Nonfiction November – Becoming an Expert Janeite

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
Pages: 341
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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
Pages: 352
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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
Pages: 255
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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
Pages: 337
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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

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 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!
– I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

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?

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Check-In

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

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 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!
– I received a free ebook copy of titles mentioned in this post from the publisher through Netgalley/Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Sources for titles are clearly labeled.

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
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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
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  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
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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?

Book Review: THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK | MARK MANSON

Book Review: THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK | MARK MANSON

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Published by Harper on September 13, 2016
Pages: 224
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In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be "positive" all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. "F**k positivity," Mark Manson says. "Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it." In his wildly popular Internet blog, Mason doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is—a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected American society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—"not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault." Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

There are only so many things we can give a f**k about so we need to figure out which ones really matter, Manson makes clear. While money is nice, caring about what you do with your life is better, because true wealth is about experience. A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.

five-stars

Bottom Line, Up Front

I found The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson to be brutally honest, yet hilarious. I thoroughly enjoyed the fresh take on the self-help genre. Instead of telling people they are special and talented, Manson argues that people need to be honest with themselves and be responsible for how they react to the things that happen in their lives. One of my favorite bits in the book is how we are responsible for everything in our lives. Maybe we don’t always have control of what happens to us, but we do control how we interpret and respond to it. I also enjoyed the numerous references to HBO’s The Wire.

It took me a while to read this. Not because it wasn’t interesting, but because it led to some uncomfortable realizations. More than once I was like “holy schnikes! He’s describing me!” I will need to go back through all the passages I annotated and reflect on some things. If you looking for a different type of self-help book, I highly recommend The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.

Yeah, But What’s the Writing Like?

Manson is an excellent writer, and it shows in ‘Subtle Art’. His style is engaging, and funny, but very straight forward. He’s not going to sugar coat the fact that you may not be as talented and deserving of special things as you think you are, just because some inspirational teacher told you that you can be anything you want to be. That is false. I want to be a wizard, and yet that’s never gonna happen. Manson also weaves in funny anecdotes about people in his life who demonstrate the actions he’s currently discussing. No one is left unscathed. 

Quotes/Favorite Parts

“The key to a good life is… giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.”

“If you feel crappy, its because your brain is telling you that there’s a problem that’s unaddressed or unresolved.”

What are some of your favorite humorous self-help books that I should add to my TBR?

Cat Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck