Finally a blog entry, right? Work has gotten insane on me. One of our own went out on disability to get her knee replaced (surgery went well, and recovery is too – yay!), but we’re all doing a little backfilling to pitch in. Couple that with all the beginning of the year crazy and the cold Brian shared that just won’t go away, and it’s a miracle I’ve been able to write at all.
Which is to say that blog entries might be sparser (once a week and irregular?) until March. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s more than time for the winter reading list. The students came back last Monday and I’m officially late. So, here’s all the things I’ve read since the fall, and what I thought of them. I know… I did say there would be less book reviews in the new year. I’m still mostly holding to that. But I also said the Reading List was something that would stay. This one wins the award for most books ever (if that’s an actual award) with 53.
I hope you find something to like in this batch.
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean – I’m basically in love with this woman and consider her books to be the best thing ever. I have never seen Informed Consent in a romance novel, and not only does MacLean do it, she does it so it’s SUPER hot. Basic rule for all the MacLean books that follow? READ THEM NOW.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Beautifully written, but I just couldn’t get into it. For some reason, I just felt like I had read this book before. It didn’t offer me anything new.
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – Again, a very pretty book with not a lot of exciting things to offer. I decided not to continue with the series after this one.
The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean – A runaway in the wrong (or right, if you like super hot guys) carriage trope, only this one is done remarkably well.
A Scot In The Dark by Sarah MacLean – It’s like if the naked celebrity selfie problem went 17th century on us. Crazy well done. And who doesn’t love a lady who ultimately saves herself?
A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean – A marriage of convenience novel in an illicit gaming hell. He’s trying to keep her “pure.” Sign me up, please!
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean – Another in the gaming hell series, and just as good as the first.
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean – This one might actually be my favorite of all the Lord of Scoundrels series. The lady the duke supposedly killed turns up alive, and of course sparks fly.
The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery – A comfort read that I’ve memorized parts of, and don’t read often. It’s such a gem of a book, and I think I got more from it this time than I did as a teen. She’s saying important things about women and relationships in this one.
Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover by Sarah MacLean – OH so good. I love the secret that is the premise of this book, though I won’t spoil it for those who are planning to read the others. And who doesn’t like a newspaperman hero? I ALWAYS do. My FAVORITE of the Lord of Scoundrels.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I’m probably a horrible person, but I just couldn’t get into it. I think it’s because Kvothe annoyed the CRAP out of me, and I didn’t want to spend any time with him.
Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede – I don’t know why I keep returning to this book, because it really isn’t my favorite – it’s too long a timeline and too rambling to be About anything. But Wrede’s world and alt-history is SO fascinating. That’s what I go back for, I guess.
Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer – This hilarious book is all letters back and forth as the two girls confront separate problems in the country and in town that ultimately end up being related. Combines Wrede’s awesome alt-history world with regency romance and is perfection. Bonus points? It reads like it was fun to write.
What Matters in Jane Austen by John Mullan – I think this book is for people who aren’t history-buffs and totally crazy about the Regency. I learned a little bit, but not as much as someone else might have. Also, I felt kinda “meh” about it. I struggled to get through it, though ultimately was glad I did.
Do You Want to Start a Scandal by Tessa Dare – A couple of mystery lovers tryst in a room that both the Hero and Heroine happen to also be in, and they’re blamed. Now they have to get married, which seems like a hardship but really isn’t after all. It was definitely a solid novel, but not a favorite or anything.
That Scandalous Summer by Meredith Duran – It’s a marriage of convenience novel, where the hero needs the heroine’s money to keep a hospital he runs open. I read it all the way through, but ultimately didn’t feel it was great.
Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas – I actually hated this book. It was basically the plot of “Splash” in 18th century form, but it got a little rapey and awful in there. I wouldn’t recommend.
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase – Oh, so great. The heroine is trying to pry her brother away from the hero’s terrible influence. She’s super-smart, he’s fairly oblivious, and things are basically perfect. I would 100% recommend this novel.
Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase – Love this novel, too. It’s an already betrothed but fell for someone else totally unsuitable trope, where the hero falls for his fiancé’s dressmaker. Unique, though, because there’s genuine affection between the hero and his fiancé, just not romantic love. So great, I kept picking up her books.
Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase – Dressmakers #2, and it features a delightful heroine who sneaks into all the Ton parties to report on the latest fashions. So great. Would recommend.
Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese O’Neil – Totally hilarious and disgusting (in a good way) in every way. Ever wanted to be a romance heroine? This will cure you. And leave you laughing.
The Young Blood by Erin Satie – I loved this book a bunch. It was well written, and the murder scene was horrifying while still serving the story. It lost a few points for me for deus ex machina balloon rides, but all in all I would recommend.
Lady Sophia’s Lover by Lisa Kleypas – I was out of stuff to read, and so I DID go back to the Bow Street series, despite my reservations. This one was better than the last, but still not that great.
Secrets from the Eating Lab by Tracy Mann – Such a cathartic and helpful read. I’ve read a ton of books and evidence about how diets don’t help, but Mann takes it farther and tells you how to live healthfully at any size. Finally a course of action that won’t kill me!
Romancing the Beat, Story Structure for Romance by Gwen Hayes – Very helpful as I was planning my Nano novel this year, which was a romance. And a quick read, which was also nice.
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman – Oh, I love this man so much. I got a little bogged down in the section that’s all commentary on comics and things because I don’t read that genre, but otherwise it was magical to read his thoughts on things.
Red Rose by Mary Balogh – I hated this book completely, was 100% turned off by the way she treated her disabled heroine, and didn’t finish it.
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – I loved this book so much that I started my own project this year. I’ve almost totally dropped it 3 months in, but I did change several significant things that seem to be really helping me feel better about myself.
Geoducks are for Lovers by Daisy Prescott – I mean, it was the usual contemporary beach house romance, complete with wishy-washy reason for the couple to stay apart. But it was well written, at least.
The Rogue by Katharine Ashe – While I really loved the tension between the hero and heroine, I also felt like the book was missing something. Maybe because it’s #4 and they’re not as stand-alone as everyone hoped?
Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt – The plot was pretty great, really, as was the hero and heroine traveling through the slums after a secret. I think I can’t give it full marks, though, because of a needless almost-rape.
His Mistress by Christmas by Victoria Alexander – Uh, no. This book annoyed the CRAP out of me because there seemed to be no reason at all for the two not to at least schtup each other, and they didn’t. And it was repetitive. I read about 75% of the way through before I gave up in disgust.
The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig – Maybe the best Christmas book I read this year. An intrigue with puddings, silly and not too smart but still drool-worthy men, and much Christmas goodness. Hot, but no sex.
Oh Horrid Night edited by Amber Newburry – This is the book I’m in! I had a fun time reading everyone else’s stuff, which was oh so creative and very creepy.
All I Want for Christmas is You by Nora Roberts – it was fine, but nothing to write home about. The kids were cute, the romance just fine. I have nothing to criticize. But, I also have nothing to praise, really.
Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams – I actually liked this book quite a lot. The fellow in the relationship was a pastor, and so I thought it might be sickly religious. Not so, though. And very solid, with plenty of hotness and a story line that seemed natural.
A Christmas Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield – A sweet holiday romance in which the spunky and awesome heroine falls for the father of the house, who’s mad at himself because he thinks she’s engaged to his son. Sweet.
A Family for Christmas by Noelle Adams – It was written well, but I felt like this missed the mark for me. They were both missionaries, and for some reason I didn’t feel like I really identified with them, though the writing and story were both solid.
Twas The Night After Christmas by Sabrina Jeffries – A cute and steamy novel about a man and his estranged mother. The guy falls for his mother’s companion after she tricks them into reconciling. He was a little too creepy at first, but I ended up liking it.
What A Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes – This was one of my FAVORITE Christmas novels this year. It features a Scot, a train escape, an awesome wardrobe, and a precocious daughter. I didn’t want it to end.
Three Nights Before Christmas by Kat Latham – The heroine is an ex-con and a train engineer, and watching her story unfold was great. Especially because her brother and the hero are such funny guys. Plenty of Christmas goodness, too. Also, the ugliest sweater EVER.
Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan – A VERY cute tale that made me want to at least explore reading the rest of the series. Plenty of skiing and coziness, along with a mean mother and a teen to adore.
The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia Grey – I got REALLY angry with the hero in the first chapter and refused to read the rest of it. The verdict is a resounding No.
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton – Oh, I love this book so much. I was skeptical because of the title, but the hero and heroine are both so quippy, and they both have a hilarious posse of friends, and it’s hot all the way through. Yes please.
Once Upon a Highland Christmas by Lecia Cornwall – Another one of my favorites this year. The villagers are such well-written characters, and I loved the Lady and Lord, and the way gossip traveled. They both stubbornly held to marrying others beyond the point of reason, but I still think it worked. Would recommend.
The Undervalued Self by Elaine Aron – This was an interesting read, and I think it was good for me. The difference between ranking and linking situations, and how we rank when we should link sometimes, has been very helpful.
A Bad Boy for Christmas by Jessica Lemon – I was not really a fan of this one. Eventually things get kinda sweet, but the hero in the beginning is a little creepy about his need to “protect” the heroine and it never quite recovered enough for me.
How A Lady Weds a Rogue by Katharine Ashe – This book had all the good parts of an amazing novel, but it somehow didn’t grip me. I found my attention wandering even as I enjoyed it. I recommend? I gave it 4 stars on Amazon.
Seducing Mr. Knightley by Maya Rodale – downtrodden and shy advice columnist known as Dear Abigail reverses things and asks her readers for advice on how to seduce her crush. Which happens to be her boss. Nothing to do with Jane Austen (closer to Never Been Kissed, the movie), but features a newspaperman. Yum.
Grin and Beard it by Penny Reid – It’s the 2nd book in the series, but it’s OH so good and can stand alone. National Park ranger and movie star fall in love. She has an amazing career, is Latina, and also a size 14 and totally sexy. So is he, bear-trapping and all. It sounds cheesy, but it’s really not. It’s perfection.
Beauty and the Mustache by Penny Reid – I read the book above and HAD to read the entire series. This one is technically part of the “Knitting In The City” series, but it features their sister and is also considered Winston Brothers 0.5. A sad book since it features the death of the MC’s mother, but also a beautiful love story. And you HAVE to love that gaggle of friends.
Truth or Beard by Penny Reid – The 2nd book in the series. Two hometown haters fall in love when the girl mistakes the guy for his twin and things get hot. Full of sassiness, too. I almost said this one was my favorite so far, but I don’t think I can, really. It’s impossible to pick.
Beard Science by Penny Reid – I was worried about this one because I don’t really think of Cletus as being romantic. But he definitely is. And this book may be the funniest yet because the heroine is so great. She’s smart but sheltered, so it’s an interesting combination with Cletus’ slyness.