What are Your Favorite Recent Discoveries in Subscription Services?

A white pair of headphones on top of a stacked red and then brown book against a slate grey background with the words Outstanding Subscription Finds in white lettering below I know many of you have subscriptions to services like Scribd, Kindle Unlimited, or the super-sexy Canadians Only Kobo Plus.

Library folks may also be using Hoopla Digital to access ebooks and audiobooks – and the Library Extension browser add-on allows folks browsing Amazon to see what books are available at their library, or via library subscriptions like Hoopla. (I use this extension constantly and I love it.)

That unlimited reading option is delightful, isn’t it? But sometimes it can be overwhelming for me to try to find my next favorite read.

Right now, I’m reading the Wrexford and Sloane series by Andrea Penrose, which are historical (Regency) mystery with a strong romantic element for the protagonists and some of the ancillary characters as well. The first book, Murder on Black Swan Lane, is in KU, and the entire series is available on Hoopla Digital via library subscription.

What about you? Which subscription services are you using? And what books, audiobooks, or other romance reading have you discovered recently in your subscription that you’d recommend to others? If you can also tell us what genre the book is, that would help a lot for those who like to CTRL-F their rec threads.

So, please share! What recent treasures have you discovered? 

Categorized:

General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Jenreads says:

    Some people spend their time on TikTok and Instagram, I spend mine trolling Hoopla, KU and my library ebook catalog. My library has a Lucky Day feature which includes popular books without a wait…I check it daily. I hoard my Hoopla holds each month. I did a jerky dance when KU raised the number of books to 20 at a time. I believe in the DNF.

    Current recommendations from each service: Hoopla – Robin Brande, Love Proof; KU – S. Doyle for The Bride series; Library – Michael Robatham, Cyrus Haven series and Blake Crouch, Recursion

  2. 2
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    I’m all about Kindle Unlimited. For an avid romance reader (are there any of those here? Lol), $9.99 a month is a steal. So far in 2021, I’ve read over 100 books from KU. Many of these were the sort of dark/mafia/crime/transgressive stuff I usually can’t find at the library (I consume those type of books like eating a jar of peanuts), but KU also features the work of more “mainstream” romance writers and I’ve been able to go on binges of books by new-to-me writers like Claire Kingsley, Karla Sorensen, and Alessandra Hazard. I also get lost down the KU rabbit hole, but then come up with books that are astonishingly good by writers I’ve never read before. Just in the past week, I’ve read Anna Martin’s duet, THE IMPOSSIBLE BOY & THE LOST BOY (m/m between a pan-sexual musician & a gender-fluid fashion journalist) and Nicky James’s THE ENDLESS ROAD TO SUNSHINE (m/m featuring one hero who has to live with the knowledge that his partner of 20 years was a serial killer—and he knew nothing about it). Really excellent stuff and I’d probably not have noticed them if they hadn’t popped up on my KU recommendations.

  3. 3
    KatiM says:

    I just installed that library extension and OMG where has this been all my life????

    I also love my KU subscription. Last month I read books by Elise Kova and CN Crawford and discovered that old Anya Seton books are also available. And I love that the limit is now 20.

  4. 4
    Queen_Victoria says:

    I know it doesn’t technically qualify as a subscription, but I have found treasures through my library’s Overdrive. ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS by Alice Feeney featured Richard Armitage, and I read Gytha Lodge’s SHE LIES IN WAIT narrated by John Hopkins, a favorite actor of mine from Midsomer Murders. I know @DiscoDollyDeb doesn’t listen to audiobooks, but both were books she suggested. Can’t recommend using Overdrive enough!

  5. 5
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    I guess @Queen_Victoria knows I don’t listen to audiobooks because she’s my daughter! Lol

  6. 6
    JudyW says:

    I too have KU (received as a gift) and have found some real gems on it. I limit my KU reading a bit or I never get to anything more mainstream. The library extension is awesome. I belong to four libraries now and it has saved me sooooo much money. Many libraries in Texas let you belong even if you aren’t a resident as long as you have a state license. Note: San Antonio became the nations first all digital library. You check out an e-reader instead of a book.

  7. 7
    Nea says:

    This may not qualify for the discussion because it’s physical books, but The Ripped Bodice in LA sells a “Read, Romance, Repeat” subscription box; 2 books and a trinket. I think Accidentally Engaged is my current favorite from them.

  8. 8
    Carrie G says:

    I love Hoopla, and I have an awesome library with TONS of romance titles! My only quibble is that our library system only allows for 5 Hoopla checkouts a month and I listen to at least 3 audiobooks a week. Because of that, I never use Hoopla checkouts for ebooks. For that I use KU. I look carefully on Amazon books I want to listen to because every so often the books are whispersynced and I can get then for a reduced price through Audible after I check the book out with KU, or buy it cheaply. Sometimes it’s as low as $1.99, and occasionally it’s free! Right now I have Rachel Grant’s newest RS out through KU, and the audiobook is free for as long as I have the ebook checked out. A great many audiobooks are priced at $7.49 when you check out the KU book, and that’s cheaper than an Audible credit.

    My husband recently subscribed to Scrib’d, so I’ll check and see what they have on audiobook. I’ve heard very mixed reports about their audiobook policies, with people getting cut-off from audiobook checkouts even before the limit is reached. I guess I’ll find out.

    I, too, look through Overdrive audiobooks frequently, but they have far fewer of the ones I enjoy, so I usually only use it when I really need something to listen to and can’t get it any other way! 🙂 Our library does have Cat Sebastian’s Seducing the Sedgwicks series on Overdrive, so that was fun!

  9. 9
    Erin says:

    I love subscription services and like @JudyW I would have a hard time getting to anything more mainstream because of all that’s available. What I do is keep a shelf on Goodreads for Kindle Unlimited and Kobo Plus books I want to read and once they start to fill up I’ll subscribe for a month at a time and almost exclusively read those books that month… I do this about every few months so that on the other months I read books from the library or those on my shelves I haven’t gotten to yet. Plus it’s kind of fun to have these designated “super reading” months.

    Kindle has some great Christmas, Hanukkah, and halloween books, Roan Parrish, Jay Northcote, the Bold Brew series, some Claire Kent, Jodie Slaughter, Christina C. Jones, Naima Simone…

    And Kobo Plus, if you live in a region that supports it, has gems like Talia Hibbert’s backlist (her self-published books), Ruby Lang, a lot of Rebekah Weatherspoon’s books, Jackie Lau, Laura Lovely (Pumpkin Pounder, Splash Me), Suleikha Snyder, Sierra Simone, Katee Robert, T.J. Klune, Chloe Liese (they moved over to KP from KU), Skye Warren, and… Alexis Hall’s upcoming Kobo exclusive ‘Murder Most Actual’ is set to also be available on Kobo Plus.

  10. 10
    Nicole says:

    Just here to say the library a browser extension is the best thing ever and you can enter all your libraries and hoopla and it’ll tell you if it’s available anywhere. And while I have let my Kindle unlimited subscription lapse I do tend to buy a 1-year subscription during prime Days because you do get it at a discount, And the price is hard to beat.

  11. 11
    Courtney M says:

    In KU – Stalked by the Kraken by Lillian Lark. I’ll just say that I usually read romance, not erotica, and this is more on the erotica side of the spectrum. But I also didn’t think I was into tentacles, and, as the title may clue you in, there were tentacles. But I loved it! It was funny and sweet and I felt like I needed a cold shower after putting it down, so if you need some of that in your day, go forth.

  12. 12
    Karin says:

    I’ve had Scribd for 6 years now. I notice they’ve been adding a lot more audio books recently, but I only read print. If you pay annually instead of monthly, you can save a bit of money on the subscription. I’ve been reading Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent mystery series there. They have lots of historical mysteries, Charles Todd, Andrea Penrose, Karen Odden, Darcie Wilde. In historical romance they have a wide collection of Elisa Braden, Meredith Duran, Caroline Linden and others. But what I really like is the availability of old books, by authors like D.E. Stevenson and Dorothy Eden, and lots of old romance of the Signet Regency variety, authors I love like Charlotte Louise Dolan, Marjorie Farrell, Joan Wolf, Carola Dunn, Barbara Metzger. Just dozens and dozens of them. And you can comfort read them whenever you want without buying them.

  13. 13
    Lynn S says:

    Here to once again mourn Audible Escape. I loved that service, and am still sad it’s gone. However Audible Plus has slowly started to make some short romance Audible Originals. The best one I listened to was “What the Hex” by Alexis Daria. “Sun of a Beach” by Mia Sosa was cute although not at the level of What the Hex. I like these short romance audio pieces as sort of a palette cleanser. I think more are coming.

    Other audiobooks available in Audible Plus: some of the Sherry Thomas Sherlock books, Molly Harper Mystic Bayou series, Sonali Dev Bollywood series, and lots of classics of course. I wish they would get more from the Audible Escape catalogue. But for now, it’s not bad, and keeps getting better.

  14. 14
    Stefanie Magura says:

    This post is interesting and timely for me, because someone who is blind recently recommended Scribd, a program whose subscription I immediately cancelled after downloading because the accessibility was that bad when I tried it. I’ve been a little gun shy about trying it again ever since, but I might based on this person’s recommendation. I’m also interested in feedback from blind users regarding the services available through the public libraries, if there are any blind users who use these. I am aware that what blind users use to access reading materials, and what the mainstream population uses don’t always overlap because of the existence of services which are only meant for people with disabilities, especially blindness and dyslexia and others which make physically holding a book harder. Bookshare is one of these, and it might qualify in it’s own way as a subscription service, since users pay an annual fee to use it. It has gotten good enough that if the book comes from a big publisher, you can usually count on it being available on release day. I remember being a member when this was absolutely not the case. I think I even remember posts in the SBTB archives calling on publishers to use this service more to make their books available to the blind population, and comments within describing the lag between when books were available to the general public, and available on there. Come to think of it, the lag for blind people getting access to books through blind only services has decreased considerably now that the Library of Congress has also begun adding commercially produced audio books. By the way, I’m using blind as a shorthand, I know that others who have disabilities use them.

  15. 15
    Stefanie Magura says:

    I will add that while I don’t have specific book recommendations, Kindle Unlimitted has worked well for me too.

  16. 16
    Stefanie Magura says:

    And I just checked out the library Browser Extension and saw that one of the services includes the National Library Braille and Audio Reading Download Service, which is available to patrons from the Library of Congress. It’s one of the services I was referring to earlier.

  17. 17
    Jennie says:

    I’ve got both KU and the Kobo subscription, and between the two of them, I always have plenty of options on my TBR shelf! Kobo has recently introduced me to Laramie Briscoe and I’m going through all of her back catalogue as quickly as I can. KU definitely has the books on the darker side, so that fills my need for smut and dirty talk.

  18. 18
    Lisa L says:

    Another recommendation for the library extension with full Kermit flail enthusiasm. I am currently answering phones from home for my library job and using the library extension in amazon is waaaaaayyyy faster than our library software. Our library has reciprocal e-book borrowing agreements with four other libraries in the province and damn howdy I know in seconds where the books are and how long the wait list is in estimated days. AND you can just click on the button beside the library and place the hold!!! It is glorious, and when I share this amazing bit of info with patrons, they are blown away.

  19. 19
    Maureen says:

    I use KU, Audible, and Hoopla. I belong to three libraries, because while I love my local library-it has a smaller circulation.

    I should cancel my audible, I finally figured out that yes, it is easy to borrow audiobooks from the library! It takes me forever to finish an audiobook, reading is so much faster. I like them if I am traveling, or if I ever again take up that hobby called exercising.

    The Vino and Veritas series is on KU, and I enjoyed most of those books. I know I get my money’s worth out of that subscription.

    Hoopla is awesome, I think I can get 8 books per month? Lots of audiobooks on that too.

  20. 20
    Jenny L. says:

    Living near the DC / MD line gives me access to both library systems. I’d definitely recommend seeing if adjacent areas will give you a card if you run out of Hoopla borrows and Libby holds like I do. I also just noticed that Audible Plus added a slew of K. J. Charles titles this month. Yes!

  21. 21

    There are some good subscriptions out there. I have really liked KU especially in introducing me to some good indie romance titles. But I also love AnyPlay-Its romance content is better than anywhere else if you like audiobooks. I love the library databases, they have really expanded for romance content. I would read on scribd but I can’t read well on a glaring screen.

  22. 22
    Penny says:

    @Lover of Romance – thanks, I hadn’t heard of AnyPlay before

  23. 23
    Kris Bock says:

    Mysteries I’ve enjoyed in KU: by Benedict Brown, the Lord Edgington investigates series about a retired police officer helped by his grandson between the wars England.
    Steve Hockensmith, tarot mysteries (a woman inherits a small town tarot shop from her con artist mother). He also writes the Holmes on the Range series, about to cowboy brothers in the 1800s who try to solve mysteries using Sherlock Holmes techniques.
    Lady Adelaide mystery by Maggie Robinson, number one was fairly enjoyable.
    Karen Menuhin historical mysteries, post world war I rather goofy good-natured hero.

    Women’s paranormal fiction:
    Suddenly Psychic series by Elisabeth Hunter.
    Shannon Mayer midlife series; Darynda Jones Betwixt and Between

    The Adventures in Aguillon series by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey – sexy, very funny fantasy.
    AJ Lancaster Stariel series
    Patrick Weeks Rogues of the Republic series, sci-fi fantasy cross with a large cast of wonderful characters.

    Plants vs Zombies graphic novels are very funny.

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