Hello again fellow book lovers! As 2020 creeps ever closer to 2021, I’ve tried to stay off social media and slow down with blogging. In theory, this break was to encourage work on my novel series and curb procrastination.
Let’s just say I failed. Miserably.
The internet’s full of different types of Book Tags. Today’s blog post was inspired by one of my favorite YouTube channels, one Mrs. Jessica Braun. I’ve watched her videos for years, and a previous video of hers also inspired my Bookviews posts:
Jessica’s YouTube video was all about her favorite makeup products from different companies. I’ll embed it below if you’d like to give it a watch! But right after that will be my alphabetized list of books I’ve read between 2019 and 2020!
*note: none of the links are affiliate links. I shared just in case you wanted to read.
And now, the Books!
A: An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz
Synopsis: Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.
Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, who disappeared from the settlement years earlier.
Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when circumstances force Clay’s hand–and heart–the stage is set for one very private and one very public reckoning.
Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.
B: Beauty by Robin McKinley
Synopsis: Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in appearance, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with a tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must travel to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father insists that he will not let her go, but she responds, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
C: Captured by a Highland Pirate by Lydia Kendall
Synopsis: Losing her husband was Grace Smith’s greatest sorrow in life. That, and trying to avoid betrothals to men she would never love, to save her life. Until a mysterious Highlander rescues her from damnation.
Alec MacNeil’s only love in life is the sea. A notorious pirate all across Scotland, he never keeps a penny he steals for himself. On his mission to steal the Viscount of Fortershire’s wealth, he ends up stealing something more: the heart of a beautiful Sassenach.
However, their dreams for a shared future are crushed when a letter arrives. A letter that not only calls for Alec to honor an old agreement for marriage but also gives him an ultimatum: his life or his entire clan. His home is under siege and the attackers won’t settle for anything less than killing everyone Alec loves.
D: Dreamer of Briarfell by Lucy Tempest
Synopsis: Sleeping Beauty meets Robin Hood. Her soul will be lost forever, unless she wins the love of the noblest of men. Cursed in her cradle by a vengeful fairy queen, Princess Fairuza of Arbore thought her fate was secure in the hands of her betrothed — until he chose another as his bride.
After the last attempt to find another prince to save her fails, Fairuza’s world fades to black, and she awakens in a castle, unseen and unheard by all—then a thief breaks in, and sees her. But Robin Hood is no prince charming, and he’s leaving for Faerie, to save Maid Marian from the Wild Hunt. Seizing her last chance to find royals who can break her curse, she joins him and his Merry Men.
Once in Faerie, the Summer King puts them through deadly trials, in exchange for his hand and help. But as they struggle to survive, Fairuza begins to fade. The longer her soul remains detached from her body, the sooner their tie will be severed. As her time runs out, she finds herself falling in love with Robin, despite knowing that this would doom her forever…
E: Elite by Carrie Arrow
Both the book and synopsis are no longer available on Amazon
F: Forest of Firelight by Shari L. Tapscott
Synopsis: After the sudden death of her brother, Princess Amalia is charged with what feels like an impossible task—she must choose the next king. Youthful thoughts of love are pushed aside as she accepts her fate, setting upon a quest throughout the kingdom to find a man worthy of her father’s throne.
Little does Amalia know, someone has already set his sights on her.
Rhys is a man of secrets, and his mission is simple: befriend the princess of Renove. Coax her to trust him, convince her to follow him. Betray her when it’s time.
All goes according to plan until Rhys meets the princess. Amalia is a disaster. Never has he met someone so drawn to trouble. Never has he met someone so irritatingly likable. He’s not allowed to fall for her.
She could never entrust him with a crown. But, unbeknownst to them, their unlikely partnership might be the key to saving their entire world from a darkness that’s slowly creeping from the wounded earth that separates one kingdom from the next.
G: Gangs and Outlaws of Western Pennsylvania by Thomas White and Michael Hassett
Synopsis: The region played reluctant host to the likes of the infamous Biddle Boys, who escaped Allegheny County Jail by romancing the warden’s wife, and the Cooley Gang, which held Fayette County in its violent grip at the close of the nineteenth century. Then there was Pennsylvania’s own Bonnie and Clyde–Irene and Glenn–whose murderous misadventures earned the “trigger blonde” and her beau the electric chair in 1931. From the perilous train tracks of Erie to the gritty streets of Pittsburgh, authors Thomas White and Michael Hassett trace the dark history of the crooks, murderers and outlaws who both terrorized and fascinated the citizenry of western Pennsylvania.
H: The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordman
Synopsis: Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.
For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.
I: Images of America: Pittsburgh’s Bridges by Todd Wilson and Helen Wilson
Synopsis: Pittsburgh is the “City of Bridges,” and what remarkable bridges they are! The area’s challenging topography of deep ravines and mighty rivers – the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio – set the stage for engineers, architects, and contractors to conquer the terrain with a variety of distinctive spans. Many were designed to be beautiful as well as functional. While other cities may have one signature bridge, Pittsburgh has such a wide variety that no single bridge can represent it.
J: The Jewels of Halstead Manor by Kasey Stockton
Synopsis: When a cryptic invitation brings Giulia Pepper to her uncle’s remote estate in Devon, she arrives in dire need of a benefactor, only to discover that her uncle never sent her any invitation—nor does he want her there. Forced into a corner, Giulia must contrive a way to convince him to allow her to remain, just long enough to figure out where to go next.
Nicholas never asked for an earldom, but when an aged lord arrives at his door and tells Nicholas that he is next in line for the title, he willingly goes to Halstead Manor to learn the role. But someone isn’t pleased with the heir, and after a gunshot wound in the arm, Nicholas must discover who is out to get him.
When Giulia stumbles—literally—over a fallen man on the lane to Halstead, she has her answer: she can stay at Halstead and nurse her uncle’s heir back to health. But as mystery builds and danger mounts, will Giulia and Nicholas be able to solve the puzzle before the Earl forces Giulia to leave for good? And furthermore, can they manage to work together without losing their hearts in the process?
K: Killing Kate by Alex Lake
Synopsis: A serial killer is stalking your home town. He has a type: all his victims look the same. And they all look like you.
Kate returns from a post break-up holiday with her girlfriends to news of a serial killer in her home town – and his victims all look like her. It could, of course, be a simple coincidence.
Or maybe not.
She becomes convinced she is being watched, followed even. Is she next? And could her mild-mannered ex-boyfriend really be a deranged murderer?
L: The Lost Countess That Counted The Stars by Patricia Haverton
Synopsis: Merial Hanraham has no recollection of who she is. Found unconscious in a dinghy with nothing but a mysterious coffer, she is taken on board by a crew of British sailors heading to England.
Christopher Buckthorn, son of the Duke of Heyerdahl and proud captain of the “Valkyrie”, never expected to find a woman with no memories floating in the middle of the ocean. Especially not one as stunning as Merial.
Amidst old superstitions turning the crew against her and pirates constantly on their tail, Merial and Christopher must piece together the fragments of her returning memories.
And the key to the truth might just lie in a riddle carved on the mysterious coffer; a single word to unveil not only Merial’s true identity but also the name of the person hunting her…
M: Maiden in the Tower by Heidi Kimball
Synopsis: Lisette Hunt has been hidden away her entire life, with nothing but a large window up in the cottage turret to give her a glimpse of the outside world. Until Gerry Worthington stumbles into her garden in search of his runaway dog.
As a second son, Gerry has never seen the need to take life too seriously. Less than pleased with his frivolity, his mother orders him to marry a woman of means and banishes him to his family’s small, rundown estate. Unfortunately, innocent and penniless Lisette is the very opposite of what he needs.
But Gerry cannot resist the mystery surrounding Lisette, and soon he can no longer resist Lisette and her endearing peculiarity. As Gerry slowly opens Lisette’s eyes to a larger world, she begins to open her heart to him. However, when Gerry uncovers the truth about who Lisette really is, it may cost them a chance at happiness together.
N: Neverland Falling by Brittany Fitcher (did not fully finish, but it’s the only one that began with an N!)
Synopsis: Wendy’s parents have finally chosen her prospective husband, and her world is falling apart. So when the mysterious, handsome Peter invites Wendy and her little brothers to run away to a place called Neverland, she accepts.
At first, Neverland is more wonderful than anything Wendy could have imagined. So are the variety of interesting characters who live there, from the Lost Boys to the mermaids to the fae to the misunderstood privateer, Captain Jay. But as time rolls on, Wendy realizes that growing up might not be so bad…if she had the right person to do it with. The only problem is that in Neverland, growing up is forbidden. And the farther she gets from childhood, the more she endangers them all.
Unfortunately, when the fae decide she’s gone too far, both Peter and Wendy must decide where their love and loyalty lie and how far they’re willing to chase it. For if they’re not careful, Neverland and everyone in it will fall.
O: The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook by Annie Grey
Synopsis: The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook presents over 100 recipes that showcase the cookery and customs of the Crawley household—from upstairs dinner party centerpieces to downstairs puddings and pies—and bring an authentic slice of Downton Abbey to modern kitchens and Downton fans.
Whether adapted from original recipes of the period, replicated as seen or alluded to on screen, or typical of the time, all the recipes reflect the influences found on the Downton Abbey tables. Food historian Annie Gray gives a rich and fascinating insight into the background of the dishes that were popular between 1912 and 1926, when Downton Abbey is set —a period of tremendous change and conflict, as well as culinary development.
With a foreword by Gareth Neame, executive producer and co-creator of Downton Abbey, and featuring over 100 stunning color photographs, The Downton Abbey Cookbook also includes a special section on hosting Downton-themed dinner parties and presents stills from across the TV series as well as the latest film. Notes on the etiquette and customs of the times, quotes from the characters, and descriptions of the scenes in which the foods appear provide vivid context for the dishes.
The recipes are grouped by occasion, which include breakfast; luncheons and suppers; afternoon tea and garden parties; picnics, shoots and race meets; festivities; upstairs dinner; downstairs dinner; downstairs supper and tea; and the still room.
P: Pittsburgh’s Streamlined Trolleys by Kenneth C. Springirth
Synopsis: Pittsburgh Streamlined Trolleys covers the history of the trolley car system that once had the third largest fleet of Presidents’ Conference Committee trolley cars in North America. Pittsburgh Railways Company was very innovative and constantly made design improvements in its trolley cars. This led to increased ridership, as these streamlined trolleys were quiet, fast, and had comfortable seating. With the increased use of automobiles, ridership declined. After the Port Authority of Allegheny County took over Pittsburgh Railways, most of the trolley routes were abandoned. However, a number of trolleys were refurbished with paint schemes that included psychedelic commercial advertising and community messages. The last runs of these trolleys occurred in 1999, and new light rail vehicles are now in service.
Q: The Fire Queen by Emily R. King (the only Q!)
Synopsis: Though the tyrant rajah she was forced to marry is dead, Kalinda’s troubles are far from over. A warlord has invaded the imperial city, and now she’s in exile. But she isn’t alone. Kalinda has the allegiance of Captain Deven Naik, her guard and beloved, imprisoned for treason and stripped of command. With the empire at war, their best hope is to find Prince Ashwin, the rajah’s son, who has promised Deven’s freedom on one condition: that Kalinda will fight and defeat three formidable opponents.
But as Kalinda’s tournament strengths are once again challenged, so too is her relationship with Deven. While Deven fears her powers, Ashwin reveres them—as well as the courageous woman who wields them. Kalinda comes to regard Ashwin as the only man who can repair a warring world and finds herself torn between her allegiance to Deven and a newly found respect for the young prince.
With both the responsibility to protect her people and the fate of those she loves weighing heavily upon her, Kalinda is forced again to compete. She must test the limits of her fire powers and her hard-won wisdom. But will that be enough to unite the empire without sacrificing all she holds dear?
R: A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund
Synopsis: Living in London’s poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she’s offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.
Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship’s surgeon, he’s in charge of the passengers’ welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.
With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?
S: Shard of Glass by Emily Deady
Synopsis: Once she was a noblewoman. Now she is a palace servant. Ashlin never pictured herself scrubbing floors. But with the family savings depleted and her stepmother crippled by grief, Ashlin selflessly takes a job at the royal palace. She can pursue her dreams of becoming a seamstress someday in the future.
However, as she forms an unlikely friendship with the prince, she learns that the future may not be so certain. Wielders of a powerful magic threaten their small coastal kingdom and Prince Onric does not believe that their defenses will hold.
As Ashlin navigates growing feelings for the charming prince, she realizes that her unique skills could help save the kingdom. But can she trust the charming prince or he is merely exploiting her selfless nature?
Shard of Glass is a fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Discover a world where heroines can be both powerful and worthy of protection. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and heart-melting conversations, then this story was written for you.
T: Through The Eyes Of A Blind Duchess by Patricia Haverton
Synopsis: Locked away in her family’s estate for more than two decades, Aurelia Blackmore has resigned herself to a life of exile. Blinded in the same fire that killed her mother when she was young, marriage is not even a thought for her. Until the day her father announces her engagement to a man she has never met.
Donovan Harding, the Duke of Oakhampton, has suffered many losses, with his wife and his fortune sacrificed on the altar of an illness. With no good options left, he must marry again. But his new bride’s secret might be more than he can handle.
Tied together by the strings of his son’s violin, their marriage is a precarious one. When a fire claims her childhood home and a constable brings news of a murder, the strings begin to unravel. A familiar voice, awakening memories of her past, threatens to tear away all that she loves, just as it had the fateful night she lost her vision and her mother.
U: The Unlikely Chaperone by Dorothy Mack
Synopsis: At twenty-eight, Alexandra Farrish has no hopes of marrying. However, she vows to shepherd her beautiful but prickly younger sister, Didi, through a London season to help her secure a perfect match.
As expected, Didi soon becomes one of the season’s greatest successes, and even captures the interest of the Marquess of Malvern — one of London’s most eligible bachelors.
As one of the Farrish family’s most frequent visitors, the handsome marquess seems to be on the brink of making Didi an offer.
But as Alexandra spends more and more time in the company of their new friend, she begins to question her own feelings…
V: The Victorian Book of Cakes by T. Percy Lewis and A.G. Bromley
Synopsis: A treasure from the past, this book was originally published at the turn of the last century, during the heyday of cake-making, designed to be the standard work on cakes and confectionery. There are recipes for all kinds of traditional Victorian cakes, biscuits and cookies, petits fours, shortbreads, pound and slab cakes, gingerbreads, marzipan and nougat, as well as a multitude of fillings, icings and frostings. With notes on adapting the recipes for the modern kitchen, this nostalgic book will enchant all cake-makers.
W: A Worthy Rebel by Jody Hedlund
Synopsis: While fleeing an arranged betrothal to a heartless lord, Lady Isabelle becomes injured and lost. Rescued by a young peasant man, she hides her identity as a noblewoman for fear of reprisal from the peasants who are bitter and angry toward the nobility.
Cole Warwick cannot turn his back on a person in need and soon finds himself falling for Izzy, the gentle and beautiful runaway who is mending in his cottage. As the leader of an imminent uprising against the nobility, he tries to resist his growing feelings for Izzy to protect her from the dangerous life he’s chosen. But the longer she stays, the more he hopes she’ll never leave.When Izzy’s true identity is revealed, Cole feels betrayed.
With the rebellion underway, can Cole forgive Izzy and find a way to save her from an unhappy marriage? Or will he and his peasant army be destroyed before he has the chance to fight for the people and the woman he loves?
Whew! That was time consuming but a lot of fun! Can you tell I’ve got some very specific book interests? I love fairy tale retellings, some mystery and true crime, historical fiction, Regencies, romances, young adult, new adult and adult stories.
2020’s not over yet, so there’s still time to find some books with titles that begin with an x, y or z. I still think the list turned out pretty well. All titles were taken from the On My Bookshelf page here on my website.
Are you a book blogger? Or have an editing or authoring website? I challenge you to make your own list! Can you tell I’m a sucker for the classic damsel in distress trope?