Tag Archives: 9.00 out of 10

“The Haunting of the Desks” by Allison Montclair

19 May
Illustrated cover for "The Haunting of the Desks", showing a London street at dusk, with the Big Ben in the distance. The silhouette of a woman wearing a calf-length skirt and a small hat is at the forefront, walking away from the reader.

I got this novella last summer, shortly after reading The Right Sort of Man, the first title in the series, basically because it was not-expensive (unlike the rest of the titles–yikes!). Despite having the second title in the digital TBR of doom, I gulped this down and then…got distracted, and didn’t get back to the series until this week.

Today, riding the high of reading A Royal Affair, I’m indulging in a re-read–and of course, a review, because blog fodder!

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The House is on Fire, by Rachel Beanland

1 Apr
Cover for The House is on Fire, by Rachel Beanland; the background shows what look like wooden panels seen through the haze of flames and smoke, representing perhaps the wooden structure of the Richmond Theater. At the bottom, a crowd of people dressed in early 19th century fashions mills around. Superimposed over this, there's a stylized silhouette of flames.

I requested this ARC, with little hope of receiving it, because it’s about a historical event: the 1811 Richmond Theater fire that cost the lives of over 70 people.

Reader beware: graphic descriptions of rape and other physical abuse of a Black enslaved girl by a white man; forced and violent incest; exploration of the physical and mental torture of enslavement; racism, both ‘casual’/quotidian, and the rabid, seething kind; ditto for antisemitism and misogyny.

Also, it’s narrated in third person present tense; the writing worked exceedingly well for me, but I absolutely recommend reading the sample first.

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Built to Last, by Erin Hahn

17 Oct
Illustrated cover for Built to Last; it shows a house with two open windows; in one, there's a dark haired white man with a beard, in the other a blonde white woman. They're both leaning slightly out the windows to look at each other. There's a ladder outside, leaning against the siding, with an open can of paint.

I asked for an ARC of this back in May, because I saw the cover on twitter, and the blurb said it has the kind of second chance at love I can enjoy: they were friends and more as kids and teens, now they’re in their late 20s. There’s enough time and distance for them to have grown from the people who screwed up their chances to grown adults who can make a relationship work.

Reader beware: there’s graphic sex on the page, and some cursing; there’s the tropetastic narcissistic stage mom, and a bastard ex whose motivations are…he’s an asshole? Also, all white, all the time.

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Nowhere Else, by Felicia Davin

11 Jul
Cover for NOWHERE ELSE; the silhouette of a male figure over a field of asteroids, with both the Moon and Earth in the background, and space dust swirling about. The silhouette is warm in warm tones, the background in cool greens.

After struggling to read past the oh, 60% mark on Out of Nowhere for a few weeks (not the book, it was ::gestures at the world:: me; I couldn’t read anything for weeks!), I finally got back to it, finished it in one sprint, then immediately started Nowhere Else, which I inhaled in one greedy gulp. It may well be my favorite of the trilogy, to be honest.

Reader beware: some swearing, sex on page between two adult men, one of whom is dealing with PTSD from recent trauma; both characters had difficult childhoods, for different reasons.

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