Comfort Reads M/M Romance Edition

Hi all! Don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated this, but I’m in California, which has now been put under a “stay-at-home” order. I’ve been under “shelter-in-place” for a few days now. I’m surviving by vlogging my experience. Talking to a camera helps a lot. If you’re interested, here’s my playlist.

I’ve seen quite a few people posting comfort reads and wanted to hop on the train. I’ll do it with a different twist. I’m going to post exclusively M/M romance books.

So, full disclosure: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles might be just a little bit too heavy for right now. It deals with a magical curse that’s trying to kill one of the main characters, Lucius Vadurey, and dead bodies and evil stuff. But the characters are so good and the plot is so interesting, you might not mind that. Plus, K.J. Charles writes some of the hottest sex scenes and this one has some great ones. It’s also one of my favorite M/M historical fantasies, so I had to include it.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is the most romantic romance book I’ve ever read outside of Jane Austen. It’s such a great premise too: the son of the president falls in love with the Prince of England. It’s enemies to lovers (although they aren’t enemies, they didn’t like each other very much) and there are love letters. Super good love letters. This book is fun and squishy and romantic and absolutely lovely.

If you’re looking for a lovely read about magic, 1920s, Prohibition, a gumpy magic user and a protective non-magic user, this is for you. Arthur and Rory are <i>amazing</i>. I love how protective Arthur is of Rory and how good he is. And Rory is a fire starter. It’s a great book and the sequel is coming out sometime this year. I’m trying to get an eArc of it, but no reply yet. 😐

Really, anything by Cat Sebastian is perfect for this time, but I just finished A Gentleman Never Keeps Score and I remembered how much I loved It Takes Two to Tumble, so I’m highlighting these two. The first, It Takes Two to Tumble is basically The Sound of Music set in the 1800s (or 1700s) and they’re both men. Ben Sedgwick is hired to instruct Philip Darce, a ship captain’s, children. In the process, they fall in love. In A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Sam Fox comes together with Hartley Sedgwick when Sam tries to find a dirty portrait painted of a friend of his. In the process, they fall in love. They’re both just lovely, sweet, and very easy to read. And, seriously, check out any of Cat Sebastian’s books.

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes hires Jerry Crozier to steal some diamonds from his father. Upon meeting, they find themselves attracted to each other and eventually, you guessed it, fall in love. But, oh man, can K.J. Charles write a love declaration. She bowls me over every time. Any Old Diamonds is so much fun, a rollicking heist, with hot sex and romantic words.

No Good Men by Thea McAlistair is another great novel. Alex is a bodyguard by night and a writer whenever he can get it in. When he gets distracted by a handsome stranger one night, his charge and mentor are killed and the police want to pin it on him. He and the handsome stranger, whose name I think is Sev, team up to solve the murder. It’s a great book with a lot of romance and I may have to reread it. 🙂

Any of the Hexworld books by Jordan L. Hawk are great. They’re set in a world where some people can shift into animals and are familiars of magic users. They are stand alone, but have an overarching plot. They’re a lot of fun.

Okay, I’m starting to get repetitive, so I’m going to leave this off here. I hope this list was helpful to any M/M fans who are looking to escape. But, really, anything by KJ Charles, Cat Sebastian, or Jordan L. Hawk will get you through this. Take care and stay healthy!

Reading & Writing Goals for 2020

Hi all! What a week! I’ll go into it more during my weekly wrap-up, but it’s been something of a roller coaster that I’ve just wanted to desperately get off. And this weekend is continuing it at bit. I just need a day to relax and breath, you know?

Today, I’m posting about my reading and writing goals for 2020. I’ve seen people do it on various blog, and thought I’d give it a go.

Last year, I read 120 books. My goal had been 100, but I admittedly low balled is because I think I had ended up reading 116 in 2018. So, I knew I’d probably read more than 100.

This year, I’ve set my goal at 120 which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. If I just do what I did last year, I’ll meet it, right? Of course, last year, I read 20 books in one month, and I don’t know if I’ll do that again this year. So, maybe it will be harder for me to hit that goal. I am already 1 book behind.

In addition, I have a goal to read or listen to one non-fiction book a month. This will probably fall into the realm of self-improvement, since I get really excited by those kinds of books. One of the books will definitely be the RBG book I’ve been meaning to read since October. Since I’ve already listened to once non-fiction book this year, am almost done with a second, and am in the middle of a third, I think I’ll hit this goal.

I don’t really have any goals for genres. I think I read a pretty wide variety as it is. Plus, I’m happy with what I read. I guess I could try to read more classics, but I don’t know if that’ll actually happen. Scratch that; I do want to get back to reading Agatha Christie books. I’d read a few some years ago, really liked them, then just stopped. So, I’ll try to read at least… five this year.

Writing Goals

My writing goals are as follows:

  1. Finish my NaNoWriMo novel. I got sort of intimidated by what I needed to do to get to the ending and just stopped writing as much. Plus, the holidays and getting back to school interfered. I did managed to get through the major fight scene and am now in the down stretch, so it should only be another few thousand words or so. This is a doable goal.
  2. Start revising my other novel, which is, sadly, under the working title “Sorcerer’s and Vampires” because I have no idea what to call it. I’ve been taking it to my critique group and getting lots of feedback on it, but because I wanted to finish the other novel, I haven’t been revising it yet.
  3. Write a synopsis for the novel I’m revising.
  4. Come up with a fantastic query letter for that novel.
  5. Start querying by the end of the year.

I think that’s doable. I just need to get some things in order and start writing again. I love writing, but I’ve been so overwhelmed recently, it’s been hard to find the motivation to write.

Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash

Personal

Even though this is a reading/writing goal list, I’ll throw a few personal goals in as well.

  1. Ideally, I want to run one 5K a month. However, I don’t think that’s feasible from a number of standpoints, so my goal is to do at least 5.
  2. I want to get tone and lean and stick to my workout regiment.
  3. I want to track my spending and finances more closely and really understand what I’m doing with my money.
  4. And, even though I have no control over this at this point, I want to be chosen as one of the teachers to go on a three week trip around the country to interview inspiring educators through RoadTrip Nation. I’ve applied, and now it’s out of my hands, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Those are my goals for this year. What are some of yours? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky at Eternity Books. Each week, participants are given a topic and invited to respond. This week’s question is, ”  Do bloggers/reviewers have to review every book they read?”

My answer? Goodness, I hope not! I definitely do not review every book I read, nor do I want to. There are several reasons I might not review a book, and I’ll get into them below. First, though, I think I should clarify my status as a blogger/reviewer. I’m doing this as a fun hobby. I started this blog to share my love of books, and I don’t intend for this to be a source of income. I mean, I’d love to monetize my blog and be able to live off it, but it’s not going to happen. So this is something I do for fun and, as such, I have no obligations to review everything I read. I get to pick and choose what makes me happy to talk about and, the moment it stops being fun, I can step away.

That being said, there are a few instances where I might force myself to review a book. If I’m granted an ARC on NetGalley, or if an author were to send me their book and ask me to read it, I would do my utter best to review it. That’s a source of pride for me, but if something were to happen (like I got hurt or sick, work was insane, family disaster, etc.) I wouldn’t force myself to review a book. It would take backseat.

Some books I read, I don’t want to review. Sometimes, I’m too close to them and love them too much to want to open myself up about them. For example, I am probably never going to review Beauty by Robin McKinley. I love that book too much to want to examine it through a critical eye. Some books, I have nothing to say on. They’re not good or bad, but they don’t excite commentary. I’m also hesitant to review personal growth books because they are so personal. They either speak to the reader or they don’t, and I’m not quite sure how to review them. However, now that I’m not doing stars in my blog reviews, it’s a little easier.

So, no, I don’t think bloggers and reviewers have to review every book they read. Sometimes, they should just get to read for the sheer joy of reading and not have to share their thoughts. We deserve a break, too!

What do you think? Should bloggers and reviewers review every book they read? Drop a comment below or a link to your blog!

Top 10 Tuesday Nov. 19, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Top 10 Changes in My Reading Life.

  1. I listen to audio books after rejecting them for many years. The first time I tried to listen to an audio book, I hated it. I don’t generally like being read to, and I just wasn’t liking sitting there listening when I could be reading so much faster. But, last year, I decided to give it another chance, and found I really enjoyed the experience of listening to a book while I drove to work. Nowadays, I mostly listen to non-fiction, but it’s still a fun experience.
  2. I’ve started reading ARCs in the past year. I read a few before, but those were only when I managed to get to a convention. I didn’t think I’d be able to get anything on NetGalley because my blog wasn’t big enough, but the community encouraged me and I gave it a try. Lo and behold, I was approved!
  3. I’m trying to branch out in my tastes. I still don’t think I’m going to be reading much high fantasy (I’m not really a fan of dragons, for example), but I am reading more books that I’d passed over before, like Six of Crows. The best part is I’m realizing I really like books with fantasy elements, so that’s good.
  4. I’m rereading books less than I used to. It’s not that I don’t want to reread books, but there always seems to be such new and exciting books that have just come out, I have less time to reread than I used to.
  5. I’m going to the library more. One thing that changed is I started getting tighter in my budget, but I also stopped wanting to own every book in the world. Since I’m rereading less, it made less sense to keep every book I read and just keep the ones I know that will be reread and loved.
  6. I’m reading more than I used to in a year. When I first started doing the Goodreads challenge, I never though I could read fifty books in a year. That’s almost a book a week and I work full time. But, I found time every day to read and right now am a 107 books. Let’s hope I can keep it up next year.
  7. I’m also kind of reading less than I was earlier this year. I was reading about ten books a month for a while, then I got really into writing again. Now, writing has taken precedence over reading, so I’m back to not reading quite as much.
  8. I’m reviewing almost every book I read. I always wanted to, but not enough to actually do it. But now that I have a blog, I make an effort to put my thoughts out there and tell people what I think.
  9. I’m more up-to-date with what books are coming out. I used to know only when books I cared about were coming out. It’s the same now, but I care about so many more books and keep tabs on them.
  10. I spend a lot more time thinking about books and the market and what’s popular than I used to. Having a blog really helps keep me aware of the vast bookish life

Those are my 10 changes. What are some of yours? Tell be below or leave a link to your list!

Top 5 Authors I NEED to Read

It’s Top 5 Tuesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by The Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is Top 5 Authors I NEED to Read.

This is kind of a hard one for me. I don’t know many authors I need to read that I haven’t. So… I’ll do my best.

Leigh Bardugo. Okay, technically, I’ve read her before since I read the Six of Crows duology, but that’s all I’ve read of her. I’m super interested in reading The Ninth House. I just need to see if the library has it since I’m not buying books right now.

V.E. Schwab. I’ve read nothing by this author and I’ve heard nothing but good things about her. I need to get on that.

C.J. Archer is another author I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t. I’m super intersected in Her Majesty’s Necromancer for awhile now, but haven’t gotten around to reading it.

Cassandra Clare is another author I’ve technically read, but I’ve only read the Infernal Devices series by her. I want to read more.

Abbi Waxman is the last author I’d really like to read. I heard her on the podcast #AmWriting and thought her books sounded interesting. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Those are the 5 authors I NEED to read. What are some of yours?

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is “Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?”

I think yes, for several reason. First, books don’t really have a target age. Publishers, stores, and libraries categorize books based on what they think the audience is, but that doesn’t mean those categories define who is allowed or not allowed to read them. They’re grouped together as a guess as to who would enjoy them the most. Children tend to enjoy books about children and animals. Teens like books about teens. Adults often like to read about the lives of other adults. But that doesn’t mean the books are solely for them. I doubt most authors are crying over the fact that there’s a huge population of adults who love, buy, and read children’s books. It means those authors did their job. I can’t think of anyone who wants their book to only be appreciated by a narrow audience. They want their stories to be read by as wide a population as possible.

It goes both ways, of course. Should children be reading adult books? And, yeah, if they’re ready. There are some books that kids aren’t ready to be reading, but they aren’t going to gravitate those. They’ll read books they can understand and feel comfortable with. For example, many years ago, a fifth grade student went to her teacher upset because the book she was reading mentioned condoms and safer sex between adults (the mother of the main character) . She didn’t want to read it anymore. She clearly wasn’t ready to read that book, and that’s fine. I, on the other hand, sought out romance and even sexually explicit books when I was a preteen. I got an elicit thrill, and I got to read about safe, consensual relationships between adults. On the other hand, I’ve never been old enough to read the book A Child Called It, and I never will be. But it’s hugely popular with fifth and sixth graders to this day. Different strokes.

Books shouldn’t be kept in cages. Stories are universal, no matter what the publisher stamps as the age category. Not allowing people to read the books that they want is banning books, and that’s not okay by any stretch of the imagination.

Two quotes to sum up my thoughts:

Well, in all my years I ain’t never heard, seen nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about.”  Hopkins, 1776 (Replace “talked about” with “read about” and that’s where I stand)

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” C.S. Lewis

Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s discussion question is, “What are some tropes/characters that you think are poorly or under represented in books? “

So this is going to seem weird after my passionate defense of sexual content in YA last week, but I think that asexuality and teenage characters who aren’t ready to have sex are under represented in books. And, of course, those are two totally separate situations.

The way I define asexuality is a lack of sexual desire. I know there are many degrees of asexuality and asexual people who have sex, but my basic definition is someone who doesn’t have the desire to have sex. I like the way it was defined in Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, where the main character said something to the effect of, “You know how some people don’t care about running? Well, that’s me. I don’t care about sex.” While that’s not how I personally define asexuality for me, it’s pretty damn close.

There are some books out there about people who are asexual. I’ve read three: Let’s Talk About Love, The Girls Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee, and All the Wrong Places by Anne Gallagher. I also know there are more books coming out or that are out. But it’s not a widespread thing and I would like to see it more normalized.

The second under represented trope is teenagers who aren’t ready to have sex. It seems like any romance with teenagers ends up, at some point, with the teenagers choosing to have sex. And, like I said last week, having sex and exploring sexuality is perfectly natural and many teenagers do it, there are also many teenagers who choose not to have sex for a whole host of reasons. I’d like to see more books where someone tries and realizes, no, it’s not for them. Not yet, not now. Or doesn’t try and just knows that they’re not ready. Where are all the books about late bloomers? I’d like to see more.

What are some tropes or characters you think need better representation? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Extraordinary Book Titles

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is top 10 extraordinary book titles.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely is a fantastic title. It captures the essence of not only Rhen’s curse, but Harper and Grey’s isolation and situations as well.

Daisy Jones and the Six is a great title because it sounds exactly what is it: a book about a rock band. It brings to life that era of seventies music and is just very evocative.

Muse of Nightmares is such a wonderful title, it’s a shame I didn’t enjoy the book. I love the idea of a figure that inspires nightmares. Not gives nightmares, but help the dreamer to weave them. And it’s such a perfect companion title to Strange the Dreamer.

The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is just… I love it. It sounds like a self-help book or one of those books for kids that tells them how to seek adventure. It’s wonderful.

The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. See above.

I, Iago is another fantastic title that’s attached to another book that disappointed me. I just love the simplicity of it, they way it’s slightly sinister (maybe just because it’s attached to one of the greatest villains of all time). It’s just a strong title.

The Hate U Give is a great title that I didn’t realize was a pop culture reference until I read it. It’s strong and powerful.

The Misadventures of Maude March. It’s alliterative and I love alliteration. The title alone made me want to read this.

Under the Never Sky is a fantastic title. Right away, I need to read the book just to find out what a never sky is. Are they in space? Underground? Where are they? And it’s just poetic.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I love this title because you know it’s about a girl who’s done something she needs to confess. It intrigued me right away.

What are some of your favorite titles? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish – Sexual Content in YA

It’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish discussion. This is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is, Is there too much sexual content in YA?

I read a lot of YA, but the books I choose don’t tend to have a lot of sexual content. At least not sexually explicit content. I guess Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas is considered YA, and that does have sexual content, but, outside of that, I can’t really think of many books that I’ve read that have sexual content. Maybe it’s because I don’t read much contemporary; is that where all the sexual content is?

However, that being said, I don’t think there’s too much content in YA and not because I’m not coming across it. While I completely sympathize with people who don’t want to read about sex, sexual tension, or romance, when I was a kid, that’s exactly what I wanted to read. I read Forever by Judy Blume when I was in fifth or sixth grade because I knew it had sex in it. When my parents left me alone at home, I went through the adult books in the house looking for sex scenes. My library checked out any book to anyone, and when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I checked out a romance book. Even before the sex started, I knew it was the type of book I was looking for because of the sensual descriptions of clothing.

Many kids are interested in sex, and many kids don’t have access to healthy depictions of sex. Their parents either won’t talk to them about it and/or give them rotten information. Books with sexual content are the only place they’ll get an education. I mean, yes, in reality they’re going online and looking at porn and talking to their friends who are as badly educated as they are, but if they can read a book that depicts a sexual relationship and it’s consequences, isn’t that better?

Judy Blume wrote Forever in 1975 because the only books out there about teenagers having sex ended in tragedy. Her daughter wanted to read something more realistic or at least different. (Side note: I have no proof that’s why she wrote it; I believe I read that many years ago somewhere, but don’t quote me on it). So, Blume wrote a book about teens having sex and detailed (or at least soft-focused) the sex scenes. And while those scenes were incredibly cringey (the guy named his penis Ralph, and I pictured a penis wearing tiny glasses), they showed fairly realistic sex between two inexperienced people. And, how just because you have sex, it doesn’t mean your relationship is going to last. But it doesn’t mean your life is going to be ruined, either.

So, I think sexual content in YA is important. It seems that most YA depicts healthy relationships that focus on consent and protection and the consequences of rushing into things unprepared. I think of how hugely important Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was in not only portraying gay relationships, but realistically dealt with the consequences for one of the characters when he took risky chances.

Again, not everyone wants to read sexual content. But I also think there’s enough diversity in YA to satisfy everyone.

Calendar Girls October: Books that Lit Your Way Out of a Reading Slump

Calendar girls is a monthly blog event that’s hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads . This month’s discussion prompt is Books that Lit Your Way out of a Reading Slump.

So, I can’t remember when I’ve ever had a proper reading slump. I’ve read less than usual, like February when I only read about three books. But I’ve still always read every night. So, there hasn’t been a particular book that’s pulled me out.

That being said, I have had a genre light me from reading a book every week or so to reading almost a book a night. And that genre was M/M historical romance.

I’d read a few in the genre and enjoyed it, but it didn’t spark until I discovered Cat Sebastian and K.J. Charles. Once I read them, I devoured whatever I could find. I tore through Cat Sebastian’s book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel like a wild fire. Then, K.J. Charles’s Society of Gentlemen books entered by world. The first, A Fashionable Indulgence was okay, but the second, A Seditious Affair cemented my love.

With such lovely lines like, ” Wednesday by Wednesday, week by week, I have loved you.” I was a goner.

After that, for months after, I read almost nothing but m/m historical romance. I discovered more authors and more series. I read until I couldn’t find anything I hadn’t read. And while I’ve branched back out into other genres, m/m historical romances have a special place in my heart.

What’s a book or genre that snapped you out of a slump? Comment below and let me know!