Thursday, December 1, 2022

On the Shelf: November 2022

It's only December 1, so you're not getting my Best Of list yet. Nope. No, sirree. You're just going to have to wait for the actual end-of-year posts. I'm sure you're crushed. I, however, am mighty pleased that I get to keep reading without having to make any decisions yet. Reading has probably been the one relaxing thing in my life this year, for which I am very grateful.

I was still really into horror and generally creepy books this past month, but I was glad to take a romance detour with some older historical favorites and a new one—Diana Biller. She has very gothic and ghost-y themes in her books, so I guess I didn't detour that far! Heh. And of course, Hotel of Secrets is excellent. Biller takes us to Vienna, a setting I'm not used to seeing in historical romance, where the starchiest investigator gets thoroughly unstarched by a bunch of eccentrics who live in the titular hotel. It's so delightful. Watching Eli fall for Maria and the found family at the Hotel Wallner is just as entertaining as the mysteries that bring them all together. I'm going to have to reread closer to the March 2023 release date so I can squee all over again. 

The Reading Rundown
Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (paranormal romance)
Hotel of Secrets by Diana Biller (out 3/28/23, historical romance, historical mystery)
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas (gothic horror)
The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty (fantasy, anthology/collection)
Hokuloa Road by Elizabeth Hand (horror, suspense/thriller)

Backlists and Rereads: I finished my Brenda Joyce reread right at the beginning of  November with Deadly Vows—which was kind of a bummer because the bulk of the characters stayed awful and my favorite couple was left hanging. Then, everybody was talking about Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas on Twitter, so I had to reread that—and I found so much more to love about it this time around! What a great book about marriage and love and not being able to recognize what you have right in front of you. I also returned to one of my go-tos, Eva Leigh, for some sharp-witted historical romance goodness via Forever Your Earl and Scandal Takes the Stage. She never disappoints!

Currently reading: An ARC of The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles, which releases on March 7, 2023, and The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane.

On the TBR/wish list
The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis

Thursday, November 3, 2022

On the Shelf: October 2022

This might be the first time all year that I barely read any new, front-list, titles. Admittedly, that's because I fell down the nine-book rabbit hole that is Brenda Joyce's Francesca Cahill series. I got eight done before November 1. Overkill? Yes. Problematic? Yes. Worth it? Also yes. Both from a nostalgic reader standpoint and a writer/editor standpoint. (If you follow my lead and read this series, Evan and Maggie are the only pairing worth a damn. And Calder Hart deserves better. And many things have not aged well.) It's interesting to contrast an older "feminist" historical series with books like Eva Leigh's. She slipped me an early copy of A Rogue's Rules for Seduction, because I am a Last Chance Scoundrels fangirl, and I had significantly fewer urges to throw it against a wall. Zero urges, actually. lol. Dom and Willa's book, a second-chance love story with plenty of groveling, is a gorgeous tale of how true love only works when you're true to yourself. 

Gorgeous in a completely different way is Deanna Raybourn's Killers of a Certain Age—about four assassins being ushered into a permanent retirement that they don't really appreciate. (And understandably so!) I am not alone in saying we need this as a movie ASAP. It's so fun and so sharp. I could probably say more things, but it's November 3 and I want to hit publish on this post. Welcome to my brain. 😂

The Reading Rundown
The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias (horror)
A Rogue's Rules for Seduction by Eva Leigh (out 4/25/23, historical romance)
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (suspense, thriller)

Backlists and Rereads: I went back to an old fave—Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause and then reread What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long to refresh my Pennyroyal Green memory. I reread almost all of Brenda Joyce's Francesca Cahill mysteries, AKA the Deadly series. And then I finished up this month's backlist adventures with Rachel Grant's 2013 romantic suspense series-starter, Concrete Evidence.

Currently reading: The River of Silver by S.A. Chakraborty.

On the Wishlist/TBR
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty (out 3/7/23)

Sunday, October 2, 2022

On the Shelf: September 2022

I feel like I am being so well-fed reading-wise. So many amazing books everywhere I turn! Sonali Dev's The Vibrant Years, which launches Mindy Kaling's new imprint in December, is the gorgeous story of three generations of South Asian women navigating their relationships with men, with each other, and with the past. Akwaeke Ezemi's You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty kept me captivated as a grieving protagonist trying to embrace life finds a kindred spirit in the most unlikely but beautifully right place. And Tasha Suri's The Oleander Sword still has me flailing three days later because I need the sequel ASAP. I’m in awe of her plotting and the epic feel of it all. The machinations, the betrayal, the capriciousness of gods, and how characters like Priya, Malini, Rao, and Bhumika try to love and live amidst constant conflict.

EE Ottoman's The Companion is a perfect story for cozy fall vibes and sharing tea and a toke with the ones you love. And T. Kingfisher's What Moves the Dead is on the other end of the seasonal spectrum, offering up a truly creepy retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher that joins Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Mexican Gothic as validation for why I hate mushrooms. 

The Reading Rundown
The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev (out 12/1, women's fiction, mainstream fiction)
You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Ezemi (contemporary romance)
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (horror, gothic, Edgar Allan Poe retelling)
The Companion by EE Ottoman (trans romance, polyam FFM romance)
Dance With the Devil by Kit Rocha (post-apocalyptic romance, sci-fi romance)
The Heiress Hunt by Joanna Shupe (historical romance)
The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri (fantasy, f/f romance)
How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder (contemporary romance)

Backlists and rereads: After reading one of her newer releases, I had to go back to The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe. The same thing happened when I finally read Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas—I flowed right into a reread of Married By Morning. (Yes, I know. It somehow took me years to get to Poppy's book.) Earlier in the month, I inhaled Passion by Lisa Valdez, a rather infamous book in some romance circles. I was very entertained. No complaints! LOL. To balance out all the historicals, I reread The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz, which is pretty much a contemporary gothic and hits that VC Andrews sweet spot (with far better writing).

On the wishlist/TBR
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty (out 3/7/23)
The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias
A Rogue's Rules for Seduction by Eva Leigh (out 4/25/23)
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn