Tag Archives: romance

On Life, Romance, and New Projects

Hey everyone.

I know. It’s been a long, LONG time since you last heard from me. I’m not even sure if anyone’s still here to read this post. If you are, thanks for not unfollowing two years ago when I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth and left without much of an explanation.

So. You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. And while the answer is far from simple (part of it comes down to the fact that I’ve been raising two awesome boys who are now 4 and 2), it can be boiled down to this:


I finally gave writing a serious try, and now, almost four novels (and some 300k words) later, I’m finally getting ready to self-publish my first paranormal romance in January 2019. You can add TRUST THE WOLF to Goodreads now! It doesn’t have a cover yet but the blurb is there.

The reason I’ve been quiet here and on all my social media accounts is that I’ve created a whole new pen name – and all the things that come with it (I even have Facebook now!). Writing and maintaining a presence online takes a surprising amount of time, and though I’m still reading tons of books (duh), blogging had to be pushed aside to make room for what has now become my favorite hobby/work ever.

If you’re still here, reading this, I’d like to invite you over to my website, where you can meet me – Zoe Ashwood – and maybe follow me on your preferred platform, and possibly give my books a try when they’re out in the world. And if you’re a romance reviewer, I’d be happy to send you an ARC if you’d like.

This site has been a wonderful, wonderful place where I met hundreds of interesting people – you were amazing. You made me understand that I wasn’t weird for sometimes preferring books to people, and I’m certain that without being part of the bookish community through my blog, I never would have gone on to write my first novel. So for that, I thank you. Thank you for all the book recommendations, comments, and general kindness. I’ll miss this place, and I hope you’ll say hi over at Zoe’s.

The site is HERE.

Lots of love,


2017 Book Haul Post (AKA Failing at NY Resolutions)

There was a time, about six months ago, when I was feeling super optimistic and joined not one, but two reading challenges that consist of reading books you already own instead of buying new ones. I think it’s safe to say I’m failing spectacularly at both of them as I’ve bought nearly 50 books in 2017. Yeah, that’s right. Some sof them were birthday gifts and a lot of them were Kindle deals, so I haven’t beggared our family yet (I’m actually being really good and sticking to my self-allotted book budget). But here are some of the more memorable ones (I might or might not review them at a later date). Links go to reviews if reviews exist!

Bought/Received and Read:

  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – yeah, all four books. So good.
  • The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima – not as good as the first two but still fairly okay.
  • Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – again, not as good as her first but pretty addictive nonetheless
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – SUCH a disappointment. :(
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton – I wanted to love this one so much but just didn’t.
  • A Conjuring of Light by Victoria Schwab – reviewed this already.
  • Pretty Face by Lucy Parker – I love this series, it’s such great fun!
  • Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne – this was fantastic. The ending was a bit rushed but still great!
  • City of the Lost and A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong – WOW this is fantastic! I am totally hooked on this series and if you have more similar recs for me, I need them now.
  • The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes – Maraia recommended this after I told her I loved Armstrong’s books and it was so so good!
  • Temptations of a Wallflower by Eva Leigh – this was really good! I don’t read many historicals these days but I like discovering new authors.
  • Burn for Me by Ilona Andrews – I quite enjoyed this! Alpha male warning though.
  • The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean – much anticipated but sadly my least favorite of her books! :( I just couldn’t forgive the hero.
  • Sustained by Emma Chase – this was me giving Chase a second try after pretty much hating her first Royally book, and I didn’t like this one, either. So Chase just isn’t for me, I guess.
  • Haze by Paula Weston – I finally decided to continue this series, and this second part was even better! I’ll have to get the rest soon before I forget too much. Lots of angst.
  • Half of Sarina Bowen’s opus – I’ve been on a serious Bowen binge, she’s one of my favorite new romance discoveries! I even fell in love with sports romance (hockey, woop!).

Honestly, there was a lot more romance. :D

Bought/Received and Waiting to be Read:

  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell – I finally got this to complete my collection (still missing Kindred Spirits though)
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – I can’t bring myself to start this. I haven’t the energy.
  • Temeraire by Naomi Novik – I said I wouldn’t start this series because it’s so long but then it was a Kindle deal and I kind of had to, after how much I enjoyed Uprooted.
  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette-Kowal – this has been on my to-buy list for a long time and then I saw it was less than 4$ and had to pick it up. It came highly recommended + the cover is gorgeous.
  • Finger Lickin’ 15 by Janet Evanovich – I buy one Stephanie Plum book every 6 months or so. I might catch up with the series in a decade or so! :)
  • Leon and Louise by Alex Capus – my mom gave me this one for my birthday, it’s supposed to be really good!

What have you been reading and buying?

Anything I should put on my to-buy list immediately?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

In Which I Flail Over The Raven Cycle

It’s been a long time, people, but I finally found a series that broke my reading slump for good (fingers crossed). The last time I binge-read an entire four-part series in less than 10 days was when I first read Twilight (don’t judge, okay?).

So I’m beyond happy to have finally caved to peer pressure – because Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is great. Let me tell you why (also this is a non-spoilery sort-of review of the entire series):

  • The characters are fantastic. Okay, I know people are saying that they’re really over-privileged white spoiled boys (and girl), but I couldn’t help but feel that the over-privileged part was more of a hindrance in their case. And I know readers are especially partial to Ronan (or Adam), but I have to say Gansey stole my heart. He’s such a good guy and you know how much I love good guys. I was also afraid that Blue would be your typical manic pixie girl, but she’s just so relatable and down to earth and kind. She’s a wonderful heroine.
  • The adults aren’t complete morons. So often in YA, adults either act as antagonists or are completely absent from the plot, leaving teenagers to save the world (which is…fine, but gets old pretty fast). Here, I loved Blue’s relationship with her mother, the psychic ladies, and Mr. Gray. They never stole the spotlight from the main characters but they also didn’t let them flail around on their own.
  • The writing is addictive. I’ve read the Mercy Falls series before and I liked Stiefvater’s world a lot, though it didn’t blow me away. With The Raven Cycle, however, I couldn’t stop reading. When my local bookstore didn’t have Blue Lily, Lily Blue in stock, it was the worst (they got it for me from another town so I didn’t have to order through The Book Depository and wait for two weeks, whew).
  • The worldbuilding is detailed but not overpowering. As always, I’m super glad when I find a series where the author doesn’t beat me over the head with their world. Like, the mythical king Gansey is looking for (the drive for the entire series) was completely unknown to me, and though I didn’t particularly care about the king (and didn’t even check if he’s an actual historical persona), I could still follow and enjoy the plot.

All in all, this series is a treat. If paranormal YA is your thing, you need this in your life. And then we can chat about who your favorite raven boy (or girl?) is, alright?
Have you read The Raven Cycle? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you! :)

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published in October 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased (paperback).

Genre: YA fantasy.

My rating:

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.


This review should really have been written a year and a half ago when I first read Carry On, chewing through the entire book in one day. But I never got around to actually writing down my (very enthusiastic) thoughts, so I put Carry On on my “to be re-read soon” pile and now I finally took the time to do it! My re-read was the result of a pretty big reading slump – I just needed to re-read a favorite and fall in love with books again. There are spoilers in here (because that’s how I roll these days), so you probably shouldn’t be reading this if you haven’t read the book yet. But it’s been a while since its publication, and you’ve been warned. So.

Carry On has received mixed reviews – and I can absolutely see why. It’s a big mess of a book, the setting and topic and everything so reminiscent of Harry Potter, some people couldn’t get past it. I guess it’s possible to read it as a sort of parody. Rowell picked a ridiculous number of fantasy tropes and mashed them all together and yes, the resulting story is overwhelming at times.

But I loved it. I loved it the first time when I barely grasped what I was reading because I was so eager to see what happens and I loved it now that I took my time to savor Rowell’s writing.

I think it’s mostly the characters who make this story great. Rowell’s characters always have this fascinatingly real feel to them (see my reviews of Eleanor & Park and Attachments and Fangirl if you want to read more gushing praise), even if they’re vampires, ha. Something about them just speaks to me and they get under my skin and I can’t help but root for them. It’s good to know that I can trust an author to create likeable characters every time.

Simon Snow and Basilton Pitch are among my favorite YA couples of all time, and that’s saying something. I liked that they were more preoccupied with the fact that they were supposed to be mortal enemies than by being “hopelessly queer”. Coming out stories are important and powerful but I enjoyed reading a book where the fact that they weren’t even both human was more important than their sexual orientation. (Not that there was no mention of it. There were confusion and questions and people judging. But none of that mattered in the end. Because <3.)

I also enjoyed the side characters, Penelope in particular. I want to read her story. I even liked Agatha – the first time I read the book she sort of seemed pale and unimportant, but she’s a really intriguing young woman if you pay attention to her. I’d read her story, too.

And can I say that I wanted to clap when I read the ending? Flipping the Chosen One trope on its head was the best thing ever. I didn’t know what to expect with all this talk about Simon being the Greatest Mage that ever lived and his power being amazing, and then he sort of just fizzled out instead of being a big hero. Well, he did sort of save the day in the end – unintentionally. He didn’t want this burden, he didn’t enjoy his role, and for once, he wasn’t made to accept it and “grow a pair”, but was left to live the rest of his life in peace. I really liked that.

I now have only Landline to read (and a couple of novellas). I have a copy on my shelf, but I’m afraid to read it because it might not be as good as I want it to be and then I’ll have to wait for her next book to be released, which is just horrible. I’ll auto-buy all her books from now on, and I hope you’ll give them a try if you haven’t already.

Have you read Carry On? What did you think?

Who are your auto-buy authors?

I’d love to hear from you! :) 

Let’s be friends: emailbloglovin’twitterinstagramgoodreads.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer


Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance/mystery.

My rating:

Agnes and the Hitman is the third Jennifer Crusie novel I read (though it’s co-written with Bob Mayer), after I loved Bet Me and enjoyed Charlie All Night. Agnes and the Hitman was the best of three, even if it was completely different.

Agnes is a chef, hot-headed and fed up with being treated like a fool by the men she knows. She’s angry and violent (she’s handy with her cast iron skillet) and in no way your typical romantic heroine. I loved her, she was everything that I wanted in a romance heroine but didn’t know how to express. It’s rare for me to fall so completely for a female character, especially in romance, I always have some complaints about gender issues and whatnot. If I had to make a comparison, Agnes is like an angrier, Southern version of Stephanie Plum (who is one of my all-time favorite fictional people in case you didn’t know).

Shane (no surname), her love interest, is a hitman (the body count of AatH is unusually high for a romance, that’s true). He’s the guy who takes care of things for you, and he’s on a mission. So why he ends up living with Agnes, saving her life, and repairing her house, is a mystery. I was afraid he’d end up being one of those one-dimensional macho-types, and while he was certainly macho (look, it’s not really something I like, either, but stay with me), he was a complex love interest with separate motives and experience, so I really liked him, too.

I mentioned Stephanie Plum – and I think Janet Evanovich’s entire series is a great comparative title for Agnes and the Hitman. The supporting characters are over the top, hilarious, and ridiculous, there’s a flamingo wedding, a secret basement, and a mob war. So be prepared for some seriously high-level twists and turns. It was one of those reads that I couldn’t put down because the plot just pulled me in and refused to let go. I also snort-laughed a lot and debated making my husband read it (I didn’t, in the end, he’s not much of a romance reader).

I’ll be re-reading this one for sure, it’s a fabulous pick-me-up when a fluffy romance just doesn’t cut it and you need something with a bit of a bite.

Have you read Agnes and the Hitman? What did you think?

Do you have any other romance recs with unconventional heroines for me?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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Three Romances I Wanted To Love But Didn’t

Sometimes, books just don’t work out for me. It’s not even that these books are bad, because they aren’t. They just each pushed some buttons and I didn’t enjoy them as much as I hoped I would. I decided to do shorter reviews for books that didn’t work for me from now on, since my posting schedule is different and I’d rather spend my time and effort talking at length about books that I actually loved.

Love Story (Love Unexpectedly #3) by Lauren Layne


Source: Publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: contemporary NA romance.

My rating:

Love Story…Ahh, I wanted to love it so much. I read it at the end of a serious Lauren Layne binge (I discovered her last year and was then lucky enough to read this as an ARC, so I’m super late posting my review, oops), and maybe that’s why I wasn’t entirely impressed by it.

I mostly just couldn’t connect with the characters. Lucy was too “spoiled princess” for my taste, I didn’t really see what her conflict was here, and Reece was an asshole one too many times. I mean, the plot itself (a road trip across the US and a second chance romance) should have been enough for me to completely fall for it because those are some awesome tropes right there. And I did enjoy it, it was a quick read, I just wished to empathize more with Lucy and Reece.

It’s a standalone, even though it’s listed as a part of a series, which is kind of nice in the world of romance. If you’re already a Layne fan, go for it, you might connect better with the main characters. But if not, try another LL book first and fall in love with those (they’re great and she’s one of my favorite contemporary romance authors).


Rescued by the Space Pirate (Ruby Robins Sexy Space Odyssey #1) by Nina Croft

Links: Goodreads.

Source: Publisher via NetGalley. Thank you for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: space opera erotica.

My rating:

(Trigger warning for rape and dubious consent) Uhhh this book. I wanted this book to be campy and ridiculous and maybe sexy. I mean, when you pick up a book with such a title, you don’t expect to find serious literature of Nobel-prize-winning kind. But I expected some sort of space opera, with kissing. (Somebody find me that, please, I really want it now!)

What I got instead was alien porn with questionable consent and some uncool views on rape. *sad trombone* No but seriously, a hero who takes one look at a woman who was repeatedly gang-raped by weird tentacly aliens and says “she’ll get over it, people can adapt to anything” is not a hero I want to read about. Our heroine also gets bullied (aka fired from her job) into accepting the position of a spy which gets her into a situation where she gets touched by an alien against her will (she gets an orgasm out of it but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s non-consensual), so I wasn’t too impressed.

Look, I kind of wanted to continue reading the series because a three-way with a hot blue-skinned alien and a man who’s half-droid sounds like great fun (in writing, lol) but there were just too many issues for me to ignore. Now please, give me your space romance recs (aliens and tentacles are…fine, just as long as everyone’s there of their own free will).


Royally Screwed (Royally #1) by Emma Chase


Source: purchased for Kindle.

Genre: contemporary romance.

My rating:

Whyyyyy are allllll the heroes such assholesssss? Don’t get me wrong, I like a good bad boy now and then, but not if he’s a straight-up jackass. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews for Emma Chase’s Royally series, and this was a fast read (what contemporary romance isn’t?), but I didn’t get the appeal of Prince Charming, so the whole thing fell short for me.

He behaved atrociously towards Olivia, insulted her and treated her like crap, AND YET she went with him and they somehow fell in love. Being fantastic in bed doesn’t make a hero a good person, and at the end of the day, I want my romance heroes to be good guys the heroine can trust to stand beside her no matter what. Prince Nicholas just didn’t deliver on that. Meh.


Give me all your romance recs, especially the sci-fi kind if you have any. 

Any new contemporary romance authors I should try? I’ve been on a real contemporary kick lately.

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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