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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

October 2020 TBR

 Here's a look at what I read last month when I *said* I would be reading the things I picked in my "Shop My Shelves" video... as well as a stack of potential reads for this month's #30DayBookBinge!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. What kind of books do you crave in October? 



Shop My Shelves video

Texas Gothic 
Find Me Their Bones 
The Bromance Book Club 
The Bride 
A Rogue of One's Own 
Spirit & Dust 
Beach Read (maybe) 
Mexican Gothic 
Something Is Killing the Children 
and maybe an audiobook (looking for recommendations!)

Thursday, October 1, 2020

"Cosmic Kitty" FREE Digital Sticker Set | #30DayBookBinge Round 11!

 Hey, bookish friends! Welcome to the 30 Day Book Binge, round eleven! Can you believe it???

I know we had a little bit of a break, there, in our "quarterly" reading challenge, THANK YOU VERY MUCH 2020, but we're back now, and ready to crush this challenge! And I don't mean the royal-we-as-in-me here; I mean we as in us. As in you

You can do this. You can read every day, and build a solid, fulfilling, enjoyable reading habit. I promise. I've said it a bunch of times, but I credit this low-pressure challenge with a renewed love of reading for me -- my daily reading streak stretched for nearly 2 and a half unbroken years, until I got sick earlier this year. And that streak? It felt good

And I'm ready to get it back! If you'd also like to bump up your reading, and build a solid foundation for a reading habit in a low-pressure, low-commitment way, I hope you'll consider joining me this month for the 30Day Book Binge! And as usual, to keep things fun and (hopefully) excite your readerly sensibilities, I'm made a set of free printables for your personal use during the challenge! You can find out more about the challenge, and the printables, below! I've used entirely too many exclamation points in this post so far!

30 DAY BOOK BINGE is a quarterly (supposedly) reading challenge in which the goal is just to read something every single day for 30 straight days. What you read (books, poetry, the newspaper), the format you read it in (physical, digital, audio), and how long you read for are entirely up to you! The goal is just to make daily reading a habit, and to maybe knock out some other reading goals in the process (other challenges you're taking part in, school reading, whatever).
You can share your progress, your reading picks, ask for encouragement or give some of your own on social media with the hashtag #30DayBookBinge -- I LOVE seeing what you guys are reading, and what you have to say!

Now, as always, I like to sweeten the pot by giving you some special, limited edition printables to go along with each round of the Book Binge. These are created by me, specifically for each round of our "challenge," and they are 100% free for you to download and use.*

In the printable pack, you'll find:

  • an October 2020 calendar, in a "pumpkin florals" theme
  • a TBR tracker in 2 sizes, in case you missed out on it in the last round (it was "Twenty Books to Read in 2020" then, but now it's blank, so you can decide the theme yourself) 
  • my "Cosmic Kitty" set of digital stickers, which you can print and cut out to use in a planner or bullet journal, or anywhere stickers will stick. 
  • Two Autumn-themed bookmarks, which I recommend gluing down to a piece of thin cardboard backing, like a cereal box, to make it sturdier for everyday use.
  • All files are available as PDFs and PNG files, so that you can use or print them in whichever format you're most comfortable handling (or resizing, as needed). Or crop the sticker images individually for use in digital planning apps!
  • You may need to set your margins to a wider width in your printer settings before printing. 

Remember, they are completely free to download, but they are for personal use only. Please do not share or duplicate these designs, beyond printing copies for yourself.

The designs will only be available during this round of the Book Binge, so make sure to snag them while you can!

Hope to see you during the Binge. 
Happy Reading!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Shop My Shelves

Alright, last catch-up video of the week! 
Because I've not been taking on review books (or, been reading at all, for that matter), I thought we'd have a browse through my shelves to "shop" for some titles I've been wanting to read, and which may have gone forgotten for awhile.
Have I actually read any of them since this video was posted? Hmm... Tell me your thoughts on the likelihood of that in the comments, and I'll have a sit-down with you all soon to talk about how my foray back into reading has gone so far...

Friday, September 25, 2020

The thing about 2020 is, it broke me.

As mentioned in yesterday's vlog / #30DayBookBinge announcement, I've actually been back on youtube for a few weeks! So here is my reintroduction to blogging and vlogging, and a bit about why I disappeared. 
I'll be popping in on Monday with one more catch-up video, and the blog will probably be fairly video-heavy for awhile to come, at least, because that's just where my head's at. But I'll try to wriggle in some written content soon, too. 
But for now... let's catch up.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Making Printable Stickers + 30 Day Book Binge Invite

Hello! Before we get into the video I'm sharing below, I just want to say hi, and I know I've been missing for awhile... I actually uploaded a video about that, but it never made its way here to the blog. (I have it posted for tomorrow, which makes it very much out of order, but there you go. I'm still alive!)

I just wanted to hop in here and say hi and that I'm (sort of) back at it, before we jump into what would otherwise be a very abrupt reintroduction to my face and self. ;)
And now I'll let myself take it away...

Sorry for the sound issues again, guys. I don't know what's going on, and whether it's my phone or my editing software, but it's giving me endless issues. Might be easier to watch this one with headphones.
ANYWAY, the next round of #30DayBookBinge starts on the 1st! 30 DAY BOOK BINGE is a quarterly reading challenge in which the goal is just to read something every single day for 30 straight days. What you read (books, poetry, the newspaper), the format you read it in (physical, digital, audio), and how long you read for are entirely up to you! The goal is just to make daily reading a habit, and to maybe knock out some reading goals in the process. You can share your progress, your reading picks, ask for encouragement or give some of your own on social media with the hashtag #30DayBookBinge. 

Hope to see you on the hashtag!
And don't forget to stop back on October 1st to download your free printables!

Music: Acoustic Guitar 1 by Audionautix

Monday, April 20, 2020

Duke Darcy’s Castle: A Dare to Defy Novel by Syrie James | review

Today I'll be sharing my thoughts on the final book in Syrie James' Dare to Defy series as part of the blog tour for Duke Darcy's Castle; all of these books are stand-alones and can be read individually and/or out of order.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. All opinions are honest and my own. Affiliate links not used in this post.

Duke Darcy’s Castle: A Dare to Defy Novel (Book 3) by Syrie James
Historical Romance, Victorian Romance / 384 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse
eBook ASIN: B07DCD1HYB, (February 25, 2020)
Mass market paperback ISBN: 978-0062849717 (March 24, 2020)

In Syrie James' newest Dare to Defy novel, a devastating duke goes head to head with a determined young woman.

Lance Granville, the Tenth Duke of Darcy, was none too happy to give up his career in the Royal Navy to inherit the family title, complete with an ancient crumbling castle he needs to renovate. When an architect arrives on his doorstep, Darcy is astonished to discover that she's a woman.

Kathryn Atherton has one goal: to become the first woman architect in Britain. Marriage doesn't figure in her plans. Despite the odds, her schooling is behind her. Now she needs experience. When she's sent to a small tidal island in Cornwall to remodel a castle, the last thing Kathryn wants is to be attracted to its roguishly handsome owner.

Kathryn is determined to keep things professional, but the sizzling attraction between her and the duke quickly blazes out of control. When Darcy learns that Kathryn is an heiress whose fortune would save St. Gabriel's Mount, he wages the most important battle of his life: to woo and win the woman who's captured his heart. But duchesses can't be architects. And Kathryn has worked too long and too hard to give up her dreams…

It's been a struggle for awhile now for me to finish books. I know a lot of us are having focus issues, and finding it difficult to enjoy things the way we normally would have in a pre-pandemic world. So I don't hold it against Duke Darcy's Castle that it took me multiple months to finish what is a fairly simple romance novel.

At least, I don't entirely hold it against the book.

Whenever I managed to pick up Duke Darcy's Castle, I found it engaging and easy to fall into; it's light and pleasant and gives the reader what they're probably expecting from a Victorian romance called Duke Darcy's Castle -- everything except the Darcy part, that is (if "Darcy" piqued your interest, know that this is not a Pride and Prejudice retelling, though it does have some nods). The book is steamy and pleasantly fluffy and surprisingly feminist*, and on the whole, I enjoyed it.


There was something holding me back from loving Duke Darcy's Castle, and it wasn't just Corona-focus. I've grown accustomed to cheesiness and a fair amount of cliche in romances, and tbh, as a general rule, I don't mind it. But there has to be balance there that makes the cheesiness work, or twists the cliche into something new, and I think Duke Darcy's Castle was lacking that something extra. The book occasionally felt a little too write-by-numbers; not phoned in, exactly, but missing a spark. In the way of erotica masquerading as romance, it was mostly just a string of near-miss sexual encounters with talking scenes peppered in. And while there's nothing wrong with erotica (and I'd be fine with more dukes and lady architects in erotica), the format doesn't really do much for building an understanding of who the characters are individually or as a pair, or why I should care if they get it together. That is crucial in a romance. It's the thing that makes a reader care.

It also doesn't help that their reactions and liaisons are so immediate and intense. Insta-love is endlessly debatable across fiction, and I contend that if done right, it can work (it's just very rarely done right). But I think insta-love/lust in this instance did these characters a disservice. It robbed the story of tension and anticipation. The reader isn't given a chance to know either character before being plunged** into the fog of their raging hormones.

The final thing that held me back from loving Duke Darcy's Castle was the overall voice. I think a lot it readers will see "Victorian romance" and expect something very buttoned up and probably more historical (as in, no modern amenities, because so many readers equate histrom with regency, and regency with some cultured, nebulous before-time). This lack of understanding on the reader's part alone may make parts of the story jarring. I understand that late Victorian is actually fairly modern, so I wasn't too thrown by talk of indoor plumbing. But at times, the voice is yesterday-modern. I can't entirely put my finger on it, other than to say it feels jarringly current at times, which took me out of the flow, and kept me from fully buying in.

That said, it's still a fun, steamy distraction from the world outside our isolation chambers homes, and if approached as a tease more than a building romance, I think most histrom readers will enjoy it. For myself, despite its flaws, I did find myself curious to read the other two books in the series.

* Surprising only in that it's set in the Victorian era, and not that I expect romances or Syrie James to be lacking in feminist rep.
** phrasing.


SYRIE JAMES is the USA TODAY and Amazon bestselling author of thirteen novels of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance. Her books have hit many Best of the Year lists, been designated as Library Journal Editor’s Picks, and won numerous accolades and awards, including Best New Fiction by Regency World Magazine (the international bestseller “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”), and the national Audiobook Audie for Romance (“The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte”, also named a Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association). Los Angeles Magazine dubbed Syrie the “queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings,” and her books have been published in twenty languages. A member of the Writer’s Guild of America, Syrie is also an established screenwriter and playwright who makes her home in Los Angeles. An admitted Anglophile, Syrie has addressed audiences across the U.S., Canada, and the British Isles.

International bestselling author Syrie James tours the blogosphere February 24 through April 24, 2020 to share her new historical romance, Duke Darcy’s Castle: A Dare to Defy Novel (Book 3). Twenty-three popular book bloggers specializing in historical romance and Austenesque fiction will feature, spotlights, exclusive excerpts and book reviews of this acclaimed Victorian romance novel featuring a strong, independent heroine and complex, swoon-worthy hero.

February 24 Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog (Review)
February 25 Laura Lu's Reviews (Review)
February 26 Scuffed Slippers Wormy Books (Review)
March 02 Unabridged Chick (Review)
March 04 Drunk Austen (Review)
March 06 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
March 09 From the TBR Pile (Review)
March 23 Half Agony, Half Hope (Review)
March 16 Romance Junkies (Excerpt and giveaway)
March 20 Courtney Reads Romance (Review)
March 23 My Jane Austen Book Club (Excerpt and giveaway)
March 26 Laura's Reviews (Review)
March 30 Chicks, Rogues and Scandals (Review)
April 01 Robin Loves Reading (Review)
April 06 Frost Magazine (Review)
April 07 Frolic Media (Review)
April 13 Let Them Read Books (Excerpt and giveaway)
April 15 Dena Garson (Spotlight)
April 20 Book Rat (Review)
April 23 Unwrapping Romance (Review)
April 23 Delighted Reader (Review)
April 24 The Lit Bitch (Review)

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

40 FREE Books to Beat the Quarantine Blahs

I know we're all sick of hearing about the coronavirus, and I swore I wasn't going to be one of those people who made a click-baity post using it, HOWEVER, I also know that everyone's starting to go stir-crazy and is looking for something to do.

Obviously, I recommend reading. (And Stardew Valley. I wholeheartedly recommend that, which in addition to cooking and making cards, is basically all I've been doing with my life for the past 3 weeks.) So when I came across a post from EntangledTeen offering up a bunch of their books FOR FREE, I had to pass along the news. Entangled is a favorite go-to of mine for when I need something fast and super-absorbing, which I think could not fit the bill more for basically all of us right now.

Below you'll find the round-up of the books they're giving away (click the pic to snag a copy for yourself); there are a LOT of free goodies to be had!

Disclaimer: affiliate links are used in this post, which means I theoretically receive a small percentage of the price should you buy one of these books. But the books are free, so... do with that what you will.

Enjoy, stay in & stay safe, and happy reading!!

The book covers link to Amazon kindle versions, because that is what I have. If you'd like free Nook versions, you can find that list here.


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