BIRTW: Vol 37, Oct 14

BIRTW: Vol 37, Oct 14

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin | The Beauty and The Blacksmith by Tessa Dare | The Trouble with Harry by Katie MacAlister


Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Author: Gretchen Rubin

Series: N/A

Tags: nonfiction, self help, habit breaking, personality types

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!


I don’t normally yay nonfiction books, but I liked this one!

Take it for what it is first: a pop-science nonfiction written by a non-scientist. A writer by trade, she researched extensively on the subject, but has no accreditation in a particular scientific field.

If I had looked at the cover more carefully, I would have been far more skeptical and probably would have hated the book (because of the weight loss aspect: “give up sugar”). However, I heard about this book through a Smart Bitches Trashy Books post, so I was acquainted with the context.


The most useful thing I learned from this was more of an “unlearning”. Unlike other nonfiction books on the subject, Rubin makes it clear that there is no one “best” way for everyone to make or break a habit successfully. So, all those should’s and supposed to’s weighing me down, all the “right” way to do things that don’t work for me can be let go. Figure out what helps you make a good habit and go from there.


Rubin shows difference in personality by creating four different types or tendencies, according how they best keep themselves accountable.

I took the quiz, and GUESS WHAT, I’m a Rebel. Everyone who knows me will not be surprised.

I feel like rebels are the most misunderstood group. There are ways for me to create new habits, but those ways are constantly being revised, and are often misunderstood by the people around me. I drive people nuts by not going along with what they do. I’m not an exercise buddy, I don’t faithfully follow a predetermined plan, logic has no hold over my emotional mind, and having to be accountable to a person of authority may just make me crack under pressure. Doctors, therapists, dietitians, friends, and family members go, “why can’t you just do this?” The answer is always, “I don’t know.”


In the book she said that dietitians are almost always upholders. I agree. I would add that addicts are almost always rebels.

I used to be in Overeaters Anonymous and here is what I have noticed from my time in an anonymous program.

Accountability works only to a point. Pushing yourself works only to a point. But if you believe that people are judging you and if you believe that are not worthy of love neither of those work for you. There is a shortage of unconditional love in this world, and if you believe you can fuck up to the point of losing the love of someone, you will be in constant fear of fucking up, and inevitably fuck up.

That’s what worked for me most in OA. A community that loves and supports you no matter what, so that you have the freedom to work on your stuff on your own.

There are also reasons I left OA, but I won’t get into that at the moment.


I absolutely hate the carrot on stick programs, which is why I think religion has no place in recovery or transitional programs. “We will support you IF you believe in so-and-so” is a great example of conditional love. If there is a hint of expectation, of conditions, the accountability averse will surely tail spin eventually.


It is so refreshing to read something that takes personality into account. I have often felt vaguely ashamed of my own rebel nature, especially when it comes to habits I am trying to change. This book focuses on finding different solutions to fit different people.

Rubin’s rebels don’t like to answer to themselves or others. They like choice, free will, and wiggle room. They hate trends and much prefer to go their own way.

Rubin suggests that the way to use this nature to build healthy habits is to:

  • Make it personal: tie it in with some fundamental belief that is truly you.
  • Make it yours: personalize it to fit your needs specifically
  • Go against the flow: pick a habit technique that is specifically against the trend, to give you an extra boost in feeling original.
  • Plan spontaneity: remember that you only have a limited supply of will power. Minimize the risk of overtaxing yourself by predetermining decisions, and then planning a section of time to be spontaneous. If you walk into the break room everyday not sure if you are going to eat what’s there, that’s taxing to your will power. However, if you decide to give yourself freedom to eat break room food at 10 am, you have all but one hour decided, with some wiggle room.

This cleared up a lot of my habits that are hard to break. I am being treated for binge eating disorder, and I have been hitting my head against the wall for so long trying to figure out why I continue to binge.

Some of it are situational habits: going to grocery store A means I get candy B.

Some of it is a matter of will power: it is already established that store A means candy B, but will power is needed to stop the habit and replace it with…what? I am reluctant to make a plan. I tax my will power by not deciding it until the moment.

Some of it is rebellion against a strict plan: I think of my boring food at home and last minute stop to get something fun.

Some of it is emotional: I have a pathway in my brain that jumps straight from anxious to cookies.


And the answer, I have already established, isn’t diets or gym buddies or meal plans or pills or anything else anyone suggests to me mostly because I’ve tried them all but partly because I don’t take suggestions well.


I don’t know how much validity to give to Rubin’s personality types, but that is not the point. Types should be used as a lens to look through the world differently. It reminds you that people think differently than you do.


Another great thing I gleaned from the book is the phrase “a treat is anything that makes you feel good and you recognize it.”

That’s so interesting. I like the second part best because how many times do I recognize how truly delightful things I do are? I am always hard pressed to find healthy self care treats for myself. I can usually only think of sweets. But if I were more mindful of my life, perhaps I could find more.

And how many times have I had a “treat” that doesn’t fit that definition? The food I scarf down numbly, or the TV show that bores me? Or the food I enjoy but end up feeling sick and depressed afterwards?

I would expand the definition to say that all treats can be defined as above, but the best treats “make you feel good, and you recognize it, both during and after the treat.”

The calm feeling I have after yoga. My pretty nails and soft feet after an at home mani-pedi. Still smiling while driving home from a friend. Those are good. Those are very good.


I will say, though, that as far as the lose weight aspect goes, it is not great. She researches, but largely talks about anecdotal evidence: success stories from friends and family. Lots of problems with that as a source, not the least of which is that they share successes only, not what doesn’t work. I wish she had left behind the weight loss angle completely, since it is such a complicated and emotional subject, but whatever. Spoiler: Rubin has lost weight because she is on a strict low starch diet.

A good companion to this book could be Making Habits Breaking Habits that WAS written by a scientist and has more concrete advice and steps. It gives some good advice, but I kind of hated that book, personally. Mostly for its one-size-fits-all treatment of habit creation.


That’s probably because I’m a rebel.


The Beauty and The Blacksmith

Author: Tessa Dare

Series: Spindle Cove #3.5 (novella)

Tags: regency romance, opposites attract, he’s lower in class, blacksmith, asthma

Format: ebook

Rating: yay!


Better than I expected!


I wasn’t expecting much. It’s a novella, after all. Still, better than other novellas. I seem to like Dare’s novellas over others.

The other reason I was reluctant is the set up of the heroine in the other novels. The series is about a town full of lady misfits, and I’ve never liked her character as The Only Pretty One.

But her character filled out!

The book opens on a lengthy description of her checking out the blacksmith while he worked. I mean, how can you NOT relate to a woman who enjoys a good sweaty blacksmith scene?
The blacksmith was not very filled out. Except in the bicep region, tee hee! He seemed like a nice, well spoken guy in touch with his feelings that happens to be a blacksmith.
But whatever. Hooray!


I love the Spindle Cove series. I want to revisit them, especially the one about Thorne, and the one about Minerva.


Can’t wait to read the latest Tessa Dare!



The Trouble With Harry 

Author: Katie MacAllistar 

Series: Noble #3 

Tags: regency romance, widower, spinster, 40+, forthright female, ad in the paper, spy, wacky blended family, glasses, erotica writer 

Format: ebook 

Rating: yay! 


I may or may not have read a MacAllister before. It looks like she mostly does cheerful vampire series (not to be confused with angsty vampire series, of which there are many). I might have read one of them. 


This one was pretty cute. Humorous! Our heroine is always saying absurd and imaginative things. She reminded me of a less extreme Alexia Tarabotti from Carriger’s Soulless. Her niece is equally, if not more, absurd. She has a charming conversation with who she thinks is a thief. 


The hero is just kind of a nice guy. His wife died and he has unruly children! Then he falls in love with her and remains surprisingly virile for a man in his forties.


Pretty much it. Yay!



BIRTW: Vol 36, Sept 30

BIRTW: Vol 36, Sept 30

Born of Shadows | Sherrilyn Kenyon

Born of Shadows

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: The League #4

Tags:  Space romance! Space smugglers! Warrior Princess! Spartan type society. Surprise royalty! Disguise! Running from the law. Have to spend the night in a hovel

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


Okay, so first of all, I can never remember the right version of this woman’s name. I keep on wanting to call her Kerrilyn Sherilyn. Kenyon Shenyon. Something like that.


Also, what is. Up. With. These. Women.


I’ve been trying to come up with a name to call the women Kenyon writes, and I think I’ve settled on Renn Faire Paper. Because these women are not just flimsy and two dimensional like regular paper. Noo, these are a cut above that.

These ladies are, no matter the archetype of species, paper that one might purchase at a Renn Faire, dyed pink with bits of flowers in the pulp, which is so poorly hand pressed that if the paper gets even the tiniest bit wet, the entire thing dissolves in your hands. A pink, perfumed, pulpy mess.

Is Sherrilyn Kenyon actually a woman? Does she know what it’s like? These weepy, fragile, clingy children spout maxims that are the space alien equivalent of “Men! Am I right, ladies?”

Yeah, wink at the camera, because your boyfriend is a benign chauvinist.


If you’ve noticed, this is the fourth book I’ve read, and it’s only now that I’m spouting such vitrol.

The difference? She’s an effing warrior princess from an effing matriarchal society.


Our heroine is the daughter of the queen of a Spartan-like militia obsessed alien society that treats men as property and raises women as warriors their entire lives. And yet she cries, and clings, and does the space equivalent of putting her hands on her hips and saying “men!” in mock outrage.


Okay. Hold up. I need to unpack this.


Spartan-like militia obsessed monarchy.

Because remember how well that worked out for the Spartans…

Just listen to these dumbass rules:

  • Becoming queen is passed down the line, but you can also challenge to battle at any time to overtake the throne.
  • If you are challenged or challenge, you must kill or be killed. The rest is disgrace.
  • Men are kept as “consorts” or… idk, go somewhere? There was some talk of training camps, though that makes no sense because
  • No man can be king, unless he defeats the queen in battle, in which case they can rule as equals.
  • Oh, and by the way, no emotions other than anger! Or attachments! Because women hate both of those things!

This race of alien type things are apparently human (humanoid?), so if you apply the human biology, men naturally gain muscle faster than women, so they have brute strength cornered, yet they still combat train the men? And no man has won a battle?

Also, how many of your ruling class are you losing by the stupid challenge kill rule, not to mention combat and training injuries?


Matriarchal society where men are property.


Every time I hear “matriarchal society” my ears perk up. I am so hopeful that this one, this time, will be truly interesting, truly stepping out of our own patriarchal biases.

I know I shouldn’t, but I hope! I hope!

Alas, one does not meet a well thought out matriarchal society in space romance paperbacks.



I mean, men as property…?



And why is it always matriarchal + militia? Is that the only women can rule, if they are some Amazon knockoff?

Frankly, the Wonder Woman movie did it better (and they didn’t even do it that well).


We start heading into dystopian territory when their matriarchal society is just a hyper-masculine (performative) society with the sexes flipped.

Grrr! We only do war! Grrr! We hate feelings! Rawrrr! No sincere attachments! Argargarg! Every woman for herself! *rumble rumble snarl snarl*


(that’s what hypermasculinity sounds like in my head)


Not surprisingly, our girl doesn’t like this matriarchal society. With the hero, she finds REAL attachment, REAL love, REAL men! [enter wolf whistle]


Blerrrrrrrrrgh. WHY is this woman written this way? Why is her planet written this way? This is not a rhetorical question. You, person, who is reading this: imagine you write a character that lives her entire life in an Amazon-meets-Sparta-meets-Dystopian-Saga Society where women rule, and are trained from birth to be big strong kickass angry women. How would you write her?


Would you write her as a naive pampered princess full of self-doubt and tearful emotions, just waiting for a man to show her how to love?


Oh, you would?


This is awkward.


Long story short, KICKASSERY WAS NOT ACHIEVED. She was pretty much exactly like the other pampered frilly bitches from the other books.



And here is the silver lining!




Oh man, I should not be this excited about it.


Somewhere in between Exposition Via Snooping (Kenyon’s common mode of backstory) and Exposition Via Photos and Video of Past Events and People (don’tcha love how she just lays it out for you?), WhatsHerName found quote unquote “alien profilactics.”


Hehehwait, WHAT?


Please give those two words to the creators of Rick and Morty. I would LOVE to see what they do with them.


However, it was not very exciting in this book. They were just mentioned as an aside to show how much of a man-whore our hero is.

Uh, cuz being prepared is bad, I guess.

Maybe Kenyon was just worried we would be preoccupied with the possibility of alien-herpes.


True to the series, they of course do not use any protection of the kind.

Surprise of all surprises, the epilogue ends with a baby announcement.



I just ranted a bunch on this.

I was going to continue with the series, but the above evidence shows I may not be into it. I will be taking a break from Kenyon for a bit. To perhaps return… never? We shall see.

BIRTW: Vol 35, Sept 16

BIRTW: Vol 35, Sept 16

It feels like foreevvveeeerrr since I’ve written in my blog. I am sad to say that I broke my streak of posting once a week for the first time since I started Books I Read This Week in January. BUT! I bring you consolation prize. A fancy schmancy new website!

Ya know, because I’m a web designer, maybe I should step it the fuck up.

So I did!




Author: Lynsay Sands

Series: N/A

Tags: historical romance, medieval romance, enemies to lovers, estate manager, warrior, widow

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


Okay, so all I can think right now is WEE HEATH.

Wee Heath.

That’s what our big strong warrior lord widower hero calls his manhood. Because his name is Heath. And his penis’s name is Wee Heath.


It’s pretty on par with other Sands’s Time Period Not Specified Historical Romances. This author’s niche really is arranged marriages. They are two nobles with neighboring lands, always arguing. The king (one of the Henry’s) makes them get married. Neither of them want to marry the other, but while he’s kind of resigned to it, she develops a series of Parent-Trap-like hijinx to scare him off from marrying her!

Foul breath, rancid food, bitter ale.

These are the things that will get you out of a marriage ordered by the king, apparently.

More Sandsian nuggets fall in line. Bath scene! Murder attempts! Awkward honeymoon night scene! Large fluffy dog! Wee Heath!

So that’s great.








Author: Dannika Dark

Series: Seven #6.5

Tags: paranormal romance, urban fantasy, shifters, werewolves, kind of creepy weirdly attractive older guy, twins!, bronytail, bounty hunter, banding together to solve mystery, bronytail

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!


Awww! The Seven series!!!!!! I miiiiiissssss it…

I fucking love this series. It’s so sexy, strong, yet vulnerable. These seven shifter wolf brothers just living in Austin, Texas, trying to get by as the newest pack in town, with their muscle cars and motorcycles and tattoos and rock music…

Oh man.

I would read it again, but I fear that it would not hold up a second time. Plus, also, I’m STILL mad at Denver for being an asshole in Six Minutes.

You know you love a book when you spend non-reading times scolding characters in your head.

Denver’s the Funny One, and he feels like to me that guy friend you are marginally attracted to, but also know it would never work out, so instead you two share a friendly platonic bond and you get real with him when he’s being an asshole which was ALL OF HIS BOOK.

And I still am a little madly in love with Reno, the oldest brother and beta (right hand man), who is quiet and an ex-soldier and always says “I’m not gonna church it up for ya.”

Reno! I squealed like a fan girl when he showed up in this one.


But this one is not about any of the brothers. It’s a novella about an extremely old, teensy bit creepy alpha named Prince. I mean, in book 6, he tries to win over a girl just because of her blood type, meeting her when she’s 3 and patiently waiting till she’s a bangable age.

You know how sometimes in romances the rival is an older, richer, decently nice man, who offers the heroine stability and wealth in exchange for some poontang, and she’s kind of attracted to his money?

That’s Prince.

I wasn’t particularly interested in Prince, and the woman introduced as his love interest, Natalia, is even worse. She’s all stuck up poise and superficiality. She’s an art dealer that wears pant suits and owns a white couch. Definitely a outcast in this flannel and jeans type crew.

But surprise! He’s actually interested in her twin sister! The clutzy, totally casual, thoroughly American bounty hunter Kat is all wrong for him… and just right. He’s all, “JK, swapsies!” and they live happily ever after.

Dark manages to put a smattering of diverse personalities in the female cast, with meek, feisty, strong, sexy to name a few. So I was a little worried that we were going to do Natalia just for the sake of being different.

Nope! Kat is casual, sweet, tough, naive and clumsy. So, very in line with Dark’s other characters.


Something about Dark’s strong but vulnerable females just makes me happy. Enough of each to belay any kind of inner feminist lecture, and they are just so darn cute!

I found out there are other Dark books on OverDrive, so they are definitely going on my wishlist!



Born of Ice

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: The League #3, The League Legacy #2

Tags: space romance, smuggler, slave, sabotage, 2nd generation

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


Just chugging along in the K section of OverDrive…


Now wait a bloody minute! Why is #3 the second generation of heroes, even though we just return back to the first generation in book 4??

Devyn is the son of Syn, who was #2…but #4 focuses on the brother of Shahara, Syn’s wife, and therefore is only a few years after #2…


The only earthly reason to do that is because you wanted to and you can, fuck all those readers, they have to figure it out their own damn selves.

Uughhh this is why regency romance is so much better.

In a good ol RR, you have

  • a clear list of potential heroes and/or heroines (via a secret society, or card game, or a traumatic event at Eaton or what have you)
  • a series of self contained storylines with their own delightfully different motif
  • and you can bet your booty that if a male side character is mentioned obliquely in the book, he is in the lineup to be the next hero in the next book.

So easy! So clear!

Kenyon needs to take a step back and organize her damn characters.


There are a plethora of side characters. In the first book I thought it was because she was setting them up to be knocked down, one after another. But each book we just add more! And now all this talk about second gen adults! Who are your parents? Why are you like this? What is your story? Argh, I need a family tree.


The book itself was okay I guess. I’m getting tired of the fallback backstory line of hero being “heart broken by frigid bitch” as a hardship. I mean, he was raising by loving, doting parents, so I guess you have to find something.


Also, what kind of fancy medical science do they have where Devyn can break the heroine’s bone, and she’s up and walking and battle ready by the next day?

And yet.



Birth control.



Immortal Cowboy


I bet you are looking at the cover art and asking yourself, how is this cowboy immortal? Is he a ghost? Is he a vampire? Is he a vampire ghost? If he’s a ghost, then he’s dead…how can he be a dead immortal? Wouldn’t that make it Post-mortal Cowboy?

Well, you’ll just have to wait for tomorrow for my response when Getting Lit Podcast Episode 8 comes out!



Books I read this week: Vol 34, Sept 2nd

Books I read this week: Vol 34, Sept 2nd

Knave of Hearts

Author: Elizabeth Boyle

Series: Rhymes with Love #5

Tags: Historical Romance, regency romance, twins!, not-really-ne’er-do-well, men in drag!, bet, forthright female, bad dancer, pigmallion, thief, conmen, gamblers

Format: audiobook

Rating: yay!


What fun!


That’s what I keep thinking when trying to describe how I feel about this book. And then I realize that sounds weird, like some English gentleman catchphrase, so I keep going.

By Jove! Cracking! Tip top! Cheerio! Ra-ther!


You know, I didn’t think I would like this book, and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised. I read The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane, which I LOVED (recluses always get my vote, anytime), and I was more than a little bitter that the less interesting twin and the ne’er-do-well friend were going to be the focus of the next book. I don’t usually like ne’er-do-wells; they are usually too smooth talking and cheerful for my tastes. However, I ended up liking Tuck! And Livinia, the less interesting twin, wasn’t so bad either.


Tuck, a not-really-ne’er-do-well, makes a drunken bet with the series villain that the Talbet twins will become the most sought after ladies of the ton in two weeks. He is partially responsible for their downfall, having forced Livinia into dancing, though she is an awful dancer. Together, they toppled over many fellow dancers, making the snootiest dog pile to have ever been assembled. He starts to hang out with her to try to teach her to dance, etc, and…you know where this is going.


It’s just silly and fun and delightful. Though this is an opposites attract situation (he’s a rake, and she’s obsessed with being proper), I didn’t feel like they were shoehorned into loving one another. He’s not really a rake, after all (they almost never are), and once she works out her mom stuff, she’ll get over being overly proper. You get a glimpse into their future whenever Livinia has the urge to straighten his collar or sew on his button. He’s just the sort of person who would enjoy being taken care of like that.

Also, he manages to loosen her up. He calls her Livvie, and she realizes she has never had a nickname before. It is a strange and wonderful experience for her.

So cute!


Oh! And I almost forgot the excellent side characters! Turns out Tuck’s mom is an accomplished thief and grifter. She and her uncle have traveled the world gambling, conning, stealing. They are excellent fun, and teach the oh-so-proper Livinia some oh-so-improper tricks. I was sad to see them go. If only Tuck had a brother! They could show up in the next book.


Overall, very enjoyable. Makes me want to read Viscount that Lives Down the Lane again. Perhaps I shall.


It looks like I am up to date on all of the Rhymes with Love series, and I’ve read one other Boyle. I generally like her writing. I am toying with putting her on my Authors to Watch For list. I wish others of her books were in OverDrive.


The Day of the Duchess

Author: Sarah MacLean

Series: Scandal and Scoundrel #3

Tags: historical romance, regency romance, estranged marriage, American!, house party, contest for a husband, runaway wife, singer, tavern owner, parliament, divorce

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


Okay, fellas. Listen up. Feeling that your wife and you have grown apart? Is she refusing to talk to you and instead asking for a divorce? Here’s how you win her back:

  1. Make her live with you in close quarters
  2. By arranging for her to host a party at your house
  3. Where she will judge the other house guests
  4. (All of them unmarried ladies
  5. Hoping to be the wife #2),
  6. To decide which would be the most suitable next wife for you
  7. When really you just want to continue to be married to her.
  8. And after 6 weeks of this farce
  9. Where you waste the time of the entire house party
  10. She will immediately fall back in love with you and
  11. BOOM! Happy marriage again. Everyone goes home happy. And all without you ever saying I love you or I’m sorry.

So, this was his plan.


It would be exhausting to live in Romance Land World, don’t you think?


Instead of trying to talk something out, you have to go through this dance of ever increasing absurd conventions and trickery in order to get the same goal. And then everything goes wrong, your weird plan goes awry, you have your ass handed to you, and you have to make up another ridiculous plan as a “grand gesture.”


This story would have not even happened if he was like, “I’m sorry I was an ass. The truth is I love you.”


The conflict was just that simple. It was a bit overblown. Their reactions to things seemed way too melodrama for my liking.

This dude, the hero, goes around smooching our heroine for weeks, and is SO DISAPPOINTED in her when she sets them up to be caught in the act. How dare she! Never mind that he was acting rakish and sneaky the whole time. Never mind that his character even says he wants to ruin her so she’ll have to marry him.

No love for this guy.


It doesn’t help that I am becoming overly familiar with MacLean’s writing style.

I heard once that you can tell bad writing when there is a surplus of adjectives doing some telling and not showing. For instance, “He coldly and distractedly said.”

So how do you get around that?

Not by using less adjectives (GASP!), but by flipping the adjectives to the end of the sentence!

He said, cold and distracted.


He laughed, long and low.

Is normal MacLean.

He kissed her, hard and luxurious and resplendent.

When she wants to emphasize something.

Or, if it’s extra special, she goes off into some metaphysical bullshit:

He pressed his lips to hers, rough and sweet and kind and cruel, all the things he was and all the things he wasn’t as the stars fell from the sky and burst into small fairies.


Yep. I got tired of that.


Hrm, I may have to break up with MacLean before I need to break up with her. I don’t want to get myself into another Eloisa James situation.


Lady Pirate

Author: Lynsay Sands

Series:  N/A

Tags: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Pirates!, lady captain, kidnapping!, pigmallion, rag tag crew, marry to inherit

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!


I think the best part of reading this was having a conversation about the serious books other people are reading, and then me saying “I’m reading a book called Lady Pirate! GUESS WHAT IT’S ABOUT!”

Just guess.



It’s about a pirate who’s a lady.

God, you’re slow.


Charming, lighthearted, silly, funny. What you can expect from a good Lynsay Sands.

Vallory has been captain of a pirate ship (privateer, technically) for the past five years. Dressed as a boy, she SOMEHOW manages to hide her womanlihood from the entire crew for most of her life. Her brother dies and asks her to carry on his plan of making enough money to support the estate they inherited. To her dismay, once she finally goes back to claim it, she finds she has to marry and be pregnant within the next 9 months.

So surly, swashbuckling Vallory has to try her hand at her first London Season.

Vallory is different from other Sands heroines, since she is so cantankerous. She is always frowning, ordering, threatening. The entire avuncular crew pull her in and out of scrapes as she navigates through dresses, dancing, flirting, courting, and other treachery to be found during the Season.

Daniel, the hero, is a smooth talking aristocrat who just hangs about a bunch.


The best part about the book is the hijinks she and her crew get up to. There’s really not that much to look forward to in the love department.


Also, fair warning: though it is about a pirate that’s a lady, we hardly see any pirating at all. Just an intro and then it’s straight into the Season.

If I had cared, I would be disappointed. But I’m not in the Adventure category! I’m in romance, damnit!


The time period is so incredibly -ish. There’s no mention of Napoleon or war, though privateering seems to be all the rage. The royalty in charge is just The King. She wears wigs and face paint, though some people don’t wear wigs (?), including Daniel, and yet they dance a waltz together?! Holy historical inaccuracies, Batman!

We all know that wigs went out of style during the Napoleonic Wars, but the waltz was still new and scandalous until at least the 1820s.

We all know that.

Jeez, Sands.


Sands also happens to write highlander novels, which are as close to science fiction as you can get, so it make sense that she makes some pretty broad strokes in the regency romance genre.




Books I read this week: Vol 33, Aug 26

Books I read this week: Vol 33, Aug 26

Born of Fire

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon

Series: The League #2

Tags: Space romance!, tortured past, convict, criminal, wealthy merchant, hacker, bounty hunter, kickass heroine, sorry I’m secretly betraying you, treasure hunt against time, someone needs a hug, secret parents

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


Okay, now I’m getting the tone of Kenyon’s writing…

I was excited for this one because while I liked #1 well enough, I was interested to see what she would do with a new type of character. Syn was introduced in the first book as a less socially awkward, smooth talking, witty, piratey fellow, with a British accent and long dark hair. A far cry from Nykyrian (sp?), the tortured, laconic Dangerous One. After finishing #1, I was interested to see what Syn would be like when we focused on his character.

Well, kind of more of the same.

We AGAIN focused on his tortured past; we AGAIN had Convenient Exposition Moment so that Syn didn’t need to talk too much. AGAIN surprise secret parentage. He was very angsty, and not particularly funny.


Also, where did his alcoholism go? Nykyrian was really worried about Syn in the first book. Syn was throwing back the alien equivalent of Everclear, and seemed dependent on the bottle. This time, his alcoholism comes up only sometimes, and isn’t even fixed through love. The heroine doesn’t even mention it at the end.


Oh man, she was SO into his sob story. Shahara most definitely has a Someone Needs a Hug button. She literally thinks “I just want to hug him” at least five times. At least her sob story source was him and his wily uncle, not a box that says “private” on the front.


This has nothing to do with book itself, but the thing that I’m MOST unhappy with is that his British accent disappeared from book 1 to book 2. They switched to a male narrator, and suddenly everyone was talking in an American accent.

I know, I know. He’s not actually British.

He’s some weird named planet humanoid person from the gutters of a weird named city, who cultivated the weird named city’s high class equivalent’s accent.

Buuuuut… BRITISH! 🙁

Shahara talks about his smooth accent a couple times, so perhaps that’s what the reader is supposed to think while imagining him speak.

Maybe the narrator can’t do British accents. That would be sad. I mean, to be a voice actor and not do accents…

That’s just.



A friend of mine told me once* that a scholar of Aristophanes translated the characters of one of his Ancient Greek plays (Frogs? IDK) into different regional modern English accents. Because we entirely miss that part of the play through straight translation. The audience would know which accents would mean which social status, region, and other connotations just by the way they speak.

I like to think about stuff like that, and I kind of wish that SciFi/Fantasy/etc. would be as thoughtful about their depictions of different cultures.

So, yeah, narrator! Start researching more for the books you are reading and assign accents accordingly! Or I will ask for all of my $0 spent back!

*10+ years ago. Most of this might be wrong.


I mean, all except for the plucky AI mech Syn created in his youth, that kind of talks like Shaft. That one, he put an accent to.


It was generally pretty fun, even if it was more of the same. Though, these books seem pretty long. This dude, Syn, has had like 10 lives rolled into one: abusive parents, orphaned, 2 prison sentences, criminal, rescued by Space nuns, hacker, created a plucky artificially intelligent mech sidekick, doctor, assassin, wealthy business owner… the list goes on. All by the age of 36.


I will continue this series until I get sick of it! I wonder if the next hero came from an abusive home. My guess is yes.



Don’t forget to check out my and Ilana’s podcast! Seriously, we are getting so goddamn good at this.

Getting Lit Episode 1: IMPROVED!

Now with better-ish sound!


If you skipped over it because it was too hard to listen to, try it again!

There’s not much I can do about the original quality, but I tried to make the recording of my voice less cringe worthy.

Let me know what you think.


Episode 1: Shades of Milk and Honey

Books I read this week: Vol 30, Aug 5

Books I read this week: Vol 30, Aug 5



Author: Alice Clayton

Series: Hudson Valley #3

Tags: small town, city girl, orphan, foster care, hotel management, stick-in-the-mud, widower, nice dead wife, coworkers, foodie

Format: audiobook

Rating: meh.


I was so excited for this book! I really enjoyed the first two of the series, and I was excited for 1) stick-in-the-mud male 2) HGTV type home makeover and 3) buns!




I’m sad to say that it was, shall we say, like overworked dough: it didn’t RISE to the anticipation. (Shut up! I had to.)

Stick-in-the-muds are not Clayton’s forte. He didn’t have much of a personality, and was unreasonably rude or unreasonably sweet with no continuity.


Our Manic Pixie Dream Girl heroine sweeps into a much loved, but slowly dying old hotel with the intent to give it a hotel makeover. She was hired by Stick-in-the-mud’s dad, and he is NOT OKAY WITH CHANGING ANY OF OUR SAINTED TRADITIONS just kidding change everything I love you.

We were all geared up for a battle of wills, and then he suddenly becomes reasonable and pliable.


I love a good battle of wills.


Not interested in MPDG heroine either. She was mildly interesting, but didn’t stand out much either. She cycled through the foster care system as a child, and has issuez with a capital I from it.


And oh, he’s a widoowwwwwwwwwerrrrrr! Sad face!!!

Widowers are like the kicked puppies of the romance archetype world. You can just forgive anything.

Is he an asshole to everyone he meets? Widower.

Has he never touched a woman in years? Widower.

Is he sleeping around with every woman he sees? Widower.


What a stupid word, by the way: widower.

Probably the only word in the English language were the male form was based on the female version of the word.

Since I’m a word nerd, I looked it up! Apparently the er in widower means “widow man” just like “were” in werewolf means “man wolf.” Disclaimer: source is Reddit.