Friday, June 28, 2019

Mid-Year 2019 Reading Challenge Recap

We can't believe 2019 is half over! But we're having a great reading year, especially when compared to the Great Reading Slump of 2018. We're focusing more on reading for fun than on reviewing and it seems to be helping.

Earlier this week we posted our favorite reads of 2019 so far. Today we're looking at our progress in our reading challenges. (Check out our goals post here.) It's not too late to join in on any of these challenges either.


I'm happy to report that I'm already 78% to my goal of 104 books for the year. I've read 81! 

I've read 43 backlist books so far, which exceeds my goal of 24 for the entire year.
I've read 19 books for Romanceopoly so far. There are 39 squares on the board, so I'm right on track even though I didn't read any of my rolls for June yet.

2019 Library Love Challenge
I've read 20 library books so far on a goal of 12 for the year.
Check out my 2019 Library Shelf

I added this one a few weeks ago just for fun. The Ripped Bodice's Summer Romance Bingo runs from June 1 to August 31. I only have 3 squares filled in so far.

Rose Red

Like Gretl said, 2019 is so much better of a reading year than 2018 was already. This year since I'm officially done with grad school and just working I doubled my Goodreads goal this year. I have read 67 of those 104 books I set so I'm 64% done with my challenge for this year. I'm so happy with my progress!

 The goal I set for this challenge at the first of the year was to read 30 books. I've officially completed my goal by reading 37 backlist books so far. After not completing this challenge last year, it's nice to have it wrapped up already. I'm going to see how many backlist titles I can get read by the end of the year though. Check out my 2019 Beat the Backlist shelf on Goodreads to see what I read.

 I've read 24 books for Romanceopoly and completed two of the social media challenge squares. That means I've completed 26 of the 39 squares on the board, so I'm about two-thirds of the way done with the challenge. I expect my progress is going to slow down a bit in the coming months because some of the challenge squares I have left are genres/topics that I don't normally read. That being said, anyone have some good Women's Fiction recs?

How are you doing with your reading challenges so far?


Thursday, June 27, 2019

Review: Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

Spectred Isle
(Green Men #1)
KJ Charles
Release: August 3, 2017
Goodreads Amazon
Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense...except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there's something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.

Guys, I loved this book so much! You all know how much I adored the author's The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. Spectred Isle is set in the same universe a few years after the last entry in Robert's tale of his and Simon's relationship. I was a bit hesitant to go into this book because I was afraid I'd be disappointed and I didn't want my love of Simon Feximal to be tainted in any way. I'm so happy to report that Spectred Isle was everything I wanted it to be and more. You would thing with as many of KJ Charles' books I've read, I would be a bit more trusting of her ability to write books that draw me in from page one.

This book is kind of strange mix between an insta-love and unwilling allies-to-lovers romance. I kind of loved how put out both Saul and Randolph were with each other from the start which is understandable from both of their points-of-view. Especially when certain annoying gentlemen kept showing up time and time again where they really shouldn't have been. I also loved how that shared annoyance slowly became friendship and then evolved into something more. The chemistry between Saul and Randolph was off the charts and I may have not so subtly cheered when they finally got together. They are two opposites whose curiosity and life experiences made them so perfect for each other.

Without giving any spoilers, I loved how this book was set
in the Simon Feximal world but was still its own thing. It was completely marvelous! I loved how it expanded upon the world of our favorite ghost hunters/occultists and evolved into something new. Which it really had to become since much has changed since the war and we're just barely beginning to see what the consequences it will have on the world of the arcane. I also loved how the King Arthur mythos came into the story. It just made it even better! And I loved that we got to see a couple familiar faces! I have my fingers crossed that a couple even more familiar faces will show up in later books.

I loved this start to this new series and I am ridiculously excited to get more books. Currently, the second one is on permanent hold while KJ Charles figures things out story wise. I just hope everything comes together soon because I want more! Especially since the next book is teasing a f/f romance that I'm pretty stoked about.

  4.5 / 5 Stars

Book 36/30

Book 23: Military Mews- Read a Romantic Suspense with a Military Hero

My reviews of other books in this series:
The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

We Love Lists: Our Favorite Books of 2019 So Far

How are we halfway through 2019 all ready? We're looking back at the first half of the year this week, starting with our favorite books we've read so far. 

This is supposed to be a top five list. I've got either four or six items on my list depending on how you count, so just pretend I'm bad at math. I combined books in the same series because some of them haven't actually released yet.

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews
Watch for our review in August.

Polaris Rising and Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mahalik
Our review of Polaris Rising.

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Wicked and the Wallflower and Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Watch for my review of Brazen in July.

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Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta
I'm not so bad at math that I could put the whole Messenger series on the list, but it's great for a binge.

Rose Red
Okay. It was hard choosing my top five of the year so far because I've read a ton of great books this year. My list is a mix of new releases, backlist titles, and new-to-me authors.
Badlands by Morgan Brice
My Review

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
My Review

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn


Parental Guidance
(Ice Knights #1)
Avery Flynn
Release: June 17, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
All I want is to play hockey on the Ice Knights, instead, I’m in a viral video for all the wrong reasons and my mom—yes, my mom—has taken over my dating apps. Then, when I think it can’t get any worse, the fates deliver Zara Ambrose, a five-feet-nothing redhead with more freckles than inches and who’d rather be anywhere other than on a date with me. 

Now a bet with her friends and my PR nightmare have us both stuck in this go-on-five-dates-with-the-same-person hell situation. But if we band together, we can get the whole thing over with and go on with our lives. It’s perfect! No feelings. No future. No fuc— *ahem* fun. No naked fun.

What could go wrong? Nothing—as long as I remember the rules. Don’t notice the way she looks in a dress. Don’t react when she does that little shivery sigh thing whenever we touch. Don’t think about the fact that she’s never had a toe-curling orgasm that wasn’t self-delivered and just how badly I want to change that.

Five dates—that’s it—and then we go our separate ways. At least, that was the plan..

I really enjoyed reading Avery Flynn's Hartigans series earlier this year so I was excited that she's starting a new series set in that world. The last book, Tomboy, introduced Caleb Stuckey and the rest of the Harbor City Ice Knights hockey team. Zach and Fallon from that book also appear in Parental Guidance, along with Lucy from Muffin Top and Mrs. Carlysle from the original Harbor City series.

I enjoyed the romance between Caleb and Zara. The Fake Relationship is one of my favorite tropes and Flynn put an interesting twist on it here. I love it when everyone except the main characters sees how they feel about each other! But the other elements of the story fell a bit short for me. I wanted more build up to the first date and explanation of the dating app plan. There's a reveal at the end that fills in some of the blanks, but I wished that more had been done with that information.

I thought Zara's career as a miniature artist was so interesting! I kept thinking of Anna Farris's character in What's Your Number even though her style is supposed to be quite different. I loved her apartment in the movie so Zara's apartment looked a lot like that too.

But mostly I'm intrigued by the guys on the hockey team. I'm looking forward to more of their stories even though this one didn't completely work for me.


Friday, June 14, 2019

Review: The Beyond by Chloe Neill

The Beyond
(Devil's Isle #4)
Chloe Neill
Release: June 4, 2019
Goodreads Amazon
Sensitive Claire Connolly must journey to another world in the electrifying fourth installment of Chloe Neill’s post-apocalyptic urban fantasy series.

It’s been a year since the Veil between the human world and the world Beyond was torn apart, and war began again. Sensitive Claire Connolly and bounty hunter Liam Quinn have been helping their human and paranormal allies fight back against the ravaging invaders and save what’s left of New Orleans.

But a new enemy has arisen, more powerful than any they’ve seen before, and even Devil’s Isle cannot hold her. . .

When Claire learns of a new magical weapon–one built by paranormals themselves -she knows it could turn the tide of war. But to reach it, she and Liam will have to cross into the Beyond itself. In a world full of hostile magic and dangerous foes, she’ll have to channel the powers she once kept hidden in order to survive. New Orleans hangs in the balance, and the storm is growing closer . . .

The Beyond takes place several months after the battle at the end of The Hunt and things have changed drastically. Sensitives aren't in hiding anymore and the Consularis Paras are allowed to wander around freely. The downside? The Veil is open and Court paras are coming through freely. And while things haven't been exactly peaceful, they've been calm. Now, all heck is ready to break loose from a new big bad and an incoming storm. 

I'm going to be honest here. I wanted to love this book like I did the first couple but it seems like the last couple books have really dragged for me. Ultimately, I liked The Beyond but I also was very underwhelmed by it. It dragged in places and I found myself putting it down and forgetting about it. It also didn't feel like the end of a series. Things were resolved but still left kind of open.

Worldbuilding-wise I still love Neill's post-magic apocalypse New Orleans and I was really excited to finally get a peek at the Beyond. It was intriguing and very underwhelming at the same time. The capitol of the Beyond from the outside is practically perfect and I would have liked to see more of it but the whole trip felt glossed over. And the big bad? Interesting, but again, underwhelming. The pacing of the book just felt off to me. It was fast in parts and dragged in others. It also felt like it needed another good fifty or so pages to round out the plot better.

I still love all the characters especially the side characters! Moses, Tadji, Gunnar, and Gavin are all so great! I even loved Liam for most of the book even though he went caveman a few times. I struggled with Claire though. For most of the book she was still the spunky heroine I'd grown to love in the previous books. But she also drove me nuts. For someone who literally chased down the love interest in the last book, she was downright commitment-phobic in this one. It felt so off. It was nice to read Liam having all his ducks in a row for once though.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book by the end but, in my opinion, it was the weakest in the series and a bit disappointing for the series finale. Although everything did wrap up nicely. Claire's emotional journey from loner to someone with a found family was what kept me reading. She's come so far in the series and it was satisfying to see her come into her own magic. I'm still going to recommend this series to people. Just with the caveat that the first two books are the best in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

  3 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books in this series:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Five Reasons to Watch the Good Omens TV Show

What is this!?! Two lists posts in one week!?! You're probably asking yourself what the heck is going on. Did Rose Red mess up while scheduling posts? 
I didn't. But it's a valid concern. I've been trying to write a review for the Good Omens TV show for the last week so I can shout my adoration to the masses but I've had writer's block. Then the Bestie suggested I make a list to get the creative side of my brain to kick into gear and I loved the idea so much that my review become a list post.
I will give a disclaimer here that although Good Omens was one of my favorite books during my teen years it's been about fifteen years since I last read it. I remember some of the big things that happen but not a lot of the little details. Watching the show was like revisiting an old friend after not seeing each other for a decade, it was both familiar and new at the same time. That being said, I'm not going to comment much on the differences between the two because I honestly don't remember. I just know that I loved it and it makes me want to reread the book! Now onto the five reasons why you should go watch this show now.
1. The Casting Was Perfection!
I will admit seeing Crowley and Aziraphale on screen was everything! My god! Did they hit the casting jackpot!?! Michael Sheen and David Tennant were perfect in portraying each of their characters! David Tennant sashaying around as Crowley was every bit as glorious as I expected it to be. Michael Sheen I was bit more unsure of because the only role I can remember him in was Aro from the Twilight movies. But he killed it as Aziraphale and the two's on screen chemistry was off the charts. They weren't the only perfect casting. This whole miniseries had the perfect actor for each role. Jon Hamm as Gabriel was not something I knew I needed in my life.

2. They Kind Of Acknowledged That Good Omens Is A Love Story
I have shipped Crowley and Aziraphale together since my first read through of the book. Honestly, the book read as a love story to me even though it wasn't explicitly stated. I can't tell you the amount of fanfic I've read over the years featuring these two. And the tv show is like that but on steroids. You can tell that these two have feelings for each other. The showrunners and Mr. Gaiman have left it to us to interpret how we want and it looks like a love story to me. You can see their relationship change and grow literally through the ages and if they're not in love I'll eat my hat. There's been several really good articles about this very point and you should go read them because they made the point way more eloquently than I did. I especially loved this one by Emily Asher-Perrin for

3. It's A Funny And Hopeful Story About the End of the World
One of the things that makes this show work so well is the humor and the underlying hopeful feeling. The whole story is about a demon and an angel trying to prevent the apocalypse because they like living among humans. Shenanigans happen and they misplace the antichrist they're trying to influence into neutrality. It sounds weird but it is amazing!

4. Neil Gaiman Wrote the Script
Good Omens has quickly skyrocketed onto my list of favorite book-to-movie/TV adaptations and a very significant part of that has to do with the fact that Neil Gaiman wrote every single episode of the show. And the fact he did makes me want to cry. One of the most well-known tidbits about how that came to be is one that pulls on my heartstrings. It all started with a promise. Before he died, Terry Pratchett asked Gaiman if he'd write the script for the movie and make it for him. And he did. I will openly admit that I cried when "For Terry" popped up in the end credits. I also cried seeing Terry Pratchett's trademark hat and scarf hanging on the coat rack in Aziraphale's book shop. I certainly hope that wherever he is Terry is proud of what Good Omens has become.

5. The Show Belongs to Queen and Agnes Nutter
I had two thoughts while watching this show: 1. This show is freaking amazing and David Tennant as Crowley is everything! and 2. My god! They spent a fortune license all the Queen songs in this show! And it was glorious. I also love that why Crowley's Bentley only plays Queen songs was left as a humorous inside joke to those who have read the book. It made my little book nerd heart happy. And the Queen songs they chose added perfectly to the narration of the story! It's one of the many things that made this adaptation so perfect! Another is how they wove Agnes' prophesies into the story and how they presented them. It was so neatly done!

 I wholeheartedly loved this show! I had high expectations going in and they were met with flying colors. I need to go a do a rewatch because I know there's some little things I missed. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book I need to go reread.
Have you watched the show yet? Come squee with me in the comments!

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