redemption. A road trip with high stakes that didn’t feel that high TBH, but still a good distraction.

Kiss of a Demon King by Kresley Cole – We enter the realm of light bondage. Enemies to lovers who bring out the best and worst in each other is my kind of kink.

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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 – July 2019

What I read (and didn’t finish) in July.

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help support the blog/channel/podcast at no extra cost to you. Feel free to google the titles, if you prefer not to use them. You can search your local library on WorldCat.

 

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