Tag Archives: Romance

Review: Kisses and Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson

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Kisses & Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson
My Overall Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Passion flared in his eyes, and he took her mouth again in a kiss that seared her to her soul. In a moment, they must pull apart, their two bodies un-melding, but for now she savored every second.

I breezed through this anthology because the stories were exactly what I needed at the time: short, lighthearted romances with a touch of historical ambiance and a guaranteed HEA. Without going into too much detail on such short stories, I’m just going to sum up a couple key points about each one.

Five Wicked Kisses: 2 of 5 stars – I kept getting really distracted (and upset) by the coercion in this story, which wasn’t long enough to dive into such morally fraught waters.

Maid for Scandal: 3.5 of 5 stars – While totally unbelievable, this story was hilarious. It would have had a slightly higher rating if I hadn’t been so annoyed at the heroine’s naivete, but I suppose that was also part of the story’s charm.

The Piano Tutor: 4 of 5 stars – This was definitely my favorite of the bunch, and I think it was because the heroine was more mature. The plot also worked excellently as a short story.

To Wed the Earl: 3 of 5 stars – Of all the stories, this was the one I most wanted to see developed into a full-length novel. I kept finding myself wanting to know more about the characters, the financial mystery, and the side relationships.

As someone who doesn’t often read historical romance, I was happy with how this one turned out. I have had Passionate on my TBR for about a year now, so maybe it’s time to give that one a try.

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Top Ten Tuesday: A Valentine’s Day Rainbow

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For those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new theme and everyone is invited to join in! (Note: all book cover images in this post link to the book’s Goodreads page.)

Today’s Theme: Ten Books in a Valentine’s Day Rainbow

This week’s TTT is a Valentine’s Day freebie, so I decided to go with a color theme 🙂 As a result, this mini collection includes a pretty wide variety of romantic stories, including Adult and Young Adult, Contemporary and Fantasy, Series and Standalone. There’s even a novella thrown in.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)  Fated (Servants of Fate, #3)  First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)  Fangirl  A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – (YA, Retelling/Fantasy, Duology Book 1) – This is my favorite book of those I’ve read this year so far. The setting is absolutely stunning, and it’s perfect for being whisked away for a few hours.

Fated by Sarah Fine – (Adult, Mythology/Fantasy/Apocalyptic, Trilogy Book 3) – I love Sarah Fine’s work because it never fails to draw me into the story 100%. This is the third book in her adult series, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones – (Adult, Paranormal/Chick Lit/Urban Fantasy, Series Book 1) – A fun, quick read that is full of snark, this is a prime example of a beach book.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – (YA, Contemporary, Standalone) – One of my favorite YA novels, Fangirl is an excellent valentine’s day read!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – (YA, Retelling/Fantasy, Series Book 1) – This one is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling with fae lore thrown in, and now is the perfect time to read it, since Book 2 is coming out in May.

Die for Me (Revenants, #1)  Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)  Wife by Wednesday (The Weekday Brides, #1)  Entwined (Darkest London, #3.5)  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Die for Me by Amy Plum – (YA, Paranormal/Fantasy, Trilogy Book 1) – This is a perfect choice for fans of romantic paranormal YA! To top it off, the series is set in Paris, the author’s home, and is full of romantic Parisian atmosphere.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – (YA, Contemporary, Companion Trilogy Book 1) – Another YA set in Paris, this one is contemporary fiction and ALSO full of romantic Parisian atmosphere 😉

Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee – (Adult, Contemporary, Series Book 1) – This is probably the most stereotypical romance novel on this list, but it is also a quick, fun read with a satisfying ending.

Entwined by Kristen Callihan – (Adult, Fantasy/Steampunk, Series Prequel Novella) – Despite being a companion novella to a larger series, this is a good representative of Callihan’s work, and the novella is perfectly enjoyable on its own. It is also one of my favorite novellas in general, and I think of the story as a loose retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac.

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – (YA, Contemporary/LGBT, Standalone) – This one was tied for my favorite 2015 read. I can’t recommend it enough 😀

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What books do you read around Valentine’s Day? Do you read romance or avoid the genre altogether? Link you own TTT in the comments so I can check out your freebie theme!

Minute Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories, #1)
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamourist Histories, Book 1)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

The room had vanished, its walls replaced entirely by arching trees; the ceiling, a sky overhead which shimmered with the light of stars and the moon. The trees rustled in response to a conjured breeze, which carried with it hints of jasmine and the pleasant, spicy scent of loam.

This is a sweet, quick romance, full of the imagery of a Regency English countryside, and I really enjoyed it. The hint of fantasy added a flair to the usual Austen-esque themes without turning it into a full-fledged fantasy novel.

Recommendation: Read this if you are intrigued by the idea of Regency romance with a touch of fantasy, or if you’re curious about the artistic possibilities of folding glamours.

Minute Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician Trilogy, Book 1)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Remember that you are much different now than you were an hour ago, Ceony. Before you merely read about magic; now you have it. Denying it won’t make you return to ordinary.”

This is a lighthearted and whimsical story with wonderful characters, humans and enchantments alike. It did read a little bit like a debut novel, but that’s alright, and I’m looking forward to continuing Ceony and Emery’s story in The Glass Magician.

Recommendation: I highly recommend this if you love quirky magician stories, dogs, origami, and/or intellectually adorable characters.

Side note about genre: I’ve seen this categorized as both Adult and Young Adult Fiction. It fits pretty well into both categories, and I think readers of any age can enjoy this story.

Review: Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg

Dream Boy

Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dream Boy by Mary Crockett and Madelyn Rosenberg is a paranormal/fantasy, young adult, standalone novel. It tells the story of Annabelle Manning, a Dreamer whose vivid dreams have started becoming reality. The story also has a fair amount of romance and some horror, but to me, this is essentially a coming of age story.

“You know, when we were kids, anything seemed possible. That’s what everyone told us: we could be whatever we wanted. If we could dream it, we could be it, right? But we had to grow up first. We had to do what they told us to, read what they told us to, think what they told us to. So we go along, doing, and reading, and thinking, just like they said. And every year that we get bigger, the world gets smaller. Until all those things we’ve been telling ourselves were possible–all the things we’ve been thinking were maybe already happening–they don’t even make a blip on the radar anymore.”

Annabelle lives in a small, quiet town, full of people she’s known all her life. She goes to a typical high school with all of the typical cliques. She has a handful of wonderful, quirky friends, including Will, her encyclopedic, snarky best friend. She doesn’t see anything unique or special about herself, but of course, she has that in abundance. As The Dreamer, she has the power to bring dreams to life. Too bad she wasn’t aware of this role until too late.

This YA “coming of age” story has an interesting mix of paranormal fantasy, romance, and horror elements thrown in:

Regarding the paranormal fantasy, I loved the concept of dreams coming to life, especially because Annabelle was completely in the dark as the story got rolling. I’m sure there are other stories along these lines, but this was a first for me and it was definitely my favorite aspect of the book.

Regarding the romance, I felt it was very light. While Annabelle does have several romantic moments throughout the story, there isn’t much build up or romantic growth. At any given point, she is either in a relationship or she isn’t. While this didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story, it didn’t really add to it, either.

Regarding the horror, there are some creepy nightmarish scenes, but not enough to put this story fully under the horror umbrella. (Though beware if you have a snake phobia.) As a reader who loves suspense but generally avoids horror, I thought this aspect of the story added some enjoyable depth to the novel.

To tie these elements together, the writing style kept the story moving along at a good pace, and there was an abundance of teenage snark to keep me entertained in between the action scenes. My biggest complaint is that the ending was really abrupt. I suddenly found myself at the end of the last page with a look of confusion on my face and feeling sad that I wouldn’t get more of a wind-down.

In the end, all of this added up to a 3-Star rating for me. (It would have been an easy 4-star if not for the abrupt ending.) I would definitely be interested in reading more from Crockett and Rosenberg if they were to write more in the YA genre.

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

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For those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new theme and everyone is invited to join in!

Today’s Theme: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

At first I was worried about being able to come up with a list of ten, but upon looking back through my books I realized that there are a ton of great bookish characters! Here are some of my favorites. Note: all book cover images link to that book’s Goodreads page.

Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)  The Kraken King  (Iron Seas, #4)  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)  How to Handle a Heartbreaker (The McCauley Brothers, #2)

Archimedes and Zenobia Fox (Iron Seas series) – (Adult, Steampunk) Archimedes and Zenobia are brother and sister and they each have their own book in Meljean Brooks’ Iron Seas series. Zenobia is a pretty obvious book nerd, being the prolific author of a wildly popular serial, The Adventures of Archimedes Fox. Archimedes is more of a research book nerd, delving into any source he can find for hints of potential adventures and archaeological discoveries. Here is my review for Zenobia’s story, The Kraken King.

Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) – (Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy) You can’t get much more book nerdy than Hermione… 🙂

Abby Dunn (The McCauley Brothers series) – (Adult, Contemporary) Abby Dunn is the heroine of the second book in Marie Harte’s McCauley Brothers series, though she crops up frequently throughout all the books. She is a romance author herself. I’m such a sucker for main characters that are also authors… Here is my review for Abby’s story.

Die for Me (Revenants, #1)  Grim Shadows (Roaring Twenties, #2)  Darkness Dawns (Immortal Guardians, #1)  Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1)

Kate Mercier (Revenants series) – (Young Adult, Paranormal) Kate is the main protagonist in Amy Plum’s Revenants series and she is a self-professed introverted book nerd. She spends most of her free time reading or visiting Parisian art galleries. Not to mention the fact that she totally kicks butt as a heroine! Here’s a link to my review for the first book in the trilogy, Die for Me.

Hadley Bacall & Lowe Magnusson (The Roaring Twenties series) – (Adult, Period, Paranormal) Hadley and Lowe are the protagonists in the second book of Jenn Bennett’s Roaring Twenties series. Lowe is an archaeologist, Hadley is a museum curator, and they are both obsessed with research and ancient artifacts. Books even play an integral role in the plot of Grim Shadows. Here is a link to my review.

Sarah Bingham (Immortal Guardians series) – (Adult, Paranormal) Sarah is the heroine of the first book in Duvall’s Immortal Guardians series, Darkness Dawns. She’s a professor and has a collection of paranormal romance novels on her living room bookshelf. This fact is one that Roland, the hero, notes in hopes that she won’t run away screaming when she finds out he’s more than human.

Honoria Todd (London Steampunk series) – (Adult, Steampunk) Honoria is the heroine of the first book of Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk series. She is a brilliant researcher, focused on finding a cure for the blood-craving virus that eventually leads to vampirism. In pursuit of this, Honoria is constantly reading and studying. This is the book that drew me into the world of Steampunk, and I can’t recommend it enough to romance lovers!

Pride and Prejudice  Northanger Abbey  After the End (After the End, #1)  The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)

Elizabeth Bennett & Catherine Morland (Jane Austen, of course!) – (Classics, Regency) First we have Elizabeth Bennett, known to be a book nerd to anyone familiar with the story of Pride and Prejudice. Second we have Catherine Morland, the heroine of Northanger Abbey, a much less read Austen novel. Catherine is a young woman obsessed with Gothic novels who stays with friends that happen to live in an old Gothic monastery. Adventures born of an overactive imagination inevitably ensue 🙂

Juneau (After the End duology) – (Young Adult, Paranormal) Juneau is one of the protagonists in Amy Plum’s After the End duology, one of my favorite series read this year! Juneau grew up in a very secluded community that had a limited library, including a bunch of classic books and a complete set of a 1980s edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Obsessed with learning about the outside world, Juneau has pretty much memorized every single book and volume. Here is a link to my review for After the End.

Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings trilogy) – (Fantasy) It’s been many years since I’ve read this one, but I remember Frodo being pretty enthralled by all of Bilbo’s books and the adventures they chronicled. It’s pretty appropriate given his own grand adventure.

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Let me know about your own top ten in the comments!