Category: Weekly Wrap-Up

Aug 05

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Thirty-First

Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Greetings Bookworms,

As I write this, I’m listening to my child steadfastly refuse to nap. I will probably be crying about it in like 10 minute, but until the tears fall, let’s talk about some books. I need the distraction. And maybe, just maybe, my child will talk himself to sleep. Heaven knows he needs it. He didn’t nap yesterday and had a crappy night of sleep last night. How he managed to not pass out in his lunch is honestly beyond me. NAPS ARE AMAZING, SON. TAKE THEM. In case you’re wondering, yes, our daycare opened. However, since my job has been incredibly supportive of the whole working from home with kids thing, I’m not sending Sam back yet. The COVID cases in our local area are skyrocketing and toddlers are unbelievably gross as a general rule. Sam has started licking our appliances for no apparent reason. My child is the very definition of a super spreader. It’s a public service as much as it is my own paranoia. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself. But books. Books are nice. Let’s talk about books.

10 Things I Hate about Pinky by Sandhya Menon: Why is every book in the Dimple-verse so freaking delightful? We met Pinky Kumar and Samir Jha in There’s Something about Sweetie, both of them buddies of Ashish, whose brother Rishi starred in When Dimple Met Rishi. Interconnected books are my jam. Pinky is loud and brash, wearing multiple colors in her hair and her bleeding heart on her sleeve. Social justice? Animal rescue? Questionable choices in the dating department? That’s our Pinky. Samir is the opposite. He’s about as Alex P Keaton as they come (OMG I just dated myself horribly, didn’t I?) Samir is extremely uptight- his planner is his world and he harbors THRILLING dreams of corporate law. No surprise- Pinky and Samir are like oil and water… Until Pinky needs to call in a favor. After yet another fight with her mom, Pinky is fed up. In order to shut her mom’s lectures down, Pinky invites Samir to their summer lake house to pose as her boyfriend. Did I mention Pinky’s mom is a super high powered corporate attorney and therefore can afford things like lake houses in Cape Cod? Anyway. Samir’s Washington DC internship falls through and is faced with another summer at home with his own mother when Pinky proposes the fake boyfriend plan. In exchange for being a fake boyfriend, Pinky promises to talk him up to her mom, who just happens to be in the market for an intern. And so? Let the fake dating games begin! We all know that fake dating always turns into real feelings and even though this book is remarkably chaste, there are plenty of swoony smooches. It’s funny and it’ll hit you in the feels. Also, Drama Queen the opossum might be the greatest sidekick of all time. Read it, read it, read it!

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi- I’ve read several books by Roshani Chokshi at this point and I never stop being utterly charmed by her insertion of humor into unexpected places. Reading her glossary after finishing this book had me absolutely cackling. Aru Shah and the Song of Death is the second book in the Pandava Quartet which is a Middle Grade series wherein middle school aged kids discover that they’re reincarnated heroes and sent on quests in the Otherworld. (Think Percy Jackson, but with South Asian characters- it’s part of Rick Riordan’s publishing imprint.) These books are not only charming AF they’re also super informative. Between pronunciation guides and explanations in clear middle school friendly vernacular, the reader is never made to feel dumb for not being familiar with something. It’s an awesome way for kids of all backgrounds to learn about Hindu mythology and Indian culture and food. Kids of South Asian descent get to see themselves represented in fiction- kids not of South Asian descent get to learn things. Grown ups who enjoy quirky adventure stories will also learn things, and then crave samosas. Look, my professor in college for Religions of the Eastern World was super passionate and interesting, but Roshani Chokshi’s take on Hindu mythology is WAY MORE FUN. What can I say? She won my heart with that horse demon in The Star-Touched Queen and I’ve never been the same. If you have middle grade readers in your life, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. Every time I see a parent on social media asking for book recommendations for their kids people recommend the same stodgy old books- THIS is the kind of stuff that’s going to get your kids into reading. I love Judy Blume as much as the next gal, but there’s a great big exciting world of middle grade and YA literature out there now. At least encourage your kids read something that was published during their lifetimes! Whew. Where’d that soap box come from?

Ahem. I am still reading things! I just started the audio book of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown. It’s probably going to take me forever to finish it because nap times are my only audio book time these days but it will have been worth it, I have no doubt. My eyeballs are finishing up Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series by tackling An Unconditional Freedom. How are you all doing, Bookworms? What little gems of the literary persuasion are keeping you sane these days?

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 bookstore. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home! 

Divider

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! 

Divider

Jul 23

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Twenty Ninth

Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Howdy Bookworms,

How is everyone holding up? We’ve had a rocky week with nap avoidance. Sammy is almost 3, a fact that I can barely wrap my head around. I revel in his daily naps, but I know that all good things end eventually… I just hope that he’s not giving up his nap forever right now because I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be doing the work from home thing. We try to keep things fresh by rotating toys around and such. After seeing several tea party scenes on TV (I’d be ashamed of the amount of screen time Sam is getting if it weren’t for the actual global emergency we’re living through) Sam started offering me cups of tea in his pretend play. I did the only logical thing- I bought the kid a toy tea set. He loves it, and his rotating roster of tea party guests seem to be enjoying it as well. I never really promote Sammy’s toys, but I’m kind of in love with this Green Toys Tea Set. It’s made by Green Toys which means it’s made from 100% recycled plastic (awesome) and is BPA free… And free of whatever other initials are bad for you. I can’t remember them all. The point is, I could have found a cheaper tea set, but this one came in multiple color options and it doesn’t have any lead paint hiding in it (because we all know he’s eventually going to demand I put liquid in that tea pot.) It has the added benefit of having kept him entertained and it’s really funny to watch him converse with his tea party guests.

Sammy’s tea party with esteemed guests Pete the Cat and Phillip the decorative penguin.

I did manage to finish reading some books during this bonkers week. Well, OK, so technically, I finished one of them last week as I was finishing my post but WHATEVER I am an imperfect being. Let’s talk books.

SLAY by Brittney Morris- For whatever reason, despite the fact that I don’t play video games (mostly because I’m abysmal at them and my hand-eye coordination is complete garbage) I cannot pass up a book about video games. So, if The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith were put into a blender, the resulting smoothie might come close to describing SLAY. Kiera Johnson is a Black teenager growing up in the midst of the Seattle tech scene. She attends private school and is one of three Black kids in the entire student body. After dealing with some extremely douchey gamers while playing popular online video games games, Kiera decides to build her own damn game. A space for Black gamers to play without the overt racism or micro aggressions they’d face in other online communities. And the entire game is based on Black history, culture, and excellence. Kiera keeps her creation a secret from everyone. Her family, her friends, even her online confidants don’t know that she is both Kiera Johnson and Emerald, the elusive game developer. Unfortunately, Kiera’s utopia begins to unravel after a boy is murdered in real life over a conflict in her game. The game is suddenly all over the headlines, its players and creators labeled as thugs and online gang members. Kiera’s haven for Black folks is labeled as racist, of all things, for its exclusion of white players. Kiera must grapple with the game, its meaning in a larger context, and her own identity in both the real world and online. I think it’s just the old lady in me, but I keep being flabbergasted by teenagers in books creating apps and social media platforms and whole-ass video games. I know it happens, I’m just stuck in a 1997 mentality of teenager-dom. Which is to say, I’m definitely not this book’s target audience. It’s clearly written for a young, tech savvy, Black audience eager to see themselves represented in fiction. Just because you’re not the target audience doesn’t mean you can’t learn things by reading someone else’s perspective, though. I think this is a great choice for white readers who enjoy YA fiction and are open to the whole “shut up and listen” aspect of battling racism. Like, just shut up and read this book. Soak it in. Sit with it. Do some thinking.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune- Linus Baker is a case worker specializing in inspecting orphanages that cater to magical children. RULES AND REGULATIONS require that such beings are monitored, registered, and tracked, of course. Linus is meticulous in his work, and is content to remain in his low-level position. Which is why being summoned for a top secret project by Extremely Upper Management is unexpected, to say the least. Linus is sent to inspect an island that houses six magical children deemed too dangerous to live in standard housing. He has to make sure the kiddos aren’t going to bring about Armageddon or what have you. Extremely Upper Management would not approve of an apocalypse, naturally. How very messy and un-regulated! This was such a weird and wonderful book! If you enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and/or The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire, this book is right up your alley. It’s cheeky and heartfelt and just absurd enough to make it the perfect escape read. You know. If you want to escape to an island that also happens to house the child Antichrist.

What a week. Keep sending those toddler nap vibes, folks, because I am in desperate need.

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! 

Divider

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! 

Divider

Jun 18

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Twenty Fourth

Weekly Wrap-Up 0

Hey There Bookworms,

How are things? This weekend, my best friend got married. She and her fiance had planned a big wedding, and then COVID-19 went and ruined it. The party has been rescheduled to next March, but the date they’d originally chosen held a lot of significance for them. They opted for a low key backyard vow exchange to make things official on their original wedding date. Since travelling wasn’t in the cards for me, I offered to be a “hologram” Maid of Honor. And by “offered” I mean I demanded that I be there, even if I had to be broadcast on a literal iPad via FaceTime. So, I got to watch my BFF say “totally” to her partner of 11 years. It was a great moment.

See the cute kid holding up the iPad? That’s my Godson making sure I didn’t miss anything. I had a stellar view.

Life during the pandemic remains what it is. Making the best of a crap situation and trying really hard to stay healthy. As I’ve been wont to do, in order to keep my spirits up, I’ve been continuing to read romance novels and rom-coms. I’ve been making a concerted effort the last couple of years to seek out books written by Black women and other authors of color. We’ve all got our part to play in dismantling systemic racism, and if doing my part involves reading and promoting excellent and entertaining books? Sign me up. Speaking of excellent and entertaining books, who is ready for more Alexa Martin? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is me, because I decided to binge read the remainder of the currently published Playbook series. (Another installment is due out in October. Eeep!)

Fumbled by Alexa Martin: After devouring Intercepted last week, there was no way I wasn’t going to continue with the Playbook series. Finding herself pregnant at 16, Poppy Patterson moved to Denver to begin a new life. Or, more specifically, her jerkface parents tossed her out when they found out she was pregnant and her aunt took her in. Still, she’s managed to build a life she loves and raise her son to be a fine, upstanding 9-year-old. Who cares if she has to wait tables in a corset to fund her son’s soccer expenses? Her hours work with his schedule and she makes good money. Things are going well, until the one person she doesn’t want to see walks into her nightclub and sits at her VIP table. TK Moore, renowned playboy of the Denver Mustangs is known for his sense of humor and refusal to take things seriously. His high school sweetheart is just about the last person he expects to run into on a night out with his teammates. TK and Poppy have undeniable chemistry, but their past holds a lot of secrets. Like, a LOT of secrets. One big, giant, 9 year old who loves soccer kind of secrets. Gaaaah this book was so good! I looooove Poppy and TK together. And I love that Poppy has boundaries and sticks to them. Like, even though her kid is clearly a super talented athlete, she puts the kabosh on tackle football. Because head injuries. I am ONE THOUSAND PERCENT in support of that kind of Momming. Speaking of head injuries, this book tackles some of the uglier parts of the NFL, namely, CTE and the horrific injuries that result from sustaining concussions and, you know, being tackled all the time. TK and Poppy turned me into a literal heart-eye-emoji.

Blitzed by Alexa Martin- In for a penny, in for a pound, amiright? Everyone loves a good binge read. Brynn, whose bar HERS featured prominently in both Intercepted and Fumbled, gets her chance at love in Blitzed. While Brynn Larson didn’t set out to be a WAGS groupie or anything, her bar is set up specifically to appeal to women. Reality TV, tasty cocktails, and an extremely low tolerance for creepers make it a safe, fun place to hang out. After hiring an on-the-rebound-from-awful-boyfriend Marlee in Intercepted , the WAGS made HERS their unofficial club house. And, because their wives and girlfriends are always at Brynn’s bar, the Mustangs players themselves often make appearances. Maxwell Lewis, the soft spoken, secretly-wants-to-work-for-NASA defensive superstar and Brynn have been eyeing each other from a distance for several years. Light flirting, longing looks, and the like. Until one day Maxwell loses his cool (for reasons unbeknownst to Brynn) and ends up flinging a glass at her bar… Which ends up smashing a whole bunch of stuff. Not the best way to move from buddies to romantic partners, but it turns out Maxwell is REALLY good at apologizing. Plus, the two work out some of their own baggage and family drama before the HEA which is great. Personal growth! I love to see it! The romances and steamy scenes in these books are great, but the female friendships are just delicious. Yes, there are some nasty, catty WAGS (wives and girlfriends of the fictional Denver Mustangs), but the good ones find each other and stick together. Is it October yet?

This week I’m reading The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, which is, thus far, pretty darn wonderful. As for what’s in my earbuds, I’m listening to Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland- it’s the sequel to Dread Nation, which is a kickass historical fiction/zombie mashup. I read Dread Nation during a quiet blogging phase, but it was awesome, obviously. Deathless Divide is narrated (in part, at least) by Bahni Turpin, whose voice I will never, ever tire of. 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 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! 

Divider

Jun 11

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Twenty-Third

Weekly Wrap-Up 2

Hey There Bookworms,

I took a break from my regular updates last week because I wanted to highlight some awesome romantic comedies authored by Black women that feature Black people in the starring roles. If you’re a rom-com reader, I highly encourage you to check them out! But, because of that break, I have extra books to talk about this week. BLM protests are still going strong, Coronavirus is still out there, and JK Rowling continues to besmirch the joy her fans once found in her work (transphobia is not a good look.) I’m still working from home, trying to wrangle an extremely strong willed toddler, and I have been cooking more than I have in my entire life. (I do not enjoy cooking. I am not good at it. If I did not have a child whose health and well-being I care about more than my own, I’d be living on cold cereal and microwave popcorn. But I can’t even make microwave popcorn while Sam is awake because it’s a major choking hazard for kids under the age of 4 so HERE WE ARE.) I’m also feeling guilty for wallowing in self pity because I’m basically swimming in good fortune. Because, you know. Stable job, supportive bosses, super great kid, loving family, a safe place to live, and so on, etc. So while I pull myself together, let’s talk about some of the books I’ve been reading, shall we? We’re going in chronological order, otherwise my head might explode.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez- I have so many feelings about this book, which kind of makes sense because the book is an all-over-the-place feelings fest. Julia is NOT her parents’ perfect Mexican daughter. That role belonged to her older sister Olga, until she was killed in a tragic accident. Julia and her parents are understandably shattered by the loss. Grief manifests in all sorts of different ways in different people, and it’s painful to read about from anyone’s perspective. Julia and her parents make all kinds of mistakes while trying to work their way toward a new normal. The grief and loss are complicated by Julia’s family history, so all of this raw emotion is laid against the backdrop of the plight of undocumented immigrants living in Chicago. When Julia is sent back to Mexico for a time to stay with family, she begins to see her parents in a new light. It’s uncomfortable and sad, but ultimately kind of hopeful. Anyone who has ever navigated a complicated sibling or parent relationship, please be warned that this book will probably poke you in tender places.

Intercepted by Alexa Martin- I’ve seen this series floating around in the romance and rom-com world for a while now, but I always avoided it because my disinterest in sports truly cannot be quantified. I’m one of those awful dismissive people who has used the term “sportsball” in actual conversation. Luckily, I got over myself because it’s delightful. Intercepted kicks off a series about NFL players and their love interests. Or, more specifically, the awesome women who happen to end up with NFL players in spite of themselves. Marlee Harper is in a long term relationship with her high school sweetheart, who just happened to wind up in the NFL. She somehow manages to navigate the catty world of NFL WAGs (wives and girlfriends) only to discover she’s dating a big dumb cheater face. As she works on rebuilding her life, she finds herself drawn to yet another NFL player- her ex’s team’s new quarterback. But it’s not like she’s intentionally chasing pro athletes! She and Gavin (AKA Hottie McQuarterback) had a fling once when she and her cheating ex were on a break- and she was fully under the impression that he was an investment banker. Now Gavin is trying to prove to Marlee that he’s nothing like her ex while the gossipy WAGs absolutely go wild. You don’t have to love sports to love this series. I’ve already got the next two downloaded to enjoy via audio.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord- It must suck to have a debut novel coming out in the age of EVERYTHING IS ON FIRE 2020, so I’m trying to incorporate some debuts into my reading. Pepper is an extreme overachiever, pushed to excellence after she’s relocated from Nashville to an extremely competitive NYC prep school. She’s the heiress to a fast food chain, but until recently, that chain had been a single hometown burger joint. Pepper’s family isn’t faring quite as well as Big League Burger, but that doesn’t stop Pepper from pitching in as the resident Twitter genius behind their corporate account. Jack is the heir apparent to a much more modest family food empire, one with which he has a love/hate relationship. But his complex relationship with the family business doesn’t mar his desire to defend its honor when Big League Burger attempts to steal its iconic signature grilled cheese recipe. Jack is the mastermind behind the underdog restaurant’s Twitter account, and the gloves come off. Of course, when this all starts, neither Jack nor Pepper realize that they’re Twitter-feuding with a classmate. Look, if you don’t see the rivals to lovers trope and the #PepperJack from a mile away, you haven’t been paying attention. There is one of the aspect of this book kind of took me aback. Jack is secretly the creator of a social media app that has taken his high school by storm. I’d assume this was just an odd case of “look at this secret genius kid” if the very next book I read didn’t have a similar story line. I am, admittedly, medium old, and was about to graduate college before Facebook was even available to me (back in 2005 you had to have an email address at a participating university to get an account, so, yeah.) But I’m just like… Who are these kids and why are they so smart and have I actually fossilized yet? Sorry. I got ahead of myself. Tweet Cute is a very cute little story, and gets deep into its feelings about all the identity crisis type stuff teenagers go through. It was an entertaining read as an adult, but I can see it meaning a lot to the teenage crowd for whom it was written.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson- I have never mentally “Awwwwwww!”ed as hard has I did when I finished this book. It was just that sweet. This is another 2020 debut, and it’s by a Black author, starring a Black girl. Liz Lighty is not the type of girl you’d expect to see running for Prom Queen in Campbell, Indiana. The overwhelmingly white and wealthy small town just outside of Indianapolis is certifiably prom OBSESSED. Liz is poor, black, and awkward. She’s got a core group of friends, but she’s not exactly popular. Intense musicianship of the clarinet variety doesn’t quite carry the same cache as being the captain of the Pom squad. Unfortunately, the scholarship Liz was counting on to attend her dream school didn’t come through. She thinks all her hopes for the future are dashed until she remembers that the Prom King and Queen are awarded substantial scholarships- enough to make up for the one that fell through. So Liz throws herself into the lion’s den of Prom Court chaos, and in the process meets the impossibly cool and impossibly cute new girl… Who also happens to be running for Prom Queen. Will she fall for her competition? Will she pull off the most impressive underdog Prom campaign Campbell has ever seen? This book is super charming and fun, and, yes, features a school specific social media platform. Seriously, kids these days. I don’t get it. You should absolutely read this and revel in the joy of a Black girl getting a happy ending. Uh, spoiler alert, I guess. Whatever, I didn’t give you the details. Just go read the book, it’s delightful.

I’m currently working my way through Fumbled and Blitzed by Alexa Martin because apparently I cannot get enough NFL WAGs in my life. I’ve also just started The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, which has one of the greatest opening chapters I’ve ever read. This week’s reading is looking mighty promising. Oh! I almost forgot. Side Note for anyone invested in the Sammy-Chaos Bromance. My incredibly fun neighbor had the idea that Chaos should visit Sammy at our house. She packed that cantankerous kitty into his carrier and walked two houses down so that Chaos and Sammers could visit through our glass front door. For a change of venue, naturally. It was ridiculous and fun, even if Sam did have a bit of a meltdown when I wouldn’t let him open the door to pet the cat. One day they shall meet face to face, and Chaos will wise up and RUN from my handsy toddler. But until that day, the two shall remain the best of friends.

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 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! 

Divider

May 26

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Twenty-First

Weekly Wrap-Up 4

Hiya Bookworms,

This is the twenty first weekly update I’ve written this year so far. And, fun fact- my baby cousin turned 21 last week. I know that doesn’t seem super interesting, except that my whole life all my cousins on both sides of the family were relatively close age-wise. I was a teenager and living under the assumption that all the cousins I would ever have were already in existence when this particular kiddo arrived on the scene. And, while 16 seems impossibly young now, at the time, I felt mostly adult. So the idea that a human being born when I was practically grown is now old enough to drink? Well. I feel like my bones shall flake away into dust any second now. But it’s FINE, OKAY? It’s not like that baby cousin’s even babier sibling just graduated high school or anything. Oh wait. Damn. Please excuse me while I mourn my lost youth…

You still here? Good good. Glad to have gotten that existential crisis out of the way early today. I have been READING, y’all. Let’s talk about these books!

In for a Penny by Rose Lerner- A young rogue of a gentleman, Lord Nevinstoke spends most of his time partying. This is a regency novel, so “partying” isn’t the appropriate verbiage for the time, but my brain is fried. After the unexpected death of his father, Nev finds himself in charge of a bankrupt estate with few options. In a quest to right his balance sheet, Nev proposes marriage to a wealthy heiress. He’s completely upfront about his motives, but also thinks that they may have a bit of a spark. Penny accepts, despite her better judgement, because she appreciates Nev’s honesty and is drawn to him in spite of herself. Plus, being of “common” birth, this marriage allows Penny to opportunity to finally be accepted as a part of the upper crust. But, as we all know, marriages of convenience in romance often turn into marriages of heart-eye-emojis with a side of steam. This book was such a wonderful surprise! I had read one of Rose Lerner’s novellas a while back (All or Nothing, if you’re interested, I don’t believe I ever reviewed it), so I really thought I knew what to expect. But, reader, a novella is not necessarily indicative of what an author’s full length work will hold. I thought In for a Penny was beautifully crafted. The characters were flawed and showed real growth. The narrative was compelling beyond the surface love story. I wasn’t simply waiting for the characters to hook up, there were so many other things going on that I cared about. If you like regency romances at all, you really really need to give this book a read. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith- Divya Sharma is a Stream Queen- that is, she streams her video game play online and has an impressive following. Her following is so impressive that she receives sponsorships that help her support Divya and her mother. She’s often plagued by trolls, unfortunately, because there are a lot of garbage white dudes floating around on the internet who don’t think brown girls should be taking up space in what they think is their domain. But Divya carries on, because she doesn’t want to let them win… And she needs to help her mother finish grad school. Aaron Jericho is also an avid gamer, but streaming isn’t his bread and butter. He’s a writer with aspirations to craft brilliant stories to accompany new games. Then one day, he randomly runs into the famous D1V while gaming and the two strike up a friendship. But, you know, the trolls are still there and they both have their own specific life problems and they live in different cities so it’s not all smooth sailing. Still. It’s a lovely ride. Now, I don’t play video games. I haven’t since the original Nintendo we had when I was a kid. My hand eye coordination is garbage and I was never particularly good at it. Once things progressed past very simple two dimensional movement, my spatial awareness completely spaced out. Trying to play Goldeneye on N64 (which is a 20 year old game, yes, I’m THAT out of touch) usually finds me aimlessly circling because I just CANNOT with the depth perception. All of that is to say, I don’t know jack about online gaming, but I happen to know quite a bit about online friendships and how awesome they can be. If you like YA novels and appreciate the power of online friendships? Definitely give Don’t Read the Comments a read!

Once Upon a Winters Eve by Tessa Dare- This novella was the last remaining Spindle Cove installment I hadn’t read. Violet Winterbottom is a polyglot- her gift for languages allows her to speak 6 of them fluently, not that it does her much good in the limited sphere of gently born women. She is expected to marry well, though she only has eyes for the one that got away. That is, until a mysterious stranger literally crashes (like with broken glass and everything) the Spindle Cove Christmas Ball. Turns out the “one that got away” was more of a “if I told you where I went, I’d have to kill you” kind of situation. What? Aren’t all the best love interests spies in the Napoleonic wars? This novella was cute, but not my favorite of the series by any stretch. It’s always good to read a Tessa Dare, though. Minimal angst, maximal joy.

An excellent reading week, all in all. Right now I’m reading I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez with my eyes. So far, it’s excellent. I’m also listening to Tweet Cute by Emma Lord- it’s too early to even give a preliminary commentary on this one, but I have high hopes.

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 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! 

Divider

May 19

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Twentieth

Weekly Wrap-Up 4

Hoo Boy, Bookworms,

TWENTY weeks into TWENTY TWENTY and I’m SO ready for a re-do. Dumb year. But I’m blogging again, so I guess that’s not the worst thing? Whatever. We’re still doing our best hanging out at home, attempting to work full time and keep a toddler from self destructing. It’s hard, but what isn’t right now? I finally finished The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, because enough napping happened for me to listen to the audio book. It’s the only book I wrapped up this week, so let’s talk about it.

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali was a good book, but definitely not the sort of lighthearted romance I’ve been gravitating toward lately. Set against the backdrop of 1953 Tehran, it tells the love story of a young idealistic couple. “Happily Ever After” doesn’t come to fruition for them, and with the chaos of a military coup rocking the country, the two part ways, both heartbroken. They reunite 60 years later in the US and discover the answers to their lingering questions about what exactly came between them. This was a beautifully written book, and a compelling story, but it was a real downer. Reading about the political unrest in 1950s Iran was fascinating, but given all the political unrest we’re currently living through, the descriptions only served to freak me out. This is a very, very good book, BUT. If you need something happy and escapist to deal with the here and now? Maybe wait a while to read this.

I’m currently reading In for a Penny by Rose Lerner, which is, thus far, a fantastic romance novel. I’ve also got Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith in my headphones (literally, I’ve got the ear buds in right now) which is also proving to be wonderful. But ugh, I really hope these trolls get what’s coming to them because I cannot even with them right now. I’ve hit the angsty bit hard and I’m VERY INVESTED. I wonder if that douchey developer guy is involved… BUT I DIGRESS.

Sammers and Chaos: The Socially Distant Hangout

I’d like to end this blog on a pleasant note, because so much sucks. Since we’ve been staying at home, my son has struck up a friendship with our neighbor’s cat. You will likely have seen lots of these pictures and videos if you follow me on social media, but Sammy’s current BFF is a cat named Chaos. My neighbor is super cool, and is one of the few people I’ve met outside of the bookternet who reads as much (if not more) than I do. She’d initially wanted to name her cat Mr. Darcy but he proved to be too feral to pull off the dignified moniker. She finally gave up and named him Chaos. He and Sammers have the same energy, apparently, and recognize their kindred spirits. Every time we go outside to play or go for a walk, Sam will stop by the neighbor’s front window to visit the cat… And if the cat isn’t already in the window, Sam will shout a bit until the cat shows up (I have sent SO MANY text apologies, but, as I mentioned, my neighbor is awesome and finds the whole thing hilarious.) Chaos pretty much hates everyone except my neighbor, so it’s rather remarkable that he makes himself available for these little play dates. This toddler/cat bromance is my favorite quarantine development to date. Anything good happening with you these days, 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! 

Divider

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! 

Divider

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

Divider