Random (but not really)

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Books of March

Lots of crappy weather this month, so I read a lot again. (We shall not mention the indoor projects I ignored for reading. Moving right along.)

Although I still haven’t settled on a final rating, I enjoyed Faith Hunter‘s latest Soulwood book, Circle of the Moon.

I read a LOT of LGBT books this month, and I particularly enjoyed Josh Lanyon;s All’s Fair series, which starts with Fair Game (but the last book is my favorite in that series).

I also really liked The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles which is a collection of short stories, and a prequel of sorts to the Green Man series. (Sort of) Plus the series Angel Martinez‘s Offbeat Crimes series, which had ALL the Michelle Catnip: supernatural police procedural. I really liked the world-building in that series.

So here’s what I read:

Fantasy, Supernatural

Circle of the Moon (2019) Faith Hunter (Rating: Undecided) (Soulwood)

Mystery, LGBT

All’s Fair
Fair Game (2010) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
Fair Play (2014) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
Fair Chance (2017) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 9/10)
Adrien English
Fatal Shadows (2000/2012) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 6.5/10)
A Dangerous Thing (2002/2012) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Hell You Say (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
Death of a Pirate King (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
The Dark Tide (2011) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
So This is Christmas (2016) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks (2011/2016) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (2018) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)
Hazard and Somerset
Pretty Pretty Boys (2017) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Transposition (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Paternity Case (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 6/10)
Guilt by Association (2018) Gregory Ashe (Rating: 7.5/10)

Fantasy, Supernatural LGBT

The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal (2013) K.J. Charles (Rating: 8/10)
Offbeat Crimes
Skim Blood and Savage Verse (2017) Angel Martinez (Rating: 6.5/10)
Feral Dust Bunnies (2017) Angel Martinez (Rating: 8.5/10)
All the World’s an Undead Stage (2018) Angel Martinez (Rating: 8/10)

Audio Books

Salsa Nocturna: Stories, Audio Edition (2012/2014) Daniel José Older, narrated by Daniel José Older (Rating: 9/10)
Stiletto, Audio Edition (2016) Daniel O’Malley narrated by Moira Quirk (Rating: 9.5/10)
Half-Resurrection Blues, Audio Edition (2015) Daniel José Older narrated by Daniel José Older (Rating: 8/10)


Suffer Little Children (1995) Peter Tremayne (Sister Fidelma)
Unto Us a Son Is Given (2019) Donna Leon (Rating: 7/10) (Commissario Guido Brunetti)

Graphic Novel

Rivers of London Vol. 7: Action at a Distance (2018) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Brian Williamson (Rating: Grrrrr)

Romance, LGBT

Short Stories: 2007 – 2013 (2015) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)
Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure (2019) Courtney Milan (Rating: 7.5/10)

And here’s how the stats came out:

Trade Paperback: 1
eBook: 26
Audio: 3
Multiple Formats: 2
Re-read: 4


OK. It was a comic, but still! Paper!

Fantasy: 10
Mystery: 21
Romance: 21
Comic: 1
Boinking: 18
Anthology: 1

Lots of mysteries this month, and lots of romance. And a fair chunk of fantasy so… pretty much everything. Plus a lot of boinking.

Male: 9
Female: 8
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 12
Anthology: 1

More male authors than in past months, but adding in female pseudonyms, it’s still predominantly female authors.

Male: 24
Female: 4
Ensemble: 1
White: 26
Minority: 6
Minority 2ndary: 6
Straight: 10
LGBTQ 2ndary: 3

So lots of male main characters this month, mostly cuz I read a lot of M/M stories. And lots and lots of white characters, although there was a little bit of diversity with secondary characters. But still, pretty white.

And those are the books of March.

What did you read recently that you loved?

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Books of February

Rain rain rain rain rain means lots of reading for me. Which is fine, but I’d rather have been hiking.

So I read some good books last month, and also a couple not so good, including a did not finish and a book I finished mostly out of spite. But the lets talk about the good!

I reread a couple historical mystery series that I loved, and I can highly recommend: The Thief-Takers Series by Alissa Johnson has private inquiry agents and a family of thieves and ends with a heroine with a neurological disorder. The Regency London Series by Michelle Diener is another series I love, and the middle book has a young woman hiding as a French chef.

I read a new K.J. Charles book, Any Old Diamonds which of course I enjoyed. Note: MM boinking here, but it’s also a heist book.

And I found a MM mystery author, Josh Lanyon, who I am enjoying. The first book in the series I wasn’t quite sure about, but by the second book I was all on board. (I just started a new series by her.)

As far as audio books, I’m having a hard time finding a cleaning/exercise book, so went back to The Rook, Audio Edition by Daniel O’Malley narrated by Susan Duerden, which I utterly adore, and which is so unlike anything else it doesn’t get mixed into whatever else I’m reading.

Historical Mystery

The Heretic’s Apprentice (1989) Ellis Peters (Rating: 8.5/10) (Brother Cadfael)
Dark Angel (1994) Tracy Grant (Rating: 8.5/10) (Lescaut Quartet)
The Thief-Takers Series
A Talent for Trickery (2015) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 8.5/10)
A Gift for Guile (2016) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 8.5/10)
A Dangerous Deceit (2017) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 8.5/10)
Regency London Series
The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012) Michelle Diener (Rating: 8/10)
Banquet of Lies (2013) Michelle Diener (Rating: 9.5/10)
A Dangerous Madness (2014) Michelle Diener (Rating: 8.5/10)
Lady Arianna Hadley Mystery
Sweet Revenge
(2011) Andrea Penrose (Rating: 6.5/10)
The Cocoa Conspiracy
(2014) Andrea Penrose (Rating: 5.5/10)
Recipe For Treason
(2014) Andrea Penrose (Rating: 4/10)


The Overnight Kidnapper (2015/2019) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Rating: 7/10) (Inspector Montalbano)

Audio Books

The Rook, Audio Edition (2012) Daniel O’Malley narrated by Susan Duerden (Rating: 9.5/10) (The Rook)

Historical Romance

The Duke I Tempted (2018) Scarlett Peckham
DNF: The Curse of Lord Stanstead (2015) Mia Marlowe (DNF)

Supernatural Mystery (LGBT)

Offbeat Crimes
Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters (2016) Angel Martinez (Rating: 7/10)
The Pill Bugs of Time (2016) Angel Martinez

Romantic (LGBT) Mystery

Murder Takes the High Road (2018) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
Holmes & Moriarity
Somebody Killed His Editor (2009/2016) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7.5/10)
All She Wrote (2010/2017) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)
The Boy with the Painful Tattoo (2014/2018) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 7/10)
In Other Words… Murder (2018) Josh Lanyon (Rating: 8/10)

Romance, LGBT

Any Old Diamonds (2019) K.J. Charles (Rating: 8/10)
Another Place in Time (2014) by Tamara Allen, Joanna Chambers, K.J. Charles, Kaje Harper, Jordan L. Hawk , Aleksandr Voinov (Rating: 7/10)
Hexbreaker (2016) Jordan L. Hawk (Rating: 5/10)
Mr. Winterbourne’s Christmas (2018) Joanna Chambers (Rating: 6/10)

OK, the breakdown. Multiple re-reads (but some new releases as well) and almost everything was an ebook.

eBook: 24
Audio: 1
Multiple Formats: 1
Re-read: 7

Lots of romance and mystery and boinking this month.

Fantasy: 5
Mystery: 17
Romance: 22
Boinking: 15
Anthology: 1

Not many male authors this month, although there were several male pseudonyms.

Male: 2
Female: 15
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 6
Anthology: 1

Now for the new categories I made last month. Lots of male leads (due to the MM romances) and lots of LGBTQ, but not many minority characters. Some of that has to do with reading historicals, but I’ll note that KJ Charles often has minority characters in her historicals, so it can be done, it’s just not necessarily easy.

Male: 13
Female: 1
Ensemble: 10
White: 24
Minority: 1
Minority 2ndary: 2
Straight: 14
LGBTQ 2ndary:

And that’s February in books.

Did you read anything last month you’d really recommend?

Written by Michelle at 11:24 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
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Sunday, February 17, 2019


This is because I keep forgetting what recipes I try and really really like.

Thin crust pizza, from Bread Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

The Books of January! (Lots of ’em)

Bit late, but that’s because I was off in the north gallivanting.

I read a LOT this month. I mean a somewhat ridiculous amount. Partially because I read a lot light historical romances that I could down in a couple hours. And partially because the weather was not conducive to going outside.

So what was good this month? Quite a bit!

I read the latest Rivers of London book, Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch, which tied up a lot of loose ends. I’ll need to listen to it in a month or two, to catch all the bits I missed while roaring through to discover what happened. I also really liked the newest SPI files entry, The Phoenix Illusion by Lisa Shearin . It’s just a fun series.

I read a bunch of books by Lisa Kleypas, some of which I really liked, some of which were just fine.

And I read a new KJ Charles book, which I really really liked.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Lies Sleeping (2018) Ben Aaronovitch (Rating: 8.5/10) (Rivers of London)
The Phoenix Illusion (2018) Lisa Shearin (Rating: 8/10) (SPI Files)
Inspector Hobbes and the Curse (2013) Wilkie Martin (Rating: 6/10) (Inspector Hobbes)

Mystery, Historical

Brother Cadfael
The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987) Ellis Peters (Rating: 7/10)
The Confession of Brother Haluin (1988) Ellis Peters (Rating: 7/10)

Romance, Historical

Mine Till Midnight (2007) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8/10)
Seduce Me at Sunrise
(2008) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 6/10)
Tempt Me at Twilight
(2009) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8/10)
Married By Morning
(2010) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
Love In The Afternoon
(2010) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
The Ravenels
Devil in Spring
(2017) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
Hello Stranger
(2018) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 7.5/10)
Devil in Winter
(2006) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 7/10) (The Wallflowers)
Rule of Scoundrels
A Rogue by Any Other Name
(2012) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
(2013) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 8.5/10)
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10)
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (2014) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7.5/10)
Wicked and the Wallflower (2018) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10) (Bareknuckle Bastards)
The Providence Series
As Luck Would Have It (2008) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)
Tempting Fate (2009) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)
McAlistair’s Fortune (2009) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7/10)
Destined To Last (2010) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 8/10)
Counting on a Countess (2018) Eva Leigh (Rating: 5.5/10)
The Governess Game (2018) Tessa Dare (Rating: 7/10)
A Christmas Dance (2014) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)

Romance, LGBT

Think of England (2014) K.J. Charles (Rating: 8.5/10)

Now to the stats!

Nothing but eBooks last month. Not a single paper or audio book. Eight of those books were re-reads, which is relatively low, considering my total numbers.

What kind of books? Well, I added some new categories for this year.

Fantasy: 3
Mystery: 6
Romance: 21
Boinking: 21

Lots of boinking books this month. Because there was a lot of romance read this month.

Male: 2
Female: 21
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 2

Probably related to the number or romances I read, I had mostly female authors.

And some new categories. I’ve been wanting to track for awhile the characteristics of the books characters. I’m not quite sure if these categories are what I want, but they’ll work for now. I can always change them later.

Male: 5
Female: 1
Ensemble: 20

Although there were mostly romances, they generally switched between the male and female lead, hence the “ensemble” category. (I don’t like that term, but couldn’t come up with something else.)

White: 23
Minority: 3
Minority 2ndary: 0

White white white is what I read, with a smattering of minorities.

Straight: 25
LGBTQ 2ndary: 2

Most of the characters were straight, but there were two books with secondary LGBTQ characters. Those were, unsurprisingly to me, the supernatural fantasies.

So that sums up January. Anything you read that you’d recommend? (Because my TBR pile isn’t large enough)

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Left Wanting More

I was recently thinking about books I really liked, and series that ended long before I was finished enjoying them.

Here are some series I wish the authors had continued.

Liz Williams‘ Detective Inspector Chen – Urban fantasy plus police procedural is always going to be catnip to me. This series is one of my favorites in that genre.

The trouble with Hell, Zhu Irzh reflected bitterly, was not so much the palpable miasma of evil (with which he was, after all, ingrained) but the bureaucracy.

It’s been more than eight years since the last book in Justin Gustainis‘ Occult Crimes Unit series.

These books have truly horrible covers, but what was inside I really liked.

Yeah, I really said, “heck”. I’m no Boy Scout, but it’s not smart to say words like “hell” in a supe bar. You never know what might be listening.

I really enjoyed CE Murphy‘s Magic and Manners and would LOVE more historical-fantasy-romance. Alas, it’s been three years and no signs of another book.

Another series I wanted more of was Susan Bischoff‘s Talen Chronicles. It’s got a feel in some ways to Rising Stars (which I love) in that it’s a look at how society would deal with the sudden appearance of children with super powers.

I stumbled upon Michaela Roessner‘s two books and was crushed to discover a third was never published.

As an honorable mention, I found on a single book by Pat O’Shea, and I loved it. I wish it would be converted to eBook format.

So are there any series you loved that were abandoned well before their time?

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Books of 2018: STATISTICS!


If you aren’t a tremendous geek, it’s probably best if you look away now.

I read 205 books this year. Less than last year, but this is still only the second year I’ve broken the 200 mark.

Here the ridiculous chart I maintain solely for my amusement.

Those high points tended to be when I was sick, since when I’m ill generally all I want to do is lie on the sofa and read.

It is an utterly insane chart, which is why I find it so amusing.

Next up, the type of book.

Trade Paperback: 7
eBook: 148
Audio: 50
Total: 204
Multiple Formats: 46
Re-read: 94
% Re-Read: 46%

I listened to quite a few audio books this year–a quarter of the total. You can also see that I read almost no paper books–the ones I did read tended to be part of a series where I’ve gotten only part of the series as eBooks, and couldn’t find the books I still own only in paper on Overdrive.

I also had a LOT of re-reads this year, however, part of that is because I cannot listen to a fiction book for the first time. I can only listen to fiction I’ve already read. (This is mostly due to my rule that I have to be moving to listen to an audio book, either exercising or cleaning or cooking.)

I’d like to also note the “multiple formats” category. This is a story that I own in one or more formats, generally either paper and ebook or ebook and audiobook (although in some cases I own a book in all three formats).

This is mostly to point out my frustration of having to purchase an electronic copy of a book I already own as a paper book. I love re-reading books, but I am not going to pay $7.99 for an electronic copy of a book I already own a paper copy of. I’m just NOT. So it frustrates me that there is once again no way to get a cheaper eBook when I already own a paper copy.

Just a pet peeve.

Fantasy: 95
Mystery: 90
Romance: 72
YA: 12
Comic: 7

Genre-wise, things were relatively evenly split between fantasy and mystery. And no, that series is larger than the total number of books I read this year, because books often fall into two categories.

Male: 53
Female: 118
Joint + Anthology: 9
Initials: 12
Male Pseudonym: 13
Female Total: 70%

In finally, the apparently contentious topic of the gender of the author.

Including male pseudonyms and books published under initials (which can hide the gender of the author) 70% of the books I read were written by women.

If I ever get really bored, I’ll create a cross reference for gender by genre, but I have yet to feel that masochistic.

I like to point this out, however, because although I read quite a few romances this year, they account for only a quarter of the books I read. Which means that the other 35% of the books written by women were fantasies or mysteries.

So don’t even think about giving me that “there are no women writing good SFF” crap, because it is obviously false.

And there you have it! My year in books!

My favorite YA books of 2018
My favorite audio books of 2018
My favorite paranormal romance books of 2018
My favorite romance books of 2018
My favorite fantasy books of 2018
My favorite mystery books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Fantasy

Fred, the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014)(8/10), Undeath & Taxes (2015)(8/10), Bloody Acquisitions (2016)(8/10), Deadly Assessments (2018)(8/10)

Frederick the accountant was as surprised as anyone else to discover himself a vampire. He had none of the qualities one expects from pop culture as a vampire, and was, in fact quite happy being an accountant. So that’s what he kept doing after being turned.

I recorded my journeys in the hopes that, should another being find themselves utterly depressed at the humdrum personality still saddling their supernatural frame, they might find solace in knowing they are not the only one to have felt that way.

This is just fun series. Fred is a total nebbish, but he’s also totally okay with being himself, which is awesome.

He does change over the course of the series, but it’s not because he wants to become cooler, but because he wants to help protect his friends better. It’s lighthearted and fun and very enjoyable.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017)(8/10), The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018)(9/10) by Mackenzi Lee

The first book is a YA coming of age, as Monty is sent on a Grand Tour with his best friend Percy (with whom he has been in love for years) and told that if he can’t straighten himself up, he shouldn’t bother to come home, since his father has a new heir.

I had trouble getting into the first book, because Monty initially felt like a spoiled brat, until you discover just why he drinks and carouses so much.

The second book is about Felicity, Monty’s sister, who wants more than anything to become a doctor; except that women aren’t allowed to become doctors or surgeons.

It’s also a story of misunderstandings and acceptance and fighting for what you want.

Both books are wonderful.


The Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan

Voyage of the Basilisk (2015)(8/10), In the Labyrinth of Drakes (2016)(8/10), Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017)(9/10)

I’d had the Lady Trent series on my wish list for a couple years. I finally got the first book, and used gift cards for the next several, then just broke down and bought the last.

This series has some of THE most beautiful covers I have every seen. But beside that, it’s a marvelous story, set in a universe that is similar to the world after the Napoleonic wars, but still quite different, since the world has dragons.

Lady Trent grew up wanting to know about dragons, but education wasn’t something girls were truly allowed to have, since they were expected to marry and breed more ladies and gentlemen. This is the story of how Lady Trent became a natural historian, traveled the world, and generally turned things upside down in her search for knowledge about dragons.

It’s delightful and marvelous and doesn’t shy away from subjects that are of importance to female adventurers.


Firebug (2014)(8/10), Freaks & Other Family (2016)(8/10), Pyromantic (2017)(9/10) by Lish McBride

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Lish McBride, yet I’d get a new book and I’d hold off reading it because OMG WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT??!!!

Reader, I am an idiot.

Freaks & Other Family follows the characters from the Necromancer series.

Firebug is a series following Ava, who has the unfortunate power of being able to set things on fire. This is unfortunate not just because a failure of control means she can burn down her home, but because the women in control of the local supernaturals likes to use Firebugs to punish those who don’t follow her orders.

It’s technically the same world as the Necromancer series, but there is no overlap of characters.

It is lovely however.

Pyromantic is the sequel to Firebug, and resolves the issues left open at the end of that story.


Sixth Watch (2015/2016) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield (8/10) [Night Watch]

This is the final book of the Night Watch series. Definitely and irrevocably the final book of the series.

I love this series, and regularly re-read it because it’s fun and generally perfect for when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read.

Arkady, who had only recently started working in the Watch, used to be a schoolteacher. And, exactly as his new colleagues expected, he claimed that hunting vampires was far easier than teaching physics in tenth grade.

If you think that a six-year-old child is nothing compared to an adult, then you’ve never been assaulted by thirty preschool children.

This is, as I said, the final book. Nadia is growing up, and she’s done very well as a teenager. Also, now that Sveta is no longer spending all her time protecting Nadia, she has redeveloped a stronger personality.

It was a good and satisfying ending to the series.


The Myth Manifestation (2018) Lisa Shearin (8/10) [SPI Files]

Our world is populated by a greater variety of creatures than we might imagine, from vampires and werewolves to goblins and dwarves and all variety of creatures considered mythical. For these creatures to hide in plain sight, a treaty was hammered out 100 years earlier, to keep fights that existed on their home worlds from boiling over here, and to make sure that these creatures remain hidden from most humans.

This is another fun series.

Mac is a seer, which means her superpower gives her little-to-no protection against monsters, so she has learned to run away from danger when she can. I LOVE THIS ABOUT HER. She’s not a wimp, she just knows her limitations.

She also has a handsome partner with whom she is NOT romantically involved. I also adore this.

Plus, she’s very southern, and remains a bit of a shock to her NYC colleagues.

But mostly it’s just a very fun series.


Dreams Underfoot (1993) Charles de Lint (8/10)

This was the first Charles de Lint collection I came across, and I immediately fell in love. I like his novels, but I really love his Newford story anthologies. I’ve been waiting for awhile for this book to come out on kindle–when it did I snatched it up.

Dreams Underfoot is a short story collection, and almost all the stories are set in Newford, the mythical northern town, where the seams of the world between the mundane and the magical are thinner than they are elsewhere.

Dreams Underfoot is the introduction to many of the characters who populate Charles de Lint’s later stories and books: Jilly Coppercorn, Sophie Etoile, Geordie and Christie Riddell, Meran and Cerin Kelledy, the Angel of Grasso street, Maisie and Tommy. These are characters you’ll meet again, some of whom get their own books, some of whom drop from sight, appearing later only in passing.


By the Sword (1991) Mercedes Lackey (8/10)

It’s been decades since I last read this book. Partially because I haven’t been much in the mood for straight-up fantasy, partially because I didn’t have it as an ebook, and partially because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memories of it.

So, how did the story hold up? Much better than I feared. The things I loved about the story are just as I remember them, first and foremost how sensible the more mundane parts of war and training are presented.


The Raven King (2016) Maggie Stiefvater (9/10) [Raven Boys]

I’d pre-ordered this book, and then put off reading it because I didn’t really want to series to end. So I decided I should just re-read the entire series so it’d all be fresh in my mind when I read the final book.

I really adore this series. The main characters are teenagers, four of whom go to an elite private school, and one of whom is the daughter of a psychic who lives in a house of psychics, yet who has no psychic ability of her own.

My favorite character of the series ended up being the character I didn’t like at all in the first book. Ronan is extremely complicated, and was struggling with discovering his father’s body and the inheritance of his family.

Yeah, the other characters are also wonderful, but I adore Ronan.


The Books of 2018

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