historical fiction · Romantic

Highland Crown by May McGoldrick

Do you love Diana Galbadon’s Outlander Series? Or, like me, did you love books one through four but you just couldn’t take it anymore? I mean, Jamie is great but can Claire just stay out of trouble for two minutes?!? Sheesh. If, like me, you love a lot of things about Outlander but not the infinite never-ending drama, look no further then Highland Crown by May McGoldrick.

highlandcrownHighland Crown is going to be compared to Outlander. I don’t enjoy making comparisons like this but let’s just look at the facts.

Both set in historic Scotland? Check

Hot male character that is instantly admired? Check

Gorgeous medical female lead? Check

Instant love connection in the midst of turmoil? Check

Time travel? Nope, that is just Outlander.

So, I felt a duty to get this out into the open. Yes. I see the similarities. But, I want to focus on the differences and why it all worked so beautifully. Written by Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick under the pen name Mary McGoldrick, Highland Crown is a fast paced romance told in shifting narratives with loads of historic facts that brought the action to life. Alternating between the beautiful doctor and fugitive, Isabella Drummond, and the strikingly handsome ship captain, Cinead Mackintosh, the reader is literally tossed into the action from chapter one. And, since half of this writing duo has a PhD in sixteenth century Scottish and English literature, the historical aspect felt so true and alive it was hard to step back into the present.

I am an absolute sucker for romances where the male character falls deeply in love and has to either reassure the female character of his love or somehow earn her trust. This book gave me that romantic aspect in spades and I cannot wait for the next two books in the series!


Tell me, please!

What is your favorite kind of romance novel?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: April 17, 2019

Last Wednesday got away from me but I’m back for this week and ready to stay on top of my reading (I need a push to get back on track with my posting though!). As always, a big thank you to Sam at Taking on A World of Words for hosting this meme which asks the big three questions:

What did you just finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What will you read next?


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

This is two weeks worth of reading! I loved the enemies to friends romance of Meet Cute by Helena Hunting. I got it from my local library because the cover was just too cute and inhaled it in a day. It is a sweet story with enough depth to keep it out of fluff territory.

I also listened to the audiobook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while simultaneously following along in my gorgeous illustrated copy. At a short two hours the experience was as good as watching a movie. I put a full review up here. 

I also wrapped up this week with the wonderfully weird Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Guess what? Review coming soon!

I managed to clear all of my ARC books (well, sort of / kind of / not really). I finished Highland Crown by Mary McCormick which I loved. It is a romantic historical fiction set in Scotland. I am having trouble writing a review that doesn’t compare it to Outlander but it is nearly impossible to avoid since the parallels are so strong and only the time traveling component is missing. But it felt like a completely different book! I need to make that clear in my review but I am, obviously, having a bit of a reviewing-block.

I also finished Solving for M by Jennifer Swender which I expected to be a middle grade book about math but turned out to be a middle grade book about melanoma. It is very well written and I am glad it exists but it would require some serious thought before handing it to a 10-14 year old. When I can figure out how to explain that a review will be up.

Finally, I put Dreaming in Code in the DNF pile. It is not bad but it didn’t catch my interest after the first three chapters and I already missed reviewing it before it came out so I only DNFed it for the sake of time. Does that count as clearing my ARC list?!?


What am I Currently Reading?

I am almost finished with Eon by Alison Goodman. This is my selected book for my Charms OWL as part of  my OWL Readathon. I am going to need to focus if I have any hope of getting through all of my OWLs but this has been a great place to start because Eon is an exciting fantasy read about a sixteen-year old girl posing as a boy in order to become a Dragon Magic user. Additionally, both Eon and another character have disabilities and the author (so far) has handled this issue perfectly.

Hamlet I have barely begun but since it is for my History of Magic OWL I know I need to keep working on it. I am hoping that I can attack it the same was I did LOTR, a little bit everyday.

I am listening to and reading Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan. It is read by Kieran Culkan and he does a wonderful job. This book also has an excellent portrayal of a Deaf character in it and (hopefully) finishing it will help me with my non-OWL April reading list.

Finally, insomnia is baaaacccckkk! Thankfully, one of my favorite authors, Wendy Holden, has put out two new books. I started the first one, Last of the Summer Moet, a few nights ago and it is as delightful as all her other books. They are light romances with loads of intrigue and British (a perfect combination for me!). Reading on my Kindle is my favorite kind of insomnia reading. It is reminiscent of reading under the covers.


What Will I Read Next?

This is one book off my Non-OWL reading list and one from my OWL list. If I can clear my currently reading I will be thrilled to start both of these books this week!


Tell me, please!

What is on your WWW?


 

fiction · YA

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe

I can’t seem to stop reading cute high school romance books even though they are really not my favorite. I thought the premise of this book sounded fun – a fish out of water story told from the boy’s perspective – but when I cracked into it I know I emitted a loud sigh. High School was not my favorite. I absolutely see why someone in high school would want contemporary books but I don’t enjoy revisiting the endless drama. Then I noticed that the main character is from Canada. I can’t get enough of Canada! So, I forged onward.

northamericanteenagerThe Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe is the story of Norris who grew up in Montreal, Canada. He and his Mom have relocated to Austin, Texas for her job after the divorce. And, of course, poor Norris now has to combat with the heat, the culture and high school. I know we have probably all read this story one-hundred times but paired with genuinely sweet friendships and a slow burning romance I found the story sweet and fun to read.

Admittedly, Norris is difficult to like at first. His quick wit and over use of irony and sarcasm give him a hard edge. This, oddly, is completely acceptable in a female character (usually white) who is dealing with high school life. I was really struck with how little patience friends of mine had for Norris as, apparently, dudes aren’t supposed to have all the feelings. I loved that Norris was unlikeable at first. It made him feel genuinely teenager-y. Now, if he hadn’t developed and changed as a person through the book that would be a different story but he did and it was enjoyable to watch. As his friendships grow and change Norris has to decide whether he is going to take a chance on being himself or not.

Like many books set in high school, the background cast of characters is essential to creating a balance to the story. This is especially true when the main character is abut off a butt. Surrounding Norris are my two waring favorites; Maddie, the cheerleading overachiever who guides him, and Neil, the awkward rich kid who wants to learn hockey. There is also Aarti Puri, the girl of Norris’s dreams and the character I actively didn’t like.

Unlike many other teenage stories, I really appreciated the constant presence of Norris’s mother. So many stories featuring kids in high school have a glaring absence of parental involvement. In The Field Guide not only is Norris’s Mom involved in his life in a consistent and positive manner, but his friend Maddie’s Dad is incredibly involved in her life. It was a relief to see a teenagers talking to their parents instead of just a stock character there for the kids’ to hide their emotions from throughout the story.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager was a truly enjoyable read. Norris may not be perfectly likable from chapter one but the person this character develops into is worth the read.


Tell me, please!

What is your favorite fish out of water story?


 

all ages · Audible · Fantasy · SeriousSeriesLove

Magical Non-Fiction Friday: Newt Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

I am sitting for my O.W.Ls this month through the OWL Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast and I am more excited than I can possibly explain. The universe must sense my excitement because the library delivered an audiobook version of Fantastic Beasts early last evening. This is just one more reason I never make it through a predetermined list of books – my wonderful library! I sat down with my illustrated copy of the book and listened to the audiobook simultaneously and had an amazing two hours of total immersion in the world of Fantastic Beasts.

fantasticbeastsThe audiobook is narrated by Eddie Redmayne in the very same clipped manner he gives to the sweet Newt Scamander he plays on film. However, unlike the shy film version of Newt, the audiobook personality is the knowledgable and excited Newt that we see, briefly, when he is talking about his fantastic beasts. Matched with the gorgeously illustrated Fantastic Beasts I sat like a child and listened to the whole book in one sitting.

If you have previously read this book, you know that it is filled with footnotes. Footnotes can be extremely annoying in audiobooks but this one has the most savvy and smooth use of auditory footnotes I have ever experienced. In addition there are animal sound effects that add that special little bit of interest to what is, basically, a fake non-fiction book. If you have a hard time with audiobooks or you are trying to get a child interested in the platform, this would be an amazing place to start. And, at only two hours long, it is easy to successfully complete the whole book.

If you have the opportunity to listen to the audiobook, I highly recommend it. And, if you already own a copy of this beautiful illustrated book or can use kindle unlimited to read along, it is a wonderful experience that I cannot recommend enough!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever listened to an audiobook while you simultaneous read one?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: April 3, 2019

When I was in my reading funk Wednesdays made me so sad because I knew I should be posting but I didn’t have anything to write about or organize. Today I feel great and I am so happy to say – it’s Wednesday!!! Time for WWW Wednesday. Thanks, as always, goes to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting and to all the participants who help me add to my endless TBR every week with their wonderful posts.


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

This week I finished One Day in December by Josie Silver. This is one of the books I bought when I was sad and, while I enjoyed it, I had a couple of problems with the ridiculousness of the love story. Girl sees boy and instantly falls in love. Later, her best friend brings him home and presents him as her own true love. Ten years of missed opportunities follow. There was an excellent friend component and some deep feelings there but the romance itself missed for me. While I enjoyed the book I didn’t love it enough to recommend it.

As a white Catholic American I am clueless about many of the issues around the world. I don’t mean to be but American news is very American-centric. I try to consume world news but sometimes I don’t have the backstory to help me understand. Enter Against Our Better Judgment by Alison Weir. I have a decent grasp on what is happening regarding the Gaza Strip from the Israeli point of view but I have never been able to access the Palestinian perspective. A friend gave me Against Our Better Judgment to read and it was interesting. It was incredibly short, written like a college paper, and certain sections felt very conspiracy theorist but its reference section was twice as long as the book and it made some credible (if not at all popular) points. I want to continue to look into this until I can figure out more precisely the nuances of what has happened and continues to happen over the land many consider to be holy.

I finished Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson in audiobook form and I loved it all the way to the end and then I was livid! Did everyone know this was a cliffhanger ending except me?!? I didn’t even realize it was a series until it just clicked off. It was still an excellent murder mystery and a review will be posted soon.

Finally, I finished The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe this morning. I have been obsessed with Canada for years now and I really enjoyed reading the fish out of water experience of Norris moving from Montreal to Texas. A review will be up shortly for this book as well!


What am I Currently Reading?

I need to clear the decks on my currently reading. The Wonderling was….misplaced in the house (this is clearly code for I forgot I was reading it) and I need to get back into and through this cute story. I am three fourths of the way through Good Omens and I will probably finish it this evening. Whatever good and awesome things you have heard about this book probably fall short. It is a must read.

The three remaining books are all ARCs from Netgalley that I requested when I was not reading and then just let sit on my shelf. This is not ok! I need to read them and review them like a good little blogger.


What Will I Read Next?

hamlet

I took stock of my reading with my first quarter update and realized that I wasn’t making equal progress with my goals – especially with getting through my massive physical TBR. So, I did something I’ve never done before and made an actual list to work off of. I am also participating in the O.W.L. Readathon and so I made a list for that as well that is completely from my own bookshelves. So, the only book I know for sure I will be cracking into after I clear my currently reading is Hamlet. I have never read it and it will fulfill my History of Magic O.W.L. as a book that was published more than 10 years ago.

 

 


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?


not a review

My Non-OWL April 2019 Reading List

I am not an organized reader. Yesterday I posted my first quarter challenge updates and some things are going really well and others are suffering from the persistent mod reading. Something has to change! In addition to joining the OWL Readathon that was put together by G @ Book Roast, I am going to try making a general April 2019 Reading List. Here is what I hope to read to keep my challenges going during the month of April.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

One NonFiction book about Sherlock Holmes (Waiting to see what the library provides!)

One Sherlock Holmes Fiction Book (A Study in Charlotte)

Finish the Magnus Chase series or The Fate of the Tearling series

And read my backlist!!! It is not getting any better by ignoring it! This is where I hope the OWL Readathon will help clear some decks.

I also need to read my three ARCs; Highland Crown by May McGoldrick, Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelance, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully, and Solving for M by Jennifer Swender.


I realize this is a pretty unimpressive reading list and that many people have 10-15 books specifically picked out. But, that would be a recipe for disaster for me. I need flexibility to see what books call to me. And yet, I also need to suck it up and read certain books already. If I manage to finish all of these and my books for my O.W.L. Readathon I am going to celebrate (probably with a new book).


Tell me, please!

Do you have any tips on how to plan your upcoming reading to achieve your goals?


 

Readathon · Uncategorized

2019 OWL Readathon Reading List

I realize that I am a day late in getting my reading list out but this was just TOO MUCH FUN to put together. After looking at my lame first quarter of reading I knew I needed a swift kick to the pants and so I went where all great minds seem to find inspiration lately – Twitter. There I witnessed burning excitement about this OWL Readathon and for good reason. G @ Book Roast has put together a truly magnificent program and I am so excited to participate! Make sure and check it out because even if you don’t have time to participate we all have time to admire the workmanship that has gone into setting this up. The O.W.Ls will take place during April and the N.E.W.Ts can be done during August!

The best part of this whole thing is that all of my picks are off my massive physical TBR!


Step One: Pick a Career!

This one took me forever but I finally have settled on working for the Ministry of Magic. I would like to be in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It may sound boring to but I love rules and regulations and, frankly, I love working in a collaborative office atmosphere. Realistically, this is probably most like my day job too but with magic. Ministry work requires:

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 9.08.48 AM

And, if I want to actually work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement I need to do a little more work:

Screen Shot 2019-04-02 at 9.09.35 AM


Step Two: What Books Will Fulfill My O.W.L Requirements?

owls-prompts

Charms (Age-line: read an adult book): The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey

Defense Against the Dark Arts (Reducto: Title Starts With an “R”): RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

History of Magic (Published at Least 10 Years Ago): Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Potions (Next Ingredient: Sequel): Arch Enemy by Frank Beddor

Transfiguration (Prayed Edges or Red Cover): Eon by Alison Goodman

Muggle Studies (Contemporary): Blue Lily: Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.


And, in the off chance that I have extra time (or I change my career path), I have selected books for the other categories.

Ancient Runes (Retelling): Scarlet by A.C. Vaughn

Arithmancy (Work Written by More Than One Author): Of Two Minds by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman

Astronomy (“Star” in the Title): Catching Stars by Kayla Keenan

Care of Magical Creatures (Land Animal on the Cover): Shadow and Fox by Julie Kagawa – I realize that this is a mask of a fox but I am hoping that is enough!

Divination (Set in Future): William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.

Herbology (Plant on Cover): The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslie Walton


Tell me, please!

Are you participating in this Readathon?


not a review

2019’s First Quarter Update

I would love to be the kind of person that is organized enough to do a monthly update but between my WWW posts and my backlog of reviews I was thinking maybe four times a year would be more my pace. With the first three months of 2019 behind us it is time to look back at how I did during the first quarter of the year!


Challenge Updates


Harry Potter Canon: I have read exactly ONE. Which is really a shame because I loved every single page.


Serious Series Love: I finished Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy and it was delightful. You can see my full review here.

I started a new series which has been on my shelf for quite some time and I love it! One Fine Myth by Robert Asprin. I need to continue reading these as they are delightful.


Beat the Backlist: It is embarrassing to think I have only managed to read six measly books off of my backlist. I need to really get serious about these beautiful books! I also bought way more books than I should have when I was sad. I’ve got to get a grip!


Audiobook Challenge: Meanwhile, I am feeling quite proud of my audiobook list! I have already enjoyed NINE audiobooks this year!


Learn Something New: It took me a bit to think of what I wanted to focus on but I finally selected Sherlock Holmes / Arthur Conan Doyle after reading Conan Doyle for the Defense. There are a LOT of books about Sherlock and Arthur and I hope to get a chance to read at least five before the end of 2019.


Library Love Challenge: My library love knows no bounds! By my estimation (and believe me, this is an estimate – this doesn’t include DVDs, magazine or books I checked out and didn’t finish) I have saved $334.96 since January 1st!


Goodreads Challenge: I am also ahead here even though I had an abysmal March and have read 35 books so far this year.


Tell me, please!

How is your 2019 Reading so far?

not a review

Books I Bought When I Was Sad

When I was a kid the scholastic book people would give you a flimsy little mailer and you could pick a book. What felt like 100 days later your book would arrive, right in the middle of class, and my teachers would hand them out like trophies. My Mom and Dad always made sure that I got to order a book so it was the happiest day ever. Usually, I couldn’t remember what I had picked out and so it was a present. Past me had picked out something for future me to enjoy. And enjoy them I did!

When I see a book that I love (not just like but really really want to own) I will add it to my online cart. I try to only do so if the book is unavailable at my library. Occasionally when I get really sad I will just blindly order the cart (this is a very good reason to only store gift cards on your account and not credit cards). A short time later a box arrives at my house full of books from me-in-the-past to cheer me-in-the-future immediately up.

Most of February and March I have been in a major funk. And, one day I ordered all of the books in my cart. When I opened the box it was just full of friends ready to cheer me up. Did it work immediately (like it usually has in the past)? Not really. So I boxed them carefully back up again until I got in the right headspace. Not that I have broken though the slump from hell I am ready to celebrate by getting out my new books. Here I give you…..the books I bought when I was sad!



I feel so lucky to be able to afford to buy books and to have the ones I want readily available to me. I have some slight remorse over not sticking to my book buying plan but not as much as the joy I feel at cracking into my new books.


Tell me, please!

Do you ever buy books to cheer yourself up?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: March 27, 2019

It has been FAR too long! After weeks of reading either (1) nothing or (2) books that I didn’t love, I have finally gotten my book reading mojo back! This is the first week in forever that I felt like I had enough momentum to need to organize my books and participate in WWW Wednesday. Thanks, as always, to Sam at Taking on a World of Words for hosting this meme.


What did you recently finish reading?

I had every intention of waiting for all three parts of Penny Reid’s new Laws of Physics to be published before I started Motion but I was traveling and became desperate and downloaded it in the middle of the night. I wish I had waited – this book is just the first third of the story and it is supposed to have a cliffhanger at the end but it just kind of stopped. It felt like reading a very long free preview from Amazon.

I also listened to two audiobooks: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson and A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken. Manson’s book made a couple of good points but fell short of a book I would recommend widely but A New Hope was the spark that exploded me back into my reading. You can see my full review here.

I also read Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller which is the second in this series. Both of these books are fun and interesting and I am looking forward to the third book being published. I need to post my review but I have such a hard time reviewing incomplete series without

As you can see, it has been a ridiculously slow month of reading for me. During this time I picked up and DNFed so many books – I just couldn’t seem to finish anything! I put them all back on my TBR because I knew that it wasn’t the books, it was me. I tried everything – even ruining my buying ban – to snap out of it. Life has been chaos here and my brain just wouldn’t let me relax enough to read. Perhaps it is the precious few sunny days we are having here or the proximity of actual Spring, but I am feeling calmer and my reading has come back to life. THANK GOD.


What are you currently reading?


Now see? This big old load of books brings me joy. Two weeks ago I would have given them the side eye and felt overwhelmed but now I just feel surrounded by possible friends.

I am nearly finished with The Field Guide to the North American Teenager and about a third of the way through The Wonderling. I recently started Truly Devious as an audiobook, Good Omens on my Kindle and One Day in December as a physical copy. All of them together are balancing out to bring me joy!


What do you think you’ll read next?

youcandoit

I’ve had this book for quite some time on my shelf and just looking at it makes me feel happy and inspired. I’m going to crack into it this weekend and earn some badges.


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW list?