Romantic blast from the past

Wicked Intentions (Maiden Lane, #1) by Elizabeth Hoyt

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read in October 2016.

“Lazarus kept his mouth firmly straight, but he felt a surge of triumph as the prim widow ran headlong into his talons.”

And so it begins!

I liked both main characters, they were not stupid. The world building was decent, the mystery ok, if not terribly suspenseful. The plot wasn‘t exactly gripping either, but interesting enough to keep me reading. Nice build-up to a pretty good finale.

And there were so many plot bunnies and possible pairings for the next books… I especially liked Silence and St. John. Harlequins and pirates also come to mind.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Notorious Pleasures (Maiden Lane, #2) by Elizabeth Hoyt

DNF in November 2016.

I spent four days finding other things to do and read, instead of picking up this book. It probably wasn‘t the book’s fault, I made the mistake of reading these two back-to-back.


In retrospect, over five years later, I am not surprised that I tossed the second book. Historical Regency Romance (or thereabouts), she is perfect or scattered or young or bored or misunderstood and needs a husband for some reason and he is a terrible rake or mysterious or a gambler or… whatever. Rinse, repeat, cookie-cutter…

It‘s Valentine‘s Day, so guess what…

Goodreads posted a ton of recommended reading lists today for Valentine‘s Day. I occasionally read romances, mostly as a kind of palate cleanser between SF novels or other a bit heavier offerings. I took a peek at those lists and this is what I found.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert has been on my want-to-read for a while.

Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with six directives to help her “Get a Life”…

So, adult romance with a bucket list…

Boyfriend Material (Boyfriend Material, #1) by Alexis Hall is a more recent addition to my want-to-read.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

We know how that goes, right?

If I Never Met You (Kindle Edition) by Mhairi McFarlane is another newbie on my want-to-read.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind.

Yep, another fake relationship, I like those!

Do you read romances? Any preferences, aka tropes you like? Recommendations?

Six Degrees of Separation — Talking, Shouting, Whispering…

Welcome to #6degrees. I haven’t done one of these in a while. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I mostly use this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. Or to give myself a reminder of the books on my TBR pile or want-to-read-shelf.

So, as usual, this month starts the chain link with a book I haven‘t read or ever heard about.

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

„As this urgent, genre-defying book opens, a woman who has recently been elevated to prominence for her social media posts travels around the world to meet her adoring fans. […] Suddenly, two texts from her mother pierce the fray: “Something has gone wrong,” and “How soon can you get here?” […] Fragmentary and omniscient, incisive and sincere, No One Is Talking About This is at once a love letter to the endless scroll and a profound, modern meditation on love, language, and human connection from a singular voice in American literature.“ (from the book blurb)

Really not my kind of thing. I read the blurb three times and nothing came to mind. However, as we are on the subject of talking…

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

„A show runner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumour.“

Sounds like an entertaining romance. Just the kind of light escapism I enjoy at the moment. Just moved it to from my want-to-read to my TBR pile. So much for me not wanting to add to that pile. What can I say, could be fun and came relatively cheap.

And talking takes me to shouting…

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí ClarkChannie Waites (Narrator)

“Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror.“

I really like his Djinn stories and this keeps popping up on a lot of my kind of lists. On my want-to-read. I am leaning towards the audio, the narrator sounds good.

Not everybody who shouts can also whisper….

Under the Whispering Door by  T.J. Klune

“When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.“

Yes, alright, it is STILL on my want-to-read. I will read it at some point, I promise!

People that whisper often don‘t speak at all…

The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

„What if you knew how and when you will die? Csorwe does. She will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice. On the day of her foretold death, however, a powerful mage offers her a new fate.“

On my TBR pile. Not sure why this landed there. Traditional fantasy with a queer touch. Another one I will get to eventually.

Continuing with silence…

Circles Of Silence by Preeti Singh

Rating: 3 out of 5.

“A birth mark on the right shoulder! And one as big and as dark as that! Arre baap re! This is of some terrible significance…’ Despite his grandmother’s gloomy prophecy, Rattan grows up leading a charmed life – first in Delhi, then at Boston University. When he returns to Delhi, and the family business, Rattan is happy to fall in with his parents’ plans for an arranged marriage.“

I read this in 2007. It did not sweep me off my feet, but the characters were likeable. The story was sweet and interesting enough, although there were no great surprises.

And when you are done with silence, how about some wailing to break the tension?

The Wailing Wind (Navajo Mysteries, #15) by Tony Hillerman

Rating: 2 out of 5.

“Tony Hillerman’s novels are like no others. His insightful portrayal of the vast Navajo Reservation, the spirit-haunted people who inhabit it and the clash between ancient traditions and modern civilization that has shaped its present and will determine its future has produced a body of work unique in mystery fiction.”

I read this in 2008. Fairly run-of-the-mill murder mystery with a slightly unusual setting. Pretty forgettable.

2021 Locus Recommended Reading List 

Welcome to the annual Locus Recommended Reading List!

Published in Locus magazine’s February 2022 issue, this list is assembled by Locus editors, columnists, outside reviewers, and other professionals and well-known critics of genre fiction and non-fiction. This year we considered over 900 titles between short fiction and long fiction. The final recommendations, combined and trimmed to a somewhat reasonable-length list, are our best recommendations for your consideration. We know there will be titles you loved that do not appear here; it happens every year. Any one of our recommending group would have put forward a different exact list, but this is the combined sum of opinions, assessed with great affection and care for the field.

https://locusmag.com/2022/02/2021-recommended-reading-list/

Just follow the link above to see the full lists. Below are the ones I have actually read…

NOVELS – SCIENCE FICTION

Leviathan Falls, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK) — good conclusion to the series. Loved the epilogue.

.Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro (Knopf; Faber & Faber) — not a winner for me.

A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK) — some great ideas, but I didn‘t love it.

Shards of Earth, Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor UK; Orbit US) — yep, one of my favourite reads of the year. Looking forward to the sequel in May.

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

The Gilded Ones, Namina Forna (Delacorte; Usborne) — considering that YA is not my genre, this was decent.

FIRST NOVELS

A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom; Orbit UK) — good. I liked the novellas and short stories more.

Winter’s Orbit, Everina Maxwell (Tor; Orbit UK) — m/m romance in a SF setting. Fun!

NOVELLAS

Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom) — Murderbot. What else.

Well, I did not read a lot of the entries. Is there anything that you loved and that I really should have read?

My January 2022

And the first month of the year is over already! Here is what read, listened to and watched…

Activation Degradation ★★★★☆, audio, SF, not Murderbot, just ignore that. Different take on robots/cyborgs/AI.
Cursed ★★★★½, Alex Verus #2, ebook, UF, wizards in London battle it out, good fun.
Black Powder War ★★★☆☆, Temeraire #3, ebook, Fantasy, the way back from China to Europe over land, with stopovers in Istanbul and Prussia, set in 1806.
– Fruiting Bodies ★★★★★, short story, SF Horror, a little creepy.
– Life on Earth ★★★★☆, audio, TBR pile, David Attenborough narrates his book, natural history.
– The Sweet Rowan ★★★★¼, ebook, TBR, sweet Regency romance, set in Scotland, with a wee bit of magic.
– Saga #55 ★★★★☆, eComic, SF, finally back after three years of waiting.
– The Marrow Thieves ★★★☆☆, ebook, TBR, dystopian YA set in Canada. People have lost the power to dream, except for indigenous people, who are hunted for a cure.
– Tietjen auf Tour: Warum Camping mich glücklich macht, paper, DNF after 84 pages reading and skimming to 150 pages / 55%. Travel anecdotes, nice enough, but very repetitive.

Still reading, carry over into February:
Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, audio. Fascinating!

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– The Expanse, S6, Ep. 3-6 ★★★★☆ Season finished. They went off script quite a bit. Not sure yet how much I liked this.
– Foundation, S1, Ep. 4-10 ★★★★★ Season finished. Excellent!
– Venom ★★★¾☆ Entertaining and a little too silly.
– Kingdom, S1, Ep. 1-3 ★★★☆☆ Korean zombie series in a historical setting. Unintentionally funny at times. Different. The people in this have the survival instincts of gnats.

Some StoryGraph statistics:

(yes, the last and first page counts are different, I updates something in between screen shooting the stats… 😝)

Top Ten Tuesday — New-to-Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic / January 25: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2021

I generally read more new-to-me-authors these days than known ones. I used to read series after series, but have changed my reading habits in the last few years. I already posted my Top Ten Tuesday—the ten best books of 2021 and I will not mention those books again. Funnily enough those were mostly known-to-me-authors. Oh well.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #1) by Tade Thompson — Weird. Disturbing. Creepy. Off-putting. Slightly disgusting in parts. Horror, as you might have guessed by now. It‘s like a train wreck—pretty horrible, but I couldn‘t look away. The writing is very good. I was totally immersed in the story, the characters and Molly‘s world. I will probably read The Survival of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #2) at some point.

Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1) by Tade Thompson wasn‘t quite as good for me. An alien lands on Earth, burrows into the ground and presents as a illuminated dome. We follow Kaaro, a „sensitive“, in the employ of some shady secret agency. His life story is told in three separate timelines, set around the biodome. He is a thief, he is sexist, he felt like a clueless, self-centered, mysoginistic idiot to me. I can appreciate the inventive world building, but the rest was a slog.

Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler — short story. A human colony living as little more than slaves, joined to an insectoid race. Love, possesiveness and self-sacrifice are themes. Butler voices her surprise in the afterword, that readers see this as a story of slavery. But are we looking at symbiosis or at a parasitic relationship? Is it really consent in a situation, where your personal rights have been curtailed and there are no equal rights? I think not. 

Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — Lilith wakes up into a world of bipeds reminiscent of Cthullu with a touch of octopus biology. The world as she knows it has ended, the Onkali have rescued her and other humans. A classic. It was ok, but I won‘t continue with the series.

Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur — A queer rom-com debut with a social media astrologer. Give me a break! And Darcy, an actuary, her terrible blind date, is a total bitch (at first). Gorgeous though. Fake relationship trope! Well written, very readable. Oh, this is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I didn‘t see it, to be honest, besides the first name.

Becoming by Michelle Obama — Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. Entertaining.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith — I was entertained. And I learned new things.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell — potential m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badge — YA. UF/magical realism, set in our place and time, with ghosts, vampires and fae added to the mix. Author and female main character are Lipan Apache. Ellie is 17 years old and has the power to call animal ghosts into being.

The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter — the author covers a vast amount of linguistic topics. The author‘s casual dismissal of places and people outside of the US was a bit irritating at times. It was interesting.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron — Enjoyable, humorous, not too silly and not too much drama. There is baking and sourdough starter and delicious Indian/East African food… If you are looking for a book that represents Islam and Muslim life, this is not it. If you are looking for light romance and great food though, you are bang on. 

We Have Always Been Here by Lena Nguyen — Androids, a claustrophobic spaceship, a mysterious ice planet and a conspiracy with a dash of horror. 

Ok, that was ten new to me authors. I had an interesting year.

A wee bit of Magic…

The Sweet Rowan by Keira Dominguez

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Regency romance with a touch of magic. Governess trope! False identity! Scotland! Rugged Scotsmen! Damsel in distress! Treacherous antagonist! Drama!

A young woman runs away from her English home, to find something she has lost, and goes to Scotland under a false name, pretending to be a governess. The master of the house is immensely interesting, as he is wont to be in a sweet romance of this type. The situation gets complicated, with that lie of her assumed identity hovering in the background. And what is happening to that magic?

The writing was a little rough in the first chapter. And the tiny amount of magic felt like a gimmick at first, propelling the story from pure historical romance to something a little different. 

The plot didn‘t hold any big surprises for most of the book. However, when the requisite amount of drama occurred, it was well done and the expected reveals were very entertaining. Good amount of action and the above mentioned damsel in distress was not a wimp.

The characters were likable and lively. The switching points of view added a nice layer to the story telling. The characters from her other two books, Her Caprice and The Telling Touch, are related to this book and should probably be read first. The books are standalone though, it didn’t feel as if I was missing anything.

Bottomline, this was a lot of fun! I might read more by the author at some point.

The Top Ten — 2021 Releases I Added to my Want-to-Read But Didn’t Get To  

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This week‘s topic / January 18: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

I changed that “excited to read“ to „added to my want-to-read“. Excited is a strong word. Those that I was excited about I pre-ordered and read in 2021. As I am very, very stingy with adding books to my want-to-read-shelf, I ended up with just another 10 books. And here they are:

Black Magick, Vol. 3: Ascension by Greg Rucka,  Nicola Scott — I added this to my shelf in 2019 and it took its sweet time to get published. Greg Rucka does fantastic stuff and the artwork was really very pretty in the first two volumes. Plus it was a good story. But the break was just so long, by the time this one here came out I just wasn‘t as interested anymore. So it still lingers. I highly recommend Lazarus, Vol. 1: Family by Greg Rucka!

The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott — „A gripping novel of myth, environment, adventure, and an unlikely friendship, from an award-winning Australian author“ — I have no idea why this is on my shelf. Pretty cover. Deleted.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard — „Award-winning author Aliette de Bodard returns with a powerful romantic fantasy“ — I have read good things by her and this novella was recommended. I in turn recommend Lullaby for a Lost World.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley — YA mystery. Not really my thing. But my reading buddies loved it and it sounds tempting enough. I guess this part of the blurb did it: “Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman)“. Because I quite liked a book by a different author from an Anishinaabe community, Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice. Does not really make sense, I know.

We Are Satellites by Sarah Pinsker — „about one family and the technology that divides them“ — contemporary setting, about a brain implant that helps to get ahead. Not sure about this one, deleted.

The Audacity of Sara Grayson by Joani Elliott — a nice sounding piece of chicklit. Mother dies, last wish is for her daughter to finish her final book in a bestselling series. Possible shenanigans. I might keep it for now.

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim — another YA. A retelling of The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, one of my favourite fairytales. Or The Six Swans by the Brothers Grimm. I am actually not sure which one, they are almost the same thing. Anyway, it tempted me.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune — it seems that everybody on the planet has read this but me.

Glimmer by Marjorie B Kellogg — „This new cli-fi epic chronicles a future NYC wracked by climate change and follows the individuals who must make the most of what remains to survive.“ — or should I rather go for Kim Stanley Robinson? This one here sounds like more fun.

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor — „From Africanfuturist luminary Okorafor comes a new science fiction novel of intense action and thoughtful rumination on biotechnology, destiny, and humanity in a near-future Nigeria.“ — I still haven‘r read anything by Okorafor. Or should I rather start with Binti?

New year, new opportunities…

So, I spent most of today sorting my reading shelves and looking through possible challenges and whatnot. This is what I came up with…

Planned reading for January:
– Buddy Read Cursed, Alex Verus #2, ebook, started today and made it to chapter 2.
– Buddy Read Black Powder War, Temeraire #3, ebook. I will pick this up after the above. More dragons!
– Saga #55, eComic, pre-ordered, pub date Jan 26. I can‘t possibly wait for the collected volume, after waiting for this since they went into their extended hiatus in 2018!

Also reading / ongoing:
– Life on Earth, audio, narrated by David Attenborough. I made it to chapter 9, all about birds of paradise. Fun chapter, but even so I feel a bit bored by this book.


I settled on a TBR Challenge for 2022 for the 217 owned books currently on my physical and digital shelves:

This reading challenge is for folks who have an obnoxiously large TBR (over 100 books) and need a kick in the pants to get it whittled down. These prompts will help you randomly select 24 books (2 for each month) from your TBR in the hopes that you pick up books you keep forgetting about or putting off. 

RULES:
1. You must start AND finish each book in 2022.  
2. A DNF still counts! The purpose of the challenge is to get you to at least try reading some books you might not otherwise pick up.
3.  Audiobooks count!
4. You must use a random number generator for each prompt. Here is an example of one you can use, but you can use any random number generator of your choice. 
5. You must use the first number that is generated every time you select a book for a prompt. 

Here is what I got from that numbers generator and my owned-books-shelf over at Goodreads:

1. January: Book 1 
Using the default order of the books on your spreadsheet (or my sorted-by-numbers GR list…), generate a random number from 1 to the number of books on your TBR. Use this number to find the book on the corresponding row in your spreadsheet.

– January #1 The Sweet Rowan

2. January: Book 2 (126 books added)
Sort your TBR by date added in ASCENDING order. Generate a random number from 1 to 100 and choose the book on the corresponding row. 

– January #2 The Marrow Thieves

I just realized that I didn‘t just pick between 1 and 100, but between 1 and all of my owned books. Never mind, not doing it again. So, we‘ll see how long I can keep up with this challenge!


And then there is my Pern Re-read:
I am deleting, as I progress through my re-reads. I made a nice dent in my list in December. Here is what‘s left! I probably won‘t get to the next one until February though, looking at my above plans.

Publication Order
* 1983 – Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern — part of On Dragonwings
* 1984 – Nerilka’s Story
* 1989 – The Renegades of Pern
* 1991 – All The Weyrs of Pern
* 1994 – The Dolphins of Pern
* 1998 – The Masterharper of Pern
* 2001 – The Skies of Pern
* 2003 – Dragon’s Kin
* 2005 – Dragonsblood
* 2006 – Dragon’s Fire
* 2007 – Dragon Harper
* 2008 – Dragonheart
* 2010 – Dragongirl
* 2011 – Dragon’s Time
* 2012 – Sky Dragons

I should not run out of ideas of what to read next, what do you think?

Ilona Andrews strikes again…

Fated Blades (Kinsmen, #3)
by Ilona Andrews

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I am glad that the first review I looked at gave this three stars only and it‘s not just me. I started skimming somewhere between 30 to 50% into this. And it took me 3 days to even get that far, which is shocking for 200 pages from Ilona Andrews. 

I didn’t care for the main characters and the plot did not interest me either. It’s all very much writing-by-numbers. The tried and tested IA formula. Smoldering, dark and scary hero, hard but hot. Short, busty and kick-ass heroine. Lots of fighting against the odds. I am not sure if it’s just this novella in particular or if I am getting tired of this in general. Maybe I have to be in the right mood for it. So, a re-read might be on the horizon at some point.

PS: Yes, ok, the epilogue was pretty funny.