Month: February 2020

Feb 27

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 1

Greetings Bookworms,

I just finished the most delightful Rom-Com. As I started writing little notes to myself for my weekly wrap-up, it quickly became clear that I had a lot to say about The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. Hence, it shall have its own post. You deserve it, you sweet little book, you.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgOur protagonist, Carolina Santos, is a wedding planner who manages to keep doing her job despite having been left at the alter herself (early aughts J-Lo vibes are inevitable, really, but, this is a better story.) Carolina Santos is excellent at her job, and she’s worked very hard to cultivate her no-nonsense persona. After she masterfully saves the eyebrows (you read that right) of the groom one at one memorable event, she’s offered the opportunity to interview for a position to be a swanky hotel’s wedding coordinator. The opportunity sounds almost too good to be true, considering she’s going to be losing her affordable retail space and is OVER the exhausting work of running her own business. The other shoe inevitably drops when she discovers that the marketing team she’s supposed to build her pitch with consists of her ex-fiance Drew and his brother Max, AKA, the WORST BEST MAN EVER (since he apparently encouraged Drew to ditch Lina.) As you might imagine, hijinks ensue.

Let’s get to the good stuff. First, Lina is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants living in the Washington, DC area. I think this is the first book I’ve ever read focusing on Brazilian immigrants, and it was a lot of fun to hear about the family’s dynamic and traditions. And, as an added perk of listening to the audio version, I really enjoyed hearing the little snippets of spoken Portuguese peppered into the dialogue. (That would have been less fun if I’d read it myself, because I don’t speak Portuguese and would certainly have mentally mispronounced all of it.)

This book also hit upon one of my favorite romance tropes, the classic “THERE’S ONLY ONE BED!” But it didn’t stop there! I’d like to see “OOPS WE ACCIDENTALLY LANDED IN A COUPLE’S COUNSELLING RETREAT” become a romance trope in its own rite, because it was hilarious and wonderful. That’s another thing- this book was funny. You know how when you type “LOL” but you really only exhale sharply through your nose and smirk? This was not that type of funny. This was “bystanders are going to wonder what the heck is going on because I’m wearing ear buds and I can’t stop giggling” funny.

The only issue I had with this audio book is that the male narrator’s voice had a quality that kept making me think of Norm Macdonald. And while mid-90s teenage Katie did kind of have a thing for him on SNL, much like my crush on Jonathan Taylor Thomas, this one didn’t age well. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, NORM, YOU’RE RUINING THIS FOR ME! (I’ll own that this criticism is 100% on me; I doubt anyone else has a subconscious Norm Macdonald fixation.)

All the humor and fun aside, this book had a lot of heart. Max and Lina made so much progress in dealing with their emotional baggage. I mean, Max and Drew have this awful toxic competitive relationship that needs a lot of unpacking. And Lina keeps such a tight reign on her emotions because the world has penalized her for having feelings. I’m a walking bundle of messy, leaky feelings, and while it can be inconvenient and embarrassing, White ladies are afforded liberties with emotions that Black Latinx women are not. I WANT TO HUG YOUR FICTIONAL FACE OFF, LINA, YOU DESERVE BETTER!

All that is to say, if you’re in the market for a romantic comedy, I cannot recommend The Worst Best Man highly enough. Humor, heart, and a dash of heat make it an all-around fabulous read!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the post above direct to amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent bookstores, click on the image or the link below:

The Worst Best Man


Feb 25

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Eighth

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Hiya Bookworms,

Let’s review the week, shall we? It’s not bookish news, but, we ordered the bridesmaid dresses for my friend’s wedding from eShakti and mine arrived this week. If you’re unfamiliar, eShakti is an online retailer where you can customize your sizing and style details before you order. Like, I wanted a different neckline than the default design and I added sleeves (which my bride-chilla was totally cool with.) I also wanted to order a custom size so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting alterations after the fact. You can order standard sizes, but in a lot of cases, such as mine, the combination hip/bust/waist ratio doesn’t line up perfectly with a standard size anyway so they always fit weird (thus the vicious alterations cycle.) While an eShakti dress might be more expensive than what I’d ordinarily gravitate toward in an off-the-rack dress (I’m notoriously cheap), it’s still the least expensive bridesmaid dress I’ve ever purchased (and I have 6 dresses from traditional bridal stores hanging in my closet, most of which needed alterations in addition to the purchase price.) Even for a less formal occasion, I think I’m to the point where I’d rather have one expensive-ish yet nicely fitting dress than a closet full of cheap dresses that I’m not comfortable in. This one fits like magic and it was SUCH a relief. (I get absolutely no commissions if you decide to go and buy something from eShakti– I’m just excited and wanted to share. Oh yeah. THEIR DRESSES HAVE POCKETS!!!) I know, you’re here for books, not fashion rants. Luckily I’m fashion challenged so those won’t happen often. BOOKS!

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire (who also writes as Mira Grant) is the fifth, and latest in the Wayward Children series of novellas. This one’s audio book was even narrated by the author, which is always a fun surprise. We revisit Jack and Jill in The Moors, which we were introduced to (in graphic detail) in Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Yup, our horror movie nightmare parallel world is just about where we left it, except that the newly resurrected Jill has decided to become a body snatcher. It’s wildly creative and fascinating and I love all the myriad of worlds these Wayward Children have stepped into. I must admit though, I REALLY want to go to The Trenches to see Cora get her mermaid on. I mean, I’ve seen a snippet of mermaid lore via the mind of Mira Grant in Rolling in the Deep (review), but I want the alternate universe version. Hopefully that story is in the works!

Because I can’t seem to get enough in the way of audio book novellas, I decided to try Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. I LOVED her books Akata Witch and Akata Warrior (I desperately hope the series continues because I love it so much), and I’d heard a lot of great things about Binti, so I was excited to try it out. Alas, I didn’t love it the way I wanted to. There were some elements that reminded me of Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy (review), and drawing a comparison to Octavia Butler is never a bad thing. It’s just… It’s only 96 pages (or approximately 2 hours listening time), so the story felt rushed and a little Stockholm Syndrome-y. I feel like I’m missing something obvious because EVERYONE loves Binti . Sigh. I’ll probably try the rest of the the series at some point and see if that changes my perspective, but for now I’m still lukewarm on it.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms was okay, but not totally my jam. I don’t know exactly why it didn’t hit the right notes for me, but it felt a bit “meh” from the get-go. Have I been spoiled by plucky romance heroines? Amy is lacking in the feisty fire I’ve come to expect from rom-com protagonists. She’s a librarian and thus committed to trying to get her children to enjoy reading, but she keeps discouraging her daughter from picking up YA titles like Twilight and trying to get her to read stodgy old classics like Lord of the Flies. I’m in my mid 30s and I would honestly rather re-read Twilight (review) than read Lord of the Flies (review) again. Stop shaming your daughter’s reading tastes, Amy! She redeems herself somewhat by recommending Eleanor & Park (review) to her daughter but still. Encouraging any reading is more important than gate keeping for presumed quality. Why yes, my views have evolved over time. This is now a hill I will die on. Sorry, that was an incredibly minor point in the book, but it clearly stuck with me. Mostly, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler is about a middle-aged woman whose deadbeat husband suddenly reappears after 3 years. She gets the opportunity to spend some time solo in NYC and embarks on what the book terms a “Momspringa” (a term that I think might be offensive to Amish people, but the Amish being Amish, I can’t exactly check Twitter to confirm that.) Anyway. It was alright, but nothing I’d shout from the rooftops over.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon was an adorable Beauty and the Beast retelling set at a boarding school in Colorado. A boarding school for the extremely wealthy and potentially scandalous, I should add. Jaya Rao and her sister flee a paparazzi scandal at home in India to seek refuge in the elite St. Rosetta’s. As fate would have it, the school also houses the heir of her family’s arch-nemesis. Grey Emerson is a misanthrope whose aristocratic British family unceremoniously dumped him at an American boarding school as a small child. He’s been living under the shadow of a curse, only to be presented with Jaya, the descendant of the curse-layer. Of Curses and Kisses is a cute story, but I prefer Menon’s Dimple/Rishi-verse (review). The whole filthy rich student body at a fancy boarding school thing was fun but isn’t my favorite style. Also, I’ve never been a rich person, but the lack of concern the characters give to the monetary value of actual rubies is incredibly stressful to me. Like, how are you not scouring every inch of ground to hunt down gems that fell out of your necklace? Nobody even removes a couch cushion! I don’t care if you’re a princess or whatever, you don’t just shrug that kind of thing off, right?

Moving into the coming week, I’m eyeball reading XENI: A Marriage of Inconvenience, which is the second book in Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Loose Ends series that kicked off with RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny  (review). I’ve got The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa playing in my audio book app. Is there any better way to start the week than with a pair of rom-coms? What are you reading this week, Bookworms?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the above post direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through a local, independent bookstore, check out the links below:

Come Tumbling Down
Down Among the Sticks and Bones
Rolling in the Deep
Akata Witch
Akata Warrior
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Lord of the Flies
Eleanor and Park
Of Curses and Kisses
Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny



Feb 20

Top Ten Romance Novel Heroes

Romance, Top Ten Tuesday 3

Howdy Bookworms!

Back when I was blogging all the time I used to put together Top Ten lists weekly. There was a Top Ten Tuesday meme (which I think is probably still a thing?) where a theme would be selected and you’d choose your Top Ten for a given topic. I did so many of those that I got burnt out, especially when the topics started to get repetitive. That said, I’ve read a boatload of delightful romance novels in the past couple of years, most of which I never wrote about, and I’d like to give some of my favorite suitors a bit of credit. Let’s talk about my favorite romance heroes, shall we?

Please note: while I still hold Jamie Fraser in the highest regard, I don’t consider the Outlander books to be “romance” in the strictest sense. They’re a historical/sci fi/steamy/adventure mashup. In my personal narrow definition of “romance” as a genre, I need a guaranteed “happily ever after” at the end of a single book. Series can be linked together, but only insofar as we see happy couples we met earlier continuing to be happy. Not being shipwrecked, presumed dead, having their families ripped apart, etc.

ONE: Theo from The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory- Theo was the impetus for this entire post– I was reading another book recently and thinking about how much better Theo was at the uptight/well-dressed/driven-worker-bee vibe than that book’s hero. Theo is BY FAR my favorite Guillory love interest. He’s smart, he’s stylish, he appears aloof but is a secret marshmallow. When he drunkenly showed off his N’Sync dance moves to Maddie, my heart was forever his. I’d also like to give a special shout out to Maddie, who shares my taste in pizza toppings. Pepperoni + Black Olive is the secondary true love story in this book.

TWO: Cross from One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean- This is easily my favorite book of The Rules of Scoundrels Series thanks in large part to Cross being extremely swoonworthy. He’s got a brilliant mathematical mind and a tortured past full of excesses that he’s given up… But a bookish beauty wins his heart. Obviously. (Phillipa Marbury would be BFF with Minerva Highwood from Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series, by the by. Is a crossover bestie novel too much to hope for? I bet there’s a fandom somewhere shipping these two… I could get on board that ship.)

THREE: Michael from The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang- He’s an escort who falls head over heels for a his client, Stella, who happens to be on the autism spectrum. He’s so patient and intuitive with her and her needs it’s just heart melting- especially considering she’s had some pretty terrible romantic experiences in the past. Plus, I’m a total sucker for the “sex worker getting the HEA” trope. I blame it on my early exposure to Pretty Woman.

FOUR: Logan from When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare- You knew I wasn’t going to have a list like this without at least one dude in a kilt, right? Jamie Fraser is not the only swoony Scotsman in literature. The way Logan cares for his beleaguered troops is enough to endear him to me, but the way he fell in love through letters he was never meant to receive? The swoon is strong with this one.

FIVE: Samson from The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai- I don’t even like sports, but Samson is the most perfect cinnamon roll of a professional football player who has ever existed in fiction (and most likely IRL too.) He gave up his lucrative career to defend the noggin of his teammate (because CTE is no joke.) He’s really good at apologizing and being decent. I love this guy.

SIX & SEVEN: Both Henry and Alex from Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston- When your romance novel stars an actual prince and the adorable son of the US president, you can’t expect me to choose just one. Alex’s saucy banter and Henry’s proper Britishness gone awry make this one of the best books I read in 2019. Also? I totally want to live in this alternate political reality. History, huh? #LoveIsLove

EIGHT: Gus from Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole- I am endlessly smitten with the entire Reluctant Royals series, but Can’t Escape Love is a companion book with zero actual royals involved. Gus is obsessed with puzzles, super smart, and endlessly soothing to Regina. He makes delicious salad dressing. He cannot help but profess his feelings even when he knows it’s too early and might make things weird. He’s a gem and I love him forever.

NINE: Red from Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert- Sensitive artist with a history of being in a crappy, abusive relationship falls for sharp tongued woman with a chronic pain disorder. Much banter, extremely sexy, and there’s a hilarious tree climbing rescue incident. Red is awesome with Chloe and he loves his mom. 10/10 would recommend.

TEN: Rafe from RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon: I had this list mostly completed, and had planned to post for Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t get it finished in time. I realize now that it was clearly the universe telling me that I couldn’t complete the list until I’d read RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny. Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe: the buffest, male-st, nanniest of romance heroes. Looks like a Son of Anarchy, bakes like a son of Betty Crocker. Gentle with your kids, gentle with your heart, and as gentle (or not) as you desire in other aspects of life. Whew. Steamy steamy Rafe.

There we are, Bookworms. My Top Ten Romance Heroes are all present and accounted for. This list is likely to change over time because I’m definitely going to continue reading excellent romances, but my Top Ten Lists mean about as much as my Goodreads star ratings. Who are some of your favorite romance heroes? Or, just, like, favorite characters who aren’t in romance novels (since I know romance isn’t everyone’s jam.) Tell me about it, Bookworms!

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the above post direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent book stores, please see the links below:
The Wedding Party
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
The Kiss Quotient
When a Scot Ties the Knot
Red, White & Royal Blue
Can’t Escape Love
Get a Life, Chloe Brown
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny


Feb 18

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Seventh

Bite Size Reviews, Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts 1

Greetings Bookworms!

I’d just like to take a moment to give myself a high five for keeping these weekly posts going longer than I anticipated when I made my New Year’s Resolution. Yes, I know it’s only February, but I expected to make it 3 weeks, tops. As it turns out, I really, really missed shouting about books on the internet. Who knew? So… Shall we shout about some books on the internet? Let’s start with the remainder of this Beverly Jenkins trilogy…

Fabio Who?

So, last week, I was like “Destiny’s Embrace was good but not my favorite.” Which, is still true, but it’s moved up in my esteem by proximity to the rest of the series. I’d have been MISSING OUT if I’d quit after book 1. Destiny’s Surrender follows the middle Yates brother, Andrew Antonio. He’s a lawyer practicing in 1880s San Francisco who isn’t ready to be tied down. At least, not figuratively. (I have no evidence of his bedroom escapades including restraints but he’s an adventurous guy, so I wouldn’t put it past him.) Aaaanyway, this leads to his frequenting a certain plucky prostitute named Billie whom he accidentally impregnates. When the baby arrives with a telltale matching birthmark (life before paternity tests, y’all) Billie knows who the father is. She is desperate to find her child a safe home so she can escape an evil pimp. Such drama! Such intrigue! Such steam! I was well and truly prepared to say that Destiny’s Surrender was my favorite of the series when Ms. Bev pulled out the mother-frickin PIRATES in book 3, Destiny’s Captive. Noah, the youngest Yates brother has turned his traumatic past into a successful shipping business. All is going as well as can be expected when he’s taken captive and his ship is stolen. BY A LADY PIRATE! This series started in Hallmark movie territory (if Hallmark acknowledged sexy times) and graduated to HBO miniseries in a hurry! Not only was Destiny’s Captive a fabulous love story, but it covered a lot of historical content I wasn’t familiar with. I learned all kinds of new things. I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS! Pilar + Noah = 4 Ever.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi was, possibly, even more intense than its predecessor, Children of Blood and Bone. It’s one thing to write a magical epic, but a magical epic that rips out the guts of its readers at every turn? That’s QUITE a feat. Bahni Turpin narrated the audio book, and she is unquestionably one of the best narrators ever. She’s a phenomenal actress and can express arrays of emotion that make a book even more compelling. I think my heart broke about 30% more than it would have if I had merely read the words by listening to the rawness and passion she put into the storytelling. And, as I often feel about fantasy novels, I prefer to listen to them so I can hear the names of people and places pronounced as the author intended. I can’t reveal a lot of the plot of this novel without completely spoiling the first book, but I urge you to pick up this series. You will NOT be disappointed.

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo was WOW. I read Acevedo’s novel, With the Fire on High, but that was regular prose (another great book to add to your reading list.) The Poet X was this wonderfully imaginative poetry/novel hybrid, and its power was enhanced through the audio book narrated by the author. It follows Xiomara Batista- a teenage girl living in Harlem from a very religious Domincan family. She’s trying to navigate her way through a world that treats her body as a threat to decency while grappling with her faith and familial relationships. Xiomara turns her tumultuous thoughts into verse in a notebook she received from her twin brother. I’m trying to think of an example to compare it with and the only thing I can come up with style-wise is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (which is excellent, too!) This is a quick read with high emotional payoff- go get a copy and feel some things.

I’d been meaning to read some Rebekah Weatherspoon and it seems I chose the CORRECT place to start. Holy hotness, Batman,  RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny was ::fans self:: delightful. Sloan is a single mother, a heart surgeon, and in need of a nanny stat. After her previous live-in leaves her in the lurch, she hires an unconventional nanny who comes highly recommended- Rafe. He’s a buff, tattooed, biker with an unparalleled gentleness with children. AND. HE. COOKS. This one is REAL steamy, but sometimes when I run into super steamy books they’re a bit lacking in, oh, everything else? Not the case here. I’d have adored this book even if Ms. Weatherspoon had gone fade-to-black on the love scenes. It’s just that sweet.

Whew, what a ride! It’s been a busy week for my brain and the books. I’m currently listening to Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire. It’s the latest in the Wayward Children series of novellas, all of which have thus far been fantastic. As for these eyes of mine, they’re working on The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms. I started it because I’d run out of material on my kindle that sounded appealing and started trolling what was available to me in Prime reading. I’m not sure it’s exactly what I’m in the mood for, but I’m willing to give it a shot. At least until the library holds start rolling in. What are you reading this week, Bookworms?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon. If you prefer to shop through a local, independent bookstore, please see the links below:

Destiny’s Embrace
Destiny’s Surrender
Destiny’s Captive
Children of Blood and Bone
Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Brown Girl Dreaming
The Poet X
With the Fire on High
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Come Tumbling Down



Feb 11

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Sixth

Brain Dump, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Well Bookworms, it’s been a week!

Jim just got back from a business trip. He was gone for just over a week. I didn’t mention it at the time because it’s not a great idea to plaster the internet with notifications that you’re home alone with a toddler. Sammers and I had a lot of fun, but it’s nice to be a parenting team again! We’re still potty training (it’s a process, but we’re making strides) which just made the flying solo thing a little bit harder. My hat is off to all the single parents out there who keep things running single-handedly every day- you all deserve vacations and massages.

What else? Oh, my BFF is going to be getting married in June! After my last bridesmaiding stint, I said that the only way I’d stand up in another wedding was if HJM decided to make things official with her long-time beau (I say that like my services are in demand, but in reality, I’m almost 37 and am out of friends who’d want me to stand up for them.) Welp, after 11-ish years, he put a ring on it. GAME ON. I get to give a speech too, which is cool because I’ve only been drafting it in my head FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS. Ahem. This will be my 7th (and most likely final) walk down the aisle in a matchy-matchy dress. I’m also pretty sure this is the first time that one of my bridesmaid dresses will be worn after the fact. It’s got polka dots! Eeep!

In at-least-tangentially-book-related news, I got to hang out with my book club this weekend! This is the neighborhood book club I joined years ago, and even though some of the members have moved out of our little corner of town, the book club has held strong. (You may recall Emily and Angie, the two in the center of the pic, from that time they threw me that super awesome Alice in Wonderland themed baby shower.) Every year we do something to celebrate the holidays- usually a dinner in lieu of reading a book since December is so busy for everyone, but in recent years we’ve scheduled our holiday party way after the holidays because LIFE. This year we decided to go to a dinner theater… In rural Central Illinois. I was super stoked about the idea because I thought it would be cheesy and delightful. It WAS! Well, mostly anyway. The play they put on was from the late 70s and the humor did not age well, but the food was good and the company was stellar. Look how cute we are!

This pic doesn’t have ALL of us- several of us couldn’t make it, but we had fun enough for all our missing members.


But you’re not here to hear about my life tidbits! You’re here for the books! This week I finished listening to Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgI’d seen a lot of rave reviews for it, so I was really excited to take it on. I was taking notes through the first half of the book and found myself writing things like “where is the BANTER?” and “this guy is SUPER BORING” and “I get that he’s supposed to be the buttoned up serious dude with a marshmallow center, but Reid is no Theo from The Wedding Party.” (That last thought inspired an upcoming post, so stay tuned for that.) But the longer I read, the more Reid grew on me. And yes, he gets a lot of points for noble behavior and general tenderness… But he’s still no Theo. I really liked that a major plot point involved Meg going through a rather traumatic friend situation. I have BEEN THERE and it suuuuuuuuuucks. I’ve been on both the Meg side and the Sibby side of these situations and they’re both horrible. Nobody ever really talks about how awful friend breakups and hiccups are, but I think they’re every bit as bad as romantic heartbreaks- sometimes worse. You don’t hear about them a whole lot, particularly not in romance novels, so I appreciated that. I’d also like to note that while this book clearly points out that Meg is from Ohio, the narrator doesn’t sound as Midwestern as the narrator for How to How to Hack a Heartbreak (review). Apparently I’m still not over that.

I also finished my first Beverly Jenkins novel! If you’re not aware, Beverly Jenkins is a household name in romance and has a prolific back list. Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBut, as I’ve said before, there are a zillion different styles of romance novel. I tend toward the cheeky, rom-com style, and usually gravitate toward either contemporary or Regency England settings. Destiny’s Embrace is a much more earnest book than I’m used to (though it does have some flashes of humor) and it’s set in 1880s California. Our heroine, Mariah Cooper, leaves behind her abusive childhood home in Philadelphia to answer an advertisement and become a housekeeper to rancher Logan Yates clear on the other side of the country.  Mariah and Logan have chemistry from the start, but it’s a fiery passion that often manifests in shouting matches and, once, memorably, projectiles. Mariah eventually wants marriage and a family, and Logan has sworn that sort of thing off, so they are at an impasse. The whole love story unfolds within like a week, but thanks to my Regency romances, it hardly fazes me when characters fall in love at lightening speed anymore. All in all, Destiny’s Embrace was enjoyable, but it’s unlikely that fairly serious historical Western romances are going to become my go-to. That said, I did purchase the entire series and I’m definitely going to read the next two books. Let’s just say that book two,Destiny’s Surrender, starts off with a bang (pun absolutely intended) and things are looking promising. I may already be a little swoony over Andrew Antonio.

In addition to feasting my eyes upon the glories of Destiny’s Surrender, I’m listening to Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, which is a followup to Children of Blood and Bone (the eleventy billionth excellent book I read and didn’t tell you about.) It’s a young adult fantasy series inspired by West African mythology and it is EPIC.

What have you been up to this week, Bookworms? And what are you reading?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon, but if you’d prefer to shop through a local, independent book store, please see the links below.*

Love Lettering
Destiny’s Embrace
Destiny’s Surrender
The Wedding Party
How to Hack a Heartbreak
Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Children of Blood and Bone




Feb 06

Penguin Books for Every Occasion: Kid Lit with my Kidlet

Bookish Baby, Children's Books, Children's Fiction, Kidlit with my Kidlet 2

Hiya Bookworms!

Y’all know by now that I’m an avid penguin enthusiast, and that I shamelessly roped my child into the obsession (check out his first Halloween and nursery if you require proof.) Sammy has a MASSIVE book collection, and a large swath of that is dedicated to our flightless feathered friends. I know what you’re thinking. “How many penguin books can there possibly be? And on how many subjects? There are only so many cutesy rhymes one can make with ‘waddle’!” But you, my bookish friend, would be incorrect. Lo, there is a penguin book for EVERY occasion and learning opportunity. Lest you doubt me, I’ve complied a list (which is by no means exhaustive) of some very excellent children’s books featuring penguins. Prepare yourselves: it’s unbearably cute.

Penguins Teach Science: I wish I could find my copy of If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor (review)! I misplaced it long before Sammers was born, sigh. It’s such an adorable book full of rhymes and penguin facts. I’m sure it’s packed away in a box somewhere that will turn up eventually, but for now, I am bereft. Luckily, we have another great option for fun penguin facts and science tidbits on hand: Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere! by Bob Barner. The illustrations are bright and fun, though I confess I prefer the illustrations in If You Were a PenguinCurse my absent-mindedness!

Penguins Whose Parents Take Business Trips: Love, Mama by Jeanette Bradley is a sweet little story featuring a young penguin whose mother goes away on a business trip. I love that the mama penguin appears to be a scientist- the illustrations suggest she’s on some sort of research expedition. I also love that this book portrays the mama penguin as the one on a work trip while the daddy penguin holds down the fort. And, while the baby penguin and mama penguin miss each other, they’re reunited at the end. This would be a great addition to the library of any toddler with parents who travel for work! (I do not have to travel for work, but Jim occasionally does. Sam and I like to read this one when he’s out of town. I think it would be helpful for kids who are anxious about being away from their parent/caregiver for any length of time.)

Penguins Teach Basic Skills: Sarah Aspinall has a charming series of books tackling basic toddler skills including Penguins Love ColorsPenguins Love Their ABC’s, and Penguins Love Counting: Let’s Make Snowmen (I can’t find a shopping link for this anywhere, sorry! I bought it at a Scholastic book fair- what a rush!) There are six penguins (one named Broccoli!) who get up to all sorts of shenanigans while learning. Sam’s particularly fond of Penguins Love Colors, and really digs that the book sort of breaks the fourth wall (is that a thing in books the way it is in TV?). It encourages audience participation- these would make AWESOME choices for library/daycare story times.

Penguins Have All the Feels: Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer follows a penguin who has had a particularly rough day. We don’t know why the penguin is so upset, but neither does the penguin. This is a great book to help teach toddlers about moods and feelings. It also encourages them to take baths to wash away the grumpiness, and that’s never a bad thing. A nice bubble bath has been known to lift my spirits too!

Penguins Offer Companionship: Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton is adorable. I highly recommend looking up the song before reading it- if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up sing-reading. The premise of the story is that a penguin desperately wants to become BFF with a hippo. Because why not? The penguin spends the book trying to convince the hippo that they should be platonic life partners. As an added bonus, the song was performed by none other than everybody’s favorite Monkee Davy Jones (RIP) so it’s bouncy and cute.

Penguins Teach Manners: Penguin Says “Please” by Michael Dahl, Illustrated by Oriol Vidal teaches the little ones how to ask for things, rather than demanding. The Mama penguin in this book is very patient, but she’s not going to be ordered around. This little penguin needs to say “please!” And so does my toddler. He’ll say “please,” but it’s often in a heart wrenching and plaintive wail. Like “pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease don’t make me go to bed, you absolute monster of a mother.” Or, um, something like that.

Penguin Moms Who Just Need a Minute: Baby Penguins Everywhere!and Baby Penguins Love their Mama by Melissa Guion are super cute books and both of them feature an overwhelmed Mama penguin taking a time for herself. In one, she even takes a NAP! It’s wonderful! I think it’s great for kids to see that their caretakers are human too and might need a little rest from time to time.

Penguins Teach About Adoption and/or Same-Sex Parent Families: I couldn’t make a list of penguin books for all occasions without bringing up the one about the same-sex penguin couple who want to have a family (oh, my soft, squishy heart!) The two male penguins fall in penguin love and try to hatch a rock. When the zookeepers see this, they give the couple an egg that’s been rejected by its parents to raise and, voila! And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (review) is often banned and challenged which irks me for a number of reasons. I mean: It’s a true story, LOVE IS LOVE, and while parents can (and should) monitor and approve what their own children read, they have no business denying access to other people’s children. But I digress. I haven’t read this one with Sammy yet simply because it’s a lot more text-heavy than most of the others on this list. He’s got a pretty good attention span for 2 and a half, but this one’s geared toward more of a kindergarten crowd, I think. Still, it’s a wonderful and penguiny way for kids to learn about adoption and same-sex parent families.

Would it surprise you to know that this is not an exhaustive list of our penguin literature? I could write so many penguin kid book posts. And I reserve the right to do so. There is a zero percent chance of me parting with any of these books once Sammers outgrows them. I shall be the curator of my own private penguiny library and it will only be, like, medium weird.

One day, he may not want to wear penguin PJs, but today is not that day.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the above text direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through local, independent book stores, please see the links below*

If You Were a Penguin
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere!
Love, Mama
Penguins Love Colors
Penguins Love Their ABCs
Grumpy Pants
Your Personal Penguin
Baby Penguins Love Their Mama!
Baby Penguins Everywhere!
And Tango Makes Three


Feb 04

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Fifth

Audio Books, My Reading Life 0

Greetings My Dearest Bookworms,

It’s time to tell you all about the books I poured into my brain this week. I’m a little astonished that I’ve been reading so much lately, especially given the toddler running around my house. I *may* be reading to de-stress more than usual since toddlerhood is stressful for both children and parents. But, honestly? Reading as a coping mechanism is an extremely healthy and productive choice. Would exercising while listening to an audio book be an even healthier choice? Yes, probably, but I am a work in progress. On to the books!

I finished up listening to Tessa Dare’s Any Duchess Will Do. It was sort of a Pygmalion/Cinderella mashup with that signature Tessa Dare humor and Regency romance flair. It also had some of the *ahem* steamiest scenes I’ve yet to read from Tessa Dare (and she is no stranger to steam, let me tell you.) So there’s that for you. On the whole? It was delightful. Also I highly recommend the audio version because a lot of the diction scenes wherein Pauline works to overcome her “country” accent wouldn’t have been quite as enjoyable if I’d read rather than listened to them.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgWhen I started Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple on audio and immediately recognized the narrator’s voice but couldn’t place it. I had to google to discover it’s the actress who played Luke’s sister Liz in Gilmore Girls. Kind of funny, because as I was hunting for a new audio book, I was sifting through some literary fiction titles and it occurred to me that whatever book Jess wrote (we’re still talking about Gilmore Girls, stay with me) was probably unimaginably pretentious and I would have hated it. I remember really enjoying Maria Semple’s earlier book Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review), but it’s been so long since I read it, I’m not sure current Katie would have liked it as much. I was lukewarm at best on Today Will Be Different. It was a little zany, a la Bernadette, but the whole wealthy, snarky, middle age woman with a formerly brilliant career thing just exhausted me. It had funny parts, but I found myself cringing a lot more than laughing. I do think the narrator was fabulous, though, and she has a stellar singing voice to boot- Kathleen Wilhoite was easily the best part of this whole experience.

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig was the last eyeball read I crammed into my brain this week. I loved her books The Girl from Everywhere (review) and The Ship Beyond Time (review) which meant this book had a lot to live up to. And you know what? It totally did. It was also fresh and different and a fascinating new mythology. She didn’t just recycle what had worked before- this was some next-level excellence. While the book’s world is purely fantasy, it’s clearly inspired by European colonialism in Asian cultures. Set against a backdrop of unsettled political machinations and rebellions, a small family of shadow players (think elaborate puppetry in silhouette) is gaining renown. It’s mostly due to the main puppeteer using a potentially dangerous magical power to direct her super cool puppets. A little bit of necromancy never hurt anyone, right? (Hang on, I’m reflecting on how amazing it is that two authors can take the same relatively narrow concept, like, say, necromancy, and produce such wildly different work. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and For a Muse of Fire are based around the same magical idea and are SO DIFFERENT. Also, both super good. Add Gideon the Ninth to the list of books I read and didn’t tell you about.) For a Muse of Fire is the beginning of a planned trilogy- the second book was released in October, but the third isn’t out yet. I look forward to revisiting this world in future installments!

Now that we’ve covered all that ground, what am I reading this week? I was able to snag a copy of Love Lettering on audio from one of my library’s many e-book services (Hoopla this time) so I’m listening to it now. Thus far I’m a little underwhelmed, but it’s early days. One of my book friends Sarah (she used to blog, but is now talking books via social media… I think her accounts are locked/private, but I promise she’s real and extremely awesome) inspired me to finally read some Beverly Jenkins, who is a romance household name. Therefore, I’m currently reading Destiny’s Embrace on my kindle. It’s the start of a trilogy and I bought them all together (I love a sale!) but the first word in each title is “Destiny’s” and FOR THE LIFE OF ME I cannot remember what order they go in. I’ve pulled up Goodreads for reference at least three times just this morning. So, Bookworms- what are you reading this week?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links within the copy direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested in purchasing any of the above mentioned books from an independent book store, please see the links below*

For a Muse of Fire
Gideon the Ninth
Today Will Be Different
Any Duchess Will Do
The Girl from Everywhere
The Ship Beyond Time
Destiny’s Embrace
Love Lettering