Category Archives: Book Talk

Guest Author Stacey Agdern: Thoughts on History and Jewish American Heritage Month

Hi friends! Please welcome Stacey to ALBTALBS! She’s our first JAHM guest ever! This is really exciting. 😀

Thoughts on History and Jewish American Heritage Month:
By Stacey Agdern

Jewish American Heritage month was established in 2006 by presidential proclamation.  Which means that it’s the most recent of the heritage months, now sharing space with an already well established month.

Which means it’s hard to talk about it. 

It’s not that Jews aren’t proud of who we are. We are.  

It’s that we don’t want to take away from the important conversations that surround  AAPI history month. These days, as anti Asian prejudices increase, it’s even more important to focus on and celebrate the history and achievements of East Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders. 

But at the same time, these days, a great deal of conversation in Jewish spaces involves putting ourselves back into the narrative and reframing conversations where we’ve been erased.  It’s happening in so many different spaces, for so many different reasons. Continue reading

A List of API[A] Romance Authors

Hi friends! So I did this for Black History Month – created a list of Black Romance Authors which I hope you found helpful. So I wanted to do it for APAHM too.
With SAPAHM months I’ve had some international guests, so the lists might be slightly off – so apologizes if they are, please let me know what to change. (If I couldn’t find a webpage I linked to their Amazon profile page.) And … some of these authors write YA but YA romance, so I added you know – “(YA)” after their names.

Bella Andre
Grace Callaway
Jax Cassidy
S.A. Chakraborty
Gloria Chao (YA)
Mary H.K. Choi (YA)
Sylvia Day
Sara Desai
Sonali Dev
Piper J. Drake
Pintip Dunn (YA)
Vicki Essex
Hafsah Faizal (YA)
Eilis Flynn
Jen Frederick
Jeanette Grey
Jenny Han (YA)
Karen Harbaugh
Farah Heron
Helen Hoang
Mia Hopkins
Amalie Howard
Uzma Jalaluddin
Julie Kagawa (YA)
Soniah Kamal
Coleen Kwan
Thien-Kim Lam
Ruby Lang
Jackie Lau
Loan Le (YA)
Jade Lee aka Kathy Lyons
Jayci Lee
Hudson Lin
Jeannie Lin
Marjorie Liu
Gennita Low
Tif Marcelo
Sandhya Menon (YA)

Courtney Milan
Tara Pammi
Suzanne Park
Sajni Patel
Cindy Pon
Tara Quan
Alisha Rai
Amara Royce
Sophia Singh Sasson
Nisha Sharma
Royaline Sing
Suleikha Snyder
Jesse Q. Sutanto
Cecilia Tan
Sherry Thomas
Melanie Ting
Julie Tieu
Gita Trelease
Jen Trinh
Lillie Vale (YA)
[Grace Wen]
Ekaterine Xia
Cathy Yardley
Jennifer Yen (YA)

International Asian Pacific Islander Authors
H. Bentham
Halina Cabrera
Catherine Dellosa
Carla de Guzman
Six de los Reyes
Mina V. Esguerra
Elizabeth Galit
Georgette Gonzales
Agay Llanera
Arlene Manocot
Chris Mariano
Nicola Marsh
Bianca Mori
Farrah F. Polestico
Kate Sebastian
Nalini Singh
Camilla Sisco
Marian Tee
Jay E. Tria
Celestine Trinidad
Ines Bautista-Yao

Have you read these authors before? I know there are names I’ve missed – so do you have anyone I should add? (And thank you!)
And as always – if you want to be removed, please let me know.

*ETA: and unlike the other list, the italicized names are ones from crowdsourcing. So I switched it up. Just keeping y’all on your toes. 😉
*ETA² – Clarification after getting numerous comments – mostly on Twitter – Jackie Lau is not the only Asian Canadian author on the list. I included Canada in the “American” list because it’s in N. America, and is closer/much more similar than say someone who lives in Malaysia and has only ever lived in Malaysia. We’ll see how things change next year.

SAPAHM Guest Author Cathy Yardley on being Asian-ish

Hi friends! I’m so happy to welcome back Cathy Yardley. I really hope you read her post – I’m grateful for what she has to say, and that she was willing to share it with us. Thank you, Cathy. <3

Asian-ish

When Lime asked if I could write a guest post for APAHM, I was thrilled. And then I was sort of terrified. Because I have a very complicated relationship with my own Asian heritage.

So I was talking with my (white) father last month, and I mentioned something – don’t remember what exactly– that my brother and I had been talking about. I think it was being Asian parents. How funny it was that, now that we had kids of our own, a lot of Mom’s habits had stuck despite out best efforts. Hovering about grades, especially.

And my father said, “It’s not like you’re really Asian, though.” Continue reading

Kindle Book Promo + Deals

Hi friends! If you follow me on social media you might’ve seen me share a bunch of deals before. I asked if anyone might be interested in a blog post listing them and people responded positively, so here we are! Enjoy!

First of all, Amazon is currently running another promotion where if you spend $25 on ebooks, you’ll get a $6 credit. Click here: amzn.to/3aKlw7a  – make sure it tells you the deal is activated first before you start buying! It ends tomorrow, April 28, 2021.

Now, all the deals are priced as listed at the time of this post so I’d encourage you to double check because if you read/buy kindle books you’ll know pricing can change very quickly.
N.B. I haven’t read all of these books. Some I’m sharing because it’s a good deal, some I’m sharing because the deal but also I know others liked them. Or, I think people might enjoy the book. For ones I really liked I’ll sometimes comment or highlight it.

Taking His Shot (Hot Jocks Book 7) by Kendall Ryan is on sale for $0.99  (kindle)
Marry in Haste (Marriage of Convenience Book 1) by Anne Gracie is on sale for $1.99
Sorcerer to the Crown (A Sorcerer to the Crown Novel Book 1) by Zen Cho is on sale for $1.99
Problem Child (A Jane Doe Thriller) by Victoria Helen Stone is on sale for $0.99
Jane Doe: A Novel (A Jane Doe Thriller) by Victoria Helen Stone is on sale for $1.99
The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone is on sale for $3.99
The Vanishing (Fogg Lake Book 1) by Jayne Ann Krentz is on sale for $2.99
A Lie for a Lie (All In Book 1) by Helena Hunting is on sale for $1.99
Unbreak My Heart by Lauren Blakely is on sale for $1.99
Rookie Move (A Brooklyn Bruisers Novel Book 1) by Sarina Bowen is on sale for $2.99 
His Immortal Embrace by Hannah Howell, Lynsay Sands, Sara Blayne, and Kate Huntington is on sale for $1.99
A Heart of Blood and Ashes (A Gathering of Dragons Book 1) by Milla Vane is still on sale for $1.99
Lover Mine (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 8) by J.R. Ward is on sale for $1.99
Not the lowest price, but A Court of Thorns and Roses is on sale for $6.65  (kindle) – and you might want to snag it now because it seems the other books in the trilogy are now $10.
Someone to Watch over Me (Bow Street Series Book 1) is on sale for $1.99
Dreaming of You (Gamblers Book 2) by Lisa Kleypas is still on sale for $2.99 – And if you’ve never read it and don’t understand the “DEREK!!! SARA!!!” tweets and the “debates” … well here’s your chance to get it at a bargain 😉
Romancing the Duke: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare is on sale for $2.99
Say Yes to the Marquess: Castles Ever After by Tessa Dare is on sale for $3.99
Catch Me If You Can by Christina C Jones is on sale for $0.99
Finding Forever (Friends and Lovers Book 1) by Christina C Jones is on sale for $0.99
Only For A Night (The Lick Series Book 1) by Naima Simone is on sale for $0.99
Only For Your Touch (The Lick Series Book 2) by Naima Simone is on sale for $0.99
Only For You (The Lick Series Book 3) by Naima Simone is on sale for $0.99 
(There are even more Naima Simone books on sale for $0.99-$1.99 so enjoy! You can check them out here.)
A number of Tessa Bailey books are on sale from $0.99 to $2.99 here.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love by Numbers Book 1) by Sarah MacLean is on sale for $3.49
A number of Grace Burrowes books are on sale for $1.99 here (kindle)
Duchess in Love (Duchess Quartet Book 1) by Eloisa James is on sale for $1.99
Much Ado About You (Essex Sisters Series Book 1) by Eloisa James is on sale for $1.99
Desperate Duchesses by Eloisa James is on sale for $1.99
The Bachelor (Duke Dynasty Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries is on sale for $0.99
Mistress By Mistake (Courtesan Court) by Maggie Robinson is on sale for $1.99
Badger to the Bone (The Honey Badger Chronicles Book 3) by Shelly Laurenston is on sale for $0.99
The Unleashing (Call Of Crows Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston is on sale for $1.99
Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 1) by Ilona Andrews is on sale for $1.99
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews is on sale for $2.99
Heiress for Hire (A Duke’s Heiress Romance Book 1) by Madeline Hunter is on sale for $0.99
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen is on sale for $2.99
A number of books by Beverly Jenkins are on sale from $1.99-$2.99 (here) and if nothing else you should really get Destiny’s Embrace which is $1.99 right now.
Crossing The Line (Wilde Ways Book 7) by Cynthia Eden is on sale for $0.99

So! Did you find this helpful? Would you be interested in me noting if the books are in KU too or no? Please let me know!
And 😅 finding all these deals etc does take time so if you’re so inclined … buy me a cup of coffee? *angelface*
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Women’s History Month Guest Post: Morgan Elektra on The Mysterious Mrs. Radcliffe

Hi friends! We’re back with a WHM post! As you know I welcome any and everyone fro Smithsonian [Heritage] Month posts, and Morgan was someone who stepped up. Thank you, Morgan! I have to say – I didn’t know much about Mrs. Radcliffe. Of course I knew she was a very popular author. It seemed for a while you couldn’t read a historical romance that didn’t snark about her in some way – so I appreciated Morgan providing her take and more information. I also desperately need to know more about ~what happened to her … but that seems like something we’ll never know. Anyway – read on!

The Mysterious Mrs. Radcliffe
by Morgan Elektra

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe book coverMost of you don’t know the name Ann Radcliffe, despite the fact that, in her heyday (1789-1797), she was the most popular novelist in perhaps all of Europe. However, this sad oversight is hardly your fault. Unlike names like Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and the Brontë sisters, Radcliffe’s name is hardly ever uttered in a classroom setting. Prior to college and any specialization classes taken at that time, there is very little attention paid to the Gothic novel at all, despite how those authors, like Radcliffe, helped shape the world of both horror and romance.

So, who is Ann Radcliffe and why should you know her name? Born Ann Ward in Holborn, London on July 9, 1764, she moved with her mother and father to Bath as a small girl, where her father managed a china shop for the Wedgewoods. She married William Radcliffe, a lawyer who would go on to edit The English Chronicle newspaper. The two lived in seclusion in London and had no children. Little more is known of her life, aside from a few quotes about her shyness.  Continue reading

Aidee’s Anticipated Books of 2021

*Editor’s Note: Aidee sent this list on 12/28/2020. Some of the books are already available. For those yet to be published, I’ve included the release date.

I’ve organized this list by release date. I’m also sure there are books coming out in the second half of the year that I’m going to be excited about, I just can’t find official publication dates for them.

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan Mcguire
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
.

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan (Set for release on April 20, 2021)
Captain Grayson Hunter knows the battle to complete the first worldwide telegraphic network will be fierce, and he intends to win it by any means necessary. When he hears about a reclusive genius who has figured out how to slash the cost of telegraphic transmissions, he vows to do whatever it takes to get the man in his employ.

Except the reclusive genius is not a man, and she’s not looking for employment.

Amelia Smith was taken in by English missionaries as a child. She’s not interested in Captain Hunter’s promises or his ambitions. But the harder he tries to convince her, the more she realizes that there is something she wants from him. She wants everything. And she’ll have to crack the frozen shell he’s made of his heart to get it.

The Route of Ice and Salt A translation of La ruta del hielo y la sal by José Luis Zárate. Translated by David Bowles
A reimagining of Dracula’s voyage to England, filled with Gothic imagery and queer desire.

It’s an ordinary assignment, nothing more. The cargo? Fifty boxes filled with Transylvanian soil. The route? From Varna to Whitby. The Demeter has made many trips like this. The captain has handled dozens of crews.

He dreams familiar dreams: to taste the salt on the skin of his men, to run his hands across their chests. He longs for the warmth of a lover he cannot have, fantasizes about flesh and frenzied embraces. All this he’s done before, it’s routine, a constant, like the tides.

Yet there’s something different, something wrong. There are odd nightmares, unsettling omens and fear. For there is something in the air, something in the night, someone stalking the ship.

The cult vampire novella by Mexican author José Luis Zárate is available for the first time in English. Translated by David Bowles and with an accompanying essay by noted horror author Poppy Z. Brite, it reveals an unknown corner of Latin American literature.

Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder
They call him a monster. More wolf than man—more dangerous than any predator.
They have no idea.

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands. He took out the mobsters responsible for killing his foster brother, and that one act of vigilante justice has earned him countless enemies in New York’s supernatural-controlled underworld. He knows that shifters like him deserve the worst. Darkness. Pain. Solitude. But meeting Neha makes him feel human for the first time in forever.

Lawyer and psychologist Neha Ahluwalia knows Joe is guilty, but she’s determined to help him craft a solid defense…even if she can’t defend her own obsession. Just one look from the wolf shifter makes her skin burn hot and her pulse race. When a payback hit goes wrong, Neha’s forced to make a choice: help Joe escape or leave him to his fate. Before long they’re on the run?from the monsters who want him dead, from their own traitorous hearts, and from an attraction that threatens to destroy them.

Calculated Risks by Seanan Mcguire
Just when Sarah Zellaby, adopted Price cousin and telepathic ambush predator, thought that things couldn’t get worse, she’s had to go and prove herself wrong. After being kidnapped and manipulated by her birth family, she has undergone a transformation called an instar, reaching back to her Apocritic origins to metamorphize. While externally the same, she is internally much more powerful, and much more difficult to control.

Even by herself. After years of denial, the fact that she will always be a cuckoo has become impossible to deny.

Now stranded in another dimension with a handful of allies who seem to have no idea who she is–including her cousin Annie and her maybe-boyfriend Artie, both of whom have forgotten their relationship–and a bunch of cuckoos with good reason to want her dead, Sarah must figure out not only how to contend with her situation, but with the new realities of her future. What is she now? Who is she now? Is that person someone she can live with?

And when all is said and done, will she be able to get the people she loves, whether or not they’ve forgotten her, safely home?

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs (To be released on March 16, 2021)
Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear–before it’s too late–in this thrilling entry in the Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It’s as if the people picked up and left their possessions behind. With a mystery on their hands and no jurisdiction on private property, the FBI dumps the whole problem in the lap of the land owner, Aspen Creek, Inc.–aka the business organization of the Marrok’s pack.

Somehow, the pack of the Wolf Who Rules is connected to a group of vanished people. Werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are tasked with investigating, and soon find that a deserted town is the least of the challenges they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous–and it has met werewolves before.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (To be released March 30, 2021)
The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the King of Scars Duology.

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (To be released May 25, 2021)
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.

Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.

When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.

The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas A translation of Diccionario de mitos de América by María García Esperón. Translated by David Bowles
Fifteen thousand years before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas, people had already spread from tip to tip and coast to coast. Like all humans, these Native Americans sought to understand their place in the universe, the nature of their relationship with the divine, and the origin of the world into which their ancestors had emerged.

The answers lay in their sacred stories.

Author María García Esperón, illustrator Amanda Mijangos, and translator David Bowles have gifted us a treasure. Their talents have woven this collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents—the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it—from the edge of Argentina all the way up to Alaska.

The Em Querido list seeks to introduce the finest books in translation from around the world to an American audience. We feel lucky to be bringing you this book on our inaugural list, which we hope will be a true window and mirror.

Last Guard by Nalini Singh (To be released on July 20, 2021)
Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.

For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed “imperfect” by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel for the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.

To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet . . . or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.

Aidee’s Top 10 Reads of 2020

*E.N. Aidee added this post on 1/13/21 – so all delays are the fault of one Limecello. 😬

My usual disclaimors about this list apply: the order in which these books appear is not related to how much I recommend them, and there were a lot of good books in 2020 which I recommend that aren’t on this list. The asterisk next to Emerald Blaze means I re-read it.

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews (audiobook and e-book) |A- *
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews Book CoverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

What can a Body Do by Sara Hendren | A+
What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren book coverFurniture and tools, kitchens and campuses and city streets—nearly everything human beings make and use is assistive technology, meant to bridge the gap between body and world. Yet unless, or until, a misfit between our own body and the world is acute enough to be understood as disability, we may never stop to consider—or reconsider—the hidden assumptions on which our everyday environment is built.

In a series of vivid stories drawn from the lived experience of disability and the ideas and innovations that have emerged from it—from cyborg arms to customizable cardboard chairs to deaf architecture—Sara Hendren invites us to rethink the things and settings we live with. What might assistance based on the body’s stunning capacity for adaptation—rather than a rigid insistence on “normalcy”—look like? Can we foster interdependent, not just independent, living? How do we creatively engineer public spaces that allow us all to navigate our common terrain? By rendering familiar objects and environments newly strange and wondrous, What Can a Body Do? helps us imagine a future that will better meet the extraordinary range of our collective needs and desires.

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas | A
CHINA, 484 A.D.
A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan | A+
Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo (novella) by P. Djeli Clark | A
A Tor.com original historcal fantasy set in an alternate early twentieth century infused with the otherworldly.

Egypt, 1912. In Cairo, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine.

What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and a plot that could unravel time itself.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Can’t Even by Ann Helen Petersen | A
Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole (audiobook) | A-
Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (audiobook) | A-
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane (audiobook) | A
A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (audiobook) | A-
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

· Never trust an outsider

· Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

· And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Valentine’s Guests: Bobbi Romans Interviews Carolyn Hector

Hi friends! With time being fluid here in ALBTALBS land, and mixed up dates on my part, I’m glad this all worked out and we’re welcoming the lovely Bobbi Romans who is interviewing her delightful friend Carolyn Hector. I do want to say first – Cocoa Dreams, Carolyn’s newest book just came out this week! Congratulations on your newest release, Carolyn! Anyway, you gotta love a pair who just take care of everything! So without further ado…

Bobbi Romans Interviews Carolyn Hector for Valentine’s Day

Her Mistletoe Bachelor by Carolyn Hector book coverWhoop-Whoop, its Bobbi Romans here interviewing the fabulous Carolyn Hector Hall, AKA my little cuddle buddy, about all kinds of juicy tidbits both Valentines Inspired as well as just nosey darn questions.

Lets jump right in.

Bobbi: Hey cuddle buddy!
Carolyn: I miss you! I can’t wait until we can sleep in the same bed together! And before we start… Happy Birthday weekend to you! 

Bobbi: So for y’all reading this and us for the first time, twice a year (pre-covid) Carolyn, and I, along with some other awesome romance authors got together for a lake house retreat. At these retreats we do get a lot writing done, but we also have fun. One year Carolyn brought us all our own barbies. And let’s just say when we woke up in the morning, someone one (thou shalt not be named) posed the Barbies in some pretty wicked poses. 
Carolyn: What happens at the lake house, stays at the lake house….. or it ends up in a novel or on Facebook.  Continue reading

When So For Real Was Too Real: On Reviewing, with a Shout Out (and Apology) to Rebekah Weatherspoon et al

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon book coverI’ve been thinking about writing this post since October 2016. Rebekah Weatherspoon sent me an ARC of So For Real on October 16, 2016. I read it shortly thereafter. I’d think everyone in the US remembers we were gearing up for a major election … and … welp. So there was a lot going on, and I remember reading So For Real – I had loved So Sweet. I believe I wrote a “First Look” (a review) of that book and for So Right at Heroes & Heartbreakers. (Remember that site?) I’m even blurbed in So Right because I loved it so much! But I remember reading So For Real and – it’s definitely real. Kayla Bradbury née Davis goes through a lot. From what I recall, she’s struggling with newly married life, with friends, with her new business, with life. I meant to review it, but was putting it off because I wanted to love it more than I did … and I just so strongly associate it with the election cycle. I haven’t gone back to re-read it for that very reason. (Unfortunately low key the whole series…) I’m definitely a “mood reader,” which is also why I comfort re-read recent favorites, and sometimes avoid “old favorites” because I’m scared they won’t stand the test of time. Or my bad mood.

I have a highly developed sense of guilt. Not only do I feel bad for not reviewing So For Real (and others) since 2016 … I still feel guilty for agreeing to review a book in like 2005 or 2006 and not getting around to it. (I think I started reviewing books online in ~02-03?) There was a lot of school … and life kicking my ass. Not just the election but a massive cycle of doctors (when I talk about “surgeon #12” sometimes it’s because I literally had to consult with more than 12 orthopedic surgeons across the country. I’m up to at least 14 now…) Then there were the major surgeries… I was thinking the other day that I was pretty much drugged and out of it for a good chunk of the dumpster administration. (Silver linings?) Anesthesia brain is very real too. Unfortunately, that’s also just part of it. Let’s not get into the rest though. Continue reading

A “Crowdsourced” List of Black Romance Authors

Hi friends! It’s February, and I’m trying to bring back the Heritage Month posts … we’ll see how successful (or not) it is – but I wanted to start out with the basics (which I plan to put in a different post). This is more a “me” post than “the blog” post in a way, so I’m leaving it under my account rather than the administrator one. 

Anyway – there are apparently some people who think/say there are “no” romances out there by own voices/Black authors and … *stares.*
For myself, I wanted to make the commitment to not just read more diversely, but to read more Black romance authors. Especially after our Black Lives Matters post I wanted to put my money where my mouth was.

I’m just one person though, and I miss a lot – so I decided to crowd source on social media, and I wrote down every author suggested. The italicized names are ones I added to the list. There are of course many other lists compiled so I wanted to highlight them as well/will add them as I find them in the depths of my terrifying inbox. Continue reading