Tag: reading recommendations

Ten Christmastime Romances to Read This Year

Ten Christmastime Romances to Read This Year

You know the drill – Top Ten Tuesday is brought to us by the lovely ThatArtsyReaderGirl.

This week is a freebie, so naturally I had to go with 10 Romances to read around Christmas. Not that you’ll have time to, what with the movie watching, cooking baking, gingerbread house decorating, present wrapping, and so on and so forth. But if you do manage to sneak a book in, and you enjoy a good seasonal romance, you might want to add these to your list. I naturally went for 5 Regency romances in a nod to my reading streak along with 5 contemporary ones. A warning: I haven’t read any of these (a common theme for my Top Ten Tuesday lists), so read at your own risk.

  • The Earl’s Christmas Bride by Ella Quinn
    • This is something like 7th or 7.5 in a series, but I don’t think it’s a series in which you need to read all the others in order to enjoy it. A lady wants to go travel around Europe and a “happy bachelor” is determined to marry her…and take her to Europe (?). It sounds cute and fun, like a Christmas romance should be.
  • The Holly and the Ivy by Elisabeth Fairchild
    • The blurb contains the words “thorny duke” and “scandalous misunderstanding”, and the book has the man-who-hates-Christmas and woman-who-loves-it storyline. Honestly, what else could you ask for?
  • The Great Christmas Candy Caper by Karen Hall
    • There’s Christmas, candy, and a caper. I don’t know what else to tell you in order to sell you on this book. It’s really a short story (less than 100 pages), but has it’s own Goodreads page, so if you’re looking to pad your numbers this December, it’s an option. It’s also only $1.99 on Amazon. I’m talking to myself here. 🙂
  • A Bride for Christmas by Aileen Fish
    • Another novella – this one only 63 pages – and selling for a grand total of $0.00, this still managed to catch my attention. Mainly because the guy enlists his niblings in winning over the lady, to be honest. I enjoy books with kids, and since he has to “slay her dragons”, the addition of wee ones helping him seems right. Also – another one to pad the ol’ Goodreads Reading Challenge numbers.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Mistletoe and Mayhem by Emmanuelle de Maupassant
    • A woman fleeing from a marriage by pretending to be an etiquette teacher, a Texan who is also a Scottish heir, a curse, mysterious deaths, a Scottish setting, and Christmas? Say no more. Add it to the list.
  • Snowed in at Harper’s Inn by Catelyn Meadows
    • Apparently one in a series of clean Christmas romances written by a bunch of different authors (the next one is part of this series as well), this involves a “what if things were different” magical plot device, a cute lil Inn, a sudden breakup, and a “we’ve been friends forever, but maybe we should be in love” storyline. Honestly, it sounds like a Hallmark movie.
  • Snowed in at the Archive by Ellie Thornton
    • I think I like books with snow on the cover because I haven’t seen snow in real life in 5(?) years and I’ve always dreamed of a snowy winter/Christmas. That’s what I get for living in the South, I guess. Anyway, there’s an archive involved so I don’t know what else to say – of course I’m going to want to pick up a book set in an archive while there’s snow everywhere.
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
    • The heroine here is stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop for at least *some* of the book, and the reviews are quite split on if it works or not. Reading the blurb makes me think it may be cute, but apparently the romance is also hit or miss. I’m so divided on this one. I like the ideas here – time loops, love with the boy you’ve known forever, leaving traditions behind (unwillingly), but the reviews are meh at best. But who knows, it could be my favorite book.
  • Fool Me Twice at Christmas by Camilla Isley
    • Once upon a time, Shane and I broke up over the holidays – and yet I still made him have Thanksgiving (I think it was Thanksgiving) dinner with my parents as if we hadn’t. A decade later, we’re married, so I connect with the idea of “we broke up, but let’s not tell our parents” and then ending up back in a relationship. The book has the added perk of them becoming “accidentally engaged” which is a thing that didn’t happen to me. It’s the first in a series called Christmas Romantic Comedy so I also know it’s my kind of vibe.
  • Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
    • The first in a 17 book/novella series, it starts with a major life upheaval and claiming an inheritance – both things I really like. I’ve always heard Jill Shalvis is an excellent writer, and I’m tempted to pick up a copy for that reason alone. Also, who doesn’t love a “fall in love with the handyman” story?

Writing this post has made me want to go out and get several of these and spend some evenings reading. I do not need more ebooks. I do not need more ebooks. I do not need more ebooks.

It is Christmas, though.

-S

Series I’d Like to Start/Reread/Finish

Series I’d Like to Start/Reread/Finish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl is one that I really enjoyed, because I am notorious for starting a series and then taking for-ev-er to finish them. Let me know if you’ve read any of these or have a suggestion!

Pern – Anne McCaffrey

Reread

Anne McCaffrey has always been my favorite author, from when I was a child, to now. She writes strong female characters, and they’re everywhere. Her books are like comfort food for me, and I think rereading all the Pern books is a great exercise for me right now. And there are dragons.

The Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan

Start

I have read 0 of these, but Shane has read all of them, and bought them on Kindle. It’s a classic series that I’ve heard great (and not-so-great) things about and I’m interested in seeing what the hype is about. I might put this off until I forget the tv show, though.

Riftwar Saga – Raymond E. Feist

Reread

I grew up reading Raymond E. Feist, and a few years back I decided I wanted to read through the whole thing again. I now own all 30+ of them, and have only re-read 10ish, so this is definitely at the top of my list of series to read. I won’t lie, some of them are….problematic, but overall, they’re classic Fantasy novels and bring back my childhood.

Smythe-Smith Quartet/Rokesbys/Lady Whistledown – Julia Quinn (Technically 3 series)

Start

I really enjoyed the Bridgerton books (and the show, to be fair), so I’m definitely interested in reading more of her books. I also just enjoy the time period. Technically, this encompasses 3 series, but none of them are terribly long, and they’re such quick reads, I combined them all. I really enjoy Regency romances, apparently. Who knew?

Countess of Harleigh Mystery – Dianne Freeman

Start

I also love historical mysteries with some romance, so when I saw this, I knew I wanted to read it. They’re cute and fun, the stakes are never terribly high and the romance is generally adorable, and it’s just comfortable. I guess going into the holiday season, I’m thinking of comfiness, and not hard hitting books that make me think.

Maisie Dobbs – Jacqueline Winspear

Start

Another historical mystery series! Apparently this one might be too cutesy, but I’m willing to find that out for myself. It’s also in my favorite time period – between 1910 and the beginning of WWII. A lot of people have recommended this series to me, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

Somershill Manor – S.D. Sykes

Start

Oh look! Another historical mystery series! A huge departure from the ones above, though. It’s set way earlier – 1300s – and with a much different protagonist – a monk turned Lord of the Manor. There’s also an added quirk is that the Plague has ravaged the land, so that’s fun. I haven’t read much in this time period, so I’m not sure how “true to life” it is – and I’m not sure I really care. I don’t read fiction as truth.

Krewe of Hunters – Heather Graham

Finish

Another series of over 30 books, of which I have read around 10. I don’t know why I love these books, but I sure do – paranormal mystery solving with romance? I’m in. I’m also curious as to how she finds all the people who fall in love.

First Colony – Ken Lozito

Start

Another deep love of mine is science fiction set in spaceships. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved to read about people voyaging across the stars and I’ve always been bummed that there aren’t that many in this genre, and those that are often poorly written. YA has some good ones, but adult fiction is lacking. This has been changing, and I’m hoping this one is one that I can start recommending.

Hell Divers – Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Finish

This is a wild ride, y’all. Seriously, this series is all over the place and I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s a dystopian military-ish found family, and there are cannibals. I’ve listened to 7 of the 9 currently published, with the 8th & 9th waiting for me in Audible. I won’t lie – part of the draw is that R.C. Bray is the narrator. I love R.C. Bray.

10 Witchy Books to Read This Month

It’s spooky season, which means it’s time to read all the spooky books. I don’t have much time to read this month (yay new job & also a horror movie challenge that was not thought through enough), but if I *did*, these are the witchy books I’d read this month.


Payback’s a Witch – Lana Harper

I’m about halfway through this book, and while it’s not what I’d normally pick up, I’m very much enjoying it. The feeling of returning to a place you don’t feel like you belong, the idea that people from back in middle/high school are fully fleshed out adults now – I relate to that. The witchy elements are really fun and the rivalry is enjoyable. It’s definitely trending to be one of my favorite books of 2022, but I’ll reserve judgement until the end.

The Witch of Willow Hall – Hester Fox

I love historical fiction, especially if it’s gothic, and this one promises to be that – set in the 1800s in Mass. One of the reviews says it has an “underlining of menace” and you can sign me up for that. It seems to be more of a subtle witch vibe than the previous book, so I think it’s more in line with what I would normally read.

The Mercies – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Speaking of historical fiction – this one goes way further back to the 1600s in Norway. I have read very few books set in Norway, much less that take place in that century, so that’s enough to add it to my TBR list. I guess you could say it’s not a witchy book, it’s a witch trial book, but I’m going to count it, since witch trials are very much a part of the history of witches.

The Once and Future Witches – Alix E. Harrow

I’m on the fence about this one – it’s set in the late 1800s and seems to focus on women’s suffrage which normally I’d be all over, but the alliterative names feel over the top cutesy. The reviews are great though, and I do like that it’s a feminist-focused story. And there’s actual witchcraft in it. Let me know if you ever read it!

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches – Sangu Mandanna

This has so many elements of a story that I’ll love. There’s an absent archaeologist, a prickly librarian, children being placed into the care of what is basically a governess. And witches, obviously. Add a little romance, I’m sold.

The Ex Hex – Erin Sterling

This one is set in Georgia, and is another romance. I didn’t set out to build a list of witchy romances, but there are apparently a ton of them. There’s a talking cat, too, so you know I added it to Mount TBR. I honestly just really enjoy the idea of putting a hex on your ex and then having to help undo it. It seems like there’s a lot of room for interesting writing there.

The Raven Spell – Luanne G. Smith

I just want to put the first line of the description from Goodreads below, because it truly encapsulates why I want to read this one.

In Victorian England a witch and a detective are on the hunt for a serial killer in an enthralling novel of magic and murder.

This Poison Heart – Kalynn Bayron

I love the idea of a witch who manipulates plants/nature, and I also love surprise inheritances that lead to the main character moving into a haunted and/or ruined estate. This has both. And a centuries-old curse. It’s apparently a retelling, but I’m not sure of what from the description. I would have to guess Greek myths, though.

The Last of the Moon Girls – Barbara Davis

Another mystery/thriller/magical/romance novel. Another “I left home never to return, but then someone died and here I am again, oh and there’s a cute boy” so, yeah, I did add it to the TBR. There’s a murder mystery – though why she didn’t want to solve it while her grandmother was alive and suffering from the town’s gossip I have no idea. I guess we’ll be told eventually.

The Change – Kirsten Miller

As I reach my mid-30s, I am more and more interested in protagonists that are my age or older. And this has 3 menopausal aged women learning that they’re witches and also they try to (do?) solve a murder. A few of the reviews said it was too heavy on the man-hating, which can be kind of a downer, but depending on the story and how their individual backgrounds play into it, a feminist revenge fantasy can be fun.


So there you have it – 9 witchy books I have not read, and 1 I’m currently reading that seem like good Halloween/October reads.

If you pick any of these up, let me know! I would love to get some thoughts on them.

A note – I realized that I didn’t specify when the romances were queer. A few on here are, so in the interests of those who are looking specifically for an LGBTQ+ book: Payback’s a Witch, The Mercies, This Poison Heart, and The Once and Future Witches are tagged as queer/LGBT in Goodreads. Payback I know has several bi characters and the main relationship is f/f.

-S

22 Books I Want to Read in 22

The final 22 list of the year – 22 Books I Want to Read. I have the worst track record with making a TBR pile, but I will always hold out hope that I’ll complete one. And I’ve already read one of them, so that’s a great sign!

Top 5 Reads in 2021

Top 5 Reads in 2021

I read a lot of filler in 2021, but I also read a few of what have become my favorite books of all time. I don’t like reading long book reviews – they seem to give too much away. So here are my top 5 reads of 2021 reviewed in 5 sentences (or less).

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

This is my favorite book of all time, hands down. I never really bought into the idea that a book could change my life, it always felt too simplistic, but this novel honestly did. My entire way of thinking has been undergoing a change since I read it, and I fully intend on reading it again this year.

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks

This book did not change my entire way of thinking, but it did get 5 stars from me. I think it’s my favorite cryptid-focus book of all time – it’s truly gripping and I was on the edge of my seat for much of it. I don’t understand how Max Brooks makes everything feel so real, but he did the same in World War Z, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. If you’re into Bigfoot, cryptids in general, or just a good horror story, this is quite probably something you’d enjoy. Now I want to read this again as well.

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

Apparently I was really into hotel-based horror novels, because this and the next book on the list are exactly that. I will say that it’s more atmospherically creepy and not outright horrifying, but the setting is so on point I couldn’t leave it out. I absolutely love suspenseful mysteries, so this is right up my alley. Family secrets, lies, death, mysteries, and a creepy hotel? Count me in.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Hotel horror part 2 – this time with the addition of paranormal shenanigans. Strangely, this novel also deals with a missing aunt, so it’s not surprising I get them confused periodically. Simone St. James is one of my favorite authors *of all time* – I’ve read every one of her books and have the next one on pre-order – so I was never not going to read this and I’m thrilled that it lived up to my expectations. She writes some of the best creepy, atmospheric, romantic ghost stories I’ve gotten my hands on. Excellent Halloween read for later in the year if you’re looking for one.

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem (A Lady’s Guide #1) by Manda Collins

This is just a super cute, fun, historical romance/mystery that I really enjoyed, and I’ve been looking forward to reading the second one in the series. Is it a completely historically accurate portrayal? Probably not. Do I care? No.

A Zombie Apocalypse Reading List

I’m reposting this 2018 Zombie related book list because I still stand by it. ~Sarah

I love reading about the zombie apocalypse! I don’t read nearly as many as I would like, but I truly enjoy the genre. I enjoy the apocalypse in general, though. Here’s a list of books I think should be on your Zombie Apocalypse Reading List. It’s a mix of books I’ve read and books I’d like to read. The list is barely scraping the surface, so add your favorite zombie books down below!

There are probably spoilers down below, buds. Just a warning.

I did manage to place the books in some loose groups. These three have something about zombies that I enjoy.

  • The Passage by Justin Cronin ~ Okay, okay, they’re vampires. But they’re controlled by an entity outside themselves, so I’m shoehorning them into the zombie category. It’s my blog, I do what I want. I loved reading about the vampire-zombies’ behavior and the suspected reasons behind the things they do. I highly recommend the entire series, I’ll probably end up reading them all again one day. Which is saying a lot, since they are all enormous.
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey ~ Have you ever finished a book and been mad at the book so you give it a low rating but then you can’t stop thinking about the ending for weeks and then you boost the rating to 5 because if the book wasn’t as good as it is you wouldn’t be this upset at it? That was this book for me.
  • Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith ~ I tend to avoid military apocalyptic fiction because I find a lot of it tries too hard to prove how manly the characters are. Which is not completely untrue with this series, but there’s enough going on otherwise to make it recommendable. There’s science-y type stuff and the zombies are pretty cool and there’s a lot of shooting. Try to spot the improbable but totally predictable love interest.

These are books with a little something different going on. Goodreads says I haven’t read the first two, but I have. Feed is on my TBR pile.

  • The Zombie Autopsies by Steven C. Schlozman, M.D. ~ I think I read this when it first came out – 2011 or 2012 – and I still clearly remember entire sections of this book. It’s a far more scientific zombie book than normal.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks ~ He wrote World War Z so you know it’s good. It’s also appropriately funny. If you want to read about zombies, laugh, and not be completely freaked out, get this book.
  • Feed by Mira Grant ~ This is apparently more of a political/journalism/freedom of speech book with zombies! It’s making the list because so many people have suggested it to me that it should be here.

These are books that have come highly recommended but I haven’t had a chance to read them, so I don’t have much to say about them.

  • The First Days by Rhiannon Frater ~ I read the first few pages of this while flipping through my friend’s copy. I remember it being pretty action packed, so why not check it out?
  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell ~ All I really know about this one is the Goodreads synopsis and that my friends really liked it.
  • Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry ~ The Goodreads description is pretty vague for this YA series, but Maberry is a really good author, so it makes the list.

Best Books I Read In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2019 is the best year yet.

I realized while making this list that I read very few books I really loved in 2018. I can do better in 2019. Obviously not every book I read will be a winner, but I can definitely choose books that are more likely to be ones I really enjoy. Anyway, I’m fairly sick (thanks allergies), so I’m presenting this list without commentary.

  1. City of the Lost – Kelley Armstrong
  2. The Broken Girls – Simone St James
  3. The Queen’s Poisoner– Jeff Wheeler
  1. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes
  2. Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling – Michael Cannell
  3. Classic Style: Hand it Down, Dress it Up, Wear it Out – Kate Schelter
  4. The Bullet Journal Method – Ryder Carroll
  1. Obsidio – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
  2. About a Dog – Jenn McKinlay
  3. Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

I hope you have an excellent first day of 2019.

Top Ten Cozy Winter Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature run by That Arsty Reader Girl.

Little House in the Big Woods | Anne of Green Gables | Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first three of this Top Ten were easy to come up with: the first three books of my three most treasured childhood series. I can’t think of a better way to pass snowy (or more likely in my area – icy) day than revisiting old childhood favorites. 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | The Midwife | The Maid’s Tale | Life in a Medieval Castle
Another thing that’s nice to do is escape to another time or place. Two memoirs by women of the past, a guide to medieval life, and a novel of post-war England certainly do that. I really can’t wait to curl up with some of these this winter.

The City Who Fought | The Dragonriders of Pern | The Name of the Wind
Speaking of ‘another time or place’ – a great sci-fi or fantasy book is just as good at taking you away. Anne McCaffrey is my all-time favorite author, and honestly a big part of why I want to write books. Her Brainship books are some of the first science fiction I ever read and her Pern novels are the first blending of sci-fi/fantasy that I ever really got into. Patrick Rothfuss has created a masterpiece as well, and sitting in a cozy chair reading any of these books would be an amazing thing to do on a cold winter day.

-Sarah-

10 Horror Novels I Can’t Wait to Read

10 Horror Novels I Can’t Wait to Read

I don’t really go for very horrific horror novels, if you haven’t been able to tell from my review choices this October. I love creepy books, though. When the suspense and eerie feelings ratchet up to a crescendo, that’s when I’m most intrigued. There’s a list on Goodreads called Space Horror that I keep meaning to go though and add to my TBR mountain, because I love two kinds of horror more than any others – gothic creepiness in Victorian mansions and terror in space where there can be no escape. That said, I don’t read as much horror as I’d like, so for my Halloween Top Ten Tuesday topic, here are some horror(ish) books I’d like to check out.

On to the list!

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon ~ It’s got so much I adore in a novel! Complicated family relationships, generational curses (even if not actually cursed), abandoned motels, missing people, etc. I picked this up a library book sale and I’m pretty sure it’s a quarter well spent. 

The Desolation of Solitude by Sean-Paul Thomas (also called Alone, apparently) ~ Here’s that space horror I enjoy, but in a novella (150 pages is a novella, right?). It’s got similarities with the movie Passengers from what I can tell, but has the creepiness raised a ton. No memories, waking up alone in space, lady companion also awakes, dark thoughts, ghostly visions. You can download it for free, so why wouldn’t I?

This House is Haunted by John Boyne ~ This has a governess in the mid 1800s who rolls up to her new employment but there are only children and no adults. Oh, and ghosts. It also has awesome cover art, and I won’t deny that helps.

Snowblind by Christopher Golden ~ Ghostly happenings in a blizzard? Yes please! This is definitely a book I’m looking forward to – snow is something I see *maybe* once a year or so and the thought of a full-on blizzard is kind of terrifying. Add ghosts/demons/the supernatural and it’s a definite fear inducer. 

No Doors. No Windows. by Joe Schreiber ~ I enjoy novels that play tricks on with your mind – is he insane or haunted? This seems to meet that criteria, and seems generally spooky, so I’m looking forward to it!

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay ~ This is a home invasion story that’s not really my style but the description on Goodreads hooked me. I have to know more about what the men are up to. 

Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey ~ I love Carey’s previous novels and I’m so excited to read another one! The reviews look excellent & I’m not surprised.

The Hunting Ground by Cliff McNish ~ I honestly don’t know anything about this book beyond the Goodreads blurb, but that was enough to add it to the list. I’m intrigued!

The Waiting Room by F. G. Cottam ~ An abandoned war-time train station waiting room with ghosts sounds like an amazing rainy day read. I also love the ‘ghost hunter isn’t really a ghost hunter, but is now a believer’ trope, so I’m in.

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring ~ I love the time period between the world wars, especially in the UK, so that in addition to the aforementioned trope in a creepy old rectory makes this book a must-read.

~S~

I Remember You: A Ghost Story {Review}

 

Book cover for I Remember You: A Ghost Story

My favorite thing about reading a novel in translation is that not all words are translatable and you have to stumble through them the best you can. I don’t speak Icelandic so it was fun to look up pronunciations for names of towns and people. Don’t ask me to say them out loud, though, because I will fail.

I really liked this book. It’s not really a thriller but it’s a steadily unfolding story that has twists and turns and is pretty engaging. Even if you guess one (or some) of the twists, it’s still an interesting story. The only issue I had was that one of the twists was telegraphed pretty early on, but the reveal was solid, so it was fine. It’s fun to read a novel where being religious isn’t the norm, but isn’t completely weird either.

I would say this is a solid October read if you’re looking for something to make you uneasy but not terrified. The location is awesome – part of the novel takes place in an abandoned community in northern Iceland. The language is vivid, even though it’s a translation.

A warning, though: there’s violence against children mentioned. Nothing graphic at all, and most of the novel isn’t graphic, but it’s mentioned.

-Sarah-