Here are all the books I completed from January to February 2018.
Title: Ravished by a Highlander (Children of the Mist #1)
Author: Paula Quinn
Dates Read: January 11-23, 2018
Synopsis: Davina Montgomery is no ordinary English lady. For her own protection, she’s been locked away from society, her true identity the Crown’s most closely guarded secret. Until a shocking betrayal–and a bold rescue–land her in the arms of a fierce Highlander, a powerful warrior whose searing gaze and tantalizing touch awaken her body and soul.
As the firstborn son of a powerful Scottish laird, Robert MacGregor has no loyalty to the English throne, but he’s not the kind of man to leave a woman in distress, even if she is English. He vows to deliver Davina to safety, unharmed and untouched. Yet one stolen kiss leaves them both smoldering with desire…and desperate for more. With Davina’s secret threatening to destroy his clan, Rob must choose between everything he holds dear and the one woman he can’t live without.
Review: I liked this one for the most part. It’s certainly not a period that’s often featured in historical romance, and it’s one I’d like to read more about. I found some of the characterization (like the king’s) to be a bit stilted and forced. I don’t know if I’ll continue the series.
- He would have found such courage admirable if he wasn’t so offended. (65)
- Aye, he thought, bringing them to the trees. What chance did his sensible heart have against the sweet thrills she found in the mundane? (133)
- She would not tremble. She would not falter, and she would not cry. Not now. (313)
Title: Dragon Bound (Elder Races #1)
Author: Thea Harrison
Dates Read: July 13, 2017 – February 3, 2018
Synopsis: Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.
As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they’ve ignited in each other.
Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.
Review: It took me a very, very long time to get back to this one after taking a break from it. I don’t know if I’ll read the rest of the series or not. I did quite enjoy this one, though. Urban fantasy just isn’t my usual go-to.
- “You made a stupid mistake. That doesn’t make you stupid.” (31)
- Payback was a beautiful bitch. She was also a good friend of his, and they were just getting started. (106)
- “That’s my long, scaly, reptilian tail. And it’s bigger than anyone else’s,” Dragos said in a voice that was deeper, larger, yet still recognizable as his. One huge eyelid dropped in an unmistakable wink. (155)
Title: Forever Your Earl (The Wicked Quills of London #1)
Author: Eva Leigh
Dates Read: February 9-25, 2018
Synopsis: Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades . . . What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best-laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.
Review: I really liked that Eleanor is a writer (which means I’m obviously excited about the rest of the series since they all follow writers) and that she holds fast to her beliefs and her independence, which is hard considering the time period. That said, while I enjoyed the progressive ideas presented in the novel in terms of gender equality and the dialogue of some of the characters, I do think it sometimes felt a bit forced, which makes me sad. I’m willing to overlook that for the sake of the story, especially since I agree with the ideas, but it did take me out of the story sometimes. I also really liked how Daniel thought about and addressed these gender inequalities present in their (and our) society. I think it’s great to see these ideas in historical fiction, though, and don’t consider it to be much of a fault in the writing.
- We’re told to take up as little space as possible. Not attract attention to ourselves. Not claim anything as our own.” He started. None of this had ever occurred to him. He’d always suspected that women walked differently from men because of biology, but never from truly learned behavior, lessons that included how females were perceived or thought of themselves in the world. (55)
- Eleanor supposed that if a man could be bold in his intentions, then a woman had every prerogative to exercise the same right. (66)
- Fear was something that could be conquered. (125)
- There is nothing so fragile or resilient as the human heart. (343)
Title: My Ariel
Author: Sina Queyras
Dates Read: October 27, 2017 – January 24, 2018
Synopsis: In My Ariel, Sina Queyras barges into one of the iconic texts of the twentieth century (Sylvia Plath’s Ariel), with her own family baggage in tow, exploring and exploding the cultural norms, forms, and procedures that frame and contain the lives of women.
Review: At first I really liked the parallels to Plath’s own poems and life; however, the more I read, the more I wanted it to end–and it’s only 96 pages. I think Queyras may have taken the motif too far. It was stretched so thin that I got tired of it, even though I’m interested in Plath myself and have written a long essay on her poetry. Even so, Queyras has some great ideas and lines in this collection.
- This is why they stone haunted women. They have to kill them hard to get all the ghosts. (Loc 112)
- The body knows what it needs to burn, and will. (Loc 142)
- “all brain and beautiful body at once” (Loc 190)
- I am no lady. I am scorching air. You can eat my genius, rare. (Loc 667)
- I am always a vessel overflowing. (Loc 706)
- I sing. I say, I slay. (Loc 945)
Title: Sông I Sing
Author: Bao Phi
Dates Read: January 24-28, 2018
Synopsis: Dynamic and eye-opening, this debut by a National Poetry Slam finalist critiques an America sleepwalking through its days and explores the contradictions of race and class in America.
Review: Poetry about race is always hard to read. I was actually supposed to read this back in December 2015 for an Asian-American lit class but got sick and missed those classes. I think I would have gotten more out of it had I been there for the discussions. Still, it’s a good collection full of powerful poems.
Favorite Line: When it feels like no one / lets you live / at your own volume // you sing.
Title: Adulthood Is a Myth (Sarah’s Scribbles #1)
Author: Sarah Andersen
Date Read: January 18, 2018
Synopsis: These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.
Review: This was a cute little book to read while I was waiting at the doctor’s office. Most of the little comic strips in this book are so relatable it’s almost painful.
Title: Big Mushy Happy Lump (Sarah’s Scribbles #2)
Author: Sarah Andersen
Date Read: January 24, 2018
Synopsis: Sarah Andersen’s second comics collection picks up right where the first left off – huddled under a pile of blankets avoiding the responsibilities of the real world. These new comics (and illustrated personal essays!) follow the ups and downs of the unrelenting self-esteem roller coaster that is young adult life: budgeting woes, cramps, the nuances of sweater theft, and the joy of staying home all day with a box of pizza. All aboard.
Review: I didn’t like this one as much as the firs t in the series. It seemed to reiterate a lot of what she had in the first book. Overall, I still enjoyed it, though.
Title: Princeless, Vol. 2: Get over Yourself
Author: Jeremy Whitley
Genre: GN, YA
Dates Read: February 2-4, 2018
Synopsis: A new collection of the adventures of everyone’s favorite runaway princess, the incomparable Adrienne. This time she’s out to rescue her older sister Angelica, the most beautiful princess in the world. It won’t be easy though. Not only does Adrienne have to deal with Angelica’s legions of admirers and their sibling rivalry, but the King has hired a band of ruthless mercenaries to track her down. Can she save Angelica? Does she want to? And how will she deal with these deadly knights who are after her head?
Review: This one was a little less fun than the first one, but I still enjoyed it and plan to continue the series.
Title: SLAM!, Vol. 1
Author: Pamela Ribon
Date Read: February 23, 3018
Synopsis: In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will have to decide if their budding friendship is stronger than the pull of a team when a win is on the line.
When life starts coming at you like a freight train, you have two options: run away screaming or lean into the hit.
From the first day of Fresh Meat Orientation for the Eastside Roller Girls, Jennifer and Maisie knew they’d be fast friends. But when they’re drafted to different teams, the pull of competition — and their increasingly messy personal lives — threaten to drive them apart. In roller derby you take your hits, get back up, and learn how to be a better jammer, a better blocker, a better lover, and a better friend. Derby can heal your heart…but it might break a bone or two in the process.
Review: I loved this. It made me want to get into roller derby, even though the only time I’ve ever skated I had to hold onto someone’s shirt and still fell down a lot. And that was probably 10 years ago.
Title: Women & Power
Author: Mary Beard
Dates Read: January 4-5, 2018
Synopsis: At long last, Mary Beard addresses in one brave book the misogynists and trolls who mercilessly attack and demean women the world over, including, very often, Mary herself. In Women & Power, she traces the origins of this misogyny to its ancient roots, examining the pitfalls of gender and the ways that history has mistreated strong women since time immemorial. As far back as Homer’s Odyssey, Beard shows, women have been prohibited from leadership roles in civic life, public speech being defined as inherently male. From Medusa to Philomela (whose tongue was cut out), from Hillary Clinton to Elizabeth Warren (who was told to sit down), Beard draws illuminating parallels between our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship to power—and how powerful women provide a necessary example for all women who must resist being vacuumed into a male template. With personal reflections on her own online experiences with sexism, Beard asks: If women aren’t perceived to be within the structure of power, isn’t it power itself we need to redefine? And how many more centuries should we be expected to wait?
Review: I love how Beard draws from both the classics and modern times to support her arguments because those two are more indelibly linked than most people realize. Some of the points in these two essays made me really pissed because they pointed out sexist and misogynistic things I had not picked up on before, but I’m glad I can see them now.
- Right where evidence for Western culture starts [The Odyssey], women’s voices are not being heard in the public sphere. (4)
- We have to be more reflective about what power is, what it is for, and how it is measured. To put it another way, if women are not perceived to be fully within the structures of power, surely it is power that we need to redefine rather than women? (83)
Title: Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life
Author: Annie Spence
Dates Read: November 22, 2017 – January 10, 2018
Synopsis: Librarians spend their lives weeding. Not weeds, but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the ones that patrons no longer check out, and they put back the ones they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to Just Kids and Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury, as well as her break-ups with The Giving Tree and Dear John. Her notes to The Goldfinch and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover’s book.
Review: I really liked this book, even though it took me forever to finish. It’s cute, funny, and oftentimes heartfelt. I like the recommendations Spence included at the end of the book and plan on going back to them when I’m looking for something to read that I might not have found on my own.
Favorite Quote: I don’t like the phrase “guilty-pleasure read” because I don’t think you should be ashamed of anything you read as long as it makes you happy and it’s not, like, an instructional guide on how to steal and eat kittens. (Loc 2378)