Author Archives: Sailorstkwrning

Team TBR Challenge Review: Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell

Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell
Fantasy romance released by Sebastian Nothwell on February 14, 2022

Shrike, the Butcher of Blackthorn, is a legendary warrior of the fae realms. When he wins a tournament in the Court of the Silver Wheel, its queen names him her Oak King – a figurehead destined to die in a ritual duel to invoke the change of seasons. Shrike is determined to survive. Even if it means he must put his heart as well as his life into a mere mortal’s hands.

Wren Lofthouse, a London clerk, has long ago resigned himself to a life of tedium and given up his fanciful dreams. When a medieval-looking brute arrives at his office to murmur of destiny, he’s inclined to think his old enemies are playing an elaborate prank. Still, he can’t help feeling intrigued by the bizarre-yet-handsome stranger and his fantastical ramblings, whose presence stirs up emotions Wren has tried to lock away in the withered husk of his heart.

As Shrike whisks Wren away to a world of Wild Hunts and arcane rites, Wren is freed from the repression of Victorian society. But both the fae and mortal realms prove treacherous to their growing bond. Wren and Shrike must fight side-by-side to see who will claim victory – Oak King or Holly King.

It has been so long since I bought this one that I actually don’t remember why I picked it up, other than I am always a sucker for a good shifter romance. (My assigned theme for this month was “animals” and I’m going to say two characters named after birds one of whom IS a bird is, uh. close enough.) Anyway – love a shifter romance, also love a historical romance, historical + shifter + supernatural shenanigans = autobuy, for me. Also the cover is beautiful. Continue reading

What Sailorstkwrning Read in 2021

Cookbooks – The National Trust books are FANTASTIC, but you do have to convert from English to American measurements if you, like me, are American.

The Great Northern Cookbook, Sean Wilson
The National Trust Book of Scones: 50 delicious recipes and some curious crumbs of history, Sarah Clelland Merker
The National Trust Book of Crumbles, Laura Mason

Non-fiction – These are all A-B rated, some denser and harder to get through than others, but nothing absolutely unbearable.

John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights, David S. Reynolds
Medical Downfall of the Tudors: Sex, Reproduction & Succession, Sylvia Barbara Soberton
Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing: Essays, Lauren Hough
The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power, Deirdre Mask
Country House Society: The Private Lives of England’s Upper Class After the First World War, Pamela Horn
The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939, Adrian Tinniswood
The House Party: A Short History of Leisure, Pleasure and the Country House Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood
Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News, Robert Hutton
A Field Guide to the English Clergy: A Compendium of Diverse Eccentrics, Pirates, Prelates and Adventurers; All Anglican, Some Even Practising The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie
Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen, Greg Jenner
The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria, Max Adams
The White King: Charles I, Traitor, Murderer, Martyr, Leanda de Lisle
The White Ship: Conquest, Anarchy and the Wrecking of Henry I’s Dream, Charles Spencer
.

Fiction
Old “friends” and auto-buys: works by authors I purchase whatever it is because it’s always good, every time:
The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting, KJ Charles
Subtle Blood (The Will Darling Adventures Book 3), KJ Charles
Paladin’s Strength (The Saint of Steel Book 2) T. Kingfisher
Paladin’s Hope (The Saint of Steel Book 3), T. Kingfisher
Tommy Cabot Was Here (The Cabots), Cat Sebastian
Peter Cabot Gets Lost (The Cabots Book 1) Cat Sebastian
The Queer Principles of Kit Webb: A Novel, Cat Sebastian
The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (Montague Siblings Book 3), Mackenzi Lee
His Sacred Incantations (The Warrior’s Guild Book 2), Scarlett Gale
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake (Winner Bakes All Book 1), Alexis Hall
Seducing the Sorcerer, Lee Welch
The Blackwing War (The Deep Witches Trilogy Book 1), K.B. Spangler
.

Series I took a chance on and then main-lined once I had a taste:

The Knight and the Necromancer: Book One: The Capital, A. H. Lee
The Knight and the Necromancer: Book Two: The Border, A. H. Lee
The Knight and the Necromancer: Book Three: The Sea, A. H. Lee
Enthralled: A Short Novel Related to The Knight and the Necromancer, A. H. Lee
Saffron Alley (Sword Dance Book 2) A.J. Demas
Strong Wine (Sword Dance Book 3), A.J. Demas
Something Human A.J. Demas
One Night in Boukos, A.J. Demas
Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells
All Systems Red (Kindle Single): The Murderbot Diaries By: Martha Wells
Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries Book 6),  By: Martha Wells
Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5),  By: Martha Wells
Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries By: Martha Wells
Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries By: Martha Wells
Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory: A Tor.com Original Murderbot Diaries Short Story (The Murderbot Diaries Book 7), Martha Wells
Spellbound: A Paranormal Historical Romance (Magic in Manhattan Book 1)
Allie Therin
Wonderstruck: A Paranormal Historical Romance (Magic in Manhattan Book 3)
Allie Therin
Starcrossed: A Paranormal Historical Romance (Magic in Manhattan Book 2)
Allie Therin
Highland Dragon Warrior: Sexy Shape Shifting Laird Fights for His Perfect Mate (Dawn of the Highland Dragon Book 1)
 Isabel Cooper
Highland Dragon Rebel (Dawn of the Highland Dragon Book 2)
Isabel Cooper
Highland Dragon Master (Dawn of the Highland Dragon Book 3)
Isabel Cooper

Series I liked but have not yet finished:

The Way Into Chaos: Book One of the Great Way, Harry Connolly: This very well done but VERY dense and requires a lot of attention. I bought the rest of the series on the strength of this book but haven’t had the braincells to read them yet.
The Bone Ships (The Tide Child Trilogy Book 1), RJ Barker – This one is also good, very strong characters, excellent worldbuilding, will suck you in like a whirlpool but also does demand  you focus.
Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu (Novel) Vol. 1 – Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, ZeldaCW, Tai3_3 – Finally available in translation!!

The rest: These are also all in the A-B range except where otherwise noted.

Interface: A Novel, Neal Stephenson, J. Frederick George
Empire City: A Novel, Matt Gallagher
These two are both novels about insurrections, which I bought after, well, y’all can probabaly guess. Stephenson was as usual eerily prophetic.
The Apple-Tree Throne, Premee Mohamed – Excellent but also kind of a downer? I needed something warm and fuzzy afterwards as a palate cleanser.
100 Boyfriends, Brontez Purnell – this one is SUPER RAUNCHY but also very good. Walks the line between autobiography and fiction.
Lord of the Last Heartbeat: A Fantasy Romance (The Sacred Dark Book 1), May Peterson – Well written but – for me! – hard going. Again I may just not have been in the right headspace for it. I haven’t finished it yet but I don’t class it as a DNF, just that I have put a pin in it for now.
Under the Whispering Door, TJ Klune – A+ – very good but also very hard to get through, for some reason. Possibly reading a romance where one of the main characters is associated with Death during a pandemic is . . . not the best of ideas, IDK. That said: it was sharp and sweet and even funny, in places, and if you liked the Cerulean Sea book, you’ll (probably) like this one.
We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel. Quan Barry – Really fantastic young adult novel. Will make you crave bananas.
The Quiet House (Black and Blue Series Book 2) Lily Morton
Geoffrey the Very Strange: A M/M Fantasy Romance, Angel Martinez, Jude Dunn
Haven: A MM Paranormal Mystery Romance, Morgan Brice
The Hands of the Emperor, Victoria Goddard – This book is ENORMOUS and it is SO GOOD. Not a romance but also not not a romance? A story of two men who love each other in multiple different ways. Look, it’s magnificent, just READ IT. A++
The Snails of Dun Nas, K.L. Noone – Yes it really is about giant snails. There’s also a non-binary character! There’s some magic (obviously) and some derring-do. Escapism at it’s finest, A+
White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels Book 1) David R. Slayton
Trailer Park Trickster (The Adam Binder Novels Book 2) David R. Slayton
The world building is at times a little wobbly but on the whole very good.

A
nd finally, my sole actual “book I wished I could have thrown across the room”:
Summons: A demon/mage story (Quirk of Fate Book 1), Lisa Oliver – this one gets a big fat F for having a vibe that was really unpleasant, specifically, it felt subtly but distinctly anti-Semitic and I noped out after two chapters and returned it.

Team TBR Challenge Review: Spellbound by Allie Therin

Spellbound by Allie Therin
Paranormal Historial Romance released by Carina Press on July 29, 2019

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

New York, 1925

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.

I picked this one in part because I was looking for a book with a one word title,since
that was the theme of the TBR Challenge for this month, but also because I love both paranormal romances AND old New York. So a paranormal romance in New York City
in 1925 seemed like it would be perfect . .. and it kind of was. Continue reading

Sailorstkwrning’s List of Books Read in 2020

Hi friends! I’m the only chatty one of the bunch I think >.> so I do the intros … (purple text is Limecello, just as a refresher. Also, you can always tell who the full post content is from by who the “author” is at the bottom of the post.). But anyway, Sailorstkwrning sent over her list because I asked the review crew for them, and here you go! I’m sure she’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about them in the comments. Or discuss them, because we all love discussing books! (😅 In fact, I’ve already asked my questions in emails…)

 

So without further ado, Sailorstkwrning!) Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Two Rogues Make a Right (Seducing the Sedgewicks) by Cat Sebastian

Two Rogues Make a Right (Seducing the Sedgewicks) by Cat Sebastian
Historical romance released by Avon Impulse on June 23, 2020

Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian book coverWill Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

The theme for this month’s TBR challenge is “family ties” and this book has a lot of those – it’s the third book in a series about one family – reading the others recommended (they are awesome!!) but not required to enjoy this one – and heroes with complicated families, in a variety of ways. It’s also a meditation on a frequently-used Regency romance trope: the couple that is mismatched, in terms of family background, one wealthy, one poor, and the accommodations they must make for each other, and their families. Here, because both halves of the couple are male, there’s another trope maybe not inverted but flipped sideways, and that is, the man who must marry in order to maintain himself in the style to which he has become accustomed. Also readers who are into hurt/comfort, and love a good sick!fic, this is a book for YOU. So much mopping of a sweaty brow, and making of soup, and reading to a cross feverish patient! Continue reading

Review: Transpire Together by Mercy Zephyr

Transpire Together by Mercy Zephyr
Contemporary own voices romance published by Mercy Zephyr on November 14, 2019

Transpire Together by Mercy Zephyr book coverHer intimately familiar voice whispered softly in his ear, “Pretend you know me.”
Lynn Hall has a formula for success. As a child in the rural island town of Selaruk, Alaska, she ate ramen; now, she’s an aspiring accountant. The last step of her plan: Liquidate her family’s Selaruk assets for her mother, then leave those memories behind for good.
Keith Kendall’s parents threw him away years ago. Now they are gone, and Keith is back to forge a new life…surrounded by painful memories. But his favorite memory—his high school sweetheart, Lynn—just walked back into his life….Too bad she doesn’t recognize her high school girlfriend.

I read this book because it’s an #ownvoices romance and I like to give those any boost I can, which includes writing reviews. Also gender roles in romance are something I’m interested in, and I wanted to see how this novel would take on the challenge. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an effectively cis-gendered mostly-hetero lady. I say effectively cis and mostly hetero because while I am comfortable with being female I am bad at being femme, and I tend to be attracted to androgyny. (I have read exactly one (1) romance novel which featured a hero who is the exact kind of person I’m attracted to, and it is Untamed by Anna Cowan.) All of this is to say, I read this as part of an active effort to diversify my romance reading experience and learn something about the genre as a whole while, hopefully, having a good time. Continue reading

Review: How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper (Author), Erin Gamble (Illustrator)

How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper (Author), Erin Gamble (Illustrator)
High fantasy M/M romance published by R. Cooper on December 26, 2018

How to (Not) Train a Firecat by R. Cooper book cover

The firecats of Dua are giant beasts with red-gold fur and lashing tails. They are also loving and loyal companions to the few they choose to serve. Every member of the royal House of Durii has a personal guard and a firecat to serve as a reminder of the greatness of their rule. After all, only the truly extraordinary would walk alongside a firecat. Only the truly extraordinary could.

Not River, obviously. River took the job of cleaning up after the noble beasts when he came to Dua years ago. He’s not any kind of soldier or guard, and he’s too mouthy to belong around royalty. All he wants to do is avoid some of the more resentful guard trainees, care for the very spoiled cats, and try not to get his heart broken by one maddeningly gentle apprentice wizard.

Apprentice Gavin is powerful, brilliant, and probably noble. He’s destined for greatness—and more than likely a guard and a firecat to protect him. He’s not meant for one insignificant little beastminder like River.

But firecats are not the only creatures who are fierce, loyal, and beautiful to behold. River is about to learn that the firecats and the guards who walk with them have more in common than he thought. And he will have to accept that he might be extraordinary as Gavin thinks he is.

I read this book because the cover is adorable, and also because I love a good “behind the scenes” book and a good magical creatures book, and this one combines both of those things.

River, who is the caretaker for the cats, is a scrappy fighter who’s not afraid to break a knee or two to defend himself. He’s very aware of being an outsider from a foreign culture and his low status and fully expects that Gavin, while currently his lover, will be expected to marry well and will eventually leave him. He’s also determined not to take any nonsense from any of the trainee cat wranglers / future guards of the nobility. River is also dealing with some culture shock, in the sense that he’s from a culture that doesn’t support same-sex relationships and still getting used to living in a society pairing off is required but the gender of one’s partner is not significant. Continue reading