Book recs – Year 3

If you liked the books I shared in my previous book-recs lists, you may enjoy this one as well. As a reminder, you already have the post about books that changed my life, the post about books that made me become a Romance reader, and the one featuring the books and series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader.

Anyway, these were my favourite discoveries during my third year as a Romance reader:

Covers of twelve books/series I discovered during my third year as a Romance reader.
  • Him: Shall I start with another Ice Hockey Romance? Because I didn’t lie: they’re really quite popular. The first book of this series is one of the few romance novels with LGBTQ+ protagonists that have won a RITA award. It tells the story of two old friends that reunite and have to face the fact that their relationship will never go back to what it once was. Which doesn’t mean that it can’t go any other way.
  • The Carstairs Affairs: Two excellent spies with very different styles are forced to pose as a couple and work together in 1920s London to uncover a terrorist plot. The Great War is over and they will fight those who want to reignite the tensions… and do whatever is in their power to fulfill their mission. Becoming a real couple was not the plan, but a good spy can improvise in any situation.
  • Spires universe series: A group of contemporary standalone novels by Alexis Hall that take part in the same universe. They are all very different from each other, but also have some points in common: opposites attract, couples that shouldn’t match but do, characters with emotional intelligence versus logical characters. I love all of them, but my favourite is Waiting for the Flood. The most popular one is For Real, which won a well-deserved RITA award.
  • Snow & Winter: Sebastian Snow is an antiquarian who finds himself involved in crimes related to a topic he knows a lot about: Edgar Allan Poe. He’s lucky detective Calvin Winter doesn’t find him suspicious, even if he’s always one step ahead. Instead, Calvin ends up asking for his help to solve different cases. What could go wrong? Well, Sebastian could become a target, one of them could get killed… or worse, they could fall in love and change their lives forever.
  • Downtime: FBI Agent Morgan Nash is working on a dangerous case when he wakes up in 19th Century London. Ezra might have saved his life, but has also left him stranded in a past he doesn’t understand. No problem, though. An FBI Agent can fix anything, so he decides to solve his little time travelling problem, his new friends’ lives, and, on his own free time, the case of Jack the Ripper. Living so close to Ezra is not easy, though, because he can’t help falling in love with him.
  • Wanted: Wanted, A Gentleman is one of my favourite historical novels. One of the main characters wants to be a writer, but earns his money publishing a gazette with matrimonial ads. The other main character needs to find a friend who’s eloped after using said gazette. When they realize the young couple is going to get married in Scotland, both men embark on a road trip that will draw them closer than any of them wants.
  • Sins of the Cities: Another great historical series by KJ Charles. This one is full of suspense. There are murders, fraud, blackmail, and a line-up of adorable and wonderfully diverse main characters. What else could you need? Taxidermy? Mediums? Acrobats? Very nasty London smog? Very cool pubs? This series has you covered. And it’s one of my favourites!
  • The Roosevelt: This wonderful series starts with Carry the Ocean, which is one of my favourite books, and I hope it will continue for a long time. The main characters have a wonderful relationship in which they help and support each other so they can become the best versions of themselves. One of the main characters is autistic, and his partner has anxiety and depression. And they work great together because in each other they’ve found exactly what they need.
  • Lord Heliodor’s Retirement: A Fantasy book where the main character is retired and has to go back to work when he finds out the queen’s life is in danger… again. The good news is that he’s also discovered his first love is alive and well. The bad news is that he’s found out in the worst possible circumstances. Is it worth learning that the man you loved is a spy who faked his own death decades ago when he’s telling you that you’re all going to die?
  • Peter Darling: This Peter Pan retelling is a stroke of genius. In it, Wendy Darling is actually Peter Pan, and Neverland is the only place where he can be true to himself. But when he realizes this and manages to go back, everything has changed and, most of all, himself. He’s not a child anymore, and somehow the only person who seems to understand and share his misgivings is Captain Hook. Will they be able to agree to a truce? Could they become friends after all these years? And what about lovers?
  • Shatterproof: A dark Urban Fantasy Romance with lots of content warnings that you should check out. It’s a fascinating blend of Celtic Mythology and Haitian Vodou. The main characters are similar and different at the same time. Both have lost something, both have depression… but one of them wants to live more than anything else, and the other wants to die. It must be fate that brought them together, because Saint is doomed to lose all his lovers, and Grey couldn’t have dreamt of a sweeter way to kill himself.
  • Spindrift: A dark Paranormal Romance to end this list. This one is set in contemporary England and features ghosts, curses, and folklore. The main character is trying to recover from a suicide attempt in a quiet seaside village, but ends up investigating the history of the place to find out more about the ghost that haunts his rooms… who happens to have a very handsome descendant working at the local museum.

As you can imagine, I’ve learned a lot from Romance novels, especially about philosophy, politics, racism, ableism and mental health. If you need personalized recommendations or want to share your own, just leave a comment.

Happy reading and happy Pride!!

Book recs – Year 2 (I guess)

It looks like many of you liked my post about the books that made me become an avid Romance reader, so I wanted to give you some more books you may want to read in this very special Pride Month. I guess that make this post Year 2, since the other mentioned 12 of the books I read during my first year as a Romance reader.

As you know, I prefer my books in English and with LGBTQ+ characters, but I’m open to anything as long as it’s good and I’m in the mood.
I’m afraid I’ve only discovered these wonderful books rather recently myself, so I’m still learning. Don’t hesitate to leave more recommendations if you think I’ll like them. I’m especially interested in ace, trans and f/f representation, since I haven’t read as many.

Here are the books and book series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader (a few years ago):

Twelve books/series I discovered during my second year as a Romance reader.
  • The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal: A compilation of short stories about a ghost hunter. Imagine John Watson writing about the nsfw paranormal cases he shared with Sherlock Holmes. That will give you an idea of what it’s about. By the way, there is a short story not included in this compilation that belongs to both Simon Feximal and the Whyborne & Griffin series. Do not miss it if you like any of these stories!
  • Hexworld: The idea of having witch policemen bonding with familiars who are actually shifters, and set it all in 1920s New York is something that could only have occurred to Jordan L. Hawk, because they’re a genius. Believe me, these two first series I’ve mentioned are two of the best Paranormal Romance series out there, so go ahead and read them if you haven’t yet.
  • The Turner Series: A delightful historical series about a group of siblings and their found family that includes my favourite retelling of Beauty and the Beast. The series has a diverse cast of characters with different disabilities who find love and happiness where (and when) they least expect it. With this series, Cat Sebastian became one of my favourite writers, and you’ll know why when you read it.
  • Scoring Chances: A sports series about ice hockey, because ice hockey has quite a few LGBTQ+ friendly series, and this is one of the best. The books follow teams playing in the ECHL: mainly the Sea Storms and the Spitfires, but there are characters who belong to other teams as well. I think that the fact that it’s minor-league professional hockey makes it more interesting and fun. Every book has different main characters, so you can learn what happens to the enforcers, the goalie, the coach… If you made me choose, I’d say my favourite one is Power Play.
  • Vivaldi in the Dark: This is one dark series, because I used to read many of those before my burnout turned into depression. This series is wonderful, and the representation of depression is superb. It shows that things are not easy, but there’s hope, and… most importantly, it shows that a romantic relationship doesn’t cure depression. In any case, read the content warnings before you read the book. Or ask me in the comments if you’re interested (in any of these books).
  • Wytch Kings: Another Fantasy series with magic and dragon shifters. In this one, the dragons come as a surprise when the characters realize that they belong to a line of dragon shifters. It all starts with the firstborn of the Wytch King: in order to inherit the throne, he needs wytch powers… but he has none whatsoever. His younger brother doesn’t want to rule, so he undertakes to make an experiment that may awaken the powers within himself. The problem is… no one really knows how to control a dragon.
  • Howl at the Moon: This one is a typical small town Contemporary Romance… with a twist: in this small town, many of the inhabitants are actually dog shifters. Territorial, loyal, and adorable, these shifters may be the perfect neighbours for some, and the worst for others. Fortunately, the town is a haven for dog lovers. There are military dogs, comfort dogs, people who want to be human and refuse to shift… and people that stop trusting humans and want to live like dogs.
  • Dark Space: The name might have given it away, but this is a dark science-fiction series. And it really is dark, so do check for content warnings if needed. I don’t read sci-fi that often, but I really enjoyed this series and I’m looking forward to the third book of the trilogy. If you want something lighter by this author, you can always check Adulting 101, which appears at the end of this list.
  • Think of England: Another KJ Charles Romance, like The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, but this one is historical. The protagonist is a war veteran in the early 20th century, investigating if he’s been the victim of an accident or sabotage. Soon, he finds out that he’s not the only one interested in uncovering the secrets of his hosts, nor the only one who wants revenge.
  • Spirits: Another Paranormal Romance series by Jordan L Hawk. This one explores the unlikely relationship between a traditional spirit medium and an inventor who uses science to find and exorcise spirits. They meet each other when they join a contest to exorcise the house of a rich family, but will science or tradition win? In the end, the contest stops being important when the spirits try to kill everyone in the house. They’ll have to work together if they want to survive.
  • Mermen of Ea: A Fantasy Romance about… well, mermen. But it all starts with pirates. Or rather, a boy kidnapped by pirates who decides to join them because he enjoys life at sea. One day, during a storm, the boy dives overboard to save someone, but he’s lost and rescued by a rival captain. However, he was not as unlucky as it may seem, for the man tells him that they’re both mermen and he might know something about his true origins.
  • Adulting 101: Tons of fun in this Contemporary Romance novel with two very good best friends, a horny 18 year-old with a crush on a coworker, and lots of pizza, cuddling, and Netflix and chill. One of the main characters doesn’t know where his place in the world is, the other one knows his place is everywhere and nowhere. So it’s not a bad idea to spend a summer together and then continue with their lives, right? Unless feelings are more complicated than they thought.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books and whether you liked this list. I hope so, because I have already started working on Year III of these book recommendation posts. There are so many good books out there! And I can’t wait to reach the years in which the books I read became even more diverse.

Writing with Anxiety

As I was working on my post about writer’s block, I realized that sometimes the reason we struggle can be temporary, like lack of inspiration or a particular stressful situation. In those cases, the possible solution may involve doing something else until the inspiration returns or the particular situation has been fixed. But if you have to live with it forever, like some people do with anxiety and/or depression, this might not be a good solution.

I’ve lived together with anxiety as long as I can remember, but depression is new for me, so I’m not as experienced as I am fighting anxiety. I can tell you that, in my case, writing while I was depressed only made it worse, so I had to stop and take a break for a year (while I was looking for a good psychologist), then take another year to come back slowly. So, you know, sometimes it’s good to stop and take care of yourself for a while.

But I have the need to feel useful, so this situation —as you can imagine— didn’t make my anxiety happy. We both had to learn to cope. My problem is I feel guilty if I’m not being helpful all the time, and I can’t be helpful if I’m not doing something “useful”. Writing counts as useful, but since I’m a translator, it’s not very different from my usual job (typing on a computer) or studying (which I was doing at the same time), and it piled up. The solution? I had to learn to relax and compromise.

I try to think of my anxiety as a sort of gremlin (AKA mogwai). It can be a nice pet if I take care of it, but… I can’t feed it after midnight. Or, in my case, after work. I need to spend hours doing something different so I can recharge my battery. It wasn’t that way before, but I overdid it and didn’t notice until it was too late. As a result, I only write a bit during the weekends when I have busy weeks at work. (Or nothing at all, if I’ve been too busy.) I’m slow, but there’s a nice community of #turtlewriters over twitter who are amazingly encouraging. It’s good enough to know I’m not alone, but they also tweet regularly to show their support and understanding. And by regularly, I mean every day!

I also struggle whenever I share anything written by me (yes, even blog posts or tweets) because I don’t want to be offensive, boring or annoying. Which is why I created this blog, so I could start writing and sharing little by little, and hopefully learn that the world doesn’t end and I shouldn’t be controlled by fear. As a result, now I have twitter and this blog to test my anxiety and get used to having other people see what I write.

So those are my plans for the foreseeable future: take my time, keep going to therapy, update this blog and turtle-write.

Tell me, do you have any experience with anxiety? How do you cope?

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March 2019 Update

This has been a great month for the most part! Lots of flowers and cute animals around here. Seeing daylight when I leave work is more encouraging than you may think.

I’ve been on holidays, visited some museums and written a bit. I still have bad weeks, but now they’re turning into bad days, which means it usually doesn’t take me a whole week to get better.

I’m having a bad week right now, though, so it doesn’t feel like an improvement, but I know it is.

Reading has helped a lot, and I’m going to start writing as soon as I finish this post! I found some inspiration in a song and wanted to write everything down before I forget.

This month I opened up a bit and told you about my fight against writer’s block. It surprised me to see my post was so well-received. Thank you, everyone, for your messages, visits, likes and support. It means the world to me!

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How do I fight writer’s block?

Same as any other kind of artist, writers also suffer from this condition. The causes differ and depend on each person, just like the ways to overcome it. Every person should find their own way to deal with it, so if you’re looking for a solution to this very problem… I’m sorry, but I can only speak for myself. My answer to this question may not be able to help you in particular, but I wish it did. I hope you find your way back, and please let me know if I can help in any way.

In my case, writer’s block was not a lack of inspiration. I had ideas, and sometimes I wrote them down, but I didn’t do anything else with them (for years) because of my insecurity. Still, I was struggling at the time, so it wasn’t a complete block. In a way, I’m used to dealing with anxiety and my lack of self-confidence, so I can get things done most of the time. Yes, these are problem I should deal with, but things got worse.

When my anxiety got so bad it reached the stages of burnout and depression, I stopped writing. I had to. Whenever I had to use my computer, I wanted to throw it out of the window. I had panic attacks sometimes.

So I did what I had to do and stopped writing. I changed my habits, reduced my workload and spent one year focusing on work (because I couldn’t stop working) and taking care of myself.

I took walks, played videogames, avoided my computer and didn’t write anything new. Not even on my notebooks. I even stopped reading for a while.

It was hard because I’ve spent all my life working (even school and extracurricular activities are work) and stopping to rest made me feel useless, but I persevered. And then, one day, I started feeling better. I wanted to read again, but I couldn’t trust new books yet, so I started rereading some of my favourite books. Little by little, I started to enjoy it again. And then I started therapy, and it all went even better after that.

I took some holidays and I just went to the beach and relaxed for the first time in many years. That couple of weeks helped a lot and I started writing in my notebooks again, and also transcribing my old notebooks. I even created this blog. And I started writing a fanfic because I thought it would be fun.

It’s been over a year and I’m still fighting, but I think the way to overcome writer’s block is… basically patience and perseverance. I know that isn’t very helpful, but that’s how you learn to take your time and do what you need in order to get better. The solution depends on the reason why you suffer this condition, and it may involve not writing at all. So if taking relaxing baths and walking in a forest is what helps, don’t think of it as Not Writing. Resting doesn’t have to be the opposite of work. Relaxing is hard work and, more importantly, it’s necessary if you want to keep working (and living), so I now consider it a very important part of my day. Try doing something that makes you happy (or that used to make you happy if you have depression), and remember that the mind needs time to heal.

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February 2019 Update

I haven’t written a January update because I already did a Happy-New-Year update, but now I can resume my monthly updates. Or that’s the plan.

First, I’m glad to say that my anxiety is getting more manageable, and now I’m able to do things I couldn’t do before. With the days getting warmer and longer, I’m more active as well. That means that I’ve started writing again!

But then I fell sick twice in two weeks, so I couldn’t write this post on time…

I did finish the list of book recs I’d promised, and it took longer than I thought, but I’m very proud of it. Go take a look!

I’ve been writing some other stuff in Spanish as well, but just I could give a couple of friends something written by me as birthday presents. I hope they liked what I did!

 

love celebrate valentine happy valentine
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How did I start reading Romance?

I already wrote a post about how I started writing Romance, and the story is more or less the same, but I wanted to explain a bit more about the books that have brought me here.

With this goal in mind, I have chosen twelve books (or rather series) I discovered during that first year of my life as a Romance reader. You may already know most (or all) of these, especially if you’re interested in diverse books with LGBTQ+ characters, but know that some of these series are still being published. Maybe you’ll find out they are now longer than the last time you read them. Speaking from experience here.

Basically, I fell in love with Romance novels because they have my favourite subgenres (Fantasy, Historical…) with a focus on characterization that I haven’t found in any other genre. I enjoy reading about people and the different relationships they have, and Romance gives me that in bunches. There are so many different works and authors out there, that you can find anything you need. Even if you didn’t know you needed it, which has often happened to me.

If you want to find interesting plots with great characters and a guaranteed happy ending that will make you feel better about life, look no further: Romance novels have you covered.

So maybe we have different tastes and you won’t find what you’re looking for in the books I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader, but go ahead and leave a comment if you want to share your opinion or request some other recs. I’ve read much more since then, so I may be able to help!

I won’t make you wait any longer! These are the books/series I devoured in that first year:

 

Covers of twelve series I discovered during my first year as a Romance reader.
Twelve series for twelve months.

  • Whyborne & Griffin: You might remember this series, because I’ve mentioned it’s the one that made me start reading Romance. It’s still one of my favourites and I re-read it pretty often. A Paranormal Romance series set in the city of Widdershins, where many are enthusiasts of secret societies and the occult. Imagine a shy philologist, a resourceful detective and a deadly archaeologist fighting ancient sects and Lovecraftian horrors. Can you guess how excited I was to find out this series existed?
  • A Charm of Magpies: Another amazing Paranormal Romance series, this time set in England, and with a couple of spin-offs that are as good as the original series. It all starts with a reluctant lord that has inherited an earldom after his father and brother die in suspicious circumstances. After the curse that killed his family tries to put an end to his life, he is forced to request the help of magician Stephen Day. What he doesn’t know is that Stephen Day had previously met his family. If he’d known, he’d have guessed he had a good reason to hate them all and no reason to help him.
  • The Cadeleonian Series: As traumatic as the ending of the first book was, I do love this fantasy series. Ginn Hale’s world-building and narrative are superb. Each description of a swordfight or a horse race is a masterpiece in its own, and I’m looking forward to the last two books of the series. Spanish people like me will notice some names and historical facts come from our own history.
  • Captive Prince: Not an easy series to read, this one. Fantasy, with a world-building so detailed that it feels like a historical novel sometimes (and, in this case, it is Australian people who will perceive the influence of their own history). The well-known trilogy tells the story of a prince who is forced to become a pleasure slave in a different country, and how he learns to survive a court full of enemies and intrigues, and discovers an ally in the last person he expected to.
  • Scarlet and the White Wolf: This Fantasy series started as a gay retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but at this point you’ll only see some traces of it in the first novel, because the world-building is huge and the plot twists abound. The main character of the story is a young peddler who wears the red cloak of his guild. He travels a lot due to his profession, but he finds himself trapped inside his hometown when the only usable mountain road is blocked by a bandit known as the Wolf of Omara.
  • Society of Gentlemen: My first Historical Romance series, and one of my favourite series ever. Set in Regency England, the series covers various relationships that have to overcome class difference in certain ways. Anything I can say about it will fall short, so just know that I can’t recommend it enough.
  • Reawakening: I loved this Fantasy Romance series about a family of dragons, and it’s still my favourite dragon shifter series. In it, dragons have been asleep for centuries, but are now waking up to a new world they don’t recognize. Their oldest enemy seems to be alive, though hiding somewhere, and they’ve lost most of their power. But the thing about dragons is… only love can make them strong enough to fight back.
  • All for the Game: One of those series that helped create more Romance readers, especially since the first novel is free and it’s a sports series. What I found most interesting about this series is that the sport it talks about was created by the author. The series is full of angst and can be a bit hard to read, depending on your mood.
  • Fellfire Summer: Another series you can start for free (and the short stories can be found for free as well). Blayre is the first Romance author I’ve met in person, and the one who gave me an amazing rec list for beginners. Her first Fantasy Romance was very fun to read and her characters are so charming… The trilogy ends up having two m/m couples and one f/f couple, which I appreciated A LOT.
  • Tigers and Devils: Another sports series. Film festival organizer meets closeted Australian football player (and he actually plays Australian football, which has different rules I didn’t know about until I read this series) and they fall in love. Of course, every relationship has its ups and downs, but it’s even more difficult when one of you is a famous athlete, and the other has been openly gay for years.
  • Aisling: Another superb Fantasy Romance. The world-building is vast, the mysteries and plot twists are everywhere. Nothing is what it seems, but everything makes sense in the end. I loved the celtic/western hints, the development of the characters and the slow-building romance. I haven’t seen this series being recommended that often, but maybe that’s because it’s only been re-released quite recently. Now that it’s available once more, you should give it a chance. I know I’m going to re-read it soon.
  • Enlightenment: This was my second Historical Romance, and it’s also a Regency one, but it’s set in Scotland. A lawyer and a lord enjoy a quick sexual encounter thinking they will never meet again, but fate has other plans: mainly, making them cross their paths again and again until they fall in love. But will love be enough to make them sacrifice everything they’ve fought for just so they can be together? Anyway, if you’ve read the original trilogy, you might be surprised to know that there’s a new book now with a different couple.

 

So that is all for now! Have you read any of these? If you want to know about trigger warnings, just let me know, but I can already warn you about Captive Prince and All for the Game, since both series have LOTS of TWs.

Happy New Year 2019!

It’s been a while, so I wanted to post something quick while I work on a longer post for you people.

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I apologize for the lack of updates, but I’ve been very busy since November and haven’t had time to write that much. The little time I had, I spent with friends… or resting when my anxiety turned too depressive. But I’m feeling better after the holidays! The days are getting longer and I’m still going to therapy, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.

I know 2019 will be full of awesome books to read, and I hope I can write something (anything) before the year ends. So yeah, my goal this year is to finish writing something, but it’s not a resolution. Does it make sense? Actually, my New Year’s resolutions are: writing more (in general), updating regularly, and taking better care of myself. And in order to take care of myself, I can’t feel like I HAVE TO finish writing a short story. This way, I may trick myself into thinking that I have no deadlines or expectations to meet and I shouldn’t feel guilty if things go wrong. Will it start out as a pastime and become an obligation? Probably, but I’ll let you know how it goes! (Don’t mind me; I’m just judging myself for judging myself.)

You’ll be glad to know that I haven’t stopped doing my research, and I’ve spent some time during the holidays visiting places and museums that are relevant to my stories. I hope I can tell you more about them soon, but the next post is gonna be about how I started reading Romance. If you’re curious, you have Lee Welch to thank for, since she said that sounded interesting.

Image of a new dawn in the world that reads "2019 HAPPY NEW YEAR".
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