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Blog Description:

A book blog with book reviews plus a smattering of parenting, art, cooking, and more. Looking for audiobook recommendations, new cookbooks, Very Serious book reviews, much less serious book reviews, and some photos of Austin? Please come say hi.
Blog Added: March 01, 2018 09:16:38 PM
Audience Rating: General Audience
Blog Platform: WordPress
Blog Country: United-States/Texas   United-States/Texas
Blog Stats
Total Visits: 434
Blog Rating: 4.00
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Latest Obsessions

Music I can’t stop listening to M.I.A.’s album Matangi. HOLY SHIT it is so good. I’ve had it on repeat for 2 weeks. At the end of September there is a documentary about M.I.A.... The post Latest Obsessions appeared first on Shrew and...

Music

I can’t stop listening to M.I.A.’s album Matangi. HOLY SHIT it is so good. I’ve had it on repeat for 2 weeks. At the end of September there is a documentary about M.I.A. coming out and I am going to be first in line at the theater. I adore her music and I can’t wait to learn more about her life.

Cover of M.I.A. album Matangi

 

Bikes

I don’t know why this happens but occasionally I get obsessed with a new hobby. Right now it is bikes. Do I even have a good bike? No. I am thinking of buying a Specialized Diverge but OMG bikes are expensive! I’m also worried about my neck hurting on a road bike, but there is only one way to find out. I have to ride a bike. Is that going to be harder than looking at pictures of them on a computer? Probably. I’ve also been watching Erik Nohlin and Rita Jett’s progress on the North Cape 4000, a 4200 km bike journey from Italy to the Arctic Circle. It’s fascinating. I also watched the short documentary Length of Sweden about their 7-day 2100 km ride in Sweden, which was too short but so good. (I had to make an account on Vimeo to view it but it was easy to do and I could watch it through my Roku.)  I don’t know how human bodies have that kind of endurance, it’s impressive.

Length of Sweden film poster

 

Gym

I joined a weightlifting gym a month ago and I’m already feeling stronger. It’s not Crossfit but it is the kind of place where people lift kegs and sandbags and push sleds of weights. It’s so fun? I don’t even know who I am any more. I love it. My classes are women-only and it’s the best to have a bunch of strong ladies all together in that gym. I even like it at 6:30am and I don’t like anything at 6:30am.

Books

Still reading romance? Yes. Fully. I also picked up a mystery this week for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, which I am still trying to complete. I owe you a review of the most recent Alyssa Cole book, A Duke by Default, which just…. Five stars. You really don’t need a review, just buy the book and read it and love it.

Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole cover

Other

It’s almost the end of our first school-year summer! J was in art camps most of the summer and really burned out toward the end. She was not happy about having to go to camp day after day. And honestly I was not happy about sending her. I spent my summers growing up in mostly unstructured environments, playing in the creek behind our summer house where I stayed with my grandmother, playing with my cousins at their house, hiking, and playing kick-the-can or board games at night. The day camp scene is basically 12-month school. Don’t run! Don’t jump! Be there at 8:30 and leave at 5! Pay attention to the teacher! It’s the most guilt I have felt as a parent. Right now she is in camp at the same place where she goes after school during the year, which is the most amazing woman who takes 12 campers at a time at her house. They go on adventures on the city bus, they play outside, they walk to the neighborhood pool a few times a week. It’s pretty unstructured. Maybe next year she can do all summer at that camp.

The post Latest Obsessions appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



June 2018 books

It’s really just June romance novels, because that is all I read this month.   Here is my monthly wrap-up: The good, the bad, and the terrible. And 3 missing from the picture (The... The post June 2018 books appeared first on Shrew and...

It’s really just June romance novels, because that is all I read this month.

12 book covers

 

Here is my monthly wrap-up: The good, the bad, and the terrible. And 3 missing from the picture (The Governess Game by Tessa Dare, Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian and Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean) because for some reason I couldn’t make a grid of 18. All the links go to goodreads. I had a big sports romance binge this month, which… I don’t know where that’s coming from. I want to be a jock? Idk.

(A) denotes audiobooks.

* Denotes ARCs publishing later this year.

Faves:

Kulti by Mariana Zapata — Sports romance with a hispanic athlete heroine! VERRRRRY slow burn. Set in Texas! Big book hangover from this one.

*The Governess Game by Tessa Dare — this book will be published on August 28, 2018 and you should add it to your to-read list now! This sequel to the Duchess Deal stars Alexandra and the Bookstore Rake. YAASSS.

The Kiss Quotient (A) by Helen Hoang — Autistic econometrician heroine hires a male escort to educate her in the bedroom and be her fake boyfriend.  Lives up to the hype.

The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan– Interracial M/M romance set just after the American Revolution. Hilarious, touching, sweet, smart piece of the Worth Saga. See my review. 

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian — nonbinary heroine and bisexual hero. Described by another reviewer as *hella* queer, and it is. So good.

*For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell– Publishing September 2018, full review TK. Female Indiana Jones + period James Bond with a touch of Amelia Peabody.

Pretty good:

One Night in London by Caroline Linden– A widow seeks custody of her niece, but runs into problems when a duke steals her lawyer. Then the duke helps her…. *WINK*

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean –A lock-picking heroine and a bastard who is the king of Covent Garden meet on a balcony outside a ballroom. See my review here.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me (A) by Mariana Zapata– Sports romance, fake marriage, maybe a lil enemies to lovers, very cute. Slow burn.

Burn for You by J.T. Geissenger– Set in New Orleans, a fake marriage between a mixed-race restaurant owner and a grumpy white billionaire. Could not stomach the audio for this one, read the ebook.

Edge of Glory by Rachel Spangler– Sports romance with Olympic athletes, a snowboarder and a skier, training together.  F/F

Romancing the Inventor (A) by Gail Carriger– Steampunk F/F with werewolves, vampires, and a French inventor with dimples.

Real Kind of Love by Sara Rider– Fake relationship family vacation, very fun!

MEH:

For the Win by Sara Rider– Cute romance with a great heroine, spoiled by an unlikeable jock hero.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (A) by Angela Dawe– an embarrassing audiobook to listen to, very unsexy language (DAMP). Tepid heroine, excellent autistic Scottish hottie hero, murder mystery.

Most Valuable Playboy by Lauren Blakely– Straight up jock-hairdresser sports romance with pretty cute modern characters but not much zing. Feminist as heck, high five for that.

UGH:

The Duke and I (A) by Julia Quinn– A rare one-star review because SPOILER ALERT! Tricking your husband into impregnating you is wrong and gross and horrible. YUCK. Mortifying audiobook, super awkward sex scenes. Hero has major baggage because his father was a jerk and now he is a jerk, too.

Lord of Scoundrels (A) by Loretta Chase– Libertine hero Dain (this guy would definitely have syphilis irl) marries his friend’s sister.  Dain has serious baggage and self-loathing thanks to his dad. This book and The Duke and I both had heroines who tried to fix the heroes and it’s just something problematic for me, maybe. Also mortifying dirty talk.

 

So that was June romance! Check out my May romance summary if you like.

 

 

 

The post June 2018 books appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



Review: The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan

  The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan was originally published along with stories by Rose Lerner and Alyssa Cole as part of the anthology Hamilton’s Battalion, and is being published on its own as... The post Review: The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan appeared first on Shrew and...

Cover of Courtney Milan's book "The Pursuit of..." two men looking at each other

 

The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan was originally published along with stories by Rose Lerner and Alyssa Cole as part of the anthology Hamilton’s Battalion, and is being published on its own as a novella as of June 26, 2018.

If you were to describe this romance briefly, you might glibly say it’s an interracial gay romance between soldiers in the American Revolution. Because that sounds kind of odd and eccentric and probably not very good to read. But DAAAYUUUM. I have read several Courtney Milan novels and novellas and this may be the best one yet. The characters were well-developed, complementing each other in every way. Henry is a rich, white, titled (treasonous) Brit who can’t stop talking and wants to run away from responsibility. John is a freed slave who is slow to warm up to Henry and feels the weight of his responsibility to his family.
The story begins at the Battle of Yorktown, where John has Henry at the point of his gun but lets him escape. Grateful, Henry accompanies John on foot from Virginia to Rhode Island to look for John’s family. As they make their way across the country, John warms up to Henry and, well, this is a romance novel. It is also a funny romance novel– there is the best banter in this book! Henry is a blabbermouth and John is quiet and serious, but slowly comes out of his shell. It is also a smart book (of course, it’s Courtney Milan!). Henry is British but has memorized the preamble to the Declaration of Independence and is entranced by the depth of its meaning, or at least he thinks he is, before John points out the obvious glaring omission in “all men are created equal.” Henry is not overtly racist (yes you can be racist and in an interracial relationship!) but has to reconsider the meaning of privilege for a white man. Both characters evolve through the novel, without angst. Milan tends to write self-actualized characters who learn their lessons easily, and this novella is no different, but the humor and smarts really make it pop. I didn’t miss the angst.
The Worth Saga is a great series and I thought I had read it all until this ARC popped up in my mailbox! I hope its independent release will get some people through the wait for the next book. I’m also going to read the other novellas from this anthology, because they look fantastic. You can also read my review of After the Wedding by Courtney Milan, the latest in the Worth Saga.

Courtney Milan always hits the spot for escapist literature with a serious social justice angle and plenty of diversity. Her themes of equality and fairness are always refreshing, and she just writes good romance. This book hit the spot for me because of the humor.

Five stars!

I am thankful that I was provided an e-book ARC free of charge by the author. My opinions are my own.

 

 

The post Review: The Pursuit of… by Courtney Milan appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



Book Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

Devil will do anything to keep his brother Ewan from violating their agreement to get revenge on their father by ending the line– no heirs. He assures on-the-shelf spinster Felicity Faircloth that he can... The post Book Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean appeared first on Shrew and...

Devil will do anything to keep his brother Ewan from violating their agreement to get revenge on their father by ending the line– no heirs. He assures on-the-shelf spinster Felicity Faircloth that he can win her a duke (Ewan), with the idea that he will send a message to Ewan by ruining her before their wedding. But things get complicated when Devil and Felicity fall in love.

Cover of Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean, a woman sits in a window in a pink dress

Wicked and the Wallflower is my third Sarah MacLean. I’ve read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (LOVED! So good.) and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (meh).  So I was ready to go either way on this one.

Our hero: Devil (WICKED)

Devil’s origin story, along with his siblings, will be the foundation of the series, but it was a bit overwrought. Our hero, Devil, is the bastard child of a Duke– one of 3 who were born on the same day. The cruel duke put the boys in a kind of Hunger Games situation where the best one was to become his heir (for reasons, he needs an heir).  Devil and his brother Whit escaped, becoming crime bosses in the gritty Covent Garden, and their brother Ewan remained behind to inherit the duke’s title. The boys have sworn never to allow the duke to have heirs, to get revenge on their father, but Ewan arrives in town and seems to be seeking a wife. Devil and Whit engineer a plan to prevent Ewan from succeeding, involving…..

Our heroine: Felicity Faircloth (WALLFLOWER)

Our heroine, Felicity, is on the shelf and has been ostracized by her [jerkwad] society friends. Felicity wants to reclaim her place in society rather than abandoning it altogether, and in her attempt to do that she announces that she and Ewan are engaged after things get weird at a ball (where she also meets Devil on the balcony).  Devil strings Felicity along with his plan to marry her to Ewan, and as she gets to know Devil she becomes more enamored of him as well as his life in the rookery.  Little does she know that Devil is using her as part of his plan to keep his brother from marrying and producing heirs. She is also ignorant of the fact that her family has lost all their money and is counting on her marriage to bring in a fortune. There are a lot of things this woman does not know, but she does know how to pick a lock. For some reason.

Our story: Wicked and the Wallflower

So we have the complex background story of the Bareknuckle Bastards who are the foundation of the series (plus their sister who I haven’t mentioned), we have Felicity’s family’s money problems, Felicity’s society problems, Devil’s plan to submarine Felicity’s engagement to the duke, Devil’s feelings for Felicity, and Devil’s business in the rookery.  There is a lot going on in this book, and there is a lot to like but it’s easy to get lost in the bits and pieces. For all of the descriptions of Felicity’s brazenness and Devil’s darkness, they weren’t as well-portrayed as, for example, Calpurnia in Nine Rules. Calpurnia was OVER IT with society after being on the shelf for so long. Felicity is teetering on the edge of society, and although I followed the story of her being pulled deeper into the world of the rookery, I didn’t FEEL IT. This book felt very heavy on descriptions but didn’t manage to dig into the characters’ emotional depths. Maybe the characters’ motivation got lost in the complexity of the storytelling. But overall, Felicity is a strong heroine and Devil is an enticing hero. He is loyal to the people who work for him in the rookery and to his brother and sister. These problems may just arise from being the first in a series, it seems like romance series have to have all the exposition for the series in the first book. I’m a monster and start reading series in the middle with romance, and I’m starting to think I’m on to something because of this first-in-series problem.  It’s definitely worth reading, but I’m guessing that the next books will be even better.

3.5 stars for this Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean! I would recommend it as worth reading.

My thanks to Edelweiss and Avon Publishing for providing me an ebook ARC free of charge. My opinions are my own.

Want more Romance recommendations? Check out my Romance reads from May, 2018 or my review of Courtney Milan’s After the Wedding.

 

The post Book Review: Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



Romance Reading

Well, I have completed my conversion to Romance reader. It is officially not just a phase. Looking at my May reads, Romance reading has taken over my life. I read 20 books in May... The post Romance Reading appeared first on Shrew and...

Well, I have completed my conversion to Romance reader. It is officially not just a phase. Looking at my May reads, Romance reading has taken over my life.

Covers of the 20 books I read this May, mostly romance

May 2018 reads

I read 20 books in May and DNF’d one (The Hooker and the Harlot, which got off on the wrong foot with some icky sexual harassment). Goodreads is being glitchy right now, there is one missing from this which is Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare. Two outstanding books were The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and A Princess in Theory (I’m going to start sending this book to all my friends who I’m trying to convert into Romance readers).  The biggest surprise was Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter which I read based on a recommendation in a Facebook group. The recommendation was for a light read so I looked it up and here’s the cover.

cover for the book Let's Get Textual by Teagan Hunter, a black and white photo of a shirtless man

Romance novels are so weird. This looks like it would be the dirtiest sexting book! But it was light and sweet, with a clever meet cute, and had one of the funniest endings I’ve read. I’m learning not to judge a book by its cover or title in this genre! It seems a given that Romance novel titles and covers can seem super dirty or cheesy and hide a really sweet story. I guess that is part of why this feels like such a discovery for me, like a secret garden hidden behind a wall of urban decay. Let that be a lesson, I guess.

The audiobooks I read were Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (for book club, which I missed anyway, after trudging through this book that I thoroughly despised) and Melt for You by J.T. Geissenger. Both had excellent narrators.

I read Angels’ Blood for the Austin Public Library Romance book club, which was super fun and I can’t wait to go back. I didn’t love the book but discussing it with other real humans made me so happy. For June, the book club is doing free choice of LGBT novels for Pride month. I’ve already read two that I adored– The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Monty, the main character, is bisexual and it’s a love story with him and his best friend Percy who is gay) and the very sweet story of two Jewish lesbians in Knit One Girl Two by Shira Glassman. I’m currently reading my first Gail Carriger, Romancing the Inventor, which is a steampunk vampire lesbian novella(!). I chose it because it’s narrated by the excellent author and narrator Emma Newman.

May was a good month for Romance readers following the #RomBkLove hashtag hosted by Ana Coqui. I learned about a lot of new authors and found a ton of new books to read. It’s also been the month of #cockygate, which…whoa. If you ever wanted to know exactly what Romance authors are made of, it’s backbones of steel …and a few law degrees. All About Romance issued their Top 100 list, a reader’s choice list that is overwhelmingly WASP/straight/neuro-typical/etc. I’ve read 15 books on the list so far, and a lot of these books are on my to-read list but it is disappointing that the authors are so homogeneous. Romance has numerous outstanding authors who are not white/straight/neuro-typical and it’s one of the best things about the genre. I hope that AAR embraces that diversity soon.

June is going to be a crazy month with our first kid having a real school summer! We’re driving to a different camp each week which is going to make life interesting. I’m holding my breath. And it’s already SO. HOT. in Austin. At least it’s good reading weather!

 

Are you a Romance reader? Another favorite Romance I’ve read recently is After the Wedding by Courtney Milan.

The post Romance Reading appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



Book Review: How to Walk Away

Margaret’s boyfriend Chip ignores her fear of flying and takes her for a ride in a Cessna to romantically propose even though he hasn’t earned his pilot’s license yet (WTF, CHIP?). A strong storm... The post Book Review: How to Walk Away appeared first on Shrew and...

book cover for how to walk away by katherine center, red background with a propeller airplane and flowers

Margaret’s boyfriend Chip ignores her fear of flying and takes her for a ride in a Cessna to romantically propose even though he hasn’t earned his pilot’s license yet (WTF, CHIP?). A strong storm blows the plane arse over teakettle. Badly injured, Margaret has a long road to recovery in the hospital, where in addition to attempting to walk again she will have to deal with her sister Kit’s antics, trying to figure out if she still has the dream job she just landed, and her demanding but handsome Scottish physical therapist. And of course Chip, who escapes uninjured, will have to deal with the consequences of his dumbassery.  How much can Margaret endure, and how will she put her life back together?   How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is chicklit at its best.

I don’t want to dig in too much on the plot, because you should discover it for yourself. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone who enjoys reading about family relationships, finding your feet again after trauma, and hot Scottish physical therapists. It’s also quite funny, and wraps up with some hilarious and sweet escapades in Belgium. The theme of recovering after trauma is heavy, and Center doesn’t flub it or make it saccharine-sweet. Being in the hospital sucks, and it’s hard, and that is all there in the book. Center also handles the issues of disability very well, and is not complimentary to her characters who engage in ableism. I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that we have a happily ever after in this book.  It’s a 5-star chicklit book.  Pick it up! It’s romance but it is totally closed door.

Looking for more romance? Check out my review of Courtney Milan’s After the Wedding.

My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free e-galley of this book. Full disclosure: I went to school with Katherine in Houston. Her family is lovely.  My opinions are my own.

The post Book Review: How to Walk Away appeared first on Shrew and Snail.



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