Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What I've Been Reading Lately {1.31.18}

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 with 2 comments

January is probably my least favorite month of the year. And as such, I spent most of it reading and listening to audiobooks and generally avoiding real life. Because everything basically sucked this month. I got sick not once but twice, and one of those times my husband also came down with the flu and we were basically useless and awful and thank goodness for our caring, nurturing daughter, who took excellent care of us, despite only being nine. :)

I set my Goodreads goal at 250 books again this year because I just barely squeaked by with that number in 2017 and I don't like to set a goal that's unattainable. But so far, I've read nearly a book a day in 2018, which is pretty promising. I've seen those people who set their goal at 365 and I've always been a little envious of that. Subconsciously, I think I'm working toward that, thought? But it's always easier to read more in the winter months, so we'll see how things go when the weather turns nicer.

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)




Y O U N G   A D U L T


The Cruel Prince* - Holy @#%$!!! That was everything I was hoping for and more! The Cruel Prince was everything I'd expect from a Holly Black novel: suspenseful, complicated, twisty, dark AF, and above all else, deadly. :P And I still can't get enough! Gimme all the murderous faerie books you've got, please!?! But especially because the wait for the next book in this series is going to be pure torture. I loved the faerie manipulations, the never knowing who to trust or what the characters might do next...including the main character. My cruel, faerie-loving heart is bursting right now. This is Holly Black at her best. I may have even enjoyed this more than The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, which I've read six times. o.O This story was just so amazing. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

To Kill a Kingdom* - This book had soooo many things going for it: a gorgeous cover, prince-killing sirens, siren-killing princes, and pirates galore. And on top of that, it's a Little Mermaid retelling. But even better, it's not afraid to be dark, bloody, and brutal, while also exploring the concept of nature versus nurture and what it means to be human. I loved the constant machinations and political maneuverings, as well as how much trust and deception was involved from all sides to get to that savage ending. The romance was quite the slow burn and mostly relegated to the backseat but still so well done, all things considered...full of banter and cheek and life debts. All in all, To Kill a Kingdom was a marvelous debut, even more so because it's a stand-alone, though I wouldn't mind reading other stories set in this same world. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Love, Life and the List* - That was adorable but I also think maybe I've just outgrown Kasie West novels? I actually almost didn't read this one because her last one was only so-so for me. While this is an improvement, it's only slight. I just don't feel the chemistry between her characters anymore, and in this novel, I kind of actually felt like things should have gone differently. 🌟🌟🌟


Prince in Disguise - I know this is a holiday tale akin to those I watched all December long, but my library didn't get it until this week. After seeing some very favorable reviews for this book, I knew I couldn't wait until next December to read it, and I'm so very glad that I didn't. Prince in Disguise was utterly charming and delightful and completely adorable and it's the feel-good read I needed and one I know I'll be revisiting again and again. As it was, I was sneaking chapters at work all day yesterday because I just could not get enough of the cuteness. This book was near perfect...and would have been completely so had there been an epilogue. :P I do love that it left off hopeful and realistically, but I don't think it's asking too much to get an update on how the show aired and was received -- there was a reality TV show filming aspect that was pretty fun -- and maybe a scene from Majorca? ;) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Everless* - I enjoyed Everless and I can definitely see myself picking up the sequel, but I was a little underwhelmed, though maybe that's because I had pretty high expectations going into this. I've seen others calling it unique and praising how it turns clichΓ©d tropes on their heads, but I found the story as a whole rather familiar and entirely too predictable. I wanted to love this book, but I'm thinking that this may be one of those cases where the second book really shines because the world-building and info-dumping has already been accomplished and so the real action can begin in the sequel. Hopefully, it'll have just as gorgeous of a cover as this first installment, too. 🌟🌟🌟

A Poison Dark and Drowning - Gah, I was sooo bored listening to this. I actually put it down for awhile, hoping it was just my mood. And it kind of is because all of a sudden fantasy doesn't seem to be doing it for me. But also, it was a middle book and I just found it all too predictable. And I'm finding it harder and harder to complete YA series these days. 🌟🌟🌟


*ARC received from publisher for review purposes. This does not affect my review in any way.




T H E   C L A S S I C S


The Corinthian - That was delightful! Less romantic than some of Heyer's other stories but what it lacks in romance, it makes up for with adventure in spades. I'm a sucker for a girl who attempts to pass for a boy in order to escape some hideous fate, and Penn's story was rather adorable in this way. And Richard, oh, how he endeared himself to me as her protector, despite running away from a distasteful fate himself. There's just nothing quite like reading a Georgette Heyer novel. It saddens me to no end that I've nearly come to the end of my library/Hoopla's offerings. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Arabella - Man, Georgette Heyer writes some of the best -- unintentional or otherwise -- schemers in historical romance! I can see why Arabella is considered a favorite of her works. And I definitely get the appeal of Mr. Beaumaris. Just the way he attacks the whole situation...and how he treats Ulysses! Be still, my heart! Did I also mention she writes some of the best love interests? ;) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟




R E - R E A D S


Wintersong - My bestie and I buddy-read this one back in 2016 before it was released, and we decided to re-read (er, listen) before we dive into the sequel. I still loved the story, but it didn't have quite the same allure it held upon the first reading. That ending still devastates, but I think it also has a lot to do with how many faerie and fairytale-esque type stories I've read since...and recently. And I love Labyrinth, and I know it's purposeful, but this time around it felt like the author relied too heavily on that premise. That said, I deducted a star from my original rating upon relistening. πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ



Soul Screamers (#1-7) - Every once in awhile, I go on a great purge of my shelves and to determine whether a series or book is worth keeping, I do a re-read. I'd actually already been wanting to re-read the Soul Screamers series for awhile because I saw someone else reading it on GR and I remembered really liking it. But I forgot just about everything else. Like, that it's set in and around Dallas and I've been to a lot of the places mentioned in the books. And that I really, really liked Tod's character. ;) I can see why several, several years younger me enjoyed this series. And I'll be keeping it because I enjoyed my re-read via the Audible Romance Package, as well. Ironically, the only one not available through that program is My Soul to Steal, which was one of the first books I ever won in a giveaway and the whole reason I picked up this series to begin with. 🌟🌟🌟🌟





A D U L T


Kissing Tolstoy - This book was not what I was expecting. First, it was a lot shorter than expected, but if I'd done my due diligence, I would have known that. ;) Second, I'm somewhat wary of student-teacher romances, but I think this one was handled very maturely. Third, I did not expect it to be so...literary. I've only read Truth or Beard by this author previously, and I enjoyed the writing, but it was more fun -- and funny -- than anything else. But I actually became very engrossed in the main characters' discussions on Russian literature in Kissing Tolstoy. I haven't read much Russian literature myself (read: any), but I feel more inclined to do so now. I do wish this story had been a bit longer, incorporating other aspects that were only touched upon, like the daddy issues Hot Professor has -- and that future Hot Professors in this series will also presumably share, based on the preview of the next story -- and maybe a little of what the future holds for this couple. Honestly, it felt like this was only a small chunk of a larger story to be explored later, what with the timeline of the events and how the epilogue felt more like additional chapters rather than a true epilogue. So, I guess I'm just hoping to see more of these characters in future books at this point. :P  πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ

The Foxe & the Hound - I can't believe this is the first book I've read by this author. It was legitimately laugh out loud funny and I may have even yelled at my kid for interrupting me while listening. =) I've never thought of myself as a rom-com kinda girl, but I think that's exactly what I'm turning into. This story was so much fun! The main character was sassy and snarky and a little bit quirky and the narrator for her sounded a little like Reese Witherspoon at times. She was absolutely darling, and the love interest was...interesting: afraid to start anything serious but also completely attracted to the MC, and their chemistry was off the charts. The male narrator was good, and he sounded familiar, though I know I've never listened to anything from him under the name used to record this book. At any rate, I can't wait to read/listen to more from R.S. Grey. I've been debating Anything You Can Do for awhile now, but I'm sold after this novel. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Anything You Can Do - Um, I should have read the descriptions for both of the R.S. Grey books I've recently devoured before diving in unknowing because this one works as kind of a prequel to The Foxe & the Hound. Not that they totally can't be read as stand-alones, but I usually prefer to read things in sequential order. Anyway, I just love a good ole hate-to-love romance. Especially when everyone but the couple in question is aware of how it's going to end. Or at least hopeful of the ending. This story was humorous, scintillating, and kind of adorable, especially the memories of the two of them battling it out (and their feelings) and those swoony emails. I am now an honest to goodness fan of R. S. Grey. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Governess Affair - Probably not the best one to start with for my first Courtney Milan novel. But it was a short story and the beginning to a series, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Not my best idea, to be sure. This one was short and sweet but kinda boring all the same. Think I'll hold off on any more of her books for a bit till I forget the blandness of this one. 🌟🌟


Neanderthal Seeks Human - What an adorably quirky love story! This is the third book I've read by Penny Reid and I think I finally get it. The others were cute and funny, but this one was downright CA-YUUUUTE! I loved the opposites attract romance, with Janie being the oddball, fact-spouting heroine and Quinn being the strong, silent type. But even with that, there was always open communication as their relationship evolved. I liked the peek at the other ladies in the knitting group, especially how they handled that one situation, lol, and I can't wait to pick up the next book in the series. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Friends Without Benefits - Yep, it's decided. I love the Knitting in the City series. Though, I will say that this installment was far more angsty than the previous book. I loved Janie and Elizabeth's friendship in Neanderthal Seeks Human, and I was looking forward to seeing her get her own happy ending. I did not expect her to fight it so hard, though. Especially with a guy like Nico. I don't think that this one will go down as my favorite for that reason, but I still enjoyed it and can't wait to read about the other knitting ladies. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Love Hacked - So, I'm going to hazard a guess that by the end of the series, all of the Knitting Ladies are going to live in the same building, lol. In all seriousness, I found this story to be more, well, serious than the previous two books. But what it lacked in humor, it made up for in steaminess and in general awwww. I honestly don't know if I've read a romance like this one before, with a cagey younger love interest and no real sense of where it was going. I do appreciate the author's ability to weave all of the knitters' lives together the way she does, though. Looks like Ashley's up next, and I might be more excited for this one since I've already met the Winston brothers. :) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Beauty and the Mustache - I am thoroughly enjoying the Knitting in the City series. And I liked the first book in the Winston Brothers series well enough, despite not loving the female narrator for the audiobook. And I really thought I'd love Ashley's book, especially because she was the only sister in a family of bearded brothers. But despite the fact that her love interest was a poetry-spouting Viking-like version of Charlie Hunnam, I just didn't feel the spark with this couple. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Joy Nash once again narrates this novel? I won't know for sure until the 6th book in the Knitting series, which she also narrates, and then I'll make my final judgment on that aspect. I still enjoy the elements of heartbreak and owning up to your feelings and even the small hints of danger that the author throws into each book, but I think this one was my least favorite so far. 🌟🌟🌟


Neanderthal Marries Human - Cute. And had I listened to this in the correct order, I would have had more insight into the other books before they happened. As it was, I already knew the details of three of the remaining six knitters' romances. But I think I liked going back to see the beginning of some of them. I think that Janie and Quinn are still my favorite couple, and I loved seeing their happily ever after come to fruition. Also, the Quinn POV was kinda awesome, especially since this wasn't just the first book from his perspective. Nope, this was getting engaged and planning a wedding and getting stoned at a bachelorette party -- from both characters' point-of-view -- and it was pure fun. 🌟🌟🌟

Ninja at First Sight - So, that was adorable. I love that Fiona got a prequel, as she's the only one who starts out the series married and I didn't know how interested I'd be in only reading about marital bliss...or misery, as the case may be. I'm really glad I went back and listened to this one before starting Happily Ever Ninja because it made me curious and I think I love Greg the way the rest of the Knitting Ladies do. Plus, until now, I'd had no idea he was British. So, yeah, it was good to read this one first... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happily Ever Ninja - I actually considered skipping this one. I hadn't read any of the novellas in this series when it came up next in my queue, and so I didn't see how this couple met and I just didn't think it'd be all that fun reading about an old married couple with kids. I'm living that dream myself and well, it's not exactly exciting. :P But I wanted to see this series through, get to know each and every knitter, so I forged ahead and listened to Fiona's story...after listening to Neanderthal Marries Human and Ninja at First Sight. And it was not boring at all! Fiona came out of CIA retirement and finally knowing Greg made a world of difference. Also, despite some crazy circumstances, their marriage -- and all the trials and tribulations that come with it -- felt real and genuine. They weren't perfect but they endeavored to be happy, and that's kind of all that matters. 🌟🌟🌟

Dating-ish - I have now read the last available book in the Knitting in the City series, and I gotta say, I adored this couple. (And I'm even more intrigued by Kat and Dan's story!) I think what I liked best about this installment was the uncertainty and vulnerability each character lent to the story. While all of their friends could see what they meant to each other, they had a hard time believing it themselves, and it was rather sweet. And now that I have no more knitters in my life until March, I'm going to reminisce on how tight-knit (ha!) this whole group is. I don't just mean the Knitting Ladies themselves, but how their significant others were brought into the fold, how they became friends with one another, but even better, how they became friends with the other knitters, some even joining the knit nights. I'm so glad I finally read these books, but I also think it'll be good to move on to something else...at least until Kat and Dan's story is out of the bag. =D 🌟🌟🌟🌟


Secrets of a Summer Night - I've been wanting to read this series for awhile, ever since I read Devil in Winter so that I could read the next book in The Ravenels series, but I've been hoping my library would get it on audio. No such luck. And they're not available in the Audible Romance Package either. So I went ahead and downloaded all of the ebooks. =) I've never been disappointed by Lisa Kleypas, and while this one was different and long, I still loved it. It felt a little disjointed midway, like it branched off into a second book, but it worked to get the couple their happily ever after. Since I'd already read Evie's book, it was kind of nice seeing her again in this one, when the Wallflowers band together initially to find each other husbands. I'll definitely re-read that one after I read the next one in this series. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Must Love Otters - This story could have been adorable, but it was just soooo over-the-top. And the main character was so vapid and annoying and, gawd, just so tangentially-challenged. Like, my mind tends to wander and it might take me a minute to find the thread of conversation again, but this girl couldn't have stayed focused if her life depended on it. I'm all for starting over and checking out new opportunities and losing what isn't working in your life, but it all just felt too easy for main character Hollie...you know, besides all of the unbelievably crazy situations she finds herself in. And they were the cringe-inducing sort of predicaments, not the adorable, happenstance variety. I was really hoping for more with this one... 🌟🌟




Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!



2 comments:

  1. OMG you've read so much! That's awesome. Wish I could read that much. My main goal is five books a month and I totally failed that this month, because I got the flu. Great post and Happy Reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it helps that I listen to audiobooks all day while I'm working. :) I definitely didn't feel much like reading when I got hit with the flu, either, so I feel you. Happy reading!

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