December books I read and more…

My ‘to-be-read’ (TBR) is an enormous towering digital mountain of books. I keep buying books like an obsessed reader but I am writing a lot, and it’s cutting into my reading time. Dammit. A wave of apathy hit me, and I stopped reading, and Netflix binged for a week or two. I needed to get away from the printed word as I work on building a new fantasy world in my new book. Anyway, it didn’t last long, and I am back to reading.

I went through an insane Jenny Holiday thing where I read everything by her. Right? The perfect contemporary romance – witty, emotional, smart. Just finished “It Takes Two” and I have “Merrily Ever After” waiting on the TBR pile. Those books are addictive contemporary romance. Romance crack.

I am a member of my local RWA chapter (San Diego Romance Writers of America), and I love to read books by people I have met. I recently read “Grounded Hearts’ by Jeanne M. Dickson who was up for a RITA in Inspirational. I don’t read inspirational ever but what the heck, I figured I would try. It turned out to be a WW2 historical romance that takes place in Ireland with people for whom religion is an essential component of their life. I loved learning about Ireland during the war. An excellent story with amazing characters.  I was ignorant about the fact that Ireland was officially neutral during WW2 even though Irish citizens served in the British Army.

The other book by a fellow RWA-SD author was “The Glass Gargoyle” by Maria Andreas, book 1 in a fantasy series called ‘The Lost Ancients.’ It was so much fun! I wasn’t expecting so much witty banter in a fantasy book.  Naughty drunk fairies, bonkers adventures, and a strong heroine. Love! I am looking forward to the next book in the series—another one for the TBR!

I had to read book 3 in Kristen Callihan’s VIP series because—well—rockstar romance! I was worried because the hero was a messed up guy with substance abuse issues, but he redeems himself in this book in an angsty, emotional way. He is balanced by the heroine who is strong and sweet despite her harsh start in life. I am really off angsty romance, but Kristen Callihan pulls this off, so this is my angsty romance exception. Book 1 in the VIP series is my fav because I love super emotionally constipated alpha men crumbling in love.

I inhaled “How the Dukes Stole Christmas” because of Tessa Dare, Sarah Maclean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe. Lovely! Dukes, Christmas and four novellas.  There is a shortbread recipe at the center of this holiday anthology. Fun.

I finally read Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea. I loved her writing. Very unique. A morality/spiritual tale. One of the foundational books for the fantasy genre.

I adore Grace Burrowes and her most recent book “My One and Only Duke” was a fascinating spin on the fall-in-love-with the Duke trope. He is a banker in jail about to be hanged, and he becomes a duke, she is a girl “in trouble” who marries him thinking he is about to die. Cue hijinks.

Scarlett Peckham’s The Earl I Ruined is a lovely naughty take on Regency. The heroine is amazeballs – ditzy, self-involved – oddly the most realistic Regency heroine. The plot goes slightly bonkers in a fabulous way, and true love wins even if she is tied up in ropes. 

I am in the process of finishing Grace Draven’s “Master of Crows.” Amazing fantasy/romance.  I adored her book “Phoenix Unbound” so I decided to look at her back catalog. Master of Crows is so imaginative and exciting! Amazing world building. A must read for a Romance Fantasy fan.

I got sucked into listening to an excellent podcast called “Fated Mates by Sarah Maclean and Jen Prokop”. Check out the Fated Mates website - They read and discuss Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. I am a huge fan of Kresley Cole’s, and I have reread those books numerous times. So, of course, I have to re-read them (once again) as the podcasts are released because apparently, I don’t have enough books to read. That Kresley Cole is NOT considered one of the top fantasy genre authors is an affront that must be addressed. I think it’s because she is categorized as paranormal romance. My suggestion is to listen to the first Fated Mates podcast, and you will get sucked into this. In between, they have shorter podcasts on different subjects like Escort Romance or Rockstar Romance. It makes me deeply happy to listen to smart women discuss romance books with the appropriate level of seriousness and giddy fun that the genre deserves.

I downloaded a sample of a “hot” new literary author. Ugh. No quotation marks and first person present tense. Just drive a spike through my head instead. Didn’t buy.

Read Lila Bowen’s A Wake of Vultures. Lila Bowen is really Delilah S. Dawson who writes amazing stuff. Lila Bowen is a character from her steampunk Vampire series. ANYWAY, Wake of Vultures is not a romance but a dystopian fantasy with magic and adventure. Very cool stuff. I am supposed to read “Kill the Farm Boy” by Chuck Wendig and Delilah Dawson, but it’s still on the TBR pile.

And, last but not least, “Vengeful” by V.E. Schwab which is book 2 in her ‘Villians’ series. Book 1 was ‘Vicious’ which was sort of her breakout hit. So interesting, dark and fantastic. I love her writing so despite it being a bit dark (2018 was a hard year for me), I enjoyed it because the characters are strange, complicated and have such depth despite the fact that they are all murdering bastards. Lols.

Have a happy holiday season! Keep reading!

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