Category: Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

May 13

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Nineteenth

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance 2

Greetings Bookworms,

Yet another week of staying home has passed by. I think I’ve adjusted to the point where this situation feels almost normal, but that means my brain keeps thinking about normal things. Like, it’ll pop into my head that I should run to the store to pick something up. But running to the store isn’t just a spur of the moment thing anymore. We try to get our groceries via curbside pickup and Jim is our designated “going out in public” person. Sam and I take a lot of walks through the neighborhood, but since it’s easy to keep our distance outdoors in our little neighborhood, we have little reason to don masks, so that, at least, doesn’t feel different. I still miss daycare, I miss my office, I miss book club, I miss taking Sam to the zoo and the pool and the children’s museum. I keep telling myself that this won’t be forever, but sometimes little things weigh on me. Like the fact that staying away from our extended family means that Sammy’s grandparents are missing out on the last bit of his being 2. Why does 2 still kind of feel like baby territory but 3 seems like full on kid? I love that I get to soak up all the snuggles and silliness of his remaining babyhood, but hate that other people who love him are missing out. I know my struggles are very, very low on the scale of awfulness with regard to COVID-19, but this dang virus has wiggled its way into every single facet of life and it sucks. I’ve never actively wanted to murder a micro-organism before, but if there were a magic sword that could defeat it? I’d be on a QUEST to find that magical hunk of metal and slay the beast! (Forgive me, Sam has watched Onward a lot in the past month.)

But guess what? I’ve been reading still!!! Want to hear about this week’s reads? Of course you do, why else would you be here? Let’s begin, shall we?

Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan: This was a sweet little novella starring a mathematics prodigy. She is sorely under utilized professionally by virtue of being both female and Black in the 19th Century. A rakish writer falls for her and is particularly drawn to her brilliant mind. He finds her enthusiasm for mathematics and astronomy intoxicating, because who wouldn’t? The hero in question is Stephen Shaughnessy, who was a side character with an important role in The The Suffragette Scandal (review) I loved Rose as a character, I just didn’t see her with Stephen. I don’t know why, exactly. There were a lot of great things about this novella, I just wasn’t as invested in the pairing as I wanted to be. Dare I say it? Rose could do better. Please, do not pelt me with tomatoes.

Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin:  What a fun rom-com! Part Shakespearean comedy, part Pride and Prejudice, and still wholly creative. Set in modern-day Toronto, Ayesha Shamsi is part of a large extended Indian Muslim family. While her flighty younger cousin Hamsa is preparing for an arranged marriage to a handsome, wealthy suitor, at 27, Ayesha is still holding out hope for a love match. She never expects to fall for an uptight, conservative man, but there’s just something about Khalid… Extremely chaste sparks fly amid mistaken identities, rumors, and familial scandals. I stayed up WAY TOO LATE reading this one because I couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend!

So where does that leave us for the coming week? I’m still trying to get through The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali. I’m nearly done, but Mr. Inconsistent Naps has continued to put a damper on my audio book mojo. As for eyeball reads, well, I don’t know yet. I finished Ayesha At Last super late last night and didn’t start anything new yet. I’ve got some delightful things waiting for me, so we’ll see what strikes my fancy. How are y’all holding up, Bookworms? What have you been reading?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent book store. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home! 

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Apr 01

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Thirteenth

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Weekly Wrap-Up 6

Howdy Bookworms,

The thirteenth weekly wrap up sounds a bit ominous doesn’t it? Want to know what’s scarier than living through a plague? Having a friggin TORNADO touch down less than a block from your house during a global pandemic. YEAH. Thank heaven it ended up being a weak (EF0-EF1) tornado. We lost some beautiful old trees on the neighboring golf course, but nobody’s home suffered major damage. One house had half a tree on its roof, but the roof wasn’t leaking, at least, so damage? Yes. Major? Well, certainly not catastrophic. We didn’t even realize how close a call we’d had until the next day, it was just one of those “oh heck, better hustle to the basement” moments. Sam was extremely excited to watch the weather maps and to get his bedtime extended. Suffice it to say my nerves are FRAYED. Calm the heck DOWN, Mother Nature, we GET IT.

This is the tornado’s path according to our local news. I added an arrow to point to our approximate location. NOT COOL.

Let’s get past the terror of what could have been for a moment, shall we? I FINISHED A BOOK!!! Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey was so good! Like, once I really got into it, I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up past my bedtime to finish it AND forgot for a few minutes after emerging what was actually going on in the real world. It was everything I needed from a book. A non-magical private investigator is tasked with solving a murder at a magical school. The book immediately starts with a Harry Potter reference, so it’s delightfully self aware and just a little bit cheeky. Ivy Gamble has been largely estranged from her twin sister for years- a rift coinciding with the beginning of Tabitha’s magical education and compounded by their mother’s death. It’s a feelings minefield between these two! It’s also an exceptionally good murder mystery, which, admittedly, is not usually my jam. Very twisty, very smart, very magical. I highly recommend it!

So, what am I reading now? I’m still working my way through my audio book of Miracle Creek by Angie Kim and, naps willing, should finish it up soon. I also started A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi- it’s the second in the The Star-Touched Queen series. Admittedly, it’s been quite a long time since I read The Star-Touched Queen, so I was worried I’d be a little lost, but it’s all coming back quite nicely. Roshani Chokshi writes the most delightful demons.

How are things going for you, Bookworms? Stay safe and healthy- the world needs you.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the above text direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through a local, independent bookstore, please consider using the links below. And, as always, be sure to look into the digital offerings from your public library. 
Magic for Liars
Miracle Creek
The Star-Touched Queen
A Crown of Wishes

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Mar 18

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Eleventh

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Hi Bookworms,

Holy. Crap. This week has seemed ONE THOUSAND YEARS LONG. In the span of seven days, the Coronavirus has thrown life in the US (and around much of the world) into absolute chaos. My company did the responsible thing and mandated that we work from home at least for the next 2 weeks, which is convenient because the state of Illinois has since shut down all schools. Technically daycares haven’t been officially shut down, but ours made the right call and closed up shop along with the schools. My husband works in healthcare IT, so we don’t entirely know what his working situation is going to look like. I mean, if there were ever a time for healthcare’s tech to be top notch, it’s RIGHT NOW. I’m sure we’ll know more as the week progresses.

I know we’re outrageously lucky. Jim and I both have jobs that we’re still able to do (well, mostly. TODDLER.) We have paid leave if we were to get sick. We have health insurance. We might go a little stir crazy, but we’re going to be OK. When the enormity of the situation gets to be too much, I focus on that, and the little things that make this less frightening. Like, our community has several resources in place offering lunches to kids who rely on school to provide food. Some of our utilities have announced that they’re ceasing shutting off customers for non-payment. Our small community grocery store is having special morning hours (after the store has been disinfected over night) specifically for those 65+ customers to shop. They’re carding at the door to give the most vulnerable the opportunity to shop in the safest possible environment. Bet you never thought there’d be a bouncer at the grocery store keeping the whipper-snappers out, but hey, life is weird. I mean, I now have a constant companion whose favorite phrase is “Oh my gosh, look at her butt!” (thanks, SING) so I can’t be down for too terribly long.

Now because I lack a commute and have no quiet office space or solo lunch breaks (because toddler) my audio book listening will be extremely limited. Hence, I probably won’t have as many books to talk about. That’s good for the books I DO finish, though- they’ll get extra special attention. So why don’t we get started?

I finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty on audio last week when I still had a commute, a quiet office, and a lunch break that didn’t involve bribing a child to eat something other than gold fish crackers. I usually really enjoy Liane Moriarty’s work, but my head wasn’t in it this time. I probably would have found myself enjoying this book more were I not having to pause all the time to get more COVID-19 news. Still, the moral dilemmas and mysteries that have made Moriarty a household name are well represented in The Husband’s SecretOne of the things that made this book unique from some of her others was that it did a little light exploration of what would have become of certain characters were it not for the sequence of events that actually unfolded. In that way, it reminded me a little of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life (though this phenomenon was the entire POINT of Reid’s book (review), whilst it was just a little aside in Moriarty’s.) Bottom line? If you generally like Liane Moriarty’s books, you’ll probably like this one too.

I also finished The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan which is the third novel in The Brothers Sinister series. Again, my concentration has been absolute garbage this week, but I still managed to appreciate Violet and Sebastian’s science-tastic romance. We’ve met Violet and Sebastian in previous Brothers Sinister installments, but this book starts off with the revelation that all Sebastian’s scientific accolades are actually the result of Violet’s work. As usual, Milan hits the historical elements hard- there are a number of women that we know about throughout history (and many who remain un-credited) who made impressive scientific breakthroughs in a time and society where it was considered improper for women to engage in such pursuits. Violet partners with Sebastian because even though she’s attempted to submit her impressive and controversial work to professional publications, she’s summarily dismissed simply on the basis of her sex. The Countess Conspiracy is an excellent addition to The Brothers Sinister series, but I think I’m going to take a break before carrying on. Right now, I DESPERATELY want fluffy, cheeky period romances to get my mind off of things, and Milan’s tend a bit heavier. I’ll circle back around, but I’m pausing the binge read for now.

Instead, I’m going in a completely different direction and tackling Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. Remember when I read those bonkers hippo cowboy books last year? How could I NOT pick up more Sarah Gailey after that? AND they started Magic for Liars off with a Harry Potter reference on the very first page, so this may just be the escape I need right now. Or not. There was also an extremely gruesome murder in the very little bit I read so far. IDK. I also started an audio book, though I have absolutely no idea when I’m going to finish it with my extremely limited audio time. For what it’s worth, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is fascinating so far, but it’ll probably be a while before I’m able to tell you all about it.

So, Bookworms. How are you holding up?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the above text direct to Amazon Kindle books, because that’s how I’m personally getting most of my books right now. Please also check out your Public Library’s Digital offerings- they’re a fantastic resource for keeping yourself entertained with zero germ spread. And, it goes without saying that Independent Book Stores are really going to be hurting during this time, so if you’d like to purchase through a local, independent book store, please consider using the links below:

The Husband’s Secret
The Countess Conspiracy
Magic for Liars
Miracle Creek

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Mar 10

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Tenth

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There, Bookworms,

Last week Jim and I went on a trip. Sammers stayed with his grandparents, and even though it was the first time we’d been away from him overnight (yes reader, I did sob when we left) he did amazing. So we took a road trip to Florida to spend some time with the Mouse. Of course, our trip coincided with the explosion of scariness with Covid-19, and as I was standing in line for It’s a Small World, surrounded by people from all over the globe, my Twitter feed was like “CANCEL ALL THE EVENTS! AVOID CROWDS!” Sooooo that put a bit of a damper on my mood, because it was clearly way too late. But, since we were already there, we made the best of things and washed our hands carefully and ate at nice restaurants and drank some wine and did all the things that we wouldn’t have been able to do with Sam in tow. Also, as far as contagions go, two adults can be fairly meticulous about cleanliness, but a toddler? Yeah he’d definitely have licked something a million people had touched, so it was probably for the best that he only licked everything in Grandma and PopPop’s house. (He had a fantastic week and was spoiled rotten. He came home with a bag of new books, a new Spiderman baseball cap, and a smiley face balloon. And clean laundry! God bless my in-laws forever and ever.)

But what about the BOOKS, Katie?! Right! Well, since we were road tripping, I spent a fair amount of time playing navigator, and trying to re-route us away from traffic in major cities. We got lucky with Nashville traffic both coming and going (though coming back we were a little concerned because a tornado had ripped through a few days earlier, but the highways were clear and safe a few days later, so good job cleanup crews, and best of luck rebuilding, Nashville!) Unfortunately, an unexpected jam in Florida and completely predictable traffic in Atlanta caught us on the way back. Anyway. I did do some reading, though, obviously not as much as usual, because of the merry making, the worrying, the navigating, etc. Before we left I purchased The Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan on my kindle, and I made my way through two full length novels and one novella. Romance novels are pretty much all I can handle mentally right now. The many, many, plague and apocalypse books I’ve read over the years are haunting me enough as it is. Although, every time characters get close to kissing I think to myself, “Well, y’all might as well go ahead and swap spit because you’ve already shared all kinds of droplets with your breathy exhales…” It’s not like I have an underlying anxiety disorder or anything… Oh wait…

I started Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War before we left and finished it up on the trip south. Because I’d read The Governess Affair (review), I was already familiar with the protagonist Robert, Duke of Clermont. He grew up being used as a pawn in his parents’ loveless marriage; his father was the actual worst, and his mother fled without custody of their child. A loveless yet privileged childhood was the plight of our hero. He’s considering matrimony when he meets an enigmatic young woman hiding behind a couch. Turns out, Minnie was trying to avoid her suitor by hiding, but will likely marry the awful man anyway because she has so few options. Her options are limited because of SECRETS and REASONS. So, naturally, the two fall desperately in love and have to deal with the consequences of the secrets, reasons, and childhood emotional baggage. I am enjoying Courtney Milan’s work quite a bit- her historical setting is a bit later than a lot of the Jane Austen era novels I’ve read, and I always learn some new historical tidbits by reading her books.

The next installment in The Brothers Sinister series was the sweet novella, A Kiss for MidwinterIt follows the BFF of The Duchess War‘s heroine. Lydia has a secret that could ruin her, a secret known only to a precious few, including Leicester’s sarcastic young Dr. Jonas Grantham. Dr. Grantham has taken a shine to Lydia, though she avoids him as much as possible, believing his knowledge of her secret to be a weapon. In an attempt to get close to her, Dr. Grantham proposes a wager, which, if he wins, will earn him a kiss. BECAUSE OF COURSE. Oh romance novels, never change. I really enjoyed this novella! So far most of this series has been slow-burn, so the novella rather nicely compresses that tension for the impatient among us. As far as historical tidbits, I can now proudly say that I know quite a bit more about 19th Century prophylactics than I did before. Because Dr. Grantham was a doctor, I also picked up some info on 19th Century medical care, and OOF. Apparently going directly from the autopsy table to tend to child bed WITHOUT WASHING ONE’S HANDS was standard medical practice which led to (shocker) a LOT of infection. Thankfully, our hero was extremely pro-hygiene, the radical, and therefore ranks rather highly in my esteem. There’s something that’s exceptionally sexy about hand washing these days. Whew. Wash those hands, handsome. Wash them good!

I finished up reading The Heiress Effect on our first night home from the trip, during which I stayed up too late and gave out quite a few nighttime snuggles. Normally, late night wake up calls are not my favorite (though, yes, they still happen rather frequently), but I could hardly begrudge my sweet little Sir some extra attention after being away. I daresay the half-sleep we shared in the recliner was therapeutic for us both. Look at me, digressing again. So, The Heiress Effect follows Jane Fairfield. She’s an heiress with a massive dowry, but she’s determined not to marry, at least until her little sister is of an age that she can leave the care of their misguided guardian. She behaves in a ghastly manner in society, managing to keep even the greediest of suitors at bay. Oliver Marshall, however, sees through her ruse, and despite his best efforts, is enchanted. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book were the descriptions of Jane’s fashion abominations. She’s well aware that she’s choosing garish ensembles, but she also secretly loves the bright colors and outlandish patterns. It reminded me a bit of a certain pink haired friend of mine whose fashion sense it more about her own personal delight than any popular trend.

So what am I reading this week? I’ve picked back up with my audio book of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret (it’s starting to get especially juicy.) I’ve just begun a traditional read of the next installment of The Brothers Sinister, The Countess Conspiracy which is already proving a strong contender to be my favorite in the series. Sebastian + Violet = 4 Ever. What have you been reading, Bookworms? How are your anxiety levels? What are your go-to escapist reads?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the text above direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop your local indie bookstore, click here!

 

 

 

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Mar 04

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Ninth

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

Hiya Bookworms,

Alas, it remains cold and flu season and I have succumbed to illness. Bleh. I spent a whole day sleeping and am currently trying to do all the things that will shorten the duration of an illness. Drinking all the tea! Eating vitamin C drops! Ibuprofen! WASHING AND WASHING AND WASHING MY HANDS! It’s been a slower reading week as a result of my having been felled, but I still have some books to chat about. Let’s chat.

In case you missed it, I wrote a whole solo post dedicated to The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. I had entirely too much to say about it for it to be smooshed into a weekly post. Check it out here.

I am fond of a number of romance tropes, but sham weddings rank pretty high on the list. XENI: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon combines the sham wedding concept with “completely bonkers last will and testament demands” and I am so here for it. Xeni Everly-Wilkins is in charge of settling her dearly-departed aunt’s estate, and leaves her life in LA to handle the affairs in upstate New York. She gets more than she bargained for when the will is read, and soon finds herself married, at her late aunt’s insistence. In order for her and her spouse Mason to collect their inheritances, they need to get married and remain so for at least 30 days. But, as we all know, sham marriages in romance novels have a tendency to become more real than the characters expect… Now that I’ve read two Rebekah Weatherspoon novels I think it’s safe to say that her love scenes can sometimes be a bit more… IDK how to put it… Graphic? Creative? Spicy? Than what I’m used to. I noticed it a little bit in Rafe but Xeni was another level entirely. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy both books, because I absolutely did, but it may be worth noting for those who are more conservative in their love scene tastes. Not much fazes me personally, but there were a few points where I found myself thinking “Oh wow. They really went there. OK.” Consider yourself warned if that is the type of warning you’d appreciate. If you’re the type of person who wants a more specific content warning than that, send me an email or a DM on social media and we can discuss it further.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone probably wasn’t the wisest choice for my illness-addled brain. I think it would have been more enjoyable to read about a science fiction spy operative clandestine love story if I’d been feeling a bit sharper. As it was, the letters between Red and Blue were gorgeous, and often poetic, but keeping tabs on the story wasn’t the easiest. Granted, it does take place between two warring time travelers so expecting something clear and linear in their correspondence was my own mistake. But when one has taken cold medication and tried to figure out how one goes about coding letters into berries and explosions and other obscure means, things get confusing in a hurry. I might try to read this again when I’m fully healthy as it’s gotten rave reviews from others. Check it out if a time traveling Mrs. and Mrs. Smith is something you might be into.

That’s the best I can do for you this week, I’m afraid. I’ve just started The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty via audio, which is always the correct choice for Liane Moriarty books because Australian accents are better listened to than imagined. I’m eyeball reading Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War. I read her prequel novella The Governess Affair a few weeks back and decided to tackle the rest of the Brothers Sinister Series. What have you been reading, Bookworms?

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

Indiebound Links:
The Worst Best Man
Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny
This is How You Lose the Time War
The Husband’s Secret
The Duchess War

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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
Binti
Akata Witch
Akata Warrior
Xenogenesis
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler
Twilight
Lord of the Flies
Eleanor and Park
Of Curses and Kisses
Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny

 

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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

 

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Jan 29

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Fourth

Bite Size Reviews, Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, My Reading Life 4

Hiya Bookworms!

In case you missed it, I published a (gasp) stand-alone review of How to Hack a Heartbreak last week (read it here). I also put together a post on the excellent pair of mermaid novellas I recently finished via audio: The Deep by Rivers Solomon and Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant (read it here). WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING? Who is this prolific blogger?! Shhhh, don’t scare her away!

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgLet’s see, what else did I read last week? The good thing about novellas is that they’re short, so you can plow through a whole bunch of them fairly quickly. Like how I plowed through Tessa Dare’s Beauty and the Blacksmith. It was another Spindle Cove story, a nice bite-size one, and I’m a sucker for a regency romance. I will say that Diana might be my least favorite of the Highwood sisters at this point, but Aaron Dawes is my favorite Highwood suitor. Something about a burly blacksmith who likes to spend his spare time creating delicate jewelry pieces is especially dreamy. Then again, I RELATE VERY INTENSELY to a scene where Diana attempts to prepare a meal and is attacked by a rogue eel. Perhaps it’s just that Diana didn’t get a whole book to display her personality that I’m pinning her as least-fave. I really shouldn’t be ranking the Highwood sisters anyway, they’re all wonderful in their own ways. Why is Tessa Dare so great? Honestly.

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I also finished up The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Whew, what a ride! Old Hollywood, the pressures of fame, the elaborate cover ups, and manipulation of the tabloids: this book had it all. When the elderly yet beautiful Evelyn Hugo decides to share her life story with a somewhat obscure magazine writer, everything is a bit shadowy and mysterious. Monique Grant isn’t sure why exactly she’s been personally chosen to be the aging star’s biographer, but it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Over the course of Evelyn’s recollections, we meet a complex and driven woman, willing to go to great lengths to protect those she loves… Even when it means employing morally ambiguous (or straight up terrible) behavior. Sometimes she feels guilt and she often feels sorrow, but Evelyn flat out says that she’d make the same decisions over again. It had a very City of Girls feel, so if you enjoyed that, definitely give this a read. (City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert is another book that I read and enjoyed and never told you about. Sorry ’bout that. But add it to your reading list because it’s a good one!)

Moving into next week I’m listening to what I believe to be the last remaining Spindle Cove installment I’ve yet to read: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare. My eyeballs are currently feasting upon Heidi Heilig’s novel For a Muse of Fire. What have you been reading this week, Bookworms?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the text go to Amazon, but if you’d prefer to make a purchase through an independent bookstore, click on the images*

 

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Jan 21

The Third Week of 2020

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump, My Reading Life 3

Greetings Bookworms!

January is so freaking melancholy. Something about the early darkness and the cold makes everything feel like a slog. I tried to liven things up by rocking my new Sesame Street Book Club sweatshirt and taking selfies (check out my new pic on the sidebar!) But January gonna January. It’s a darn good thing that books know no season, isn’t it? Of course, one of the books I finished up last week was admittedly rather depressing, but it’s SO GOOD that it doesn’t matter. My book club chose Tell the Wolves I’m Home this month- unfortunately I had to miss the actual Book Club meeting, but the book itself was PERFECTION. Even though I read it back in 2013 and totally knew how it ended, I stayed up until the wee hours re-reading and crying. Now, me crying while reading a book isn’t exactly surprising, but this book doesn’t just hit the sad note. It hits all kinds of complex emotions regarding sibling relationships and anger and betrayal and love and loss and grief. Ooof. It packs a punch. A really, really good punch.
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I also listened to Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid and thought it was great. The premise was innovative- the protagonist is taken to one point in time but makes two different decisions. In one scenario, she decides to go home after a night out with friends. In another, she decides to stay out with her former flame to see where the night takes her. What follows are two diverging stories that hinge on that single decision. It was WONDERFUL. It’s also a testament to the power of friendship. There were plenty of romantic entanglements in this book, but none of them were as compelling as the friendship between Hannah and Gabby. They’ve earned a slot on my Top Ten List of Fictional Besties. Also, you know that thing where you read a book and they talk about a specific food and you suddenly just NEED that food? I definitely bought some cinnamon rolls after reading this.

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To round out my week, I finished eyeball reading a novella by Courtney Milan. I love a nice novella, especially after finishing a giant CHONK of a book like last week’s The Priory of the Orange Tree. I hadn’t read any Courtney Milan before so when I saw a deal on The Governess Affair I snapped it up. It’s a regency era romance, but goes a little bit outside of the privileged world that I generally read about in these type of novels. There were Dukes and stuff, but they’re not the main characters (they’re also THE WORST). But also it’s not about, like, scullery maids either. It’s sort of… privilege adjacent. I will never cease to be amazed at just how FAST weddings sometimes happened back in the day. I mean, I get it. A lot of social structures required hasty weddings because being “ruined” by choice, by force, or by suspicion was genuinely horrible for women. Thanks, patriarchy. Anyway. This was a great book, and I fully intend to explore more of Courtney Milan’s work.

Now, let’s talk about what I’m reading heading into the fourth week of the year! I just started How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway in audio format and I’m tackling The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (yes, another Taylor Jenkins Reid. What? I’m a fan!) in a traditional format (albeit a digital one- even my eyeball reading takes place on a Kindle.) What have y’all been reading during these January doldrums?

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 14

The Second Week of 2020

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, My Reading Life 9

Hello My Dearest Bookworms,

It’s been a wild week. I was not expecting to be potty training my child right now, but here we are. I figured I’d kick the can down the road a little bit and use up the last jumbo pack of diapers before we gave it a go, but Sammers had other ideas. His little daycare buddy was getting candy as a reward for using the potty and Sam wanted in. Listen, I’ve heard horror stories about how hard potty training can be, I wasn’t about to miss the window of opportunity. Am I ready? Not really. Is Sam? It would appear so. I’m terrified of jinxing myself here, so I’ll just say that I’m cautiously optimistic about the way things have been going. I have now read The Underwear Book by Todd Parr so many times that I can recite it in my sleep. Not that I’ve been getting much sleep because Sammy’s developmental milestones always seem to come with a side of “Sleep is for CHUMPS!” But. This is what he currently likes to have read to him whilst he sits on said potty.

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This really isn’t even a potty training book, and it offers some questionable advice regarding underwear and swimming, but it may get your toddler jazzed about wearing undies.

In “books I read of my own volition with my eyeballs” news, I finally finished The Priory of the Orange Tree Tree by Samantha Shannon. This book is pure high fantasy of the vague-Medieval-setting/Magic/Dragons variety, but unlike most of the high fantasy I’ve read, it stars heroic women and POC. Epic chunky fantasy novels aren’t generally my first choice of reading material, but I like to change it up from time to time. I liked the book a lot, but I did have to put a little more effort into it than what I usually pick up. Then again, that’s true for me regarding most high fantasy- it’s a lot of names and places and magical phenomena to mentally juggle. Look- any book that offers maps and appendices with lists of characters and world-specific terminology is a lot to take on. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. If you dig fantasy, I highly recommend you give The Priory of the Orange Tree a whirl.

In “books I put into my earholes” news, I finished Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. I might be a little obsessed. I loved so much about it, I hardly know where to start. First, our protagonist Chloe Brown is a freaking delight, even when she’s not. She has fibromyalgia and suffers from chronic pain but loves buttons so much that she has faux buttons sewn onto her sweaters. I liked that both the main characters had a lot of emotional baggage, both romantic and otherwise. Sure, the handsome man with the tortured past is a tried and true romance trope, but Red was a one-of-a-kind dude and dealt with his trauma with a fair amount of self awareness. Chloe had her own stuff to deal with, so she wasn’t just there to magically “fix” Red. NEITHER OF THEIR ISSUES WERE SOLVED SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY FOUND “THE ONE.” I mean, yeah, they were super compatible and very well suited to handle each other’s emotional needs, but they each also did a lot of heavy lifting to sort out their own internal messes. And sometimes they even got professional help! It was just superb and I loved it. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be scouring Talia Hibbert’s back list.

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Because one audio book a week simply is not enough, I ought to mention that I managed to put yet another Tessa Dare novel into my brain.  I finished up A Lady by Midnight this morning, and it was charming as usual. I have several thoughts about this book- one being that I’m fairly certain its major plot point is where Diana Gabaldon is heading with Fergus’s story line in the Outlander Series (at this point it only has a couple of throwaway hints, so it’s not canon). That’s apropos of nothing, really, I just enjoy finding commonalities between books. It’s fun to see where different authors go with similar ideas. From a romance-specific perspective, I kind of love that Tessa Dare is willing to tackle topics like PTSD. I mean, the world has been at war since forever, but people act like war-related trauma is some kind of new phenomenon. If you think the dashing officers in Jane Austen’s novels didn’t come home from campaign with emotional scars, think again. Anyway, I’ve seen Tessa Dare do this twice now, and I like it.

So where does that leave us heading into this week? And why do I feel that I can arbitrarily start reading weeks on Tuesdays or Wednesdays? Well. I’m re-reading (with my eyes) Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and I’m enjoying it every bit as much as I did the first time. Although, several years have given me even more rage regarding the way Finn had to compartmentalize his life because people were jerks. Ugh. As far as my ears go, I just started Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Daisy Jones & The Six was one of my absolute favorite reads last year (get thee to the full cast audio recording, stat!) so I wanted to dive into some of her other work. I’ve literally barely started it, though, so it’s too early even for preliminary opinions. I will say, however, that having listened to The Offspring’s Ixnay On The Hombre album on repeat throughout most of 1997, I cannot read the title of this book without hearing Dexter Holland angstily belting out the first line of “Gone Away.” Teenage Katie was something else.

Good chat, Bookworms. Let’s do this again next week.

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission*

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