Did everyone have a nice, relaxing New Year? We acquired this monster of a board game called Gloomhaven and played that a couple of times on New Year’s Day while watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended edition of course).
The New Year brings with it new goals and looking back on the old goals.
So let’s start with last year’s goals!
Read More Non-Fiction: Um, I failed at this. I only read one non-fiction book last year, and that was for D&D! I don’t count that.
Buy Fewer Books: I also failed at this. In fact, I bought more books in 2022 than I did in 2021. Sigh.
Read my TBR Shelf: Yeah, I added so many books to my TBR shelf that it turned into a TBR bookcase.
Write More Reviews: I actually did this, until my life got so crazy (new job, reading slump, stress, blah blah blah) that I wasn’t able to keep up with it.
So what are my goals for this year! Unsurprisingly, there is more of the same, sort of.
Buy Fewer Books: I’ve actually started two spreadsheets to help with this. One is for new releases that I definitely want to buy this year. The other one is for impulse buys that I would normally pick up while at the store, on other errands, or out with friends. If I still want them after a few months, I will consider adding them to my Amazon cart. And if I still want them a few months after that, then I will buy them. That’s a lot of work, but hopefully, I’ll keep it up and will be able to buy fewer books this year.
Read my TBR Shelf: I’m making a spreadsheet for this one too. It’s going to contain all the books that are on the TBR bookcase, the Book of the Month shelf, and my YA cart prior to any purchases made this year. Once I read a book, I’ll take it off the spreadsheet. I can also use this method to randomize my reading experience by using a random number generator whenever I can’t decide what to read.
Work on My Re-Read of the In Death Series: I got 36 books into the In Death series before I got burnt out because of the frantic pace I was reading them at. I have 20-something books left to go, so I’m hoping to finish by the end of the year this year. I am not going to force myself though. I don’t want to hit a mid-year burnout again. That slump was no fun.
I have high hopes for this year and am positive the extravagant steps I have taken to ensure those goals will pay off.
So Sundays In Bed With… is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl. It’s an opportunity to share what book is by your bed (or by your current resting space) at the moment.
Well hello! How has it been a month? I apologize for my absence. I got distracted by shiny things…and the flu. Ten out of ten, do not recommend. But I have been reading! And I am currently reading, among other things, Half A Soul by Olivia Atwater.
This fantasy romance set in Regency London is highly enjoyable. I’m about halfway through it, well, this and three other books, and I am so happy with it! It’s my book club’s pick for the month and it is what is now being termed “Cozy Fantasy”, which is low stakes fantasy that makes you feel happy.
It’s about a woman who had half of her soul stolen by a Fae when she was a child and so she grows up not feeling emotions the same way other people do. This condition makes her more likely to cause an accidental scandal. Of course, this also leads her to meet London society’s most unlikeable man, the Lord Sorcier.
Well, I don’t know about you but it’s been a fun week. I went on a girls’ weekend and had a fantastic time. Now I’m prepping for the upcoming holiday season by cleaning and decorating. I may have had to buy a new, smaller, Christmas tree because I put a bookshelf where my bigger Christmas tree used to go. Oops.
I know I haven’t done it in a while, but let’s do WWW Wednesday! WWW Wednesday is the day when we answer the three W’s: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next? It’s hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.
What are you currently reading?
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone got started as an audiobook while I was coming back from the girls’ weekend, but the male narrator didn’t do a particular accent very well, and it took me out of the story. I have the physical copy so I picked it up at home. This book is pure chaos and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch is a book club pick and I just started it this morning. In fact, I got one chapter into it before I realized I needed to write a blog post so…does one chapter count?
What did you recently finish reading?
The Bodyguard by Katherine Center was not what I expected from a rom-com, but I liked it nonetheless. I listened to this as an audiobook on the way out of town and it was well performed. I had a fun time listening to it and would highly recommend it.
Isn’t It Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams is the fourth entry into the Bromance Book Club series. This one is about the Russian, as he is affectionately referred to by his friends. It’s the marriage of convenience trope, but they are already married at the start of the book. I loved it and would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys romance novels.
What do you think you’ll read next?
The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso is what’s up next on my TBR and I am excited to start it. Of course, I also have two other books that I want to pick up, but I’m hoping to actually finish that TBR this month. This book is the third and final story in the Swords and Fire series and I loved the first two books.
Quick question. Is it too early to break out the Holiday graphics for the blog yet? I’m a major Christmas decorating person and will be decorating my house next week, hopefully, and I just wanted to know if you think it’s too early to decorate my blog too. Personal opinion, it’s never too early. But what do you think? Let me know.
But since it is still November I suppose I should just make a TBR while I have the chance. Not a big TBR mind you, but a nice one.
Upgrade by Blake Crouch
This is a book club pick for the month of November and I am super excited. Recursion is one of the best Sci-Fi books I had read in a while and I absolutely loved it. I have high hopes for this one, although the mixed reviews I have heard about it give me a little hesitancy.
Isn’t it Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams
The Bromance Book Club series has been one of the highlights of my romance reading journey thus far. This is the fourth entry in the series and I have already started it. I’m enjoying it very much.
The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso
The third and final book in the Swords and Fire trilogy, I have been meaning to get to this one for a while, and just haven’t hit it yet. For shame, but I do have a problem finishing series. I just don’t want the stories to end.
Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
I have been looking forward to this one for a while now, and I am going to make myself read it before the third full-length story comes out next year. My friend just finished it and was very sad the book was over. She needs more now!
And that is my small TBR for the month. Let’s see if I actually stick to it instead of wandering off the path like I normally do!
Welp, Halloween is over and all I’m left with is this pumpkin cheesecake. I take comfort in that. Well, also in the 12 books I read. Almost all of them anyway.
The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling picks up where the Ex Hex left off, this time the focus is on Gwyn Jones and Wells Penhallow. It was a wonderful follow-up and I couldn’t have been happier to have been in the world of Graves Glen again. What a great sequel. If you like the Ex Hex, you will love this!
Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher is the first book at the start of a brand new supernatural romance series about werewolves and witches. This one had to do with supernatural politics in a way I wasn’t expecting. Don’t worry, it’s still a rom-com. It was a fun read and I really enjoyed it.
Well Played by Jen DeLuca is the second entry in a series of rom-coms centering around a renaissance festival. I am enamored with the world the author has created and may have already finished the third book. I am also thankful there is a fourth book in the series coming out in December.
From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper is another sequel (I usually have a hard time reading sequels, what is going on?) that takes place in a town called Thistle Grove where the magic is held by four families. This time a fellow witch is attacked and members of two rival families must team up to solve the caper! I loved it! Thistle Grove sounds like a fantastic tourist spot!
If you want to read a cozy fantasy graphic novel, The Tea Dragon Society series by K. O’Neill is the way to go. This middle-grade story is adorable and I read all three in one go! It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited so you can enjoy it there. And how cute are those dragons?
Now meet the books I wasn’t too crazy about.
I know people are loving it, but I just didn’t like Fairy Tale by Stephen King. His writing style and I just don’t get along. I may try this one again later, as so many of the ladies in my book club enjoyed this one.
How I Stole the Princess’s White Knight and Turned Him to Villany by AJ Sherwood was a choice. The wizard is very eccentric and the knight is very quick to just go along with everything the wizard says. It’s also absurdist comedy, which may be why they do that, but it wasn’t for me. I say that, but I read the whole thing.
Three Swedish Mountain Men by Lily Gold was a book I read. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I like my romance stories to have a plot, but this one was barely there. If why choose stories are up your alley, give it a shot. But nope. Not again!
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Maris was a book I was really into until the third plot twist happened in the first half of the book. It was just a few too many plot twists for me.
The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean was just a wrong book wrong time kind of thing. I didn’t get very far into it, but I am determined to try again because the plot is about a family that eats books, and then here comes the kid who eats brains? Yes, I want to like that.
And that’s how my reading month went. How did yours go?
So Sundays In Bed With… is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl. It’s an opportunity to share what book is by your bed (or by your current resting space) at the moment. I happened across this meme on Wicked Witch’s Blog. She’s almost done with her Blogtober posts so go give her a follow! She’s fantastic!
Also, I can’t believe we have made it to the end of October! What a crazy month it’s been. The weather has finally turned here and fall has actually arrived which means cooler temps, rainy days, and, unfortunately, headaches. The migraines have been making their presence felt this season. But, I have been able to walk to work a lot, which has been fabulous. The crisp fall air does wonders for my mental health and it also means I can listen to an audiobook for the short walk to work.
Speaking of audiobooks, my current listen is Legends and Lattes. I’ve been listening to this cozy fantasy everywhere I go, or don’t go. I’ve been listening to it while I prep for my next D&D session on the sofa. It seemed appropriate. I’m also thinking of switching to the paperback copy that I have, as I want to know what happens faster than the audiobook can get to it!!!
Here’s the blurb:
After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.
The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success ― not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.
If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won’t be able to go it alone.
But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.
As a side note if you decide to read/listen to this the way the author, Travis Baldree, describes the food in this book is positively sinful. It makes me want to go raid a bakery every time I hear him describe something.
It’s fall, y’all! That means it’s time for apple cider, comfy sweaters, and cozy blankets…if you live somewhere that isn’t Texas. We still do pumpkin patches and hayrides though!!!
I saw this book tag on Book Are 42 (I love that blog name) and she was tagged by someone else, but I couldn’t track down the originator of the tag. If anyone has the info, please let me know!
In fall, the air is crisp and clear | Name a book with a vivid setting!
The Ex Hex/ The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling
The world of Graves Glen is set in a whimsical small town full of colorful characters and I could not love this series more. Both books are excellent and the second story doesn’t suffer from the dreaded second book syndrome.
Nature is beautiful… but also dying | Name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief.
Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune
This is a book about death. The story is about a man who dies and goes to “live” in a tea house in a small village with a reaper, a ferryman, and some ghosts, including a ghost dog!!! And yes, I cried, but in the best possible way.
Fall is back to school season | Share a non-fiction book that taught you something new.
The Player’s Handbook by Wizards of the Coast
So I know the prompt was probably looking for something a little less esoteric, but this, while about a fantasy world, is a non-fiction book as it is a technical manual for a role-playing game. And I learned a lot. It did take me two months to read it, because dense, but I still read it!!!
In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend time with the people we love | Name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of.
In Death Series by J.D. Robb
For all that they are surrounded by mayhem and murder, the bonds of family and friendship are incredibly strong within Eve and Roarke’s group. What makes it even more special is that while Roarke and Eve are bazillionaire’s, that’s not the reason the people in the group are friends with them, they like these two on their own merits. I’d like to be friends with these people.
The colorfulleaves are piling up on the ground | Show us a pile of fall-colored spines!
Um…no? I just organized the shelf nearest to me a few days ago. I’m not messing that up…I’m picturing myself storming off like a petulant child who is being sent to their room. Baby Lauren would not be amused.
Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside | Share a book wherein somebody is telling a story.
Fairy Tale by Stephen King
So I’m not recommending this book as I’m still not sure how I feel about it (I’m not done with it yet) but it is told to you by the main character.
The nights are getting darker | Share a dark, creepy read.
A Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
This book very much creeped me out when I read it a few years ago. Just thinking about that scene with the rats…eww. But, it was very well written and made me want to read more by the author, which is saying a lot, as I don’t usually enjoy horror stories.
The days are getting colder | Name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day.
Monk and Robot Series by Becky Chambers
I have heard this series referred to as hope punk, and I like it. I would also call it cozy sci-fi. It’s a series that isn’t afraid to ask tough questions, but it does so in a nice and gentle manner, you leave the stories not only questioning your life but wanting more in the series.
Fall returns every year | Name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon.
The Last Dragonlord by Joanne Bertin
I loved the first two books set in this series, and am always up for a re-read. It’s the story of Liden, a dragonlord (a being who is also part dragon), and his journey through political intrigue and a murder mystery at a human court. It’s a fun read and I would have loved to see more in this world.
Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights | Share your favorite cozy reading accessories
A Cup of Tea
Does a cup of tea count? I can’t really read without one and during the cooler parts of the fall will go through several cups while I am reading. A particular fall favorite is by Harney and Sons, the Pumpkin Spice. It’s quite nice.
What a fun tag! I don’t ever tag anyone in these, because if you like a tag, you should give it a try! Let’s see what fun you can come up with!
And as I am not a beloved toy cowboy, let me never say that again.
So in the few months I was away, I accumulated quite a few books. As a result, I thought you should be aware of a few of the things I picked up.
Ledge by Stacy McEwan
If you’ve been on BookTok you may have seen Stacy McEwan at some point. The Australian author started out self publishing this book and ended up selling it to a publisher thanks to overwhelming demand, helped out by her TikTok account. I loved watching her try to turn her husband into romance novel’s leading man. Twas hilarious.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
I’ve had this book on my want to buy list for a while now, and when I saw the paperback in my local bookstore, I had to snatch it up. It’s all about the parts of feminism that the movement tends to overlook. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this one.
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and art by Wendy Xu
I’ve heard nothing but good things about this graphic novel about a witch and a werewolf. It also helps that it looks adorable. I also accidentally order the special edition…so that’s nice.
Babel by R.F. Kuang
Given my love for the Poppy War, a book series I have yet to finish, I had to pick this up. I have heard some mixed things about this book, which surprised me given all the early amazing buzz about the book. But that also means I’m probably going to like it.
The Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore
I’m not gonna lie, I picked this one up for the Hubs. He likes books to have a little humor to it and I had heard this one had it’s moments. He’s read it already and his opinion pretty much matches the blurb on the cover. But in a good way?
In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu
This novella has some interesting ideas and, I’m just guessing here, a non-binary main character. The pronouns used in the description are very interesting. But it intrigued me and when I saw it at the used bookstore, I grabbed it up.
The Boy With the Bookstore by Sarah Echavarre Smith
I saw a TikTok about this book and knew immediately it was for me. A romance story about a bookshop owner and a baker? Yes please, I will take it. Here’s hoping it lives up to that TikTok. Also, I watch too much TikTok.
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
What can I say, I bowed to peer pressure. No but seriously, I have two friends who spent days extolling this series’ virtues, so I figured I would at least give the first book a try.
Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter
Plus size rep and bingo playing. This rom com sounded so cute. I couldn’t resist it when I saw it in the store. Also, the cover is purple and purple is my favorite color…it was meant to be.
Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater
This is another one that was all over the internet, both BookTok and BookTube! It’s a regency fairy fantasy romance? Yeah, I think that’s it. I’ve also heard it’s on the cozy side, and I’m really enjoying the cozy books right now.
And that is just a small portion of the over 50+ books I’ve bough in the last several months. My TBR shelves overflow with the fruits of my many excursions. I should stop making excursions.
Also, can we take a moment to shout out the local used book store? I bought most of my recent acquisitions at Half Priced Books, and most of them were used copies. Thank you HPB!!!
October is my favorite month. Well, one of them, it’s tied with December if I’m honest.
I decided to do a bewitching TBR this month. I have collected quite a few witchy Rom Coms over the last few months, and this is the perfect month to read them! I also have one that is not a romance…spooky.
The Kiss Curse by Erin Sterling
Gwyn Jones is perfectly happy with her life in Graves Glen. She, her mom, and her cousin have formed a new and powerful coven; she’s running a successful witchcraft shop, Something Wicked; and she’s started mentoring some of the younger witches in town. As Halloween approaches, there’s only one problem—Llewellyn “Wells” Penhallow.
Wells has come to Graves Glen to re-establish his family’s connection to the town they founded as well as to make a new life for himself after years of being the dutiful son in Wales. When he opens up a shop of his own, Penhallow’s, just across the street from Something Wicked, he quickly learns he’s gotten more than he bargained for in going up against Gwyn.
When their professional competition leads to a very personal—and very hot—kiss, both Wells and Gwyn are determined to stay away from each other, convinced the kiss was just a magical fluke. But when a mysterious new coven of witches come to town and Gwyn’s powers begin fading, she and Wells must work together to figure out just what these new witches want and how to restore Gwyn’s magic before it’s too late.
From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper
Wild child Isidora Avramov is a thrill chaser, adept demon summoner, and—despite the whole sexy-evil-sorceress vibe—also a cuddly animal lover. When she’s not designing costumes and new storylines for the Arcane Emporium’s haunted house, Issa’s nursing a secret, conflicted dream of ditching her family’s witchy business to become an indie fashion designer in her own right.
But when someone starts sabotaging the celebrations leading up to this year’s Beltane festival with dark, dangerous magic, a member of the rival Thorn family gets badly hurt—throwing immediate suspicion on the Avramovs. To clear the Avramov name and step up for her family when they need her the most, Issa agrees to serve as a co-investigator, helping none other than Rowan Thorn get to the bottom of things.
Rowan is the very definition of lawful good, so tragically noble and by-the-book he makes Issa’s teeth hurt. In accordance with their families’ complicated history, he and Issa have been archenemies for years and have grown to heartily loathe each other. But as the unlikely duo follow a perplexing trail of clues to a stunning conclusion, Issa and Rowan discover how little they really know each other… and stumble upon a maddening attraction that becomes harder to ignore by the day.
Not the Witch You Wed by April Asher
Magic-less witch Violet Maxwell wants nothing to do with alpha wolf shifter Lincoln Thorne―the man who broke her fragile, teenage heart. But when the two of them are forced by arcane Supernatural Laws to find mates, Violet and Lincoln agree to fake-date their way to a fake-mating in order to conjure themselves some time.
The joke’s on them. When old feelings make a reappearance―along with Violet’s magic―they both realize there’s nothing fake about their feelings. But there are old secrets and looming threats that could snatch away their happily ever after, again. One thing’s for sure: magic doesn’t make dating and love any easier.
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos “pretending” to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.
But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.
As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when peril comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….
Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck
Emerson Wilde has built the life of her dreams. Youngest Chamber of Commerce president in St. Cyprian history, successful indie bookstore owner, and lucky enough to have her best friends as found family? Done.
But when Emerson is attacked by creatures that shouldn’t be real, and kills them with what can only be called magic, Emerson finds that the past decade of her life has been…a lie. St. Cyprian isn’t your average Midwestern river town—it’s a haven for witches. When Emerson failed a power test years ago, she was stripped of her magical memories. Turns out, Emerson’s friends are all witches.
And so is she.
That’s not all, though: evil is lurking in the charming streets of St. Cyprian. Emerson will need to learn to control what’s inside of her, remember her magic, and deal with old, complicated feelings for her childhood friend–cranky-yet-gorgeous local farmer Jacob North—to defeat an enemy that hides in the rivers and shadows of everything she loves.
Even before she had magic, Emerson would have done anything for St. Cyprian, but now she’ll have to risk not just her livelihood…but her life.
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marais
Five octogenarian witches gather as an angry mob threatens to demolish Moonshyne Manor. All eyes turn to the witch in charge, Queenie, who confesses they’ve fallen far behind on their mortgage payments. Still, there’s hope, since the imminent return of Ruby—one of the sisterhood who’s been gone for thirty-three years—will surely be their salvation.
But the mob is only the start of their troubles. One man is hellbent on avenging his family for the theft of a legacy he claims was rightfully his. In an act of desperation, Queenie makes a bargain with an evil far more powerful than anything they’ve ever faced. Then things take a turn for the worse when Ruby’s homecoming reveals a seemingly insurmountable obstacle instead of the solution to all their problems.
The witches are determined to save their home and themselves, but their aging powers are no match for increasingly malicious threats. Thankfully, they get a bit of help from Persephone, a feisty TikToker eager to smash the patriarchy. As the deadline to save the manor approaches, fractures among the sisterhood are revealed, and long-held secrets are exposed, culminating in a fiery confrontation with their enemies.
The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean
Out on the Yorkshire Moors lives a secret line of people for whom books are food, and who retain all of a book’s content after eating it. To them, spy novels are a peppery snack; romance novels are sweet and delicious. Eating a map can help them remember destinations, and children, when they misbehave, are forced to eat dry, musty pages from dictionaries.
Devon is part of The Family, an old and reclusive clan of book eaters. Her brothers grow up feasting on stories of valor and adventure, and Devon―like all other book eater women―is raised on a carefully curated diet of fairy tales and cautionary stories.
But real life doesn’t always come with happy endings, as Devon learns when her son is born with a rare and darker kind of hunger―not for books, but for human minds.
And that is my TBR for the month. And yes, it is ambitious for me, but I have already read three of them so I’m hoping I’ll be okay. What does your TBR look like?