Monthly Review

March 2022 Wrap-Up

Back in February, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in March. Let’s take a look at that before moving forward:

  • Read 8 books
  • Finish Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive Course
  • Brainstorm a short story for my newsletter
  • Writing Goals
    • Minimum 10k to reach 30k words
    • True goal 15k to reach 35k words
    • Stretch Goal 20k to reach 40k words
  • Blog weekly and send out a monthly newsletter
  • Crochet something

Let’s see how March went.


Reading

I set out to read 8 books in February, and I read 9.

  1. Where There’s a Kilt, There’s a Way (#2) by Ella Stainton- 4 stars, greatly enjoyed seeing their paranormal adventures continue in Sweeden with even more queer characters
  2. Gallant by V. E. Schwab- 4 stars, sort of a Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak
  3. Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody- 5 stars, super helpful, would definitely teach creative writing from this in the future
  4. Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore- 5 stars, connected with me as a neurodivergent, queer, nonbinary person. Might be a little biased as A. M. is an auto-buy author for me.
  5. A Spindle Splintered (#1) by Alix E. Harrow- 4 stars for a Sleeping Beauty, multiverse story featuring a chronically ill character (closer to 3.5 stars but it was different and enjoyable)
  6. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings collected by Ellen Oh- 4 stars, as with most anthologies, it’s a mixed bag, but I found quite a few authors I definitely want to read more of
  7. Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee- 4 stars (more like 3.5 but the ending saved it), a trans teen realizes the realities of relationships and figures out how to be a better friend and partner
  8. Lamb to the Slaughter by Joanna Chambers- 3 stars, a interesting but fairly generic short paranormal fantasy story with a minor twist
  9. Her Favorite Rebound (#4) by Jackie Lau- 4 stars, Jackie’s books are always an auto-buy for me, billionaire boyfriend is the villain this time and the main character finds someone better and more self-worth

Admin/Behind the Scenes Author Stuff

  • Finished all 5 weeks of Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive course (highly recommend it, btw)
  • Created a series page for the series associated with The Reanimator’s Heart (not live yet)
  • Created the Works in Progress page on my website
  • Worked on my goals for the second quarter and prepped my kanban board
  • Made some spreadsheets for my author business stuff, like books sold per month organized by book, rolling monthly ebook royalties, and royalties in general
  • Outlined more of The Reanimator’s Heart

March was more of a writing month than an admin month, and I am totally fine with that. At some point, you get really sick of doing annoying little time-consuming tasks. My allergies are also starting to kick my ass, which is killing my productivity right now.


Blogs Posted


Writing

I’m actually really proud of how much writing I’ve done in March. In February, I was still struggling to get into the groove of writing consistently, but by the beginning of March, I had gotten far enough into the story that I got on a roll and was able to write most days without issue. I struggled with some fatigue due to allergy season starting, but I wrote 16,000 words total this month. My minimum goal was 10k, which I hit a little over halfway through the month, and I ended up exceeding my true goal of 15k.

Here are my weekly writing stats:

  • Week 1- 3,675 words and missed 2 days of writing, 735 words/writing day
  • Week 2- 3,455 words and missed 3 days of writing, 864 words/writing day
  • Week 3- 3,755 words and missed 2 days of writing, 751 words/writing day
  • Week 4- 4,145 words and missed 1 day of writing, 690 words/writing day
  • Week 5- 1,485 words and I missed 1 day of writing, 495 words/writing day (this week was 4 days only)

Can you tell which week my allergies were the worst? Looking at you week 5! We also had family events earlier in the month, which totally threw me off, but I’m very happy with 16k words. I feel like my allergies are going to be a problem at the beginning of April since everything is blooming. Let’s see how long I can manage not looking totally ill and bedraggled.


Hopes for April

  • Read 8 books
  • Start work on fixing my room/office (this is a giant project)
  • Writing Goals
    • Minimum goal: 12k to reach
    • True goal: 15k to reach
    • Stretch goal: 18k to reach
  • Blog weekly
  • Monthly newsletter released
  • Make blurb for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Brainstorm the newsletter freebie (since that didn’t happen this month)

What are your goals for April? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Review

February 2022 Wrap-Up

So last month in January’s monthly wrap-up post, I made a few goals for myself, which I promptly forgot. Let’s go over what those goals for February were:

  • Read 8 books
  • Write 20k words with a stretch goal of 30k
  • Finish a syllabus for a future class
  • Finish a proposal for that same class
  • blog weekly and send out my monthly newsletter
  • crochet more because I haven’t since before Christmas

So let’s see how that went.


Reading

I set out to read 8 books in February since my goal for the year is 100, and I read 9.

  1. Leather and Lace (#1) by Magen Cubed (4 stars- monster hunter x vampire with a cute dog chase down monsters and accidentally fall in love)
  2. A Southern Gothic Summer Vacation and Other Stories by Magen Cubed (4 stars- see above)
  3. A Southern Gothic Holiday Special by Magen Cubed (4 stars- see above)
  4. A Bloody Little Valentine by Magen Cubed (4 stars- see above)
  5. Six Figure Author: Using Data to Sell Books by Chris Fox (3 stars- much more useful for people who are churning out books very fast and using Kindle Unlimited. For those that don’t, not very helpful)
  6. Newsletter Ninja 2 by Tammi Labrecque (4 stars- very helpful in regards to creating a reader magnet or cookie)
  7. We Free the Stars (#2) by Hafsah Faizal (4 stars- a lovely ending to an epic fantasy the duology)
  8. Rest in Pieces by Bess Lovejoy (4 stars- didn’t love it as much as Caitlin Doughty’s books on the same subject, little too sensationalized for my taste)
  9. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (4 stars- greatly enjoyed RR’s books as always)

Admin/Behind the Scenes Author Stuff

  • Finished the syllabus for the class on monsters (basically went through what I had, changed some books, tinkered with dates)
  • Finished the course proposal for the class on monsters (justifying why this class should exist beyond Kara wants to teach it)
  • Finished another hypothetical syllabus for a literary magazine class that I put off for months
  • Listened to and approved the first 15 minute sample of the audiobook for Kinship and Kindness as read by Jack RR Evans
  • Updated the keywords for all my books on Amazon, though I may still tinker with this in the future as I’m not sure if I actually did a good job or not
  • Completed 3 out of 5 weeks of Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive course (it runs through mid-March)
  • Added the proper Amazon categories to all my books in the US ebook store (I still need to do this for CA, UK, and all the paperbacks *quietly weeps*)
  • blogged weekly
  • sent out my February newsletter, you can read it here
  • Permanently set The Earl of Brass (book 1) to free and The Gentleman Devil (book 2) to $0.99 (make sure to grab them if you like queer historical-fantasy with a hefty dose of magic and the gothic)

Blogs Posted

If there is anything you ever want me to write/talk about, leave it in the comments! I will never complain about suggestions.


Writing

So if you read last month’s wrap-up post, you know January was a STRUGGLE when it comes to writing. By the end of the month, I had only written about 3,000 words. Luckily February was much better, and I ended up writing 10,000 words. For a lot of people, that really isn’t much, but between starting a new story (which is were I struggle most) and grief shit and current events, writing has not been easy for me. Here are my weekly stats (not including blog post word counts):

  • Week 1- 1,130 words and missed 3 days of writing, 377 words/writing day
  • Week 2- 1,160 words and missed 2 days of writing, 232 words/writing day
  • Week 3- 2,700 words and missed 2 days of writing, 540 words/writing day
  • Week 4- 3,615 words and missed 1 day of writing, 602 words/writing day

This doesn’t include Monday’s/February 28th’s word count since it runs into the new week for me, but I have reached 20k words in this draft *cue the flaming Elmo gif* and I’m feeling good about it. I’m also very happy to see the days off decrease and the word counts increase. I just hope I can keep this going in March.


Hopes for March

  • Read 8 books (to reach 25 total by the end of the quarter)
  • Finish Sarra Canon’s Publish and Thrive course
  • Brainstorm a short story for my newsletter subscribers (click on the newsletter tab at the top of the screen to join)
  • Writing goals
    • Minimum goal 10k to reach 30k words (323 words/day)
    • “True” goal 15k to reach 35k words (484 words/day)
    • Stretch goal 20k to reach 40k words (645 words/day)
  • Blog weekly and send out a monthly newsletter
  • Craft/Crochet something

Well, I never got around to crocheting really anything in February, so I will at that to March’s list. I do want to get into my craft projects again. It’s just been hard when I have a lot of writing to catch up on. I’m also trying to be realistic with my writing goals, so as not to overwhelm myself or set myself up to fail. I’ll do a post about writing goals in the near future.

So let’s see how March goes. What are some of your goals this month?

Book Reviews

10 Nonfiction Books I Love

Since it is Valentine’s Day (or it will be when this post comes out), I thought I would share some nonfiction books I have greatly enjoyed.

First off, I will say, I am not the biggest consumer of nonfiction. I like it, depending on the topic, but I tend to have a 1:10 ration of nonfiction to fiction. But when I do read nonfiction, I tend to go science, weird, or very niche, so buckle up for my 10 favorite nonfiction books so far.


  1. From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty– Caitlin Doughty is the figure head of the Order of the Good Death, a death positivity group online. She is also an incredibly engaging writer. If you’re interested in death rituals, the American alternative funeral industry, and the morbid in general, definitely hit her works up. I also highly recommend her first book, Smoke Gets in your Eyes. What I especially love about her work is that she doesn’t sensationalize things that aren’t the norm. She treats death rituals with a great deal of respect and talks about the cultural reasons behind them.
  2. The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris– As a writer of Victorian stories that often have medical scenes, I greatly enjoy learning about antique medical science. Lindsey Fitzharris is a wealth of information regarding medical history. The Butchering Art talks about Joseph Lister’s journey to promoting germ theory and totally transforming the medical profession but especially surgery. There’s an incredible amount of depth to this story that interweaves Lister’s life with his professional contributions as well. Fitzharris has a new book coming out about plastic surgery during WWI that I am looking forward to as well, called The Facemaker, and she hosts the show The Curious Life and Death of… which is also fascinating.
  3. Fabric, Colors, or Jewels by Victoria Finlay– I will auto-buy anything Victoria Finlay comes out with. I absolutely love her books and hope she makes many more in the future. All three books are close looks into the cultural significance, history, and composition of fabric, jewels, and pigments. What I love about her books is that she goes all over the world to do deep research and talk with the people in the communities that create these things or are affected by their harvesting/creation. I’m a nerd who loves super deep, niche research, and Finlay’s books fill this void for me.
  4. Spirals in Time by Helen Scales– I have a thing for sea creatures, and spirals in time does a deep dive into the anatomy of molluscs, the way they were used in different cultures, how they can be used for drugs or food or poison, how they are being affected by climate change, etc. Basically anything you wanted to know about molluscs, Scales talks about. Once again, probably niche for some, but if you like to learn about a large part of ocean life that happens to be quite small and seemingly unimportant, this is for you.
  5. Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake– First off, the author’s name is amazing, especially in relation to a book on mushrooms. Second, fungi is the most fascinating of kingdoms. Much like Spirals in Time, it is a deep dive on the structure, life cycle, toxicity, promise, and even processing power of fungus. I know a nonfiction book is good when I want to read five more books on the same topic. Definitely leans more toward the creative nonfiction side than a try text, which I appreciated (other reviewers, not so much).
  6. The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams– This was one of those books where it just got wilder and wilder. The world of dinosaur hunting and selling, international trade regulations, fraud, Mongolian politics, and so much more. As a child who was obsessed with dinosaurs, I am still an adult who loves dinosaurs. This book is less about the dinosaurs themselves and more about the craze surrounding them. The magnetic appeal that leads to international smuggling rings and high profile arrests.
  7. An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage– an interesting look at food from pre-history to modernity with detours into the evolution of grains, how empires were built around them and transported them, as a tool to create ideologies, the spread of foods through empires, and how modern farming and consumption affects food. I didn’t love the more modern chapters, but the archaeology/anthropology-based bits were far better.
  8. When Brooklyn was Queer by Hugh Ryan– This is a book I’ve been referencing since starting the Paranormal Society Romance books. Ryan takes readers from Walt Whitman’s home in the 1850s to the sapphic women of the Brooklyn Navy Yard in WWII. The book is loaded with information but told in a way that feels almost like a story. It’s a comfortable pace without becoming too dry. I ran through When Brooklyn was Queer far faster than George Chauncey’s Gay New York (which I also recommend but it was drier). Ryan also provides a great works cited section at the end.
  9. A History of Ancient Egypt by John Romer– I will warn you, it is dense and large with tiny print. But if you are interested in Ancient Egypt, it is worth it. So far, there are two volumes, and I am DYING for the third which runs from the beginning of the New Kingdom to (I assume) the end of the Ptolemies. What I love about Romer is he only uses archaeological evidence for his theories, which takes away a lot of the “assumptions” we have about Ancient Egypt that reflect a British imperialist mindset.
  10. The ReVisioning American History series by Michael Bronski, Kim E. Nielsen, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Paul Ortiz, Daina Ramey Berry, and Kyle T. Mays (so far)- This series is really a starting point for further reading, but I like them because they talk about the history that often isn’t taught in schools. The books focus on queer history, disability history, Indigenous history, an African American and Latinx history, a history of Black women, and Afro-Indigenous History. The histories are often horrific at times, but they need to be told and read. As I said, they are not comprehensive, but they are a good starting point in order to delve deeper.
Monthly Review

January 2022 Wrap-Up

So back in the day, like October 2016 back in the day, I used to do a monthly wrap-up post where I talked about what I accomplished that month and what I hoped to do in the next month. I have decided to start doing that again because

a) I think seeing my progress will be good for me (even if it’s a lack of progress sometimes)

b) it’s an easy place to put up book reviews without doing a book review

c) I can talk a bit about things I’ve been doing behind the scenes that are not interesting enough to warrant their own post


Reading

I set out to read about 8-9 books this month since my yearly goal is 100 books, and I ended up reading 10 books in January. (The numbers beside the titles are where they are in the series, if there is one)

  1. Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque (4 stars- helped a lot with shifting my feelings about my newsletter)
  2. How to Read a Suit by Lydia Edwards (4 stars- highly interesting if you want to learn more about period specific clothing as well as masculinity)
  3. Where the Drowned Girls Go (#7) by Seanan McGuire (5 stars- absolutely LOVE this series, YA portal fantasy)
  4. Heartstopper (#4) by Alice Oseman (5 stars- the focus of this one was heavily on mental health and I loved that love couldn’t solve/magically fix it)
  5. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows (#2) by Olivia Waite (4 stars- this series is f/f historical romance, and this one features a beekeeper and has tons of queer side characters)
  6. Winter’s Dawn (#3) by Arden Powell (4 stars- every novella in this series has been magical and wonderful)
  7. The Missing Page (#2) by Cat Sebastian (5 stars- Page and Sommers team up to solve Sommers’ cousin’s disappearance from 20 years ago, fantastic)
  8. Boys Run the Riot (#4) by Keito Gaku (4 stars- a manga with a trans lead about fashion, mad it’s over)
  9. The Excalibur Curse (#3) by Kiersten White (4 stars- I am so upset this series is over but it was a fabulous King Arthur retelling filled with queer characters)
  10. Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron (5 stars- very useful as a I work on The Reanimator’s Heart)

Admin/Behind the Scenes Author Stuff

  • Updated the back matter and formatting for the ebook versions of all my books
  • Republished said books on Amazon and D2D
  • Published all of my books on the Google Play store
  • Fixed my website aesthetically to make it pretty again after I wrecked it last year
  • Updated every page of my website to be current
  • Created, uploaded, and published the second box set in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, which contains books 4-6 (Dead Magic, Selkie Cove, and The Wolf Witch)
  • Updated the covers/titles for the audiobooks for The Earl of Brass and The Gentleman Devil
  • Contacted/contracted a narrator for the audiobook of Kinship and Kindness (which will hopefully be out by summer. PS- my narrator is trans, and I’m super excited to have a trans narrator for a series that has a trans lead in each book)
  • Fixed/relaunched my monthly newsletter (You can read January’s here)
  • Read some author craft books (Newsletter Ninja and Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel)
  • blogged weekly and did weekly marketing

I did a lot of admin stuff this month, but I want to emphasize that I didn’t start teaching until over halfway through the month, so I got a lot of work done while on break. Please don’t judge my productivity against yours if you are working full-time. Due to pandemic mess, I’m teaching less classes and trying to make up for it by [theoretically] boosting my author income. Hence, all the admin stuff.


Blogs Posted

If there’s ever anything you want me to write about, feel free to let me know. I will never complain about blog suggestions.


Writing

Oh boy. So this is where I find myself cringing because while I look very industrious in all the things I mentioned above, I did not get a whole lot of writing done. This month The Reanimator’s Heart reached about 11,000 words. This was due to multiple reasons. Part of it was that I had to tweak the beginning of my book to make it work, which then created a cascade of tweaking. Most of it was due to stress though. I had bad anxiety at the beginning of the month, which led to a horrible bout of writer resistance. I can’t even pinpoint why, but I was struggling. I also had car issues, a dog with diarrhea, and my classes started up again all within a two week period. As soon as I get stressed out, my ability to write plummets. It’s something I’m working on, but it still throws me. My hope is that, while I probably won’t catch up completely in February, I will make a dent in my word count goal and actually get close to where I hoped to be.

I also figured out that I do significantly better doing 20 minute writing sprints than 15 minute ones, so here’s hoping that I can use that new information to build momentum going forward.


Hopes for February

  • Read 8 books
  • Write 20k words (stretch goal is 30k to fully catch up)
  • finish a syllabus I need to write for a future class
  • finish a course proposal for a future class
  • blog weekly, February author newsletter
  • crochet more because I barely crocheted at all this month

That’s it for this month’s wrap-up. Let me know what goals you hope to achieve in February!

Book Reviews

My Favorite Books of 2021

I’d like to begin by saying this is in no way a comprehensive list of my favorite books. Throughout the year, I read roughly 120 books, so to narrow this down, I went through my reading log spreadsheet and picked through my top 5 star books. The following books are in no particular order, but I did group them together by semi related genres/feelings.


The Intensity!

Jade War by Fonda Lee– book 2 in the Green Bone Saga (see Jade City for book 1) did not disappoint. I actually had a hard time getting through parts of Jade War because I needed to put the book aside and calm down. This book of magic, family, political intrigue, and the brutality of street wars is incredibly intense but worth the heart palpitations.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse– a multi-POV fantasy set in an alternate version of Central America where colonialism didn’t destroy the Nahuatl/indigenous cultures. If you’re into soft but dark magic ridden boys, headstrong female captains who are a bit of a mess, and incredibly intriguing mysteries, Black Sun is one to pick up.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark– What is the KKK were actual monsters? Ring Shout tells the story of a diverse group of resistance fighters who decide to take on the KKK and bring them down once and for all. What I absolutely loved about this was the way African root/folk magic was interwoven with historical events and eldritch abominations. All of Clark’s works are a must read for me.


Kissing Books

Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian– While narrowing down my list, there were 3 Cat Sebastian books with 5 stars that I read this year, so take it as a blanket statement that I love her work. Tommy Cabot Was Here is deliciously filled with hurt-comfort as Tommy deals with a divorce and making a new life with his son while grappling with feelings for his best friend (his son’s teacher at the boarding school they attended as boys). If you love queer historical fiction, Cat Sebastian is a fav of mine.
Seducing the Sorcerer by Lee Welch– Goofy magic horse? Check. Middle aged protagonists in a queer romance? Check. A Diana Wynne Jones magical vibe? Check. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you aren’t into BDSM (it was pretty light overall), but this just hit the spot for me. Charming, complex, yet easy to sink into.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert– As soon as I see a book with neurodivergent love interests, I am sold. I love Eve and Jacob’s dynamic, both messes in their own way. Tornado of chaos meets stuffed shirt to create the perfect balance. All of the books in the Brown Sisters series are wonderful, but I think this one is my fav.


Into New Worlds

An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley– This is another one that I think hit all my sweet spots. It reminded me of Hocus Pocus in terms of the brother-sister would kill for you dynamic. I’m also a sucker for Louis XIV/Rococopunk type stories, and this doesn’t disappoint with a plot to kill Louis XIV while overthrowing the government and creating an even worse one featuring magic and poisons.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRou by V. E. Schwab– A girl in 17th century France sells her soul to have a different life and quickly finds herself in a Monkey’s Paw situation where no one remembers her. Until she meets Henry. This one is a slow start, but once it got going, I was hooked and finished it in like two days.
Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko– If this sounds good to you, make sure to read Raybearer first. Both books follow Tarisai as she joins the future emperor’s court, finds a new family, and discovers that she is so much more than she thought. I always worry a second book in a fantasy duology will be too samey-samey with the first one or go totally off the rails. Ifueko creates an interesting world filled with so much magic and how one deals with a legacy of pain to make a better future.


Life Is Complicated

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi– Talk about complicated sibling relationships. June and Jayne are sisters who seem a world apart when in reality, they are both messes. Jayne is envious of her corporate, high-rise sister while she is struggling through college and clout-chasing friends in a crappy apartment. When June steals Jayne’s identity, the sisters are drawn together and deal with their new realities and futures. I’d also like to mention that I love Mary H. K. Choi’s books, and if you haven’t read Emergency Contact, you should.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston– time traveling lesbian, need I say more? After spotting a leather jacket lesbian on the train (Jane), August takes the train to get to know her and quickly realizes Jane has been stuck on the same train since the 70s. It’s a story as much about NYC and queer history as it is a sapphic romance and begs the question, will August and Jane get to be together?
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen– Vanja has been impersonating Princess Gisele for over a year, but her deception comes crashing down after being cursed for her greed and discovering her horrid betrothed is plotting something horrific. Vanja has to team up with a motley crew, complete with a stuffy inspector, to save her country and maybe even save herself. Set in a German-like fantasy world, the folklore and magic was *chef kiss*


Let me know in the comments what are your best books of 2021!

Book Reviews

Reading Rec: A Delicate Deception

A Delicate Deception takes two anxious messes with less than stellar communication skills and makes them fall in love with some incredibly delightful side characters to sweeten the deal.

delicate decept

Amelia Allenby just wants to be left alone. After a disastrous final season in London where she decided she had had enough, she retires to the country with her ex-governess to escape the demands of society life. All is going according to plan until Amelia runs into a stranger on her walk, a rather handsome stranger who has the gaul to be nice to her. Sydney is not thrilled to be back in town either. After the death of his brother and sister-in-law, he has avoided the old manor until his friend, the Duke of Hereford, summons him back, but he soon realizes the duke is nowhere to be found. Amelia and Sydney try to keep their identities a secret as they become entangled, but soon their attraction becomes too much to ignore.

I received an ARC of A Delicate Deception in exchange for an honest review, but more importantly, I’m a huge Cat Sebastian fan, so I’m already biased before the ARC reaches my inbox.

What I love most about many of Cat Sebastian’s novels is how much is going on inside the heads of her characters, especially as someone with anxiety and a tendency to overthink. Both Sydney and Amelia come off as very real but also different in how their issues manifest. There’s a wonderful balance between Amelia and Sydney in terms of temperament, and Sydney is *chef kiss*. Nothing like a hardworking male love interest with a job and passions, especially in a genre so full of dukes and aristocrats.

The novel is also populated with great side characters, like the Duke of Hereford and Amelia’s ex-governess, Georgiana. It isn’t often that we get a duke who is dealing with a physical disability, and on top of all that, everyone is queer. Despite these being a m/f romance, both Sydney and Amelia are queer, as are Lex and Georgiana. It’s really refreshing to read.

Most importantly, what I think the major takeaway from this book is, is the idea that family is what you make it, as is love, as is marriage. Cat Sebastian purposely challenges the traditional expectations of love and marriage, especially in historical-romance as a genre. A m/f romance that spits in the face of heteronormity and forces the reader to rethink their expectations and forces the characters to do the same, is one worth reading and recommending.

All in all, A Delicate Deception is an enjoyable yet thought provoking romance that looks to challenge expectations as well as what should be considered the norm.

You can grab a copy here and have it delivered to your Kindle tomorrow.

Book Reviews

Reading Rec: Gilded Cage

In Gilded Cage, we find a lady detective having to team up with an ex-flame but current jewel thief to clear his name of murder.

gilded cage

Templeton Lane, part of the infamous Lilywhite Boys, is no stranger to danger, but when he arrives to steal an opal necklace and stumbles across a double homicide, he knows he is in deep trouble. On the run and trying to keep his partner in crime and associates safe, he knows there is only one person he can turn to: Susan Lazarus. Susan hates the Lilywhite Boys and especially hates Templeton Lane after he deserted her when they were teens, but when Templeton turns up needing help, Lazarus decides she must get to the bottom of the mystery, even if it does help her lout of an ex. Together they must figure out who would want to set Templeton up before the villain takes them all down.

I received an ARC of Gilded Cage in exchange for an honest review. This book is also the second in the Lilywhite Boys series, so you should read book one (because it’s damn good) but it isn’t required.

If you like characters who have hard exteriors and rather soft insides, this series is probably for you. What I love about Lazarus and Lane are that they are hardened by the jobs and lives they have pursued separately, and even though they have been separated for years and reconnect under rather tense circumstances, they still fit. These characters don’t magically regress to who they were years ago when they meet. They’re still changed people and must learn to figure out if and how they fit. Of course there’s also the frustration of miscommunication and being on opposite sides of the law to contend with that give it an enemies to lovers feel, which just adds to the dramatic tension in the story. The moments of tenderness in this story help to counterbalance the tension and the horrific nature of the murders that make up the other half of the action.

And what a good mystery it is. A room full of jewels, a dead jeweler and his manservant, a lawyer, a newly discovered nephew, and a jewel thief who never should have made it out of the house alive. If you’ve ever read KJ Charles’s other works, you know she is ingenious when it comes to writing mysteries, and Gilded Cage is no different. There are enough moving parts and gaps in the narrative to keep it interesting without getting bogged down with procedural tedium. I love how the Lane and Lazarus work outside the law and manage to be underhanded without truly being criminal. It’s a fun knife’s edge to watch them walk, especially after knowing Lazarus’s origins from an earlier series. On that same note, we get to see how three of Charles’s series are interconnected and converge in this book. Lots of characters to run into twenty years down the line from their books along with others you won’t expect to hear about.

Overall, Gilded Cage is a cracking good mystery with complex characters learning to become better versions of themselves.

Gilded Cage comes out October 23rd, so keep your eye on Amazon or your favorite retailer for a copy.

Book Reviews

Reading Rec: A Little Light Mischief

A Little Light Mischief is a novella that captured my heart with a blunt lady’s maid and a cast out spinster teaming up for a bit of revenge and romance.

allm

Alice Stapleton is newly cast out and newly a lady’s companion, but now that she no longer has her father’s vicarage to run, she’s itching to something, which is apparently something the ton don’t do. To occupy herself, she sews, writes, and studies the assets of her companion’s lady’s maid. Molly knows Alice is watching, but she’s sworn off the sins of her past unless absolutely necessary, but there’s something about the quiet woman that intrigues her. As they grow closer, Alice and Molly find they have far more in common than they thought and embark on a revenge mission to get Alice back what she lost.

I received a copy of A Little Light Mischief in exchange for an honest review, and keep in mind, I really like Cat Sebastian’s books, so I’m a tad biased. If you like your romance on the low stress side, this novella is for you. Plus, it’s f/f, which is even better!

What I love about this story is both main characters are women with jobs. We tend to think of Regency period women as wandering aimlessly through the grounds or a mother, but both Molly and Alice are take-charge in their own ways and very capable people. There is discussion of women’s work in terms of value and the unseen toll of being a woman, especially under the control of a man. I love seeing this power dynamic being discussed in a context that isn’t centering on a marriage. Both Molly and Alice harbor secrets from their past, but neither dominates their lives and they aren’t the fallen angels some authors would happily portray them as.

Molly is what I wished other “strong” historical women were like. She’s loud, she’s take-charge, she’s cunning, but she isn’t a caricature. She’s multifaceted and willing to quiet down and meet Alice in the middle. Meanwhile, Alice is drawn out of her shell by Molly and uses her new-found moxie to help them both. Women helping women is my jam and needs to be in more f/f fiction (looking at you, Sarah Waters).

Overall, A Little Light Mischief is a wonderful f/f romance novella that has characters you cheer for and villains you are more than happy to see get their come-up-ins.

Grab your copy here.

The Wolf Witch · Writing

The Wolf Witch is Out Today!

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The sixth book in the Ingenious Mechanical Device is out today! You can grab a paperback or ebook copy of THE WOLF WITCH on Amazon here.

Since returning to England from abroad, Emmeline Jardine has managed to get a place of her own, maintain a tenuous truce with her guardians, and celebrate her new found freedom by attending as many parties as she can manage. That is until a man claiming to be her father shows up.
Her father has a problem. Her half-brother, Wesley, has disappeared while investigating possible werewolf sightings, and he needs Emmeline’s help finding him. Emmeline reluctantly agrees only to find there are others interested in Wesley’s plight. When she receives a mysterious invitation to a country estate deep in the woods, Emmeline is shocked to find a familiar face there.
Nadir Talbot, Decadent, writer, and all around nuisance, infuriates her to no end, but Emmeline soon finds he is the only she can turn to as they are thrust into a world of werewolves, monsters, and secrets from her family’s past that threaten to bring the empire to its knees.

Emmeline has done a lot of growing since Dead Magic, so I hope you’ll enjoy reading her story and following her on her journey to discovering who she truly is.

If you pre-ordered a copy, it will be waiting for you on your Kindle, and if you enjoyed THE WOLF WITCH, I hope you will leave an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. They help small time authors like me a lot in terms of visibility.

I hope you all enjoy THE WOLF WITCH, and I will have news soon on my next project, which involves characters mentioned in THE WOLF WITCH.

Book Reviews

Reading Rec: Hither, Page

Hither, Page is a murder-town mystery featuring a spy, a doctor struggling with PTSD, a dead maid, and a socialist, flask-swilling, graveyard inhabiting teenage girl who may be my favorite person in a book ever.

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Dr. Sommers wants nothing more than stability and to put the war behind him, but in a country that is still picking up the pieces, that’s hard to do, even harder when his town’s peace is shattered by the death of the town gossip. In comes Leo Page, a spy for the crown whose entire life has been a series of transient identities. Page and Sommers soon team up to discover who killed the gossiping chambermaid and uncover the townspeople’s secrets, but they find more than they bargained for in each other.

First off, I received an ARC of Hither, Page in exchange for an honest review, and secondly, I’m super biased because Cat Sebastian’s books are some of my favorites but if you like romance with mystery and social commentary, then you’ll probably like it as well.

This was one of those books that was so satisfying that I was beyond overjoyed to see that it was part of a series. What I loved about this book is how Sebastian is able to take characters who might be seen as horrid people in other lights and show their humanity and goodness. The characters in Hither, Page are layered, and as you get further in the book, the layers peel away to reveal who they truly are, for better or worse. Sommers is one of those do-gooders who truly only wants the best for others while Page is great at his job as an agent because it is so easy to shed identities when you never really had one. They compliment each other perfectly, stability and flux, and their relationship is a slower burn considering the genre.

The ensemble cast and setting are what really makes this couple shine. There are high stakes in terms of intrigue, but that’s tempered by a sleepy, peaceful country town filled with children and little old ladies who make ginger cookies. To counterbalance the imagery and aftermath of war, there is so much tenderness in this story. The imagery of Christmas decorations and canned soup on a cold night are touches that make this story shine above other historical romances.

Hither, Page comes out tomorrow! Pre-order a copy here.