Category: Romance

Jul 30

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Thirtieth

Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Howdy Bookworms,

How’s that Pandemic life treating you? Fun new development- I’m now having COVID related anxiety dreams. Specifically, last night I dreamt I was going to someplace crowded (Disney maybe?) and I realized I didn’t have a mask on. Except NOBODY had masks on. I was aghast, and tried to put on my own mask only to have it consistently dip below my nose (the horrors). AND thanks to weirdos running around looking for attention wearing nothing but masks over their unmentionables, my dream also included me trying to figure out how exactly to construct underwear out of masks, and, weirdly, tulle. These are troubling times, people. Troubling times. You know what has yet to fail me during these times, though? BOOKS. Obviously. So let’s talk about what I read this week.

A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole- I liked this book even better than An Extraordinary Union(review)! At the very end of An Extraordinary Union, we’re introduced to Malcom McCall’s little brother, Ewan. Well, we’re not introduced exactly, it’s more that they receive word that Ewan has been captured and placed in a Confederate prison. Marlie Lynch has spent her years during the war in a unique position- she is acknowledged by her father’s privileged family despite being born to one of the family’s former slaves. Since Marlie was born free (her mother was granted her freedom while pregnant) and eventually (however complicatedly) accepted into the Lynch family, she is able to assist the Loyal League in abolitionist work. She also spends much of her time bringing aid to Union soldiers in the Confederate prison camp near her home, a prison camp that just so happens to house Ewan McCall. Ewan’s got his own set of deep darkness thanks to his role in the army, and Marlie is haunted by her mother’s past. Once the absolutely monstrous Lynch relatives decide to darken Marlie’s doorstep, she and Ewan (who may or may not have been hiding in her laboratory) are left with little choice but to run. Secret hidey holes and shocking family secrets ABOUND. Escape and adventure and stomach churning historical accuracy are a lot to handle, but well worth the effort. I definitely have a soft spot for historical female healers and herbalists, and will be reading the final installment of this series as soon as I finish my current eyeball read.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev- I love love love Sonali Dev, but something about her take on Jane Austen retellings is just *chef kiss* perfection. I read the first installment of the Raje series, Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors during a quiet blogging period, but I absolutely adored it. The second installment, Recipe for Persuasion, stars Ashna Raje, who is trying to save her failing restaurant. It’s one of her last remaining links to her father, whose loss was incredibly painful and traumatizing to Ashna. When her estranged mother suddenly wants to wriggle back into Ashna’s life, Ashna impulsively accepts a new job in order to avoid her mother. The new job is a reality cooking show, which would be great PR for her struggling restaurant, if only she didn’t have a panic attack any time she tried to cook anything that wasn’t one of her father’s original recipes. Rico Silva has just retired from playing professional soccer. One night while he’s feeling a bit maudlin at a friend’s bachelor party, he decides to google his former high school flame- the one who dumped him because her father didn’t approve. Seeing that Ashna is about to star on a reality show pairing celebrities with professional chefs, he throws his celebrity hat into the ring. He’s a big time celebrity soccer star now. Eat your heart out, Ashna Raje. And, well, a Wentworth is gonna Wentworth, I guess. (I wouldn’t have been able to make that joke a week ago because most of Jane Austen’s heroes have glooped together in my brain. I don’t know if it has to do with the fact that it’s been so long since I read most of the books or that I’m a truly horrific human being. I should hope it’s the former, but if I’m murdered in my sleep by the vengeful ghost of Jane Austen we’ll have to reevaluate.) The point I’m trying to make here is that Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion was absolutely delightful. I so hope Dev gets to do all six Austens because I’m extremely attached to these people.

Whew, what a ride! I’m currently listening to Sandhya Menon’s latest, 10 Things I Hate about Pinky and loving it. I’m eyeball reading the second Aru Shah book by Roshani Chokshi, Aru Shah and the Song of DeathSo, aside from my ever evolving anxiety dreams, life is… As good as can be expected under the circumstances. How are you doing, Bookworms?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. 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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Jul 16

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Twenty Eighth

Personal, Romance 2

Greetings Bookworms,

Who wants some Sammy stories? Last week I made the decision to watch the new Hamilton movie after Sam went to bed, which meant that I was up entirely too late watching it. Totally worth it, but I was dragging the following day. As I was reheating leftovers for lunch, I was singing bits and pieces of the musical to myself. Sammers came in and was all, “Mommy what are you singing?” and I was like “Well, buddy, I’m singing songs from Hamilton.” He then demanded to listen to Hamilton. Now, I’m not particularly squeamish about profanity, but my not-quite-three-year-old can best be described as “aggressively verbal.” I was not in the mood to have to either explain what exactly a “bastard orphan son of a whore” is, or to have my toddler repeating it. So I settled on having him listen to “Dear Theodosia” with me, the loveliest of lullabies. I used to sing it to Sammy as a baby, taking some liberties with the lyrics, of course.

ME: Dear Sammysaurus, what to say to you? You have my eyes, you have your father’s name, when you came into the world you cried, and it broke my heart…

SAM: Oh no! My heart! YOU BROKED IT! I need that!

ME: Oh, Sammy when you smile I am undone, my son.

SAM: I do not smile! Look! I make a mad face!

Yeah, we’re still struggling to ditch the pacifier. It’s a process.

In other Sam news, he’s befriended a decorative penguin doorstop thingie that I got for Christmas (see left). He’s obsessed, carries it around, has conversations with it: the works. The penguin’s name is Phillip. He’s even decided that my penguin butler Alfred is Phillip’s dad. The imaginative play is so much fun. Now, Phillip was named because Sam asks the names of everyone and everything, and I’ve been naming all our penguins with alliterative names so I can remember them (clearly Alfred predates this policy.) I did not intentionally name this penguin for Eliza and Alexander Hamilton’s son- it just happened. Sometimes I’ll do young Phillip’s rap for Sam, mostly because I like shouting numbers in French and it doesn’t include any difficult to explain language. He LOVES it and will demand that I “sing Phillip!” regularly. It’s only recently occurred to me that Sam thinks his penguin doorstop is responsible for the rap, which is the most delightful thing I can imagine. When everything looks bleak, you’ve got to grasp at charm and whimsy when it presents itself. Sam is contrary and energetic and LOUD but he’s also my favorite person on the planet. “You knock me out, I fall apart- and I thought I was so smart.” Indeed.

Anyway, I’ve been a big reading slowpoke the last week or two, but I do have a couple of gems to share with you, so let’s talk books.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert- Talia Hibbert just continues to be perfect and wonderful with her latest novel, Take a Hint, Dani Brown. I raved about how much I adored Get a Life, Chloe Brown a few months ago, and I was excited to see where the Brown sisters went next. Danika Brown (Chloe’s younger sister) is a brilliant scholar. She’s driven and focused on completing her PhD and not at all interested in romance. The stress relief and distraction provided by amorous encounters? Sure. But a relationship? That’ll be a hard pass from Dani Brown, thank you very much. That doesn’t mean that she won’t flirt with the impossibly handsome former rugby player working security at her university, though. Zafir Ansari spends his spare time reading romance novels and coaching young rugby players on how to channel their emotions in positive ways. I mean, I’m already swooning, but then, he goes and rescues Dani from an elevator with his bare hands and carries her out of the building during an emergency drill. WHERE IS MY FAINTING COUCH?! The two end up in a viral video, because of course they do. Then they fake date, because why wouldn’t they? Then they catch feelings, OBVIOUSLY. Look, this book is wonderful and charming and self aware because Zaf is such a romance novel buff. I’m also giving Talia Hibbert extra brownie points for writing a male lead with an anxiety disorder who handles it like a freaking grown up. It’s so lovely. Read this book, folks.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole- When it comes to romance novels, I almost invariably choose romantic comedies because that’s what fills the void in my dark, sad soul. (That was melodramatic, but bare with me.) I ADORED Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series but I was nervous to take on her historical romance selections because I knew it wouldn’t be all fun and fluffy. It would be romantic, sure, but also challenging, because slavery is a hideous uncomfortable beast to grapple with. But then there was a sale, and I was like, “take the plunge, trust Alyssa Cole” which turned out to be excellent advice. An Extraordinary Union is set during the Civil War. Elle Burns is a formerly enslaved person with an eidetic memory. In order to help the Union, Elle agrees to go undercover, and, essentially, back into slavery so that she can gather intelligence for the military. Malcom McCall is another secret agent- one who adopts the guise of a Confederate soldier. He uses his charm and acting ability to infiltrate a rebel enclave in Virginia, which is where he runs into Elle. The unlikely duo discover their shared connection and fall hard. But the stakes are impossibly high. And, even if the fate of the nation weren’t on their minds, there wasn’t exactly a clear path to “happily ever after” for a biracial couple in this time period. But, like I said. Trust Alyssa Cole. The ending was most satisfying and I’ll definitely be continuing the series.

That brings us to right now. What am I reading? I’m working my way through The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune with my eyes, and I just started Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev via audio. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to tell you about next week- both books are very promising thus far. Tell me Bookworms, what have you been up to?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. 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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Jul 02

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Twenty Sixth

Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up, Zombies 6

Hey Bookworms,

It’s July now. Because time no longer means anything. On the upside, my child is contentedly watching some outer space educational cartoon set to a hip hop soundtrack. There are also robots. I’m not sure what’s going on, TBH, but it’s one of the better things we’ve stumbled across on YouTube. Anyway. I have two books to tell you about. Let’s talk about them, shall we?

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon- Samiah Brooks is a brilliant software developer with a great job. Since she had the career goals portion of her life nailed down pretty well, she’s decided to tackle her next goal- finding a nice romantic partner. Unfortunately, all online dating gets her is a complete con artist douche canoe whose bad date with someone else reveals him to be a three-timing garbage fire. Although, it turns out not the be the worst twist of fate, because the other two women he was stringing along are pretty awesome, and Samiah, London, and Taylor become fast friends. Total squad goals. The new friends set a standing date to keep each other supported and motivated in all aspects of life, and collectively agree that internet dating can take several seats. It’s all going well until Daniel, a certified hottie and literal secret agent, starts working at Samiah’s tech firm. There are a zillion reasons Daniel and Samiah shouldn’t explore their chemistry, but arbitrary rules are made to be broken. Of course, the path to finding love is never simple, so expect a few bumps (or boulders) in the road. This was an absolutely delightful rom-com! The opening chapter featuring the viral confrontation with Creepmaster 3000 was completely divine. There’s something that’s just so dang SATISFYING about women realizing the guy they’ve been dating is awful and deciding to get drunk and have sushi together. I am very much here for that kind of camaraderie. And, yes, this is the start of the series. And, yes, I absolutely want to read about Taylor and London’s eventual Happily Ever Afters.

Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland- I read Dread Nation during a quiet blogging period, but it was fabulous in a historical fiction meets zombies meets racial injustice sort of way. The premise is that the dead started walking during the Battle of Gettysburg. The Civil War ended as a result, at least on paper, but that didn’t magically make life fair for formerly enslaved people. Instead, some nonsense is bandied about claiming that Black and Indigenous people were immune to zombie bites (patently untrue) and were forcibly removed from their homes to train in combat schools to fight the dead. Our protagonist Jane McKeene is one such girl, trained along side other Black women and girls at Miss Preston’s… A school for etiquette and brutal hand-to-hand combat. Because wealthy white ladies needed genteel attendants as well as security guards. I know, right? As this is the sequel, I don’t want to get all spoilery for book one, BUT book two finds Jane and her unlikely pal Katherine on the road again searching for a safe harbor. But the restless dead are nothing if not restless. These books are really, really freaking good. I know that as of now, the books are meant to be a simple duology, but I am hopeful there may be a third installment down the line. I, for one, very much want to see vigilante zombie fighters tackle the frontier.

If I want to get a post published this week, I’d better stop there. Hope everyone out there has a safe holiday weekend. Drink plenty of water, wear your mask, wash your hands, and wear your seat belt. Auntie Katie loves you.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. 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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Jun 05

Boosting Black Voices: Rom-Com Edition

Romance 2

Hi Bookworms,

It’s been a week, hasn’t it? I’m going to take a pass on a regular weekly update. It hardly seems appropriate given the circumstances. Today, I want to take the opportunity to highlight some books by excellent Black authors that aren’t going to land on any social justice reading lists. Most of what I’ve been reading of late has been light, romantic, and fun. That’s my lane, and there are a ton of fabulous Black authors writing these stories. If I can give some of those voices even the tiniest boost? It’s not much, but it’s not nothing. Black people deserve happy endings too, dangit.

Before I start, though, I want to make it clear that I fully understand the gravity of this moment. George Floyd was murdered by police, on camera, in an absolutely horrific and brutal manner. It has sparked a massive uprising of protests across the country, protests which are just and necessary. If this atrocity hadn’t been filmed, if the video hadn’t been disseminated, if people hadn’t started to protest? The man who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck until he suffocated would still be out there with a gun and a badge able to do anything he pleased. At the moment I’m writing this post, the other three officers involved STILL aren’t in custody. (*UPDATE* They’re in custody now. Finally. I’ve been working on this post all week.) And, it’s not JUST about George Floyd. It’s happened over and over and over again and the perpetrators are almost never held accountable. Police are always given the benefit of the doubt in conflict situations. Black people rarely are. It’s wrong on a basic human level. It was wrong centuries ago. It’s wrong now. It’s endlessly wrong that it’s been allowed to continue in varying degrees for so freaking long. What can I, as a white lady who avoids conflict like it’s her job, POSSIBLY add to a conversation about racial injustice? Nothing, really. And my personal feelings are not important. This isn’t about ME and I don’t want to center myself in the conversation. There are a lot of resources out there right now discussing the hard topics, and I encourage you to seek them out. I know I will be. (I’ll link some at the end of this post.)

But back to my little mission statement: there are so many wonderful stories starring Black people about love and joy. Fiction and non fiction exposing the systemic mistreatment of Black people is incredibly important, but stories of Black joy are enduring and vital. Hollywood nearly always depicts Black people in romantic comedies as sidekicks and comic relief- this list of books puts Black people in at least one of the starring roles, and every last one of them is authored by a Black woman. Let’s take a gander at some of my recent favorites, shall we?

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole- This book is laugh-out-loud funny. It starts off with a Black woman completing grad school who keeps receiving what she assumes to be catfishing emails from a African prince. Because, yes, OF COURSE she’s betrothed to an African prince. Naledi Smith- former foster kid, worker of multiple jobs, struggling student, and Princess to be? Sure, Jan. Spoiler alert- it’s not a catfishing scam. Prince Thabiso of Thesolo is legitimately attempting to track down the woman he was betrothed to as a child, out of duty and curiosity. He’s immediately drawn to Naledi, but he’s not exactly forthright about who he is. Nobody ever claimed romance heroes have the best judgment. Anyway, the book is really fun and it kicks of a series, which is perfection, and you should read every single installment.

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory- this book is the third in the series, but it’s my favorite. of the bunch. Every single book in this series so far features a Black girl getting a happy ending, so you really can’t go wrong no matter where you start. The Wedding Party follows Maddie and Theo as they prepare to stand up in their best friend Alexa’s wedding. Unfortunately, the two have always not-so-secretly hated each other so things are bound to be kind of tense. Except that they “accidentally” hook up… And then can’t stop hooking up. What? Enemies to lovers is a tried and true romance trope for good reason! But Theo. Oh Theo. He’s one of my all-time favorite romantic heroes. He’s all buttoned up and proper and smart, but then he busts out with his sweet sweet N’Sync dance moves. It’s a recipe for fun, I tell you what.

RAFE: A Buff Male Nanny by Rebekah Weatherspoon- I have talked about this book A LOT. Actually, I think I’ve discussed all the books on this list in other places on my blog, but the swoony factor on this one is a stand-out. Dr. Sloane Copeland is a Black heart surgeon. The former child prodigy has super cute twin little girls and her nanny flaked out. Finding quality, reliable childcare is tough under the best of circumstances, but Sloane has unpredictable hours. She’s a single mother who needs live-in help, and she’s been left in the lurch. Enter Rafe, unlikely but incredibly capable childcare professional. The sparks immediately fly and the two must navigate the murky waters of professionalism and attraction. Nanny-employer relationships are usually pretty creepy, but Weatherspoon flips the script. Our heroine is super aware of the power imbalance; she and Rafe actually discuss the power dynamics of their involvement. This book is the exact opposite of the gross Dad leaving his wife for the babysitter. I highly recommend it.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa- The protagonist in this novel is of Afro-Brazilian decent, which was awesome as I know know that pao de quiejo exists and I’ve never wanted to eat something so badly. I mean, Brazilian cheese bread?! YUM! Lina Santos is a sought-after wedding planner whose own wedding took a disastrous turn when her garbage fire of a fiance jilted her at the altar. Apparently a heart-to-heart with his brother and Best Man the night before the wedding convinced him walking out would be the best thing to do. Fast forward to a while after the dust settles. Lina has an incredible job opportunity, only to find out it would involve her working with both her ex and his brother- the WEDDING RUINING BEST MAN. Look, if “we accidentally landed in a couples counseling retreat” doesn’t sound like the perfect recipe for hilarity and heart in a rom-com to you, then perhaps you’ll be interested in “woman of color gets revenge on smug white guy by ordering him extremely spicy food he totally thinks he can handle.” Enemies to lovers, you know you love it.

Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins- This is the third installment of a series following the Yates brothers, and my favorite of the bunch. It’s a historical novel, set in the barely post-Civil War American West. Noah Yates is the youngest member of a well-to-do bi-racial Northern California ranching family (his dad was Black, his mom is Spanish.) While he has plenty to go home to, his traumatic past has led him to spend his life at sea. Pilar is a Cuban political activist from a family of forgers, pirates, and general malcontents. Noah has a ship. Pilar needs one. So she steals the boat and kidnaps Noah. As one does. Overall, this one is more serious in tone than most of the other books on the list, but that doesn’t mean it lacks for humor or hijinks. I mean, the lead couple end up in a literal sword fight at one point! (Not a “I want to actually hurt you” sword fight, mind. More of a “let us compete for the title of best swashbuckler in an attempt to ignore our incredible sexual tension” sort of sword fight.) It’s an excellent (and steamy) read!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert: Talia Hibbert is British, and I imagine that the experience of being Black in England is different than being Black in the US. But, racism is garbage and literally everywhere. In this book, Chloe comes from a wealthy Black family- she suffers from chronic pain and as a result she does not suffer fools. Her curtness leads to a prickly acquaintance with the superintendent at her apartment building, Red. He hails from a much humbler set of circumstances, and is put off by Chloe’s snobbishness. If only he could get past the fact that he’s inexplicably drawn to her. And then Chloe goes and attempts to rescue a cat from a tree and Red then has to rescue Chloe. Adorable, hilarious, cheeky banter- it’s everything I love in a rom-com. The second book in this series was just released, and I’m super stoked. Take a Hint, Dani Brown, here I come!

I’m going to stop there because I will never finish writing this post otherwise. I have discussed most (if not all) of these books on my blog at some point, but compiling this list felt important. Seeing Black people live “happily ever after” is wonderful. It’s critical to recognize the trauma Black people experience, but let’s normalize that Black joy too, shall we?

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

Here are a few resources for those of you interested in a more serious reading list and some thoughtful commentary:

12 Anti-Racist Books Recommended by Educators and Activists

16 Books about Race Every White Person Should Read

What is an Anti-Racist Reading List For?

The Anti-Racist Reading List

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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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May 06

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Eighteenth

Audio Books, Brain Dump, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Holy Heck, Bookworms,

This Quarantine business is a roller coaster ride. We’ll have several nice and uneventful days in parenting and working-from-home land, and then BAM. No sleep for half the night, and the kid skips his nap, oof. This post is definitely not going to be going live “on schedule” (as though I’m rigorous about keeping a schedule, LOL.) Anyway. Yeah. This is really hard. And I miss daycare and my quiet office. I have no idea when anything even approaching “normal” will be occurring, and that’s probably the worst part. Or maybe not. I can think of many instances in which I’d simply rather not know that something awful was about to befall me. Wow. Tired Katie is getting philosophical.

Another blow from last week? My BFF’s wedding had to be postponed. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but it still really sucks. This virus is horrible on so many levels. There are the obvious super bad ones like, you know, the painful and tragic deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, then there’s whatever is left of the economy (which I don’t want to think about), then the endless cancellations of events and things that make life good. My youngest cousin is a senior in high school. She got no prom, no graduation, no closure. I was a bitter mess in high school and I’d even have been upset by everything being unceremoniously cancelled. This is all so awful. I AM FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH TOO MUCH AWFUL. Which is why I’m going to carry on reading romance novels. It’s the healthiest coping mechanism I have at my disposal. So now, let me tell you about what I read last week. *Please note that I wrote this intro when I was super sleep deprived. All of these things are still true, but I had an excellent night of sleep and things don’t seem QUITE as gloomy now. No need to worry about me. Onto the books!*

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai: This book was an absolute delight! I wasn’t surprised, given that it was the followup to The Right Swipe, of course. I was, however, surprised that I managed to get through an audio book so quickly. Sam had several days of good naps last week (like I said, it goes in waves) and I was super into the story. Katrina King is a former model living an intensely private life out of the spotlight. She suffers from a panic disorder and has a history of trauma. She’s also very wealthy so she has the means AND good reasons to keep a security detail. Just as she’s gotten comfortable enough to occasionally venture out in public, some random bystander takes it upon themselves to detail what they perceive to be a “meet cute” between Katrina and a stranger who chats her up in a cafe. Once the eavesdropper’s tweets go viral, Katrina is flabbergasted that her uneventful turning down of a dude who asked her out has put her safe haven in jeopardy. Oh, and she’s secretly in love with her bodyguard, Jas Singh, who is OBVIOUSLY also secretly in love with her, and let me tell you- the real love story doesn’t play out on the internet. This book was wonderful, but it also made me feel low-key creepy about ever having found amusement in one of those bystander Twitter stories. People’s breakups or hookups or whatever shouldn’t be broadcast all over the internet. It’s a a weird invasion of privacy even if you don’t have a panic disorder/are a former celebrity/are extremely wealthy.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: When it comes to historical romance, I cannot express enough just how much I love story lines that are completely bonkers. Faked deaths, secret titles, imaginary correspondence about puppy cannons? Yes, please! Edward Clark has been living in France for years and has absolutely no intention of returning to England to reclaim his title. In fact, he’s relieved that the time limit for him to be declared legally dead has nearly elapsed so that his brother can take over and he can wash his hands of the whole debacle. That is, of course, until he discovers that his awful brother is plotting nefarious deeds. Frederica “Free” Marshall is an outspoken Suffragette who operates a feminist newspaper, and just happens to be the intended target of Awful Aristocrat’s aforementioned nefarious deeds. Edward offers her his assistance under the guise of being a scoundrel, only to accidentally fall in love. As one does. Fans of brooding strangers and fiery protagonists take note!

So, what am I reading right now? Well, my MIL recommended The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, so I’ve got that going as an audio book. I also decided to finish off the Brothers Sinister series once and for all, so I’m eyeball reading the final novella, Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan. What have you been reading, Bookworms? And how are you all holding up?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. 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 28

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Seventeeth

Audio Books, Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Time Travel 3

How Now, Bookworms?

Here in Illinois, our stay-at-home order has been extended through the end of May… At least. The upside is that greenhouses and nurseries are going to be allowed to open, which means FLOWERS! One of my book club friends runs a seasonal flower/garden center with her Mom and I’m super stoked to support them with ALL MY FLOWER DOLLARS. I look forward to planting annuals every year and I’m so thrilled that it’s one thing I’ll still be able to do. I’m hoping Sam will be interested enough to join me this year. I mean, we’ll probably have to hose him off, but I think gardening is an excellent toddler activity. (Says the woman who has not yet attempted to garden with said toddler.) I never plant until after Mother’s Day, so we’ve got some time. But I can’t wait!

This week I finished reading yet another Talia Hibbert gem, Untouchable. How are all her books so charming? Hibbert clearly has “a type.” Her heroes are all big, muscled, and tattooed. Often bearded. Perhaps not my “type” IRL, but it makes for a swoony romance novel hero. Especially when they’ve got a big, soft heart underneath all those muscles. Nate Davis is one of those big, muscled, tattooed gents. He’s a widower who has returned to his hometown to help care for cancer stricken mother. Given his unpredictable schedule and the two kiddos, he finds himself in need of a nanny, pronto. Hannah Kabbah (you’ll remember her as Ruth’s sister from A Girl Like Her which I told you all about already) is a phenomenal early childhood caregiver, but has been unable to work in the field since that unfortunate incident with a horrible man, a cricket bat, and a car. Nate hires her on without hesitation and sparks fly. The best part of this whole romance is that he’s super aware of just how icky it can be when employers take advantage of their employees when it comes to dating. He does everything in his power to make that a non-issue and to be as un-creepy as possible. Of course it helps that Hannah is totally into him because, um, hot-muscled-tattooed guy with a soft heart? How could she possibly resist?

What’s this? Did I finish binge reading the Ravenswood Series already? Why, yes, yes I did. That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert was yet another delicious morsel of a book. This time it follows Zach, a swoony blacksmith with all the muscles. (Yes, a second swoony blacksmith in the series. What? He’s the buddy Evan kept cooking for in the first book. Keep up, people!) He’s got a reputation as a ladies man, but that was mostly for show. When mysterious newcomer Rae appears in town, she and Zach strike up a friendship. She’s a fantasy writer, he’s a secret nerd. She has a truly excellent dog and just happens to walk him near where Zach takes his work breaks to cool off from that hot, sweaty forge. When Rae is in need of a fake boyfriend (gosh I love this trope) to accompany her to a conference her awful ex husband will be attending, she turns to Zach for help. Spoiler Alert: There’s only one bed! Romance tropes FOREVER!

I finally finished Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore while scrubbing down a bathroom that sorely needed it. It took me much longer to finish this book than I’d have liked, but it’s because I chose to listen to it as an audio book instead of reading with my eyeballs. Sigh, Quarantine troubles have limited my audio book capacity to nap times and my kid has gotten extremely proficient at avoiding his naps. Oof. Anyway, this book was great. Oona Lockhart is celebrating her birthday/New Year, but just as the clock strikes midnight to turn 1982 into 1983, something weird happens in the space-time continuum and she’s jumped forward in time. It turns out that every year at the stroke of midnight, Oona emerges into a different year in her life and lives, as the title suggests, out of order. This book was an incredibly clever take on time travel, and it just earned a place as one of my favorites. Watching Oona navigate her own life without much context is a fascinating and emotional journey. I love, love, loved it.

Whew! What a whirlwind reading week! I’ve also been reading books to Sam by the truckload, so I’m hoping to put together a list of some of HIS current favorites this week too. We have such a phenomenal children’s library at our disposal (since our family members are overly generous and really, really good at choosing books) it seems a shame to keep it to ourselves. As for what I’m diving into, I decided to wrap up the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan, so I’m reading The Suffragette Scandal with my eyeballs. And, even though it will probably take forever to get through, I decided to start Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai on audio. It’s a continuation of the series that started with The Right Swipe which I absolutely adored. Just give me all the romance. Maybe I’ll read something else one day. Maybe I won’t. But as for right now? GIVE ME ALL THE HAPPILY EVER AFTERS.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links above direct to Amazon, but if you’re able and interested in making a purchase through a local independent bookstore, please consider using the links below:

Untouchable
That Kind of Guy
A Girl Like Her
Oona Out of Order
The Suffragette Scandal
Girl Gone Viral
The Right Swipe

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Apr 21

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Sixteenth

Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 7

Greetings, Bookworms!

It’s been a good week for me and romance novels, I tell you what. I finished TWO WHOLE BOOKS and am rapidly closing in on a third. All of them romances, because that is all I currently want to read. But, to mix it up, they’re all contemporary romances, not historicals. It’s a genre with endless variety, why not change things up? So, where should we start?

I finished reading The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Pro baseball player Gavin Scott’s marriage is falling apart when he’s unexpectedly drafted into a book club, of sorts. The movers and shakers of Nashville pro sports have banded together and started reading romance novels in an effort to better understand how they’re screwing up their relationships. The concept is delightful- I mean, romance novels are written primarily by women, for women. Guys in heterosexual relationships (and, honestly, probably homosexual relationships too) could learn a lot from romance novels. Heck, women can learn a lot from romance novels. They’re WAY more fun to read than self-help books, at least from where I’m sitting, and a lot of them provide excellent relationship guidance. Then again, some are complete trash and glorify unhealthy and abusive relationships. Look, let’s not dive too deeply into that rabbit hole, okay? Anyway. Gavin joins this book club and sets out to win his wife back. But it’s not just romantic grand gestures- they both have to do some emotional heavy lifting to figure out where things went wrong and how to fix them.

Remember that Talia Hibbert book I told you about last week? A Girl Like Her? It was the start of a series! And yes, I’m going to binge read the whole thing because I love Talia Hibbert so very much. I devoured the followup novel, Damaged Goods. It follows the wife of that one terrible dude from the first book. And you know what? Once she breaks away from the terrible dude, good things happen. Because that’s how life works. Cut out the abusive scum bags, everyone! I know, it’s not that easy. There’s so much gas lighting that goes into an abusive relationship that it can be difficult to figure out you’re in one, let alone figuring out how to break free. But it makes me super happy when I see fictional characters doing just that. BYE HORRIBLE ABUSIVE SCUMBAG. HELLO, HOTTIE McHOTSTUFF WHO COOKS IN BEACH TOWN. Sigh. I do so love a happily ever after. Speaking of escaping abusive scumbags in search of happily ever after, Sammy has decided that Tangled is among his favorite films. It’s pretty cute that he asks for “Tangled and Gene” all the time, but if you’re wondering if you’re in an abusive relationship? Check out how Mother Gothel treats Rapunzel. YIKES. (I do love the movie, though. It’s one of the best Disney Princess movies. Rapunzel is a joy and Flynn Rider AKA Eugene Fitzherbert is one rakish love interest.)

As for what I’m currently reading, no surprise on the eyeball reads: I’m reading Untouchable by the wonderful Talia Hibbert. So freaking charming. And in my ears? Well, I’m still working on Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore. I’m enjoying the book, digging the whole The Time Traveler’s Wife vibe, but I haven’t gotten a lot in the way of cooperative naps lately. I’m about halfway through it, so I’ll get there eventually. What have you been reading, Bookworms?

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’re interested and able, please consider making a purchase through a local, independent book store by using the links below:

Oona Out of Order
The Bromance Book Club
Damaged Goods
Untouchable
The Time Traveler’s Wife

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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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