Friday, June 3, 2022

On the Shelf: May 2022

May was my ARC-wheedling month. I shamelessly slid into Eva Leigh's DMs for an advanced of her next Last Chance Scoundrels book, and I'm not even sorry about it. I'll probably do it again when the final book, a second-chance romance full of groveling, is ready. What's the point of being an author if you can't hit people up for early copies? 😆 Further to that, I got Tracey Livesay's American Royalty from my friend Elizabeth, and it honestly restored my faith in the steamy contemporary romance. I'm not shading the "rom-com boom," (at least not today! lol) but I've been missing romance books that aren't women's fiction-adjacent. And this opposites-attract-but-they're-not-really-opposites love story between a rapper and a prince was just what I needed! I loved watching Dani and Jay fall hard within a framework that was a little bit Meghan-and-Harry, a little Serena-and-Alexis, and all Tracey Livesay wit and heat!

Alexis Hall's A Lady For a Duke and Charlie's Pack of Lies rounded out my ARC haul, and both were time incredibly well-spent. There's a reason those two writers are fan faves. Readers are in for such treats this summer and fall! There is so much good stuff headed your way. I also indulged in some excellent new releases, like Mia Sosa's and Sonali Dev's. I think Vansh and Naina's book might be my favorite of Sonali's Rajes series, especially since there's a lovely secondary romance. And I'm a little sad the series is over! Now let's get to the lists...

Tender is the Emotional Storm

I saw pictures of a childhood friend's engagement party first thing this morning, and they poked an already tender place. That place where I am so very aware of how I'm different. They're slightly younger than me, these beautiful shining desi girls who are lawyers and doctors and married and having children. The women from our community who "did it right." And then there's me. Single in my mid-40s. Loudmouthed and profane. Recently diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. A fraught history of CSA, depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and problem drinking. Queer as hell and only just now saying it publicly. I never really fit in with the other kids in our community, not for lacking of trying on both sides. It's just that back then, I didn't know why I didn't "fit." I was just awkward and talked too much and made no sense to anybody but myself. I didn't shine. Because all I felt was tarnished.   

Sometimes I still feel tarnished. Even though I know I am brave. God, even saying that makes me feel like a fraud. But it's true. I'm brave. I'm still here. And I got here all by myself and by the sheer force of a will that was fighting against me every step of the way. I got therapy. I got on medication. I became an entertainment writer and then a published romance author. I constantly battle those demons that come in a bottle. We have cease-fires that go for months until a skirmish breaks out. I may be single, but I am safe and content otherwise. I am no less for being different, for not fitting in.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

On the Shelf: April 2022

I think I went slightly overboard in my book binging this month—which kind of makes up for past reading dry spells, IMHO. It all balances out eventually! For instance, I was off historical romance for a bit...and then I read a TON of them recently. Including Jeannie Lin's stealth release of another new Lotus Palace mystery, featuring Wei-Wei and Gao, and two of Erica Ridley's Wild Wynchesters books. I am officially a Great-Aunt Wynchester stan now. If you know, you know. (Also, don't get me started on the cover of The Perks of Loving a Wallflower. Justice for Tommy and Philippa!)

It was also a good month for creepy and paranormal books! As terrifying as Anne Bishop's alternate Earth is, I kind of want to live there. Crowbones was a great addition to her Others series, and I couldn't love the Crowgard and the Sanguinati more if I tried. Meanwhile, Victoria Helen Stone has another winning thriller on her hands with At the Quiet Edge—which came out in wide release today! She takes the setting of a storage unit facility and uses it masterfully to unlock the secrets her characters hoard inside themselves. On the lighter end of the spectrum is Holley Trent's Wish Out of Water, about gorgeous neurodivergent mermaids and the dirtbag secret princes who love them. Holley's books are like a really sexy and funny blanket you can wrap around yourself. Always warm, always safe.