Whatcha Reading? May 2020 Edition, Part Two

Pages of a book folded into a heart shapeIt’s time for Whatcha Reading!

This is where we try to make sense of our reading lately. Clearly there’s one standout that a majority of SBTB has been staying up late to finish.

Aarya: I just finished He’s Come Undone, ( A | BN | K | AB ) an anthology about starchy, buttoned-up heroes with contributions from Emma Barry, Olivia Dade, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian. They’re all authors I’ve enjoyed before and it’s a rock-solid collection. My favorite story is by Olivia Dade because it features murder dioramas (I’m a sucker for macabre humor!), but all the novellas are excellent.

The Boyfriend Project
A | BN | K | AB
I’m in the middle of Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project (out June 9). I’m loving the female friendships that anchor the book (the heroine Samiah and her friends meet in a viral encounter when they realize their asshole date is three-timing them). I also like how work-oriented the story is; Rochon doesn’t scrimp on details about the tech startup/app development. However, I’m concerned about the deception storyline; the hero Daniel is undercover for work reasons when he meets Samiah. It’s not my favorite plot device, but I have faith that Rochon will resolve it well.

Maya: Have you heard of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death???

I’m also reading The Boyfriend Project and agree with everything you said! Samiah and co are so funny, but I’m a little worried about the reveal when Samiah learns the real reason Daniel has started working at her company. But it’s a really fun and engaging read so far!

Aarya: That link is so cool, Maya! Frances Glessner Lee (of forensic science fame in the mid-20th century) is discussed in the Olivia Dade novella; the art teacher heroine assigns a murder diorama project to her students. She also makes/sells intricate miniature crime scenes in her spare time.

The Physicians of Vilnoc
A | BN | AB
I dunno what it says about me that I’m so interested in murder…surely it’s a normal curiosity.

Catherine: I’ve just finished The Physicians of Vilnoc by Lois McMaster Bujold. This is the latest in the Penric and Desdemona series, and it’s very good, but it is also about a plague, so if you are looking for something nice and escapist, maybe save this one for later. And I’ve just started The Roommate by Rosie Danan, which is enormous fun so far, and very funny. The heroine moves to LA to be with the man she has a crush on, but he bails on her and she winds up sharing his flat with a random guy he found online who turns out to be a porn star, and also a total sweetheart. It’s not coming out for a bit – sorry! – but definitely worth looking out for when it does if the first ten chapters are anything to go by.

Sarah: I’m reading the Murderbot series ( A | BN | K | AB ) again because I finished the novel Friday night and am now rereading everything sorry need to go back now bye.

Shana: I’m reading Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert (out June 23) ( A | BN | K | AB ) and it’s making me laugh. I love a grumpy heroine.

The Roommate
A | BN | K | AB
Sneezy: I’ve just started The Roommate by Rosie Danan and going back to The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty for all the scenes I read through my fingers. The Empire of Gold made me sniffy the first time through, and now I’ll let it break my goddamn heart.

Elyse: I just finished The Roommate and I loved it so much. It’s sweet and sex positive and I read it in 2 days.

Aarya: There is a lot of love for The Roommate, and my resolve to wait until September is weakening.

Elyse: Time has no meaning now lol

The Empire of Gold
A | BN | K | AB
What is September? What is Monday?

Catherine: Well, I just stayed up until stupid o’clock to finish it, so I say dooooo iiiiit, Aarya!

Tara: I’m kind of floundering between books right now, picking something up, putting it down. Picking something else up, putting that down.

Sneezy: Hugglez Tara, we’ve all been there

EllenM: I finally read Sorcery of Thorns after having it on my bookshelf for months and I LOOOOVED IT!!!! it got me right in my howls moving castle loving feels. I also just read Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie ( A | BN | K | AB ) and while i definitely really enjoyed it and will probably continue the series i never QUITE got over my irritation with the deployment of the extremely anatomically unlikely “Hero Can Feel She’s Not a Virgin During Sex” trope. especially when all the same plot things could have been accomplished with a short postcoital conversation.

Claudia: Oh yes, that ruined Marry in Haste for me, and I loved the premise!!

Sorcery of Thorns
A | BN | K | AB
I picked up Redeeming the Reclusive Earl by Virginia Heath ( A | BN | K | AB ) and once I got past the title it was a very enjoyable Beauty and the Beast-inspired romance. The hero is a true grump.

Carrie: I just started The Trials of Koli, which is the second book in the Rampart Trilogy by M.R. Carey. I loved the first book (The Book of Koli) ( A | BN | K | AB ) so I am much excited about this.

Aarya: Ellen, I freaking love Sorcery of Thorns and I raved about it last year. That book reinforced my weakness for sardonic/Slytherin-like sorcerers with silver-streaked black hair (hey, nearly perfect alliteration!). I blame Vanyel.

Catherine: Am I allowed to say I just devoured Paladin’s Grace in one day and loved every minute of it?

Tell us about your reading month!

Add Your Comment →

  1. 1
    Jill Q. says:
    6+

    After having a good streak, I’ve hit a bit of a slump. I think it’s partially finishing up the show “Single Parents” and wallowing in my shippy/found family feelings. It was one of those shows that started as just another “put on while I fold the laundry” shows and sneaked up on me. I’m just finishing up a fanfic project in another fandom and I sense a new project percolating so I have a place to put these feelings.
    Even though I didn’t read a lot, what I read, I really, really liked.
    In order of enjoyment
    LOVE LETTERING by Kate Clayborn. I’m so glad I didn’t get scared off by the hype b/c this was amazing! I feel like it was a book about 3 types of love – romantic love, friendship love, and love for a place. And really, the heroine’s love for her work. I thought everything fired on all cylinders and wove together beautifully. I still don’t love first person present tense in adult romance, but I’ve accepted it’s here to stay and it did not distract me in this at all. It did help it was heroine’s pov all the way through and I didn’t appreciate how brilliant a choice that was till close to the end.

    VERY, VERY, VERY DREADFUL: THE INFLUENZA PANDEMIC OF 1918 by Albert Martin. Yes, I know. Not everyone’s idea of a great read, especially now. This was nonfiction written for teenagers and I found it talked about a lot of things (disease, WWI) that felt accessible without being dumbed down. I came away from it heartened by the fact that the human race has collectively survived many awful things, but you know, this is probably too dark for a lot of people right now. Honestly, one of the most depressing things about this book (it was written in 2015) is how the author kept saying that we have a much better handle on things now and how the world would handle a pandemic better.

    UNNATURAL HABITS by Kerry Greenwood. Another Phryne Fisher. This is a series that can be uneven for me sometimes, but I’m so close to the end and I liked this one. Missing women, Magdalene laundries. A lot of plot threads weaving in and out in interesting ways. One more and I’m done with the series!

    TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET by Karen M. McManus YA suspense, with some romance thrown in. I read this b/c I really enjoyed ONE OF US IS LYING so so much. But I think enjoyed it b/c I wasn’t 100% sure how dark it was going to get. I didn’t trust any of the multiple narrators. This book I went in with adjusted expectations (it’s going to be dark, but not GONE GIRL level dark) and almost immediately figured out the murderer (and the twist) after one or two clues. Not bad, but I probably won’t read more by this author anytime soon.

  2. 2
    Heather M says:
    13+

    I preordered He’s Come Undone (in ebook) and it just….never showed up? This is why I don’t usually bother preordering things. I was excited for it, too. I thought maybe the ebook version got delayed but goodreads seems to indicate it exists. My pandemic!brain can’t be bothered to try and figure it out further, though. Sigh.

    I did manage to read KJ Charles’ Charm of Magpies trilogy again. It’s the most I’ve read at one stretch in months. I think it was helpful that I knew exactly what was going to happen, it was like falling into a big cozy sweater. I’ll probably read the adjacent books to that trilogy and then look for another reread because I still can’t find anything in the library app. Grr. My library is doing curbside now, but there’s no way I’m participating in that. I used to be a cataloger, I know how disgusting library books could get *before* there was a global pandemic, and yes, as long as there were no visible remaining body fluids we would usually just wipe them off and stick them right back on the shelf. Shudder.

    So I’m at the point where I’m starting to count subtitles as reading and I may never enter a library again. Sorry for the downer post this time, all. I just really need this whole situation to be over.

  3. 3
    Deianira says:
    8+

    I read “My Year of saying No” by Maxine Morrey. Excellent! Very low-key, slow burn romance, in that quirky British way. Satisfying, low angst, & what I needed right now.

    Also, if any of you have read Katy Leen’s Lora Weaver mysteries (& if you haven’t, you should), she’s releasing them on Audible. I did something I rarely do & emailed her to thank her for the Audible releases & the series in general, & got a personal response – which I was NOT expecting. Always good to know that authors you like are actually nice human beings too!

  4. 4
    DiscoDollyDeb says:
    20+

    My two youngest daughters graduated from college last week (one received her Masters of Accountancy, the other received two undergraduate degrees—one in English and the other in Philosophy). Graduation via Zoom was not the ceremony we had once envisioned, but DiscoDollyMom shed plenty of tears anyway.

    Winter Renshaw’s excellent THE BEST MAN examines the roles chance and coincidence play in our lives. An Arizona woman, on a business trip to New York, witnesses a terrible automobile accident. She calls 9-1-1 and stays with victim, talking to him until help arrives, unaware that the badly-injured man is someone she’d met briefly a few days before. She then accompanies the victim to the hospital until his family arrives. A month later, the victim emerges from a coma, convinced he is married to a woman he knows everything about except her name. Six months later, recovered from his injuries (and his marital hallucinations), the hero finally meets his mystery woman—and discovers she is the woman who was with him after the accident and that she is now engaged to his Arizona-based best friend, a man she first met when he arrived at the hospital following the accident. The hero feels crushed, but keep his feelings to himself. Eventually, back in Arizona, sensing that her fiancé is not the right man for her (he staged a big public proposal where she felt railroading into saying yes), the heroine finally breaks off their engagement, relocating to New York, where, of course, she keeps running into the hero. Even though they are both technically free, the h&h are decent people who want to do the right thing; they don’t want to hurt his best friend/her former-fiancé, so the romance proceeds at a lovely, slow-burn pace, with some major hurdles along the way. That summary really doesn’t do justice to the great job Renshaw does keeping the many moving parts of the plot plausible and relatable. You know how in some dual p-o-v books, it’s as if the hero & heroine share exactly the same perspective and fund of knowledge? That is not the case here. There are things the hero knows, there are things the heroine knows; only gradually (and with a great sense of pace from Renshaw), do the h&h begin to understand the other’s position. A deeply-emotional, beautifully-written book that includes just the faintest trace of the otherworldly. Highly recommended.

    Maya Hughes’s HEARTLESS KING had just the right combination of angst, melancholy, and sexy-times to make it a quarantine-catnip read for me. Although this is the fifth book in Hughes’s Kings of Rittenhouse series, I didn’t feel lost as I read HEARTLESS KING; Hughes does a good job of keeping the reader caught up with the other storylines. (I haven’t read the earlier Kings of Rittenhouse books—they have a bit too much of an N/A vibe for my tastes, but the h&h of HEARTLESS KING are in their mid-twenties and moving beyond N/A territory.) The hero is a hockey player who had a one-night stand with a woman he’s wanted for years; he had never previously pursued her because she’s been on emotional autopilot since her fiancé died several years ago. The hero has also taken his share of hits, including panic attacks when he tries to get back on the ice after an accident and also recently learning that his younger sister (whom he raised after their parents died) and his former best friend are a couple. Fast forward three months after the one-nighter and the hero discovers that (1) the heroine is the physiotherapist assigned to help him rehab his injured leg, and (2) their hook-up has resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. Cue the angst machine as two people, both frozen in the past, have to find a way to move forward—for each other and for their baby. Key quote: “Everyone has a past that shapes who they are.” A good book about people trying to do their best (and not always succeeding) while facing the choices and what-ifs that life throws their way and maturing in the process.

    After loving Taylor Fitzpatrick’s THROWN OFF THE ICE last year, I was thrilled to see she had released a new book, COMING IN FIRST PLACE—which was as compulsively readable as her previous book. Like THROWN OFF THE ICE, COMING IN FIRST PLACE is an m/m hockey story, but it actually has more in common with my favorite book of 2019, Rachel Reid’s HEATED RIVALRY, in that both books have hockey-playing protagonists (one gregarious and bisexual, the other quiet and gay) who have been rivals since their junior league years and who eventually become secret lovers once they are in the NHL. But while Reid and Fitzpatrick use a similar plot, they have completely different writing styles—and I have to give a slight edge to Fitzpatrick who excels at finely-observed details that reveal her characters’ feelings and motivations, even when they don’t want to acknowledge them. COMING IN FIRST PLACE is written in third-person from the p-o-v of David, a hockey player who has always felt isolated and alone: his parents take no interest in his career and he has a difficult time in social situations, especially with his teammates (who disparagingly refer to him as “pretty boy”). He throws all of his energy into a regimented diet and training schedule and doing everything he can to improve his game—he seems unaware of the essential joylessness of his life. David simultaneously admires and envies the ease with which Josh, his main hockey rival, connects with people and enjoys life—unperturbed about eating junk food or having an occasional night out drinking. Becoming lovers doesn’t change David’s or Josh’s essential personalities—and eventually Josh suggests the couple put sex on the back-burner and just date and get to know each other; this seems to baffle David, but he complies with Josh’s on-going tsunami of texts (rendered in wonderfully slap-dash spelling & grammar) that ask all sorts of “getting to know you” questions that allow David to start slowly emerging from his shell. The book ends with a somewhat abrupt HFN—the guys haven’t even gotten to the “I love you” stage—but I understand Fitzpatrick (who is very active in the Archive/Fanfic world) plans to make David & Josh’s story into a trilogy, so I look forward to reading more about them as their relationship progresses. Highly recommended—but also read HEATED RIVALRY for comparison/contrast.

    So, after reading COMING IN FIRST PLACE—and with my already acknowledged love for HEATED RIVALRY—I realized that “m/m sports romances where the heroes are rival athletes who fall in love” is a trope I didn’t know would activate my catnip center—but here we are. So, the synopsis of Elyse Springer’s HEELS OVER HEAD—two high divers, opposites in temperament and outlook, train for a place on the Olympic Diving team while trying to ignore their attraction to each other—made it an easy one-click. In HEELS OVER HEAD, Jeremy has a laser focus on winning an Olympic medal. He refuses to acknowledge his sexuality to himself and is bothered both by his attraction to the openly gay Brandon and by Brandon’s disorganized and lackadaisical approach to training (Brandon tends to view his diving scholarship more as a way to escape his Texas hometown than as a path to the Olympics). A female diver, Val, joins the training group. She’s Jeremy’s friend, but she ends up running interference between the two guys. One thing all three divers have in common is dysfunctional families: Val’s parents are former divers who have projected all of their unrealized Olympic dreams onto her; Jeremy’s homophobic father and brothers constantly disparage him and, unless Jeremy is giving them Nike dive-meet swag, don’t care about diving at all; Brandon’s wealthy parents kicked him out of the house when he came out and he has been homeless off-and-on since then. And, while the story’s main focus is the developing relationship between Jeremy and Brandon, all three main characters have to confront the damage done by their families if they want to have success—in diving and in life. A sweet & sexy slow-burn romance with serious things to say about claiming your authentic self.

    With THE SAINT, Molly O’Keefe completes her Notorious trilogy that also includes THE SINNER and THE GAMBLER. I don’t think you can read THE SAINT as a stand-alone: there’s an overarching story running through the series about three adult siblings who have to come to terms with the way their negligent parents have influenced their lives (and not in a good way). THE SAINT also brings to a close the subplot of a jewel theft the parents committed some years before and the whereabouts of the stolen gems. The hero of THE SAINT is the protective older brother of the family. He has made it his mission to keep his mother away from his siblings, but when she reappears, it’s to throw her son—a deputy mayor with higher political ambitions—into a confusing situation involving an unmarried pregnant woman. Eventually, the hero and the pregnant woman begin a fake relationship for political purposes. I liked the heroine—an older (37) dance instructor and former ballet dancer—and was curious about her story, especially who the father of her baby was and how she was going to address issues with her own difficult mother. At first, I was less enthralled with the hero because he was so focused on keeping his image squeaky clean that he didn’t care how he had distanced himself from his family. But when we see how much pain he carries because of his mother’s manipulation (“When she stopped playing her part,” he says at one point, “I didn’t know mine”), he becomes a far more sympathetic character. The book is written with O’Keefe’s customary style and competence (although a dated subplot involving a print journalist could have been modernized for the digital age) and she concludes the trilogy in a satisfying fashion. Incredibly angsty, but totally worth it.

    When you’ve read enough Sybil Bartel, you realize all of her books are connected and characters appear and recur throughout her various books and series. Her romantic suspense books form a mobius chain of a single overarching story: the interconnected lives and loves of a group of former military men (mostly Marines) who live and work in Miami and the south Florida area. Bartel’s just-completed Alpha Antihero series consists of four books (HARD LIMIT, HARD JUSTICE, HARD SIN, HARD TRUTH) featuring a hero who appears as a secondary character in a some of Bartel’s other books. This man, like several other characters in the Bartel universe, was raised in the compound of a religious cult in the Everglades (the cult and the consequences of growing up in it and then leaving it are plot points in a number of Bartel books, including ANDRE and CALLAN). The Alpha Antihero series covers seven years in the relationship of a man who was banished from the cult and left for dead in the Everglades and the woman who rescued him—the daughter of the president of a motorcycle gang. Together or apart (and, for a much of the series, they are apart), the couple endure a tremendous amount of pain, loss, and heartache. When they are finally reunited (in HARD TRUTH), they have to work through their grief and anger (including lots of angry-fucking) until they can achieve their HEA. I would not recommend these four books as your first introduction to Bartel—the focus is much more on motorcycle gangs than on Bartel’s standard former-marines-turned-security-specialists—but if you’re already familiar with her beyond-gonzo alpha heroes and the Wild West nature of the Florida they inhabit, the series is a good way to catch up with a vast cast of characters and meet some new guys who are being set up for their own future books.

    The through-line of Charmaine Pauls’s very good but very dark BEAUTY IN THE BROKEN is a woman’s fight to gain autonomy over her body, her money, and her life. Outside of Skye Warren’s work, I don’t think I’ve encountered a heroine simultaneously as broken & powerless and yet as self-aware as the heroine here—a wealthy widow who, because of mental health issues (cw/tw for mental illness, disordered eating, attempted suicide, institutionalization), is the ward of her father. Then a man (framed by her father for a crime he did not commit) manipulates the heroine into marriage so that he now controls her life and her wealth. I’ve said before, I’m ambivalent about “revenge marriage” scenarios, but Pauls does a good job with this one. We already know the heroine’s father is a horrible person and, gradually, we learn that the heroine’s first husband was too; unfortunately, at first, her new husband doesn’t seem much better (cw/tw: dubious/non-consensual sex, some of it of involving bdsm). But through it all, the heroine snatches whatever moments she can that allow her to control some aspects of her existence, whether it’s by hoarding leftover bread, building a habitat for endangered bats, or forcing a shady doctor to give her a job and pay her under the table. Even when she gets into some terrible situations, it’s the result of her not having enough power to choose between more than two bad options. I never really warmed up to the hero—even when he somewhat redeems himself and tries to help the heroine, he’s still far too possessive and controlling—but I was riveted by the heroine’s painful yet ultimately successful journey to derive some level of freedom and joy from her life. A well-written but—be forewarned—extremely dark book.

    NON-ROMANCE

    BT Urruela is the model on the cover of April Wilson’s novel, REGRET. In addition to being a cover model, Urruela is also a combat veteran, amputee, Purple Heart recipient, founder of a non-profit veterans organization, and a published author—so I looked up some of his books and decided to read BISHOP because the book’s description indicated that it featured one of my favorite (albeit extremely transgressive) tropes: a love affair between a female therapist and her male patient. However, BISHOP is much more the story of a military veteran’s journey adjusting to civilian life than it is a romance (the title character doesn’t even meet the therapist until halfway through the book), so I’d advise reading it as a Bildungsroman rather than as a romance. Bishop had expected to make the Army his career, but after losing an eye in combat, he finds himself, at age 25, back in the civilian world. He enrolls in college and—despite being considerably older than most of the other freshmen—pledges a fraternity. Much of the first half of the book involves the ongoing humiliations and hazing the fraternity puts its pledge class through, along with the de rigueur drinking and partying (Bishop drinks…a lot). I thought Urruela did a good job of showing how Bishop participates in various hazing stunts (even when they’re stupid or dangerous) because he is hoping to find with the fraternity the same camaraderie and brotherhood he experienced in the Army. It is only after he severely beats a man in a drunken brawl that Bishop is required to attend alcohol counseling sessions and thereby meets the two-decades-his-senior therapist. She herself is in a fragile place emotionally because her husband has just left her. In other books I’ve read where a therapist becomes involved with her patient (such as Jill Sorenson’s RIDING DIRTY, Julie Kriss’s TAKE ME DOWN, or Melynda Price’s FIGHTING FOR CONTROL), there has always been awareness on the therapist’s part of how unethical a therapist-patient relationship is and how much she has to lose by acting on her attraction to a patient; plus there have been mitigating circumstances which generally kept the relationship just a hair’s breath from being completely unconscionable. However, perhaps because everything in the book is shown from Bishop’s p-o-v and we don’t get equal time in the therapist’s head, I never got a real sense of her feeling that she was facing a moral quandary. There’s none of the usual frisson of sexual tension between therapist and patient as she vacillates between keeping Bishop sternly at arm’s length and flirtatiously responding to his obvious interest in her. The relationship, such as it is, seems more a series of hot quickies and booty-calls than anything emotional. And there’s so much more going on in the story—other women Bishop has slept with, a military friend with a bad marriage, a gay veteran with an unfaithful boyfriend, a near-riot on campus, douchey frat-bros, incomprehensible levels of alcohol consumption, a devastating death, and the realization that it’s time to move on—that reading this book expecting a traditional romance will result in disappointment; but if you’re looking for something different, BISHOP would not be a bad choice.

  5. 5
    Ren Benton says:
    11+

    I finished GIDEON THE NINTH by Tamsyn Muir, which I was loving at the time of the last Whatcha Reading. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a rare case for me of looking forward to the next book in a series.

    Also finished THE LOST CHILD OF LYCHFORD by Paul Cornell, which is the second novella in a quad of them. A grumpy old witch, a reverend, and a nonbelieving magic shop owner once again save their quaint English village that’s a gateway into this world from a bunch of hostile worlds. The end of the first story felt too convenient and rushed, which I hoped was a function of limited length plus the burden of first-in-series worldbuilding, but this one followed exactly the same pattern of skipping significant parts of the puzzle and mentioning them only in passing after the fact. I won’t be continuing this series.

    Hate-finished ORPHAN X by Gregg Hurwitz via skimming to confirm my predictions (yay, perfect score!). I am not (to the best of your knowledge) a black ops super spy, and yet I thought the main character, who is supposedly a black ops super spy all the other black ops super spies hate because he’s so much better than they are, was TSTL. He has a bunch of rules to live by, and one of them is not “Thou shalt not fuck people you suspect are involved in the plot to assassinate you,” which would eliminate maybe 60% of his problems. It’s an excellent example of the sort of media I don’t want to consume anymore.

    I set aside SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho. It’s set during the Napoleonic era, and the style is very stiff and proper, which might be a perk for some but feels reminiscent of homework to me. There’s a “shortage” of magic available, but apparently only among men because women (who aren’t “allowed” to practice magic because sexism but do magic anyway as an open secret because capitalism) aren’t having any problems doing their thing. Also racism and colonialism… just a whole bunch of things I don’t want to read for leisure unless the tone is BURN EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND AND SALT THE EARTH, which was not the case here.

    Because I don’t want to commit to anything after this string of disappointments, I’ve returned to TOIL & TROUBLE: 15 TALES OF WOMEN & WITCHCRAFT, edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe. Short fiction and I have a fraught relationship, but at least these stories hit the BURN EVERYTHING TO THE GROUND AND SALT THE EARTH sweet spot.

  6. 6
    Big K says:
    15+

    YIPPEE! WAYR!
    Here in Massachusetts my gardening/outside project plan has been crushed by rain. Guess I’m going to have to kick off the long weekend with some binge reading (happy dance) and this post should launch me beautifully. Thank you!What I’ve been reading — not much, actually got some work done last week, but for what it is:
    1. SAY YES TO THE DUKE, Eloisa James, A — Georgian historical with shy heroine and tightly wound hero, minimum conflict and angst. As remarked on SBTB, is this the most original book? No. Have you read it before if you read historical romance? Yes. But it was exactly what I needed and I stayed up until 2 a.m. to read it. Thank you for distracting my brain, E.J., it was excellent!

    2. HE’S COME UNDONE, Anthology of five novellas, B — Solid stories (M/M and M/F) where either H or H is wound tightly and needs to let go to embrace love. Especially liked the story with the forty-ish teachers. Solid read.

    3. HONOR, Jay Crownover, DNF — As soon as I realized Hero had paid homeless person to harass Heroine to move back home, which resulted in her being hurt, I realized Hero was not just an alphole, but a moron, and I DNF’d. I sometimes am in the mood for an alphole in fiction (not real life, thank you), but I can’t abide mean idiots.

    QUESTION — Why can I not get KJ Charles’ new book, SLIPPERY CREATURES on my NOOK? WT actual F? I’ve been looking forward to it and now I am denied! I could buy it from Amazon, but I buy all my keepers (I LOVE KJ CHARLES) on the NOOK app so I know where to look and they are all organized (I may be a little crazy). B&N only has hard copies?

    Going to plan my day of reading now and yell at my kids to do chores! Hope you are all safe and sound, and thank you for sharing what you’ve read!

  7. 7
    11+

    I’m reading AURORA BLAZING by Jessie Mihalik. After that, I will probably read CHAOS REIGNING and finish out her Consortium Rebellion series.

    I’m also hoping to read SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim, and I’m looking forward to ROYAL BASTARD by Avery Flynn, which comes out in June.

    Also, FYI, Amazon is running one of those “buy $20 in ebooks, get a $5 credit” through May 28: https://www.amazon.com/kr/d6e5aa28-fc2d-4f8e-916d-bf49f2a9e6e6?ref_=pe_170810_497633470_kdd_KREW_205_May20_KDD

    Hope everyone has a good holiday weekend! 🙂

  8. 8
    DonnaMarie says:
    8+

    Firstly, thanks SBMaya for that rabbit hole I just clawed my way out of. I am the person who had to be cattle prodded away from both the Colleen Moore Fairy Castle – https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/colleen-moores-fairy-castle/video/ – and the history of furniture/interior design dioramas at the Art Institute, this was an engrossing way to while away an hour.

    Reading wise I have been finishing up the Olympus Bound trilogy by Jordanna Max Brodsky. Epic battles, betrayals, heartbreak, classical studies, astrophysics, and the sort of love story you’d expect in an urban fantasy based on the Greek Pantheon. It’s working for both my heart and my brain. Although, the third book has had two endings so far, and it’s still not done. As much as I want to see someone get what they deserve, I’m not sure how much more I can take… I don’t generally give trigger warnings, but if you have deeply Christian beliefs, you’ll want to take a pass.

  9. 9
    Jules says:
    10+

    @DiscoDollyDeb thanks to your recommendation some months ago of THROWN OFF THE ICE by Taylor Fitzpatrick, I have fallen down a Taylor Fitzpatrick m/m hockey shaped hole. You mentioned that she is very active on Archive and she is, it is well worth checking it out if you haven’t already done so. All three of her published novels started out there. YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE was the first one. That is also the name of her AO3 and Tumblr accounts. All her stories are set in the same hockey universe, with some characters making appearances in other stories. I read BETWEEN THE TEETH before she took it down from AO3 to publish, which is what COMING IN FIRST PLACE was called. It will be trilogy (I think the third book will be called BETWEEN THE TEETH). You said that you though David and Jake’s HEA/ HFN was a little abrupt, well that is because they haven’t gotten to the angsty, conflicted middle part of their story yet. What I like about her writing is that she manages to achieve a different tone with each of her stories, ranging from sweet and fluffy to high angst. (THROWN OFF THE ICE is not the angstiest, BTW, but is the saddest. Not all of them have happy endings.) You can also tell that she really loves hockey and knows what she is talking about.

  10. 10
    Eliza says:
    11+

    DiscoDollyDeb, I can’t tell you how much I love your recommendations. I’m reading Thrown Off the Ice right now; glad to hear there’s another one waiting for me.

  11. 11
    Heather C says:
    9+

    @Big K I remember seeing a tweet from KJ Charles that she “pulled Slippery Creatures preorder from Barnes & Noble” because there were reports of payment delays to authors

  12. 12
    DiscoDollyDeb says:
    7+

    @Jules: So glad you liked THROWN OFF THE ICE—I thought it was a tremendously good love story, but not a romance because no HFN/HEA. And thank you for filling in the gaps of my AO3 knowledge. I don’t read much fanfic—primarily because I’m an old woman who remembers the slash/dot days when fanfic was little more than a lot of not-very-good Kirk-Spock erotica. Nowadays I’m hesitant to read much fanfic because I don’t want to “spoil” my reading of a book if the writer plans to publish it later—I don’t want to feel as if I’m reading a draft, but I know other people enjoy seeing the various iterations a story goes through before publication. I’m also glad to know there will be more of David & Josh in the future—I’m really looking forward to reading their continuing story, and (when it comes to reading) I’m very much an angst-queen, so the angstier the better for me. Lol

  13. 13
    DiscoDollyDeb says:
    6+

    @Eliza: thank you.

  14. 14
    Arijo says:
    14+

    PALADIN’S GRACE!!! I read it last week and it was AWE.so.me. The humor was delectable. I went and bought most of T. Kingfisher catalog because I want moooooaaaare!

    Also read ROGUE WOLF by Elliot Cooper. Sorry folks, it’s no good (>_<) The author has trouble setting up good world building. Doesn't feel fully fleshed, and the little bit there is is half-assed, like the author was too lazy for real research. The characters are equally lackluster, which makes for poor plotting. The choices made by the protagonists and antagonists feel either trite or unbeliveable. I felt no sympathy for the main characters, I couldn't even see why the MCs fell in love with each other.

    I had more luck with Lyn Gala, the 4 books of the Claiming series and EARTH FATHERS ARE WEIRD. I really enjoyed these sci-fi alien romances. They're not romance between a human and a mostly-human-except-better alien. In fact, they're not so much romances as the struggle of a human guy trying to adjust to a very strange and foreign world, who happens to fall for the alien nice enough to help him, even though that alien triggered a lot of ick factor at first. (In Claiming, the MCs are not even sexually compatible; Lyn Gala found a good workaround for that.) Oh, and there's mpreg in EFAW, but it's brought about in a very novel way due to the alien's biology; it fits perfectly in the story. I really liked EFAW, I read it twice already (^_^)

    Another favorite this months is still untitled. Ilona Andrews' new serial is being posted on their blog – they're back in Kate Daniels' Atlanta, it's 8 years later and the main protagonist is Julie, Kate's daughter. Grrrrr it's good.

    Right now I'm 60% in BONDS OF BRASS by Emily Skrutskie. It's a LGBT space opera adventure, and it's YA but it's so good I keep forgetting it's YA. These boys are 17 years old like Miles Vorkosigan was 17 in Warrior's Apprentice. Also! I didn't know the new Penric & Desdemona was out! Thanks for the info!

    @Ren Benton: hate-finished! I love that expression, I'm going to steal it 😉 That's exactly what I did to THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan this month. A bunch of kids partying, drunk and sleeping around was urk even though the royalty/true love/hidden relationship was good. Overall, the URK BLERGH OUACH factor came out the strongest, unfortunately.

  15. 15
    Rebecca says:
    10+

    Gently cried my way through THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune, such a lovely gentle book. I really enjoyed it but definitely a multi tissue book for me!

    LOVE HARD by Nalini Singh I enjoyed but there… wasn’t any conflict? Not really? Which, don’t get me wrong, is pretty much a feature for me these days, but really the only thing keeping the hero and heroine apart is that they need to get to know each other a little more and that’s pretty much it.

    Finally stopped hoarding RAISING STEAM by Terry Pratchett- it can’t compete with the Tiffany novels but I really liked it, and it kicked off a bit of a Terry Pratchett re-read for me. Susan still excellent in THIEF OF TIME.

    In nonfiction, WILL MY CAT EAT MY EYEBALLS was just the humorous nonfiction written by a mortician I needed right now. I especially loved that the questions were sourced from kids, it made the whole book both lighter and much more interesting than taking a strictly adult view would have.

  16. 16
    TinaNoir says:
    8+

    May has been a slumpatastic (or would that be slumpterrible?) reading month for me. I have been mostly re-reading and comfort reading because nothing new has been working for me.

    I re-read the last three Kate Daniels books.

    Also am re-reading The Night Watch books in Discworld by Terry Pratchett. Sam Vimes is my perfect, grumpy book boyfriend.

    Looking forward to Nora Roberts’ Hideaway as I am sure that will be a slump buster.
    New books I did read – Stages of The Heart by Jo Goodman. I liked the mystery element better than the romance, but I always enjoy her stuff.

    Got an ARC for Jill Mansell’s latest – It Started with A Secret . Her brand of frothy British rom-com is exactly what I needed and this one was really good and sparkly.

  17. 17
    Erin says:
    9+

    @Big K

    KJ Charles has said that Slippery Creatures isn’t being sold through Barnes & Noble because they’ve been delaying payments to authors.

    But you can get an epub version through Gumroad and sideload the file into your Nook app

    https://gumroad.com/l/hpiQT

  18. 18
    Emily B says:
    6+

    I’ve had trouble focusing this month while working out the logistics of a cross country move during the pandemic, so I’ve mostly been on a Jill Shalvis kick, fun, gentle reads. First, two from her Lucky Harbor series – AT LAST is a sort of opposites attract romance between a heroine hesitant to put down roots and a sexy park ranger who is very into her. The romance in this one is just okay, but there is a very sweet side storyline where the heroine helps a runaway teen. FOREVER AND A DAY is a single dad/nanny storyline, which doesn’t always work for me but Shalvis handles this one well. The heroine is stalled in life and her career and has to figure out that career and life happiness may not be what she expected/what her parents wanted for her. Bonus points for a cute kid and a cute pug puppy. As always, the female friendships Shalvis writes so well are front and center. Currently I’m in the middle of THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE, the second in her Heartbreaker Bay series, which is working better than the first in this series. Plus, lots of cute dogs and cats because the heroine runs an animal daycare.

    I finished OF CURSES AND KISSES by Sandhya Menon, and unfortunately this one just didn’t work for me. It’s a fun concept, but the characters all felt very stilted. I’ll stick to Menon’s books in the WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI world instead.

    SACRED SINS is an old Nora Roberts suspense. It was good, but not as polished as her more recent ones. It just felt like it was lacking some of the detail that I’m used to from Roberts.

    I had been waiting forever for THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST, Abby Jimenez’s follow up to THE FRIEND ZONE, which I loved. Spoiler alert, but Sloan, the heroine in this one, tragically lost her fiancé in The Friend Zone, and when we check back in with her here it’s two years later and she’s still deeply grieving. The musician hero falls for her hard and fast, but is so patient as she works through her feelings. Overall I really enjoyed this one, as Jimenez’s writing is sharp and funny, but I have one big problem with this story: Sloan needed therapy. She actually at one point says how she never went to therapy after her fiancé died, and I thought that was going to be her revelation that she needed it and would start going, but then the comment just passed and therapy is never revisited. It just felt like such a glaring omission.

  19. 19
    Darlynne says:
    8+

    NETWORK EFFECT by Martha Wells was every-over-used-superlative I can think of. I love Murderbot so much.

    EMPRESS OF FOREVER by Max Gladstone is mind-blowing, complex space opera. Highly recommended, particularly for the evolution of ALL parties. Maybe we can work together ultimately, after getting blown up many times.

    Christopher Moore’s SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS was exactly as advertised and what long time readers can expect from the further adventures of Pocket and company. Delightfully wacky and OTT.

    THE BIG FINISH by Brooke Fossey was lovely, funny, sad and hopeful, set in a senior living facility (pre-pandemic). Great characters.

    Currently reading QUICHOTTE by Salman Rushdie for book club. The epitome of gorgeous writing, breath taking really, I just want more Murderbot right now.

  20. 20
    Teev says:
    7+

    What do you do if your varsity field hockey team is worst in the league every year? Have you tried witchcraft? WE RIDE UPON STICKS (Quan Barry) is so much fun and I highly recommend it.

    I also read THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, which I very much enjoyed. It had me thinking alot about how rarely we see truly nonviolent heroes, especially who are men.

    After a string of books in which the worldbuilding includes the oppression/inequality of women as a given (and yes I’m including Goblin on that list), A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK (KB Wagers) was just the ticket. Its the Coast Guard in space, and awesomeness and bad-assery and rank – none of them have to do with gender (or any of the other things we oppress each other for). Is there such a thing as cozy military sci-fi? I liked it lots.

    Speaking of oppression, Elizabeth Peters and the Amelia Peabody mysteries had been coming up on my radar so I checked out the first one. I know it’s about a woman in the 1890s written by a woman in the 1970s but there was a real mean racism to it that I could not get past. Do not rec.

    MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE is a magical women’s fiction sort of book that I do recommend. I think if you like Garden Spells you would like this.

    SAY YES TO THE EARL and TO HAVE AND TO HOAX are both ok i guess. I used to love historicals but honestly I just cant get into fiction about the 1% right now. I wish there were more historical romances about regular people.

  21. 21
    KatiM says:
    7+

    Currently reading the second Murderbot novella. I bought Network Effect for myself for Mother’s Day and then realized I never finished the novellas. Really enjoying Murderbot’s developing friendship (if you can call it that) with the ship’s AI.

    Also reading Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie. I wish the mythology was a little more developed because it’s central to the whole story. However I stayed up way too late reading it last night so apparently that little detail didn’t bother me too much. There are three POV characters and it is easy to track who is telling the story. The author really developed each voice well. I also appreciated that while two characters are soulmates (and one vowed revenge on the other) it’s not an instalove situation.

    Next on my list is Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas, Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James, and Playing It Safe by Amalia Theresa.

  22. 22
    AmyS says:
    6+

    Some M/M books that I have enjoyed this month:
    BRAVING THE DEEP END by Deanna Wadsworth — (CW for car accident) age gap with some bi-awakening, also had a surprising element
    FINAL SHOT by VL Locey — this is a continuation of my all-time favorite hockey player couple. If you have been reading the earlier stories, you don’t want to miss Dan’s POV finally. But this is a gritty one.
    IN YOUR HANDS by Louisa Masters — really love her writing. This is such a happy feel good kind of book with a single dad trope if that is your nip.
    LOVE MEANS MORE by AF Zoelle — a fake relationship that heats up friends that have both loved the other for years.
    CALLING YOUR BLUFF by Saxon James — some great dialogue and banter with the swoony romance between a retired football player and a teacher.

    Some M/F that I really liked:
    JOCK BLOCKED by Pippa Grant — love blooms between a Major League Baseball player and the greatest fan of all time. Oh, and did I mention the Hero is a 30 yo virgin because of his superstitious nature that baseball is know for? Smiles all around.
    THE HAPPY EVER AFTER PLAYLIST by Abby Jimenez — I liked this one even more than the first book. Jason is my new BBF. I listened to this on audio and I had to keep finding housework to do to keep listening. Loved it so much!!!

  23. 23
    Margaret says:
    9+

    @DiscoDollyDeb, do you sleep???? I want so much to get through great quantities of books, but now that the winter is finally gone, the outside (lawn, garden, weeds growing up trees) demands waking hours not devoted to other necessary tasks (anybody else in charge of WAY too many meals during this stay-at-home nightmare??) But I digress.

    I zipped quickly through a lot of audiobooks this month, mostly comfort listens that fulfilled their assignment. I revisited Julia Quinn’s first four Bridgerton books and felt delightfully at home, then went to Colorado for relatively new author, Krista Sandor’s Bergen Brother trilogy: nice, sexy, fun, and then immersed myself in a few books by the the always wonderful Julie Anne Long.

    On a serious note I listened to Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map, which detailed how a cholera outbreak in London in the 1850s was finally brought under control. The book was written in the early aughts, and the author confidently proclaimed that as long as a world-wide pandemic waited until 2025, we’d have the absolute technological prowess to deal with it instantly. Darn.

    And in the “serious” fiction department, The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, is worth the hype. It starts out s-l-o-w-l-y, and I found it very hard initially to care about any of the numerous characters, but it ties together well and left a lasting impact.

    Stay well, everyone.

  24. 24
    MaryK says:
    7+

    “Sorcery of Thorns … got me right in my howls moving castle loving feels.” Oh really? I’ve had that on my TBR list for a while. I might read it next.

    I may’ve mentioned this before, but the Murderbot audios are really good. I read the novel the week it released and am on my second listen. The book is packed with action and plot so after reading it I immediately needed a reread to help process it all. Martha Wells may be my fav author of all time.

    I’m currently reading and liking Finder by Suzanne Palmer about a Scottish Earther who travels through space finding stolen items and returning them.

  25. 25
    KitBee says:
    7+

    Based in part on some recent mentions here at SBTB, I decided to reread the “Study” trilogy by Maria V. Snyder. I’m in the middle of FIRE STUDY now, and while the books are enjoyable enough, I’ve realized I don’t need to keep them on my shelves any longer. Also, I just purchased Mary Balogh’s SLIGHTLY MARRIED and Andrea Penrose’s MURDER ON BLACK SWAN LANE, so I’ll probably turn to one of those next!

  26. 26
    Heather C says:
    6+

    The stand out this month is Maz Maddox Stallion Ridge Series (4/5 stars): American old west with paranormal. A town where humans and mythical shifters live. I don’t know my mythical shifters so it was fun to pause and look up pictures of each new shifter that was introduced. The series is quirky fun

    Heartache & Hoofbeats: Sheriff centaur Cal meets train robber Jesse

    Claw Marks & Card games: Cooper, brother of above train robber and deputy Gunner

    Suspects & Scales: Deputy Cody and Iara/Merman(?) Quellin

    Rocks & Railways: Deputy Mack and Stone man? deity? really old rock shifter? Tahl. I got a little weepy with this one.

    But I also paused to read Nora Phoenix Healing Hand (Perfect Hands #5) (4/5 stars) m/m age play, but low heat.

  27. 27
    MaryK says:
    8+

    In case you haven’t heard, another Murderbot novella has been announced releasing next April.

    https://www.denofgeek.com/books/murderbot-diaries-fugitive-telemetry-cover-reveal/

    @Jennifer Estep – Thanks for the heads up about the Amazon deal. My birthday is coming up and I’m treating myself to books so it’s excellent timing.

  28. 28
    Susanna says:
    7+

    Mostly rereads (principally The Others books by Anne Bishop), but also Suddenly You and Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas, and Sarah MacLean’s Brazen and the Beast. I preferred the Kleypas.

  29. 29
    JenM says:
    5+

    My favorite book of the month, probably one of my tops for the year was THE FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary. TW for emotional abuse and gaslighting in the heroine’s previous relationship,, but although a big theme of the book was how she slowly came to recognize and deal with recovery from the abuse, it nonetheless never overwhelmed the sweet, slowly developing romance between the heroine and her wonderful, cinnamon roll hero, who share a flat, but don’t actually ever meet F2F until halfway through the book. (How can this possibly work, you ask? Well, he works nights, she works days and they sleep on different sides of the bed so they don’t have to constantly change the sheets LOL). The notes that they start writing to each other to deal with various roommate situations are just adorable. Lots of good book noises after I finished this one.

    I also loved REPEAT by Kylie Scott, about a woman with amnesia and a traumatic brain injury who ends up reconnecting with the guy she had just broken up with before she suffered the attack that injured her. Amnesia plots don’t usually do it for me, but this one was unique in that there’s no expectation that the heroine will ever recover her lost memories. Instead, it’s like she has gotten a do-over. She has a real chance to change her behavioral patterns (as does the hero) so it’s easy to believe that they can make it this time around.

    My current read is MR. HOTSHOT CEO by Jackie Lau which has a nuanced and (to my uneducated eyes) realistic depiction of a heroine who suffers from severe depressive episodes that are resistant to any kind of standard drug or other therapies. Nonetheless, this is not a depressing book, rather the romance is quite hopeful and has a satisfying and believable HEA.

  30. 30
    Christina N says:
    2+

    I’m reading Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series in the order that they become available through my library. Just finished Dr. Strange Beard and loved it! And currently reading Olivia Dade’s new Marysburg novel 40-Love. I only started reading her because I discovered “Teach Me” through this site – now I managed to land a free eARC through her twitter. It’s delightful so far – normally I hate a book that starts with a heroine in an embarrassing position and the hero being sort of smug about it, but Tess is so confident and mature and smart! I’m in love.

  31. 31
    Joyce says:
    4+

    2 new titles landed in my mailbox! Really enjoyed Eloisa James’ SAY YES TO THE DUKE, but loved BEACH READ by Emily Henry.

    Devoured Laura Anne Guhrke’s Lady Truelove series…The Truth About Love and Dukes, The Trouble with True Love and Heiress Gone Wild. But the title I liked best was, AND THEN HE KISSED HER. Wow!

    Zipping through Danielle Steel’s The Numbers Game…her writing isn’t my favorite, but I grabbed it off the new fiction shelf as the library was locking up for covid 19 in March. Truthfully, I will read just about anything right now. Maybe I will skim or DNF, but I will give it a look!

  32. 32
    Vicki says:
    4+

    Still in a bit of a slump but starting to pick up. I did re-read The Obsession by Nora Roberts, mostly for the dog and the house. But I did find the H/h interesting and the community engaging. Also re-read Dead Run by PJ Tracy, the fourth book in the series. The women get lost in Wisconsin and stumble, literally, into a home-grown terrorist event. Good stuff.

    Now working on three very different books. Meeting at Corvallis by SM Stirling. Post-apocalyptic, not a romance. Two groups of survivors have formed governments and are battling it out. It’s a little slow starting, not liking the villains at all. We will see how it goes – it and several more of the series were handed down by my brother.

    Also reading Blame by Jeff Abbott. I have enjoyed his thrillers in the past. Although it’s not a YA, the person I am taking as the heroine is a late teen who lost her memory two years earlier in a motor accident that killed her good friend. She is blamed for the accident due to the possibility of it being a suicide attempt. It keeps dragging me along, getting more interesting as it goes.

    I am also reading Heart of Fire by Bec McMaster. I grabbed it because it is set in rural 19th century Iceland; the heroine is about the age my great-grandmother was at that time and the setting is similar to where she lived, though not in such poverty. However, I am having a lot of trouble with some errors that would probably not bother anyone else. Chapter two – the heroine is speaking to the land and she speaks “Norse.” Well, of course she does. What did you think she was speaking? Then, a chapter or two later, she is ordering in the inn, asking for food in Icelandic and then adding, in English, “bread” at the end, making her order “rye bread bread.” So I am continuing (as I do with medical romances that do similar things) and holding the space open to DNF if it makes me too crazy. If you do not come from Icelandic family, and you like dragons, you might well enjoy it based on what else I have seen so far.

  33. 33
    Kareni says:
    6+

    Since last time ~

    — Accelerating Universe (The Sector Fleet, Book 1) by Nicola Claire; it was a pleasant read that, in one sense, reminded me of Michele Diener’s Dark Horse.
    — reread SK Dunstall’s Alliance and Confluence for the nth time.
    — Eliza’s Miracle by S. J. Sanders which was a set in space romance featuring characters in their fifties. While it was pleasant, I don’t expect to reread this.
    — reread the Claimings series by Lyn Gala. The first four books in this series are amongst my favorite books; they feature Liam, a linguist, and Ondry, an alien trader. The fifth book is set in the same universe but features different characters. The first book in the series is Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts.

    — An American Marriage by Tayari Jones which my book group discussed on Zoom. I found it to be a depressing read. (It seems that my book group reads predominantly depressing books! How about yours?)
    — Top Secret by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I expect this is a book I’ll reread as I liked both of the leads. This is a male/male romance.
    — Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga) by Lois McMaster Bujold which I liked. I’d read the author’s Shards of Honor last year, and I recommend reading that before this book.
    — enjoyed Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer, a male/male contemporary romance.
    — Plus a host of book samples and a number of books I started but did not finish.

  34. 34
    Big K says:
    6+

    Thank you, @Erin and @Heather C. Barnes and Noble delays paying authors? What did @Ren say about “burning it all down and salting the earth?” After “Hate finishing” which I also will be stealing.
    I’ll use the work-around so KJC GETS THEIR MONEY!

  35. 35
    Blackjack says:
    3+

    @JenM – I adored Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare from last year. It was such a pleasant surprise from an unknown author. I loved it for all the reasons you cite but I also so enjoyed the post-it notes Tiffy & Leon share as they slowly inch toward a romance. I’m looking forward to O’Leary’s new release this summer.

  36. 36
    Blackjack says:
    4+

    Despite the pandemic, I am strangely having one of the best reading years in a long time. So far this year, I’ve discovered several new authors that I just love, including Sarah Hogle, Mhairi McFarlane, and now, Emily Henry.

    For the month of May, I am finishing up Emily Henry’s Beach Read and am loving it. Two rival writers share craft trade tips and banter as they seek to outdo each other in swapping genres, and all while trying not to fall in love. It’s just the perfect book right now. So well executed and I just found out yesterday that Henry will be releasing a new rom-com in 2021.

    I also read and loved Mhairi McFarlane’s new release If I Never Met You this month. Romance authors are creating some amazing heroines lately.

    I read two books that didn’t quite appeal as much as I had hoped. I read Jo Goodman’s new release, Stages of the Heart, which felt slow and a bit insipid, definitely a gentle read. I also read Meljean Brooks’s Here There Be Monsters and realize that I’m just not a paranormal/fantasy reader. Every once in a while I dip my toe in the water and almost always realize these books just aren’t for me.

    This week I will be reading an arc of Talia Hibbert’s new book, Take a Hint, Dani Brown. I’m really looking forward to it and hope to read some reviews of it soon too.

  37. 37
    Karin says:
    7+

    Eid Mubarak to those who celebrate the holiday!
    I’m not getting a whole lot of reading done, but I did enjoy “Heiress for Hire” by Madeline Hunter a few weeks ago.
    I picked up a trio of Georgette Heyer e-books which were on sale for .99, and the first one was “The Grand Sophy”. I had never read it before, and it was great until I got to that horrible anti-Semitic part, and I then recalled the warnings about it. I finished the book and still enjoyed the rest of it, but ugh. “Network Effect” came up on my library wait list, and I had not yet read the previous novella, “Exit Strategy”, so I had to pick that one up quick. Both are excellent, and I’m still in the middle of “Network Effect”.
    I am eternally a month behind on my New Yorker issues, but I diligently work my way through every non-fiction article, which I feel keeps me very well-informed, only a month behind the times. So I’m now in mid-April when COVID-19 was at its deadly peak in the city, and that sure is horrible to revisit.

  38. 38
    cleo says:
    3+

    Network Effect by Martha Wells – can’t say enough good things about it. Was so happy to spend more time with Murderbot

    Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles – really enjoyed this, good start to a new series.

    Stupid Love by Riley Hart – cute mm NA frenemies to lovers set in Atlanta. This author is new to me. I had some trouble getting into it – it’s alternating 1st person POV and the writing annoyed me. But once I got caught up in the story I really enjoyed it. Fun, low conflict romance between two believable 20-somethings as they snark, flirt and deny their way into love. I enjoyed the diverse cast of characters and the bi rep.

  39. 39
    Escapeologist says:
    3+

    I’ve been picking up books and putting them down, listening to comfort reread audiobooks on repeat. Finally reading and enjoying something new – Millie’s Fling by Jill Mansell. 7 chapters in, it’s fluffy, funny and low angst. We’ll see how it goes, lately I’ve been DNFing at the drop of a hat.

    Found on my library app, a Meg Cabot teen audiobook narrated by Ari Meyers that I remember enjoying years ago – All American Girl. It’s in the vein of the Princess Diaries but different enough to be interesting (I may have read 7 or 8 of those diaries and watched both movies, as you do.) The narrator Ari Meyers has a sweet voice that soothes my frazzled nerves.

  40. 40
    Escapeologist says:
    3+

    @TinaNoir – thank you for mentioning Jill Mansell! My library app has several of her books, fluffy romcoms are just what my brain needs.

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