About Books

Books I’m Excited About

I’ve been writing so much lately that I haven’t had nearly enough time to read, which is terrible because there are so many books I’m desperate to get my hands on. I thought I’d share some of them with you, so that you can get excited about them too. Some are new releases but some aren’t. The book covers are also links, so just click if you want to know more about any of them. The list includes romance (contemporary and historical) and non-fiction because that’s what I happen to be in the mood for at the moment.

Contemporary Romance

There’s a couple of reasons I’m looking forward to this one. First, I loved (I mean LOVED) the previous book in the series Untouchable. Second, the heroine of That Kind of Guy is forty. Forty! Anyone who reads romance will know how unusual that is. Slowly, “seasoned” romance is becoming more of a thing, but it’s still rare enough that I’d read this even if the reviews weren’t great (which they are!)

Helen Hoang is a fellow Bookends author and last year’s The Kiss Quotient was one of the biggest romance debuts of last year. The Bride Test is about an autistic man and his arranged bride.

I loved the first book in this series A Princess in Theory Alyssa Cole is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and fake engagement is one of my favorite tropes.

Historical Romance

This is a good one for those of you who prefer romance novels without sex scenes. Mimi Matthews has her own publishing imprint Perfectly Proper Press and “the love stories are sweet, the settings are authentic, and the history is scrupulously accurate.” I’ve read all of her previous novels, which should tell you how much I enjoy her writing and characters! This is the second book of her Parish Orphans of Devon series. The first book The Matrimonial Advertisement is wonderful and, since A Modest Independence follows secondary characters from that book, I’d recommend starting with Book One.


I know, I know. Not another book about Jack the Ripper. But it’s actually not. Hallie Rubenhold has chosen to focus instead on the five victims, dispelling many Ripper myths, including the notion that all of the women he murdered were sex workers. It’s a relief to find a book about the case that isn’t focused on fruitless attempts to identify Jack.

Let me confess, I have never read any of Ursula Le Guin’s novels, though some are on my tbr list. But I have come across tidbits from this craft manual in various books and places around the web, which were enough to convince me I wanted to read this.

As an historical romance author, I’m very interested in the sexual mores of different eras. The eight authors explore romantic and sexual customs from British history through the centuries. From the book description: “The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots, the Regency, and down to the prudish Victorian Era.”

Every now and again, I go through a true crime phase (I nearly said spree, which sounded scary), and I think I feel one coming on. I don’t know much about Lizzie Borden (beyond the forty whacks rhyme) and, given the glowing reviews , this book seems like a great place to find out more.

About Books

Book Cover Love 2: Romance Novel Edition.

I was going to start with a paragraph about how maligned romance novel cover art has been over the years, but I think that’s a post I’ll save for another day. I love romance covers, heaving bosoms and all. Gone are the days when I listened to the naysayers. So here are a few of my favorites. As with last week’s post Book Cover Love 1: Non-romance Edition, I’ll only include books I’ve read and enjoyed.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. Find at Goodreads.

A romantic comedy with a STEM heroine who receives a series of e-mails “claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince.” Naturally, she assumes they’re a phishing scam until Prince Thabiso shows up at her door. This is a deceptively simple cover, but the colors are vibrant and gorgeous, the models are perfect for their characters, and the rest of the books in the ongoing series are done in a similar style, yet each distinctive both from each other and everything else out there.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews. Find at Goodreads.

On the face of it, there’s nothing here that you won’t find on the cover of most Christmas historical romance novellas: holly, snow, lots of red and green. But this is done so well. It probably helps that I’m a sucker for a pretty dress, and this one is even period appropriate. Mimi Matthews is a great author for those of you averse to sex scenes in your books. Her writing reminds me of Georgette Heyer except with greater historical accuracy and a mid-Victorian setting.

To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt. Find on Goodreads.

I love stepback covers. The image on the left is the one you see first, then you open the front cover and there’s the second image waiting for you. This is my favorite stepback of all time. I love the yellows and greens, but it’s the female model on the second image that pushes this over the top for me. She has such an interesting face, perfect for Hoyt’s heroine Melisande and her take-no-prisoners attitude. Hoyt is one of relatively few authors writing Georgian-set romance as opposed to regency or Victorian (like yours truly).

The Player and the Pixie by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid. Find on Goodreads.

Sometimes it’s not just about the graphics. I quite liked this cover until I noticed the snarky annotations. Once I saw those (particularly ‘He is monochromatic and monosyllabic’) I was sold. Sometimes a small detail like that is all it takes. The back cover copy starts with the words “How can someone so smokin’ hot be so bad in bed?’ and, if you’re a regular romance reader, you’ll know how rare it is to find a book where things aren’t instantly amazing in the bedroom between hero and heroine.

Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. Find it on Goodreads.

Sherry Thomas is one of my favorite historical romance writers. If I could steal another author’s covers, I’d opt for hers. Yes, they’re mostly just beautiful women in pretty dresses, but done with such style and sophistication. From the blurb: “To all of London society, Lord and Lady Tremaine had the ideal arrangement: a marriage based on civility, courteousness, and freedom—by all accounts, a perfect marriage. The reason? For the last ten years, husband and wife have resided on separate continents.” It’s a story about how you rescue a relationship when one or, arguably, both partners have committed terrible wrongs.

Looking through these, I notice relatively few heaving bosoms. There may end up being one or two on my own book cover though, so stay tuned.

About Books

Book Cover Love Part 1: Non-romance edition

One of the things we dream about when writing a book is what the cover will look like. I don’t know how it works at other publishers, but at Entangled, authors are sent a form they can fill in with their ideas. For a debutante like me, it’s a very cool and fun experience. Obviously it’s down to the cover designers and marketing department to decide which ideas might actually make for a salable cover. Anyway, I’ve seen the mock-up and I can’t wait to be able to share the finished product.

Meanwhile, all this has me thinking of book covers in general and what appeals to me as a reader. I thought it might be fun to do a post highlighting some of my favorite cover art. I’ll do romance next week and other stuff this week. Why that way round? Well, I got a few new followers after last week’s post, which made me feel like I need a thematic stepping stone between it and the probable fest of purple, fuchsia and heaving bosoms (both male and female) that will be next week’s romance covers post. Ease ’em in gently, I always say.

The wonder by Emma Donoghue: Find on Goodreads.

Wonderful historical novel about an English nurse who goes to a tiny Irish village “to observe what some are claiming as a medical anomaly or a miracle – a girl said to have survived without food for months.” I loved this way more than “Room”. As for the cover, I own this on kindle but I regret not buying the hardback just so I can physically hold this artwork. The colors, particularly the use of gold, are stunning and the cover as a whole is so evocative of what’s inside; a bleak yet haunting story of how people can transform each other’s lives.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter: Find on Goodreads

How can you not be intrigued by this cover? I want this framed and displayed on my wall. For the two people in the world who haven’t read Angela Carter yet, she wrote magical realism often with a distinctly Gothic twist. The angel on the front cover is actually a circus performer named “Fevvers” and she’s one of my favorite protagonists in all of literature. She’s warm, earthy, and unstoppable. But is she really part swan? You’ll have to read to find out.

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters: Find on Goodreads.

This cover has caused me so much trouble over the years. I bought the paperback shortly after it came out and I can’t tell you how many people raised their eyebrows. Shout out to the octogenarian who took one look at the cover, scanned the blurb, then announced in a loud voice to the room at large, “Sex, sex, sex. That’s all this generation ever thinks about.” Tipping the Velvet is an odyssey through the Victorian sexual underworld. If you don’t care for explicit sex scenes, maybe give it a miss, but for the rest of us, it’s a tour de force.

The North Water by Ian McGuire: Find on Goodreads.

This is the fourth historical novel to appear on this list, so I guess we know what my wheelhouse is. I love the simplicity of this cover. The blues contrasted with the black and white. Somehow the blue is both land and sea. I never even noticed the polar bear until today. As for the book, it’s gritty, unrelenting, and almost entirely populated by men doing traditionally “manly” things (whaling, murdering each other etc). None of this would usually be my thing, yet somehow I was riveted and had this finished in a couple of sittings.”

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray: Find on Goodreads.

Bit of a change of pace for this Young Adult satire of the beauty industry. My kindle copy is virtually all highlights because I snort-laughed my way through this tale of a group of beauty queens whose plane crashes on a desert island. Why does this cover work? I guess there’s a hot blonde to stare at if that’s your thing, but for me it was the ammo belt filled with lipstick. Whoever came up with this concept, they sold me the book, for which I thank them.

From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.: Find on Goodreads.

If you’re scared of dying or death, I highly recommend anything by Caitlin Doughty, including her Ask A Mortician YouTube videos. I devoured “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, her memoir about the funeral industry, but I might not have tried “From Here to Eternity”, which is about her search for cultures with healthier attitudes to death than the western one, had it not been for this cover with its dramatic color contrasts. Something about putting flowers on a skull immediately renders said skull 95% less scary. Which is basically what Caitlin Doughty does in a nutshell.

I hope you enjoyed this blatant excuse to post gorgeous cover art as much as I did. I hope you’ll come back for next week’s look at romance novels.