So, I was fully prepared to come back from my holiday with an apology to my TBR for not having had time or energy to read anything… But, well, that didn’t turn out to be necessary. Over the last 16 days I’ve got through 30 books, which I’m really pleased with! Some of these will get full reviews, but for now, here’s a summary of what I thought.
The flight out:
I tried to sleep on the plane, I really did… But no sleep was to be had. Luckily, that means I managed 8 books on the flight out (and watched Zootropolis, which I really enjoyed!)
- Spectacle – Jodie Lynn Zdrok
- I really enjoyed this! The Parisian setting is really well-described, the horror elements are fun without being too much, and I really liked Nathalie’s voice.
- The Earl Next Door – Amelia Grey
- This was a fairly uninspiring Regency romance – perfectly serviceable but not that memorable.
- The Time Traveler’s Guide to Romance – Madeline J Reynolds
- Really sweet little read about a boy who slips forward in time from the 19th century to the present day, where he finds love with a modern boy. Basically adorable.
- Air Awakens – Elise Kova
- This was such a fun YA fantasy, with two of my favourite things – a main character learning magic, and a sassy handsome wizard teacher.
- Tales of Ever After – anthology
- To be honest, I remember very little of this, which means it wasn’t great or bad. Fairy tale retellings which were okay but I didn’t love.
- Maddy Alone – Pamela Brown
- The sequel to The Swish of the Curtain, which I enjoyed a lot. This is sweet, nostalgic kids’ fiction in the vein of Ballet Shoes, about a group of young actors.
- Golden Pavements – Pamela Brown
- Third book in the Blue Door Theatre series, which was a little short, but still fun!
- Cat Magic – Lydia Sherrer
- I picked this up because I like a talking cat as a witch’s familiar, but it dragged a little, which is impressive for a novella.
During the trip:
We had several long train journeys as we moved around the country, even with the Shinkansen (bullet trains!). We also had a fair few quiet evenings in so as not to exhaust ourselves, so I ended up getting way more read than I expected.
- It’s Getting Scot In Here – Suzanne Enoch
- Fun fun fun! Love a highlander romance and this one was exceptionally good, with a London twist, and two more brothers to come!
- Age of Assassins – RJ Barker
- Fantastic fantasy that managed to remind me of Assassin’s Apprentice without being in any way derivative. Just the sort of classic adventure fantasy I love.
- Belle of the Ball – Pam McCutcheon
- This is a rather sweet romance with a tiny magical element – the romance was enjoyable, even if the magic felt a little far-fetched.
- Blue Door Venture – Pamela Brown
- The fourth book about the Blue Door Theatre, which was my favourite after the first. I like these kids a lot.
- The Godmother’s Curse – JM Beevers
- I came across JM Beevers at Oxford ComicCon – this is not the fantasy series I picked up then, but something more in the vein of a romance – with elements of magic and time slip. I liked it a lot.
- The Enchanting of an Earl – Emma Locke
- I didn’t love this romance, as I found the characters kind of annoying and rather badly written.
- The Furies – Katie Lowe
- I really wanted to like this, but it read like an attempt to update The Secret History, and despite the dramatic murders, I found myself uninvested. I also hated that I couldn’t tell if it was set in the UK or US – felt like the UK, but there were a lot of random Americanisms that threw me off. I did like the depiction of toxic female friendships though.
- How To Catch A Wild Viscount – Tessa Dare
- Another cute romance novella. I didn’t love it as much as The Governess Game, which is the only other Tessa Dare I’ve read.
- The Blue Devil – Melynda Beth Andrews
- Pretty fun concept for a romance novel, but rather too long and repetitive. Everything was said at least three times!
- The Seduction of Sophie Seacrest – Mary Campisi
- Very poor romance. The hero was a pirate but also an earl, and the heroine had very little personality, and the plot was… was there a plot? Add a weird murder and too many random sex scenes to this lack of plot, and I’m very glad it was free!
- Don’t Let The Beasties Escape This Book! – Julie Berry and April Lee
- Gorgeous picture book that is an awesome first introduction to bestiaries. Lee’s art is great and Berry’s story is a good read. Good fun and visually very pleasing.
The flight home:
On the way back I somehow managed to read through 11 books! Though three were novellas, the Jane Austen biography was extremely long, so I think it balances out.
- City of Dreams – Hailey Griffiths
- I really liked this coming-of-age fantasy about a girl who is a Grace (basically a witch) finding her feet in her new home, but wished it had been longer! This is a prequel novella to a series I haven’t read, so I will track those down.
- Jane Austen at Home – Lucy Worsley
- Fascinating biography of Jane Austen themed around her various homes – I found it so interesting, but it also took me an age to read. I started it on the plane out, got to about 20%, and finished it on the way home.
- Girls With Sharp Sticks – Suzanne Young
- Amazingly good feminist almost-dystopia set in a deeply unsettling boarding school. It was what I wishedThe Handmaid’s Tale, Vox, and The Furies could have been!
- The Missing Barbegazi – HS Norup
- Very sweet MG adventure set in the Alps. I can see this being a big hit.
- Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian
- The Secret of Dinswood – Ellen Alexander
- This is an exciting MG adventure based at a boarding school and involving a hunt for buried pirate treasure. I enjoyed it a lot, but think there were some real problems with some of the elements – it’ll need a whole review to discuss.
- The Loudest Meow – Wendy Ledger
- So I knew this was a book with talking cats, but not much else, and I wasn’t expecting it to be about the cat afterlife. It’s sweet, and funny, but it WILL make you cry if you’re jetlagged and have been away from your cat for too long. I would have read this another time if I’d have known.
- Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears – Gregory L Norris
- Nine Star Press novella, which are usually a good thing for me! I liked this, but had a small issue with one of the elements that kinda spoiled the HEA for me….
- The Soulstealers – Jacqueline Rohrbach
- Very interesting YA fantasy that looks at a lot of cultural appropriation, as well as putting a spin on the traditional coming-of-age story when the heir to the throne realises that her people might well be a little bit evil… I enjoyed it a lot. The main romance is F/F and another prominent main character is ace.
- Silver in the Wood – Emily Tesh
- Probably the best thing I read all holiday. It feels like English folklore perfectly distilled into one perfect novella – foresty and creepy and comforting and magic and mundane and enthralling. I adored it so much it made me kind of angry that I hadn’t written it.
- The Warrior Maiden – Melanie Dickerson
- Super shallow Mulan retelling where the entire focus of the book is romance, and everything is inexplicably relocated to Eastern Europe (but Mulan is still Asian). Really didn’t connect with this.
So, that’s it! I’m really pleased with how much I got read – I didn’t think it would be anywhere near that much! As I say, further reviews coming for some of them, but let me know if you’ve read any of these and want to discuss…