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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video: off the shelf – what I read in August

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

 

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video: off the shelf – July 2019

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

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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.

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video: off the shelf reviews – what I read in April (and March)

The best books I read in April (and March, if I’m being honest). Mystery, finance, and manga, oh my!

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off the shelf: Beyond the Red by Ava Jae

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I’ve been following Ava Jae’s Writability blog for a few years, so I was more than a little excited to finally get to read her debut novel, Beyond the Red. I knew little about the story, other than that it was a sci-fi YA (though better suited for slightly older readers on the YA spectrum. It was initially billed as NA according to one of Ava’s posts). The story begins with terror and loss, setting it smack in the middle of an inter-species war. Eros and Kora are drawn into the fray—-one a half-blood outcast, the other a Sepharon Avra (a sort of tribal queen). Set on the desert planet of Safara, the setting is harsh and dangerous, a world of dry, red sands baked under the heat of four suns. The plot is gripping from the first, packed with action and suspense. Definitely a page-turner and deserving of attention. 
It’s been some time since I’ve read sci-fi fantasy and this was definitely a treat. Ava’s world-building is excellent, subtle hints situate the story within a future, post-Earth, other world reality that is entirely believable. The politics and bi-species tension are also elaborately drawn, adding an extra layer of polish to a seemingly simple story of forbidden love, honor, and duty. Really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Ava.