“Kissing Tolstoy” by Penny Reid

I really enjoyed Grin & Beard It and wanted to jump into another Penny Reid novel after finishing it. I believe the first novel in the Winston Brothers series wasn’t available in my library’s app at the time, so I decided to try one of Reid’s Dear Professor stories instead and picked up Kissing Tolstoy.

Genre

Contemporary Romance

Series

Dear Professor, book 1

Pubbed

2014

Goodreads summary

What do you do when you discover that your super-hot blind date from months ago is now your super-hot Russian Lit professor?

You overthink everything and pray for a swift end to your misery, of course!

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“Grin and Beard It” by Penny Reid

I’m on a contemporary romance binge, and I’m loving it. It’s been years since I’ve read a bunch of romance novels in a go, so I’m quite surprised at myself at the moment.

I’d seen the Winston Brothers novels floating around the internet and was curious about them because I love the cross-stitch effect used for the cover. I think it’s so cute, and it makes me want to collect the series. After reading Black Witch Magic, I thought to myself, why not try one of those novels with the cute covers. So I did, and I loved it! 🙂

Genre

Contemporary Romance

Series

Winston Brothers, book 2

Pubbed

2016

Goodreads summary

Sienna Diaz is everyone’s favorite “fat” funny lady. The movie studio executives can’t explain it, but her films are out-grossing all the fit and trim headliners and Hollywood’s most beautiful elite. The simple truth is, everyone loves plus-sized Sienna.

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“Black Witch Magic” by Mila Nicks

I found out about this through a review on NPR. I was going through a reading and blogging slump at the time and wanted something quick and fun to read, and Black Witch Magic seemed like it would fit that bill. Plus, I liked the book’s title. I hardly ever come across a romance novel that focuses on a witch of color much less a Black witch, so I quickly bought myself a copy and got to reading.

Reading this got me hooked on contemporary romance novels for the foreseeable future, which is a huge deal because I hardly ever read romance. I mean, I read ton of them when I was in high school, but then I got tired of how formulaic the ones I read were and have avoided then for years, although every now and then one would sneak across my radar and I’d read it. But Black Witch Magic really kicked off a romance mood in me, so I’ve been reading mostly that genre ever since picking this up.

Genre

Contemporary Romance; Paranormal

Series

Paranormal Hunters, book 1

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

Librarian by day, cursed witch by night:

Selene Blackstone spends her days camped out in library corners with her nose glued to books. In a town like Brimrock, where she’s an outcast, she prefers her book friends to her real-life enemies. They’re a lot less judgmental. The rest of town believes she descends from a family of witches—including her evil witch grandma, Luna. In this case, the truth is stranger than fiction. She is a witch, and she’s cursed for all of eternity. Good thing her to-be-read list is pretty long…

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“Witches Abroad” by Terry Pratchett

I picked this up to continue my journey through the Discworld series via the Witches subseries. I read this at a time when I felt a reading slump coming on and, luckily, this helped to offset that feeling.

I was immediately hooked on the story and had such a great time reading it. It was delightful and thought-provoking and placed many a twist on fairytales and stories that have been around for ages: vampires, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, etc.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Discworld, book 12
Witches, book 3

Pubbed

1991

Goodreads summary

Be careful what you wish for…

Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unfortunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince.

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“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I had no intention of reading this at first; well, no intention to read it now while it’s still only available as a hardcover book. But the numerous reviews of it I’ve read and a friend’s enthusiasm for the story got me interested and pushed me to purchase a hardback copy to read. And I’m glad I did because I ended up really liking the story too.

But I still wish I’d waited for the trade paperback to be published.

Genre

Paranormal; Historical Fiction; Mystery; Horror — Gothic

Series

n/a

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

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“Kushiel’s Dart” by Jacqueline Carey

If not for Imyril Reads and her Wyrd & Wonder crew, this book would probably have continued to sit on my shelves unread.

The Wyrd & Wonder crew hosted a readalong for Kushiel’s Dart back in September. I decided to participate since I already owned the book and it was one I’d always been curious about. For the readalong, we posted our answers to discussion questions each week, which I liked because then participants were able to see how each person was getting on with the book and reacting to the situations and characters we read about. I loved that the group was a mixture of first-time readers and rereaders. I think that made my experience with the story much richer and helped to make me anticipate what would come next.

We completed the novel back in September, or early October, but I’m just now getting around to the review because I hardly posted anything in November. But this will be a short one since I posted weekly reactions to the book as I read.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Phèdre’s Trilogy, book 1

Pubbed

2001

Goodreads summary

In a kingdom born of angels, Phedre is an anguisette, cursed or blessed to find pleasure in pain. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. Her bond was purchased by the nobleman Anafiel Delauney, who recognized the scarlet mote in Phedre’s eye as the rare mark of one touched by a powerful deity. Under Delauney’s patronage she is trained in history, politics, language, and the use of body and mind as the ultimate weapon of subterfuge in a dangerous game of courtly intrigue.

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“Forest Mage” by Robin Hobb

Ahh… man. This book.

Well. I loved the first book in the series, Shaman’s Crossing, which made me hopeful for what may come next. But after reading this one, I got the impression that all I thought would happen will not, and that the story is probably heading in a different direction. I was so put off by parts of this book that I’ve procrastinated on writing this reflection and thus have put off writing several book reviews. I’m backed up on them.

I’ve put off this piece for so long that I’ve already started buddy-reading the third and final book in the trilogy with my buddy-reader in all things Hobb — Emily at Embuhleeliest. We are several chapters in, and I’ve sort of come to terms with the fact that this story is heading in a totally different direction, so now I’m just going along with it to see how it ends.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Soldier Son, book 2

Pubbed

2006

Quick summary (spoilers)

This one picks up shortly after the events in the first book. Nevare and his surviving schoolmates, instructors, and other folks in the city of Old Thares are recovering from the Speck Plague that swept through the city. In addition to his physical convalescence, Nev is also trying to come to terms with the fact that he was instrumental in starting the plague and that there’s a part of him that belongs, or at least is loyal, to the Specks. That part of him feels remorse for killing Tree Woman.

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“Kenny & the Dragon” by Tony DiTerlizzi (illus.)

Before this, I’d only read the Spiderwick Chronicles, which DiTerlizzi illustrated and cowrote with Holly Black. I’ve always been interested in both authors since reading those books but hadn’t picked up more of their work. So, I was happy when a friend loaned me a copy of Kenny & the Dragon to try. I thought I’d love it as much as I did the Spiderwick Chronicles, but, unfortunately, I didn’t.

Genre

MG Fantasy

Series

Kenny & the Dragon, book 1

Pubbed

2008

Goodreads summary

Kenny is a little rabbit with a very big problem. His two best friends are heading into a battle of legendary proportions—with each other! In one corner there’s Grahame, a well-read and cultured dragon with sophisticated tastes. In the other there’s George, a retired knight and dragon slayer who would be content to spend the rest of his days in his bookshop. Neither really wants to fight, but the village townsfolk are set on removing Grahame from their midst and calling George out of retirement. Can Kenny avert disaster?

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“Cartography of the Void” by Chris Abani

I read this book a while ago, but I’ve been feeling slumpy on and off lately, which is why I’m just now posting this reflection on it. It was a good read, but I think I read it at the wrong time. You know how it is to read a book, even a very short one, when you’re feeling slumpy: The mood makes it seem as if you’re taking FOREVER to finish it.

Genre

Nonfiction — memoir

Series

The Face

Pubbed

2014

Goodreads summary

A profound and gorgeously wrought short memoir by acclaimed Nigerian-born author and poet Chris Abani that explores his personal history and complex sense of identity through a meditation on the face.

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“Picky Eaters” by S.J. Higbee

Hey!! I read a story by someone I follow on here! 😊 I follow Sarah’s blog, Brainfluff. Back in the summer, she posted Amazon links to her short story, “Picky Eaters,” intending to lighten up the many worries we were (and are) dealing with in 2020. I read the story in August and really liked it.

Genre

Fantasy

Series

Picky Eaters, part 1

Pubbed

2020

Goodreads summary

Castellan the Black, now better known as Casta the Grey, has led an eventful life, but these days he’s content to live alone in his mountaintop lair, fending off occasional attacks from the food and waiting to die. At least, that’s what he tells himself.

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