Tag Archives: Grade A

Team TBR Challenge Review: Love Notes by Christina C. Jones

Love Notes by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary Romance released by Christina C. Jones on February 2, 2018

Love Notes by Christina C. Jones Book CoverLove that says something, instead of just looking like it. Love you can always trust to feel like home. For both of them, it’s something that has always been just outside of their peripheral, something to be observed rather than experienced. A depth of feeling reserved for people who were “into” that, those with a different outlook, those more… deserving. Until their paths cross. Lines are crossed. And maybe the stars are crossed too, because the connection and chemistry are so off the charts that they can’t stay away from each other, can’t avoid it… even if they think they should.

I haven’t read blue collar romances in a long time, partly because I realized that a lot of them were about secret rich people and I find that premise less interesting. If you’re going to write about rich people, then write about rich people, don’t try and disguise them. Anyway, I struggled a bit when trying to meet the prompt for this month’s TBR because it was for a blue collar romance and I had been reading entirely outrageous (in the best way) paranormal romances for the last few months. I got this book because Limecello recommended it when it was on sale a few weeks ago. And here we are. This was a fun book, and its warmth and feeling of community balanced out the darker elements. The book talks about child sexual abuse, and it is an important part of one of the love interests’ backstory. Jules is moving back to her old neighborhood and opening up a photography studio when she meets Troy, who manages a barber shop across the street from where her studio will be. Both Troy and Jules go through some character development during the book. Honestly, this is a lovely book to read. And Limecello really likes the audiobook version. Continue reading

What Limecello Read in 2021

Hi friends! Nope – that’s not a typo, and yes, it’s taken me this long to write out this list. :X And in fact once I hit ~June 2021 I think I stopped writing what potential rating I gave a book – I’d also gotten bad about updating thoughts and have been quite bad about it this year too. Future me will undoubtedly be mad at past me when I try to figure out what I thought about a book I read. (Or potentially be surprised I read it 😅.)

Anyway what with the pandemic, terrible world events, terrible life events and work and such, here is a very likely incomplete but best as I can figure list. As you can tell the end of the year was really bad for me and honestly I basically read/listened to the same books on repeat from September through December so my tracking is REALLY bad, but I know I listened to the same book(s) on repeat daily and sometimes twice in one day and it got to a point where I could quote the books so … that’s something?

I’d say my big “new to me” author find of 2021 was Tiffany Patterson though. While there [iirc] are some editing issues, what stuck me is the characters and stories – her voice is very distinctive/I think I could pick up an unlabeled/marked book when I was in my glom and be like “yup this is a Patterson book” – but! Each one is also so unique and different. They didn’t feel cookie cutter or like widgets, which is impressive cuz I read like 20+ books of her in a row. She seems to be methodically taking her books out of KU, which I totally get … but it makes me kinda sad cuz people who might’ve read her/found them through KU now don’t get to do that. ANYWAY. Before I babble more/potentially get myself in trouble … here’s my list of reads.

January
Accused by Sharon C. Cooper ♪
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House – B– ♪ x3
Marry in Scandal by Annie Gracie – D++
*Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas – A-
Hidden Sins by Selena Montgomery ♪
Carter’s #Undoing by Sherelle Green – C- ♪
Sweet Deception by Rochelle Alers
Yours to Take by Joely Sue Burkhart
Solid Soul by Brenda Jackson ♪ – at the time of my formatting this the kindle book is on sale for $1.99
Night Heat by Brenda Jackson – C ♪ – this kindle book is also on sale for $1.99 right now
The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
Duty or Desire by Brenda Jackson ♪
Bane by Brenda Jackson ♪
Scrooged by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
Rafe by Rebekah Weatherspoon – C ♪
*Crave by Evelyn Sola – B ♪
Cherish by Evelyn Sola – C+ ♪
Crash by Evelyn Sola – C+ ♪

February
*Crave by Evelyn Sola – B ♪
Wait for your love by AshleyNicole ♪
Claimed by a Steele by Brenda Jackson ♪
The Agent by Nancy Herkness
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House – B– ♪ x2
The Boss and the Brat by Sosie Frost – D+
*Let Me Hold You by Alexandria House – C+ ♪
*Ante Up by Christina C. Jones – B+ ♪ x3
*Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
My Fake Christmas Fiancé by Julie Kriss – D+
Santa Baby Maybe by S. Doyle – B
Let Me Be Your Motivation by Tay Mo’Nae ♪
The Sweet Spot by Tay Mo’Nae ♪
The Perfect Present by Rochelle Alers, Cheris Hodges, and Pamela Yaye ♪
How My Brother’s Best Friend Stole Christmas by Molly O’Keefe C–
Room Service by Rochelle Alers C — ♪
*Taming Clint Westmoreland by Brenda Jackson ♪ x2
The Hot Mess and the Heartthrob by Pippa Grant B++
Quade’s Babies by Brenda Jackson D+ ♪ x2
I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones – B+ ♪ x2*

March
Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones – C ♪ x2
Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones – C – ♪ x2
Guided Meditations for Self Healing: Mindfulness and Transcendental Relaxation Techniques for Anxiety and Pain Relief – Quiet the Mind and cure Panic Attacks (for Beginners) by Mindfulness Meditation Institute ♪
Transcendental Meditation: Learn Healing and Transformation Through Mindfulness Meditation by Dr Henriette Sparson ♪
*Safe With Me by Stephanie Nicole Norris – D ♪
*Crave by Evelyn Sola – B ♪ x2
Westmoreland’s Way by Brenda Jackson D++ ♪ x2*
The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh – C+ ♪ x2*
Mr. Vega by Xyla Turner – C ♪ x2*
Mr. West by Xyla Turner – C – – ♪ x2*
[*]Want You to Want Me by Lorelei James – B ++ ♪
Strictly Professional by Christina C. Jones ♪
Unfinished Business by Christina C. Jones D- ♪
To Wake a Dragon by Naomi Lucas
A Change Had to Come by Gwynne Forster D+ ♪
Tropical Dragons Series Boxset with Bonus Exclusive Short Story: A Sci-fi Fantasy Romance Series Books 1-3 by Naomi Lucas
Beyond Temptation by Brenda Jackson – D+ ♪
Risky Pleasures by Brenda Jackson – D – ♪ x2*

April
*Tempest by Beverly Jenkins – B++ ♪
*Vivid by Beverly Jenkins – B+ ♪
*Indigo by Beverly Jenkins – B++ ♪
*The Taming of Jessi Rose by Beverly Jenkins – B+ ♪
*Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins – A ♪
*Always and Forever by Beverly Jenkins – C+++ ♪
*Destiny’s Embrace by Beverly Jenkins – B ♪ –
*Destiny’s Surrender by Beverly Jenkins – B – x2 ♪
*Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins – C- ♪
*Rebel by Beverly Jenkins ♪x2
*Through the Storm by Beverly Jenkins – B ♪
*Crave by Evelyn Sola – B ♪ ~*
Deeper Than Love by Delaney Diamond – D— ♪
Lust by Victoria Christopher Murray D—- ♪
Give Me Fever by Niobia Bryant – D++ ♪
When the Smoke Clears by Kenya Wright D+++ ♪
Redemption by Kenya Wright ♪
Eric’s Inferno by Tiffany Patterson – C+ ♪

May
Carter’s Flame by Tiffany Patterson – C ♪
Emanuel’s Heat by Tiffany Patterson – D+ ♪
Slamdunked by Love by Jamie Wesley – C+ ♪
Tell Me Something Good by Jamie Wesley – C— ♪
The Deal with Love by Jamie Wesley – C– ♪
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas – C—
The Wife He Needs by Brenda Jackson – C— ♪ x2*
High Stakes Holiday by Christina C. Jones – D++
Hard Love by Peyton Banks -C– ♪ x2*
The Marriage He Demands by Brenda Jackson – C ♪ x2*
Dirty Talk by Julie Kriss
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod – C++ ♪ X2*
Broken by Evelyn Sola – B-
Mine by Kenya Wright – D+ ♪
Aaron’s Patience by Tiffany Patterson – C
Meant to Be by Tiffany Patterson – C+
For Keeps by Tiffany Patterson – C—
Until My Last Breath by Tiffany Patterson – D+
For You by Tiffany Patterson – D+
No Coincidence by Tiffany Patterson – C++
A Holiday Temptation by Tiffany Patterson – C–
*Before the Dawn by Beverly Jenkins ♪
*Winds of the Storm by Beverly Jenkins – C+ ♪
Just Say the Word by Tiffany Patterson – C+
Safe Space (I) by Tiffany Patterson – C
A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole – D++ ♪
Safe Space II: The Finale by Tiffany Patterson – C+
Black Pearl by Tiffany Patterson – C => currently free for kindle
Black Dahlia by Tiffany Patterson – C
Black Butterfly by Tiffany Patterson – C-
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole – B ♪

June
Jacob’s Song by Tiffany Patterson – B–
*Ante Up by Christina C. Jones – B+ ♪ x2
A Holiday Seduction by Tiffany Patterson, C—
This Is Where I Sleep by Tiffany Patterson, B
Luke by Tiffany Patterson
*Haunted by Christina C. Jones ♪
Forever by Tiffany Patterson
Miles and Mistletoe by Tiffany Patterson
7 Degrees of Alpha by by Sara Allen, Phoenix Daniels, SK Lessly, Kasey Martin, DJ Parker, Tiffany Patterson, and Mariah Violet
My Storm by Tiffany Patterson
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House – B – – ♪ ~
Madness of the Horde King by Zoey Draven
Coveted by Christina C. Jones ♪
In the Doctor’s Bed by Brenda Jackson ♪
Broken by the Horde King by Zoey Draven
Love in Catalina Cove by Brenda Jackson ♪
Don’s Blaze by Tiffany Patterson
Forget Me Not by Brenda Jackson ♪
Something Special by Tiffany Patterson
Wedding Season by Natasha Anders, Alissa Baxter, Marie Dry, Ashleigh Giannoccaro, Sharonlee Holder, Suzanne Jefferies, Sophia Karlson, Romy Sommer, Jo Watson, Tanya Wilde
*The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders
Finding Home Again by Brenda Jackson ♪
Kraving Khiva by Zoey Draven
Prince of Firestones by Zoey Draven
Follow Your Heart by Brenda Jackson ♪
Just My Type by Sophia Karlson
Two Nights in Paris by Delaney Diamond
Takeover by Evelyn Sola
Trent by Xyla Turner
Guilty Pleasures by Deborah Fletcher Mello ♪

July
Carter by Xyla Turner
A Lifetime With You by Stephanie Nicole Norris ♪
Seducing My Guardian by Katee Robert
She Said Yes by Stephanie Nicole Norris ♪
Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda Jackson ♪ x2
Reclaimed by the Rancher by Brenda Jackson ♪ x2
Locked Doors by Tiffany Patterson
Bella by Tiffany Patterson
Bad Billionaires Quickies by Elise Faber
Man in Charge by Laurelin Paige
Man in Love by Laurelin Paige
*I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones – B+ ♪ x3
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
The Pleasure Trap by Niobia Bryant ♪
Thorn’s Challenge by Brenda Jackson
The Glass Queen by Gena Showalter
*Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward – A
Catch Me If You Can by Christina C. Jones ♪ – the kindle version is on sale for $0.99
The Beauty of Being a Beast by Jennifer Estep
Release Me If You Can by Christina C. Jones ♪
Meet Cute by Elise Faber
Charging by Elise Faber
Save Me If You Can by Christina C. Jones ♪
Broken by Elise Faber
Caged by Elise Faber
Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas
Mine by Stephanie Nicole Norris ♪
*Carter’s #Undoing by Sherelle Green – C- ♪
Bad Wedding by Elise Faber
Claim the Dragon by A. C. Arthur
Bad Engagement by Elise Faber
*Midnight Man by Lisa Marie Rice – C => currently free for kindle
*Let Me Love You by Alexandria House – B – – ♪

August
Bad Bridesmaid by Elise Faber
*The Stranger I Married by Sylvia Day
Face Down Fridays by Sherelle Green ♪ x3
Sins of a Saint by Sherelle Green ♪ x2
The Doctor by Nikki Sloane
The Pool Boy by Nikki Sloane
To Marry a Madden by Sherelle Green
Seduced by Moonlight by Kenya Wright ♪
Night Song by Beverly Jenkins ♪ x3
Sanguine by Sierra Simone
The Captain’s Midwinter Bride by Liana De la Rosa
Tall, Dark … Westmoreland! by Brenda Jackson ♪ x2
Temperatures Rising by Brenda Jackson ♪ x3
When She Was Naughty by Tessa Dare
The Way You Tempt Me by Elle Wright ♪
The Perks of Seducing a Wallflower by Tessa Dare
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty ♪
The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty ♪

September
The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty ♪
*Brighter Than the Sun by Julia Quinn
*The Winter King by C. L. Wilson B+
*Mr. West by Xyla Turner – C– ♪ x2
The Initiation by Nikki Sloane ♪
The Obsession by Nikki Sloane ♪
The Deception by Nikki Sloane ♪
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang ♪
Piece of Work by Staci Hart ♪
Player by Staci Hart ♪
Watch Me by Stacey Kennedy
Work in Progress by Staci Hart ♪
Well Suited by Staci Hart ♪
*Hot in Here by Sophie Renwick
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert ♪
Work for It by Talia Hibbert
The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa ♪
His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras ♪
Her Perfect Affair by Priscilla Oliveras ♪
Their Perfect Melody by Priscilla Oliveras ♪
I Think I Might Need You by Christina C. Jones ♪

October
I Think I Might Want You by Christina C. Jones ♪
One Summer Night by Caridad Pińeiro ♪
What Happens in Summer by Caridad Pińeiro ♪
The Redemption by Nikki Sloane ♪ x2
81st & Clark by Christina C. Jones ♪ x3
The Truth: His Side, Her Side, and the Truth About Falling in Love by Christina C. Jones ♪
The Lies: The Lies We Tell About Life, Love, and Everything in Between by Christina C. Jones ♪ x5
*Ante Up by Christina C. Jones – B+ ♪

November
*The Lies: The Lies We Tell About Life, Love, and Everything in Between by Christina C. Jones ♪ x11
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson
Beyond Benefriends by Chencia C. Higgins ♪ x 11
Bad Swipe by Elise Faber
Rum and Notes by Elise Faber
Sex on the Seats by Elise Faber
Equivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones ♪ x 10

December
Equivalent Exchange by Christina C. Jones ♪ x 5
*The Lies: The Lies We Tell About Life, Love, and Everything in Between by Christina C. Jones ♪ x5
*The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders – B x2
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
*The Satin Sash by Red Garnier B+
*Crave by Evelyn Sola – B ♪ x 17
Three Simple Rules by Nikki Sloane

*N.B. – my apologies for typos. I wrote these lists on a thing that is aggressive with DYAC – I tried to catch things but … I keep trying!

😅 Got this done with minutes to spare. By 11:35 PM I was having some flashbacks to my school days and deadlines and … this is why I can never go back to school. 😜

Annnnd I JUST realized I’d already done my “halfway through the year” list so … Welp. You can check for discrepancies here I guess.

*ETA the “♪” means I listened to the audiobook, the asterisk before the title means it was a re-read, and though inconsistent, the asterisk after sometimes means initially I’d never read the book before but I read/listened to it 2+ times in a row after; which I started denoting with “x#” – in the future I hope to be more consistent but honestly with this list I’m just glad I got it done.

Aidee’s List of Books Read the First Half of 2021

Aidee’s January to July 2021 Reading List

These are all the books I read from January to July, not counting any ARCs I read for August through December releases. Like I always say here, the list is not in chronological order, and it is late because there has been a lot going on in my little corner of the world, on top of the general stuff going on. I’ve marked any books with an asterisk that I’ve read more than once, and also noted audiobooks. 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.

Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark
Steam punk SF released by Tor on May 11, 2021

A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark book coverNebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinn

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So, when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world forty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…

I have to thank Nalini Singh and her newsletter, which is where I first learned about this author’s work. I read the two novellas that are prequels to this novel (A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015). I think you could read this novel and enjoy it without reading the novellas before, but the novellas are really good and they also give you context for Fatma’s relationships–like the person from her past and her colleagues. This book was also one of my anticipated books for 2021, and I am here to tell you that I was not disappointed, except that the book ended and I had to put it down then. This book has a romantic subplot, but the main focus of the book is the case Fatma is solving. Clark uses ideas of decolonialization, class, racism, and power in the book, weaving them into your typical procedural science fiction/urban fantasy story (think Ilona Andrews and Meljean Brook). The evil is stopped, but Fatma has to acknowledge some things about herself before she can stop it. The book ends on a bit of a cliff hanger, but it isn’t too painful. Continue reading

Aidee’s Reads from the First Half of 2020

NOPE. THAT’S NOT A TYPO. 😱 😬 😅
Hi all! Your friend Limecello here with an apology to Aidee and … the rest of you can just imagine the biggest cringe and me crawling under a rock. I … yeah that’s not a typo – this list is from 2020 and I don’t even know WTF was happening/how I dropped the ball. (I mean I know in June 2020 there was a lot of “surgery or no?” for me but… dude. Still >.< did not think I’d be tinkering with it in August 2021…
But! I still think this is important to post – “new to me” books discoveries are always good, as is finding someone who might be your book brain twin. 😀

I’d also like to note that the sale prices for the books are accurate as of the time of me writing and formatting this post – I can’t guarantee them for when the post goes live or when you see it. Thanks for understanding!

Anyway – here we go – Aidee’s January 1 – June 30, 2020 reads.

Chaos Reigning by Jessie Mihalik | B+
Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet | B- (currently on sale for $5.68 on kindle)
Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole (audiobook) | A-
Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand | A
A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley | B- (*currently $1.99 for kindle)
The Dare by Elle Kennedy | B *currently just $0.99 for kindle
The Chase by Elle Kennedy B- (currently a kindle freebie)
The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park | B (reviewed here)
Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau | B+
Shatter the Earth by Karen Chance | B
Pregnant by the Playboy by Jackie Lau | B- *currently $0.99 for kindle
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (audiobook) | B+ *currently on sale for $8.72 (kindle)
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh | B+
Hers to Defend by Rhenna Morgan | B-
Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson | B
Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron (audiobook) | A-
Companion Pieces by Melissa F. Olson (audiobook) | B-
Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan | A-
A Treason of Truths by Ada Harper | A-
The Last Emperox by John Scalzi (audiobook) | B+
Love Hard by Nalini Singh | A-
Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh | B+
Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire | B+
Imaginary Numbers by Seanan McGuire | B
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin | B-
Badger to the Bone by Shelly Laurenston (audiobook) | B
The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott | A-
Wicked Bite by Jeanine Frost (audiobook) | B+
Heartland by Sarina Bowen (audiobook) | B-
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (audiobook) | A-
Breakaway by Michelle Diener | A-
Dark Horse by Michelle Diener | B+ *currently this book is in Prime Reading/Library
Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven | B
Dragon Blood by Eileen Wilks | B-
Dragon Spawn by Eileen Wilks | B-
Ritual Magic by Eileen Wilks | B-
Mind Magic by Eileen Wilks | B
Spellbound by Allie Therin | B-
The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison (audiobook) | B+
A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane (audiobook) | A
The Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer (audiobook)* | B
Down and Dirty by Kendall Ryan | B- *currently in KU too
Wicked Ugly Bad by Cassandra Gannon | B+
Legally Yours by Nicole French | C+ *currently a kindle freebie
A Girl Like Her: A Small Town Romance by Talia Hibbert | B+ *currently on sale for $2.99  (kindle)
Falcon by Marilyn Campbell | C+ *also currently on sale for $2.99 (kindle) 
The Golden Spider by Anne Renwick | C+
Best Knight Ever by Cassandra Gannon | B+
Knight in Leather by Holley Trent | B-
Woo Me by Karina Bliss | B+
Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (audiobook) | A- *currently on sale for $7.99 (kindle)
Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez | B+
Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin (novella) | B+ *If you’re a Prime member it’s currently in Prime Reading/Library

What Limecello Read from January – June 2021

I did it!!! I have a post going up in a reasonably timely manner! Ahhh!!! >.> So like … remember how down all of us were on/about 2020? And like … 2021 is in some (a lot of ways?) worse? Like a lot worse? So … yeah. That’s somewhat reflected in my reading … there were weeks [a month] where I just … didn’t read much. I binge watched all of Schitt’s Creek in literally a week in February … and there are a lot of books I didn’t get around to ~reviewing/writing my thoughts on. But 🤷🏻‍♀️ Here’s my list anyway. I think the biggest note of the bunch would be Tiffany Patterson – if you like contemporary romances, I think she’s definitely an author you should check out. Each book is so unique yet her voice is so strong. I loved that each character is so developed and distinct. As you see I read through almost her entire backlist in basically a month.

Anyway, here goes! Continue reading

Release Day Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Disguise (Ravenels Book 7) by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on July 27, 2021

Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas book coverNew York Times bestseller Lisa Kleypas returns with an enthralling and steaming romance between a Scot with a mysterious past and strong-willed lady looking for adventure—and love. 

“The devil never tries to make people do the wrong thing by scaring them. He does it by tempting them.”

Lady Merritt Sterling, a strong-willed young widow who’s running her late husband’s shipping company, knows London society is dying to catch her in a scandal. So far, she’s been too smart to provide them with one. But then she meets Keir MacRae, a rough-and-rugged Scottish whisky distiller, and all her sensible plans vanish like smoke. They couldn’t be more different, but their attraction is powerful, raw and irresistible.

From the moment Keir MacRae arrives in London, he has two goals. One: don’t fall in love with the dazzling Lady Merritt Sterling. Two: avoid being killed.

So far, neither of those is going well.

Keir doesn’t know why someone wants him dead until fate reveals the secret of his mysterious past. His world is thrown into upheaval, and the only one he trusts is Merritt.

Their passion blazes with an intensity Merritt has never known before, making her long for the one thing she can’t have from Keir MacRae: forever. As danger draws closer, she’ll do whatever it takes to save the man she loves . . . even knowing he might be the devil in disguise.

      I realized as I started reading this book I couldn’t remember what the blurb said – but I was both too lazy to go looking for it, but also I didn’t want to go looking for it because I wanted a [relatively] blank slate. And … this book made me so happy, you guys. <3 I was a little apprehensive about Merritt’s story. I remember the blurb and thinking “I’m interested but … Lillian and Westcliff were never my favorites…” (and I wondered about this being another Ravenel book instead of a spinoff…) I don’t know that I can discuss a major factor without spoilers, so I’m going to try to dance around it. However, I really hope you read this book and come back so we can discuss it.
      I have a confession to make – Lillian is probably my least favorite wallflower. And when the blurb starts out with Lady Merritt Sterling is “strong willed” I was a bit apprehensive we might be getting a mini Lillian. However, that’s not the case. We get almost the best of Lillian – and Marcus – in Merritt. Lillian and Marcus (and Evie and Sebastian) do such a wonderful job raising their children – and it was (beyond all the loveliness) I’m sure helpful that all the children had each other, growing up. Anyway Kier calls her a “wee bully” and … it’s true. She’s so affable she tends to get her way – even outrageous things people would normally never agree to. And beyond that, those being “managed” are happy about it. Merritt is the oldest sibling and she’s been a peace keeper. Being widowed, she’s also a bit older, wiser, and less constrained than many other historical romance heroines we see. (That and the fact that she has a very supportive, very powerful family and circle.)
      For Keir MacRae – look. I love me a growly, smitten, romantic hero. Throw in the fact that he’s a whisky distiller? I mean – if not for the fact that he and Merritt are perfect for each other I’d be elbowing her out of the way. I’m laughing to myself as I think about why Keir keeps a beard. You just … have to read it. (I’m a little sad we never got to see him interacting with his friends. Honestly I would not have been mad if this book was so much longer. While it’s not rushed – but I did feel in part it did end a little ~abruptly.)
      Aside from the characters, what stood out to me about this book is how sexy it is. There are definitely explicit scenes – but it’s also sensuous. Devil in Disguise is hot, romantic, fun, and honestly – at times comical, which I loved. I threw “fun” in that list – but it’s true. Keir and Merritt have excellent sex but also laugh with and at each other during sex if or when it’s called for. I found myself laughing out loud at times. I think what (also) struck me is … how much I enjoyed this book “despite” it having a lot of tropes that I’d normally say “aren’t my cuppa.” First of all, the Scottish hero. Scottish brogue in books often is just too much for me – but it wasn’t an affect here – it’s entirely who Kier is, and his dialogue just flows. Some of his sayings and terms were just so charming – and my god the man has poetry in his soul. He claims he’s this rough, uneducated, loutish type … but he’s pure romance. Anyone should be so lucky as to be wooed by a Kier.
      I was also pleasantly surprised to be wrong about an issue – as soon as this blip happens I knew there was more to X (although I definitely didn’t guess the all of it) – and I was like “ugh oh no – please don’t tell me this 😒 thing will be a huge dark moment.” I was right in that it is brought up as a roadblock – however it isn’t drawn out – Kier reacts in the most perfect way – and reassures Merritt. (Then also I just knew this other thing would happen – a bit of an eyeroll but … I was okay with it too. And there’s a fun/cute/quippy line at the end Kleypas fans will enjoy.)
      Another point … I can’t/won’t discuss without spoilers – so … *clenches fists* I really want to spill the beans but I also don’t want to but I just need to say I’m so glad to see something like this finally happen and it was so lovely and it was perfect for the characters in question – in how they handle things, and that it isn’t all easy and nice but they roll with it with grace and love. Honestly I can’t wait to see more of these characters in the upcoming books.
      This is a romance with low angst, but a lot of entertainment value. The relationship develops fast. They fall in love in a week – and Merritt even basically has the historical romance equivalent discussion of “insta-love” (my god I hate that term…) with Phoebe … and it’s handled so well. And normally I’m a skeptic like Phoebe (or – she more says you can have instant attraction or lust, but it’s not love because you don’t know each other and can’t possibly know a person that deeply in a week. And she’s right – and it’s true. But there’s the connection and I definitely could see it and believe it between Keir and Merritt. (And I love that he nicknames her Merry!)
      Just thinking about this book put a smile on my face. I know I’m absolutely going to be re-reading this book, and it’s one of my favorite in the series. Honestly my biggest “complaint” is … I was desperate for Keir to meet Gabriel and am crushed it never happened. Maybe we’ll get to see that/their interaction in the next book(s) – and I really hope so because … I think it’d be glorious.
      I read this book in a few hours, and it makes me want to re-read Devil in Winter, Devil in Spring, Chasing Cassandra … and honestly maybe even all the other Wallflower books too. Devil in Disguise  is a really lovely, well written, feel good historical romance and it’s not to be missed. (Seriously, Kleypas takes all these tropes that normally I personally would be like “ennh … >.> pass” about – and of course she makes it work. She not only makes it work, she makes it delightful.) Seriously. I need you to read it and come back so we can talk about this book. And admittedly, Sebastian is one of my most favorite romance heroes ever – so that’s definitely part of it too.
Grade: A-
You can read an excerpt here, and buy a copy here.

Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon Impulse on March 19, 2019

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?

This book has been on my TBR pile and got bumped up in the pile after it was mentioned in a Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast episode. And then I got to pick a novella for this month’s TBR Challenge, and I picked this book, and I only regret not reading it sooner. Reggie was first introduced to us in A Duke by Default, and the events in this novella happen parallel to those in that book. Most of the focus is on the relationship between Reggie and Gus but we do get doses of other relationships Reggie has, especially those with her sister and her parents. This is probably what I would call insta-love in terms of how the romance works, but the fact that the speed with which it’s acknowledged and the misunderstanding is also cleared up worked, and it didn’t feel rushed or forced. Continue reading

Aidee’s Second Half of 2020 Reading List

[This is Limecello here with the commentary … So first … *crawls into a whole* 😬 Aidee submitted this post on January 13, 2021. I was so sure I had formatted and posted this … but obviously not. My eye started twitching now at … just me. Ugh. My apologies to all.] Anyway, I want to highlight this is what Aidee read from July-December 2020. Anyway, without further mess from me… Aidee!

As per usual, this list is not in any kind of order. Books with an asterisk are books I’ve re-read. Continue reading