Review | Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks

Actual footage of my brain after completing House of Sky and Breath:

I have two thoughts:

One: I’ve re-read Sky and Breath twice, and still am not over it.

Two: Thank batman for cheesy romances.

What happens?

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean …

Well. Kinda.

Cue: Scotland. 1107 CE-ish. (An era where women definitely did not dress like that; and men definitely did not wax their chests.) The Montague Montgomery and Capulet Armstrong clans have been feuding … for pretty much ever. The king – in a desperate effort to maintain peace – decides to solve the problem by ordering the Evaline Armstrong and Graeme Montgomery to wed.

Needless to say, they are not amused.

Complicating the matter is the fact that Evaline is deaf, having lost her hearing to a riding accident. Evaline has used this to her advantage: by masquerading as a “daft” girl, she successfully avoided a marriage to the dreadful Ian McHugh. But, after three years of maintaining the ruse, she has no idea how to stop.

And Graeme? This 11th-century smokin’ hot Scot has a super advanced understanding of informed consent and capacity. No way is he going to **wiggles eyebrows** a wee daft girl.

Dum dum dummmmmmmmm … !

First lines:

“Tis madness!” Bowen Montgomery exclaimed. “He cannot tie you to the wee daft daughter of your most hated foe.”

Graeme Montgomery stared grimly back at his brother, unable to formulate a response for the growing rage in his chest. The king’s messenger had departed as was even now riding beyond the Montgomery border. Graeme had made sure of it.


Not joking. I finished Sky and Breath, and immediately sent an m’aidez to my romance-loving friend.

SOS. Looking for something fluffy.
Just destroyed by a fantasy-romance.

She didn’t disappoint. I have a list of rebound books ready and waiting. At the top of the list: Boyfriend Material. But, there’s a 6-week wait for it at the library. So, on to number two: Never Seduce a Scot.

Never Seduce a Scot was precisely what I was looking for: short, simple, easy to read, and fluffy — but, with enough stuff happening to keep it interesting. Which was rather surprising, as the plot is pretty simple.

Delightfully, Evaline and Graeme bore some similarities to Bryce and Hunt. (Alright. Maybe this is my book hangover talking, but I’m going to run with with.) Evaline – like Bryce – finds herself playing a role which may not exactly represent who she is. Graeme – like Hunt – was a cinnamon bun.

The cons? What you’d expect. The writing was not the greatest (though, it was far from the worst) … And, in the spirit of Romeo & Juliet, we definitely have some insta-love.

… But we also have a “Who did this to you?” trope. So, really, all is forgiven.

I have Book #2, Highlander Most Wanted, checked out and ready to go!

Check it out:

  • The book: Never Seduce a Scot
  • Author: Maya Banks
  • Publication: 2012, Ballantine Books
  • My copy: Library
  • Read date: March 2022
  • Rating/5: 🛌🛌🛌
  • Spice/5: 🌶️🌶️

Progress Notes | February 2022

Surprise?! February has — once again — flown by. It’s hard to believe that we’re already stumbling into March!

I had a super intense month at work — including a lot of overtime and several existential crises. I’m now officially three months away from starting my new position. I know it’s the best path, but I can’t help feeling a little guilty to be leaving the department without a replacement.

With winter drawing to a close, I’ve started to shift my exercise routine outside. I went for my first run of the year yesterday — it was cold and wet, but so much better than YouTube workouts in my living room. (I continue to love YouTube workouts … just, not after 5 months of them.) If anyone is interested in joining in, I’m following this couch-to-marathon running plan – though, not being a natural runner, my goal is to make it as far as 10km!

What did I read this month?

I’m mixed about this month. When I managed to sit down and read, it was time well spent … I really enjoyed my books (coughCRESCENTCITYcough). If March brings me similar reads, I’ll be more than happy.

Sitting down to read was the hard part. Coming home, — late, hungry, and exhausted — it’s so much easier to pull out a brain-numbing screen. It felt like a lot of effort to pick up the book sitting on my coffee table.

I have three solutions to my too-tired-to-read dilemma. First, leave work at the proper time. (I know! Shocking, right?!) Second, turn off my data and wifi. And third, – perhaps most important – give myself a break. If the brain wants to play games and watch Brooklyn 99, there’s probably a reason behind it.

My favourite books: House of Earth & Blood and House of Sky & Breath by Sarah J. Maas

I’m going to take a second to bask in how amazing those two covers look beside each other.

And the books?

Earth and Blood was intense and epic and amazing. Sky and Breath brought the entire series to the next level. I am elated / dazed / desperate for the Book #3 announcement.

What else did I read?

I started February with The End We Start From (⭐). At only 160 pages, it felt strangely bloated. I might recommend it if you’re looking for a very odd piece of experimental dystopia. Otherwise, steer clear.

Next came Beasts and Beauty (⭐⭐⭐) … Which is one of those MG/YA books that make me question how books get designated as MG/YA. On the surface, the book is a collection of fairy tales … reinterpreted and modernized, but fairy tales. But, not only are many super dark, they also contain a lot of nuance that a younger reader might miss.

Lastly, I did a Talon (⭐⭐⭐⭐) re-read … All five books! If you told me a year ago that I’d read a series about surfing dragons not once – not twice – but three times, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, here we are! And, I gotta say: No regrets.

What’s on the horizon?

If my current library haul is to be believed, March is going to be an … eclectic reading month. A bit of fantasy. A bit of non-fiction. A bit of romance. Let’s see where this goes!


TBR Thursdays | Himself by Jess Kidd

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme where I randomly select (then chat about) a book on my TBR shelf. This week, my book is …

Book #96 – Himself by Jess Kidd

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Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets: an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fiction

When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.

His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.

Why did I TBR it?

I remember a lot of buzz when Himself was first released – and, to this day, it has a pretty respectable GoodReads rating (3.9/5). I was attracted to its promise of dark comedy

… and the line “no one in the village – living or dead” is intriguing.

I desperately hope that Himself features ghosts. Though, the more rational part of my mind says it probably won’t.


TBR Thursdays | The Impact of a Single Event by R. L. Prendergast

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme where I randomly select (then chat about) a book on my TBR shelf. This week, my book is …

Book #72 – The Impact of a Single Event by R. L. Prendergast


A terrible car accident occurs.

Richard and Sonia, a couple with a crumbling marriage, stop to help the critically injured victims. In the process, they find a 140-year-old journal by the side of the road. Six different people have written in the journal. Though the entries span three centuries, the writers share a quest: the search for meaning in their lives. These stories take Richard and Sonia on a personal and historic journey: across Canada to the jungles of India and back to the Canadian Rocky Mountains, where a final mystery awaits.

Why did I TBR it?

I picked up this book at a local release night / signing event! Prendergast was lovely to speak with – and I couldn’t not purchase a copy after that.

I’m not sure if I’ll like this book, but I’ve held on to it with skeptical optimism. It might be time to pick it up and give it a go …


Review | Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

I wasn’t lying about the Crescent City re-read.

Believe it or not, this was my first full cover-to-cover Earth and Blood re-read. The book is so massive – and the front end so loaded with world-building – that I’ve previously skipped the first c. 300 pages. But, with Sky and Breath upon us, I took the plunge and read the entire book. Cover-to-cover.

If you haven’t read Earth and Blood yet, you can find my full review here. The super-short summary goes something like this: Bryce Quinlan – a half-fae female living under a totalitarian regime – goes on the hunt for her best friend’s murderer.

If you’ve read Earth and Blood, and are looking for a refresher before Sky and Breath is released … Here’s what I took with me:

Spoilers GIF by University of California - Find & Share on GIPHY

Crescent City sits at the nexus between worlds. In Midgard, interconnected universes is a well-known fact. The world’s magical inhabitants didn’t evolve all on their own: they arrived from other worlds.

Bryce is now a major player. After revealing herself as a star-born, — and after undergoing the most epic drop in Crescent City history — Bryce is now a political figure. And, in the totalitarian “republic”, this probably isn’t a good thing. Both Randall and Hunt have ties to rebel causes; and Bryce – for all her brilliance – was never prepared to assume this role.

Bryce and Hunt aren’t a thing yet. I know, I know. We’ve spent the last two years pining over this power-duo. But, at the end of House and Blood, their relationship is … complicated. They’re not mated. Yet.

If Maas pulls a Tamlin on us, I will riot … or, seethe in my kitchen while baking emotional devastation cookies. Same thing.

The Asteri are pretty evil. At least, at this point. I’m curious as to whether this will change with the arrival of the demon princes. (Are they even worse? Why else would the fae fight the demons then align themselves with the Asteri?)

There is a game afoot. There are some big things happening in Midgard. However, what those things are … is mostly unknown. House and Blood raises more questions than answers.

The vacuum cleaner. Sorry not sorry, Micah.

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We don’t know anything about Hunt’s father … Which, I suspect, is going to come into play. My bet is that his father is the fallen Asteri.

“I am a descendant of Ranthia Drahl, Queen of Embers. She is with me now, and I am not afraid. My friends are behind me, and I will defend them.”

We’re about 48 hours from release day. Time to get those snacks, tissues, and comfy clothes ready.

This Is Going To Hurt GIFs | Tenor

The Details:

  • The Book: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
  • Published: 2020, Bloomsbury
  • My Copy: Personal Copy
  • Read date: February 2022
  • Rating/5: 💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼💃🏼

TBR Thursdays | The Overstory by Richard Powers

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme where I randomly select (then chat about) a book on my TBR shelf. This week, my book is …

Book #137 – The Overstory by Richard Powers


An Air Force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers—each summoned in different ways by trees—are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.

In his twelfth novel, National Book Award winner Richard Powers delivers a sweeping, impassioned novel of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of—and paean to—the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds,
The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond, exploring the essential conflict on this planet: the one taking place between humans and nonhumans. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

The Overstory is a book for all readers who despair of humanity’s self-imposed separation from the rest of creation and who hope for the transformative, regenerating possibility of a homecoming. If the trees of this earth could speak, what would they tell us? “Listen. There’s something you need to hear.”

Why did I TBR it?

This isn’t my typical sort of book – more literary than fantasy. But, the blurb sounds so weird. (Talking trees? Coming back to life?) It sounds like the sort of magic-realism I could get into.

Plus, check out that cover.


Review | The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

Pretty cover. Pretty words. I went into The End We Start From pretty blind; and left pretty disappointed.

What happens?

The End We Start From takes place in the not-so-distant future, as the UK is crippled by an environmental disaster. The land floods; London is uninhabitable; and millions of refugees make for higher ground.

The story follows an unnamed narrator, her husband (R), and infant son (Z) as they attempt to navigate this new world.

Fleeing the city.
Loved ones dying.
Field hospitals.
Refugee camps.
The challenges of motherhood.
Islands and boats.
Maybe a war?
And then someone isn’t dead?

First lines:

I am hours from giving birth, from the event I thought would never happen to me, and R has gone up a mountain.

When I text him, he sends his friend S to look after me, and starts down the mountain.

S is scared, and has brought J.

J is also scared, and has brought beer.


So. That was weird.

The End is a lot of different things: an eco-horror, a dystopian, a social commentary, a reflection on motherhood. The themes brought up weren’t particularly novel. What was unique was the writing style: sparse, fragmented, and more poetry than prose.

While the words were pretty …

The stars seem to mean something now. They are maps.

Home is another word that has lost itself.

… Pretty word layered upon pretty made the book feel bloated and ineffective. Like when you go perfume sampling, and wind up nose-blind and headache-y.

(And, I say this as someone who both collects perfumes and likes pretty words.)

After the writing, my biggest issue was the pacing/emphasis. Important plot points (the disappearance of key characters, movement between locations) are given just as much attention as mundane details (nipples, breastfeeding, nipples, nipples, shirt seams). Add in stream-of-consciousness tangents, poetic interludes, and zero world building …

It wasn’t a good fit for me.

After two odd books – The End and No Longer Human – I’m ready to return to my usual haunts. Bring on the Crescent City re-read.

Check it out:

  • The book: The End We Start From
  • Author: Megan Hunter
  • Publication: 2017, Picador
  • My copy: Library copy
  • Read date: February 2022
  • Rating/5: 🌊

TBR Thursdays | The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme where I randomly select (then chat about) a book on my TBR shelf. This week, my book is …

Book #406 – The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson

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The multiverse business is booming, but there’s just one catch: no one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive.

Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying–from diseases, from turf wars, from vendettas they couldn’t outrun.

But on this earth, Cara’s survived. And she’s reaping the benefits, thanks to the well-heeled Wiley City scientists who ID’d her as an outlier and plucked her from the dirt. Now she’s got a new job collecting offworld data, a path to citizenship, and a near-perfect Wiley City accent. Now she can pretend she’s always lived in the city she grew up staring at from the outside, even if she feels like a fraud on either side of its walls.

But when one of her eight remaining doppelgangers dies under mysterious circumstances, Cara is plunged into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and future in ways she never could have imagined–and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.

Why did I TBR it?

The cover.

Well, that was the original attraction. But, I was intrigued by the idea … And, a trusted book friend gave it a four-star rating. I am cautiously optimistic that it’s going to be brilliant.


Review | A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

Before I started this book: Meh? I dunno … I guess it’s short? And it’s by Alix Harrow … But, seems like she’s just jumping on the novella bandwagon.

After I finished this book: I HAVE TO WAIT 5 MONTHS FOR A MIRROR MENDED!?!?!

What happens?

Portal fantasy …
meets Disney …
meets folklore …
meets feminist critique …
meets the MCU multiverse.

Yup. That’s right.

A Spindle Splintered follows Zinnia Grey, who was born with a rare RNA condition slash death sentence. Nobody has survived past age 22.

… So, when she is magically transported to a fairy tale land at age 21, she has a lot more to worry about than evil witches and handsome princes.

Her health is rapidly declining. Her medications are at home. Her cellphone is at 35%.

And, for the first time in years, she might stand a chance.

First lines:

Sleeping Beauty is pretty much the worst fairy tale, any way you slice it.

It’s aimless and amoral and chauvinist as shit. It’s the fairy tale that feminist scholars cite when they want to talk about women’s passivity in historical narratives. (“She literally sleeps through her own climax,” as my favourite gender studies professor used to say. “Double entendre fully intended.”)


I’m a fan of Harrow’s writing, so went into Spindle expecting good things. Even then, I was surprised by its wit, twists, world building, and down-to-earth commentary.

The excited part of me wants to sit here and monologue for the next 30 minutes … But, I have to start on meal prep. And, in any case, this gif captures things better than my words will:

Resources for Students

In sum: Please pick up this book!

Check it out:

  • The book: A Spindle Splintered
  • Author: Alix E. Harrow
  • Publication: 2021, Tor
  • My copy: Library copy
  • Read date: January 2022
  • Rating/5: 🪡🪡🪡🪡

Progress Notes | January 2022

Oh boy … What a month! Wasn’t 2022 supposed to be better? (Fool me twice …)

How about some good news? I have a new job!

I’ve been struggling at work since starting in September. My original hope was to wait it out — but, I had a bit of an epiphany in mid-December. It went something like this:

Boss: Patients yell. You need to used to it.
Me, that night: I don’t want to get used to it.

Be nice to health care workers, folks.

The new job starts in June. It’s a long way off, but it’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then: I have a bunch of overtime owing, a week off around Easter, cookies to bake, and a book to write.

What did I read this month?

One of my 2022 reading goals was … not have a reading goal! It’s a massive shift in mindset; and one that I’m struggling with. Last January, I read twelve books. This January, I read “only” four.

I’m trying not to judge myself too harshly. There were a lot of non-numeric victories: I had the headspace to read. I didn’t feel rushed or pressured. I DNF’d a few that just weren’t working.

My favourite book: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

A Spindle Splintered (⭐⭐⭐⭐) was absolutely delightful. The heroine – Zinnia – was full of spunk and wit. I’m so excited for Book #2!

What else did I read?

I spent most of January immersed in Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) – a beginner-friendly guide to the world of no-dig gardening, including how to prepare soil, compost, and succession planting. My other two reads were A Touch of Malice (⭐⭐⭐) and No Longer Human (⭐).

Books aside, I spent a lot of time reading web comics. I re-read Lore Olympus (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐), Rooftops & Rommates (⭐⭐⭐⭐), and Suitor Armour (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐); got caught-up on Nothing Special (⭐⭐⭐⭐); and started Lithium Rain (⭐⭐⭐⭐).