Category: Discussions

Bookish Thoughts: Holly’s Ultimate Christmas Wishlist

Posted December 12, 2018 by Holly in Discussions, Features | 3 Comments

Every month, Casee, Rowena and I tackle a different bookish and sometimes non-bookish topic together. This month, we’re sharing our Christmas wishlists with you lovely readers.

For me, Christmas is about giving, not receiving. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I’d like to see for me under the tree. I went with a more practical list, rather than the one I was considering (castle in Scotland, 6 month world cruise, Tesla Model S etc). The things I listed are attainable, but I know I won’t be getting them for Christmas.

Stony Island Arts Bank Library Bookshelves
Stony Island Arts Bank Library, Chicago (USA)
1. New Bookshelves

I have a gorgeous, 20 foot wall in my entry way I would love to cover in bookshelves. I keep bugging my husband to build me some, and he keeps looking at me like I’m crazy. But y’all, I need them! Ones that look just like those at the Stony Island Arts Bank Library in Chicago. They’d be perfect.

2. Kindle Paperwhite

I don’t need a Paperwhite. I have a perfectly good(ish) Samsung Tab I use solely for reading (I prefer it to a dedicated reader because I read across many platforms). I still want it. I want it for reading at the beach and at the pool in the summer. And this new version is waterproof, so it would be great for reading in the tub, too.

3. Samsung Galaxy Tab a 8, 32gb

I currently have the Galaxy Tab 7. It works fine (mostly) but I’d really like a new one. Since I have an iPad and a Windows Tablet, I can’t really justify asking for a new dedicated reading tablet (the only thing I want the Galaxy Tab for). And yet…Sigh. I want the additional storage and upgraded processor of the Tab a8.

Wine Glasses for Book Lovers

4. Book Related Wine Glasses

I’m in love with these stemless wineglasses from CustomKreationGoods on Etsy. Wine + Books + Bookish Wineglasses = Best.Christmas.Gift.Ever.

Silver Prius Prime Image

5. Prius Prime

If this is my ultimate wishlist, I can add a new car, right? I have a perfectly fine car now, but I commute 45 miles each way to work. Having a hybrid would be wonderful. I used to think the Prius was really ugly, but I really like the style of the new Prime. Plus, it gets 133 mpge.

What’s on your wishlist list this year? Anything outrageous or are you pretty reasonable?


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Auto-Buy Authors Holly Stopped Buying

Posted November 27, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 9 Comments

This is a difficult topic for me, since a lot of these authors are still wonderful. Some I outgrew, some I plan to go back to at a future time, some I may never be able to read again. I stopped auto-buying all the authors on Rowena’s list awhile ago. Some others I stopped buying are…

Hannah Howell

I adore Howell’s older highland romances. She writes fabulous heroines who are smart and plucky and always manage to save themselves. Plus, she does female relationships really well. But after awhile they all sort of blend together. While she’ll always have a special place in my heart, I don’t buy her new releases anymore.

Christine Feehan

Oh, Christine Feehan. Where do I begin? About 14 years ago, Casee sent me the first 4 Dark Series books and told me I had to read them. I stuck with that series for about 15 books until I gave up. I still gobbled up every Sea Haven and Leopard book she put out, though. Now that the Sisters of the Heart series is done, I think it’s time to say goodbye. I’m not interested in the MC books and the Ghostwalker and Leopard series just don’t work for me like they did.

Jill Shalvis

I used to love JS’s small-town contemporary romances. They always managed to hit the spot. It’s not that I’m really over her book, necessarily, just the small-town romances in general. I have a good number of her books in my TBR pile, but until I start reading them again, she’s off my auto-buy list.

J.D. Robb

Robb’s In Death series was a long-time favorite of mine. I eagerly awaited each release and read them as soon as they came out. I think I’m behind about 9 books now. As much as I love Eve and Roarke, I haven’t been in the mood to read them. I may go back to the series at some point, but for now I’m no longer buying them.

Julia Quinn

Y’all. This one is hard to admit, but it’s true. I’ve stopped buying JQ. To be fair, I’m really not reading historicals much at all lately. Even so, when I see a new JQ release I don’t immediately think “I need to buy that”.

Which auto-buy author was the most shocking for you to give up?


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Auto Buy Authors Rowena Never Thought She’d Stop Reading…And Did

Posted November 14, 2018 by Rowena in Discussions | 13 Comments

If you’ve been paying attention in the last couple of months, you will have noticed that Casee, Holly, and myself have each taken to writing our thoughts on a shared topic and then posting them throughout the month. This month’s topic is about auto-buy authors that we never thought we’d stop reading until we did.

When I first started reading, I was all about Julie Garwood, Linda Howard, and Judith McNaught. I read every single thing that they wrote and counted down the days until they released something new. I didn’t read a lot of new to me authors (even though there were plenty to choose from) because I was too scared but I grew as a reader and before I knew what was what, I had new favorite authors and I read less and less of the authors that I used to love and read before.

Putting this list together surprised me some because there are quite a few authors that I used to love and obsess over on this list. My list consists of authors that I used to read religiously and haven’t read or bought anything from on a consistent basis in years.

Rachel Gibson

Rachel Gibson is one of the authors that I read in the early days and I loved the hell out of. See Jane Score was one of the earliest contemporaries that I remember reading and I used to want to lick Luc’s tattoo. I haven’t read a book by Rachel Gibson in years and I’m not all that keen on picking anything up either. There are still quite a few of her newer releases that I haven’t touched yet and I doubt I ever will.

Jennifer Crusie

I used to be obsessed with all things Jennifer Crusie. Her books were always filled with humor and a steamy romance that I couldn’t get enough of and yet, I haven’t finished reading through her backlist or bought any of her later releases. I just..moved on from her and that surprises me because Bet Me? LOVE THAT BOOK FOREVER.

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts used to be the author that I turned to for fabulous contemporary romances with a suspense plot that I couldn’t get enough of. I used to say that I was looking forward to reading all of her books for the rest of my life and yet…it’s been years since I’ve been interested in reading any of her new stuff. I do re-read her older stuff from time to time. I still love Seaswept and the other books in that series but I stopped buying her books because I’m just not reading them anymore.

Linda Howard

Linda Howard is in the same boat as Julie Garwood in my book. I will forever love their older stuff but I have read some of their latest releases and my love for that stuff just isn’t the same. I’ve enjoyed some of Linda Howard’s stuff but my desire to read her isn’t instant anymore. I’ve moved on from being that reader that had to read everything under the LH sun.

Julie Garwood

I’m sad that I just can’t get into the newer Julie Garwood books and have lost interest in them. I still haven’t read Shadow Music and Fire and Ice. I wanted to read both of those books way back in the day but lately? Nah. I have them both but they sit untouched on my TBR pile day after day and I really doubt that I’m ever going to read them. That’s a far cry from my attitude toward anything new by JG back in the day. I still read and LOVE her older stuff but I haven’t wanted to read any of her newer stuff and that’s wild to me because I thought I’d love her stuff forever.

Who are some authors that got bumped off your auto-buy list? Share in the comments!


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Standalone Series Books: Yes, That’s a Thing

Posted November 6, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

Holly: Lately, Rowena and I have been increasingly frustrated with the number of authors who label their books as standalones when they are, in fact, part of a series.

The Chase by Elle Kennedy is the first book in the Briar U series, which is a spinoff of the Off-Campus series. Yet the description says, “A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy!”

The blurb for Part-Time Lover by Lauren Blakely says, “From #1 New York Times bestselling author Lauren Blakely comes a sexy new standalone romance…”, yet it features characters we met in Wanderlust (Part-Time Lovers series).

Rowena: It seems to me that this is a new development, at least in romance because I don’t ever remember going through this before. Books in a series could be read as standalone but they were linked by something. Some of those series were linked together by characters, some were linked by the world that they were set in, and sometimes they had a story arc that went through multiple books, but that last one wasn’t necessary or even the case for every series. I can’t agree with what Holly says above enough. It is possible for a book to read as a standalone but still be part of a series.

She also mentions that there are some readers that prefer to read standalones and that’s fine, you should be able to love and want what you want. We prefer to know that characters we meet and love in one book, also show up in their own books…because then it’s not a standalone, it’s part of a series and should be labeled as such.

I just finished reading Sleepover by Serena Bell and though the book is listed as a standalone, I just know that the hero’s brother Brooks is going to get his own book because the ending led the reader to believe as much. The ending also announces the engagement of a couple from another book that was released back in June of this year. So this book is definitely part of a series and is linked together by the characters but if you were a new reader of this author (like me), you wouldn’t know that. “Sleepover is a standalone novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a satisfying happily ever after. This ebook includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.” Yet, it follows Do Over and Head Over Heels.

She’s not the only author that is guilty of this. She’s just the latest one that I’ve read and my frustration continues to grow and grow and grow. Holly hears about this frustration every time so we figured it was time to write this post.

Here are some examples of series with books that can be read as standalones but are linked together under the series umbrella.

The 21 Wall Street Series by Lauren Layne

This series follows three friends who work together on Wall Street. You don’t have to read the first book to get the second book, or the third book. The only thing that links these books together are the heroes in each book are friends. That’s it.

FBI/US Attorney Series by Julie James

Here’s another series that doesn’t need to be read in order. Each book can be read as a standalone and the series follows a different couple in the same world.

Colorado Mountain Series by Kristen Ashley


The same deal applies here with this series. They don’t really need to be read in order but there are recurring characters in each of these books. Some characters show up in all of the books, some show up in only a few but the common link in these books are the characters. The point is, the books can be read as standalones, but they’re connected in some way.

I’m not sure if this is a publisher thing or an author thing but whoever is in charge of making these decisions, please change this back. If books are linked in any way, readers should know that. I’m not sure when books being part of a series became a bad thing but I promise, I don’t see it as such.

The more you know and all of that…


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Books Holly Would Hate If She Read Them Today

Posted October 17, 2018 by Holly in Discussions | 5 Comments

While formatting some old posts, I came across some reviews I’d written for books in Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series. Reading my reviews, I started to wonder if I read those books today, would I still give them such high marks? Just reading through my reviews had me shaking my head. I gave up reading some authors years ago, because I know that, while I loved them in my youth, they’d never hold up to my reading standards now.

Chasing PerfectAlmost PerfectFinding Perfect

Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect and Finding Perfect by Susan Mallery
Released 2010-2012
Publisher: HQN Books
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Reviews: Chasing Perfect, Almost Perfect, Finding Perfect

Return to where it all began—the romance, the friendships, the community, the warmth and laughter of Susan Mallery’s New York Times bestselling series Fool’s Gold.

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Fool’s Gold, California, is a charming town like no other, where newcomers and locals alike find endless—if unconventional—opportunities to fall in love.

From Charity Jones, a city planner hired to create jobs that will keep the town’s men from moving away, to Liz Sutton, still trying to shed the stigma of being the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and Pia O’Brian who, despite having a disastrous romantic track record and the parenting skills of a hamster, has inherited three frozen embryos, Fool’s Gold is overflowing with quirky characters, passionate moments and heartfelt emotion.

I really enjoyed this series back when, but just reading my reviews had my blood pressure up. I’m glad I enjoyed the books when I read them the first time. I definitely won’t be going back to read them again.

Almost HeavenAlmost Heaven by Judith McNaught.
Released: June 1, 1991
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical Romance

#1 New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught crafts a powerful and unforgettable tale of two willful lovers in a twisting path of secrets throughout nineteenth-century Great Britain.

The Countess of Havenhurst, Lady Elizabeth Cameron, possesses a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thorton—notorious gambler and social outcast—her reputation is shattered. Thorton, rakishly handsome but with a mysterious lineage, embarks on a voyage to Elizabeth’s heart. Unfortunately, this journey is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge. Destined for each other, yet wary of the other’s motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love, from London’s drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands. Will Elizabeth find true love or is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

McNaught was one of my favorite authors back in the day. I was always swept up in her tales and so anxious to see what would happen. Almost Heaven was a particular favorite. Ian. Sigh. I know if I read it today the drama would be too much. As it is, just the memory of all the drama Elizabeth creates makes my teeth clench. I’m going to keep my happy memories of JM and stay far, far away from re-reading this book.

The GiftThe Gift by Danielle Steele
Released: February 5, 1996
Publisher: Dell Books
Pages: 288
Genres: Historical Romance

On a June day, a young woman in a summer dress steps off a Chicago-bound bus into a small midwestern town. She doesn’t intend to stay. She is just passing through. Yet her stopping here has a reason and it is part of a story that you will never forget.

The time is the 1950s, when life was simpler, people still believed in dreams, and family was, very nearly, everything. The place is a small midwestern town with a high school and a downtown, a skating pond and a movie house. And on a tree-lined street in the heartland of America, an extraordinary set of events begins to unfold. And gradually what seems serendipitous is tinged with purpose. A happy home is shattered by a child’s senseless death. A loving marriage starts to unravel. And a stranger arrives—a young woman who will touch many lives before she moves on. She and a young man will meet and fall in love. Their love, so innocent and full of hope, helps to restore a family’s dreams. And all of their lives will be changed forever by the precious gift she leaves them.

This is a book I read at a time in my life when I needed the story. Thinking back, I’m sure much of it was problematic, but at the time I didn’t see the flaws. I was swept up in the tale of this brave girl who was on her own, dealing with an unwanted pregnancy in the 1950s. The story truly touched me. There’s no way I’d feel the same if I read it today, but I’ll keep my fond memories.

Prince of DreamsPrince of Dreams by Lisa Kleypas
Released August 1, 1995
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 416
Genres: Contemporary Romance
My Review: Prince of Dreams

A wealthy and bitter exile, he most dangerous and desirable man in all of England, he burns to possess a proud, headstrong beauty who is promised to another. But winning Emma Stokehurst’s exquisite hand through threats and determination does nothing to fill the empty spaces in Nikola’s heart—until passion’s magic carries the handsome, tormented prince back to a bygone era of splendor and romantic dreams. For there his destiny awaits him in a distant life. And in one remarkable woman’s tender touch—achingly familiar but gloriously new—he must seek the elusive promise of ecstasy . . .and learn, at last, to love.

This is an old school novel by Lisa Kleypas. I love the last 1/4 or so of this book. Adore it, in fact. But the first 3/4 are pretty rough to get through (and yes, Nikolai did cheat ::wince::). I don’t know that the last 1/4 would make up for all the terrible if I read it now.

Night PlayNight Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon.
Released: August 1, 2004
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Bride McTierney has had it with men. They’re cheap, self-centered, and never love her for who she is. But though she prides herself on being independent, deep down she still yearns for a knight in shining armor.

She just never expected her knight in shining armor to have a shiny coat of fur…

Deadly and tortured, Vane Kattalakis isn’t what he seems. Most women lament that their boyfriends are dogs. In Bride’s case, hers is a wolf. A Were-Hunter wolf. Wanted dead by his enemies, Vane isn’t looking for a mate. But the Fates have marked Bride as his. Now he has three weeks to either convince Bride that the supernatural is real or he will spend the rest of his life neutered–something no self-respecting wolf can accept…

But how does a wolf convince a human to trust him with her life when his enemies are out to end his? In the world of the Were-Hunters, it really is dog-eat-dog. And only one alpha male can win.

I loved Bride and Vane back in the day. Adored them. I loved how petty Vane was, getting back at Bride’s ex. How cute they were together, all of it. But I can’t imagine reading the book now and feeling the same way. I grew out of SK some time back.

via GIPHY


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