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!

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Genre: fantasy, modern fairy-tale

Source: Library (and then Target)

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Zachary Ezra Rawlins, son of a fortune-teller, finds a door. It’s beautiful and entrancing and calls to him. Unfortunately, it’s painted on a wall, so he doesn’t try to open it. But the memory stays with him right up to the moment he finds that memory written in a strange book he finds in his university library. Most intriguing is the mention of the Starless Sea that he didn’t find. Not yet.

Now, Zachary is obsessed with finding another entrance to the Starless Sea and the vast library it holds. All he has to go on is his book and the symbols of a bee, a key, and a sword. These symbols lead him to the intriguing characters of Mirabel, a pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome storyteller. Together, they will venture into the Harbor where Zachary will find wonders he never dreamed. But there is a dark force trying to stop him, stop them. Will he find the answers he searching for? Or is he too late?

OMG, this book was amazing. From beginning to end, it envelops you in a magical world that’s just so fantastical. This is a fairy tale of the best sort. The characters are real, but at the same time, they’re tinged in fantasy. The whole book has a dreamy feel which sometimes made it hard to concentrate on, but it’s just wonderful the way it pulls you in.

I don’t have much to say other than to gush. I will give a bit of advice if you read it: tab the stories. Every other chapter in this book is a story from a book that a character owns. These stories are very important and are referred to throughout the story. I found that I forgot the gist of some of the stories as I read and needed to flip back frequently. When I reread, I plan to tab the stories with sticky notes so I can go back and reread them when I stumble across the references in the main narrative.

I loved the way the stories intertwined and came back. Little insignificant things become very important, and that was amazing.

The characters were great, too. My favorite was the hero, Zachary, who was romantic and searching, smart and strong, and well developed. My second favorite was Dorian, who I wish we could have gotten to know a bit better. He was a well of mysteries, and even when they were somewhat explained, there were depths there that I wish could have been explored more. But that would have added a whole other five hundred pages to the narrative, so I get why he remains shrouded.

I didn’t see the ending coming. I had no idea what the narrative thrust was until the last quarter of the book, and that was great. It kept me guessing, kept me reading, and kept me enthralled. The language was beautiful and lyrical and there were a few lines that I want to have framed just so I can read and ponder them and be inspired them daily.

YES!! If you haven’t read it yet, go get it and read it ASAP. You won’t regret it. It’s the perfect escape for right now.

WWW Wednesday | March 18, 2020

Hi everyone! I am now on living under a shelter-in-place order. I panicked yesterday, not sure what that meant, but I can still leave for food or to go outside. They specify go outside for walks, but I assume I can still run. I don’t think I can go to the beach and run, though, which I did yesterday and it felt really good. We’re supposed to avoid unnecessary driving.

Things are scary, but there’s still books and reading and writing. I’m also vlogging my experience mostly to hear myself talk and process through. If you’re interested, my channel is here.

So, enough about me. Let’s talk about what I’m reading. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are asked to respond to the following questions:

What are you currently reading?\

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

I might have to stop reading Mrs. Sherlock Holmes for a bit. It’s heavy reading and I’m not quite in the mood for that. I’ll read some today and see what I think.

Recently finished

Reading next

How’s pandemic life treating you? Any great books this week? Let me know, I’m dying for company!

Top 5 Tuesday – Authors KLMNO

Hello everyone! It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each weeks, Shanah gives us a topic and participants answer with their top 5 answers in that topic. This week is authors KLMNO!

This week, I’m doing one author for each letter. I’m only doing authors on my shelf or in my Kindle and I’m going by last name. Let’s get started.

K

This one was hard because I’ve got lots of K’s on my shelf, including Brigid Kemmerer who is a new favorite author. But, in the end, I had do go with Susan Kay author of Phantom.

I know the book has its flaws and Erik is just a little too good at everything, but I love it to death. This Erik is my Erik and just adds to my love of the Phantom of the Opera.

L

For L, I have chosen Ira Levin who wrote Rosemary’s Baby. I read this many, many years ago and just fell in love. It was probably the first true horror novel I read. I still have my Nana’s copy, which is being held together by tape and a prayer. I probably shouldn’t read it again and get a new copy. But I love it.

M

Who else can I put other than Jonathan Maberry, who is my (I think) my second most read author after Rick Riordan. I almost put the first book I read by him, Patient Zero down because I thought the main character, Joe Ledger, was going to be a chauvinist pig. Turns out, he’s very sensitive and upholds feminist ideals. Plus, the books are suspenseful, horrifying, and a lot of fun.

N

I didn’t have many under the letter n, but then I realized that Ahab’s Wife was written by Sena Jeter Naslund. I read this in college and I was enchanted. Una is an amazing character and I loved her relationship with Ahab and everyone else. I haven’t read this in years, but it’s great.

O

I only have one author for O, but it’s an important one: Robert C. O’Brien, author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rat’s of NIHM. My fourth grade teacher first read this to me, and I fell in love hard. I wrote a sequel to it for her as my end of year gift (which was just a romance between Jonathan and Mrs. Frisby). I’ve read this so many times and it never grows old. It’s magica.

And that’s my list! It was a lot easier than just doing one book for each. That’s what I”m doing from now on.

Stay healthy and wash your hands!

Weekly Wrap-up | March 15, 2020

Hello from the apocalypse! This week was pretty crazy. We had parent conferences, which went well. In the past, I’ve experienced massive anxiety over conferences, but since going through intensive therapy, going on anti-anxiety drugs, and feeling like I’m actually a good teacher, it’s gotten a lot easier. The hardest part was the growing panic over COVID-19 which culminated in an after school meeting during which the principal told us that she couldn’t tell us anything officially, but she recommended that we take anything we’d want to have for the next two weeks home with us. A couple hours later, the official notice came down that our school is closed for the next two weeks. I have a feeling it will be longer, but I don’t know. The cafeteria will still be open for the kids to eat. I’ve been sending resources out to the parents over Class Dojo, but not all parents are signed up, so not everyone is getting them. I teach in a poor area, and some of the families don’t have access to the internet anyway. It’s a mess.

It’s funny: my dream is to not have to teach so I can write, but this is definitely not how I wanted it to happen. I want to have published several books, first, and then be able to leave teaching to write full time.

The positives: I’ll have time to read. I can continue watching The Untamed and I just got Disney+ so I can also watch The Mandalorian. (I’m not sure how to spell that). I just ordered weights, a yoga ball, and resistance bands so I can work out at home. Plus, I’ll continue to run, since that’s a solitary activity. I am considered vulnerable because of my asthma. I was considering going home to visit my parents, but right now, I’m afraid of picking up the virus on the way down and passing it on to my father, who has cancer and is losing weight as I type this. Probably not a great idea.

Reading wise, I didn’t get much done this week. I’m focusing on The Starless Sea, which I bought because it was due at the library and I couldn’t renew it. Of course, then the library closed and it didn’t matter anymore, but I love the book, so it’s fine. This way, I can go through and tab the stories in it so when they’re referenced, I can go back and reread them since I only vaguely recall them. Anyway. I hope to become more active on my blog again. I’ve got the time.

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Author’s F-J

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

Monday: TBD

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Authors K-O

Wednesday: WWW Wednesdasy

Thursday: TBD (probably The Starless Sea review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

How are you? Are you self-isolating? What are your tips to survive this? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Snippet Saturday – Vampires and Sorcerers

I still have no title for this novel, but it will come to me eventually.

Part 1

Sebastian spent the next few hours researching Tristan Clearwater. It wasn’t something he normally did, researching his clients, but Tristan intrigued him.

It wasn’t easy. A cursory search turned up almost nothing. Tristan had almost no social media presence. No Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, WordPress, LinkedIn. Not even a dating profile, at least not on any of the usual sites. He did have a Facebook page, but he hadn’t posted anything in years, and even that was only a picture of the ocean.

Still. Sebastian had been alive too long to be stumped by Google. He started digging deeper, getting more targeted with his search, and searching the Dark Web for what he could find. It took some digging, but Sebastian finally began to unearth information.

Tristan had been born in London, April 25, 1994. His parents were Michael and Aileen Clearwater, mother deceased. Tristan had done well in school and had gone to Cabridge. However, he’d left before he’d finished. His employment history was sparse. He’d worked in a few offices in London before moving to America. Now, he was temping at a small law firm in Santa Monica and attending night classes through a local community college. Mostly, it seemed, he was living off a sizable trust fund which, Sebastian assumed, was how he was planning on paying for the book.

Curious, he turned to Tristan’s family and was glad he did when he discovered that Tristan’s father was a member of the Society  for the Protection of Humans Against the Supernatural, or Society for short.

His lip curled in distaste. Although the Society had little presence in America, Sebastian had run-ins with them while living overseas. They were, as the name suggested, dedicated to the protection of the human race. Which sounded noble, of course, except it meant they were prejudiced against vampires, demons, the Fair Folk, and anyone else who wasn’t human. They didn’t even like the Faithful, the vampires who followed a code of ethics that had been in place since the death of Jesus. Code or not, they were undead and, therefore, evil. 

Sebastian wondered how the son of such a man had come to seek him out. If maybe this was all an elaborate ploy. He’d have to confront Tristan and see.

In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to look for the book like he’d been hired to do. If anything, he’d find it and have a valuable book for his collection if Tristan turned out not to be what he appeared.

Comments? Let me know what you think below!