Saturday, June 1, 2024

On the Shelf: May 2024

I'm solidly at 120 books read as of May 31...and zero books written. Ah, well. Fortunately, all that time spent reading instead of writing was incredibly fulfilling. The Pairing by Casey McQuiston is, hands down, one of my best books of 2024. I'm kinda mad about how good it is. I could never write something like this. So many quotable lines. Paragraphs, even. I haven't read anything else by McQuiston and the Red White & Royal Blue movie didn't work for me, but Kit and Theo's travelogue is exquisitely done. I need a list of everything they ate and everywhere they went. Their emotional journey as exes finding their way back to each other is even more beautiful.  

Another book steeped in beauty and on my Best Of list? A Love Song for Ricki Wilde. I don't know if Tia Williams' latest counts as magical realism (I have no idea what exactly falls under that umbrella), but what I do know is that she crafts a gorgeous story for Ricki and Ezra that spans decades and it kept me turning the pages. There's also a cameo from her Seven Days in June characters, and I hope it'll delight other returning readers just like it did me!

The Reading Rundown
Truly, Madly, Deeply by Alexandria Bellefleur (contemporary romance, LGBTQ+ romance)
Death in the Spires by KJ Charles (historical mystery)
Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison (horror)
Rival Radio by Kathryn Nolan (contemporary romance)
Red in Tooth and Claw by Lish McBride (out 10/8, western, young adult, horror)
The Pairing by Casey McQuiston (out 8/6, contemporary romance, LGBTQ+ romance)
Rent: Paid in Full by Jesse H. Reign (erotic romance, LGBTQ+ romance)
In Which Margo Halifax Earns Her Shocking Reputation
by Alexandra Vasti (historical romance)
In Which Matilda Halifax Learns the Value of Restraint by Alexandra Vasti (historical romance)
In Which Winnie Halifax is Utterly Ruined by Alexandra Vasti (historical romance)
Mister Magic by Kiersten White (horror)
A Love Song For Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams (contemporary romance)

Backlist titles & rereads: I know, I know. I read more Grace Callaway. Shocker. This time it was The Viscount Always Knocks Twice and Never Say Never to an Earl. I'd somehow skipped the Beyond Possession novella by Kit Rocha during my series reread in March, so I rectified that error. And then I crawled into a reread of Anne Bishop's Others series and didn't come out until I was done. Five titles in six days. And those aren't short, breezy, books. They're as dense as the forest that hides Namid's teeth and claws. lol. Naturally, I went right back to historical romance afterward with rereads of Say Yes to the Marquess and Do You Want to Start a Scandal? by Tessa Dare. Then I capped off the month with My False Heart, One Little Sin, and Three Little Secrets by Liz Carlyle.

Currently reading: Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt and Double Exposure by Rien Gray.

On the TBR/wish list
Just Some Stupid Love Story by Katelyn Doyle
Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan
A Witch's Guide to Magical Innkeepingby Sangu Mandanna
A Legend in the Baking by Jamie Wesley

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

On the Shelf: April 2024

Look who finally got to all her ARCs! Tackling my treasure trove of upcoming front-list titles in April didn't quite get me to 100 books read this year so far—I'm sitting at 95—but I'm betting I'll hit it by the second week of this month, if not earlier. I actually deliberately backed off of finishing my last few books, because I've been concerned about the rate at which I'm going. At what point does media consumption go from healthy coping mechanism to unhealthy? I don't know. What I do know is that at least I'm coping with some very good stories written by extremely talented authors! 

Sara Desai's follow-up to last year's heist romance, To Have and To Heist, did not disappoint! Most of the "rom-coms" coming out these days are neither roms nor coms, but 'Til Heist Do Us Part is delightfully, deliciously, both. I want these two books to be turned into a movie or limited streaming series so badly, because the banter and hijinks are pitch perfect. Haunted Ever After, by Jen DeLuca, also brings a fair amount of comedy with the romance, but it's the ghostly components and the coastal Florida setting that really ground Cassie and Nick's love story. The book also left me wanting to try Cassie's favorite Publix sub. We do not have Publix in the Midwest. Sadness!

The Reading Rundown
Haunted Ever After by Jen DeLuca (out 8/13, contemporary romance)
'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai (out 8/20, contemporary romance, rom-com)
Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (noir, historical suspense/mystery)
The Curious Secrets of Yesterday by Namrata Patel (out 6/1, women's fiction, mainstream fiction)
Pardon My Frenchie by Farrah Rochon (out 6/4, contemporary romance)
Murder Road by Simone St. James (horror, suspense, mystery)

Backlist titles & rereads: I started out with rereads of some dark romance antecedents: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart and Riding Dirty and Shooting Dirty by Jill Sorenson. Then I dove into the three VIP books by Kristen Callihan that I hadn't yet read. Alas, Idol and Managed weren't for me. Exposed was my fave of the lotAnd of course I had my obligatory serving of emotional support historicals. Comfort rereads of A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran, Lady X's Cowboy by Zoe Archer, and What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty. A stop on the Callaway Express with The Lady Who Came in From the ColdPrivate Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. Some Like it Wicked, Some Like it Wild, After Midnight, The Vampire Who Loved Me, and Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros. I was kinda bummed because that last one in the Medeiros marathon fizzled out for me. I picked up a much-touted BDSM romance from more than a decade ago as a palate cleanser: Cherise Sinclair's Club Shadowlands

Currently reading: The Pairing by Casey McQuiston and Truly, Madly, Deeply by Alexandria Bellefleur. 

On the TBR/wish list
Death in the Spires by KJ Charles
Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan
A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams

Monday, April 1, 2024

On the Shelf: March 2024

I feel vaguely guilty for only reading two new releases in March but I'm still glad that I stopped pressuring myself to keep up with what's coming out now. Because going back to older books, to titles I've read before, is just as valuable and valid. When it comes to books, familiarity doesn't breed contempt. It breeds comfort. So I was comforted by a whole lot of Lorraine Heath, Grace Callaway, and Kit Rocha. 😂

The newer titles I picked up were both strong enough to woo me away from the glomming, so I think that speaks well of both! Hannah Murray's is a sexy and charming high-heat polyamorous romance, and I appreciated how the characters talked through the challenges involved. (Amidst the enthusiastic bedsport.) And Deanna Raybourn's ninth outing with Veronica Speedwell and Stoker has the duo in fine form, re-committed after some rockiness in prior books. I love that Deanna makes sure to tell us they bang a lot. Tastefully and off-page but frequently. Oh, and the crime-solving is great, too. lol. Our intrepid investigators are finally letting other people help them!

The Reading Rundown
Sharing Shane by Hannah Murray (contemporary romance, queer polyam romance)
A Grave Robbery by Deanna Raybourn (historical mystery)

Backlist titles & rereads:
 I knocked out three more new-to-me Grace Callaway historicals, The Return of the Duke, Her Protector's Pleasure and The Gentleman Who Loved Me. Then I moved over to Lorraine Heath with When the Duke Was Wicked, Falling Into Bed With a DukeThe Viscount and the Vixen and When the Marquess Falls, as well as rereads of The Last Wicked Scoundrel and The Earl Takes All. Somewhere in there, I also finished a nostalgia tour of Judith Krantz's Till We Meet Again and went back through Hate F*@k and Wicked Sin by Ainsley Booth and The View Was Exhausting by Onjuli Datta and Mikaella Clements. As the month came to a close, I returned to familiar and much-loved territory with all nine main titles from the Beyond Series by Kit Rocha. My brain melted after that. I don't necessarily recommend compulsively reading that many books in a row in less than a week. lol. 

Currently reading: The Curious Secrets of Yesterday by Namrata Patel.

On the TBR/wish list
'Til Heist Do Us Part by Sara Desai
Blood Betrayal by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Pardon My Frenchie by Farrah Rochon
A Love Song for Ricki Wilde by Tia Williams