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Artemis Gordon

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  1. Neon Gods Neon Gods by Katee Robert is $1.99! This is the first book in the Dark Olympus series. This is close to the top of my TBR pile and I’ve heard so many good things. A friend read it and wished it were spicier. Are you a fan? He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… …he was, quite simply, mine. Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade. With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth…a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed. Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close… A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Someone to Hold Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh is $1.99 and a Kindle Daily Deal! This is the second book in the Westcott series, which I know many of you love. We had some wonderful comments yesterday about Balogh’s comforting romance. Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery… With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve. An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Much Ado About You Much Ado About You by Samantha Young is $1.99! I feel like Young is an author that readers really like or don’t. Catherine read this one and wasn’t impressed. She gave it a C. Have you read this one? I’m tempted by the Great Dane. The cozy comforts of an English village bookstore open up a world of new possibilities for Evie Starling in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young. At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover. Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Left-Handed Booksellers of London The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix is $2.99! This is another Kindle Daily Deal and features magical booksellers. I know Nix’s YA fantasy novels have been a source for comfort for the Bitchery. This is the first in a series and it looks like book two is out next year. A girl’s quest to find her father leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers who police the mythical Old World of England when it intrudes on the modern world. From the bestselling master of teen fantasy, Garth Nix. In a slightly alternate London in 1983, Susan Arkshaw is looking for her father, a man she has never met. Crime boss Frank Thringley might be able to help her, but Susan doesn’t get time to ask Frank any questions before he is turned to dust by the prick of a silver hatpin in the hands of the outrageously attractive Merlin. Merlin is a young left-handed bookseller (one of the fighting ones), who with the right-handed booksellers (the intellectual ones), are an extended family of magical beings who police the mythic and legendary Old World when it intrudes on the modern world, in addition to running several bookshops. Susan’s search for her father begins with her mother’s possibly misremembered or misspelt surnames, a reading room ticket, and a silver cigarette case engraved with something that might be a coat of arms. Merlin has a quest of his own, to find the Old World entity who used ordinary criminals to kill his mother. As he and his sister, the right-handed bookseller Vivien, tread in the path of a botched or covered-up police investigation from years past, they find this quest strangely overlaps with Susan’s. Who or what was her father? Susan, Merlin, and Vivien must find out, as the Old World erupts dangerously into the New. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  2. This Rec League comes from Bel. Thanks, Bel! I’ve recently read and loved Drawn That Way and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay–extremely different books in terms of tone and setting, I know , but something I really enjoyed about both books was the detail about the characters’ crafts (animation and comics, respectively) and all the character design and storytelling that came with it. This might be a weirdly specific ask/reading mood to be in at the moment, but are there any other novels featuring, for lack of a better term, narrative artists? Cartoonists, graphic novelists, animators, maybe video game designers? And hopefully featuring romance and HEAs? Thank you so much! Amanda: Level Up by Cathy Yardley ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) and Even Odds by Elia Winters ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) have video game designers and developers. A | BN | K | AB Sarah: There’s a historical mystery series with a heroine who draws satirical cartoons under a pen name – the Wrexford and Sloane series by Andrea Penrose, starting with Murder on Black Swan Lane. And the titular Anatomist’s Wife by Anna Lee Huber ( A | BN | K | G | AB ) is an illustrator and artist. But it sounds like this reader is thinking more in terms of contemporary. Claudia: Would Love Lettering qualify? She’s not a narrative artist per se but i remember the heroine is really into getting to know her customers before she works on their calligraphy projects. Sneezy: Loathe at First Sight ( A | BN | K | AB ) has a video game developer protagonist, but the misogyny in the video game industry does take up a chunk of the story. The webtoon The Lady with a Mask def works. The protagonist is a children’s book author and illustrator and secretary to her boss. Trigger warning for death, grief, and shitty toxic family, though the last takes up very little of the story What romances would you recommend? Tell us below! View the full article
  3. Sarah: People are mad and hurt and scared and upset, and there are a lot of ways to help, including caring for ourselves and our communities. Please remember that this is a space for us to feel safe, and to care for this community from within it. TL;DR, don’t be tools please. Amanda: If you’re looking for ways to help, here are a few links: Get Involved Abortion Access Front: They’re offering a workshop on the 17th called Operation Save Abortion. National Network of Abortion Funds: Tomorrow, June 30th, they’re offering a Webinar called “Building Power with Abortion Funds.” Digital Defense Fund: They are helping to place and connect volunteers for the abortion access movement. Donate Indigenous Women Rising: An abortion fund specifically for Indigenous communities in the US and Canada. National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice: A reproductive justice organization targeting Latina/x communities. National Network of Abortion Funds: They have a long list of abortion funds and networks you can donate to, especially if you want to focus your donations to states that have trigger laws in place. SisterSong: A reproductive justice organization founded and run by women of color. Additional Resources Roe v. Wade: What You Can Do Google Doc … Sarah: Per Barnraisers Project: “White supremacy is great at isolating us and perfectionism does the same thing.” There are lot of ways to get involved, and lots of ways to help. Got links to share? Local action you’re involved in? Suggestions? Please share them with us. And please look after yourselves, ok? View the full article
  4. Welcome back, everybody! I’m sure the mood this afternoon is more somber than last week’s and that’s understandable with Friday’s Supreme Court decision. I know Sarah is compiling a list of resources and actionable activities that should be going up soon (if not already). My focus is to give some lightness and distraction here if you need it. I cried, had some cocktails and comforting food, and then took an edible with my partner for a cozy movie night. I’ve also been playing a lot of video games and finding catharsis in just talking and venting to friends. If you’d like to share your own comforting plans, feel free! … Thanks to Miriam for sharing this with Sarah! It’s a look at historical romance covers and how they do or don’t reflect the fashions of their setting. Lots of costume design nerdery here! … Illumicrate is raffling off a stunning Bridgerton special collection to raise funds for National Network of Abortion Funds. There are also a couple other romance editions up for raffle. You can find them all here. … And, if you want to just bask in some vocal talent, check out this performance by Netta (Eurovision 2018’s winner!) and the Great Gehenna Choir. … Don’t forget to share what cool or interesting things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way! View the full article
  5. One Last Stop RECOMMENDED: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston is $2.99! Carrie and Tara did a joint review of this one and gave it a Squee grade: Tara: I cannot recommend One Last Stop enough. It’s funny, it’s sexy, and it gives me all the feels. Carrie: So much this! The book is fun, sexy, serious and comical, and deeply intersectional. From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that will stop readers in their tracks… Cynical twenty-three-year old August doesn’t believe in much. She doesn’t believe in psychics, or easily forged friendships, or finding the kind of love they make movies about. And she certainly doesn’t believe her ragtag band of new roommates, her night shifts at a 24-hour pancake diner, or her daily subway commute full of electrical outages are going to change that. But then, there’s Jane. Beautiful, impossible Jane. All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing. Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop is a sexy, big-hearted romance where the impossible becomes possible as August does everything in her power to save the girl lost in time. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Their Perfect Melody Their Perfect Melody by Priscilla Oliveras is 99c at Amazon! It’s available elsewhere, but not price-matched. It’s the third book in the Matched to Perfection and features an opposites attract romance. A Chicago cop and a Latina caregiver make beautiful music together in this “marvelous,” heartfelt contemporary romance (Publishers Weekly, starred review). From the USA Today–bestselling author of Island Affai comes the story of three dazzling sisters brimming with talent, ambition—and passion—in a warm-hearted, sexy new series filled with Latinx culture, family drama, and women pursuing their dreams against all odds. Growing up, Lilí María Fernandez was affectionately known as the family “wild child.” The life of the party, she loved to dance, especially salsa, merengue, and bachata, and often sang beside her father during rehearsals for his trío group. But tragedy and loss have drawn out Lilí’s caretaking side, compelling her to become a victim’s advocate. These days, the special rhythms of the past seem like a distant memory. Until she meets Diego Reyes . . . A police officer with the Chicago PD, Diego also has a talent for playing classical Spanish guitar. And Lilí soon finds herself inspired by his passion—for the music, for her, and for their shared love of familia and community. Can Diego reignite Lilí’s fun-loving spirit, persuade her to balance work and pleasure—and embrace her wild side once more? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Nothing But Blackened Teeth Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw is $2.99! This is a horror novella that I mentioned on a previous Get Rec’d. It a haunted house ghost story set in an old Japanese mansion. Cassandra Khaw’s Nothing But Blackened Teeth is a gorgeously creepy haunted house tale, steeped in Japanese folklore and full of devastating twists. A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company. It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends. But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart. And she gets lonely down there in the dirt. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Dumplin’ RECOMMENDED: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy is $1.99! I highly recommend this book, especially if you love Dolly Parton. It’s funny and emotional, and the struggles Willowdean faces as a “self-proclaimed fat girl” will relate to many who suffered from those awkward teen years. Seriously, get this book. And the Netflix adaptation is fantastic, if you need something to watch right now. Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all. With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  6. C Off Script by Ashley Marie June 7, 2022 · W by Wattpad Romance Off Script is a Hollywood enemies-to-lovers romance, where the heroine has good reason to hate the dude she’s fake dating. She forgave him, but I couldn’t. Jada is an actress who’s been struggling to land another role since getting kicked off a tv show for a love triangle with a co-star. Her luck changes when she’s cast as the sidekick friend in a time travel romance. The only problem? Her character’s BFF is played by Angela, a diva on a rampage since her co-star dumped her. That co-star, Tristan, is a very pretty boy, with a reputation for cycling through women. He’s a fan of Jada’s former show, and flirts with her as soon as she arrives on set. But Jada is hoping to keep her head down and not get into drama, especially with someone like him. Angela and Tristan come from powerful entertainment families, and Tristan’s estranged mother is a telenovela star. Unluckily for Jada, she gets caught in the crossfire between Tristan and Angela, putting her job at risk. At the beginning of the book, I sympathized with Jada, and loved Tristan’s nerdy love for a sci-fi show. Then, he ruined it. Despite Tristan’s flirtation with Jada, he impulsively bangs a production assistant on set because he’s annoyed at having to work with Angela. When Jada walks in on them accidentally, he dismisses the PA and begs Jada to keep it a secret. Jada was not impressed, and neither was I: “You won’t tell anyone?” Tristan asked, the hope and relief clear on his face. It hit home for Jada. He wasn’t worried about her sensibilities or his lack of ethics. He wanted to make sure she’d keep her mouth shut. “Of course not,” Jada said. “Thanks. I appreciate it.” Tristan squeezed her hand in gratitude. Repulsed by his selfish motives, Jada tried not to flinch at his touch. Now, it’s not a dealbreaker for me when characters sleep with people outside of their main relationship, but the way Tristan handles it is repellent. Angela guesses that he had sex with someone at work, and melts down. Tristan publicly blames Jada and screams at her in a vicious moment caught on video. When his tantrum goes viral, he reluctantly agrees to his agent’s plan to pretend to be Jada’s boyfriend in order to rehabilitate his image, offering her a lukewarm non-apology. I was so frustrated by the way he and his agent bulldozed Jada into the fake relationship that I struggled to enjoy one of my favorite tropes. Meanwhile, the production assistant is forced off the film, but Tristan never bothers to ask about her. Every single part of this was a red flag for me. I thought Tristan was sulky and defensive. He is convinced that Jada is to blame for his bad press and refuses to take accountability for sleeping with a junior staffer and yelling at Jada at work. I didn’t care that Tristan was sexy and traumatized by his famous mom walking out on him. Tristan had dug himself a big hole, and he would’ve needed a personality transplant for me to trust him. I kept reading, hoping for groveling that never arrived. Unfortunately, my wish wasn’t granted. Tristan is attracted to Jada from their first “date” at his childhood friend’s restaurant, and Jada and Tristan go on several dates where he alternates self-absorption with moments where he stares at her “with deep, indescribable emotion.” My least favorite Tristan moments include when Jada and his agent have to convince him not to sleep with other women while he’s supposed to be in a committed relationship. I was also annoyed by a beach date where Tristan whines when Jada tries to buy a modest bathing suit until she gets a bikini. He later tosses her into the ocean, and laughs it off when she complains that Black women don’t like to get their hair wet. After they hook up at a party he calls her “overdramatic” and “hysterical” when she’s upset with him, which is the point where I gave up on him. It’s clear that Tristan truly cares about Jada, but I struggled to like him. His flirtatiousness felt almost predatory, given the power imbalance in their relationship. He’s a famous actor, while Jada is barely hanging on to her career. Jada has a lot more to lose when they “break-up” than he does. If Tristan struggled with accountability, Jada was the opposite, taking responsibility for things that were not her fault. The looming obstacle to love in Off Script is that Jada’s cousin Mikayla took the video of Tristan yelling at Jada. Jada encourages Mikalya to share the video, and then feels guilty for not telling Tristan. She has nothing to feel guilty about, in my opinion. He’s the one who acted like a jerk at work. If anyone needs to be held accountable, it’s Tristan, not Jada. I was unbelievably frustrated that the book treats Jada as the wrongdoer. Show Spoiler When she apologizes to Tristan and he has to learn to forgive her, I was ready to scream. I typically like romances about acting, but the minutiae of film production in Off-Script bored me, possibly because I disliked seeing the main couple interact. Here’s an example, where they network with Logan, a movie producer: “So, what have you been up to since I saw you last?” Tristan asked. “I know your sci-fi thriller, Prototype, came out recently. It’s a hit.” “Oh, I saw that one! It was amazing.” Jada chipped in as she got into the groove of Tristan’s act. “Yeah. Not to talk business on your off-hours, but are you working on anything else like that? Something cool?” “Well, it’s always good to have something in the works. [says Logan, the producer] Right now, I’m exploring a big action flick. Think Black Panther meets Indiana Jones.” “Wow! I’m so picturing Michael B. Jordan in a fedora right now.” Jada glowed when Logan laughed boisterously at her joke. “You know, you’re quiet, but also quite charming,” he said to her. “Good catch on your part, Tristan.” While the romance annoyed me at times, the book also has a large cast of secondary characters and depicts the busy structure of a set in a way that might appeal to readers hungry for books that focus more on the day-to-day work of filming than celebrity. The part of the book I enjoyed most was Jada’s friendship with her flaky but loyal cousin, Mikayla, who also works on the show as a wardrobe PA. While Mikayla is a mediocre worker, her fuck-ups were relatable and she always had Jada’s back. At the beginning of the story, Jada is still reeling from her bad break-up with Daniel, her ex-boyfriend and former costar. Daniel was cheating on her with another actress on the show, and when Jada found out, he got her fired, and destroyed her self-confidence. I appreciated the way Jada struggled with imposter syndrome, and her mixed feelings of pride and loathing about the show. Mikayla supports her growth from shaken and sad to feeling fulfilled by her work, and that arc was the reason I kept reading the book. It also helped that Tristan isn’t a completely terrible person. He volunteers with a children’s nonprofit and bonds with a gay kid, and he’s protective of Jada when he learned about her ex. He uses his celebrity to jumpstart Jada’s career. But I had trouble forgetting his selfishness, which made it hard for me to believe that the pair would work in the long-run. Tristan and Jada are clearly attracted to one another, but I finished Off Script not sure why they made sense as a couple. I typically love fake relationship tropes, but these two got on my nerves, and I spent much of the book wanting to yeet Tristan into a fiery sun. View the full article
  7. Someone Perfect RECOMMENDED: Someone Perfect by Mary Balogh is $2.99! Elyse, a majorly Balogh fan, gave this an A-: If you’re looking for a slower romance with a hero who has a lot of work to do emotionally, then you’ll enjoy this book. Sometimes, just one person can pull a whole family apart. And sometimes, it just takes one person to pull it back together. For fans of Bridgerton, New York Times bestselling Regency Romance author Mary Balogh shows how love truly conquers all in this new Friends of the Westcotts novel. As a young man, Justin Wiley was banished by his father for mysterious reasons, but now, his father is dead, and Justin has been Earl of Brandon for six years. A dark, dour man, he, nonetheless, takes it as his responsibility to care for his half-sister, Maria, when her mother dies. He travels to her home to fetch her back to the family seat at Everleigh Park. Although she adored him, once, Maria now loathes Justin, and her friend, Lady Estelle Lamarr, can see, immediately, how his very name upsets her. When Justin arrives and invites Estelle and her brother to accompany Maria to Everleigh Park to help with her distress, she begrudgingly agrees, for Maria’s sake. As family secrets unravel in Maria’s homecoming, Justin, too, uncovers his desire for a countess. And, while he may believe he’s found an obvious candidate in the beautiful 25-year-old Lady Estelle, she is most certain that they could never make a match… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Jackson Jackson by LaQuette is $1.99! This is book one in the Restoration Ranch series and seems to have some elements of suspense. It also has an opposites attract romance! From celebrated author LaQuette comes a sizzling opposites attract Texas Ranger romance that will leave you breathless… Aja Everett longs to turn her old family ranch into a place where anyone can find rest and healing. But her big heart’s bound to get her in trouble if she’s not careful—someone wants her gone, and they’ll do whatever it takes to drive her away from the land that’s her lifeblood. Whether she’s willing to admit it or not, she needs help. She needs a man like Ranger Jackson Dean. Jackson doesn’t trust love. He once made the mistake of following his heart and all he’d gotten was pain in return. But when city-slicking do-gooder Aja Everett asks for his help, he can’t stay away…and as attraction sizzles and protective instincts flare, she may be the only woman able to restore the heart of this Texas Ranger. Get out your fans for this steamy contemporary romance which features a hunky Texas Ranger with trust issues and a confident, sexy, full-figured heroine who believes in the best in people. Sometimes oil and water are meant to mix. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Year of the Witching RECOMMENDED: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is $1.99! Given the themes, this could be a cathartic read or one you may want to avoid. Ellen gave this one an A-: The Year of the Witching is a very, very good book. It’s unsettling and horrifying, beautiful and incisive, and ultimately, radiantly triumphant. The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation . . . In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement. But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. If We Were Villains If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio is $2.99! This is contemporary fiction with a mystery and is highly recommended for fans of Shakespeare. My roommate loved it and was completely taken aback by the ending, but said it took a while to really get into at first. Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces. On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it. Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent. Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villainsexplores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  8. This HaBO is from Elizabeth, who is looking for this contemporary romance: The first romance I ever read featured a reporter hero (I’m 99% sure his name was Theo) and a reporter heroine who met while covering the royal wedding of Charles and Diana. I remember the heroine had fiery red hair and violet eyes. I think the hero was Greek and Theo was the shortened version of his name. This book was set in the 1980s, so I assume it was written around that time. In my mind, I seem to remember the cover having a red background and/or spine. The book was pretty steamy in my opinion (although I was too young to be reading it, so there’s that). I don’t remember much of the plot, but the book starting during the royal wedding sticks in my mind. Shall we HaBO? View the full article
  9. The Princess Knight The Princess Knight by G.A. Aiken is $2.99 and it’s part of today’s Kindle Daily Deals! This is book two in the Scarred Earth Saga. I loved and reviewed the first book and Lara reviewed this one, giving it a B: The cast of characters EXPLODES in this book. Pay attention to each and every new character; they are all important. We pop into a lot of different POVs which can be a little dizzying, but adds beautifully to the immersive world building of it all. In New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken’s gripping new fantasy romance series, the Blacksmith Queen must confront armies and pretenders desperate to take her new-won crown. But with the Princess Knight at her side and a centaur warrior clan at her back, she’ll risk everything for victory . . . LONG LIVE THE QUEEN Gemma Smythe dedicated her life to the glory of battle. With her fellow War Monks, she worshipped the war gods, rained destruction on her enemies, and raised the dead when the fancy took her. Until her sister Keeley became the prophesied Blacksmith Queen, and Gemma broke faith with her order to journey to the Amichai Mountain and fight by Keeley’s side. The Amichai warriors are an unruly, never-to-be-tamed lot, especially their leader-in-waiting, Quinn. But when the War Monks declare support for Gemma’s ruthless younger sister Beatrix, the immaturity of her key ally is the least of Gemma’s problems. She has to get to the grand masters, dispel their grudge against her, and persuade them to fight for Keeley and justice. If her conviction can’t sway them, perhaps Quinn’s irritating, irreverent, clearly unhinged, ferocity will win the day . . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Twice Shy Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle is $1.99! This one dropped last spring and was mentioned in a previous Hide Your Wallet. Aarya said it’s a “a fluffy, gentle hug of a book.” Sounds like that might appeal right now. Can you find real love when you’ve always got your head in the clouds? Maybell Parish has always been a dreamer and a hopeless romantic. But living in her own world has long been preferable to dealing with the disappointments of real life. So when Maybell inherits a charming house in the Smokies from her Great-Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start. Yet when she arrives, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the house falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future. Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than the other dying wishes Great-Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls, and as the two slowly begin to let their guard down, they might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. A Morbid Taste for Bones RECOMMENDED: A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters is $1.99 and another KDD! This is book one in The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael series, which I remember Sarah enjoying. Here’s what she said: This book and the next few books of the series got me through the scariest parts of early Quarantimes. On an expedition to acquire a saint’s remains, Brother Cadfael instead finds intrigue and murder It is 1137, and the ambitious head of Shrewsbury Abbey wishes to acquire the remains of Saint Winifred for the glory of his Benedictine order. Brother Cadfael is part of the expedition sent to the saint’s final resting place in Wales, where he finds the villagers divided over the Benedictines’ quest. When the leading opponent to moving the grave is shot dead with a mysterious arrow, some believe Winifred herself delivered the blow. Brother Cadfael knows that an earthly hand did the killing. But he doesn’t know that his plan to root out a murderer may dig up a case of love and justice, where the waves of sin may be scandal—or his own ruin. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Royal Holiday RECOMMENDED: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory is $1.99! Maya loved this one and gave it an A: In the end, this story is overwhelmingly about saying yes to good things put directly in your path. If all you want to do is wrap yourself up in a Christmas love story with two adults just admirably adulting all the way through the book, I say grab a Christmas sweater and a hot chocolate, and get ready to have a stranger ask you why you look so happy reading the book you have in your hand! From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance. Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality. Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling. Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  10. B+ The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian June 7, 2022 · Avon Romance OMG you guys, The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes is just one big basket of adorable and I never wanted it to end. This cozy historical romance follows the exploits of Marian, wife, or possibly (well, probably) widow to the Duke of Clare, and Rob, the highwayman who tries to blackmail her. This book is a sequel to The Queer Principles of Kit Webb and although I had no trouble following the story, I very much wished that I had read Queer Principles first because the characters and their story intersect a lot with this story. Also I loved this book so much that the prospect of having two related books made me a bit dizzy. Our story opens with Rob, the secret and legitimate son of the Duke of Clare, desperate to avoid this ever becoming known. He likes being a crook and has no interest in being a duke. For complicated reasons, he decides to write a blackmailing letter to the Duke’s new young wife, Marian. She writes back to argue with him, he writes back to her, and feelings ensue. Next thing you know Marian has followed Rob to an inn, drugged him, and tied him to a bed, shot the duke in order to protect her (adult) step-son, Percy (one hero of The Queer Principles of Kit Webb) and her new baby, Eliza. Following that, she returned to untie Rob, and abscond with him across the country. “You have been busy,” Rob comments, when she returns to untie him and explain what he missed. Thus our story begins: these weren’t spoilers, people. This only gets us as far as the end of Chapter 4. One thing I loved about this book is that while there is enough conflict in the plot to keep the story interesting and moving, there is very little between Rob and Marian. When Marian explains that another pregnancy would probably kill her, Rob and Marian simply refrain from penetrative intercourse. It’s not a big drama, it’s not something they have to fix, it’s not something they work up to eventually, it’s not something they risk with sponges or French Letters or pulling out – they simply satisfy each other in other ways. When a Big Secret is revealed, a moment that is often a big cause of drama and conflict in other stories, Marian takes it completely in stride. Rob and Marian are just very, very good at accepting each other for the people that they are. Rob’s adoration of Marian’s prickly abruptness is my everything: In his arms she felt as sharp as a knife and as sure as a promise and he never wanted to take his hands off her. Meanwhile Marian is both mystified and captivated by Rob’s genuine fondness for people: On the list of things that Marian liked about Rob, a list that was increasing at an alarming pace, the fact that he was so openly fond of the people he cared for was near the top. He didn’t conceal his fondness, whether it was for someone he had just met or someone he had known his whole life. And he didn’t try to hold it back, either. His friendship was like creeping ivy – all one had to do was let it be, and it covered the whole barn. And how can I not include this gem, although it’s a spoiler, but not much of a spoiler because this is, after all, a romance novel: Mild plot spoilers ahoy! She raised an eyebrow. “I won’t marry you.” “Then we won’t get married. Good.” It wasn’t quite a lie, because if she didn’t want to marry him, he wouldn’t bother her with the notion. If she did, he’d marry her immediately. He’d devise different pseudonyms in order to marry her more than once in a succession of churches. He’d convert to different religions and travel to foreign lands to marry her in every way imaginable. “It’s a boring institution.” All is not perfect with the book. The whole scenario is confusing – why IS Marian dead set on fleeing across the country even though, as Rob points out, her case would be bolstered by staying put? What happened to the dukedom? If Rob compulsively rescues cats, a trait I certainly love, how does he limit himself to just one per adventure? Surely Regency England is packed with neglected kitties! Additionally, this book doesn’t fully work as a standalone, since a lot of characterization of side characters, and a lot of plot background, are in the companion book, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb. This book succeeds in that it gives an irresistible couple in sweet, goofy Rob and grumpy Marian. I adored this couple for their ability to think outside the box, their easy and complete acceptance of each other, and their banter. Their sex life, with very mild elements of BDSM, was extremely sexy, and I say this as someone who has read so many sex scenes that I often skim them or skip them (but not the ones in this book). I also loved the elements of found family, and the way various norms of gender and class are subverted (for instance, Marian doesn’t want to remarry and sticks to her resolution, Rob doesn’t want to be a duke, and Marian gets along swimmingly with her stepson). Anyone who likes a hedgehog cranky heroine and a cinnamon roll hero will love this couple and this cozy, sexy, funny book. View the full article
  11. It’s a Monday! Can we interest you in some Cover Snark? From Amy: Is this cover snark worthy? or is it just another alien dude checking himself out? Sarah: Both? Both. Yes, both. Amanda: There are so many. Sarah: What are they looking for? Are they surprised? Is this a conversation? Amanda: Wait a sec, this wasn’t here a minute ago. Elyse: So. Shiny. Sarah: Did it just bring me a beer? Nice! Carrie: Every time we have this kind of cover I have the same comment: I appreciate positive body image and self-pleasure, and yet I feel that anyone that enamored of their own genitalia is not going to be that into me. From Meg Sarah: Why. Why are there so many covers of dudes looking down at their junk. Why. WHY. Was there a cover model mandate, like “Everybody! Look down!” Instead of listening to the Men Without Hats directive that “everybody look at your hands” the cover models get, “LOOK DOWN. NOW.” Lara: It’s exhausting! Shana: I just do not get this mandate. Has it ever been hot? I can’t think of a single cover where it worked Carrie: Let’s not. Amanda: I just picture him as a mall Santa. Sir, this is a Sbarro. Amanda: I can’t stop laughing at those comically large buttons Maya: Do you think the help she needs from the bachelor is figuring out all manner of fasteners? Amanda: “You know these could be smaller. They have the technology now.” Sarah: This is another cover pose that baffles me. Who lies down like this? AJ: I know we already snarked this same book but I just need you all to know that WITHIN ALIEN ARMS HAS A SECOND COVER. I’m honestly finding this one even more confusing. What’s wrong with his skin? Is it like, that crackle glaze pottery? Is he microwave safe? SO MANY QUESTIONS Amanda: My brain is just blaring Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open” Tara: This has been in my head all day since reading this comment this morning. Amanda: I’m so sorry. Elyse: Did anyone see two giant arms not four? Or is that just me? Susan: How do those shoulders work??? Sarah: I want to give this individual a very large tub of Eucerin. AJ: So I’m reading the four armed alien book because I had so much dang fun with the pandas I wanted to read more crazy covers. It was actually going really good but then they just like…start kissing randomly in the middle of a serious conversation about intergalactic politics. Also like 5 minutes after they meet. And maybe I’m just a slow burn bitch but ARGH this makes no narrative sense and it BOTHERS ME. View the full article
  12. Welcome back, y’all! We’re up to twenty of these already! Thanks for sticking around! We have some non-fiction this time around. I feel like non-fiction is one of my weakest genres to recommend in, or maybe I just don’t get an opportunity to recommend them a lot of the time. There’s also some fantasy fiction recs mixed in. Have you recommended any books lately? Or perhaps you picked up a book based on a recent rec? Let me know in the comments! The Great Beanie Baby Bubble I’ve been on a documentary kick and this is tied into a recommendation I got to watch the Beanie Baby documentary on HBO called Beanie Mania. I grew up during the Beanie Baby crazy and had a few of my own. I even remember going with a friend and her mother to a Beanie Baby expo. In the annals of consumer crazes, nothing compares to Beanie Babies. With no advertising or big-box distribution, creator Ty Warner – an eccentric college dropout – become a billionaire in just three years. And it was all thanks to collectors. The end of the craze was just as swift and extremely devastating, with “rare” Beanie Babies deemed worthless as quickly as they’d once been deemed priceless. Bissonnette draws on hundreds of interviews (including a visit to a man who lives with his 40,000 Ty products and an in-prison interview with a guy who killed a coworker over a Beanie Baby debt) for the first book on the most extraordinary craze of the 1990s. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Harp of Kings I gave this rec to a personal friend of mind who really wants to dive into fantasy and sci-fi right now. She asked for some immersive world building to get lost in. A young woman is both a bard–and a warrior–in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels. Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan’s burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies. Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. How to Be Eaten I’m obsessed with this concept and I recently hosted a virtual event with Maria and fairy tale academic Kate Bernheimer. This re-imagines popular fairy tale characters as they meet in a trauma support group. A darkly funny and provocative debut novel that reimagines classic fairy tale characters as modern women in a PTSD support group In present-day New York City, Ruby (Little Red Riding Hood), Gretel, Bernice (Bluebeard’s widow), Marlena (the miller’s daughter from Rumplestiltskin), and Ashlee (the winner of a Love Island-esque dating show, a new kind of fairy tale heroine) all meet in a basement support group to process their traumas. Though they start out wary of one another, judging each other’s stories, gradually these women begin to realize that they may have more in common than they supposed…What brought them here? What will they reveal? And is it too late for them to rescue each other? Dark, edgy, and wickedly funny, this debut for readers of Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, and Kelly Link takes our coziest, most beloved childhood stories, exposes them as anti-feminist nightmares, and transforms them into a new kind of myth for grown-up women. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Otherlands I love non-fiction that is partitioned in a way. Like each chapter is a different subject, because it helps be digest these topics a little easier! Otherlands looks at extinct ecosystems and each chapter is a place. “A kaleidoscopic and evocative journey into deep time” (Andrea Wulf, author of The Invention of Nature), from the Ice Age to the first appearance of microbial life 550 million years ago, by a brilliant young paleobiologist “This is as close to time travel as you are likely to get.”—Bill McKibben, author of Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? The past is past, but it does leave clues, and Thomas Halliday has used cutting-edge science to decipher them more completely than ever before. In Otherlands, Halliday makes sixteen fossil sites burst to life on the page. This book is an exploration of the Earth as it used to exist, the changes that have occurred during its history, and the ways that life has found to adapt―or not. It takes us from the savannahs of Pliocene Kenya to watch a python chase a group of australopithecines into an acacia tree; to a cliff overlooking the salt pans of the empty basin of what will be the Mediterranean Sea just as water from the Miocene Atlantic Ocean spills in; into the tropical forests of Eocene Antarctica; and under the shallow pools of Ediacaran Australia, where we glimpse the first microbial life. Otherlands also offers us a vast perspective on the current state of the planet. The thought that something as vast as the Great Barrier Reef, for example, with all its vibrant diversity, might one day soon be gone sounds improbable. But the fossil record shows us that this sort of wholesale change is not only possible but has repeatedly happened throughout Earth history. Even as he operates on this broad canvas, Halliday brings us up close to the intricate relationships that defined these lost worlds. In novelistic prose that belies the breadth of his research, he illustrates how ecosystems are formed; how species die out and are replaced; and how species migrate, adapt, and collaborate. It is a breathtaking achievement: a surprisingly emotional narrative about the persistence of life, the fragility of seemingly permanent ecosystems, and the scope of deep time, all of which have something to tell us about our current crisis. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  13. The Essex Serpent by Anna Symon, based on the novel by Sarah Perry C Not a Book The Essex Serpent is slow, pretty, slightly creepy, and sexy in that “I can’t have you so I’ll stare at you with my brooding, metaphorically piercing eyes instead of having sex” sort of way that some people despise and other people adore. My idea of pure happiness on this earthly plane is Claire Danes digging fossils out of cliffs while wearing trousers and a floppy hat, accompanied by Tom Hiddleston in a sweater, so I was down with this for the most part. But if you aren’t, I get it, because this is terribly slow paced stuff, and worse, it lacks chemistry. Our story begins with the death of a horrible man, the abusive husband of Cora Seaborne. Cora, played by Claire Danes, positively glows with bliss once her tormentor is dead. She gathers up her son and her companion, Martha, played by Hayley Squires, and makes for the Blackwater Estuary of Essex, a place of tidal mudflats and marshes and channels that lead to open sea. Cora is fascinated by recent rumors of the Essex Serpent. Claire is On It. She is also fascinated by the local vicar, (Tom Hiddleston, still my true love), who is married to the perfect wife and mother and friend Stella (Clémence Poésy). Meanwhile, Martha (who, to my delight, is a Marxist) is clearly in love with Cora, and so is London hotshot doctor Luke (Frank Dillane). All this simmers on low burn while Cora delights in poking at cliffs for fossils and dancing at her birthday party in bare feet, but threat lurks in the increasing local panic about the serpent. Cora and Will try to get villagers to calm the fuck down, an effort the villagers do not appreciate because no one likes to be told to calm down, especially when the person who is telling you to calm down is literally standing over a corpse. Should you watch this show? Here some of the pertinent FAQ’s: Does everyone wear comfy sweaters and interesting historical clothing? Yes. Do people gaze at each other, tense and sort of vibrating with silent and repressed longing? Sure thing. Does Tom Hiddleston get dressed up and waltz? Of course, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Does a weird guy with an unfortunate beard yell about sin a lot? Alas, it is so. Does someone yell, “SHE’S A WITCH?” at an out-of-towner redhead in a red dress? Takes them long enough, but they get around to it eventually. Is there a monster? I won’t say whether the monster is real, but I will say that we see far too little of any creepy content, cryptid or otherwise. I get that this show has interesting female characters, but are women also behind the camera? Why yes! For instance, the series is based on a novel by Sarah Parry, directed by Clio Barnard, and written by women. Show Spoiler This series benefits from complex and interesting characters and excellent actors. No one is one-dimensional. Everyone has flaws but also strengths with the possible exception of the curate who spends all of his time yelling about sin. The women are particularly mesmerizing – Cora with her mingled compassion and cluelessness, curiosity about the world, and joy in her independence, Martha’s crusading spirit, savvy political awareness, and quietly broken heart, and Stella with her clear-eyed view of her family’s future. Show Spoiler Stella says hello to Cora’s son, Frankie, who is hanging out under a table. Alas, there are two problems with this show that utterly sink it: glacial pacing and a lack of chemistry between Danes and Hiddleston. This entire endeavor depends on Cora and Will feeling an intense, irresistible, insatiable attraction towards one another but they both just look, respectively, nervous and (forgive me, Tom, you know I’ll always love you) constipated. I buy their friendship but not the sexual chemistry and without the sexual chemistry there’s no reason for 90% of the drama. Will, in particular, is just a sad mop of a man, ineffectual in every way and making everything about him. For example… “Is this my judgment?” he asks, upon learning that Stella has tuberculosis. Jesus, asshole, your wife’s TB is not about you! Get a hold of yourself, man! I’ve had a stressful couple of months, y’all, so frankly I didn’t give a shit what happened in this series as long as beautiful people wore beautiful clothes amongst interesting scenery. But I’m essentially using this series as wallpaper. As a drama, there is not a lot here. Whole episodes pass with just a teensy bit of plot taking place about five minutes from the end. Is the series creepy? Mostly no. Is it sexy? Alas, IMHO, no, not especially. Do I care about these people? Kinda, but mostly as individuals, not as potential romantic partners, which is a problem in a show so propelled by romantic entanglements. The show has six episodes and no significant payoff. Many questions remain unanswered at the end of the show, and although the characters’ relationships with each other have finally fallen into place, they do so anticlimactically. I can only recommend this show to the most devoted fans of historical drama. It’s simply too slow paced and too lacking in chemistry to be compelling. It’s a shame, because all of the characters are fascinating and they, as well as the actors that portray them, deserve so much better. View the full article
  14. Hey, everyone! It’s that time again! Please tell us what you’ve been reading and if you haven’t been reading anything, that’s okay too! Shana: I have a kindle unlimited trial and I’ve been burning through KU romances. My favorite so far is the short story Fall Into You by Georgina Kiersten. It’s a small town f/f about a chubby graphic designer whose childhood friend is now hot, butch and recently moved to town to open a coffeehouse. Totally low-conflict and low-stress, with a simple plot that offered no surprises but plenty of sweetness. I read it during a heat wave, and found the fall setting very soothing. ASarah: I am reading The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes. ( A | BN | K | AB ) The fact that the hero’s name is Rob is giving me such levels of joy. JOY I TELL YOU. I also just finished the memoir Dinner for One by Sutanya Dacres ( A | BN | K | AB ) to prepare for a podcast interview. Dinner for One is also Sutanya’s podcast about preparing dinner for one after she married a French dude, moved to Paris, then was divorced a few years later. The memoir comes with recipes – an excellent addition to any memoir! The story of the memoir itself is very thoughtful, with elements of identity, language, existing across several cultures, and rebuilding or restarting one’s life in a new place. Adjacent to all the algorithm recs for middle age or menopausal magic heroine paranormals, I am receiving So Many Bare Midriff and Leather Pants with a Sword book recs, too. What’s your rec carousel look like? Shana: Um, I would like to play in your KU playground of leather pant-clad magic crones. At first, my kindle app kept recommending Colleen Hoover books and thrillers about dead women. Now, it’s moved on to sex on cruise ships, and Brenda Jackson books. Sarah: Oh, no the midriff sword ladies are not the menopause ladies. I’d have MANY QUESTIONS because leather pants have always seemed like a dreadfully uncomfortable sartorial choice, but especially while sword-wielding. Sex on cruise ships…and Brenda Jackson. Oooooook? AI also find it fascinating that the menopausal magic books are all toned in fuchsia, pink, deep cobalt, or all of the above. Shana: I would prefer my magic menopausal books be the color of the blood of my enemies The cruise ship romances are especially entertaining because it’s not a trope I typically read. Apparently my kindle thinks I really need a vacation. Sarah: Listen to your Kindle. Your Kindle knows. Elyse: I am just at the beginning of The Stand In by Lily Chu on audio. It’s narrated by Philippa Soo from Hamiliton. Claudia: Midway through A Lady for a Duke and loving it, regency romance with a transwoman main character and a friends-to-lovers plot. Carrie: Reading Love Code by Ann Aguirre ( A ): it’s good, but not as good as Strange Love and I’m having a hard time staying focused. Also reading Hide by Kiersten White. Who are all these menopausal magic users? I require details! What are you reading? Tell us below! View the full article
  15. The transcript for Podcast 516. This is What Matters, with Dr. Perpetua Neo has been posted! This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks. ❤ Click here to subscribe to The Podcast → View the full article
  16. A Lady for a Duke HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall is $2.99! This is a Kindle Daily Deal. Trust me, it’s worth the $3! Shana just reviewed this one and gave it a Squee grade: Many of the book’s themes are around friendship–loving a friend but hiding parts of yourself, learning to connect with other women, and the perils of competitive friendships. I loved A Lady for a Duke, it’s a must-read for historical romance fans looking for a new take on Regency friends-to-lovers. When Viola Carroll was presumed dead at Waterloo she took the opportunity to live, at last, as herself. But freedom does not come without a price, and Viola paid for hers with the loss of her wealth, her title, and her closest companion, Justin de Vere, the Duke of Gracewood. Only when their families reconnect, years after the war, does Viola learn how deep that loss truly was. Shattered without her, Gracewood has retreated so far into grief that Viola barely recognises her old friend in the lonely, brooding man he has become. As Viola strives to bring Gracewood back to himself, fresh desires give new names to old feelings. Feelings that would have been impossible once and may be impossible still, but which Viola cannot deny. Even if they cost her everything, all over again. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. We Set the Dark on Fire RECOMMENDED: We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia is $1.99! This is a YA fantasy novel and Elyse gave this one a perfect grade. That’s right, it earned an A and it’s on sale: The bottom line is, We Set the Dark on Fire has elements that I love–women coming together to dismantle the patriarchy, rebellion, secret affairs, and it’s written so superbly that I found myself relishing every chapter. There’s always an element of danger, of being found out, hovering in the background that carried a wonderful tension through the entire novel. In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival. At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Into the Drowning Deep RECOMMENDED: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant is $2.99! This is a Kindle Daily Deal and it’s being price-matched. Elyse & I really enjoyed this horror/sci-fi novel. We jointly reviewed the book and ultimately decided on a B. We loved the cast of characters, but found the ending anticlimactic. New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant, author of the renowned Newsflesh series, returns with a novel that takes us to a new world of ancient mysteries and mythological dangers come to life. Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Knit One, Girl Two RECOMMENDED: Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman is $1.99! This is a F/F contemporary romance novella. Elyse gave it a B: I can’t give Knit One, Girl Two a perfect grade because it’s got a big flaw, but I enjoyed it so much, and found it so happy-making, that I’ve got it give it credit for making my day a lot better. Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork… Fluffy Jewish f/f contemporary set in the author’s childhood home of South Florida. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  17. Pudding, Duchess of Smackington, and I are here to recap the final two episodes of The Courtship. Pudding is being a typical teenager. She emerged from her “room” (under the loveseat) to scarf down her food and then immediately went back under. She’ll come out again later and stay up all night. The suitors play cards and discuss where they’re at with Nicole. We learn that after last week’s episode, Mr. Chapman stayed overnight with Nicole. He says he needed that time with her because he is less certain of his relationship with her than the other men. For the day’s activity, everyone is helping prepare an outdoor fête. Nicole and Mr. Chapman collect honey from a beehive. Nicole shrieks a lot. “This is not my jive,” she says. “Regency my ass, I’m never doing this again.” Later Mr. Chapman tells Mrs. Rémy that the longest he’s spent in one place in the last year was ten days (he lives out of a van). Both Mr. and Mrs. Rémy feel like he’s not ready to settle down. Mr. Cones and Nicole move on to the next task, milking a goat. For the record, I love goats. I was at NY Sheep and Wool (aka Rhinebeck) with my mom and one very sassy goat wearing a skull and crossbones collar stole her cane and didn’t want to give it back. The goat kicks the bucket of milk all over Nicole. Then Mr. Cones takes the milk over to Miss Cleary to make goat cheese. During all of this, Mr. Bochicchio says he’s still struggling with the fact that Mr. Chapman got an overnight and is still so unsure of wanting to give up his “van life.” Later that night, Mr. Chapman tells the other suitors that he can’t fall in love with Nicole. “If things were going to work with Nicole, it would just have to be a really fun fling,” he says. Mr. Cones is upset with the confession and writes a letter to Nicole telling her what Mr. Chapman said. The next day, the feast is moved inside due to rain. The anonymous letter from Mr. Cones is delivered during the meal. Nicole reads it and then asks to talk to Mrs. Baker and Miss Cleary. Mr. and Mrs. Rémy excuse themselves so Nicole can talk to the suitors. Nicole reveals that the letter told her that Mr. Chapman knows he can never fall in love with her. Mrs. Baker looks like she’s about to ask Miss Cleary to hold her purse. Mr. Chapman tells her it’s true. Click for Pudding and I Pudding: END HIM! Ms. Cleary and Mrs. Baker says everyone feels disrespected and played. Nicole tells Mr. Chapman that he told her he was falling in love with her, told her parents that, and that he tells the other men he can never fall in love with her. She starts crying. Pudding: The cad. Nicole sends him home. I love that unlike other dating shows, her sister and bestie are there to offer her comfort and support and to advocate for her–it’s not some PA or host who have an interest in stirring the shit pot. Then it’s time for the farewell dance. Nicole is wearing this amazing gown that matches her skin tone with black sequined details, but I couldn’t find a picture of it anywhere. Nicole keeps Mr. Judge and Mr. Bochicchio. Mr. Cones admits to writing the letter. She asks him to stay too. In the next episode, they step out of the Regency era to see what life would be like at home with the suitors. First up is Mr. Bochicchio. Over a glass of wine he tells Nicole he could see relocating to Seattle. Then it’s Mr. Judge’s turn; they meet at a bar for cocktails. He makes her favorite drink for her, a French 75. It’s not great. Finally Mr. Cones sets up a date “under the stars.” It’s a room with pillows and wine and a projection of the night sky on the ceiling. Pudding: The actual night sky is just outside… He tells her he loves going to Joshua Tree National Park. She says that her family does “boat days” on the weekends in the summer. After the dates we go back to the Regency, but first Nicole has to eliminate someone. She chooses Mr. Cones, saying she appreciates him and she’s sorry that “it’s not you.” They have a tearful goodbye. The next day the first date goes to Mr. Bochicchio. Nicole is worried because he hasn’t said he love her yet. They go horseback riding. While they are on their date, Mr. Judge meets with Nicole’s parents. He says he can see a “clear, vivid” picture of him and Nicole starting a family, and that he wants to instill the same values in his family that her parents instilled in her. Back on their date Mr. Bochicchio takes Nicole to a picnic site where he wrote down all the things he couldn’t say to her. Nicole gets teary. Then he tells her he loves her. Pudding: Better late than never, I guess. For their date, Mr. Judge produces a key that leads to a secret room in the castle. Pudding: Oh God, is that where he keeps his wife? It actually just looks down over the entryway. Mr. Bochicchio meets with Nicole’s parents and asks permission to move in with Nicole. They question him on his level of commitment he says, “I can’t make any guarantees but I will do my best to make her happy.” YIKES. Nicole and Mr. Judge end their date with a picnic. Nicole asks how it will feel to take her home, and Mr. Judge says, “Honestly, Nicole, I don’t know if I’m going home. Seattle sounds real nice.” The next night it’s time for the Diamond Ball. Nicole’s parents tell her they gave their blessing to both suitors. Nicole dances with Mr. Judge first, then Mr. Bochicchio. Mr. Bochicchio promises her in that future he’ll be able to express himself better. Mr. Judge tells her their connection is stronger. Nicole and Mr. Judge go outside where they talk and he says he loves her. He tells her she’s the missing piece in his life. Nicole starts to cry and sad music plays. Pudding: Uh oh. She tells him that she gets butterflies from someone else and that she’s sorry. Mr. Judge says he’s speechless. After he leaves, Nicole and Mr. Bochicchio walk by the fountain. He gets down on one knee and proposes. She accepts. After they kiss he asks, “By the way, am I the last suitor here?” She laughs and says he is. Then they go back to her family and best friend. Everyone cheers. And that’s the show. What did you think? View the full article
  18. A | BN | K | AB Dr. Perpetua Neo is a psychologist and author of the new book, This is What Matters: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Identifying Your Values, Priorities, and Path Forward after a Crisis. I’ve been reading and working through the journaling prompts, and wanted to interview her to talk about the origins of this workbook, and her practice working with people. This is What Matters is a series of questions and prompts to help people with post-traumatic growth in identifying on an individual level, well, what matters to you. We also discuss: Sleeping like a lion Embracing free unscheduled time Cognitive Photoshop Identifying the life one wants and starting to build it now When was the last time your heart really sang? If you’re someone who keeps a journal, this episode will give you a lot to think about.I love books that encourage people to identify their individual desires and goals and enable them to practice the life they want to lead. Thank you to Maria Orlandi from Adams Media. … Music: purple-planet.com Listen to the podcast → Read the transcript → Here are the books we discuss in this podcast: You can find This is What Matters wherever books are sold. You can find Dr. Perpetua Neo on her website, PerpetuaNeo.com. You can also find Dr. P’s work at MindBodyGreen.com. If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us on Stitcher, and Spotify, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes. Thanks to our sponsors: Transcript → More ways to sponsor: Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?) http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/WP/wp-content/themes/smartbitches/images/podcast/patreon.png What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast. Thanks for listening! Transcript Sponsor This episode’s transcript is brought to you by the audiobook release of Foundation by Lainey Davis! Narrated by Tom Taylorson and Carly Robins, this is, hold on to your earbuds, a grouchy geek romance. Meet the Brady family. They’re brooding, brilliant, and barreling into relationships they weren’t expecting. Zack Brady doesn’t do relationships. He does calculations. When his family engineering firm sends him to investigate a sinkhole at a client’s house, Zack feels a tremor in the foundation of his carefully calculated world. Her name is Nicole Kennedy. She’s loud and crass, and has no time for nonsense. She certainly doesn’t have time for a mysterious trench swallowing her yard. To make matters worse, the grouchy engineer who shows up to fix it is the same jerk she’s forced to run beside during the corporate relay race her boss insisted she run. Somewhere between jogging and poring over geotechnical engineering plans, Nicole and Zack feel the earth move. Can they overcome their past to build something meaningful? Foundation is book one of the Brady Family series. If you love messy family dynamics, unforgettable characters and sizzling chemistry, you’ll devour this new series by Lainey Davis, creator of the Stag Brothers series. Do you like nerdy, grumpy heroes? Bossy, nosy extended families? Feisty heroines who take no crap? The Brady Family series is for you! One reader said “It’s like This is Us, but they do it.” It all starts with Foundation… Now on audio! Stay tuned for the end of the podcast – I’ve got a sample of the audio for you! Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes or on Stitcher. View the full article
  19. Just One Damned Thing After Another RECOMMENDED: Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor is 99c! Redheadedgirl read this one and gave it a B: If you’re a fan of Connie Willis, I would suggest you give this series a try. It doesn’t take itself quite so seriously, and Max as a heroine and audience surrogate is a lot of fun. It’s potentially a commitment, given that there are 9 books and a bunch of novellas, but I’m looking forward to making a dent in my TBR pile to read the next book. “History is just one damned thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee A madcap new slant on history that seems to be everyone’s cup of tea… Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary’s, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don’t do ‘time-travel’ – they ‘investigate major historical events in contemporary time’. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power – especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet. Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary’s Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document – to try and find the answers to many of History’s unanswered questions…and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back – to the death. And, as they soon discover – it’s not just History they’re fighting. Follow the catastrophe curve from eleventh-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake… Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Ex Hex The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling is $2.99! This is a light paranormal romance with some witchy elements. This one was…sweeter? More twee? than I had thought it’d be. I hope you get what I’m trying to say here. New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hawkins, writing as Erin Sterling, casts a spell with a spine-tingling romance full of wishes, witches, and hexes gone wrong. Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two. That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all. Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. All Scot and Bothered All Scot and Bothered by Kerrigan Byrne is $1.49 at Amazon and $1.99 elsewhere! Thanks to everyone who let us know about this sale. This is book two in the Devil You Know historical romance series. Be warned that Byrne’s historicals can be rather dark and graphic, so check content warnings. They are a dangerous duke, a fierce lord, and an infamous earl—dark, bold, brave men who know exactly what they want. And there is only one woman who can bring them to their knees… He is first and foremost—at everything. A man who’s made his own way in the world through ruthless cunning and sheer force of will. A strong and imposing Scot who can turn on the charm but does not suffer fools. His title: Lord Chief Justice of the High Court. His name: Cassius Gerard Ramsay. His mission: To investigate the goings-on at London’s most notorious gaming hell, owned and operated by one of the most intriguing and desirable women he’s ever met. IN THIS GAME OF LOVE, THE RULES DO NOT APPLY Cecelia Teague was an orphan facing a rather dire future—until a secret benefactor from her mother’s scandalous past swept into her life. Sent to prestigious boarding school and later to university, Cecelia believed high society was at her fingertips…Then, from out of nowhere, she became the inheritor of a gambling establishment. Now Cecelia must live two lives: one as a proper lady who finds herself undeniably drawn to Lord Ramsay and the other as a savvy gaming hell owner trying to save her business from the very same man. He has no idea she is both women…and Cecelia would like to keep it that way. But what happens when consuming passion and escalating danger threaten to reveal the truth? Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The View Was Exhausting The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta $2.99! I mentioned this one on a previous Get Rec’d for hardcover romance readers, though I believe it’s coming out in paperback soon. Lots of tropes here – fake dating, celebrities, and friends to lovers. Daisy Jones and the Six meets Crazy Rich Asians in this escapist, swoon-worthy debut novel of a famous actress embroiled in a fake tabloid romance, confronting the challenges of being a woman of color in Hollywood and the notion that she might actually be in love. Faking a love story is a whole lot easier than being in love . . . The world can see that international A-list actress Whitman (“Win”) Tagore and jet-setting playboy Leo Milanowski are made for each other. Their kisses start Twitter trends and their fights break the internet. From red carpet appearances to Met Gala mishaps, their on-again, off-again romance has titillated the public and the press for almost a decade. But it’s all a lie. As a woman of color, Win knows the Hollywood deck is stacked against her, so she’s perfected the art of controlling her public persona. Whenever she nears scandal, she calls in Leo, with his endearingly reckless attitude, for a staged date. Each public display of affection shifts the headlines back in Win’s favor, and Leo uses the good press to draw attention away from his dysfunctional family. But pretending to be in a passionate romance can only lead to one thing . . . trouble. So instead they settle for friendship, with a side of sky-rocketing chemistry. Except this time, on the French Riviera, something is off. A shocking secret in Leo’s past sets Win’s personal and professional lives on a catastrophic collision course. Behind the scenes of their yacht-trips and PDA, the world’s favorite couple is at each other’s throats. Now they must finally confront the many truths and lies of their relationship, and Win is forced to consider what is more important: a rising career, or a risky shot at real love? THE VIEW WAS EXHAUSTING is a funny, whip-smart modern love story set against the backdrop of exotic locales and the realities of being a woman of color in a world run by men. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  20. B- In Every Generation by Kendare Blake January 4, 2022 · Disney Hyperion Teen FictionScience Fiction/FantasyYoung Adult Crystal Anne With An E comes to us from a sunny clime, though she is an indoor cat that prefers to remain pale. She is an autism consultant by day, and recently completed a degree in information science, mostly because she could and it was fun. She likes to read (obviously), watch TV while cross-stitching something geeky, play video games, beg her plants not to die in the hell heat of summer, and walk while listening to podcasts that likely involve some sort of murder. … One will never accuse me of not being loyal to my fandoms. It’s been approximately 19 years since the finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired, but here I am, diving headfirst into a new book about the Slayer line. Since that show aired, its creator and writer would go on to mega-fame with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and also turn out to be a major shithead. Despite that, Buffy has continued in other media, with many talented creators giving their own spins on the universe that began with her story. Which brings us to In Every Generation, written by Kendare Blake. My primary familiarity with Blake stems from the fact that I had previously read Anna Dressed In Blood and Three Dark Crowns. I already knew that I liked her style, and was interested to see what she would do with this. Note: this book appears to have absolutely no relation whatsoever to the two Buffy spin-off novels written by Kiersten White, which I previously reviewed. At this point, I just go with the idea that maybe we’re dealing with an alternate universe. Who knows, maybe this is the World Without Shrimp. Nor do we seem to be dealing with anything that happened in the “Season 8” comics, which for me, is not a bad thing (I am never accepting that time Buffy and Angel spent an entire issue sexifying a universe into existence and then destroyed magic). Buffy is a robust enough property that, like Star Trek and Marvel, I can accept a multiverse. Multiple Buffys? Sure! One thing that these books do seem to have in common is that they focus primarily on a new generation, and in none of them so far have we spent any significant time with the OG Slayer herself. In this case, that means that our main character is Frankie Rosenberg, the daughter of Willow Rosenberg, who becomes the very first Slayerwitch. She has inherited her mother’s affinity for magic, and um, her mother’s Slayer legacy as well (who’s her mother, you ask? That would be telling). This one was a little hard for me, because while there was a lot that I enjoyed, there were also some things that didn’t feel very Buffy to me. One of these was the use of Spike in this story. He honestly did not feel a lot like Spike from the show, even taking into account the fact that, given the timeline, he would have had his soul for about 20 years by now. The book presented a Spike that has tamped down his natural impulsivity and arrogance, which I often found to be his strengths. He comes off as fussy and a bit pestering, which, okay, Spike’s a Watcher now (another plot contrivance that I’m not sure I bought, I don’t really see Spike wanting to be a Watcher), but still. I did find it funny that one of the plot points was that they needed to have him look a bit older to sell a fiction that he was a British librarian (i.e. the New Coke version of Giles) and so glamoured him, which he takes personally. Hey, so now James Marsters could totally come back if he felt like putting on the white hair and the accent again. Show Spoiler The references to the original show were often funny and effective, with some funny asides about how good we humans are at explaining the weird shit that can happen around a Hellmouth. My favorite one was “Following the town’s complete destruction in that freak sinkhole incident in the early 2000s, it had remained in mostly good shape.” Blake also snuck in a few references to other vampire media. I particularly liked the vampire that made a point of dressing like Kiefer Sutherland and felt very validated when Frankie noticed. Show Spoiler Frankie herself is an interesting character, in that she has grown up idolizing her “Aunt Buffy” and comparing her magic powers to those of her mother, who skated pretty close to godhood at the peak of her powers. This combination causes Frankie to have a pretty good case of impostor syndrome. She spends a lot of the book thinking that she’s not a “real Slayer”, and this sense of self-doubt causes her to have significant difficulty stepping into her power and using it effectively. She has her own nascent Scooby gang: werewolf and brother-figure Jake Osbourne (the cousin of one Daniel Osbourne), Hailey, the sister of Slayer Vi (one of the Slayers activated when Willow used the Scythe in the Buffy finale), and Sigmund, a lovable, if somewhat timid, Sage demon. She even has a crush on an approximately 2000 year old demon with male model looks and a tendency toward the brooding (her mother is none too pleased about that part). They are all generally charming, and I enjoyed their relationships with each other, particularly the brother-sister dynamic between Frankie and Jake and the sweet, shy romance developing between Hailey and Sigmund. I particularly enjoyed Sigmund, with his aversion to placing himself in danger (solidarity, my dude) and his powers: he feeds on stupidity, so when he’s done feeding, people are actually sharper than they were before. It also leads to an effective joke about how Sage demons like to be around constant sources of stupidity, which is why his mother works in government. All that said, some of the cultural references absolutely did not work, because I did not believe that current teenagers would make some of those references. The most glaring one, for me, was this: “Here we go”, she said, and used her phone screen to illuminate a headstone. “The first one. Robert Palmer.” ‘Like the guy who sings ‘Simply Irresistible’?” Frankie asked. I absolutely called in my fifteen year old on this one and asked her who Robert Palmer was. Allow me to gif-ify her response. Show Spoiler Is that a reference that would likely be easily understood by an OG Buffy fan reading this book? Sure. Is it legitimately a reference that I think a current teenager would make? Not bloody likely. The plot is standard Buffy fare, as the book starts with an attack on the Slayer line and follows the calling of Frankie, the process of her learning to use her powers, and the inevitable confrontation with an eldritch monster that has been attracted by a closed, but still rumbling, Hellmouth (can’t keep a good Hellmouth down, y’all!). The eldritch monster in question is Elizabeth Bathory herself, and she has come to rule. Thinking about it, I’m actually a little surprised that we never got her or Carmilla in the original series (I do love a scary female vampire, and Carmilla was one of the best characters in the Netflix Castlevania series). I enjoyed the conceit that other vampires don’t actually think Bathory is real, just because they’ve seen so many other vamps impersonating her over the years. You get all of the Buffy plot beats: introduction, everyone researching, a mysterious loner with a connection to the Big Bad, and the ensuing fight, with a background plot of our Scoobies trying to figure out who attacked the Slayers and how many actually remain. That, I believe, will be the continuing thread as the series continues. While the plot is efficient enough at hitting the beats we expect from a Buffy universe story, I think I would have liked to see more indication of Frankie’s cleverness; it really only manifests at the end, as she learns to use both of her power sets together to make a symphony of violence, instead of treating them like pans that she’s bashing together. At the end of the day, yes, Slayers are strong and durable, but the best ones are smart and resourceful. Did I have some problems with it? Yep, the OG Buffy fan in me had notes. I do feel like this book will appeal more to fans of the original series, both due to its reliance on legacy characters like Willow and Spike, and the fact that some of the references are more likely to be understood and enjoyed by both old-school Buffy fans and ahem, people of a certain age group (Gen X rise up…or not, we’re very tired). Will I read the next ones (this appears to be the start of a contracted trilogy)? Probably. I’m curious to see where Frankie’s journey goes. View the full article
  21. Hello, everyone! It’s time for Wednesday links! This is where we share cool stuff from around the internet. We’re almost done with June and that means entering into the warmer months in New England (my least favorite). It’s mainly because a lot of old New England apartments don’t have any sort of central A/C and we have to rely on fans or window units, which just aren’t the same. I am not a person who likes to sweat. On the bright side, I have a nice little weekend away planned mid-July with my partner and that is powering me through! Any summer plans for you all? … Katee Robert is part of another romance kickstarter! It was announced in her newsletter and will launch July 12th. It will feature a collection of 6 books by different authors and have tiers for ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers. I’m very excited for this one! … Sarah was a guest this week on the She Wore Black podcast! She discussed spooky romances – my favorite. … Emma Thompson was over at NPR talking about her upcoming film, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. My only complaint is that I wish the interview were longer. Eight minutes isn’t enough for me! … And for a palate cleanser this week, why not fill your Instagram feed with adorable raccoons. … Don’t forget to share what cool or interesting things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way! View the full article
  22. Hit Me With Your Best Scot Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch is $2.49 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere! This is the third book in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series. I think these historical covers are pretty dreamy, but I’ve never read a single book by this author. Have you? Thoughts? The MacTaggert brothers have one task: Find English brides or lose their land! Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril, is a big, brawny Highlander who doesn’t like being told what to do—not even by his exasperated English mother who is determined to see her eldest son wedded and bedded. However, when he comes to the rescue of an irresistibly beautiful woman, Coll discovers that he may have found his perfect match… The challenge isn’t that Persephone Jones is famous, wealthy, independent, and smarter than anyone he knows. The problem is that she is not interested in marrying any man—especially not a hot-headed Scot—even if he is the only man who seems to understand who she really is even when she’s not sure herself. When Coll learns that Persephone is actually a lady-in-hiding and someone is willing to kill her for what she stands to inherit…Well, Coll has never been one to turn down a fight. When hearts are involved, nothing comes between a Highlander and his lady. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Meet Me in the Margins Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson is $1.99! This was Catherine’s last review for the site and she gave it a B-: Overall, this was a really fun read, especially if you enjoy stories about writers and writing. I liked the humour, and I really enjoyed the friendship between M.E. and Savannah. While I had some (ok, many) misgivings about their professional relationship, I found their romantic relationship both convincing and charming. Savannah Cade is a low-level editor at Pennington Publishing, a prestigious publisher producing only the highest of highbrow titles. And while editing the latest edition of The Anthology of Medieval Didactic Poetry may be her day job, she has two secrets she’s hiding. One: She’s writing a romance novel. Two: She’s discovered the Book Nook—a secret room in the publishing house where she finds inspiration for her “lowbrow” hobby. After leaving her manuscript behind one afternoon, she returns to the nook only to discover someone has written notes in the margins. Savannah’s first response to the criticism is defensive, but events transpire that force her to admit that she needs the help of this shadowy editor after all. As the notes take a turn for the romantic, and as Savannah’s madcap life gets more complicated than ever, she uses the process of elimination to identify her mysterious editor—only to discover that what she truly wants and what she should want just might not be the same. Melissa Ferguson’s latest—a love letter to books, readers, and romance—will leave fans laughing out loud and swooning in the same breath. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Dalliances & Devotion Dalliances & Devotion by Felicia Grossman is $1.99! This is the second book in The Truitts series. Claudia gave this one a B: Readers who enjoy seeing characters embark on literal and figurative road trips will like this book. As long as they are patient with a few detours, the journey and the destination are worth it. A change in course can be refreshing…when it’s done together. 1871 After two disastrous marriages, beauty columnist Amalia Truitt’s life is finally her own—well, it will be if she can get herself back to Delaware and demand access to her share of the Truitt family fortune. After all, the charity she’s organized for women who can’t afford their own divorces won’t fund itself. However, not everyone wants her to reach her destination. When her family learns she’s been receiving anonymous death threats, a solo journey is out of the question. Enter David Zisskind, the ragtag-peddler-turned-soldier whose heart Amalia broke years ago. He’s a Pinkerton now, and the promotion he craves depends on protecting his long-lost love on the unexpectedly treacherous journey across Pennsylvania. That their physical connection has endured the test of time (and then some) is problematic, to say the least. In very close quarters, with danger lurking around every curve, with each kiss and illicit touch, the wrongs of the past are righted. But David can’t weather another rejection, especially with his career in jeopardy. And Amalia can’t possibly take a lover, never mind another husband…not with so much depending on her repaired reputation. Not when she’s hurt David—her David—so badly before. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Kings of the Wyld RECOMMENDED: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames is $2.99! Queen Beverly Jenkins recommended this one on a previous podcast: The book is amazing! It’s laugh-out-loud funny in some parts. The writing is wonderful. Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  23. It’s time for another edition of Stuff We Like! Penny commented on our last Stuff We Like and now I have jumpsuits and they are Fabulous. In this edition: comfy summer clothes and kitchen gadgets I love. Want to see? Just click that image above or click right here, and come shop with us! And if you’d like to browse some more, we have a complete Stuff We Like archive, including past Gift Guides and other posts of our favorite items. View the full article
  24. The Jasmine Throne The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri is $2.99! This is Suri’s latest series and many of us were big fans of her debut fantasy romance Empire of Sand. I’m hoping this has the same balance of fantasy and romance. Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother. Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin. Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Love Her or Lose Her Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey is $1.99! Carrie read this one and gave it a B-: This book made me want to root for Rosie and Dominic, but I see trouble ahead for them. Too many elephants are left in the room; I don’t think this couple’s problems are over. I’m rooting for them, but not sold on their HEA New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey returns with a unique, sexy romantic comedy about a young married couple whose rocky relationship needs a serious renovation. Rosie and Dominic Vega are the perfect couple: high school sweethearts, best friends, madly in love. Well, they used to be anyway. Now Rosie’s lucky to get a caveman grunt from the ex-soldier every time she walks in the door. Dom is faithful and a great provider, but the man she fell in love with ten years ago is nowhere to be found. When her girlfriends encourage Rosie to demand more out of life and pursue her dream of opening a restaurant, she decides to demand more out of love, too. Three words: marriage boot camp. Never in a million years did Rosie believe her stoic, too-manly-to-emote husband would actually agree to relationship rehab with a weed-smoking hippy. Dom talking about feelings? Sitting on pillows? Communing with nature? Learning love languages? Nope. But to her surprise, he’s all in, and it forces her to admit her own role in their cracked foundation. As they complete one ridiculous—yet surprisingly helpful—assignment after another, their remodeled relationship gets stronger than ever. Except just as they’re getting back on track, Rosie discovers Dom has a secret… and it could demolish everything. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. The Bone Shard Daughter The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Steward is $2.99 and a Kindle Daily Deal! This fantasy novel was mentioned on a previous Hide Your Wallet, though I’ve heard it can be a little bit of a dark read. I think both Elyse and Carrie read it and have shared mostly favorable thoughts. In an empire controlled by bone shard magic, Lin, the former heir to the emperor will fight to reclaim her magic and her place on the throne. The Bone Shard Daughter marks the debut of a major new voice in epic fantasy. The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands. Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic. Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people. Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. Seven Years to Sin Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day is $1.99! This is an erotic historical romance and the book actually inspired Day’s other romance Bared to You ( A | BN | K | G | AB ). Though readers mention the first half is a little slow, they enjoyed the chemistry between the hero and heroine. Seven years ago, on the eve of her wedding, Lady Jessica Sheffield witnessed a scene so scandalous she could not erase it from her memory. Shocked, yet strangely titillated, she nevertheless walked down the aisle into a life serene yet unremarkable. But what she kept hidden fueled wildly imaginative and very illicit dreams. . . Alistair Caulfield ran far from the temptation of the prim debutante–all the way to the West Indies. As a successful merchant, he has little in common with the rakehell youth Jessica once knew. But when newly widowed Jessica steps aboard his ship for a transatlantic passage, seven years’ worth of denied pleasures are held in check by nothing more than a few layers of silk–and the certainty that surrender will consume them both. . . Add to Goodreads To-Read List → You can find ordering info for this book here. View the full article
  25. This HaBO comes from Elizabeth, who wants to find this older romance title: This contemporary romance book starts with a seamstress working on a bride’s trousseau with the bride, and the bride expressed doubts about her upcoming marriage. The seamstress basically tells her it’s not too late to back out, then the bride leaves. The next day, a furious man storms into her shop and says the bride has jilted him and that the seamstress will take her place. I can’t remember why this arrangement is made. The heroine (seamstress) is a thin brunette who is conveniently the same size as the original bride, and she wears all the clothes she made for the bride’s trousseau. For some reason, I think the hero was someone semi-famous or a known public figure, but I’m not sure. I think the heroine’s name might have been Teddy or Teddie, but I could be wrong. I think this a Harlequin Presents. I remember the cover was white with the woman in a wedding dress standing with the guy. I read this book around 1997, but it was probably a few years old at that time. The hero sounds kind of awful, right? View the full article
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