Hear me out, HEAs are for all of us

I may not be Catholic, but I know a little something about guilt. If you don’t personally know me, let me recap: if you looked up the definition of a stereotypical “goody two-shoes” in the dictionary, you would find my high school yearbook photo. I didn’t curse, I didn’t drink, I didn’t even know where the principal’s office was. I didn’t watch R rated movies. Okay, you get the gist: I had a long list of self-imposed rules. Why bring this up? Well, today we are talking about books my friends. I always talk about books you say? Yes, yes I do, but stay with me because I really do have an important point here. I read fairly voraciously (170 books in 2017, 150 in 2018) so it tends to mean that I read a lot of very different books. Some really good books. Some really bad books. When I say bad, I mean clunky writing or super obvious plots that lack any sort of imagination at all, etc. One thing I don’t mean is Romance* books.

If you had asked me about that a decade ago? My answer would certainly be different, but as I’ve gotten older (and I’d like to think wiser) I have come to find that my tastes, opinions, and beliefs have shifted and grown as I have. Growing up, when I thought of romance books I immediately equated them with Harlequin’s white bread and butter Fabio and his scantily clad busty women. In my mind that meant off limits, smut, trash, cheap, etc. because (of course I hadn’t read one) it was just reading about sex. There wasn’t anything of value beyond that, and good girls did not read books about sex. I am here to confess my sins, and beg absolution.

By way of example, for 2019 I am at a total of 40 books read already and 18 of those are Romance books. Clearly, I have a soft spot for Romance. I make color-coded calendars for Hallmark Christmas movies, so this should have be been obvious a lot sooner, ha! This got me thinking about what took me so long to figure out what makes me happy. There has been a lot of discussions that make their way around Romancelandia (ie. romance readers/authors/industry at large) over the years about debunking the myth that Romance books = bad books.

“They’re terribly written”. “They’re just porn on a page”. “They don’t have any literary value”. “They’re all just damsels in distress who can’t take care of themselves.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Just, wrong.

Let me begin by being perfectly clear: Romance doesn’t mean it has sex on the page, or that it has to have sex included. A Romance just means there is a happily ever after (or in some cases at least a Happy for Now). This is aka “HEA”. If there is no HEA, IT’S NOT A ROMANCE. This is a very common misconception about the genre in general. There are a lot of times when I’m stressed or anxious that I just want to be happy so I grab a Romance because I know, no matter what, by the time it’s done someone is in love and happy and all is right with the world.

Sex scenes are not ‘dirty’ just because it’s sex. If it’s two consenting adults, who cares? There are varying degrees of personal comfort when it comes to sex scenes and that’s totally fine as far as your personal preference goes, but reading about sex doesn’t make you dirty. It doesn’t make you less. It isn’t porn just because it’s sex. The easiest example I can equate it to for a lot of people (my age and friend groups at least) Do you watch HBO? Do you watch Game of Thrones? TrueBlood? Mad Men? It’s a lot like that. One sex scene is on the screen, another’s on the page. Why is describing it different than seeing? It’s not. This is not to say that I don’t still have prudish tendencies and skim paragraphs or turn the page if I want to skip that part (NOT because I should, but because I choose to at that moment. Note the difference). We all have different levels of comfort and that’s totally okay! It doesn’t make you a better person because you skip it, it doesn’t make you voyeuristic if you don’t. If books reflect life, then you better believe all aspects should be included. Sometimes it’s just a kiss, or it’s a fade to black, or every step along the way is described. It’s really just up to you and what your comfort level is. There are handy tools to tell you how “steamy” a story is, aka how much ‘on the page’ sex or sexual references are included in a searchable format such as: https://allaboutromance.com/sensuality-rating-system/

All genres have bad writing. With millions of books available (literally) there are bound to be really bad writing that somehow finds its ways to readers. Romance is the largest genre of publishing as far as I’m aware, (and also the largest self-published genre) so there will always be stories that aren’t so great. That doesn’t detract from the other brilliant women (and men!) who write Romance books. An article from The Balance careers quoted “According to the Romance Writers of America®, the romance fiction industry is worth $1.08 billion dollars a year,* which makes it about a third larger than the inspirational book industry, and about the size of the mystery novel genre and science fiction/fantasy genre markets combined.” They’re clearly getting something right, and girl, there are a LOT of authors to choose from so there’s no excuse to keep reading a book you think is badly written. Just don’t write off the whole genre. (pun intended. you’re welcome).

One thing I’ve learned while reading Romance, is that I have definite preferences for time periods. I just can’t get into Civil War stories much. I only occasionally grab a Western romance. I generally prefer historical romances with Dukes, or contemporary stories with strong women. The most interesting thing is that a large portion of romance authors are actually attorneys. What does this matter? These women know how to do their research. Outside of the HEA, there are so many things you can learn from historical romance stories about the time periods they’re set in because a lot of romance authors do the painstaking research to be accurate for nuance, setting, cultural norms, etc. They’re not just making all of this stuff up, and you may end up learning a lot.

Last but definitely not least, Romance is FULL of strong, sassy, women who know what they want, take what they want, live their best life and have fun while they’re doing it. Yes, there are still the damsels in a tower if that’s your thing. There are also STEM grad students who don’t want to be a princess, suffragettes who go to jail, Journalists, etc. My favourite heroine is a woman who makes up her own mind and has no problem letting you know it. (I can’t imagine why that’s the case …) So, if feminism is women getting equal access to and equality in decision making (don’t @ me, this is intended to be a boiled down simplistic definition), then Romance is feminist allllllllll day long. The genre is full of characters who choose their own paths, decide what they want to do or not do with their bodies, what job they want, the respect they want to demand. If you’re looking for diversity, there are tons of amazing authors of color, LGBTQ+, etc with amazing stories ready to blow your mind.

So where to start: take baby steps if you need to (but trust me, you’re going to love it). Read on a kindle if you’re embarrassed to carry the covers around. Fabio put you off? Grab a contemporary title. Think about which trope you like: Enemies to lovers? Fake dating? Marriage of Convenience? Forced Proximity? So many to choose from and usually have an easy to find a list of titles.

A few TBR recs and others for you off the top of my head:

Sassy Historical Heroines: The Tempest by Beverly Jenkins, The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan, Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Contemporary: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Huang, Truth or Beard by Penny Reid, Intercepted by Alexa Martin, Roomies by Christina Lauren

Romancelandia Twitter: follow any of the authors above (their twitter feeds are gold), Alisha Rai, Sandhya Menon, really most authors on Twitter are worth a follow if you like their stuff. For example: Courtney Milan is a former Supreme Court Clerk, IP Law Prof and ice skating enthusiast so go for the books and stay for the color commentary on basically everything from politics, to law, to ice skating. Also, @TheRippedBodice is a romance only bookstore in CA run by two amazing women you’re going to want to get to know.

Podcasts: “When in Romance” hosted by Jess Pryde and Trisha Haley Brown, “Smart Podcast, Trashy Books”

Want more recs? Just ask me or anyone on Romancelandia Twitter. There’s supernatural, thriller, paranormal, YA, Sports, etc. romance stories you can dive into too! The great thing is, most romance books are in series so if you find one you like, there’s an excellent chance there are several more just like it by the same author.

Thank you for coming to my ted talk.

*Romance is capitalized in reference to the genre, not to books that just happen to have a secondary romantic element to them.


Finally! Some great adaption love

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100xs. When am I going to learn to stop watching film adaptions of books I’ve read?  I’m usually quite disappointed, and in some cases (I’m looking at you Eat,Pray,Love and Ready Player One) angry with change in essential elements of the story. HOWEVER, this week the #BookishBloggersUnite are taking on our favorite adaptions, because, believe it or not, sometimes they just really get it right!

This past weekend in particular included watching three new book adaptions and I’ll admit it: it was 3-3! We’ll start with Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. This book was a fun story about an American-Chinese woman who goes to meet her Chinese boyfriend’s family in Singapore for the first time. The only catch? He didn’t tell her they were rich. Not just well-off, but as the title says, crazy rich. Rachel was raised by a single mother who came to America and worked two jobs to provide food for her. Nick, on the other extreme, is basically the #1 bachelor in all of Singapore. The movie adaption hit theaters recently with an outstanding all Asian cast, and it is a party personified. Look at this trailer!

Can we just talk about Henry Golding for a moment? Someone PLEASE cast him as Michael in The Kiss Quotient! I just love his presence on screen and he’s so much of how I read that character: a quiet sophistication and incredibly sexy. There is so much fun on screen that I got lost in and hardly noticed story changes at all. During the wedding scene I gasped out loud, and that mahjong game? So good. Awkwafina and Gemma Chan really stole this movie. They did a really great job with the spirit of Kwan’s story and for any haters of this movie (really though, how?), all I can say is ‘bawk bawk’.

The 2nd adaption I fell in love with was To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I think this movie can be summed up best by: Capture

This movie came from Han’s much loved YA romcom series, and let me tell you: it does not disappoint. Lana Condor plays Lara Jean, who writes letters to boys when she has feelings so epic, she doesn’t know what else to do. The letters are her way of working through her emotions. There are 5 in total, including one to the boy next door (Josh), who  *oops* also happens to be her sister’s boyfriend. Why address them? Good question, but we’re so glad she did because it brought us Peter Kavinsky. Noah Centineo  does an amazing job of portraying Peter Kavinsky, the HS hearthrob who Lara Jean teams up with in a fake relationship to throw off Josh, and to help Peter make his ex (who also hates Lara Jean) jealous. Centineo is like watching Mark Ruffalo 2.0, and I adore me some Mark Ruffalo. The film adaption is done exceedingly well by Netflix, and you get to see Peter falling for Lara Jean instead of just through her eyes like you do in the book. There are some great callbacks to John Huges and that bashful splash scene? ADORABLE. Do yourself a favor and check it out ASAP.


Last but not least, I know I mentioned it briefly before, but we finally watched The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. It is based on one of my favorite books that I want to read over and over again. It focuses on a small island in the English Channel, Guernsey, that was occupied by the Germans during WWII. Juliet Ashton (played by the lovely Lily James) is a writer who gets a letter from a pig famer on the island. He has read a book that had her name and address inside, and he wants to know if she can help him find another book by the same author. Through their letters, we get introduced to the book club the book is titled after as well as a rich cast of characters that are not only endearing, but if you loved Downton Abbey, will make you smile with the mini reunion! I loved seeing the scenery of Guernsey again after we fell in love with the island during our trip recently. Even my husband still talks about wanting to go back there specifically. I thought it was really effective how they were able to show flashbacks to the stories Juliet slowly uncovers during her time with this new community. The only thing about this that held me back from being totally on board, is I really missed the inclusion of Remy’s character. I know they had to simplify some things to make the movie work (the book is a collection of letters so there isn’t any dialogue to work from), but for me personally, Juliet’s relationship with Dawsey has an important turning point as a result of Remy.  Dawsey, however, is just as dreamy on screen as he is on paper and I immediately want to watch something else with him in it.

Don’t you dare tell me you’re not a reader

I’m coming to you this week as the host for an awesome group of people writing for #BookishBloggersUnite. If you haven’t checked out the rest of these lovelies, what are you waiting for?! From Texas to Australia, we’re talking some recent reads that have really had an impact on how we think, how we feel, or how we view ourselves.

It’s not a newsflash that I read a lot. Currently sitting at 95 books for the year actually (believe it or not I know several people who have blown past that already this year). I read them for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes I’m just bored and there’s nothing on tv that sounds better. Sometimes it’s just habit. Then there are those times where something grabs you by the heart and you forget that the story isn’t real. That’s not true though, is it? Fictional stories can be just as real as anything. Even before there was written word, there were stories that explained the universe. They explained the human condition and how we are who we are and where we came from. The impact of those stories are just as real as any true story you may ever hear. That connection is real. Do the people exist? No. Do they need to? No.  So, then why have stories always been used in this way? I don’t have the answer for that. What I do know, is that a story can connect directly to someone’s heart in a way that many people often can not.

Sure, there are silly stories that make us laugh, or complex stories that make us think, or kissing stories that make us glad someone’s getting their happily ever after. But sometimes? Sometimes there are stories that just melt your heart in places you didn’t know could liquefy. Sometimes there are stories that make you just want to call someone up and say “I see you”.  Sometimes those stories just feel like arms wrapped around your soul.  Maybe that sounds crazy to you, but if it does you just haven’t found the right stories yet. I think that’s the biggest part of why I am so determined to be a writer. and yet so terrified to actually do it. I want someone to read my words and feel like I see them. I want to put a smile on someone’s face and make them fall in love. I want to give them a reason to block out all the noise, even for just a few hours.

There have been a couple of books that have really made me think lately in that ‘sucker punch to the heart when I wasn’t looking’ kind of way. The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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I went into this book with the recommendation that it was “If Eleanor Oliphant worked in a bookshop and had tattoos, and was slightly less problematic” or something similar. It’s a story of Loveday, a bibliophile who has worked in a bookstore since she was 15. Her childhood is parceled out in small snips here and there as she is confronted with certain things in her life. An ex boyfriend is kind of, sort of stalking her. Books that should never have been around start showing up and forcing her to confront her past. A lost book introduces her to someone who she can’t quite figure out how to be with. He is patient, kind, and a poet. She is, she thinks, just too damaged. Her tattoos are first lines of books that meant something to her. They remind her of parts of her life that have shaped her into who she is. It’s not as big of a twist as Oliphant has and I think that’s a good thing. Even being able to predict how this was going to end didn’t lessen the impact when it was over. There are a few poems sprinkled throughout that help the characters express what they are feeling and it’s an incredibly effective device. It says something really powerful about communication and self trust. Before reading this book I have never considered getting a tattoo. They’re just not for me is all. When I was done with this story though, my brain immediately asked “which line would you get” and for me, that’s a mark of a great story. It pushes you to consider something about yourself. Even if it’s something as simple as getting a tattoo.

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I’m not even sure I can put into words how I felt about this book. I originally picked it up because the audiobook is narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. If there is anything that rivals my love of reading, it is my admiration for LMM (Don’t challenge me to a Hamilton lyric based conversation. Been there, won that my friend). I’d heard a few good things about this book, but I wasn’t prepared for it in any way. Honestly? This may be the most beautiful story I’ve ever read. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a tough read (trigger warnings for violence). Two teenagers in the 80s are learning how to grow up and figure out who they are. They’re best friends. One is gay. One is lost. All they really have for sure is each other. Once I turned it on though, I couldn’t bring myself to turn it off. I was cheering for them and refusing to look at how much time was left because I didn’t want it to end. And when it did, I just sat there. Silent. Exhausted. Heartbroken, but Happy. In love with the beauty of a story that needs to be told because there are so many people that will read it and say “I see me. That’s me” and I hope they feel seen. I hope they feel loved. And then I hope that they know I see them too.

So maybe these stories aren’t for you. Maybe you don’t want something that feels quite so heavy, quite so loaded. That doesn’t mean you’re just not a reader. Don’t you dare tell me you’re not a reader. In fact, that’s probably the worst thing you can say to me. I will search day and night until I find that book that you can’t put down. The one that sticks with you, niggling at the back of your brain. The one that wraps you like a warm blanket, or makes you smile like an ice cream cone in the middle of summer. Or even, the one that leaves you sobbing on the couch, hugging a book to your chest because what you needed most in the world at that moment was to just cry and let all that weariness flow away. Trust me, it’s out there.

Influential Childhood books and a movie trailer!

#BookishBloggersUnite is back this week discussing a book or series that you most associate with your childhood. This fun topic is brought to you by Lit Chat: Conversation Starters About Books and Life (100 Questions) by Book Riot

If there is one thing you may have figured out about me is that I’ve always been a huge reader, even when I was very small. I remember sitting on the floor of our church on Sunday nights (oops) and reading through a Babysitter’s Club super book and finishing it before the adults were done with service. We were recently talking about books we couldn’t think of the name and I remember there was a book I read as a kid and I remembered really liking but couldn’t find the name of. I could picture it in my mind so I called my mom and asked her to go to our old bookshelf at home and facetime me so I can see if I recognized it. We did figure it out eventually (it was the Journal of Corrie Belle Hollister series: My Fathers World, by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella).

While we were looking for that book, we came across so many that I loved and many I totally forgot about (I apparently had quite the horse phase I didn’t remember. Misty of Chincoteague was a popular series). Many of the beloved titles we found were: Indian Summer by Barbara Girion, Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, My Teacher is Missing by Mary Francis Shura, Our 6th Grade Sugar Babies by Eve Bunting, Mom is Dating Weird Wayne by Mary Jane Auch, Chocolate Fever by Robert Kimmel Smith, The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling, Superfudge by Judy Blume, the Survival! series by Kathleen Duey and Karen Bale, and Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks.

If I were to pick three that were pretty transformative for me or something that taught me something that stuck with me (thank you for winning that trivia round) it would be:

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’ Dell.  This one came out in the 60s about a 12yr old girl who gets stranded on an island off the coast of CA by herself for many years. She survives by eating abalones and living in whale bones. Obviously, there is more to it than that, but that’s the image that has really stuck with me. I didn’t know until recently that it is based on the true story of a Nicoleño Native American left alone for 18 years on San Nicolas Island during the 19th century.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. This is a middle-grade story about a group of friends who play this imagination game where they are priests and priestesses of Egypt creating their own rituals and language. It deals with being the new kid, fitting in, an unknown person who has kidnapped and killed a child, and how you shouldn’t trust first impressions. I recently read this again and the part about the kidnapping was not something I remembered from my first read of it. It actually got a little dark there, but ultimately it works out because it is, after all, a middle-grade book. I didn’t make the connection until much later that this is where my love of all thing Egyptology may have begun. I love reading about the history of Egypt. I took a class in college about it, I’ve been to the King Tut museum tour, etc. So fascinating!

The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I have read this book so many times. It’s a story of a society that believes uniformity is a better way of life. The Community lacks any color, memory, climate, or terrain, all in an effort to preserve structure, order, and a true sense of equality beyond personal individuality. Jonas is 12 and is chosen to intern with the only person how has all the memories from before. He remembers snow, and pain, and love, etc. These memories are passed down once a generation and the last person who tried asked to be released which is essentially physician-assisted suicide. Twins get released, old people get released, and at some point Jonas decides this isn’t really utopia anymore (yeah, so I read some heavy stuff growing up) and takes matters into his own hands. This is the only adaption that I can say I’m totally on board with the changes that the movie version made. They worked with Lois when they made it and aged him up a few years for the film, and really it makes sense for the actions he is taking. It’s one thing to read a 12yr old is doing these things and to see a 12yr old do it. It would have been odd I think.

Rereading is not something I usually do because there are just so many great titles out there I haven’t gotten to yet. Of the few I have revisited (including the above, Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomon and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen) one that stands out is The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by  Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer. This book is so, so lovely. I revisited it when I got a chance to visit the island in May and it is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been (get lunch at the Ship and Crown. You’re welcome). I totally fell in love with the story all over again. Once we were on the island, I started seeing ads everywhere for a movie that was coming out and I can’t tell you how excited I am to get to see Guernsey again! It stars Lily James as the journalist who is contacted by a man named Dawsey Adams when he finds a book with her name in it. He’s looking for my titles by the same author and their correspondence leads her to visit the island and become enthralled with the community there. The title comes from the book club the island used as a front to come together as a community during the German occupation as result of WWII. Matthew Goode is also in it (swoon) and I can’t wait to see these characters come to life! Here’s the trailer for your viewing pleasure before it finally hits Netflix!


#Bookishbloggersunite is a tag created by a bunch of bookish friends who wanted to talk and write about books together. There is a weekly topic or theme, and you can link up your post so that we all can share in the wonderfulness that spills out of them. They are some amazing people and it’s been so fun getting to know them through BookRiot. This past week was the mid-year check-in.


The last few months have been a whirlwind! The mister and I went on a 12 day cruise around the British Isles for our ten year anniversary. It was nothing short of amazing! England had a heat wave while we were there and hit a whopping 76*. That’s only warm for us, but for there it was pretty hot. We were happy because it meant we could explore sweater free and in the sunshine! Scotland was probably my favorite place of all. We’ll definitely be returning to Edinburgh one day for a trip around St. Andrews. It was a total of 14 days gone and my reading list was pretty long with the down time. My very first stop on the trip was for a book that was released in the UK but not the US yet. Here’s what I made it through (some better than others but pretty good vacation reads):

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan, Second Chance Grill by Christine Nolfi, The Mercenary’s Prince by C.J. Archer, The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan, School for Psychics by K.C. Archer, Redemption by C.J. Archer


I’m really terrible about following plans, but I am keeping track of how many books I’m reading this year through the Goodreads Reading Challenge (if you’ve followed me at all, you’ll have heard of this by now.) I started with a goal of 75 this year but it was quickly approaching completion early on so I extended it to 100. I am now currently sitting at 75 books read. It’s been interesting to see the kinds of stories I have been reading now that I created new shelves. Here’s how they break down:

2 audiobooks, 2 e-galleys, 59 fiction, 1 graphic/comic, 9 historical fiction, 14 Kindle-free, 26 Kindle-purchased, 4 library-digital, 1 mystery, 4 non-fiction, 1 novella, 14 paper-reads, 3 re-reads, 35 romance, 17 sci-fi/fantasy, 2 whispersync, and 9 YA.

I clearly need to up my mystery game for the 2nd half of the year y’all.


I always have a hard time picking just one favorite book because I get different things from different stories. Looking back at what I’ve read so far this year, I think I can safely say these have been my top 5 books in no particular order:

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This book is so charming! It’s Own Voices too for those looking for reading challenges categories. It’s been described as a gender-swapped Pretty Woman if Richard Gere was an autistic econometrician. Stella is 30, successful, and autistic. She has reached that stage in her life where her parents aren’t subtle about wanting grandkids. She has never really been in a real relationship, which she believes is because she must just be really bad at sex. Enter Michael aka the most adorable character I’ve read in so long. He is an escort that she hires to teach her, ahem, things. I love their chemistry together, and his family is great. This one is HOTT, and perfect for the summertime.

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Really this whole series was phenomenal. The MC is a professor at Oxford who is refusing to let her witch genetics have any role in her life. She is researching alchemy when she requests a book from the library. This isn’t an ordinary book, this one is humming with life. So begins her journey of vampires, witches, daemons, love, battles, and of course the magic that she could never fully deny. Not only was this a super fun read, but it’s coming to the small screen with none other than the heartthrob Matthew Goode. Swooooon. I mean just look at these 2:

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This whole YA series was so great! Gia and her friends stumble on a phrase that gets them sucked into a book and a world of people and creatures they never knew existed. A world where you can jump through books to go to any of the amazing libraries around the world. There are Guardians and Changelings and Gia kicking some serious tail along the way. She’s not afraid to do her own thing even when a guy tries to stop her. She’s a strong central character and I would highly recommend all of these!

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This is actually book 2 in the series but it is my favorite of them all. Jane Fairfield is such a fun MC. She is so awkward and outlandish, always saying the wrong thing and wearing the most atrocious dresses she can dream up. All so she can stay single. Why all the eccentricities? Because she’s loaded with money and she needs to turn off men the best way she knows how so she can stay at home and protect her younger sister Emily, who has the occasional seizures, from being experimented on to find a cure. She eventually meets her match and their chemistry is great, BUT they’re not even my favorite part of the book. I know I said Michael was the most adorable character above, but let me tell you about Anjan. He is a young law student that has come from India to study in England and let me tell you, that man can make you swoon. He is polite and such a gentleman but he never lets Emily get away without checking her privilege. His conversation with Emily’s uncle is probably my fav in the whole book. I literally laughed out loud.

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This one isn’t out yet so the rest of you have to wait, but I was lucky enough to score this on Netgalley. I have loved this whole series and I’m so sad to see it go. As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood in the ancient Tarachand Empire, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. That is until she is tapped to be the 100th queen to Tarek, the Raj in a land where the wives have battles to the death to because the Kindred or the #1 wife. Only she knows something they don’t, there is literally fire in her blood. I can’t say more than that without major spoilers but if you’re looking for a strong female lead that kicks serious butt and is determined to save an Empire, you need to run to the library or bookstore and check these out!


There are several books on my TBR that I can’t wait to devour in the 2nd of half of the year. Any day my signed copy of The Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi will be here and it’ll be hard not to dive straight into that one. I’ve eyed that book in stores for months now but it pays to follow authors on Twitter. Tomi retweeted Mysterious Galaxy Books, an indie bookstore out in San Diego. They had fresh copies in and you could order through them and have them signed and personalzied by the author! I live clear across the country and nowhere near anywhere that would host events with beloved authors, so this was such a neat opportunity AND I got to support an Indie in the process. Win/Win!  I also have From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon waiting for me. It’s by the same author as When Dimple Met Rishi, so if it’s even half as fun as that one I know I’m going to love it! Jasmine Guillory is releasing The Proposal later this year, the sequel to The Wedding Date. That has definitely already been preordered. Last but absolutely not least, I also have More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer waiting in the wings. It’s a follow-up but not a sequel to Letters to the Lost, my absolute favorite book from last year. That one is a YA tragic You’re Got Mail for the modern age and I love, love, love it! More people should be talking about this book and I will continue to proselytize about it until I’m out of breath. So go read it! You’ll thank me later, but keep the tissues handy.

Witches, and Vamps, and Daemons oh my!

The yellow plague is here, aka pollen season. Being my only allergy, it is a little like feeling you’re slowly dying for a few weeks. Breathing is a bit essential so it’s miserable. Thankfully I can still get some quality reading time in as well as keeping up with my bookish friends. Speaking of, there are several out in the blogosphere that have been doing link-up posts about various topics under #BookishBloggersUnite This week is Favorite Side Characters. I’ve thought about this for a few days, but I couldn’t settle on one. Initially, I looked at this as sidekicks. For instance Dr. Watson. He is a great side character, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I wanted someone who stood out, someone who really stole the show. It needed to be someone who grew with the story and really evolved as it went in unexpected and brilliant ways.

As of today, I think I have finally found that side character. I finally started reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness a few weeks ago. It’s the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. Diana Bishop is a history professor visiting at Oxford who specializes in the history of alchemy. She stumbles across a magical book that starts to bring out her own suppressed magic that she has fought her entire life. She also stumbles upon Matthew de Clermont. A vampire who can brood with the best of them. What follows is a love story, a war, and hope for a new world. I got sucked in from the very beginning! The cast of characters expands to include several other vampires, witches, and daemons (I’m looking at you Kit Marlowe). Daemons here are the incredibly creative and sometimes a bit unruly, not the evil, glowing-eyed monsters many think of.  Vampires meld into society largely unnoticed but live by their own very strict set of rules and loyalties. Then there are the witches. Some power hungry, some genial, all powerful to some degree. And the book? It could very well hold the answers to where they all came from…and how to get rid of them. It appears to have chosen Diana, but unfortunately, EVERYONE wants to get their hands on it.

The world that Harkness creates is so rich in history and characters, that it’s hard to pick just one favorite. Phillipe, the patriarch of the de Clermonts has been writing history the way he wants for as long as anyone can remember. Gallowglass is a sweet vamp whose protectiveness makes him a valuable asset. Chris, a human scientist and Diana’s best friend, doesn’t come into play until Book 3 but he isn’t afraid to put Matthew in his place and keep him in line. Any of the 16th century School Night players, Christopher Marlow/Walter Raleigh/Lord Northumberland and their brotherhood of sorts. They all play such a crucial role along the journey, but as I finished book 3 today, one character stood out as so beautifully fleshed out and spirited I knew I had found my answer.


Ysabeau if Matthew’s creator-mother and matriarch of the de Clermont family. She is stubborn, wily, loving, and clever. All along the way, she grows from a cold, hard, witch hating vampire you wouldn’t want to cross in an alley to the number one person you want with you were you to cross her in an alley. She evolves so much over all three books that you can’t help but grow to love her. At one point Matthew tries to explain to Diana that people always knew Phillipe was in charge but that Phillipe always knew it was actually Ysabeau who ran the show. He wasn’t kidding. There’s a scene late in the story when they need to get past a vamp guard. She walks right up and says “meet your grandmother” before she stabs a dagger into his heart. At the same time, she loves more fiercely than anyone else when it comes to her family despite her personal views. My heart broke for her time and again but her strength comes across on the page as clearly as if she walked into your living room.

Conveniently, she may be doing that soon. It appears it will be a tv show this fall. Matthew will be played by Matthew Goode, and if that isn’t enough to convince you to check it out, you may need your head checked. He’s a perfect choice! Why do the Brits get all the good television?! I digress. Trust me, if you want to feel allllll the feels, go check out A Discovery of Witches and hold on for the ride.

“Don’t move” – Moriarty

Hello out there! March has almost come and gone. Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. Time is flying by this year, and let’s face it, when is it not? Life moves at a never-ending pace it seems. Kiddo birthday parties and snaps of cold weather are filling the days lately. Speaking of kiddos, Greatest Showman is still their obsession for those of you keeping score. Yes, the movie that came out in December. They still beg for it daily. It could be worse I suppose. Working from home two days a week now has been a treat. Well, “Mori”arty seems to think so at least:


On the writing front, February was so crazy we hit a stall, but we’re meeting up this week to kick back into gear. I’m about 90% sure I’ve figured out where I want a new character to go but we’ll see if she agrees or not.

In the clearly attainable goals dept, I’m up to 44 of the 75 books in my Goodreads challenge for the year. Perhaps I should bite the bullet and up the goal seeing as it’s only March. I know the year only gets crazier from here so we’ll see.

Speaking of good reads (see what I did there *insert eyebrow wiggle*) I’ve read a few good ones lately. I was a little disappointed by the new Sophie Kinsella. I love her books for quirky characters as you’ve all probably figured out by now, but this wife was so desperate I just felt sorry for her. I’d highly recommend SK’s other books for a fun read but Suprise Me fell a little short for me.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce was a little slow to start but by the time it was over, I was really touched. It was lovely! I was finishing it up while family was over and I had to put it down because I was starting to cry. If you like music at all (especially if you love a good vinyl) check it out.

For book club, we’re reading Drama High by Michael Sokolove before Rise starts on NBC. It’s their new show about how music theater transforms a high school. I can’t count how many times I stopped reading it and thought “wait, it wasn’t like this for everyone?”. So THANK YOU to my amazing drama teacher and friends whom I still love very much to this day. Sorry if I didn’t realize how special we had it back then.

Lastly, I just wrapped up The Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr and boy was it delightful! It’s exactly what you think. Two women swap bf’s at Christmas so their parents will be appeased and/or get off their backs. It ends about exactly as you think it will and it’s adorable!!



A month of love-liness!

What a start to a year! It seems like life has been nonstop since I last checked in, and here we are, almost to March already! Time flies when you’re having fun I guess. Some BIG NEWS, some fun news, and some life as usual:

BIG NEWS: I know I’ve mentioned writing before (don’t judge me on the quality of the writing here haha). I’ve been kicking around a story since NaNoWriMo 2012 that was “finished” but not revised. No matter what I do, I keep coming back to that story. I normally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but I decided to just rip the band-aid off. I’m going to get this story actually done this year. I’ve found a local editor that I know and trust and we’re working slowly but surely to get it to a version I can submit. It has been a difficult process to hand over something I’ve lived with for so long and trust that their feedback comes from a positive place. Yes, I kicked my feet at several of her suggestions but ultimately came to the conclusion that she made more sense than I did. I’ve had to let go of a character I’m particularly partial to, but I get to create a whole new one that makes so much more sense for the story I’m trying to tell. While it feels like a major rewrite of practically everything, I’m happy with where it’s going. Fingers crossed!

FUN NEWS: Y’all know how much I read, and I may have mentioned Book Riot a couple hundred times. They provide some cool perks to monthly contributors that range from exclusive newsletters, a new release index, up to a private Slack for the top tier. Due to the Slack population being restricted, I’ve been waiting for the chance to get in for awhile. Lo and behold, I finally got in recently and it is either the best thing ever or the worst thing ever, depending on whether you want to actually judge the amount of time I’ve spent on there. Y’all. I have never found so many helpful, funny, like-minded people in one place before. Anything ranging from what we’re reading, to interview help, to live chatting our Olympic love, I have fallen in love with this community all over again. I highly recommend supporting your passions and finding others that share your interests. It definitely leads to a more fulfilling day amidst all the crap we can sometimes have to deal with.

LIFE AS USUAL: So far, I’ve hit 27 books on the year so I’m ahead of my Goodreads challenge. I’ll be glad for that later in the year I bet. I’ve read some good ones and some really, really bad ones. Seems to be par for the course. I’ve been pretty good about tracking what kind and where I’m getting books so far and am finding the results interesting already. It’s still the month of love, so a few reads of love-liness lately to keep things light, breezy, and happy:

The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright. This was such a cute story about an American who goes to Oxford to fulfill a posthumous request from her mother to discover her family roots. While there she finds Edmund who turns out to be a prince, and a connection she’s not quite sure she even wants. I am big fan of royal fiction and loved The Royal We. This story reminded me of TRW, and I smiled so much while reading this. There are several instances you need to suspend disbelief (I mean come on, who doesn’t recognize a Prince of England while in England) but overall, I’d recommend this for someone looking for a light or beach read.

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane. I’ve read 2 other books by Rebekah and this one doesn’t disappoint. I did a longer review over on Goodreads with a bit more detail, but this YA love story is about “Jane” who is the sole survivor of a plane crash in Ireland, but has absolutely no memory of anything when she wakes up. She convinces a stranger to help her escape the hospital in a (misguided?) attempt to regain her memories so she can reclaim her life without all the pressures of being told what that life is. It’s a sweet story of searching for answers and finding more than you bargained for along the way. The characters are fun. The scenery is lovely. Would also recommend for a quick read about falling in love and finding yourself.

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. Sophie always delivers fun, quirky characters that make me laugh and this is no exception. Katie works for an advertising firm and has the boss from hell. Well she thinks so anyway. Having her dream of living in London crushed by losing even the menial job she had sends her back home to a father and step-mother who want to start what is essentially a campground. Using what she learned about branding, she helps them get the idea off the ground and success comes quickly. So does her former boss and her former crush. There are misconceptions, clever insights, and a little bit of soul-searching thrown in for good measure. I laughed out loud several times. The story does such an interesting take on how our perceptions are so easily crafted by either/both advertisers and our own experiences, drawing the parallels between product promotion and life outlook before you realize it. If you want a pick me up to blaze through over the weekend, this (or several others of Sophie’s books) is a good place to start.

Freedom to DNF and tracking trends

2017 was a great year of reading. I discovered a lot of new series I enjoyed, and for the first time, I was able to find satisfaction in not finishing a book. Normally I will slog through to the end of a story (and in some cases a series) that I don’t enjoy because I’ve already started reading it and felt guilty about just putting it down. It wasn’t until I got a book I was reading for my book club this year that was due back to the library that I finally said screw it, I’m done with this one. I noticed that if I didn’t enjoy a book, it took 2x as long to finish. You know what? It felt so good to move on to a story that I truly enjoyed and I sped through the next one. I only DNF’d about 3 books this year but it was actually a weird sort of relief to allow myself to let them go. Not all stories are for everyone, and that’s ok. In fact, there were several that I didn’t particularly enjoy but I recommended anyway because I thought someone else would. I know my tastes can be weird, but that’s what makes reading so great! There are so many great stories to choose from. (I say story on purpose, because I can overlook a lot of subpar writing ability if I like the story premise).

I set out to read 60 books for the year because that’s about what I average. I then discovered that I could get so many Kindle Unlimited free books with audio that I could listen to instead of music while I worked on simple tasks (and then switch to reading at home) and my list exploded. I ended on a total of 170 books for the year in a variety of formats. I definitely listened to more this year that I ever have, so I decided to track it for 2018. I already track overall on Goodreads.com, but this year I’ve created a lot of additional shelves to track the format of what I’m reading. I think it’ll be interesting to see how I trend at year’s end.

How are you changing up your reading style or list this year? I’m excited to see what the freedom to DNF and tracking trends will look like!

Last minute (book) shopping advice!

So many “Best of” lists are coming out now that we’re roughly halfway through December. This means I’m having a very hard time not letting my TBR pile get out of hand (I know, good luck with that). It’s getting harder to not just order new ones instead of waiting to see which ones make it under the tree. Speaking of, books make great gifts for anyone! Looking over all the books I’ve read this year, both backlist and new, I think there are a few that may help you finish out those last minute shopping needs.

These are listed in no particular order with a brief description:

YA for any age

  • Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer – a tragic You’ve Got Mail YA about two high school teens that suffer loss and console each other through letters left at a graveside. This story is so tender and sweet, great for anyone who wants a book with ‘all the feels’.
  • The Casquette Girls by Alys Arden (and Romeo Catchers by Alys Arden) – Books 1 & 2 in this YA trilogy about coming back to New Orleans in a post ‘Katrina’ and discovering a vampire nest.
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – super fun Contemp YA Romance about an Indian daughter who just wants to go to college and have a career and the very traditional Indian boy her parents have secretly arranged for her to marry. Their first introduction ends with a drink in his face because he is totally on board and thinks she is too, except SPOILER ALERT, she doesn’t know anything about it. Set at a Stanford tech camp the summer after HS graduation.
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – speaking of all the feels, this YA story is about first love, surviving a truly horrible home life and can there be hope after all? I just wanted to hug this story when it was done.
  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber – (I’m not in agreement that this should technically be YA) described as “one part amusement park, one part Venice, and one part game show, painted in all the colors of a gothic circus”, this is a great fantasy story about an exclusive escape to a carnival where you know nothing is as it seems, but is it too real? Lots of intrigue and magical fun. (If you liked The Night Circus, you’ll like this one! If you haven’t read NC, add that to this list too!)



  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman – this is a lovely story about a retiree who has recently lost his wife and decided that there isn’t any left for him in life, but life has other plans. (bonus: this is already a movie and Tom Hanks is doing an American remake of it)
  • The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – sweet story about a librarian who decides to open a bookstore in a van after her library is closed, set in a beautiful Scotland
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – o.m.g. this is just so fantastic. You follow Eleanor through her life during good days, bad days and worst days. She is so unusual and awkward that you can’t help but stayed glued to her as she navigates a crush and loss and then you get slammed with a jaw dropping bomb.
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – for all fans of all things royal, this story reads like a look directly into what I imagine the courtship and marriage of Prince William and Duchess Catherine should have been. You’ll forget this story is totally fiction and that they’re not really your friends.
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – classic gothic thriller surrounding the de Winters at Manderlay and full of psychological suspense.


  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – Host of the Daily Show, Trevor was born in South Africa during apartheid when being biracial was actually a crime. His memoir is a fascinating look at growing up in apartheid and what it meant to be white or black and the consequences of having the ability to choose.
  • As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes – If they loved The Princess Bride (let’s be honest, any other view is inconceivable. You’re welcome) then they need this book. It’s such a celebration of the film full of funny anecdotes from all the actors and insights into the process that brought all of the beloved characters to life.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – nonfiction, this tells the story of the HeLa cell, the first immortalized cell line and one of the most important cell lines in medical research in a time before HIPAA and the question of where do you draw the line when it’s for the greater good? This is a fascinating look at how medical research has changed over time
  • No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay – my favorite poetry collection by a spoken word poet. Kay is just so fantastic and her views are fun, and potent, and worth the read over and over again.
  • Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson – (or anything by Erik Larson for that matter. Dead Wake is awesome too!) for the history buff about the Chicago’s World’s Fair and H.H. Holmes


Just for you bonus : Delphi Effect and Delphi Resistance by Rysa Walker – YA scifi about a secret government program that induces paranormal powers in kids. The main character picks up hitchhiking ghosts in her mind and they’re on the run from those who want to cover up the program’s existence. This one is free on Kindle Unlimited with narration for those of you having to travel