Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2

It’s time for another round of Rapid Reviews, where I give quick-hit reviews to some of the books I’ve recently read. Let’s get right into it!

Disclaimers
– This post contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!
– I received a free review copy of a book(s) mentioned in this post from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These books will be marked as such.

Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
Published by Berkley Books on October 30, 2018
Source: Purchased
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The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn't turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own...

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn't come as a surprise--or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn't the hard part--they've only been dating for five months, and he can't even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans...

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik's rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He's even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik's social media blows up--in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can't be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes...

three-stars

REVIEW: This was my November Book of the Month pick. And for once, I actually read my pick in the month it was selected… I haven’t read The Wedding Date (yet), the book that precedes The Proposal, so I was worried I may be lost. However, other than some quick and relatively minor references, you definitely can enjoy The Proposal without having read The Wedding Date. I enjoyed The Proposal, but wasn’t overly enamored with it. I liked both of the main characters, and they had fantastic chemistry. However, towards the end, I felt like things got a wee bit melodramatic. I am not really a fan of melodramatic, and it often results in a lower rating despite being a small portion of the story.


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2The Good, the Bad, and the Duke (The Cavensham Heiresses #4) by Janna MacGregor
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks on November 27, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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A lady with a noble mission. A duke looking for redemption. A forbidden love that cannot be denied…

Lady Daphne Hallworth is ready to celebrate the holidays with her family. But when they accidentally leave her home alone, Daphne uses the time to work on her dream—opening a home for unwed mothers. But her quest isn’t problem-free: She’s in a battle to win the property for the home against her brother’s best friend-turned-enemy, Paul Barstowe, Duke of Southart. And that’s not all: someone has stolen her personal diary, which holds secrets that could devastate her family. Daphne has always harbored private feelings for the man her family scorns…though perhaps striking a bargain with the handsome Duke will solve both their problems?

Paul, long considered good for nothing, aims to open a hospital to honor his brother and restore his reputation. So when a conflict over the land brings him straight into Daphne’s life, they make a deal: He will help her find her diary if Daphne can change her family’s opinion of him. But before he can win her family’s affection, he has to win hers first. Maybe love was the answer to their family feud all along?

three-half-stars

REVIEW: This book reminds me a bit of Home Alone, in the sense that a chaotic departure for the countryside results in Lady Daphne being left behind by her family at Christmas. Throw in a Duke who had to help her find a stolen diary to protect her family’s reputation, and you have a delightful Christmas romance. I flew through this novel on a cold, rainy evening in DC. I likely will not read it again (otherwise it would have a higher rating), but it’s worth the time to read it once.


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2Promise Me You (The Eastons #2) by Marina Adair
on October 23, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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A heartening romance of friendship, second chances, and the healing power of love…

Mackenzie Hart has made a career out of writing about eternal love, so when she finds her perfect match in Hunter Kane, she decides to put it all on the line. Irresistibly charming and drenched in alpha-male swagger, Hunter isn’t just the catch of the town—he’s Mackenzie’s best friend. Only someone beats her to the altar. After a fresh start and three years to recover, the last thing Mackenzie expects is for her old life to come knocking…

Recently divorced, musician Hunter Kane wants to reconnect with the woman he left behind. Admitting his biggest mistake comes first. What comes next is up to Mackenzie. He hopes she’ll give him a second chance. He may have been the one to break her heart, but he knows he can also be the one to mend it.

As a tenuous friendship turns into something more, Hunter’s life on the road beckons once again. Will love be enough to keep them together, or will their wildly different worlds be too much for them to overcome?

three-stars

REVIEW: Any book that has a service dog in it as a winner for me. Unfortunately, that seems to be the main thing I remember from this story(further proof I really need to write my notes immediately upon finishing a book…), aside from the initially unrequited love aspect, and that the main heroine is blind (which, shout out for giving us a romance where the heroine has a major disability and isn’t treated as an invalid or with tons of pity).


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2A Christmas Miracle for the Doctor (Shadow Creek, Montana, #6) by Victoria James
Published by Entangled Publishing LLC (Bliss) on November 12, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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Fall in love this holiday season with this heartwarming story about finding romance, the magic of Christmas, and the importance of family...

Children's bookstore owner Addie Mayberry believes in the magic of Christmas. Or at least, she used to. So when a young customer needs some seasonal optimism, Addie sets out to give the vulnerable, heartbroken little girl the best Christmas ever. Which means helping the hottest man in Shadow Creek, Bella's surgeon father, find his holiday spirit. Addie's up to the challenge, but between tree decorating and late night talks, she realizes she's starting to fall hard for the one man she definitely shouldn't.

Drew Barrett drastically changed his fast-paced life when he moved back to Shadow Creek, but it was all worth it to give his daughter a better life. He wasn't exactly winning dad-of-the-year awards before, so he's determined to make it up to Bella. And with Addie's help, he's slowly repairing his relationship with his daughter. The last thing he wants is to fall in love, since that road only leads to pain, but he can't stop thinking about Addie. Not only is she gorgeous, sweet, and great with Bella, she fills something in him he never knew was missing. But Addie wants forever, which is more than Drew can offer...

two-stars

REVIEW: This is a cute story, with a lovely heroine, an adorably precocious child, and a hot doctor. It’s well written, has a sweet plot, and great secondary characters. BUT THERE IS ZERO SEXY TIMES IN THIS STORY. Both in actual sex scenes, as well as chemistry between the hot doc and our lovely heroine. Tons of potential, but it just fell far short for me. 


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2The Duke of Kisses (The Untouchables, #11) by Darcy Burke
Published by Darcy Burke Publishing on November 27, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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Frances Snowden can hardly believe her good fortune when she’s whisked away from her boring life by her sister who is now a duchess. Instead of becoming the third wife of her parents’ stuffy neighbor, she can be anything she wants: a doting aunt to her newborn niece, a debutante in London, or even an independent spinster. But when she meets and kisses a mysterious man on a walk in the countryside, she knows exactly what she desires—him.

David Langley, Earl of St. Ives, is resigned to marrying the dull woman his parents chose when he was a child. His future is suddenly, and happily, diverted when he encounters a captivating young woman who shows him everything he’s been missing. Ready to embark on a blissful life together, a long-buried feud between their families makes their marriage impossible. Nothing is more important than duty and family, but can he turn his back on love?

four-stars

REVIEW: I really, really, really enjoyed The Duke of Kisses. Even though the heroine’s nickname is Fanny. I adored our hero, David, who while momentarily conflicted eventually figures out who and what he wants, and goes after it. It’s also nice to encounter a hero who is sensitive and considerate and kind from the get-go. Frances was lovely, and I was very much entertained by her conversations with her friends. I can’t believe this is my first Darcy Burke book, but I’m probably going to be adding the other ten books from the Untouchables series to my TBR for the new year.


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on December 4, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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By the New York Times bestselling author who “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly), My Favorite Half-Night Stand is a laugh-out-loud romp through online dating and its many, many fails.

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

four-stars

REVIEW: I love Christina Lauren, so I was particularly excited to be provided an egalley of My Favorite Half-Night Stand. It did not disappoint! Millie and Reid are Best Best Friends within a group of Best Friends that all work at a California college. They have a half-night stand one night, and then have to navigate online dating while also sort of Friends With Benefitsing with each other. The banter and sexy scenes between Reid and Millie are wonderful, but I was LOLing on public transportation at the conversations between the group of friends. I think this is a decent depiction of adult friendship – where you give each other a hard time, and pick on each other, but you’re also there when you need each other. I truly hope we get the stories for the others in the group.


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2Snowlicious: A Friends-to-Lovers Holiday Novella (Yoga in the City Book 3) by Leigh LaValle
on October 28, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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❄️ A fun, flirty friends-to-lovers holiday romance. ❄️
Snow's falling, carolers are singing, and holiday lights are twinkling. It's the most wonderful time of the year to get out of the friend zone...

At least that's what Mike is hoping. But his best friend, Thea, is seriously lacking in holiday spirit. In fact, she's hot-and-bothered in the wrong way when her ex steals her entry in the Festival of Trees competition. Now, she needs to find the Best Tree Ever so she can win the competition before her florist shop loses business.

The catch? Thea's using this opportunity to exert her independence and stand up for herself, but Mike can't pass up the chance to play Secret Santa and lend her a helping hand.

Such an expression of holiday giving couldn't possibly backfire, right?

four-stars

REVIEW: I generally am not a fan of novellas, especially for characters that I am not familiar with. However, I enjoyed both of the full-length novels in the Yoga in the City series, and am slightly familiar with Thea’s character. Snowlicious is a quick, enjoyable read, with the friends-to-lovers trope that we know and love.  


Rapid Reviews, Vol. 2Captivating the Earl by Callie Hutton
Published by Entangled Publishing LLC (Scandalous) on November 12, 2018
Source: Netgalley
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Lady Elizabeth is hiding in the country as governess, Miss Lizzie Moore. When handsome Lord Hawkins arrives at her employer’s house, she wants nothing to do with the roguish earl, even though her heart says otherwise.

Lord Hawkins is a rake of the highest order but when he is drawn to his cousin’s beautiful governess he must rein in his impulses. She can’t be his, though Hawk can’t stop thinking about her.

After an attempt on Lizzie’s life, Hawk learns who she really is. In defiance of orders from the Home Office to bring her in, he vows to protect her. Even though he’s not entirely sure she’s innocent, she is his responsibility. Lizzie doesn’t trust him but has grown to love him. When Hawk offers her the ultimate safeguard against nefarious scoundrels—his name—she refuses. She loves him, but fears she’s merely another one of his ’duties.’

four-stars

REVIEW: Captivating the Earl was a thoroughly enjoyable read. There is intrigue, and treason, and flirting, and spies! Who doesn’t love a regency romance spy novel? Weird people, that’s who. Callie Hutton is another new-to-me author who I am ready to her entire back list to my TBR.

The past few weeks have clearly been very romance-centered, again, as I have been working on my Netgalley backlog. As I read fast, and tend to knockout romance novels in an evening, I’ve been using those to a make a dent in said backlog.

I’ve linked up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s December Quick Lit. Head on over and see what fellow readers have loved lately.

What books have you read lately?

Book Haul | Volume 1

I’m alive! Barely. The past 3 weeks have been a bit insane in my universe. My condo has been on the market since the end of October, and I finally got an offer 2 weeks ago. With a closing date less than 30 days out. And my week-long Christmas vacation between now and then. So, I have been scrambling to get my new residence lined up, pack up my condo, and schedule movers. All while keeping my pet-sitting commitments and trying to squeeze in some reading. I am exhausted.

Disclaimers
– This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!

As I am moving in the very immediate future, under no circumstances do I need to be, or should I be, acquiring more books. However, the Carpe Librum pop up used bookstore in Woodley Park supports DC Public Schools, and I am always here to support a good cause. As I was in the neighborhood visiting a kitty client over the weekend, I popped in to see what they had in stock. I got so lucky!

The Outpost | Jake Tapper

I love Jake, and have enjoyed the books of his that I’ve read. After seeing several tweets/retweets by him referencing the filming of the movie based on this book, I made a point to add The Outpost to my TBR list. I intend to read it before the movie comes out.

Ghost Wars | Steve Coll

Ghost Wars is on every foreign service/international relations/national security/terrorism “syllabus” I’ve seen. I snatched it up since there never seems to be a copy available at the Friends of the Library Bookstore whenever I pop in. 

The Great Influenza | John Barry

I have a friend in the world health field who read The Great Influenza recently, and had good things to say about it. Then, I saw a copy on the bookshelf of a pet-sitting client. When I saw a copy on the shelf, I figured it was the universe telling me to read this book stat!

The Divine Comedy | Dante

As part of my Italian classes in college, I had attempted to read The Divine Comedy in Italian. Notice I said attempted, not succeeded. Since then, I have tried to find a copy that included all three parts in one book, that was also in good shape. I found this shockingly difficult. Alas, my search has ended.

Villette | Charlotte Bronte

Don’t judge me, but it is entirely possible that I have a copy of this book packed away from preparing to move*. If so, oops! At least it benefits a good cause… Villette fits a several prompts for 2019 Reading Challenges, so I took the opportunity to acquire a copy in great condition. 

*I clearly need to take an inventory of my books to keep in my phone for when my shelf is out of sight.

As I Lay Dying | William Faulkner

Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is a Catching Up On Classic’s January selection. As a baller on a budget, I tried to find an inexpensive eBook version, but couldn’t find a copy anywhere for under $10. A physical copy for $2 – purchased. 

queen victoria. we're going to need more wine. wuthering heights. golden state killer.

Victoria The Queen | Julia Baird

Harking back to Non-fiction November, I had noted that I really wanted to read Victoria the Queen, both because I love Queen Victoria, and because I have a grossly delinquent ARC to read/review. With the amount of work I still have for my move, and then ultimately all the post-move work (unpacking, goodwill runs, breaking down boxes, etc.), I figured this was a decent use of my December Audible credit. Reading while I work!

We’re Going to Need More Wine | Gabrielle Union

I’ve heard great things about We’re Gonna Need More Wine, and it was an Audible Deal of the Day at $2.95 recently. 

Wuthering Heights | Emily Bronte

Another steal at $2.99 (since I already own a Kindle copy), as I would listen to Juliet Stevenson read the phone book to me. I think this will fit a few reading challenge prompts as well. 

Evil Has a Name | Paul Holes & Jim Clemente

I loved I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, and I think it will be super interesting to hear about the case from the perspective of the Detectives who investigated and solved it. I used an Audible credit I had sitting in my account from returning a book.

life of pi. i'd rather be reading. when breath becomes air. this is how it always is.

Life of Pi | Yann Martel

Another book that will fit numerous 2019 reading challenge prompts, Life of Pi was on sale for Kindle over the weekend, and I had some credits to spend. I have the audiobook as well, so I am thinking I may read along so I can highlight and then import my highlights into my Evernote reading notes notebook #doingitfortheblog.

I’d Rather Be Reading | Anne Bogel

I am a fan of Anne’s blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, so I was excited to snag the eBook of I’d Rather Be Reading when it was on sale. I am looking forward to curling up with this one over Christmas vacation.

When Breath Becomes Air | Paul Kalanithi

I feel like I’ve been morbidly drawn to biographies/autobiographies of people who have died from major illnesses this year. When Breath Becomes Air seems to be on every Must Read list, so again, I snagged it when it was on sale. 

 This Is How It Always Is | Laurie Frankel

This Is How It Always Is was the Hello Sunshine Book Club October pick, which I never got around to reading on time. Seeing it on sale, I decided to snag it and remove myself from the never-ending wait list at the library.

Whew! I hadn’t realized I had acquired so many books since Friday until I began writing this post. It might be time to start considering a book buying ban for 2019…

What books have you recently acquired?

For the duke’s eyes only | lenora bell

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For the duke’s eyes only | lenora bellFor the Duke's Eyes Only (School for Dukes, #2) by Lenora Bell
Published by Avon on September 18, 2018
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Lady India Rochester is a badass archaeologist who knows how to wield a dagger and has an even sharper knack for uncovering history's forgotten women. Daniel Bonds, the Duke of Ravenwood, is a thrill-seeking antiquities hunter. At least that's what he wants the world to think. When the Rosetta Stone is stolen from the British Museum, the former friends-turned-rivals must team up to prevent an international incident, all while avoiding falling in love.

*modified from from the official synopsis*

four-stars

.

What I Liked

  • I want to be Lady India Rochester when I grow up. She’s an expert in ancient Egyptian antiquities, knows a ton of bawdy jokes, and knows how to handle her shit. Also, our introduction to her? She’s dressed as a man, crashing a males-only antiquity society meeting:

She’d bound her bosom with linen to achieve the illusion of a young buck dressed in the first stare of fashion: blue greatcoat over a frock coat of black superfine, gold-embroidered waistcoat, buff colored trousers, and polished black boots.

She looked quite dashing if she did say so herself.

Indy’s mother loved to remind her that she displayed none of the pleasing traits of femininity. She never simpered or flirted, abhorred frills and furbelows, carried a dagger at her hip and know how to use it, and had once been told that her gait resembled that of a swaggering tomcat.

  • The chemistry between Indy and Raven is fantastic. Their bickering and snarking is highly entertaining and made me snortlaugh on public transportation more than once #notagoodlook. They are constantly fighting each other as well as their attraction to each other, which means the reader gets witty insults followed by lots of smoochies.
  • The plot of this book is insanely ridiculous. Like stupid silly. And I loved it.
  • Bell was clearly inspired by both Indiana Jones (right down to the “Indy” nickname) and James Bond. Indy is a well-traveled, serious archeology expert, while Raven is a spy posing as an antiquities mercenary. There are even characters named Uncle M(alcom), and Miss Mina Penny!
  • This book kills it in the consent arena during the sexytime scenes. Raven doesn’t want to take advantage of Indy after she goes toe to toe with a Russian in vodka bevvies, and he always asks her if she’s sure at each encounter regardless of the physical level it might entail.
  • I feel like a lot of romance novels have a plot thread where the hero needs to be tamed by the heroine over the course of the book, resulting in the reformation of the hero’s roguish ways. Here, Raven has loved Indy since he was 12, has wanted to be with her even though he thinks he can’t/shouldn’t, and always keeps an eye out for her behind the scenes.

And what I didn’t

  • THERE IS WAY TOO MUCH FUCKING SHAKESPEARE IN THIS BOOK. I am perhaps a smidge overly sensitive to this because I really do not enjoy Shakespeare.
  • This book ends really abruptly. I even knew this was coming thanks to a Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review, and I was still caught off guard by how jolting the ending was. Over the span of final tenish pages we go from mortal peril to the hero getting in touch with his feeeeeeeelings and a HEA (it is a romance after all), to a really…strange epilogue. My head was still spinning from the rapidness of it all hours after I finished.
  • The plot is about a badass antiquities expert and a dashing spy and I certainly could have used more of both adventure and nerd stuff and less flirting via a Bard-Off. Please refer to bullet one of this section.
  • Much like the those in the comments in the above link SBTB review, I am ready to move on from Heroic Dukes. They’ve had their time to shine. Give me an Eccentric Earl, or a Debonair Barrister or something.
  • Finally, I always like to learn something new from whatever book I’m reading. It can be a fun fact about the customs of a time period, or even about the distilling process for bourbon. I didn’t really feel like I got anything new out of For the Duke’s Eyes Only.

Favorite Quotes

“Time waits for no woman,” said Indy. “Grab destiny as though you want it.”

“Who brought a flask to an antiquities meeting? And another thing – why didn’t women’s clothing possess enough pockets for stashing flasks and other important items?”

PREACH, INDY. PREACH.

Overall, I thought For the Duke’s Eye’s Only was an enjoyable, adventurous light read. It was a much needed distraction from the midterm elections and all the noise surrounding them. Plus, I’ve already passed the book on to a friend. That is ultimately why I gave it 4 stars after waffling between that and 3.5 stars. A little more nerdishness and a less jarring ending would really have taken this book to the “Keeper” level. That being said, I am looking forward to the third book in the School for Dukes series, One Fine Duke, in which we get Miss Mina Penny’s story (who seems like she is also going to a badass heroine)!

Nonfiction November – Becoming an Expert Janeite

It’s Week 3 of Nonfiction November, and I am off gallivanting around England! I thought it would be a ton-o-fun to talk about the inspiration for my blog name, Jane Austen, this week. Despite my love for Austen, I’ve never really done a deep-dive into her life, and I want to rectify that. 

Disclaimers
– This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!

Week 3: (Nov. 12 to 16) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Julie @ JulzReads): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).


Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
Published by Vintage on April 27, 1999
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At her death in 1817, Jane Austen left the world six of the most beloved novels written in English—but her shortsighted family destroyed the bulk of her letters; and if she kept any diaries, they did not survive her.  Now acclaimed biographer Claire Tomalin has filled the gaps in the record, creating a remarkably fresh and convincing portrait of the woman and the writer. 

While most Austen biographers have accepted the assertion of Jane's brother Henry that "My dear Sister's life was not a life of events," Tomalin shows that, on the contrary, Austen's brief life was fraught with upheaval.  Tomalin provides detailed and absorbing accounts of Austen's ill-fated love for a young Irishman, her frequent travels and extended visits to London, her close friendship with a worldly cousin whose French husband met his death on the guillotine, her brothers' naval service in the Napoleonic wars and in the colonies, and thus shatters the myth of Jane Austen as a sheltered and homebound spinster whose knowledge of the world was limited to the view from a Hampshire village. 

I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for over a year. It’s one of the leading Austen biographies, pieced together from various records and accounts. I am sad to think what Austenographies could have been if her letters weren’t destroyed, and diaries had been kept. 


Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley
Published by Hodder and Stoughton Ltd. on May 18, 2017
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Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.

Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.

Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.

I think Jane Austen at Home will be a fascinating look at how the various places Austen lived shaped her views and her writing. 


A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz
Published by Penguin Press on April 28, 2011
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Before Jane Austen, William Deresiewicz was a very different young man. A sullen and arrogant graduate student, he never thought Austen would have anything to offer him. Then he read Emma—and everything changed.

In this unique and lyrical book, Deresiewicz weaves the misadventures of Austen’s characters with his own youthful follies, demonstrating the power of the great novelist’s teachings—and how, for Austen, growing up and making mistakes are one and the same. Honest, erudite, and deeply moving, A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man’s discovery of the world outside himself.

My fellow Janeites tend to be of the female persuasion (see what I did there?). So it will be extremely interesting to see how Austen has influenced men (well, an individual man). Austen’s books touch everyone in different ways, and I always enjoy hearing people’s personal stories with the texts.


Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly
on November 3, 2016
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A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing, as well, how subversive and daring--how truly radical--a writer she was.

In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly--dazzling Jane Austen authority--looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen's work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects--slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them--considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman "of information," fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel--until then seen as mindless "trash"--could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.

I am always excited to read about the various ways writers, actors, playwrights, etc comment on society in any given time period. Once finished, I feel this book will give me a different context to consider during subsequent rereads. 

Are there any other Austen-related books I should add to my TBR?

If You Ask Me | Eleanor Roosevelt

As a history nerd, current government and politics student, and aspiring diplomat, Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my heroes. The fact that it took me over a month to read this set of advice from Roosevelt is not evidence that this book isn’t worth your time. I just had a 10 page paper on Ebola and a final due, along with crippling bout of anxiety where all I wanted to do was sit on my couch with my cats and watch Game of Thrones during that time. In fact, given this current political climate, I would argue this book is more important than ever.

Disclaimers
– This post contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!
– I received a free review copy of a book(s) mentioned in this post from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These books will be marked as such.

If You Ask Me: Essential Advice from Eleanor Rooseveltby Eleanor Roosevelt and Mary Jo BinkerDates Read: October 4 – November 5, 2018Publisher: Atria Books (October 9, 2018)Number of Pages: 272Courtesy: Netgalley
PURCHASE

Experience the timeless wit and wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt in this annotated collection of candid advice columns that she wrote for more than twenty years.

In 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt embarked on a new career as an advice columnist. She had already transformed the role of first lady with her regular press conferences, her activism on behalf of women, minorities, and youth, her lecture tours, and her syndicated newspaper column. When Ladies Home Journal offered her an advice column, she embraced it as yet another way for her to connect with the public.


Over the twenty years that Eleanor wrote her advice column, no question was too trivial and no topic was out of bounds.  Covering a wide variety of topics—everything from war, peace, and politics to love, marriage, religion, and popular culture—these columns reveal Eleanor Roosevelt’s warmth, humanity, and timeless relevance.

Things I liked

  • The more things change, the more they stay the same. Things that people were worrying about 80 years ago – money, marriage, war, jobs – are the same things we are worrying about in 2018. Roosevelt’s advice is as applicable today at it was in the 1940s/50s.
  • The book, edited by Mary Jo Binker, is organized by topic rather than date/column, so all of Roosevelt’s relevant advice on a particular issue is presented together. 
  • Binker does a great job of giving historical context to certain sets of questions. As a history major a decade removed from American History 101, a gentle reminder of happenings during that time period was much appreciated.
  • Roosevelt is smart, sassy, and incredibly funny. But she is also incredibly honest and forthright, and doesn’t pull any punches.
  • It’s apparent that Roosevelt was largely respected by her readers, and it is equally apparent that she took great care in thoughtfully responding to them. Even to the most mundane of questions.

and things I didn’t

  • There was some repetitiveness/significant similarity in the questions asked and the advice given. 20-30 pages could probably have been cut out without losing any significant questions/advice.
  • Roosevelt’s advice on depression, which essentially boils down to “get up, go to work, and keep busy and all will be well” is a not a good look. However, it was likely the prevailing opinion at the time. A note that there has been significant advances in the treatment for mental health issues in the 60+ years since her advice columns would not have been out of place.

favorite quotes

Tolerance is an ugly word.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Governments do not become corrupt unless their citizens have allowed low standards to exist.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

This is your life, not someone else’s, and our own feeling is what is important, not what the rest of the world says.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

I enjoyed this collection Roosevelt’s advice columns and I am looking forward to reading more about her in the new year. I picked up Blanche Wiesen Cook’s 3 volume biography of Roosevelt at the Friends of the Library Book Store recently, so I am very looking forward to reading that in 2019. 

What other books on Eleanor Roosevelt would you recommend?

Nonfiction November: A Victorian Fiction/Nonfiction Pairing

Out of all of the prompts for this month, the fiction/nonfiction pairing prompt was the one I was the iffiest on. However, as I occasionally do, I had this brilliant idea while laying awake at 4 am, staring at my ceiling fan. So let’s get into it, yeah?

Disclaimers
– This post contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!
– I received a free review copy of a book(s) mentioned in this post from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These books will be marked as such.

The Prompt

Week 2: (Nov. 5 to 9) – Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairing (Sarah’s Book Shelves) This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

My Pairing

I am fascinated by Queen Victoria, and always enjoy learning more about her. There seems to be so much information available, and I want to learn EVERYTHING. So I thought for this prompt, I would give you the pairing that I actually want to read. I talked about how I want to read Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird during NonFiction November, but then I picked up Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson off the sale shelf at Politics and Prose over the weekend and NOW I DON’T KNOW WHICH ONE TO READ FIRST. But since I made this pretty graphic above that includes the Wilson biography cover art, that’s the version I’m going to give ya.

Nonfiction

Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson
Published by Penguin Books on November 24, 2015
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

A. N. Wilson's exhaustively researched and definitive biography includes a wealth of new material from previously unseen sources to show us Queen Victoria as she's never been seen before. Wilson explores the curious set of circumstances that led to Victoria's coronation, her strange and isolated childhood, her passionate marriage to Prince Albert and his pivotal influence even after death, and her widowhood and subsequent intimate friendship with her Highland servant John Brown, all set against the backdrop of this momentous epoch in Britain's history--and the world's.

This book is hefty. Like, door-stopper hefty. Thank goodness I got it in paperback. I am particularly interested in reading Wilson’s biography of Victoria as I want to read his “companion” biography, The Victorians (also hefty, at 760 pages). My time at the University of Liverpool involved a lot of reading about the Victorian era in my history classes, and found it supremely interesting. I look forward to continuing my self-education. 

Fiction

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 26, 2017
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world. Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.

"I do not like the name Alexandrina," she proclaims. "From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria."

On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin's impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

I’ve heard many good things about Goodwin’s novel, Victoria. Seeing as I have a very delinquent ARC review of this book in my backlist, now seems like a very good time to read it.

Bonus: TV Show

PBS Masterpiece’s Victoria is based on Daisy Goodwin’s novel. Likely because Goodwin is the creator and head writer for the show. Jenna Coleman plays the Queen, a solid choice if I may say so without having watched a single moment of the show. YET. I have Season 1 queued up on my iPad for my travels to England this month, with a somewhat fluid plan to watch Season 2 when I get home. Season 3 premieres on January 13, 2019.

BONUS: A Sleep Story

The Calm app has a large library of sleep stories, including this Alan Sklar narrated story about Queen Victoria. I probably listen to this story at least once a week (remember how I am prone to lay awake staring at my ceiling at all hours of the night?). I never get bored because I never make it to the end. Which I guess is kind of the point. Unfortunately, this sleep story is behind the paywall. However, if you have the $60/yr to spare for a subscription, I highly recommend this app.

A Look Back: September & October 2018

It’s been silent around these here parts for the past month and a half. While I expected that I might not be able to do as much reading for myself as I would like, life always has a way of surprising you. In addition to my international relations class and it’s required reading, research, and term paper writing, I traveled to Dallas for work, and to Hilton Head and Charleston for family stuff. Then I hosted a friend for a week, attended a gazillion DC United matches, had my 32nd birthday, rocked an aircast, and threw out back cleaning my kitchen. And on top of everything else, I decided to sell my condo (my neighbors are monsters) and move back into the studio I lived in when I first moved into the city. Never have I ever been more excited to sit on my butt as I have been these past few weeks.

Disclaimers
– This post contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!
– I received a free review copy of a book(s) mentioned in this post from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These books will be marked as such.

In September and October, I read a total of 15 books. 13/15 were romance novels, as I attempted to continue working through my ARC backlist. However, after reading about terrorism and human rights in my fall semester class, I also just wanted to read some nice sweet novels with witty banter and happy endings.

Hasan Minhaj – Patriot Act (Netflix)

Hasan Minhaj has long been my favorite Daily Show correspondent, and I loved his Netflix special, Homecoming King. So I was really excited to hear he was getting his own Netflix show. I recently saw him do a stand-up set while I was in Dallas, and had hoped that Patriot Act would be similar. I am happy to report that it is. The number of “news” shows that are on right now is overwhelming – and the news isn’t exactly unicorns and puppies right now. Minhaj picks a topic, and basically does an educational stand up set on it for 20 – 25 minutes. I always like my learning to be delivered in a humorous way.

Bodyguard (Netflix)

Ummmm, this show is batshit insane and I love it. Bless whoever let Richard Madden aka Robb Stark speak in his native Scottish accent. 

Game of Thrones Rewatch

I need season 8 to drop so I can stop rewatching seasons 1 -7 over and over again. And just listening to random episodes of Binge Mode: Game of Thrones.

The Good Place

I binged Season 1 and Season 2 of The Good Place over the course of week because… Binge Mode. Duh. But I love it, enough so that I have actually been watching it as it airs, rather than letting an entire season hit Netflix and watching it over a weekend. Bless NBC and it’s over-the-air ways. This cable-cutter appreciates it!

Doctor Who

OMGILOVEJODIEWHITTAKERANDIFYOUDONOTLIKETHEFEMALEDOCTORYOUCANGOSITONAFLAGPOLE.

That is all.

Binge Mode: Harry Potter

Binge Mode: Harry Potter is still going, and I’m still listening! 

Ask Iliza Anything

Iliza Shlesinger is one of my favorite comedians. Now she has a podcast and it’s wonderful. I highly recommend the Anjelah Johnson episode.

Jess Glynne – Always In Between

  • I am a Reese Witherspoon fangirl and I am not ashamed. I had tickets to the original date of her DC Book Tour stop, but missed the rescheduled date. Sad. 
  • I read Angel Is Airborne over the summer, and then again after visiting the JFK assassination site and museum in Dallas in September. 
  • As I work towards downsizing and packing to move from a 1 bedroom to a studio, I keep referring back to this article in an attempt to let some stuff go

How has your fall been so far?

Nonfiction November: My Year in Non-Fiction

After an unexpected month and a half without a post, I am back! Life has been a bit crazy (more in my upcoming October In Review post), but it’s now slowing down a bit. But just a bit. And I figured Nonfiction November was a great way to jump back into things. But first:

Disclosure
-This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and decide to buy a book, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!

Nonfiction November — hosted this year by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) — is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction. Each week, there will be a different prompt about reading and loving nonfiction. Kim is hosting Week 1:

Week 1: (Oct. 29 to Nov. 2) – Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?… so far

nonfiction november elephants

Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick. I loved reading about life in Kenya and how she cared for all the animals with her family. Elephants are my favorite animal, so this was both a lovely read, while also being heartbreaking. There is a lot of death, both natural and through poaching, in this memoir. By the time I had finished, I had fostered two orphans at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescue, and planning my future visit to meet my babies. This is one of the few physical books that I acquired and kept this year, rather than passing it on once I was finished reading.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?

Not really. As you can see from my list below, my non-fic reads have been all over the place, from nature to politics to memoirs to true-crime to feminism to diplomacy and international relations.

I’m Judging You: A Do Better Manual (audiobook) by Luvvie Ajayi
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying (audiobook) by Nina Riggs
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
We Should All Be Feminists (audiobook) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (audiobook) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of Diplomacy by James Dobbins
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer (audiobook) by Michelle McNamara
Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick
Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (does this really count? *shrugs*)
A Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
So You Want to Talk About Race (audiobook) by Ijeoma Oluo
Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump by Dan Pfeiffer
War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (audiobook) by Ronan Farrow
Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage by Jason Kander
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Stephen Brusatte
The Elephant Scientist by Caitlin O’Connell

I used several of these books to check off 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompts!

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? 

nonfiction november i'll be gone in the dark

It’s one of the more popular answers this year, but I tell pretty much everyone to read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. It’s fascinating, engaging, and has an intriguing story behind both the story and the author. I am likely going to re-read this sometime next year now that we have the hindsight of knowing the identity of the Golden State Killer and seeing just how much was accurate in McNamara’s theories. Just… don’t read/listen to it right before bed. 

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I am always looking for books to add to my Goodreads TBR and some new bloggers to my Feedly Queue. It would also be a lie if I said I wasn’t hoping to get my little own corner of the interwebs out there, seeing as this is a pretty new blog.

I am also hoping to knock out a few nonfiction books on my TBR this month. With transatlantic flights, and several train rides while on vacation, this should be a very reachable goal. On deck, I have:

nonfiction november to be read

If You Ask Me: Essential Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt by Eleanor Roosevelt (edited by Mary Jo Binker)/ I am already half way through this book, and planning to finish it up this month.

The Minimalist Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to a Decluttered, Refocused Life by Joshua Becker / Another in-progress book I plan to finish this month.

Victoria: The Queen – An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird / With a trip to England this month, and it seems like the perfect time to read another biography about my favorite monarch.

Becoming by Michelle Obama / I miss her, so, so much.

Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomlin / I am currently in the process of selling my condo, and this is one of the few hard copy books I kept on my bookshelf for staging purposes, in the hopes that I would FINALLY read it.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony / Another book I kept on my bookshelf while my condo is on the market, although more recently acquired. Whenever I see a book about elephants I haven’t read at the Friends of the Library Bookstore, I grab it.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch / I recently finished my international relations class, and wrote a paper about human rights violations in Africa. Then Humans of New York did a series on Rwandan survivors. A friend mentioned this book around the same time as the series was going on, so I also grabbed it during a recent trip to the Friends of the Library Bookstore.

Make sure you head over to Kim’s post for Week 1 to see what others are reading for Nonfiction November!

What great non-fiction have you read this year?

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Check-In

Image via the POPSUGAR website

Disclosure
-This post may contain affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and decide to buy a book, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!

In an effort to read more diversely this year, I decided to join a few friends in participating in the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. It’s been a great way to challenge myself to read outside of my comfort zone (although, let’s be real here, this is me, and I definitely used romance novels to complete some of these challenges). I doubt I would have read Rules of Civility, or Happiness, without the extra boost from the Challenge (or Reese Witherspoon telling me to). 

Below, I have included this year’s prompts and my pick for each prompt (obviously subject to change for prompts I haven’t completed yet, based on my whims and moods). Completed prompts are crossed out. 

MAIN CHALLENGE PROMPTS (29/42)

  1. A book made into a movie you’ve already seen: Jurassic Park
  2. True Crime: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer
  3. The next book in a series you started: The Day of the Duchess
  4. A book involving a heist: The Great Train Robbery
  5. Nordic noir: Still Waters
  6. A novel based on a real person: My Dear Hamilton
  7. A book set in a country that fascinates you: Next Year in Havana (Cuba)
  8. A book with a time of day in the title: Just One Night
  9. A book about a villain or antihero: Emma (audiobook)
  10. A book about death or grief: The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying
  11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  13. A book that is also a stage play or musical: A Hamilton Revolution
  14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you: The Kiss Quotient
  15. A book about feminism: Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
  16. A book about mental health: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift: Rules of Civility
  18. A book by two authors: Love and Other Words
  19. A book about or involving a sport: Beartown
  20. A book by a local author: Black Panther Vol. 1 (Ta-Nehisi Coates is a DC resident)
  21. A book with your favorite color in the title: Red Card
  22. A book with alliteration in the title: Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires)
  23. A book about time travel: The Jane Austen Project 
  24. A book with a weather element in the title: Marrying Winterbourne (review)
  25. A book set at sea: The Odyssey
  26. A book with an animal in the title: Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story
  27. A book set on a different planet: The Little Prince
  28. A book with song lyrics in the title: I Think I Love You
  29. A book about or set on Halloween: The Last Equation of Issac Severy
  30. A book with characters who are twins: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  31. A book mentioned in another book: Pride and Prejudice (mentioned in Matilda)
  32. A book from a celebrity book club: Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After (Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club)
  33. A childhood classic you’ve never read:Oh, The Places You’ll Go
  34. A book that’s published in 2018: Yes We (Still) Can
  35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  36. A book set in the decade you were born: Matilda
  37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn’t get to: Crazy Rich Asians
  38. A book with an ugly cover: I’m Judging You (great book, blah cover)
  39. A book that involves a bookstore or library: How to Find Love in a Bookshop
    Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges
  40. 2015 – A Book From an Author You Love That You Haven’t Read Yet:  A Princess in Theory
  41.  2016 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  Wild Hunger
  42. 2017 – A Book Where the Main Character is a Different Ethnicity than You:  A Duke by Default

ADVANCED CHALLENGE PROMPTS (7/10)

  1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  2. A cyberpunk book: I am meh on this prompt, and was wholly uninterested in all the suggested titles. So instead of torturing myself, I’ve decided to just skip it. 
  3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place: A Room With a View (audiobook)
  4. A book tied to your ancestry: Rebecca (just got my 23 & Me results back, and I am 38% French/German, so I figure that’s a fine excuse to read this)
  5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title: Vodka and Apple Juice
  6. An allegory: Life of Pi
  7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you: Only for You
  8. A microhistory: Foreign Service: Five Decades on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy
  9. A book about a problem facing society today: So You Want to Walk About Race
  10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: The Importance of Being Earnest

Are you participating in the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge? If so, what has been your favorite book that you’ve read so far?

Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1

Today we have our first Rapid Reviews post, where I give rapid reviews (duh) of titles I have read over the last month. Let’s jump right in!

Disclaimers
– This post contains affiliate links. This just means that if you click a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Your support will help keep this blog up and running, thank you!
– I received a free review copy of a book(s) mentioned in this post from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. These books will be marked as such.

I read a lot of romance novels over the past month. Like, a looooooooot. That’s mostly because romances are a majority of the books that are currently sitting on my Netgalley/Edelweiss backlog. I am making steady progress on said backlog, but that also means I’ve kept to one genre. Luckily, I enjoy romances, and they make for some “light” reading after reading about international relations (school) and the mortgage industry (work) for hours on end.

Ratings
1 Star – “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your [book]?” (Pride and Prejudice)
2 Stars – “[It] is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.” (Pride and Prejudice)
3 Stars – “I am delighted with the book!” (Northanger Abbey)
4 Stars – ‘It was a delightful [book] – perfect in being much too short.” (Emma)
5 Stars – “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” (Pride and Prejudice)


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1All the Way (Romancing Manhattan, #1) by Kristen Proby
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on August 21, 2018
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

Finn Cavanaugh is known for being a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. He owns a successful law firm with his brother and brother-in-law in Manhattan. On the rare occasion that he has down time, he spends it at his home in Martha’s Vineyard. But when Finn’s troubled niece goes to stay with him for the summer in Martha’s Vineyard, he’s reluctant to take time off from work. That is, until he meets his beautiful new neighbor, London.

London Watson is a Tony Award winning actress on Broadway. When tragedy strikes her family, leaving her alone and injured, she flees Manhattan for Martha’s Vineyard. Hoping she can figure out how to pick up the pieces of her life, London is convinced that she’ll never be able to return to the stage. But when she meets the charming young girl next door and her sexy uncle, they soon lure London out of her shell as she finally begins to heal from the wounds of her past.

But when London feels confident enough to return to the spotlight, she’s dealt another devastating blow. Will the newfound love between London and Finn be enough to conquer all? Or will it be over before it has a chance to grow…?

three-stars

I really enjoyed Proby’s Fusion series, so I had been looking forward to this new series about 3 brothers who run a law firm in NYC. I liked (but didn’t love) All the Way, even though the writing was a smidge “meh.” Not in a “can’t get past it” kind of way, but more just some cookie cutter sentence structure and a little bit of repetitiveness. Finn and London had wonderful chemistry, and some really entertaining dialogue. And getting a peak at his brothers in advance of their stories was a lot of fun too. What I liked best about this story, however, is how the characters have real life “problems” like balancing work and single parenting, family members who are addicts, and professional set backs, and are not just young, good-looking people who have high-paying jobs and commitment issues. 


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Long Shot (Last Shot, #3) by Kelly Jamieson
Published by Loveswept on February 27, 2018
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

  Waitressing at a tequila bar on the beach in sunny San Diego may not be what Reece Kirkwell wants to do forever, but for now it’s perfect—other than the flashbacks to the tragedy she caused in Boston. And the fact that one of her bosses is a domineering, first-class manwhore who’s as stubborn as he is sexy. If he’d just listen to her, she could double his business. But it would also mean getting close to someone, and that’s a risk she can’t afford.   Cade Hardy’s partners at Conquistadors are like his brothers, but he’s the money man trying to keep them all afloat. To blow off steam, he’s been sleeping around a little. The last thing he needs is business advice from their crazy-hot new waitress. Cade can’t figure Reece out. She’s smarter than she lets on, and she doesn’t hide her disgust for his active sex life. But after he recognizes her PTSD symptoms, Cade is determined to save her . . . unless she saves him first.  

three-half-stars

This book was straight up food and cocktail porn. Reece was a chef in her hometown, but after she survives a tragedy (trigger warning: gun violence), she moves to San Diego and works as a waitress at a tequila bar and restaurant while she tries to heal and get a handle on her PTSD. Cade is her boss, and has A Thing for Reece, but he’s determined not ruin his business venture with his buddies by getting involved with her. Too bad this is a romance novel and “determination not to get involved” always results in “getting involved.” I really liked Reece and Cade, as well as all the secondary characters. The descriptions of the food are to die for, so do not read while hungry. There’s even an adorably ugly dog that surfs in this book. I don’t know if I’ll ever reread it, but I enjoyed the several hours I spent with this book.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2) by Lisa Kleypas
Published by Avon on May 31, 2016
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

A ruthless tycoon

Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty

Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

five-stars

What I meant was, you are the adventure.

Helen, Marrying Winterbourne

You know what I love? A romance novel where you are dropped into the middle of the story (well, if you read this series out of order and had forgotten some of what happened in the book that precedes this one). When we meet Helen and Rhys, they had already met, courted, gotten engaged, and broken up (due to a misunderstanding and a meddlesome sister, because duh). I absolutely loved Rhys, and how he wasn’t a rake, but a gazillionaire department store owner in love with a woman he didn’t think he deserved. Rhys and Helen’s chemistry is fantastic, and I adoooooored Pandora (which I knew because I had already read her book) and Cassandra, as well as the addition of badass lady doctor, Dr. Gibson (already read her book too). The “mystery obstacle” could have been a little more plausible, but it didn’t detract from the story enough to rate it lower. I highly recommend all the books in the Ravenels series.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Cowboy SEAL Homecoming (Navy SEAL Cowboys, #1) by Nicole Helm
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 2, 2018
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Alex Maguire never thought he'd go home again. The perfect soldier, the perfect leader, he's spent his whole life running away from Blue Valley, Montana―but when a tragic accident bounces him and two of his men out of the SEALs, there's nowhere left to turn but the ranch he used to call his own...and the confusing, innocently beguiling woman who now lives there.

Becca Denton's like nothing he could have imagined. She's far too tempting for her own good, but when she offers to help turn the ranch into a haven for injured veterans, he can't exactly say no. He'll just need to keep his distance. But something in her big green eyes makes Alex want to set aside the mantle of the perfect soldier and discover the man he could have been...safe and whole within the shelter of her arms.

three-stars

My job involves working with/for Veterans, and I have seen the damage PTSD can cause a person and their families. I also appreciate romance novels where people have real life problems, such as PTSD. So I am always intrigued by novels where one of the characters is a Veteran and/or exhibits PTSD symptoms, and I am very sensitive to how these issues are handled. Cowboy SEAL Homecoming handles these elements nicely, without glossing over them, nor being overly dramatic. Alex and Becca have an interesting dynamic, as (former?) step-siblings who a decade a part in age, who are really just getting to know each other. I also really enjoyed reading scenes with Alex and his two best friends/fellow SEALs, Jack and Gabe. Few bonds in life are stronger than that between a soldier and his fellow soldier, and I thought Helms did well in showcasing that relationship.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Cowboy SEAL Christmas (Navy SEAL Cowboys, #3) by Nicole Helm
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 4, 2018
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Single mom and Revival Ranch's on-site therapist Monica Finley has dedicated her life to helping brave servicemen and women, but former Navy SEAL Gabe Cortez is the one man whose shell she just can't crack. Yet with the holidays fast approaching, she may finally have a plan. In a bid to get Gabe to open up, she'll ask for as much help as possible―cutting down the Christmas tree, stringing lights, the whole nine yards.

Who could possibly be a Grinch with so much holiday cheer in the air?

Gabe has always hated Christmas―the holiday never fails to remind him just how alone he truly is. But the more time he spends with Monica and her young son, the more he finds himself drawn to their cozy little family...and the more he begins to realize his long-suppressed Christmas dreams may finally be coming true.

two-stars

I finished this book, but just barely. Gabe was one of my favorite characters in the first book in this series (above), but he was kind of an ass in this one. Throughout the entire book, I got the sense that Gabe and Monica were attracted to each other, but didn’t actually like each other. It was a weird dynamic. And for a book that takes place during the Christmas period, it’s not very festive or happy. I wish I had read these books in order, because my experience with this book (#3 of the series) has eliminated my desire to read book #2. 


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Every Little Kiss (Sequoia Lake, #2) by Marina Adair
on July 18, 2017
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There’s nothing that single mom Liv Preston won’t do if it means making her six-year-old son smile again. After a heartbreaking two years, her little family is due for some fun in the sun. She just didn’t expect to find it in the big, rugged, Search and Rescue hero next door—who shows her just how exciting, and sexy, life’s adventures can be.

As head of Reno’s K-9 search division, Ford Jamison knows what it takes to make life-and-death decisions on the fly. He doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t do regrets, and has never doubted his instincts—until he makes a promise that turns his world upside down. Desperate for redemption, he returns to Sequoia Lake, only to find himself face-to-face with his past…and the one woman he can’t have. Not when his secret would destroy her—and everything she holds dear.

For Liv, finding love once was a gift. Finding it twice seems impossible, until the moment Ford’s lips meet hers. Love doesn’t always come easy, but when it’s right, it’s worth fighting for…

three-stars

After listening to an episode of the Stuff You Should Know podcast on search and rescue, I had mountains and rescue and dogs on the brain. So being the mood reader that I am, I sat down to read Every Little Kiss by Marina Adair to get my fix. Ford is a K-9 Search and Rescue superstar, and he’s come back to adorable, small-town Sequoia Lake to put his past mistakes behind him and prepare for his next assignment. Liv, and her son Paxton, are still trying to pick up the pieces after her husband is killed in a car accident, so they have moved into his childhood home. Ford and Liv meet and start a relationship, but of course he has a seeeeeecret that could derail the whole thing. I really enjoyed the first half of this book, but the second half moved a bit slow for me. The big secret is revealed at the very end of the book, and seems to resolve itself too quickly. Luckily, this story is saved by Bullseye, Ford’s hilarious K-9 partner, and Knox, Ford’s bossfriend that I hope gets a story real soon.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Kiss the Girl (The Naughty Princess Club, #3) by Tara Sivec
Published by Swerve on September 4, 2018
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While her friends have broken free of their insecurities, Ariel Waters is struggling to come out of her shell. Her ex-husband took away her voice and her self-confidence, and Ariel is drowning under a sea of debt to afford the alimony she has to pay him. She refuses to ever fall for a man’s charms again, and is determined to make her own way.

When her house and her beloved antiques are taken by the bank after too many missed payments, Ariel finds herself adrift until the infuriatingly charming Eric Sailor comes to her rescue. Although she can’t stand the millionaire playboy, Eric’s kindness and unconditional support reveal hidden depths and a love that Ariel never imagined she could find.

But there are outside influences who will stop at nothing to keep them apart; can Ariel and Eric weather the storm and find a way to be together?

four-stars

“I’m not difficult… I’m a fucking delight.”

Ariel, Kiss the Girl

I almost DNFed this after about 20 pages, but I’m glad I stuck with it. When we first meet Ariel Waters, she is divorced, in a bunch of debt, trying to get her stripper business up and running with her friends, trying to find a roommate, and getting her house repossessed. This would stress anyone out, and Ariel exhibits this stress by yelling at, cursing at, and insulting everyone. Even her friends. She’s also a bit of a hot mess and about to ruin said stripping business with her mind-boggling inability to file paperwork on time. To top it all off, super sexy millionaire Eric Sailor (his family manufacturers luxury yachts guys) is there to witness everything. Luckily, he’s a big ole sweetie with a massive crush on Ariel, and so he helps her out by offering her a yacht to live on while she gets back on her feet. Readers, I really liked this story. Ariel and Eric have smoking hot chemistry, and the dialogue between them had me smiling so hard. And the scene where they try goat yoga together nearly had me in tears. Ariel kicks ass, but she’s missing some of her mojo at the beginning of this story, and watching her find it again was so fun. I have the other two books in this series sitting on my Kindle and I can’t wait to read them.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1No Kissing Under the Boardwalk by Kate Angell
on September 25, 2018
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Will a first love get a second chance?

Zane Cates has fallen in love twice--once with flying, and once with Tori Rollins, the girl who stole his heart in high school. For a brief, shining moment, their future looked bright. Then the offer of a place at the Air Force Academy got between Zane and his beautiful young wife, and he found his marriage over as abruptly as a wave washing back to sea. After taking comfort in the wide open skies, he's ready to return to the sunlit beach town of Barefoot William--and the woman he never wanted to leave behind. Starting over with Tori is the plan--if only his stubborn ex will have him . . .

A vagabond childhood left Tori shy and withdrawn, but after her family arrived in the pretty resort town, she made the first real friend she ever had--Zane. Opening up to him was a risk she didn't regret taking, but she never looked back once she decided to end their brief marriage. Seeing him again now is a startling shock--and an irresistible temptation. Can she let him back into her life--and finally find joy in their love?

two-half-stars

I struggled with this book. Not so much in reading it (I finished it in an evening), but with the rating of it. I’d argue that at least 70% of this story takes place over a year where Tori and Zane are 17 and 18 years old. Which is fine, but I prefer romances where the characters are adults. Because I am an adult, and reading sex scenes between minors is weird. Which they are in the other 30% of this book. After a week long marriage at 18, Zane goes off to follow his dreams of being an Air Force pilot and then hurricane chaser (*rolls eyes*), leaving Tori behind RIGHT AFTER HER PARENTS DIED IN A PLANE CRASH to take care of her grandma, their dog, and a crappy job. Then, 18 years later, he shows back up for a second chance, and doesn’t seem to quite understand why Tori basically gives him the middle finger and tells him to f*ck off. He then tells her he’ll accept her answer, but only after she spends a weekend with him at a marriage counseling retreat in the woods. That’s how horror movies start, y’all. Add in a ridiculous romance between two side characters that also spans the same time frame and takes up a large part of the plot, and this book was just UGH.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke, #2) by Tessa Dare
Published by Avon on August 28, 2018
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He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

five-stars

Have you ever loved a book so much you just squeed through the whole thing? That was basically me with The Governess Game. This book has everything – a slow burn romance, secondary characters I want to be BFFs with, adorably delinquent children, daily doll eulogies, and astrology. And it is so, sooooooooo funny.

“Almighty Father,” he continued in a dispirited tone, “we commit to your safekeeping the soul of Millicent. Ashes to ashes. Sawdust to sawdust. She was a doll of few words and yet fewer autonomous movements, yet she will be remembered for the ever-present–some might say permanently painted–smile on her face. By the grace of our Redeemer, we know she will be resurrected, perhaps as soon as luncheon.” He added under his breath, “Unfortunately.”

Chase, The Duchess Deal

I rarely laugh out loud at things when I am “alone” and this book had me snorting on my commute. Chase is a lovely hero, as a self-aware rake who understands that pursuing our heroine, Alexandra, would be a gross use of his power over her as her employer. Alexandra, our budding astronomer heroine, wants Chase, and she sets out to win him, and the trust of Daisy and Rosamund. I wish I read the first book in this series, Emma’s The Duchess Deal (which I will be reading posthaste), prior to reading this one, but I am greatly looking forward to Penelope and Nicola’s stories.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1A Nanny For the Reclusive Billionaire by Regina Kyle
on September 10, 2018
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Mallory Worthington has had enough of being treated like a fragile flower. She needs to get out of Dodge, as far and fast as possible. Somewhere no one knows about her childhood battle with cancer. A talented chef working at her family’s flagship hotel, she leaps at the first job opportunity that meets her criteria – personal chef and nanny for a reclusive and insanely hot billionaire in the Florida Keys. She doesn't know a lot about the nanny part, but how hard can it be?

Billionaire Rhys Dalton cut himself off from the world after his wife was killed. Living on this remote island was the only way he could ensure the safety of his son. Finding someone willing to help him take care of his child, well that's been a challenge right up until Mallory knocks on his office door. She makes him think and feel things he hasn't in years. He's smart, so he fires her on the spot.

But she's not going anywhere, no matter how hard he might try to get rid of her... 

three-half-stars

Ahhhh, a sweet romance with a dumb title. Those are often my favorites. A Nanny for a Reclusive Billionaire by Regina Kyle was a super sweet, quick read. Rhys (apparently a popular name for a hero this month), and Mallory butt heads when she arrives on his island for her new job as the nanny/chef for his young son. Who doesn’t love a good nanny/lord of the house trope? Rhys is still reeling from his wife’s death several years prior, and sensing Mallory could cause feeeeeelings, he attempts to fire her on the spot. Rhys’ right-hand-man convinces him to keep Mallory on while they attempt to find another nanny. Of course, in that time, Rhys and his adorbs son, Oliver, both fall for Mallory, as she does the same. Kyle does a nice job of making sure that Rhys’ dead wife doesn’t totally overshadow the story and his growing feelings for Mallory, something a lot of authors fail to navigate well. I didn’t realize it until half way through the story, but this is the sequel to The Billionaire in Her Bed, which I read and very much enjoyed last fall.


Rapid Reviews | Vol. 1Wanderlust by Lauren Blakely
on March 20, 2018
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The first time I met him, his sexy British accent almost talked me into giving him my number on the spot. The second time, he nearly charmed the panties off me with his wit. Then I learned he's the key to success in my new job in Paris. The man who tempts me into fling-worthy dirty daydreams has turned out to be my personal translator, and his accent is the hottest thing I've ever heard.My mantra is simple -- Don't mix business with pleasure. I do my best to resist him as he teaches me how to converse with my co-workers, navigate the metro and order the perfect bottle of wine at dinner. But I also figure out how to tell the charming and clever man what I most want to say -- that I want him to take me back to his flat -- tonight.Except there's a catch...

***One more assignment before I take off on my big adventure...

And it involves the toughest work ever -- resisting the fetching American woman I spend all my days with. But you know what they say about best intentions. Soon, we're spending our nights tangled together, and I don’t want to let her go. The trouble is, my wanderlust is calling to me, and before we know it I'll be traveling the globe to fulfill a promise I made long ago.

What could possibly go wrong with falling in love in Paris? Nothing...unless one of you is leaving.

four-stars

“I’m not done with Paris. And I hope Paris isn’t done with me.”

-Joy, Wanderlust

Guys, this book had me wanting to move to Paris and learn how to speak French. Never mind that I didn’t enjoy my time in Paris (GASP!) or that I am currently re-learning Spanish. Griffin and Joy have an adorable meet-cute, only to have their budding romance thwarted by the fact that’s he’s been hired to be her translator at her new job. Our polyglot hero, Griffin, is a regular dude who just happens to speak numerous languages, and is on a personal mission to complete his brother’s bucket list. Not a manwhore, a jerk, or obscenely rich, he just tries to enjoy life. Joy, our fetching heroine, is freshly relocated to Paris for work, and still recovering from a toxic relationship. Despite their attempt to be just friends, they cannot resist becoming more, even knowing there is an end date to their relationship. OR IS THERE? I devoured this story in one-sitting over the weekend, stopping only to accept my takeout delivery. Griffin and Joy are a delight, with snappy dialogue, deep conversations, and fun dates. I even learned a bit of French by the end of this book. I just downloaded the sequel, with Joy’s friend Elsie, and Griffin’s friend Christian, so expect to see that in my next installment of rapid reviews. 


Have you read any good romance novels lately?