Book Review: Love at First


Kate Clayborn

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 23rd February 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw–or rather, heard–the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting–maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

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Book Review: When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain


Nghi Vo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 8th December 2020
spoilers? no

Goodreads

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

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Book Review: How to Fail at Flirting


Denise Williams

Rating: 3 out of 5.

published: 1st December 2020
spoilers? vague ones

Goodreads

One daring to-do list and a crash course in flirtation turn a Type A overachiever’s world upside down.

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.


Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.

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Book Review: The Vanishing at Loxby Manor


Abigail Wilson

Rating: 2 out of 5.

published: 26th January 2021
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

Disappearances, strange activities in the night, and secret organizations abound in this mysterious Regency romance.

Haunted by the assault she’s kept hidden over the past four years, Charity Halliwell finally has a chance to return home to the quaint village she left more than five years before and the happy life she wants so badly to reclaim. All she needs is good conversation with her old friend and an opportunity to find a governess position, and she can leave the fear and guilt behind. But the family who agrees to her yearlong visit turns out to be a far cry from the one she thought she knew, particularly when her friend disappears and the one man she made certain would not be at the house is forced to return. How can she possibly heal and claim her independence when day in, day out she must face the only gentleman who ever held a piece of her heart?

Piers Cavanagh was branded a coward when he failed to show up for a duel he arranged. He had his reasons, of course, but disclosing them would hurt far more than continuing life as an outcast. And worse, with the mysterious departure of his sister, the strange nightly occurrences in the ruins of an old abbey, and the uncomfortable whispers of a secret organization, Piers must overcome his aversion to society and work with the last person he ever thought he would get the chance to speak to again—the girl whose heart he had no choice but to break.

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Book Review: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem


Manda Collins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 10th November 2020
spoilers? vague ones

Goodreads

An intrepid female reporter matches wits with a serious, sexy detective in award-winning author Manda Collins’ fun and flirty historical rom-com!

England, 1865: As one of England’s most notorious newspaper columnists, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. And she’s determined to inform and educate the ladies of London on the nefarious-and deadly-criminals who are praying on the fairer sex. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a notorious killer, however, Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her newfound notoriety-only to witness a murder on her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inflaming-rather than informing-the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong.

Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham’s refusal to compromise his investigations nearly cost him his own career, and he blames Katherine. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors are pressuring him to solve cases quickly rather than correctly. When he discovers she’s the key witness in a new crime, he’s determined to prevent the beautiful widow from once again wreaking havoc on his case. Yet as Katherine proves surprisingly insightful and Andrew impresses Katherine with his lethal competency, both are forced to admit the fire between them is more flirtatious than furious. But to explore the passion between them, they’ll need to catch a killer.

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Best of: October 2020

Full disclosure: I don’t actually remember reading a lot of these books in October. Like, I went through my list like was it really only this month I read these ones? Yes. Yes it was only this month.

Really though, I had a kind of meh month of it. I don’t think I rated many books (that weren’t rereads) 5 full stars (This is What it Feels Like was the only one I think, though there were a few 4.5s, again a couple of them rereads).

Then again, I did also read enough that I will happily rec over* half of the books I read in total, so was it really that bad?

*Some of what I’d rec I still wouldn’t say was the best of what I read. If that makes sense.

Total books: 55

Novels: 39
Nonfiction: 1
Novellas: 10
Poetry: 4
Short story collections: 1

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Book Review: Bestiary


K-Ming Chang

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 4th February 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this blazing debut about one family’s queer desires, violent impulses, and buried secrets.

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with mysterious powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth — and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

With a poetic voice of crackling electricity, K-Ming Chang is an explosive young writer who combines the wit and fabulism of Helen Oyeyemi with the subversive storytelling of Maxine Hong Kingston. Tracing one family’s history from Taiwan to America, from Arkansas to California, Bestiary is a novel of migration, queer lineages, and girlhood.

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Book Review: To Love and To Loathe


Martha Waters

Rating: 4 out of 5.

published: 6th April 2021
spoilers? no

Goodreads

The author of the “hilarious…joyful, elegant” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) To Have and to Hoax returns with an effervescent, charming, and swoon-worthy novel about a man and woman who never agree on anything—until they agree to a no-strings-attached affair in this Regency-era romp.

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with a very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

With Martha Waters’s signature “cheeky charm and wonderfully wry wit” (Booklist, starred review), To Love and to Loathe is another clever and delightful historical rom-com that is perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Evie Dunmore.

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Book Review: The Liar’s Guide to the Night Sky


Brianna R. Shrum

Rating: 5 out of 5.

published: 3rd November 2020
spoilers? no

Goodreads

It’s no one’s fault that Hallie Jacob is alone. That her grandpa got sick half a world away and so her parents yanked her to Colorado the last semester of her senior year. That career-wise, she’s specialized in fighting fire, and now she’s surrounded by ice, snow, and a thousand cousins she’s half-banned from hanging around with. But that’s what’s happened. That’s what her December looks like.

On one big family weekend in the freaking tundra, Hallie sneaks off with those cousins to an abandoned ski slope. But they get caught in a random mudslide, and what started as a Secret Bonfire Party goes in a Potential Donner Party direction real fast. With some cousins in desperate need of medical attention, Hallie leaves their camp for help—and is surprised when Jonah Ramirez (her cousin’s extremely off-limits—absurdly hot—best friend) joins her.

Facing paralyzing temperatures, sharp-toothed animals strong enough to survive a climate with hardly any water or air, and weather phenomena so wicked they’ll wreck a mountain before you can blink, Jonah and Hallie have no choice but to trust each other as they search for the way to town to send help back to their stranded friends and family. And THAT may be more impossible, even, than making it out alive.

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Book Review: The Stone Knife


Anna Stephens

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

published: 26th November 2020
spoilers? nope

Goodreads

A fantasy epic of freedom and empire, gods and monsters, love, loyalty, honour, and betrayal, from the acclaimed author of GODBLIND.

For generations, the forests of Ixachipan have echoed with the clash of weapons, as nation after nation has fallen to the Empire of Songs – and to the unending, magical music that binds its people together. Now, only two free tribes remain.

The Empire is not their only enemy. Monstrous, scaled predators lurk in rivers and streams, with a deadly music of their own.

As battle looms, fighters on both sides must decide how far they will go for their beliefs and for the ones they love – a veteran general seeks peace through war, a warrior and a shaman set out to understand their enemies, and an ambitious noble tries to bend ancient magic to her will.

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