Three New-To-Me Authors

What do all these authors have in common? They each have newly published releases within the past few years, and it was only by reading more in 2020 did I stumble across their collective works.

Let me begin by sharing a quick gripe I have with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Their suggestions love sticking to one very specific genre or sub-genre, and I’ve yet to figure out how to get it to stop. If I hadn’t read down what I had in my Library, I’m sure I never would’ve found these three ladies. Does anyone know if there’s a work-around to that?

I don’t always want to read the same few authors within any given genre. So I’ve made a conscious effort this month to branch out. And, by jove, I’m so glad that I did! Below are three new-to-me favorite authors I highly suggest you try reading from yourself. In alphabeditcal order:

Joanna Barker

I honestly never thought I’d fall in love with Romance novels, but it looks like I most certainly have. After indulging in several sub-genres within this newfound love, I’ve come to realize that Romance really has been given a bad rap for years. Not all Romance is “steamy.” Not all Romance is quickly thrown together so an author can earn a quick buck. Joanna’s novels taught me all that.

Romance can also have adventure, and that’s what drew me to OTHERWISE ENGAGED. I just had to find more like it. Not all Regencies have to be about courting, London’s ton or gossiping spinsters. While those elements are certainly within her books, they’re not the focus of her plots. And that I greatly appreciate.

I just need to read down my current TBR pile before I can allow myself the luxury of purchasing more of her books!

Connect with Joanna

Sally Britton

The first book of Ms. Britton’s I read was SAVING MISS EVERLY. Since I wasn’t sure what to think of her writing style just yet, I decided to follow up with its sister book, DISCOVERING GRACE. In all honesty, I found DISCOVERING GRACE a little disappointing. It didn’t have the adventure Book 1 had, and I didn’t pick anything of hers up again MR GARDINER AND THE GOVERNESS.

MR GARDINER AND THE GOVERNESS is my favorite read of Ms. Britton’s thus far. While it doesn’t have the adventure I crave so much in a book, I found the main characters and its secondary characters better developed than in the aforementioned titles. MR GARDINER AND THE GOVERNESS was published a year after, and Ms. Britton’s growth as an author is evident.

To read one of the above titles, click their Amazon links below!

Connect with Sally

Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist is the newest addition to this list, as I found LOVE ON THE LINE just a few weeks ago. I adore a strong male character, one who’s sure of himself but is also able to change. The same goes for female leads; if they compliment one another, then that’s all the better!

Character development is a strength of Deeanne Gist’s. So is plotting and scene creating. Oh heck – I want to write like Deeanne Gist!

Gist’s books are also on my to-be-purchased list for 2021, right up there with Joanna Barker. While I’ve only read one title, I’m most definitely looking forward to reading more. Sometimes it takes just one book to know, you know?

Connect with Deeanne


I Read the First Fifty Pages of “Shine” by Jessica Jung. Here Are My Thoughts.

Let me begin by fully disclosing my past with Girls’ Generation. Because this group ushered in my love for Korean pop and Korean dramas way back in 2008, I feel this gives me unique knowledge of this industry’s world and who Jessica Jung is. I’ve followed all nine girls of Girls’ Generation – Tiffany, Taeyeon, Sunny, Hyoyeon, Seohyun, Sooyoung, Jessica, Yuri and Yoona – since “Gee” graced my ears one summer’s night while on break from classes. And yes, all their names are committed to memory. I credit both Girls’ Generation and their “brother” group SHINee for getting me through college, summers working on campus, my first break up, and years of loneliness that followed.

Fans of Girls’ Generation are called SONE, or, to credit a quick Google search as a refresher course: “To those who don’t know the meaning of SONE (the official Girls‘ Generation fansclub) please read this. Sone (소원) The word SONE came from the Korean word SOWON, which means “Wish”. If you pronounce both of it, you’ll notice that it has great similarity. This also means that Soshi is One. When Jessica Jung left the group in 2014, SONEs who broke from Girls’ Generation to form their own fan base for Jung were soon called Golden Stars by Jessica’s new agency, Coridel Entertainment.

As you can see, I know way too much about this already. Did it color my feelings about the book? It shouldn’t have, but it did. But, being an older individual who also writes stories, I feel I can provide a bit more insight than the average reader leaving a review over on Amazon. There was a time when I was a HUGE fan of Girls’ Generation. I listened to their songs playing MMPORGs. I own two of their albums (ten years ago access to Korean pop memorabilia wasn’t common, and I didn’t have a good job. So I couldn’t afford a lot of it), and a few other pieces.

I am now in my thirties, and not that into kpop anymore. But Girls’ Generation holds a special spot in my heart. When Jessica Jung, former member of GG (too much history there to get into in this blog post), announced pre-orders for her book titled SHINE back in September of this year, I approached it with trepidation. It’s written for young adults (the younger end of young adults), and it definitely feels like a Korean drama in book form. Now that’s fine if you’re into that kind of thing. They say to “write what you know,” and Jessica definitely knows that world. Below are links to several interviews where she discusses her thought processes when developing SHINE:

Here’s the synopsis

Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl by way of Jenny Han in this knock-out debut about a Korean American teen who is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of one of the most influential K-pop girl groups of all time, Girls Generation.

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams? For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment – one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy, right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

Get ready as Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Korea’s most famous girl group, Girls’ Generation, takes us inside the luxe, hyper-color world of K-pop, where the stakes are high, but for one girl, the cost of success—and love—might be even higher. It’s time for the world to see: this is what it takes to SHINE.”

Source – Amazon
It does have a pretty cover.

Now that all the introductory stuff is out of the way, let’s get into my thoughts on the first fifty pages of SHINE by Jessica Jung.

It reads like a fan fiction, and could’ve used another round of edits.
The fact that Ms. Jung chose to go with first person point of view was actually quite genius. Why? Readers are immediately immersed into Rachel’s world as Rachel herself. And, in many ways, Jessica’s world. Fans of Girls’ Generation (or even just fans of Jessica’s) would recognize little nuances, mannerisms and facts right away.

There were many missed punctuation marks, and many, many run-on sentences. In fact, one paragraph was nothing but two run-on sentences. You may say I’m nit-picking if you’d like, but as someone who’s also trying to finish a novel, seeing things like issues grammar and punctuation in a finished product isn’t very encouraging.

Unexplained tension right off the bat, from nearly everybody, towards the MC.
Not many things in Korean dramas are based in reality, or logic. Even with that knowledge going into SHINE, I don’t understand the level of hatred many have for Rachel. It’s not even logically explained. There’s a trainee introduction scene within the first fifteen pages, and it seems all anyone can do is gossip – no matter their age. Is gossip really this prevalent in Korean society? And why would a trainee’s senior, or “sunbae,” want to include them in their own group’s issues? (Here’s a link to a quick lesson about Korean honorifics).

We’re also given a quick flashback to Rachel’s early trainee days. It’s a few paragraphs long, but there’s nothing to distinguish it as a memory other than Rachel’s one friend (also not fully Korean) prompting her to tell the story again. The choice to include a flashback so early on just seemed to be an odd choice.

The prose drips with similarities to Jessica’s original company, SM Entertainment and Jessica herself.
Jessica doesn’t shy away from explaining her reasons for including scenes like this. She’s said that she didn’t want to go about writing an autobiography, but that nearly everything in the story is based off her life in some way.

Jessica, in an excerpt from the Teen Vogue article linked above, writes:
“The hallway is full of random toys and props used by the best of the best stars in worldwide concerts. Half of the paraphernalia has the insignias of Electric Flower and Kang Jina (a gold-plaque legend and the leader of the biggest and best girl group in K-pop for the last few years). They debuted at the top spot and never left it. When I joined DB, I worshipped those girls—Jina especially. I admire them even more now, knowing what they had to go through to get to where they are. But part of me wonders about the girls they left behind. The ones that didn’t make it in the group.Will I be the one on top or the one left in the shadows?

Halls and “stores” and cafes showcasing a company’s idols are very common among Korea’s top five agencies. It’s a way for their managers to flex groups’ popularity, and encourage fans to come visit. So Jessica’s inclusion of a scene like this isn’t far fetched.

Moving on to Rachel Kim’s character. Rachel is a carbon copy of Jessica, with a few things changed so she wouldn’t be exactly like her. She’s got Jessica’s aversion to cucumbers, “Princess” nickname, and is Korean American. Just to name a few similarities. I don’t know about you, but I personally wouldn’t want a character exactly like me. Guess I’m not all that interesting?

Most definitely written for a younger young adult audience, an audience who’d most likely already know terminology used in kpop.
SHINE is, without a doubt, very appealing to a younger crowd. It uses lingo commonly used in Korean life, dramas, variety and awards shows. She mentions, in that same Time article, she likes having to look up words when she reads because it helps her learn. That’s why she included so much Korean in SHINE – to encourage her readers to learn something new if they don’t already know what something means. As a writer myself, I can appreciate her logic behind that. Not only that, but the language is part of her background, so why would she not include it?

Final thoughts.

I don’t imagine many folks not already familiar with Korea’s entertainment industries picking this book up. It’s written for an incredibly tailored audience. Even if you love reading young adult books, this may not be a story anyone can enjoy. Honestly? I strongly feel the only reason this made it to publication is Jessica’s name. It’s only receiving rave reviews because of her fans. If anyone else tried to publish this with all the errors found within the first fifty pages, their readers wouldn’t be so kind.

How do I feel about these pages, as someone who once called herself a SONE? Uncertain. I’m not sure I can keep reading due to the technical issues, and trying to figure out which events/people/circumstances is more exhausting than entertaining. Personally, I miss the good ol’ days of Girls’ Generation. The days of concerts, laughter and super fun music videos. It doesn’t help that fans can only speculate what actually happened between Jessica and the rest. Jessica claims she didn’t want SHINE to be an autobiography, but what if it really is?

I give the first fifty pages of SHINE by Jessica Jung
three out of five stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


The Alphabet Book Tag // A to Z, Literally!

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:

June ~ August ~ September

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?

X: –

Y: –

Z: –

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?


Ten Days // Ten Books

Guess what? I’m on vacation! Since my trip to DC and the Library of Congress was cancelled earlier this year (which would’ve been an amazing trip, by the way), my family and I have decided to visit a town much closer to home for my birthday week.

Call me crazy if you like, but I’ve decided to try reading ten books in the ten days I’ve got off work for this trip. I may be a slow writer, but I’m most definitely a fast reader. Time, however, has gotten in the way of my ability to read down my pile.

I decided to give myself this challenge: ten days of vacation + ten books = ten more adventures I’ve yet to go on! Yesterday’s book, sadly, fell short of my expectations and I had to move it to the DNF (did not finish) list. I gave it more time than I should, hoping beyond hope that maybe some adventure would be included. That did not end up being the case.

So here are the ten books I’ll attempt to read while on vacation this week:

Saturday, Sept. 19

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Unfortunately I had to add INHERITING TROUBLE by Wendy May Andrews to my “Did Not Finish” list. As much as I want to get into Regencies, many of them are Romances, and I just haven’t found the right ones to fall in love with yet.

Sunday, Sept. 20

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m switching gears to read the next book in The Riven Kingdoms series by Shari L. Tapscott. I immediately wanted to know what happened to the two MCs when I finished Book One, not knowing then it’s part of a series.

Monday, Sept. 21

*This title has been added to my DNF list.

NEVERLAND FALLING by Brittany Fichter is the newest addition to my reading list, and I’m always game for a new fairy tale retelling. This one caught my eye because it’s based on Peter Pan, and I don’t read many of those.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

Okay, I lied. A MIDWINTER’S WEDDING by Melanie Cellier is the newest book to my list (having just added it because, well, book distractions). Cellier’s books are hit or miss for me, and I hope this is a hit!

Wednesday, Sept. 23

I got this title last year when I tried doing NetGalley (such a stressful place), but I’ve wanted to read this since then. So I kept it. Wednesday will be MURDER AT KENSINGTON PALACE by Andrea Penrose day!

Thursday, Sept. 24

I love KM Shea’s fairy tale retellings! I was sad when her series ended, but have been meaning to dive into her other series. So I’ll continue my read through of her stories with THE PRINCE’S BARGAIN, the third book in her Elves of Lessa series.

Friday, Sept. 25

A LADY MOST DANGEROUS by Caroline Hanson is next on the agenda for Friday, September 25th. I hope to at least start reading it, because we may go Cosmic Bowling that night! I’m quite ready for some time hopping shenanigans with this one.

Saturday, Sept. 26

To be completely honest, I’m not sure which book comes first, the previously mentioned one or A LADY OUT OF TIME, also by Caroline Hanson. I’ll figure it out when the, ahem, time comes!

Sunday, Sept. 27 (aka my birthday!)

From time travel to even more royalty vs. the lower class, I’m ready to read MAGICAL MISPERCEPTION by Suzanne Rogers. However unsure I am if this is a retelling or not, I know for a fact I’m looking forward to this story.

Monday, Sept. 28

It looks as though I’ll end my vacation with another Tapscott title – PIPPA OF LAURAMORE. I purchased this before SEA OF STARLIGHT, so I don’t know what’s taken me so long to read it. Better late than never, they say!

That’s a lot of variety, isn’t it? And a lot of books! Because I haven’t really been in a good state of mind to write as of late, I debated long and hard over if I should take my laptop on vacation with me or not. I think all I want are a few books, a notepad and no internet.

What are your reading goals for the week?


Five More Books On My Reading Wish List (That I Just Bought)

Every writer, reader, agent, editor and publicist has a list of books they want to read. Some sit in an Amazon cart, others take to the library and still more are found in indie bookstores. No matter where you do your book shopping, you know what you’re looking for. Okay, maybe not necessarily always, but you have at least an idea of what you want your next read to be. And sometimes you’re utterly surprised by what you pick up.

I titled this post “Five MORE…” because I have a #histfic version that I put up earlier this month. And I see none of you offered to buy them for me (gasp!) Naw, I’m kidding. Really. 🙂 I’m full of lame jokes, what can I say? This post is dedicated to five more books on my reading wish list, no matter the genre. So it’s going to be a bit all over the place.

Come to think of it, my birthday IS this week. I may just have to treat myself…

…and I now have to amend the title for this post because I just bought all five of these books…

If I’m being completely honest here, this cover stared me in the face for a good day before I added it to my list. I mean, look how gorgeous that is! I can only hope, if I’m ever lucky enough to be published, that mine comes even close to it. But it was the post-apocalyptic premise that drew me in, and one day I’ll consume the story.

Synopsis (from Amazon): It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet.

Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

If my previous post’s theme was the color purple, this one seems to be all about the stars. I know we’re not supposed to judge books by their covers but I can’t help it! Both this and THESE BROKEN STARS deviate from my normal realm of reads, but it’s good to change things up from time to time. And FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS promises to be a great adventure.

Synopsis (from Amazon): Fans of Divergent will love Diana Peterfreund’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic world.
 
In the dystopian future of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a genetic experiment has devastated humanity. In the aftermath, a new class system placed anti-technology Luddites in absolute power over vast estates—and any survivors living there.
 
Elliot North is a dutiful Luddite and a dutiful daughter who runs her father’s estate. When the boy she loved, Kai, a servant, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she refused, although it broke her heart.
 
Now Kai is back. And while Elliot longs for a second chance with her first love, she knows it could mean betraying everything she’s been raised to believe is right.
 
For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking YA romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

We’re jumping from stars to ballrooms with THE EMPEROR’S CONSPIRACY, but I’ve been wanting to read more Regency era stories for a while now. Not only that, but I’ve already read her IN A TREACHEROUS COURT series and fell in love with them. While Romance as a whole isn’t generally what I read, I thoroughly enjoy her writing. And I’m all about conspiracies!

Synopsis (from Amazon): Chance led to Charlotte Raven’s transformation from chimney sweep to wealthy, educated noblewoman, but she still walks a delicate tightrope between two worlds, unable to turn her back on the ruthless crime lord who was once her childhood protector.

When Lord Edward Durnham is tapped to solve the mystery of England’s rapidly disappearing gold, his search leads him to the stews of London, and Charlotte becomes his intriguing guide to the city’s dark, forbidding underworld. But as her involvement brings Charlotte to the attention of men who have no qualms about who they hurt, and as Edward forges a grudging alliance with the dangerous ghosts of Charlotte’s former life, she faces a choice: to continue living in limbo, or to close the door on the past and risk her heart and her happiness on an unpredictable future.

And I’m back to the conspiracy side of things with FOUR DEAD QUEENS by Astrid Scholte. It only seemed fitting to have this book be in the, ahem, fourth spot. I wonder how the POV’s going to turn out with this one. Is any of it told from any of the queens, is it through just the MC or both the MCs? I guess I’ll just have to find out the old fashioned way – by actually reading it!

Web search -> add to cart -> checkout -> wait for hardcover!

Synopsis (from Amazon): Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

From post-apocalyptic happenstances to Regency and the Renaissance, we’re jumping all throughout time with this blog post. In another divergence from hist fic, I may have to purchase the hardcover of this one instead of going for the Kindle form. The cover is that gorgeous. When I first began my own writing journey I didn’t realize how small my pool of books really is, so many of these authors are brand new to me. I’m looking forward to trying Ms. Ross’ story out!

Synopsis (from Amazon): Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne.

There you have it. Lots of blue, starry covers and lots of queens. Fairy tale retellings will always be my first love, but maybe now the princesses will get to grow up. Except in FOUR DEAD QUEENS. Because, well, we know (?) they’re dead!

Happy reading, writing community!