Thursday, March 2, 2023

On the Shelf: February 2023

Is Silvia Moreno-Garcia one of my favorite authors? It's entirely possible. Because I have yet to read a book by her that I didn't like. They've all been absolute bangers. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau joins its predecessors in knocking my socks off. As a bonus to its incredibly compelling remix/retelling of The Island of Dr. Moreau, there's a thread of unrequited pining that is just exquisite. The way she builds that bond is just as effective to me as if the characters got together. Not to worry, though, I would never abandon my HEA/HFN romance roots! Pretty much everything else I read in February was chock full of mutual emotion and capped with happy endings.

Shoutout to Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon, because I remember reading a sample chapter last year and not really connecting. I picked it back up after some folks on Twitter carried their effusive praise over into 2023, and I'm glad I did! It was a lovely. See also: Book Lovers by Emily Henry. I was like, "She can't possibly be as good as everyone says." Yes, she can. (Putting aside a few blatant errors that probably shouldn't show up in a book about book editors. lol.) So, congrats there, Romancelandia for getting me to read some very good very white contemporary romance. 😂 Speaking of which, looking down at the lists, I had a pretty monochromatic month. I'm sure I'll mix it up a little more in March! 

The Reading Rundown
Funny Guy by Emma Barry (out 5/16, contemporary romance)
One True Outcome by KD Casey (contemporary m/m romance, sports romance)
Unwritten Rules by KD Casey (contemporary m/m romance, sports romance)
Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon (contemporary romance)
The Night Shift by Alex Finlay (thriller/suspense)
Book Lovers by Emily Henry (contemporary romance)
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (horror, speculative fiction, H.G. Wells retelling)

Backlist titles and Rereads: The first book I finished in February was a reread of Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde. Then I took a return trip to Lisa Kleypas's Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil. As for new-to-me reads, I dipped into Grace Callaway's extensive backlist for The Duke Who Knew Too Much. And I finally got my hands on Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath, which is the first book in the London's Greatest Lovers trilogy. I am that chaos muppet who accidentally read the books in reverse order. Ainsley's book, Stephen's book, and then Westcliffe's. Also, to tie it back to Kleypas, I kept confusing him with Westcliffe from the Wallflowers. That was a Marcus. This was a Morgan. lol!

Currently reading: A draft of Charlotte Stein's upcoming When Grumpy Met Sunshine, and you should all definitely be jealous.

On the TBR/wish list
Glory and the Master of Shadows by Grace Callaway
All Hallows by Christopher Golden
The Counterfeit Scoundrel by Lorraine Heath
the Notorious Lord Knightly by Lorraine Heath
The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay
A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn
The Duchess Takes a Husband by Harper St. George

Thursday, February 2, 2023

On the Shelf: January 2023

Lots and lots of books got me through a very rocky January. Mostly historical romance, because I didn't really feel like being in the present. I still don't, which is why I'm not doing a little intro write-up. You're just getting the lists. That's all I can manage right now.

The Reading Rundown

Chick Magnet by Emma Barry (contemporary romance)
Between the Devil and the Duke by Kelly Bowen (historical romance)
Night of the Scoundrel by Kelly Bowen (historical romance, novella)
Diamond Ring by KD Casey (out 4/11, contemporary m/m romance, LGBTQ+ romance)
Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath (historical romance)
Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron (out 5/2, contemporary romance)
We Lie Here by Rachel Howzell Hall (thriller, suspense)
Not the Duke's Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
When a Rogue Meets His Match by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
Two Rakes for Mrs. Sparkwell by Eva Leigh (historical romance, m/f/m romance)
Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel (out 6/13, mainstream fiction, women's fiction)
The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George (historical romance)
Not So Perfect Strangers by L.S. Stratton (out 3/28, thriller, suspense)

Backlists and Rereads: After I got Lorraine Heath's She Tempts the Duke and Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman from the library, I had to flow into a reread of Waking Up With the Duke. As one does. Then, Kennedy Ryan recced The Idea of You by Robinne Lee on Twitter, so I gave it a try. It's, rather infamously, Harry Styles and One Direction fan fiction with the serial numbers filed off. And I really enjoyed it! There was a problematic age gap and all this soapy drama and no HEA, and I just kept turning those pages. (I have no room to judge. I wrote NSYNC and Backstreet boys fic back in the day.)

On the TBR/ wish list
All Hallows by Christopher Golden
The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay
A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn

Monday, January 2, 2023

On the Shelf: December 2022

I finished 2022 with 155 books read—so I topped last year by 55 books. Wowza. And I was definitely committed to stuffing December with as many reads as possible. I even finished two books on the 31st--Only a Monster and Wherever is Your Heart, both of which were very satisfying in very different ways. More unsettling than satisfying was Tiffany D. Jackson's The Weight of Blood. A remix/retelling of Stephen King's Carrie, it's going to stay with me for a long while. Jackson never pulls her punches when it comes to talking about real trauma, and that stays true here even with the supernatural elements.  

I remain compelled by horror and suspense, and I keep telling myself it's because I'm probably going to pivot to those genres. But, really, it's just because there's something about fictional fear and tension that really speaks to me. Maybe because personal experiences have numbed me for things in my own life? And reading or watching these genres is me going, "Come at me, bro. Whaddya got?" Anyway, that's enough navel-gazing for an end-of-the-month book roundup. And if you want to know my Top 20 favorite romances of the year, you can find them here:

The Reading Rundown
The Night of the Wedding by J. Broson (contemporary romance, erotic romance)
Fire Season by KD Casey (contemporary m/m romance, LGTBQ+ romance, sports romance)
Masters in the Hall
by KJ Charles (historical m/m romance, historical mystery)
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (suspense, thriller)
The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson (horror, young adult horror)
To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins (historical romance)
The Replacement Wife by Darby Kane (domestic suspense, thriller)
Wherever is Your Heart by Anita Kelly (contemporary f/f romance)
Only a Monster by Vanessa Len (young adult urban fantasy, young adult romance)
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon (suspense, thriller)
The Princess and the Scoundrel by Beth Revis (science fiction/fantasy romance, Star Wars tie-in)
Do You Take This Man by Denise Williams (contemporary romance)

Backlists and rereads: Since I was clearly on a massive suspense/thriller kick, I picked up Riley Sager's The Last Time I Lied from the library. Then I finally got around to finishing Sunshine by Robin McKinley. It took me months. I love her stories but this one definitely could've used a closer edit. Another uneven experience was Nora Roberts' Genuine Lies. The Old Hollywood aspect was great. The excessive and unnecessary fatshaming? Not so much. Some of these older books just don't hold up. Alas.

Currently reading: An ARC of Namrata Patel's Scent of a Garden, which comes out on June 13.

On the TBR/ wish list for '23
All Hallows by Christopher Golden
Jana Goes Wild by Farah Heron
The Duchess Effect by Tracey Livesay
A Sinister Revenge by Deanna Raybourn