Read Let it Snow which is a set of three short stories/novellettes put together in book form about teenagers at Christmas in a small town. The Maureen Johnson one is written like she talks on twitter or in podcasts. It’s like… her. And there’s some funny bits, but her story wasn’t all that compelling, partly because I’m not a fan of the falling for someone you just met because you’re on the rebound trope (these are not really spoilers because the tropes are so highly telegraphed). The John Green one is so John Greeny. I kept reading little bon mots aloud to DH telling him that John Green is the best at saying short things that at initial glance seem very profound, but after thinking about it for a while (with the patina of middle-age)… they’re really not. But John Green KNOWS teenagers (or at least 20-something John Green did, since I believe this is one of his earlier books). And indeed, teenagers do say profound things that in the end aren’t so profound. His story was totally believable and made me remember being obnoxious and stupid with teenage friends late at night. Also I’m a sucker for the friends to lovers trope, so… Lauren Myracle’s was also realistic but I don’t want to read about the unpleasant embarrassing ridiculously angsty parts of being a heartbroken teenager (maybe teenagers do?). I skimmed through it and really only read the last chapter which brought back the characters from the first two novellettes.
Mr. Hotshot CEO by Jackie Lau was free on amazon (now $3.99 again). It was ok. Like, I don’t begrudge the time I spent reading it, but also rich man sweeps regular woman off her feet is not my favorite genre. And this one was a full novel instead of a novella, so there was time for an extended “boy loses girl”… which, meh.
Intercepted by Alexa Martin was pretty good (in a chick lit reality show kind of way) after she lost the ex-boyfriend, though the last (of several) “boy loses girl” didn’t make any sense… the boyfriend acted really out of character. I think she could have had the boyfriend and girlfriend talk about the situation and it still could have resulted in “boy loses girl” for a little while and everything else, because it’s a hard situation. The boyfriend is too much of a jerk in Fumbled for me to get into it, plus it’s one of those if the two people had just talked, then the story wouldn’t have happened. The guy in Blitzed goes ballistic in a super scary way near the beginning of the book and no amount of “that’s so not like him” could make up for it in my mind. If you like Real Housewives entertainment, you’ll probably like the other two books in the series more than I did.
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare wasn’t anything special, but it was enjoyable popcorn nonetheless. Forgettable yet relaxing.
Read all of the Hidden Legacy books out so far by Illona Andrews. They are EXTREMELY good. Burn For Me is the first, though I started with the second book and liked it better. (It was interesting to see how their depiction of race evolved throughout the books– in the early ones you can see that they’re trying, but in the later ones I think they get it right.) Then I branched out into more Illona Andrews books. I’d tried the first Kate Daniels years ago and couldn’t really get into it (DH’s SIL says this is normal and the series gets much better after the first book). I tried one of their spinoff series called Iron and Magic and just didn’t like it. It’s very much like an old Harry Turtledove though without the alternate history or time travel, but you know, in terms of the feel. And the world is too bleak for me to enjoy that kind of book right now. Then I went to their webpage and discovered they have free short stories and are blogging out chapters for another Kate Daniels spinoff series (I think they always blog out their chapters as they write and then take them off the webpage to clean them up, edit, and turn into a novel after) and I got hooked on it (this Kate Daniels spinoff seems a lot more like the Hidden Legacy books and less like Iron and Magic). I also found a Kate Daniels spinoff in an anthology called Hexed. I enjoyed most of the novelettes in Hexed and am going to check out the full length novels of two of the other authors.
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon was also fun popcorn. I really like the way that there’s an actual good reason for the Boy Loses Girl part of the arc rather than just stupid miscommunications. Thank you!
Speaking of cozy reads, the first Aunt Dimity was quite lovely. The library didn’t have the second and I’m just not willing to spend $10 for a four star book from the 1990s. The third book, Aunt Dimity’s good deed was really dated. Not that enjoyable. I finished it but kind of wondered why I bothered. I vaguely remember this happening the first time I started the series back in the 1990s. Go me and my instincts for realizing sexist tropes were sexist back then, I guess. (Have I mentioned I hate the “male character kisses heroine he just met not on a date without asking” trope? Pretty sure I have. It’s NOT ok even if he doesn’t know she’s married.) Dimity Digs In was fine, but Aunt Dimity’s Christmas was SO cringey in so many ways. I think I’m done with the series. The first book is very good and a soothing balm in trying times, but the rest… enh.
Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert was fun! It’s a LOT like her first Ravenswood book (a steal at only $2.99) in terms of the personalities of the hero and heroine, but it’s different enough to still be great. I’m a little disappointed that the next book about her sister isn’t F/F, but I will read it when it comes to my library (it’s $10.99 on Kindle right now … if it were more like $5.99 I’d buy it without trying it first and if it were $7.99 I’d put it on my amazon wishlist for Christmas and probably end up impulse buying it before the…but from the excerpt I’m not sure I will actually want to reread the book). I may end up purchasing all three after the third comes out (I do own most of her books at this point). In terms of evolution of the author– I think she’s gotten to be a better writer… her newer stuff is somehow fuller, better written. But that Ravenswood series legit made me cry on multiple planes, whereas Chloe Brown did not. Definitely an author I will continue reading everything from!
Read or reread a few Mrs. Polifax books… they were less soothing than I remembered. Possibly I hadn’t read these later ones, because I didn’t remember her ever being remarried. My library had pretty limited options, so there were only a few choices to read.
Slay by Brittney Morris is really good. Although it’s not as hard as The Hate U Give (also an excellent book), it’s still not an easy read. There’s death and misogyny and dealing with difficult things. There’s also some really excellent messages about individuality and culture and so much more that are just done really really well and I envision excellent reading discussions about some of the unanswerable questions that the book brings up (this book screams small discussion group questions). Though to be truly honest, I really wish she’d write a spin-off novella that’s just riffing on the fun parts of the book, because I do think those are important too. Sort of a Full Metal Panic Fumoffu. Like, yes, FMP is the better series, but Fumoffu is so comforting, and sometimes we need that. (My anime nerds get me here.) Give me a little more fantasy and a little less death/terrible boyfriend/etc.
I had to actually go inside the library to renew my card. Not a fan of that.
What has been getting you through the summer? Any recommendations?