Category Archives: Book Talk

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

Hi friends! So … I wrote this list out once already, and agonized over it … then somehow O_o lost it? So … apologies if things aren’t clear or I seem vague – I can’t remember who said what or when or keep things straight in my brain these days anyway, so … I tried to get the original points and gist but we’ll see. Anyway! These are my ten favorite reads from 2017 … basically. Yes! I kept it to 10. Kind of. 😛 Shut up, the series are really interconnected, okay?!

SO MANY BOOKS YAY! <3 Continue reading

What We Read in 2017 Part 2: Karen & Aidee’s Lists

Hi friends! This post [only] has Karen and Aidee’s reads because … well, they’re the ones who most have their shit together. 😛 Mine will go up … at some point. (And I maybe not expect, but hope others in the review crew will provide theirs too!) Anyway, this is Karen’s July-December list, because her first part can be found here, and Aidee’s 2017 list because she’s an ALBTALBS newcomer, so I’m very happy to be able to include her reads!

As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”

A – Amazing
B – Very Good
C – Good
D – Bad
F – Terrible
DNF – Did Not Finish (Reasons Vary)

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From Karen: (Some of) What I’ve Been Reading

December – July 2017: This year I have read less, but made a effort only to read what I like the look of, and generally I have read a lot of good books, and been a happier person. Continue reading

Aidee’s Most Anticipated Books of 2018

Hi friends! (So… I waffled on whether I should do this because it seems obnoxious to comment on someone else’s post because yes this is definitely Aidee’s list and it’s ordered by publication date. I asked everyone on the Awesome Review Crew to send me their “read” lists, their Top 10 of 2017, and their Most Anticipated of 2018. Here’s our first “Most Anticipated” list! Whee!)

These are some of the books I’m most excited to read in 2018. Needless to say, I’ll read more books than appear on this list. I tried to stick to ten, but the more I looked, the more I made gimme gestures and marked up my calendar. Continue reading

Karen’s Top 10 Reads of 2017

The first Team ALBTALBS List! (I always wait until January of the next year to post in case someone read an OMFG AMAZING LOVELOVELOVE book that should go on the list on say, December 31.) 

There were so many good books I read on 2017 that to pick 10 is actually hard, however:

Captured Shadows by Richard Rider was a lyrical Victorian love story, as much about photography as it was about Archie and Jim. Avoiding many of the cliches used in historical m/m Rider made that my favourite romance read of 2017. (In fact, Karen also reviewed this book, if you want to check that out here!) 

Jim Sinnett spends his days on respectable portrait photography and his nights creating scandalous erotic pictures for men who hide their desires in locked cabinets and between the pages of books. When a new friendship leads to a secret opportunity, one more dangerous than ever before, Jim agrees to step in front of the camera but finds himself baring much more than his skin.

A twisting historical romance set in the fog of Victorian London, Captured Shadows follows the path of love, blackmail and obsession to a devastating climax.

Continue reading

Wanna do a Group Read of the New Book by Nalini Singh Cherish Hard?!

Hi friends! So I didn’t have a chance to finish and review the ARC before release day, because release day is here – which means that everyone can read Cherish Hard! Whee! While most people started reading Nalini Singh‘s PNR, she started out writing contemporary romances, and I love hers. <3

Anyone want to do a group read? *angelface*

Cherish Hard the start to a new Hard Play series. Sailor is the brother of Gabriel, who stars in Rock Hard. (Which is also an excellent book.)

Cherish HardSailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

Continue reading

SHHM Guest Priscilla Oliveras: “Nourishment for My Latino Soul”

*ETA from Priscilla: To all our family and friends in Puerto Rico, our hearts and prayers go out to you. For those interested in donating to help those devastated by hurricane Maria, please consider this organization:  https://hispanicfederation.org/donate

We are super excited to have author Priscilla Oliveras join us at ALBTALBS for Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month! Not only is Priscilla guest blogging, but her first novel debuts this month on September 26th. Congratulations, Priscilla!

Nourishment for My Latino Soul

The Latino culture is rich and vibrant. Full of color and essence. Of different flavors and sounds. Within our culture, you’ll find nuances unique to specific countries and areas. Evidence of this is readily apparent in the beautiful homage titled Latino Cultures in the US compiled by Google Arts & Culture.

Continue reading

Give Me Your Book Recommendations Please! Talking Adult High Fantasy Romances

Impossible ThingsHi friends! So I’m always looking for book recommendations, and this summer I’ve been on a massive adult high fantasy romance kick.

Do you know how difficult it is to find books in this particular subgenre?!!? [Very. Very, very very very very difficult.] There are a lot of YA fantasy stories… some are romance … but most “adult” high fantasy romances are more romantic elements than romances.

What is high fantasy? I took that definition from wikipedia.

High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by its setting or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, and plot. High fantasy is defined as fantasy set in an alternative, fictional (“secondary”) world, rather than “the real”, or “primary” world. The secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world.

But yes – not set in the real world. It’s different from low fantasy, pararnormal, or magical elements. Although a lot of fantasy stories often have magical elements.

An example of high fantasy would be the A Song of Ice and Fire series, possibly better known as the Game of Thrones TV series. However, while it’s an adult high fantasy, it isn’t a romance.

I’ve read Grace Draven, Jeffe Kennedy, Elizabeth Hunter, Amanda Bouchet, C.L. Wilson, Elizabeth Vaughan, Maria V. Snyder, Kate Johnson, the ACOTAR trilogy by Sarah J. Maas, Lisa Blackwood, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Michelle Sagara West, Patricia Briggs, Robin McKinley, Anne Leonard, Tanith Lee, Amy Harmon, Jill Myles, and I’ve even gone so far as to read YA; Leigh Bardugo, Rae Carson, Robin LaFevers, as well as Erika Johansen – although this last was a mistake. I’ve linked each author to either the series I read or my favorite book/series by the author.

I’m currently reading Sharon Shinn, then I’m going to read book(s) by Melanie Rawn, and also have Sara Raasch on deck. There are a few more authors but I can’t think of them off the top of my head. Oh I’ve also read the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop ages ago.

I’ve also read the Sevenwaters series by Juliet Marillier – although I wouldn’t say those are high fantasy exactly, as the books are set in Ireland, although it’s an alternate reality “Erin with magical creatures” and more romantic elements stories than romance in my opinion. (I didn’t read book three.)

So! Does anyone have adult high fantasy romance recommendations for me? I’m willing to read series too but only if they’re complete. The way I read I blow through books and I not only hate waiting, I’ll forget things, so I need to be able to glom all at once. 😀 I do also love twisted fairy tales, so those I might make a special exception for – it’s what made me start the Sevenwaters books.

I know – I’m difficult. I’m not looking for paranormal romances, or time travels either.

However – if you’ve read a romance novel lately that is OH MY GOD SHOUT IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS AMAZING … I’d like to hear that as well, because as of a month ago I’ve also started reading some other romance subgenres as well.

Thank youuuu!! (And if you’d like to discuss any of the books I’d mention I’d love to chat too!)

Guest Post: On Fat Heroines (in Romance) by N.R. Lines

Hi friends! So this post was inspired by just an offhand comment about how fat heroines are [rarely] actually fat in romance, or there’s something ridiculous about them – e.g. the “fat heroine” has visible ribs the hero counts or runs his fingers over. Anyway, I then asked N.R. in the spring if she wanted to write a post, this was sent to me back in June, but I’m basically awful and had to put this off because scheduling and then time got away with me, so if anything is off, this is my fault. And also, thank you N.R. for your patience! I really hope you all take the time to read this post. <3

I’d also like to note that all covers shown here are recommended romances, regardless of placement in the post. I just like pictures, ok? 😉 

On Fat Heroines (in Romance) 
By N.R. Lines

We have a problem in the romance genre. It’s been a problem for as long as I’ve been reading romance back in1981, and likely much longer than that. It’s a problem that impacts many women , whether they know it or not. And few people seem to be talking about it. The problem: Romancelandia lacks fat heroines. Or at least fat heroines who are written well.

I have divided the fat heroines I’ve seen in romance novels into the following categories:

  • The Fake Fat Heroine
  • The Confident Curvy Girl
  • The Full Figured Fat Heroine

There are three types of Fake Fat Heroines. First is the heroine who the author is authentically trying to write as fat, but uses descriptors that could never apply to a fat heroine. For example, a truly fat, or even curvy girl will never be described as having jutting hipbones. A partner would never loving run their hands down the fat heroine’s ribs and feel the outline of her rib bones. These Fake Fat Heroines make me shake my head and laugh at the absurdity of it all. To fix this we need to be better at describing a fat heroine in a manner that is both realistic and affirming. We can do this, I know we can!

The second type of Fake Fat Heroine is the heroine who describes herself as fat because she is insecure about an aspect of her body. Fat or slender, we’ve all been there. But what if we stopped doing that? What if instead of making your heroine feel and see fat when she thinks about those insecurities we give her an insecurity that she overcomes. Pick one thing about herself, not her entire body. I get it, fat is that ubiquitous descriptor that is used to describe a woman who doesn’t feel right about her body. I’m in no way minimizing the issues we have as women, but as romance writers, perhaps we can do better and can find other ways to describe these insecurities. And we can write the stories where these insecurities are overcome in positive ways that don’t inadvertently put us fat girls down.

The final type of Fake Fat Heroine is more damaging. This is the heroine an author presents as a woman who believes she is fat, who sees a big girl when she looks in the mirror, but as we get into the story we come to realize the heroine isn’t a plus sized gal at all. Maybe the heroine has been called fat by family and friends because she’s a size eight instead of a size two. Maybe she was fat at a different point in her life, but has been at a lower weight for some time and is suffering from body dysmorphia. Maybe she is a trans woman who has some dissonance between how she feels in her skin and what she sees in the mirror. All we get from the heroine’s inner dialogue, and maybe dialogue with her evil family and friends, is that she is fat. Continue reading

What We’ve Been Reading in 2017

Hi friends! I always like to know what people have been reading, and more importantly, what they recommend. While this isn’t exactly that … (those posts come in reviews and later), this list and our grades should give you some sort of indication. This time, you’ll get a comprehensive lists from me, a general list from Babs, and Karen’s highlights.
 
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! [I’m also as usual it seems like treading through quicksand, so we’ll see how we go with links.]
 
I also want to note, Babs put me to shame with her organization. While I then also separated my books out by month, I can’t speak to accuracy of timing. Especially since you know, I was loopy for most of it.
 
As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”
A = OMFG BEST BOOK EVER – LOVED IT. LOVED IT AND IT MADE ME LOVE EVERYTHING.
B = Really great book. You should read it.
C = Good book. Average, enjoyable read.
D = It was good, but there were some problems, or the reader had [significant] issues with certain aspects.
F = this was not a good book. I am angry I read it.
DNF = Did Not Finish (Either the book was truly that terrible, or I wasn’t in the mood, or whatever else. I just didn’t finish.)

Shoutout to May ALBTALBS Superstars!

Yes, I mean Cynthia Sax, Cathy Pegau, and Dorothy F. Shaw. You might have noticed their gorgeous covers to the right. These lovely ladies are also helping keep A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) afloat with these advertising spots, so you know – I think they deserve a little love. <3 Continue reading