Down the TBR Hole #4

Another installment of the meme (challenge?) from Lisa at Lost in a Story.

So last week I got rid of a bunch of books, but then I've added another bunch since then. /sigh I am trying to be a bit more discriminating when adding books to my to read shelf, but... There are just so many good looking ones! I want to read them all!

Ready yet? Get set!

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
OK, this is the third Michelle Moran book in a row on this list. I kept Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen, so clearly I should let this one go... But it's rated 4.11 stars... And my friends liked it a lot... And it sounds so good! ...Drat.
Decision: Keep

Nobody's Princess (Nobody's Princess #1) by Esther Friesner
The top five or so reviews are all 2 and 3 stars, so I'm going to let this one go.
Decision: Go

The Frog Prince: A Fairy Tale for Consenting Adults by Stephen Mitchell
The blurb literally tells me nothing, so I'm not going to chase it down and instead am just going to boot it off my shelf.
Decision: Go

Elske (Tales of the Kingdom #4) by Cynthia Voigt
It says it's #4 in a series, but they all read as stand alones. I love love LOVED Jackaroo (and it's probably due for a reread) so I'm going to keep this one.
Decision: Keep

The Wings of a Falcon (Tales of the Kingdom #3) by Cynthia Voigt
Ditto the above. ;)
Decision: Keep

Song for the Basilisk by Patricia M. McKillip
The cover is just so pretty... *mesmerized*
Decision: Keep

Goa (Blood of the Goddess #1) by Kara Dalkey
I'm mostly letting this one go to keep my ratio of these 10 books up... If I'm willing to let it go for such a silly reason, obvs I don't need to keep it!
Decision: Go

The Sooterkin by Tom Gilling
This has an average rating of less than 3 stars, and I am basing my decision purely on that.
Decision: Go

The Godmother's Apprentice (Godmother #2) by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Keeping this solely because I liked the first book enough to actually write a review for it when I read it back in 2010, which was the time before I ever wrote reviews for things.
Decision: Keep

Watership Down by Richard Adams
I've got this on my list of 50 classics to read in the next 5 years for the Classics Club, so clearly I must keep it.
Decision: Keep

Starting: 1,778
Kept: 6
Exterminated: 4
New total: 1,774

OK, so I didn't do so well this time (I was really aiming for a 50% elimination rate), BUT, like last week, I'm going to keep going!

Kept: 35 
Daughter of Glass by Isabel Glass
Ice Land by Betsy Tobin
The Fool's Tale by Nicole Galland
Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb
Fool's Errand (Tawny Man #1) by Robin Hobb
Shaman's Crossing (Soldier Son #1) by Robin Hobb
Firebird by R. Garcia y Robertson
Mad Morgan by Kerry Newcomb
The Sword in the Stone (The Once and Future King #1) by T.H. White
The Broken Crown (The Sun Sword #1) by Michelle West
Hades' Daughter (The Troy Game #1) by Sara Douglass
The Dragon and the Unicorn (Arthor #1) by A.A. Attanasio
The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus Sequence #1) by Jonathan Stroud
The Magic of Recluse (Saga of Recluse #1) by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan
Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout
Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner
Changer (Athanor #1) by Jane Lindskold
The Year of the Floor (MaddAddam #2) by Margaret Atwood
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Tokaido Road by Lucia St. Clair Robson
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip
In the Forests of Serre by Patricia A. McKillip
The Hidden Stars (The Rune of Unmaking #1) by Madeline Howard
House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk (translated by Michael Heyns)
I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy #1) by Amitav Ghosh
A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman
You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the Morning by Celia Rivenbark
Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart
My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison (translated by Cyril Laumonier)
Rhinegold by Stephan Grundy
What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire

Eliminated: 47
The Divided Crown by Isabel Glass
The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland
The Telling Pool by David Clement-Davies
Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb
Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb
Golden Fool (Tawny Man #2) by Robin Hobb
Fool's Fate (Tawny Man #3) by Robin Hobb
Forest Mage (Soldier Son #2) by Robin Hobb
Renegade's Magic (Soldier Son #3) by Robin Hobb
The Canterbury Papers by Judith Koll Healey
The White Bull by Fred Saberhagen
Stealing Athena by Karen Essex
The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden
Nefer the Silent (Stone of Light #1) by Christian Jacq
The Wise Woman (Stone of Light #2) by Christian Jacq
Shadow of the Sphinx (Stone of Light #3) by Christian Jacq
The Ten Thousand: A Novel of Ancient Greece by Michael Curtis Ford
Gods and Legions: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Michael Curtis Ford
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare
The Alchemyst (Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) by Michael Scott
River of Gods (India 2047 #1) by Ian McDonald
Revenge of the Rose by Nicole Galland
The Riddle-Master of Hed (Riddle-Master #1) by Patricia A. McKillip
Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip
Ombria in Shadow by Patricia A. McKillip
Tai-Pan by James Clavell
Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia by W.F. Ryan
The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco
Beneath the Pyramid (Judge of Egypt #1) by Christian Jacq
Fire in the Ocean: A New Testament by Curly Raphino
Shadows of Myth and Legend by E.J. Stevens
Turning Thirty-Twelve by Sandy James
Swoon at Your Own Risk by Sydney Salter
The Lost Children by Carolyn Cohagan
Juliet by Anne Fortier
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Evermore (The Immortals #1) by Alyson Noel
The Mermaid's Pendant by LeAnn Neal Reilly
Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain
The Privileges by Jonathan Dee
Belle de Jour: Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl by Belle de Jour
The Mermaid's Madness (Princess #2) by Jim C. Hines
Spinners by Donna Jo Napoli

NEW new total: 1,727

Book Review: Deadly Sweet (The Spellwork Syndicate #1) by Lola Dodge

Rating: 5 Stars

Expected publication: January 16th 2018 by Ink Monster, LLC
Summary: Anise Wise loves three things: baking, potion making, and reading her spell books in blissful silence. She might not be the most powerful witch in the suburbs, but enchantment is a rare skill, and her ability to bake with magic is even rarer. Unfortunately, witches have a bad rep, and Anise’s dream of attending pastry school crumbles with each rejection letter.

Then her great aunt Agatha pops out of the woodwork with a sweet offer. If she signs on as Agatha’s apprentice, Anise can have all the training and ingredients she’s ever imagined, and she’ll inherit the family bakery.

The catch? Studying with Agatha means moving to Sedona—a dangerous otherworldly power center where her aunt is a key player in the magical community’s shady dealings. And the last apprentice? Assassinated.

Now Anise is next on the hit list. If she can’t find and stop whoever wants her dead, she’ll be more toasted than a crème brulee.

Who knew baking cakes could be so life or death?
(from Goodreads)

Review: I have a really hard time rating anything that makes me immediately go looking for the next book (and yelling "NOOOOO!" like I just found out Darth Vader is my dad when I find out it doesn't come out for almost a year) as anything less than 5 stars. So BAM! 5 stars!

I really enjoyed Deadly Sweet. There is an element of romance but I have a hard time calling it a YA Romance. There's an element of fantasy (witches and magic and familiars) but I have a hard time calling it YA Fantasy. Actually, the main character (Anise Wise) is early college age, so I have a hard time calling it YA (but I don't think it's NA because that seems to be YA with sex scenes...) The only thing I don't have a hard time calling this book is AWESOME.

The Goodreads blurb on this book is horrible. Anise is a witch with a talent for baking enchantments in a world where witches exist but aren't terribly common or accepted. I kept thinking of witches kind of like cosplayers while reading this book. If you see someone in full cosplay randomly in public (in your school, working at the bakery at your local grocery store) they're super out of place and they definitely get the side eye. But there are places (ok, conventions mostly, but humor me) where there are LOTS of cosplayers gathered together, and then it's just par for the course. Non-cosplayers still tend to gawk a bit, take photos and things, but there is a community of like-minded people there and you're way less likely to have some jerkwad come up and start harassing you for the way you're dressed.

Except cosplayers are witches and can do magic, which may or may not be scary to people, especially when Anise feels cornered and threatened and burns down her county fair.

Basically Anise and her mom move a lot, while Anise pretends to be "normal" and tries to hide that she's a witch, and when people do find out they move to another town, and Anise starts over at the bottom of the totem pole decorating cakes at the local Grocery-Mart bakery. Oh, and gets repeatedly rejected from community college baking programs because they don't accept witches.

The blurb says Anise loves baking and potion making, but what she actually loves is baking enchantments into her pastries. (There aren't really any potions involved... but there is magic infused vanilla!) It's cute how she adds a pinch of anise to her bakes as her sort of signature. Anyway, after she accidentally burns down the county fair, Anise's great aunt Agatha finally answers an email Anise wrote her a year ago begging for an apprenticeship in her magical bakeshop (creatively called "Agatha's Bakeshop"). Little does Anise know, Agatha's Bakeshop in Taos is located on what is known as a vortex, a super magically charged area around which whole communities of witches spring up.

Suddenly Anise goes from having to hide what she is and fly under the radar as much as possible, to living in a community full of other witches. She starts making some of her first ever real friends, meets people who have known her family for generations, and learns there are all sorts of things about the witchy world she had no clue about. Including the mystery of what happened to Agatha's last apprentice, Hayley. (Seriously, they need to rewrite this blurb. She moved to Taos, not Sedona; Agatha is part of the Spellwork Syndicate, 13 matriarchs who keep the town safe and are not shady at all; Agatha's last apprentice is missing, not assassinated...)

I enjoyed the world building in this series, and appreciate how witches have particular areas of magic in which they excel, like Anise is good with kitchen witchery, Blair's family runs towards necromancy, Paula has a healing/cleansing magic that is apparently very herbal based, etc. I love Agatha's familiar, Fondant, and need to know more about her. I love Anise's Shield, Wynn, and need to know so many things about him, like where is he from? what does his contract involve? why does he sleep so much? The budding friendship between Anise and the daughters of her mom's old friends is great. OH! I need to know all the things about Anise's mom's past! What happened there? I'm really hoping these answers will be in the next book.


This book does NOT end on a cliff hanger, and could be read as a stand alone, but it definitely left me wanting more and I can’t wait to see what develops for Anise in the second book, Sugar Spells.

*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

2017 End of Year Wrap-Up

There are still 4 days left in 2017, but I'm going to go ahead and post my wrap-up for 2017 now. I'm going to close out the year trying to finish up the 8 books I'm in the middle of (some that I started way back in the beginning of the year!) That way I can start fresh in 2018 (and the eleventy billion challenges I signed up for!)

Aside from those I'm trying to finish up, here are my stats for the year (thanks to Goodreads, because that's the only way I track!) I just wish Goodreads had the code for this available to just copy/paste over to my blog... As it is, sorry if this looks weird, I had to do some crazy screen capture stuff!

Sorry, I can't pick a favorite book of 2017. To quote Dre Barrymore in Ever After, "I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens."

Book Review: The Switch by Lynsay Sands

Book Review: The Switch by Lynsay Sands

Rating: 4 Stars

Published November 26th 2013 by HarperAudio (first published 1999)
Summary: When they first met Lord Jeremy William Radcliffe, Charlie and her twin sister, Elizabeth were escaping from their uncle-taking turns acting the young gentleman to avoid detection. But Charlie couldn’t help falling head over heels-and out of a window-for the handsome lord. Of course, that was only the beginning; Lord Radcliffe insisted on showing “him” and her lovely sister to London.

But how could he do that? With every touch, Radcliffe seemed unknowingly to incite indecent desires in Charlie, and his fraternal intent was certain to land her in a fine mess. Though it was a great game to play a boy, there was more fun in being female. And after one brush of his fiery lips when her guise was gone, Charlie swore to be nothing but his fiery woman forevermore.

(from Goodreads)

Review: If I had to pick a favorite trope, it would be women disguised as men. Ever since I was 11 and read Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness series, I was hooked. I especially love when the male lead gets feelings for the woman in her man-disguise and starts to question his sexuality (and/or sanity!), or decided he loves whom he loves regardless of their gender (that last doesn’t happen often, I will admit).

I love that Charlie and Beth trade off who is Elizabeth (the sister) and who is Charles (the brother), and the number that does on Radcliffe. Speaking of Radcliffe, I didn't care him very much as a male lead. He is overbearing and condescending and I wanted to punch him in the nose half the time. Beth also grated on my nerves, and the twins say Beth is the steady and level-headed one, but she just came off as spoiled to me (though she does have some personal growth throughout the story, which I appreciate). I loved Charlie with her madcap ideas, her need to rescue every troubled stray she finds, and even her motion sickness (which I can totally relate to - the motion sickness, I mean). Charlie is brave and bold and sensual and self-sacrificing, all of which I really admire. I just wish Radcliffe was someone I admired more. I will say that while usually the duped male lead is upset to find out he'd been tricked, Radcliffe took the reveal in stride (though that likely had as much to do with his relief that he wasn't gay as anything else) rather than having a hissy fit about it, so I will credit him that. He also goes to some rather (ahem) extreme lengths to rescue Charlie, which was funny. Some of his attempts to "help" Charlie are also pretty hilarious, such as a trip to the brothel to help him lose his virginity and "man up," a trip to the gambling house to teach him the dangers of gambling (except Radcliffe's plans never seem to go quite as he plans…)

I listened to the audiobook as narrated by Fiona Hardingham. I quite enjoyed her performance, and Ms. Hardingham made the sometimes antiquated language of the novel seem quite natural.

Down the TBR Hole #3

Another installment of the meme (challenge?) from Lisa at Lost in a Story.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
I got rid of the other Lisa See book I had on my to read shelf, so I'm going to keep this one. It looks like it had better ratings, and it still sounds pretty interesting to me.
Decision: Keep

Tomato Rhapsody: A Fable of Love, Lust & Forbidden Fruit by Adam Schell
Ehhhhh... I remember being really excited for this book before it was published, and I think I even bought a copy, but it just never felt like "Wow, I've got to read this now!" I'm going to take this off my to read list for now, but we'll see if I actually part with the physical copy if/when I come across it.
Decision: Go

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
YA dystopia, rated over 4 stars, and available on Kindle Unlimited... hmm, ok, I'll keep this on my list for now.
Decision: Keep

Blackbringer by Laini Taylor
I'm back on a faerie and fairies kick, and this is rated a bit over 4 stars, so I'm going to let it stick around. Hey, I may even bump it up the line for the next time I need a faerie fix!!
Decision: Keep

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
This is basically a classic at this point, so obvs I need to keep it.
Decision: Keep

Mad Kestrel by Missy Mastey
I really dithered over whether to keep or toss this one... It's got rather mediocre reviews, I'm currently reading The Pirate King's Daughter which may either fill my quota of young lady pirates or make me hungry for more, some of the reviews made it sound like it left people wanting a second book (which is good if there IS a second book, which I have been unable to find, so maybe bad...) I'm keeping this for now just because I feel so torn about it.
Decision: Keep

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Bought this at some point and it has in inch thick layer of dust on it. Couldn't even be bothered to read the blurb on Goodreads fully, and figure if I found myself skimming that I'd better release this one back into the wild.
Decision: Go

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
The blurb made me smile. I love the idea of the Greek gods in modern times, stuck with (pretty lame) day jobs to make ends meet.
Decision: Keep

Couch World by Cathy Yardley
Meh. I don't even feel like writing about this one, so obvs it can go.
Decision: Go

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
I love the story of Tam Lin, but according to the reviews the magic/faerie element in this one is suuuuper subtle, and it's more focused on the life of some Mary Sue (again, according to reviews) in college in the 70's. Eh, pass.
Decision: Go

Starting total: 1,804
Total kept: 6
Total eliminated: 4
New total To Read: 1,800

Bonus round: I kept reading through my list to decide to keep/eliminate some more, because I had some time to kill and felt like whittling this monster down further. You can probably tell from my "kept" pile that this was a time of mighty fairy tale retelling obsession, and I obviously still can't let it go, haha. I don't love short stories, so I did manage to make myself remove most of the anthologies... Though I still own many of them and am not in any hurry to remove them from my physical shelves, haha!

Kept: 29
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
The Ill-Made Mute by Cecelia Dart-Thornton
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris
The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines
The Nightingale by Kara Dalkey
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Perdido Street Station by China Miéville
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson
Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy
The World Above: A Retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk and Robin Hood (Once Upon a Time) by Cameron Dokey
Shadowfever (Fever #5) by Karen Marie Moning
Seeing Redd (The Looking Glass Wars #2) by Frank Beddor
Vision in White (Bride Quartet #1) by Nora Roberts
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Chucked down the rabbit hole (enjoy, Wonderland!): 17
Ash by Malinda Lo
Silver Birch, Blood Moon edited by Ellen Datlow
Kissing the Witch edited by Emma Donoghue
Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer by Tanith Lee
The Rose and the Beast edited by Francesca Lia Bock
The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson
Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Cybele's Secret (Wildwood #2) by Juliet Marillier
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazney
The Digging Leviathan by James P. Blaylock

Scar Night by Alan Campbell
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
White Chapel Gods by S.M. Peters

Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn
My Fake Wedding by Mina Ford

New total: 1,782

Book Review: Deck the Halls with Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook #2.5) by Lorraine Heath

Book Review: Deck the Halls with Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook #2.5) by Lorraine Heath

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Published December 18th 2012 by Avon Impulse
Summary: Christmas is a time for miracles … and second chances at love. In her dazzling first Season, Lady Meredith Hargreaves gave her heart to Alistair Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, only to have it shattered when he proposed to another. And now that he's free to pursue her? It matters little, because she's on her way to the altar, heartbreak be damned.

Chetwyn once set aside his dreams in favor of duty and honor. But as Christmas approaches, he is determined to put his own desires first and lure Lady Meredith back into his arms, where she's always belonged.

First he steals a dance; then he steals a kiss. But when they find themselves alone in an abandoned castle during a snowstorm, reignited passion consumes them both. And Chetwyn will have one last chance to steal back Meredith's heart, once and for all.
(from Goodreads)

Review: I just finished reading this last night, and I've already forgotten the names of the leading lord and lady. So that pretty much sums up this story, haha. It was a cute Christmas tale, set at a house party at Christmastime.

Boy meets girl and feels instalove during the Season, boy and girl go to their homes out of town, boy gets life changing news and sacrifices self and love for what he sees as his duty, girl is crushed but bravely hides it, boy is miraculously let off hook for said duty (the story of which I assume is either book 1 or 2 in this series), boy tracks down girl at Christmas house party to try to make amends even though girl is already engages to someone else (who is rather slimy, actually).

There's the requisite trapped away from the main house in a snow storm trope. I wanted to like Meredith, actually, and how she loves sports and the out of doors but is kept from them for propriety's sake. I just didn't feel like I really got to know her, likely because of the very short nature of this story. There was nothing bad about this book, there just wasn't anything spectacular or surprising about it. It was a nice little Christmas read.

Definitely spoilers for earlier books in the series.
Available as a stand alone or as part of the A Christmas to Remember anthology.

Book Review: I Will: A Christmas Novella (Capitol Theatre #2.5) by Lisa Kleypas

Book Review: I Will: A Christmas Novella (Capitol Theatre #2.5) by Lisa Kleypas

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Published December 13th 2016 by Avon Impulse (first published October 11th 2016)
Summary: Andrew, Lord Drake, has been cut out of his father’s will because of his dissolute manner of living. To be reinstated, Andrew decides to pretend that he has changed his wicked ways.

As part of his plan, he wants to convince his father that he is courting a respectable woman with the intention of marrying her. The problem is, he doesn’t know any decent women, except for his friend’s spinster sister, Miss Caroline Hargreaves. He blackmails the reluctant Caroline into helping him, and so the charade begins...
(from Goodreads)
Review: I'm having a hard time rating this one. I really want to rate it 3.5 stars, so I'm being kind and rounding up to 4 stars on Goodreads because it's Christmas. No such forgiveness here on my blog, though!

This is pretty much your typical spinster + rake regency romance, except in this case the spinster is being blackmailed into having a fake relationship with the rake in order to lend him an air of respectability. I liked Andrew more than Caroline, but then I have always had a soft spot for broken things. Andrew wasn't loved enough as a child by his cruel father, and it's rather ruined him. Of course, like most rakes in regency romance, way down deep he has a heart of gold. I did appreciate that Kleypas didn't whitewash over some of Andrew's darker misdeeds - he really does have a very black past. I also liked the slow burn of Caroline and Andrew's building relationship, and how what starts out as a sham becomes much more to them both. I felt like Caroline (whom I have called "Olivia" all through writing this review, and need to keep correcting) didn't have much depth and could have been fleshed out better, but I suppose it is a very short story so some allowances must be made.

There is a bit that was a little squicky and quasi-rapey that I didn't like at all, but it really did show how desperately Caroline felt and made my heart ache for the pair of them (while inwardly cringing at the same time).

It's listed as being #2.5 in the Capitol Theatre series, and it does mention a LOT about other characters that I assume take center stage in the other books. Beware of probable spoilers for earlier books in the series.
This novella is available as a stand-alone, and is also included in the anthology A Christmas to Remember.

Book Review: Once Upon a Winter's Eve (Spindle Cove #1.5) by Tessa Dare

Book Review: Once Upon a Winter's Eve (Spindle Cove #1.5) by Tessa Dare

Rating: 4 Stars

Published December 10th 2016 by CreateSpace (first published November 15th 2011)
Summary: Some wallflowers bloom at night...

A Spindle Cove Novella
Violet Winterbottom is a quiet girl. She speaks six languages, but seldom raises her voice. She endured bitter heartbreak in perfect silence. The gentlemen aren't beating down her door.
Until the night of the Spindle Cove Christmas ball, when a mysterious stranger crashes into the ballroom and collapses at Violet's feet. His coarse attire and near-criminal good looks would put any sensible young lady on her guard. He's wet, chilled, bleeding, and speaking in an unfamiliar tongue.
Only Violet understands him. And she knows he's not what he seems.
She has one night to draw forth the secrets of this dangerously handsome rogue. Is he a smuggler? A fugitive? An enemy spy? She needs answers by sunrise, but her captive would rather seduce than confess. To learn his secrets, Violet must reveal hers—and open herself to adventure, passion, and the unthinkable... Love.

Warning: The heroine packs a pistol, the hero curses in multiple languages, and together they steam up a cold winter’s night.
(from Goodreads)

Review: This is a novella from the Spindle Cove series, and can for sure be read as a stand alone (as can all the Spindle Cove books, with minor spoilers of major plot points from the other books). I've read a lot of Spindle Cove books, but don't really remember Violet as one of the side characters… She sure is memorable in her own book, though!

I really enjoyed this novella, it was a bit like Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Violet is BAD ASS, and Christian is hot. Being the sad speaker of one single language, I am fascinated by people who can fluently speak more than one, and Violet speaks six! I love the back and forth between Violet and Christian and felt like, even though this is a secret agent/spy novel, they were both very believable. I love that Violet takes something bad that happened to her and turns it around, refusing to let it drag her down and instead using it to grow as a woman, becoming strong, confident, and a total BAMF. *sigh* I sure love me a BAMF leading lady…

At 155 pages this is a pretty quick read, and takes place over just one night (with an epilogue, of course, taking place some months later). It's fast paced and fun, and was a great read for an evening in the week before Christmas.

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Want for Christmas

I found this fun Top 5 Tuesday prompt on Spine Cracker's Blog, and it's hosted by Bionic Book Worm. I thought this sounded fun, and I am now following Bionic Book Worm for future prompts for Top 5 Tuesday in 2018. I can't say I will always participate, but when the topic feels relevant I plan to!

The prompt for this Tuesday is "Top 5 Books I Want for Christmas." Oh boy, I have to narrow it down to just five? ;)

5. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey Smith
I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but when I do it tends to be about octopus, haha. This book is a blend of science and philosophy about the development of consciousness. Blurb: "What does it mean that intelligence on earth has evolved not once but twice? And that the mind of the octopus is nonetheless so different from our own? Combining science and philosophy with firsthand accounts of his cephalopod encounters, Godfrey-Smith shows how primitive organisms bobbing in the ocean began sending signals to each other and how these early forms of communication gave rise to the advanced nervous systems that permit cephalopods to change colors and human beings to speak."

4. An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery
Another non-fiction choice, and this one is a cookbook! Hey, it still counts. ;) This has section for Breakfast (hot, fast, traditional morning food), Second Breakfast (cold pies), Elevenses (breads), Luncheon (lighter pub fare), Afternoon Tea (biscuits, cakes, and buns), Supper (hot meal of meat, veg, mushrooms), and Dinner (slow cooked roasts and puddings). Who's gonna say no to eating like a hobbit?
BONUS: While writing this post I see that this book is now available on Kindle Unlimited! That's awesome! If Santa doesn't bring this to me for Christmas, I can still try out some of the recipes. :) 

3. Persuasion by Jane Austen (Penguin hardcover Clothbound Classics edition)
I am slowly but surely building up my collection of all of Austen's works in this Clothbound Classics edition. So far I have EmmaPride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. Someday I shall rule the world! I mean... own them all!
Persuasion is one of Jane Austen's work I haven't read yet, but I have it on my to read list for the Classics Club so it's only a matter of time.

2. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
I've actually never read this book, which seems like such a travesty to me! I adore the movie, and I really liked Beagle's recently published anthology of short stories, The Overneath. (I even reviewed it here on my blog!) This one is also available on Kindle Unlimited, but I already know it's a book I want to own a physical copy of, so I can share it with my children as they grow and love it forever and ever (amen).

1. True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal--and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life by Kevin Sorbo
OK, so clearly I'm in a bit of a non-fiction mood, haha. I actually marked this as to-read way back in 2009, and I found it again while doing my "Down the TBR Hole" meme/challenge to clean up my to-read list. Obviously I decided to keep this one on my to read list, since it's in my top 5 books I want for Christmas list, haha!
If I read non-fiction (that's not about octopus, that is), it's typically memoirs, and then typically those of actors or celebrities whose work has had an impact on me. I loved Hercules: The Legendary Journies (as well as Xena: Warrior Princess, obviously!) growing up, and even though it's super campy (or perhaps because it's super campy?) both shows still hold a big place in my heart. AND HE GREW UP IN MINNESOTA!! Clearly, I have to read this. 


What about you? Did you ask Santa for any books for Christmas?


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