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Books I’ve Read

(A) means I listened to it.
(RR) means I re-read it.
(P) means I read it on paper.

I link titles to Powell’s Books if they carry them. I will often link to an edition other than the one I read. If Powell’s (or another non-Amazon site) doesn’t have it, I will link to Amazon. These are not affiliate links.

I also put this information into goodreads.com. You can find me there with my gmail address (the.karend).

< < 2019

January 1, 2020 to Now: (latest finished on top)

Diamond Fire, Ilona Andrews
I didn’t read anything about this before I picked it up, so didn’t realize the main character in this novella is different than the novels in the series. That was fine but makes this more YA than the other books.

In the Shadow of the Valley, Bobi Conn
Another hard for me to read memoir. They get written by the survivors, the ones who don’t get completely ground down by their circumstances, so that gives just enough hope that I don’t feel completely wrecked after I’m done.

All Systems Red, Martha Wells
This was so good. It’s a novella yet it felt complete. The main character is both recognizable and not of the world I know. I was hooked early on, with lines like “It had been well over 35,000 hours or so since then, with still not much murdering…”

Kiss of a Demon King, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
Zipping along through my re-read of this series. There’s a scene that hints that the hero is homophobic; I’m not sure I read it that way the first time through or if I’m reading it right or just hyper sensitive now.

Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano
This made me cry and also feel oddly hopeful. It also sent me down a rabbit hole of reading about Air France 447 which I’m not sure was the best choice I could have made after I finished the book around 3 a.m.

Girl, Woman, Other, Berndardine Evaristo
I had a false start with this book a while back, when I just couldn’t concentrate on keeping track of the characters and the unorthodox writing style rankled (these are both me problems, I know). But I gave it another go and was in a better state of mind to receive it and ended up enjoying it. I still think I missed some connections between characters but overall I enjoyed the glimpses into the lives of so many women who led different lives from mine.

Sins of a Wicked Duke, Sophie Jordan
I’m getting lots of recommendations from the Fated Mates podcast, which I’m slowly catching up on as I re-read the Immortals After Dark series. This was one of those recommendations, and I enjoyed it. Yes, when examined in the cold light of time to write something about it, I can see it has problems, but at the time I was reading it, I didn’t notice them, I just enjoyed the story.

Dark Desires After Dusk, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
It’s been almost 12 years since I read this the first time, so I don’t remember if the next book has the update that would have been in the epilogue I was wishing for about this couple.

Living with Lead: An Environmental History of Idaho’s Coeur D’Alenes, 1885-2011, Bradley D. Snow
I want to learn more about the history of this part of the country I’ve chosen to live in, so grabbed this doctoral dissertation turned into a book about the mining district that’s a couple hours from my house. It’s well researched, for sure. I didn’t find it as engaging as some nonfiction (Mary Roach’s books come to mind) but that’s to be expected given its back story as an academic paper.

Shield of Winter, Nalini Singh
Somehow it’s been years since I read a book in this series. It wasn’t because I’d stopped liking them or because I’d caught up and had to wait for the next one. I don’t know what happened. Regardless, I’m back to the series and enjoyed this one. Unfortunately, I think there are only a couple more to read.

Sweep of the Blade, Ilona Andrews
On a real Ilona Andrews kick here. This book in the Innkeeper Chronicles has barely any inn in it at all, and that was just fine with me, as I liked learning more about this main character and love her spunky halfling daughter. After I finished, I almost immediately went back to re-read some favorite scenes.

Wildfire, Ilona Andrews
I devoured this one in big chunks. Not everything gets resolved in this installment but neither does it end on a cliffhanger, so I was fine with that. I didn’t appreciate a small spoiler for the next book in the preview for the book after that which was included in the version I read; wish I’d skipped that bit but it’s not this book’s fault.

The Last Bathing Beauty, Amy Sue Nathan
I liked the “Catskills of the Midwest” setting in Michigan (even though when I lived in that state, I spent very little time exploring this part of it). There are definitely echoes of Dirty Dancing. Some of the plot was predictable, but there were a few turns that took me by surprise. I felt sad for the main character at times but the way the story was told, splitting between her at 18 in 1951 and her in her 80s, I didn’t get swamped by it.

Dark Needs at Night’s Edge, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
My attitude regarding the plot on this re-read: Sure, why not. That could happen.

This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
It’s no secret that time travel plots often make my head hurt, but I went ahead and picked this up anyway due to some reason I no longer remember (a great review in a magazine maybe) and am so glad I did. It feels like one of those books that either grabs you or doesn’t, and it grabbed me. I didn’t understand a lot about how things work in this world, but instead of frustrating me, I embraced the mystery.

White Hot, Ilona Andrews
Reading this was something like watching a Marvel movie, just with more sex. It’s cartoony enough to be escapist, which is what I need now.

Cleanness, Garth Greenwell
Reading this was like having dream; the images were sometimes disturbing, sometimes mundane, and the plot was indistinct.

Magic Shifts, Ilona Andrews
It’s been over two years since I dipped into this world; I felt like I mostly remembered what was going on. Lots of peril but set in a world different enough from our reality that I could read it without feeling stressed. This particular installment didn’t advance the overall plot lines of the series a whole lot but that’s okay; that’s to be experected in a longer series like this one.

The Day of the Duchess, Sarah MacLean
I wished for fewer flashbacks (or at least chronological flashbacks) as I sometimes had trouble figuring out where in time we were. I liked many of the supporting characters. Found the repeated communication breakdowns between the main characters frustrating; I’m sure I was meant to but it just wasn’t what I was in the mood for. I usually like epilogues but this one stretched my credulity too far. There is one very lovely scene in an unusual setting, and I’m glad I read the book for that alone.

Without a Summer, Mary Robinette Kowal
If I’d read this at a less fraught time (meaning not in the midst of a pandemic), I might have enjoyed it more. It wasn’t escapist enough for me right now, though it is well researched and well written. It continues the movement that took place in the previous book in the series away from domesticity and toward involvement in violent events in the larger society. Right now, I’d rather be immersed in personal drama and the arcane details of the type of magic that exists in this fictional world.

Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
Still re-reading the series, still being surprised by plot twists I’d forgotten.

Red, White, and Royal Blue, Casey McQuitson
I almost stopped reading this, as it gave me anxiety for the main characters and made me sad thinking about the country we could have had. In the end, I persisted and am glad I did.

No Rest for the Wicked, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
Continuing my re-read of the series. It’s been enough time that I don’t remember all of the plot lines. In my first read, I didn’t like the heroine so much. I didn’t feel that this time.

The Pale-Faced Lie: A True Story, David Crow
Another book that was hard to read not because of the writing but the subject matter.

A Hunger Like No Other, Kresley Cole (P, RR)
I was inspired to re-read this due to finding the Fated Mates podcast.

A Scot in the Dark, Sarah MacLean
At least this one had the hero being dumb instead of the heroine, I guess. Didn’t enjoy as much as the first one but still enough to want to continue the series.

Shades of Wicked, Jeaniene Frost
It might have been better for me to re-read at least some of the Night Huntress series before I read this, as when the characters from that showed up here, I got only faint glimmers of recognition.

Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal
I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first in the series, probably because of the shift in focus from family/personal matters that the first book had.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
I read someone describe this as a cross between Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth, both of which I enjoyed greatly when I was younger. I didn’t enjoy this greatly. Perhaps I am too old and impatient now for such whimsy and meandering and nonsense. I hope not. I hope it’s just that this particular whimsy and meandering wasn’t a good fit for me at the time I read it.

Palaces for the People, Eric Klinenberg
Makes a great case for the importance of social infrastructure. I wish I felt more hopeful that things will improve in those areas in the US but seems we’re moving in the wrong direction in most cases.

The Rose Hotel, Rahimeh Andalibian
This was hard to read. Not because of how it was written (though a time or two I did lose track of when things happened as the telling jumps back and forth in time) but because the events were so painful … and I wasn’t even living them like the author and her family did. I very much appreciated the look into a part of the world I will never experience.

Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal
I’ve followed the author on Twitter for quite a while and figured it was past time I should read some of her work. This is Jane Austen-esque but with domestic magic. I found it charming.

Burn for Me, Ilona Andrews
Another Ilona Andrews series I didn’t come upon until now. I liked this one, too.

The Rouge Not Taken, Sarah MacLean
I liked it, especially the first two thirds when the heroine was on the road, sometimes with, sometimes without the hero. I plan to read the next one in the series.

The Red Scot, Twyla Turner
I like curvy heroines (this one is a size 16, I believe, which is still smaller than the average woman but bigger than most romance leads). I like diversity. This book had both. I do not like sloppy copy editing (such as many many extraneous commas and some synonym errors) or heroines who deal with trauma by not going to therapy but staying stuck in fear for over a decade. This book had those, too, plus some internalized misogyny in the bargain.

The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker
I think this was well written, and I appreciated the telling of this story from another perspective, but I needed to read it in sections with breaks in between to read lighter things because I found it grindingly depressing for most of the story.

One Fell Sweep, Ilona Andrews
I couldn’t wait to read this installment after finishing the previous one. It did not disappoint. Sure, it stretches credulity at times, but since there’s magic involved, I can handle that better than when very improbable/very coincidental things happen in stories set entirely in our reality.

Sweep in Peace, Ilona Andrews
I’m really liking this series.

Maid for the Billionaire, Ruth Cardello
I read this because it was free. It did not sell me on reading the rest of the series.

Rubyfruit Jungle, Rita Mae Brown
This felt real to me though it was fiction. I so want to know how the main character made out later in her life.

Idaho, Emily Ruskovich
I recognized the places in this book; I travel through them myself. The author gets the setting just right. The story is unsettling and jumps back and forth in time which didn’t bother me as much as that device usually does.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh
My family had its struggles so some of this felt very relatable. I appreciated the author’s insight into the American Dream.

Next in Line for Love, Harper Bliss
I read this around the same time as Heartland, which is maybe why I found the characters somewhat annoying, as they were doing rich people stuff that poor people can’t do or suffer consequences if they do.

The First Girl Child, Amy Harmon
I think this was well written, but it left me feeling sad.

Isn’t It Bromantic?, Lauren Baratz-Logsted
I don’t remember when or why I put this on my Kindle, or why I thought it was a good idea to get book two of a series I haven’t read book one of, but here we are. Maybe if I had read the first book, I’d have a better understanding of why the hero has married someone he seems to not know very well, which I found annoying as a plot device. If you don’t know what music someone likes, you haven’t dated them long enough to get married is my position. Both hero and heroine do unlikable things. It’s told first person from the hero’s perspective in an easy, breezy, jokey style which is not for me. On the plus side, the copy editing was pretty darn good.

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