Reading List

I’ve finally decided to just dive in and read whatever takes my fantasy in the moment, rather than trying to complete those damn reading challenges I’ve been obsessed with. It’s been good fun, and, although it took me a while to schedule the reviews… because it took me a while to write them, it’s been fun. Motherhood and competing in BJJ = a hectic life.

Series

Short story collections

Standalones – Novels

Code of Honor by April White

Overview

Title: Code of Honor
Author: April White, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Cipher Security #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I absolutely loved this romance, it was fun, cute and adorable. It just makes me want to dive right into the next and the next and the next Smartypants Romance book. Which honestly always happens when I read one of these books. I’ve also had a great new author to add to my shelves. Finally, the creation of this romance was so damn wonderful that I can’t wait to read Code of Matrimony – Colette was so lovely and sweet in this and I look forward to getting to know her better in the next novella, when there are wedding bells on the horizon.

Darius’ description as a Disney prince is yummy. I also like how he has a POC background and how this is responsible for some of his hang-ups. I mean, his parents flee from Israel because of political persecution, which then informs his whole life. Completely understandable. But he then becomes so rigid in these lines he drew for himself that he almost let’s Anna get away. That’s not even starting on the racist bullshit that is touched on within this glorious novel…

Anna is too gorgeous. Totally get what it’s like to have a broken filter and not really be capable of lying. I mean, I wish that I could control my facial expressions and mouth and actually lie. However, unlike real life, this is really endearing in a romance novel. Though I wish I had her super ninja powers. The fact that she learnt all of her ninja powers to be more like her DnD character…even more stupid in love with this character!!

Seriously enjoyed the mystery and crime that tied them together. The whole story was a bit open ended how that was left though. I might be a bit of a sucker, but I love it when there are consequences for the bad guy. Maybe it’ll happen in the follow up novella? Now I’ll just have to dive in in the hopes that the bad man gets his comeuppance.

<- Code of ConductCode of Matrimony ->

Image source: Goodreads

Carpentry and Cocktails by Nora Everly

Overview

Title: Carpentry and Cocktails
Author: Nora Everly, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Library #5
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I knew Willa and Everett’s story was going to be adorable from their first glimpses in Crime and Periodicals. But I didn’t quite expect this level of intensity. Or outside drama. I mean, I knew Willa had crap to deal with, but I didn’t quite expect either of their baggage to be so intense. Which, of course meant that it was seriously difficult to put this down and go to bed at night…

Everett’s issues were a little bit less intense than Willa’s, and I also found them to be a little bit disjointed. He has so many self-confidence issues with women because of his geekiness.  And the fact that women don’t want a hot, geeky, lumberjack in their lives. Personally, I just can’t picture this. I mean, who would NOT want that man in their lives and their bed? Maybe his issue is actually shyness, or I’m just projecting because that’s what I’d want in my bed…

Unlike Everett’s backstory, Willa’s actually broke my heart a little bit. Firstly, she has a mother who is just horrible and passive aggressive. Then there’s her ex-husband who is seriously terrifying. I mean, it doesn’t matter if he only hit her once. The man is a damn stalker and bully. It definitely hurt to read about. But then there’s her sisters. They’re freaking amazing. Like Ruby in Crime and Periodicals, Gracie is full of sassy teenage spunk. Spunk that helps her older sister find herself. (Not to mention that Ruby makes plenty of appearances too). And Sadie and Clara are most definitely “crazy sisters” but are willing to kick butt and take names in solidarity with their sibling.

Carpentry and Cocktails is yet another fantastic SmartyPants Romance and Nora Everly tale. It has all of the great cameos from other stories and hints at the next Monroe brother to fall. It was a constant struggle to try and out this book down, one that I honestly didn’t fight too hard against. One that I look forward to picking up again and again in the future.

<- Shelf AwarenessLove in Deed ->

Image source: Amazon

Shelf Awareness by Katie Ashley

Overview

Title: Shelf Awareness
Author: Katie Ashley, SmartyPants Romance
Series: Green Valley Library #4
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I know that this is a romance. And I did most definitely love the lead couple Zeke and Finley. But I’m sorry. The true dream team in this story were GramBea, Dot and Estelle. They are freaking amazing and wonderful. And in every scene, they’re in, they completely steal the show. I definitely love stories with tough old birds who are done with not being themselves, instead loving running riot on the world. That, and the fact that they’re able to beat a potential badge to a pulp with their handbags. Iconic scene there.

Finley finding her husband cheating as the catalyst for her life change and move isn’t really a new mechanism of change. However, the fact that this happened with a man. Wow, that was a whole new twist. One that I really really appreciated, mostly because I seemed to have read a chunk of books with the whole cheating spouse as a driver in a bit of a hit. So, having a guy cheating spouse? It was a fresh new spin and a great way to give Finley some more challenges to overcome beyond being cheated on.

I loved how Zeke’s main challenge to overcome is in finding his bio family. For him, part of that is a positive journey, the other part, not so much. Interspersed within all of this is the ways he is co Stanley challenging Finley. Taking her cosplaying might be one of my favourite literary dates. Again, it was just adorable and fun to read about. And have a thing for geek men.

This was a gorgeous romance, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to read again. Katie Ashley has definitely been added to my pile of loved authors. But what I loved the most about this was that throughout the whole story, Zeke and Finley help each other to heal from their past hurts and move on. They figure out who they are without losing themselves in a new relationship.

<- Prose Before BrosCarpentry and Cocktails ->

Image source: Marieke’s Books

Witchy Vol. 2 by Ariel Slamet Ries

Overview

Title: Witchy Volume 2
Author: Ariel Slamet Ries
Series: Witchy #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Graphic novels, LGBTQI, MagicWitches
Pace: Fast
Format: Graphic novel
Year: 2022

Thoughts

I freaking loved this graphic novel. I mean, I loved the first volume, so it makes total sense that I loved the second one. But I actually think that I loved this a little more. Maybe because now that most of the world building and backstory has been solidified, Ries was able to dig a bit deeper into the particulars of Nyeve.

Everything about this tale is beautiful and complex. It is a great journey all on its own, but there’s also this great sense of social commentary as well. Every moment of this made me reflect on the world that I live in, the biases and restrictions that we place on the “other”. It’s amazing how provocative and emotive the imagery throughout this is.

I do love how Nyeve marches to the beat of her own drum. Throughout all of this people are trying to twist and shape her to their own idea of rebellion and future. Trying to show her how to go against the grain, but to do so by fitting THEIR preconceived idea of how that looks. And it’s when she decides to truly be herself and ignore all the ideas of other people that she truly comes into her own.

There are lots of bits of Bananas past that are slowly coming to light throughout this graphic novel. I want to believe that he is good and going to be a great guide for Nyeve. But there’s that lingering feeling that he might be the source of some serious betrayal in the future. I just can’t wait to find out if I’m right or wrong!!!

<- Witchy Vol. 1More Ariel Slamet Ries ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

Kissing Galileo by Penny Reid

Overview

Title: Kissing Galileo
Author: Penny Reid
Series: Dear Professor #2
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

Something about Penny Reid’s contemporary romances always makes me think. She manages to find characters that are unique and question the generalities of the genre that I often have come up against. In the case of this novel, it was Emily’s job that made me pause. I kept expecting it to be one of the obstacles that the couple had to get over. And it wasn’t because it SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN. But my bias definitely reared its ugly head there.

Anna and Luca’s story was definitely adorable and fun, and Emily has a way of stealing the show a little in some of those moments. Which meant that getting in her head left me with all of the happy feelings. She’s exactly as neurotic, fast thinking and downright adorable as I had expected. From the very first part when she’s explaining the different stages of nakedness, I was smiling and giggling.

I love how Victor’s biggest hang-ups are around body image and how people have perceived him in the past. I don’t often read books that feature a man that a) is the one who has a past of obesity, b) has severe body image issues, and c) is completely obsessed with how people look. In literature, it’s normally an area that is focused on women, but in reality, it’s not just women who experience this. Again, Reid is able to take a part of our daily realities that isn’t often seen in ink. And make us fall completely in love.

Emily and Victor are a fantastic couple, and I loved every bump in the road that they come across. The mentions of Marie and appearance of Abram from other Reid series just cinched my happiness with this story. I honestly loved everything about this and can’t wait to read it again and again and again.

<- Kissing TolstoyMore Penny Reid ->

Image source: Goodreads

More Than Sexy by Carly Phillips

Overview

Title: More Than Sexy
Author: Carly Phillips
Series: Sexy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

This is a very cute and easy contemporary romance. It’s simple and enjoyable, with a small touch of drama to liven things up. Jason is mentioned a few times in other Dare stories, so it was interesting to read about this enigmatic nightclub owner. It also leads perfectly into the next two books in this trilogy.

I enjoyed the idea that Faith is on the curvier side. She is (in my mind) a typically shaped and curved woman. I find a lot of stories feature women who are described in an almost otherworldly beautiful way. Faith on the other hand is still described as magnetic and beautiful, but in a way that is actually realistic. It’s also her personality and actions that draw Jason in, not her looks.

The other aspect of Faith that I loved was that she damn well knew how to stick up for herself. The moments when she goes toe to toe with Jason over his inconsiderate behaviour were some of my favourite throughout this book. She may be a nurturing, passive, sort of woman, but she’s also 5ough as nails. The kind of woman that j might not be able to completely relate to, but one that I did enjoy reading.

This was such a fun and light contemporary romance. It was very simple and light. Jason and Faith are a very cute couple and a fun one. Although Jason’s background is a little tragic and I can’t wait to find out more about the other two men in this tragic trio.

<- Take Me NowTwice as Sexy ->

Image source: Amazon

Jock Hard by Sara Ney

Overview

Title: Jock Row
Author: Sara Ney
Series: Jock Hard #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

I did pick this up a while ago and read the first page, but then I got distracted. Which happens way too often. Anyway, this was phenomenal, and cute and everything that I love in a good romcom book. It’s a little cliche, the whole jock with a need. But, I’m a nerd, so I do feel that understanding and attachment. I wouldn’t mind a gender bend if this, but that’s a discussion for another day.

Rather than chapters, this story was split into days of the week. Mainly Fridays. I enjoyed the unfolding courtship of Scarlett and Wade was pretty dang cute. Particularly when they spend a lot of Fridays getting to know one another. I specifically enjoyed how traditional drinking games were used for the two to really get to know one another. Never Have I Ever might not be a game I ever played in university, but it’s definitely a unique way to get to know someone else.

Scarlett’s awkwardness and overenthusiasm in the opening chapter was just a little bit too relatable. I too often get verbal diaspora when I’m a bit nervous and too excited to be out and about in public. The fact that she did this to two complete morons just made it all that much rekatable. Honestly, the only difference is that I’ve never been kicked out of a party… just scared people off with my enthusiasm…

Jock Row is a fantastic new adult romance. It’s cute and sweet, with a couple that grows to respect one another for exactly who they are. I loved Scarlett and Rowdy. But I really wasn’t loving Scarlett’s friends. I mean, there’s moments of yay for their friendship, but mostly it was kind of dismissive. Having had friends who have treated me similarly and finding later in life that they’re toxic… it was a bit tough at times when reading this.

<- More Sara NeyJock Rule ->

Image source: Amazon

Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Overview

Title: Rosemary and Rue
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Fae, Paranormal romance, Urban fantasy
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2009

Thoughts

Holy crap. This was amazing. Like, phenomenal and wonderful and amazing. Although, I’m already completely in love with Seanan McGuire’s writing. So, it’s not really surprising that I loved this novel. Yet another fantastic series that I get to sink my teeth I to… now I need to FINISH some and stop finding new ones…

My brain most certainly got stuck on the whole saying goodbye to your family for 14 years. Particularly your little girl. I spent a lot of time while I was reading this novel glancing over at my beautiful daughter and just eye-beaming her with all of my love. I really and truly hope that later on in the series, Toby is able to reconnect with her child. Surely there will be a moment at some point throughout the series (I say with eternal hope).

The betrayal that occurs in this story is pretty ridiculously epic. And incredibly heartbreaking. There’s a whole lot of history that goes into Toby’s story, and when you realise who is responsible for all of the death and mayhem. And also, that final death that truly made a tear come to my eye… I definitely didn’t see any of it coming. Which, of course means that I loved it.

Rosemary and Rue does great justice to the fae and folklore. It doesn’t paint them to be kind and generous. Or welcoming to humans of any kind. Rather, they are predatory and incredibly wrapped up in their own drama. Also, beings of a totally different reality. The shifts and cracks in the many alliances and future challenges Toby is likely to face are already apparent in Rosemary and Rue. Again, making me want to dive right into A Local Habitation.

I’m being very hopeful that in future books, not only will Toby reconnect with her daughter, but also that she will be able to smooth things over with Julie. I hated that there was a rift there. I’m pretty sure Tybalt will eventually be the love interest, so I’m also looking forward to that…

<- More Seanan McGuireA Local Habitation ->

Image source: Amazon

You Don’t Know Jack by Erin McCarthy

Overview

Title: You Don’t Know Jack
Author: Erin McCarthy
Series: Sexy in NYC #2
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2006

Thoughts

I wanted to like this novel a whole lot more than I did to be honest. I mean, I kind of absolutely adored The Pregnancy Test, and I figured the lead in to the next book in the series would hit that same happy place. But it just didn’t quite happen for me. Not that I didn’t enjoy this. But I definitely didn’t love this story as much as I had hoped.

Probably my favourite part of this story is the psychic that Jamie consults. They (I’m a bit confessed on chosen gender here) are freaking fabulous and hilarious. The fact that their prediction helps to snowball Jamie decision making process is all that much better. I also love in that that scene when Jack finally gets to meet the legend and is just all confusion. Having said that, one of the things about Jamie that I struggled with was the one dimensionality of her interactions because they were based around the whole prediction idea.

Normally when a Meet Cute happens because someone is stalking, I’m immediately throwing up red flags. I mean, not the greatest reason to stumble into someone’s life to be honest. But the fact that Jack is aware that he’s being creepy and is just too damn bored to care… that actually made it kind of funny and less weird. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be retired at 30 odd and just, at a loose ends as to what to do with your life. Again, it makes for some kind of humorous interactions.

You Don’t Know Jack is a good romance, and a nice, light read. But I did find a lot of the characters throughout to be really one dimensional. Which made it hard to quite connect with them the way I wanted to. Hopefully the next and final, book in the trilogy gives me that emotional connection I’ve been craving.

<- The Pregnancy TestHow to Get Lucky ->

Image source: Goodreads