Open Thread for Readers for February 2023
Got a book you want to talk about? Frustrated with a book or series? In love with a new one? Found a buried treasure? An issue that keeps popping up in the books you are reading? Just want to chat about stuff in general? Post about it here!
Can anyone recommend a good Valentine, Palentine, Galentine novella/book?
I have been a huge Jonathan Stroud fan since my son discovered the Bartimaeus Trilogy when he was in middle school, and I am so happy to see how well his Lockwood and Co. series has been adapted for Netflix. I *love* those books and have listened to the audiobooks many times on long car rides–it’s a great “comfort read” for me. The Netflix version is so well done–the cast is great (especially the main trio), and it really captures the spirit of the books. I would recommend the Netflix series (and the books–which are even better and wittier) to anyone who likes well-written YA fantasy literature (especially the Naomi Novik Scholomance variety).
@Jayne: I haven’t read it but I think The Do-Over by Lynn Painter is a YA contemporary with groundhog-day plot except on Valentine’s Day. The female main character finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her (with a friend maybe) on Valentine’s Day. Here’s the blurb:
The book is pretty recent and has a good reputation.
@Elle: Is his Lockwood series for the same age group as Bartimaeus or for an older audience? I read one of the Bartimaeus books but it felt too young for me. I saw him once on a panel at the LA Times Festival of Books and he was great.
@Janine: I think that the Lockwood and Co. series is written pretty much for the middle school/YA age group, although many adults love these books as well. The characters in the books are teenagers (since only certain young people have the “talent” to see ghosts and this talent fades as they into their 20s). The Netflix version has the main characters in the start out in the 16-17 year old age range I think. The world building is interesting, the young actors are wonderful, and the dialogue is snappy and fun. There is a sweet undercurrent of romance as well. The scary parts are actually scarier in the books than on film. As one grad student on reddit wrote about the Lockwood books: “Do I feel a bit weird because I have to go into the kid section at Barnes and Noble to get them? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.”
I went back and looked at your review of the 1st book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy. Interesting. I wonder if your opinion of the series would have changed if you had read the 2nd and 3rd books. These are books that my son (an avid reader) enjoyed in middle school, but parts of it *are* rather dark. It is definitely not a romance. Nathaniel, the main (human) character in the books, is only 12 years old in the first book, but is 17 years old in the last one. He has quite a character arc and is pretty anti-heroic in much of the story, particularly the 2nd book. Bartimaeus (the djinni) is of course an unreliable narrator, but that adds a lot to the humor of the story (IMO). I find that I enjoy reading well-written fantasy (including YA fantasy) more than romance these days.
@Elle: I forgot that I reviewed it. I don’t watch much TV these days but maybe I’ll try the Netflix show.
This is true for me too, but I find it easier to discover good adult fantasy than YA fantasy these days. Right now adult Fantasy seems more varied and inventive, but I’m basing this on what I’ve read, IOW on anecdotal information. I’d love some good YA fantasy recs if you have any.
I’ve just discovered the m/m baseball romances of KD Casey—and they are excellent! It’s obvious Casey knows and loves baseball, and the books are angsty, hot, and full of the highs & lows of the long baseball season. I’ve read three so far: UNWRITTEN RULES, FIRE SEASON, and ONE TRUE OUTCOME. All of the MCs are professional baseball players (some gay, some bi, some closeted, others sort of halfway in, halfway out), and each book features a different trope: second-chance, bi-awakening, age-gap. There’s another book—DIAMOND RING—scheduled for March publication. Casey also co-wrote two books with Lauren Blakey—DIRTY SLIDE and DIRTY STEAL—but I haven’t read those yet (Blakely is not one of my favorites—her books tend to have a paint-by-numbers feel to them). Anyway, I highly recommend the three Casey books I have read—great for m/m and baseball fans.
@DiscoDollyDeb: Have you tried Avery Cockburn’s Glasgow Lads books? The first series features footballers; the second is new, a spinoff about curling, and happens to be free today along with others:
All the books can be read as standalone, out of order, per the author as every books ends with a HEA and no cliffhangers.
@Jayne: Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan is a Valentine’s Day novella – it’s part of her erotic romance series, So Over the Holidays – they’re loosely connected and feature a variety of pairings but are all standalone. Candy Hearts is m/m – I don’t remember much about it, except that it was cute and sexy.
@Darlynne: I haven’t tried them, but onto the TBR they go! I’ll grab the freebie while it’s available. Thanks!
Also, for anyone who may be intrigued, UNWRITTEN RULES is on sale for $1.99 in the Kindle Store today.
@cleo: Thanks. I think Kaetrin reviewed that one and liked it. I’ll go back and check what she said.
@Janine: I read this and it was good! Light and fluffy and cute.
@DiscoDollyDeb: Is that the first in the series? You’ve made me curious about the books.
@Layla: I remembered you liked it. I have been wondering if I should check it out. The time loop trope is catching on in a big way and I have mixed feelings about that. I loved Groundhog Day but and Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live. Die. Repeat.) but not another movie I saw with that premise. It’s one of those tropes that is so distinct and unusual that it’s hard to bring something fresh to it after you’ve read / seen it a few times. But I am tempted.
@Janine: yes, UNWRITTEN RULES is the first book (the series is also called Unwritten Rules); FIRE SEASON is the second. For some reason, ONE TRUE OUTCOME is not part of the series, although it’s set in the same universe. I’m not sure if the books Casey co-wrote with Lauren Blakely are set in the Unwritten Rules world, but they don’t appear to be part of the series. The upcoming DIAMOND RING, currently showing an April 11 publication date, is the third book in the Unwritten Rules series.
@DiscoDollyDeb: Thank you. I downloaded a kindle sample and saw that it’s written in third person present tense. That’s a POV style I find distancing so it usually doesn’t work for me when it comes to romance. I prefer to be in the characters’ heads more, experiencing their emotions, rather than observing from the outside.
The View was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta, one of my favorite romances of last year, is on sale for $2.99 right now. Highly recommended.
My review is here: https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-plus-reviews/review-the-view-was-exhausting-by-mikaella-clements-and-onjuli-datta/