Top Five: Second Book is Best

I’m participating in Tag Wednesday for the first time! Tag Wednesday is something that Sam on ThoughtsonTomes hosts and there is a Goodreads group as well. This week the topic is to select your Top Five second book in a series. I’m so excited and so nervous because I could only think of one off the top of my head. Let’s get started!

1. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This book is the best in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series and maybe Sarah J. Maas’ best book ever. This book raised the stakes, it has incredible character arcs, and the romance is incredible. Definitely my favorite book of the trilogy/series. I have no idea what I can say about this book without spoiling things for you… So, I’m just going to have to encourage y’all to go read this series. In the meantime, look how amazing this cover is!

2. Hold Me by Courtney Milan

Do romance novels count when they’re series about connected characters but not necessarily real sequels? I’m not sure, but either way, Hold Me is the second book in the Cyclone series and I’m so in love with this book, as you know if you read my book talk about Hold Me. Because I’ve talked about the plot of this book in the book talk, I’ll be short and sweet here.

Hold Me is a fascinating blend of friends to lovers and hate to love because Maria and Jay didn’t know they were virtual friends when they first met in real life. It’s also an extremely diverse book. Maria is a trans Latinx and Jay is an Asian-American, bi-sexual man. They are fantastic characters and I really love their relationship.

3. A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

And again with the romance novels… But seriously, Minerva and Colin? (What is it with me and heroes named Colin? I’ve only met one Colin in real life and we were definitely not friends.) Anyway, Miranda and Colin are a case of opposites attract, kind of hate to love, but mostly just… Adorably perfect together.

Colin is a rake, because obviously, and Minerva needs a favor and Colin’s reputation is the perfect excuse. You see, Minerva needs to get to Scotland for this science convention because… MINERVA DISCOVERED A FOSSIL. I’m so proud of her, you might think she’s a real person and not, you know, fictional. Anyway, to get to Scotland, she persuades Colin to fake an elopement so basically, this book has all of my favorite tropes in one book, Minerva is fabulous, and Colin is a reformed rake. What’s not to love?

4. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

Whoops, these are just all going to be romance novels. I freaking love Pippa. You may notice a trend with the romance novels I’ve selected in this post because all of them have characters that aren’t like your “typical” romance heroine. Now, let us note that romance novels written today are (on average) a thousand percent more likely to have characters that do not fit a particular mold. They are unique and they’re funny and most importantly, they’re feminists. They believe themselves to be equal partners and can assert themselves to demand what they deserve. And I appreciate that immensely. Okay, mini rant over.

This book is great because Pippa just kind of slays Cross. She takes him by surprise and he never really seems to know what’s happening and then he’s head over heels for her. I loved this book. I love their relationship. But mostly, I love Pippa. Please read this book. Please come squeal with me about how fantastic it is. Really, just read all of Sarah MacLean’s books and thank me later.

5. The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

Whoops, two Courtney Milan books. Sorry not sorry. JANE IS THE BEST. She intentionally makes herself flamboyant and undesirable to ensure she won’t get a marriage proposal that would take her away from her Uncle’s home, where her sister would then be trapped. She’s an heiress though so sometimes that’s difficult and then Oliver comes along. Oliver is… He’s pretty great. He’s a good brother, a good friend, and a great partner.

I also really like the secondary romance in this book because–are you ready for this?– THE LOVE INTEREST IS AN INDIAN MAN. Yes. That is right. Regency era England when there were a ton of Indian immigrants and a lot of political issues between England/India, and we FINALLY get a Regency romance with a POC. Amazing. I’m sure there are others, but I haven’t come across them yet, so if you know them please, please comment!

Well, that went a direction I wasn’t quite planning, but… Turns out, I really don’t often like the second book the most. It’s usually the one where they break down the character and build the character back up and, well, I only like that sometimes, I guess? So, what about you all? Share with me your top five second books in the comments!


Book Talk: The Underground Railroad

I really don’t even have words for this book. When I started the Pop Sugar Challenge at the beginning of the year and set out my TBR of what I was planning to read for each challenge, I was stumped on what to put down for the “read a book about a difficult topic” one because I don’t tend to find books difficult to read regardless of subject matter. Or at least, not the books I tend to read. And then I had a Twitter conversation and decided that it was imperative that I pick up The Underground Railroad immediately. And I had to put this book down multiple times a chapter because it is so… powerful and incredibly difficult to read. I knew almost immediately that I was going to need to write a book talk on this book because I have so many thoughts. Before we dive in the meat of this book, here’s a quick summary:

Cora is a slave and a stray. She was born into captivity, though her grandmother, Ajarry, was kidnapped from Benin (I think) in West Africa and forced to come to America. Ajarry was extremely well-regarded by the other slaves on the Randall Plantation. Unfortunately, Mabel’s mother was less well-liked and when she ran away without taking Cora when she was ten, Cora ultimately winds up an outcast.

Ceaser, a literate slave and recent arrival, one day asks Cora to run away with him–to the Underground Railroad. In this novel, the Underground Railroad is an actual railroad underground, which is fascinating. The book continues to follow Cora’s journey as she escapes.

If you don’t want to know more about the book than that, now would be a great time for you to leave. I will attempt to not be very spoiler-y from here on, but I make no promises.

Let’s Talk Writing Style

When I finished this book, I immediately sought out reviews of this book to help me begin to process this book. One of the most common complaints I observed was that people were frustrated by the narration style of this book. They wanted Cora’s chapters to be written in first person so they could really get into her head.

Britney and I are on the same page with this one, what?! I’m going to be honest with you. If this book had been written in first person I wouldn’t have made it. I barely got through this book with the distance the third person narration provides. If Whitehead had let me “see” any more of what Cora was feeling I would have been sobbing too hard to grasp anything about the novel. And, honestly, I don’t understand how you can dislike Cora to the point that you can’t sympathize with her. The things she goes through are so horrifying and she’s forced to make tough choices and take actions that she may not have selected if her circumstances were different.

I thought Whitehead did an incredible job. I have so many sticky notes in this copy of the library book that I’m tempted to go out and buy my own copy before I have to return it to transfer over my sticky notes!

Also, there are so many incredible lines that just really struck me.

Slavery is such an appalling blemish on American History.

This is not news, obviously, but so often we kind of white wash slavery or we talk about it after a slave has escaped to freedom in the North and we act like the north was an amazing place where everything was fine. Like, if a slave made it to the north, they were golden. Now, it’s arguable that I’ve just not read enough books about slavery, which is quite possibly true. I think the last book I read about slavery was… Gone with the Wind, which doesn’t really count. I love books about the Civil War, but those tend to be more focused on the war and less on the atrocities committed by slave owners.

This book does not shy away from the atrocities of slavery. Cora is beaten and sexually assaulted. Again, to me, I needed the book to be distanced from those acts because I was horrified enough and sympathetic/empathetic enough that having experienced Cora’s emotions in any closer manner would have been too difficult. But it doesn’t end with her experience on the Randall plantation.

Cora winds up in South Carolina, which seemed great! She went to the doctor twice and on the second time her doctor suggests she thinks about birth control. Birth control in the form of a hysterectomy. As in sterilization, which was forced upon black women with at least two children already and who were considered mentally or morally deficient. It was also presented in a highly encouraging manner because the white people of the South were extremely concerned with the fact that they were outnumbered by their black slaves. And if you didn’t know, North Carolina’s sterilization program lasted until 1974. 1974. Just let that sink in.

The book also discusses the fact that doctors pretended to treat former slaves for syphilis, but in fact, gave them sugar water. This is a real thing that happened. Honestly, you can thank black people for a lot of medical advances because white people genuinely believed they weren’t people and treated them in completely awful ways. Even when they were being helpful. For example, Dr. Stevens, when in medical school, participated in grave digging, where it was significantly easier to steal black bodies because no one cared when those bodies went missing. There’s a sentence that says, “In death the negro became a human being. Only then was he the white man’s equal.” My heart hurts, y’all.

What Would You Have Done?

Growing up, I was convinced that I would have been someone who fought for the freedom of slaves. That no matter where I was from, I would have fought for freedom and equality. That if I was the daughter of a plantation owner, I would have taught slaves to read, that I would have tried to prevent overseers from being as awful as they were. That if I was in the position to help with the Underground Railroad that I would have done everything I could to help slaves escape. You can probably see how problematic some of those beliefs are and, in fact, Ceaser’s former owner taught him to read and promised that upon her death he and his parents would be set free. Of course, when she died, they were not set free. But perhaps more egregiously, while it was helpful to go against the law and teach a slave to read, I’m sure most (probably all) people would have preferred freedom to the ability to read.

Regardless, my belief that I would have helped, that I would have done everything I could no matter the personal risk were really challenged by reading about the reality of the risk in The Underground Railroad.

This was another place where I had to sit this book down and walk away. It was so rough to read about this. It was difficult to read about The Freedom Trail in North Carolina. Really just grappling with our history in a way that we really should have done in school is a difficult thing to do.

But what about the way that the Irish and other immigrants were abused by the system?

First of all, no. Sure, new immigrants were not treated super wonderfully, but they were free. They had a contract over their head, but they were paid a wage and were able to pay off that contract. Slaves were slaves. They were not paid. They were not given the opportunity to really free themselves. Did some manage to do so? Yes, absolutely, but they were the exception to the rule.

Regardless, this question is addressed in this book and I thought it was done in such a perfect way. Let me know your thoughts!

Internalized Racism

This book just genuinely tackles so many issues and internalized racism is one of them. I haven’t dealt with internalized racism, but have dealt with internalized misogyny. I think that was an aspect missing from this book in the sense that I didn’t see that cross-section of Cora’s identity as much as I think it could have been included. Let me know what you thought on this point as my perspective is not the same as a black woman’s experience with this book would have been. Along those lines, I’m including links here to a couple of the YouTube reviews I watched when I was trying to process this book. Bree Hill posted this review and she too felt that the book was a difficult read and has some really great things to say about the book. Similarly, Rincey Reads posted a review she fell more on the side of wishing Cora’s perspective was a little closer and less distant. I definitely think listening to #OwnVoices reviews is extremely important so I wanted to include these reviews.

I want to leave you in this section with this passage, “To see chains on another person and be glad they are not your own–such was the good fortune permitted by colored people, defined by how much worse it could be any moment. If your eyes met, both parties looked away.”

And I leave you with this piece of hope that I just saw on Ava DuVernay’s Twitter:

If you read this book, let me know what you thought. I would love to discuss this book with you. And if it wasn’t clear, I loved this book. I think everyone should read it.


Library Haul and Reading the First Chapter

I lost control at the library, who is surprised? And now I have

eleven books out from the library not counting the audiobook and two ebooks I have checked out via Overdrive. Whoops. So, I decided I would try the Read the First Chapter challenge/tag thing that I’ve seen on YouTube. Specifically, I just watched SheMightBeMonica’s library one and I was so invested, I had to do one myself. I limited myself to just reading the first chapters of the non-romance novels because I renewed one of the romance novels and am halfway through it and all of them are part of a series. So, these are in no particular order, but let’s get started!

1. Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Well… First of all, LOVED IT. Second of all, I didn’t stop reading until Chapter Four. Y’all. I’m so excited to keep reading this book. If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s basically about three friends who travel from Australia to LA for Supa Con, which is basically Comic Con. Charlie is a vlogger who just stared in her first movie, which is quite popular. She also happens to be bisexual and Chinese Australian. Taylor is one of Charlie’s best friends and she suffers from intense anxiety that was honestly so relatable. She also falls on the autism spectrum and self-identifies as fat. Jamie is the third friend, but the one without a POV, and he is the best friend. I love him. He loves Taylor, I love him, she loves him. It’s great. He’s a wonderful human. Someone send me a Jamie. Kthx.

Honestly though, I was hooked on the dedication page, which says, “To the weirdos, the geeks, and the fandom queens. To the outcasts, the misfits, and everything in between. The days of playing the sidekick are over. You are the superheroes now. You are my people, and this is for you.” LOVE.

2. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Wow. This book jumps right in, with our bisexual, recovering from an eating disorder, and recently out of a relationship with a dude heroine on her way to the only gay club in Schuyler, Nebraska to try and get her friends back. Her friends who are a part of a clique called the Disco Dykes and are obnoxiously biphobic. It also contain’s the lines, “That’s doable. It’s not reasonable, but that’s why I’m drinking.” I’m not sure why this line struck me as so remarkably poignant but it did, so I thought I’d share. Diving right into the action and Etta’s emotions was startling, but not bad. It’s definitely got me intrigued to continue.

3. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Another wow. This book is heavy, which is something I knew going in based on the synopsis. Mary was convicted of manslaughter for killing a baby when she was nine. She’s about to turn 16 when we start Allegedly and the first chapter packs quite a punch. It contains a line I loved, “Figures of speech are luxuries convicted murderers are not allowed to have.” But it also contains an incredibly fat-shaming paragraph that brought me abruptly out of the narrative because it was just so offensive to me. So, not at the top of my list so far.

4. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I AM SO EXCITED TO GET STARTED ON THIS FIRST CHAPTER. Um, yeah. I need this. I love this so much. SO MUCH. It’s so good already and I just can’t even explain to you.

In case you haven’t heard of this book, it’s a short book, it’s only 169 pages. The blurb on the inside says, “Children have always disappeared under the right conditions–slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells and emerging somewhere . . . else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children. Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced . . . they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her newfound schoolmates to get to the heart of things. No matter the cost.”

Diversity: Asexual MC, Trans MC, Japanese side character, and Latina side character

5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this book, but I actually really enjoyed the first chapter. My attention was hooked from the very beginning. Toward the end of the first page, “It might seem odd that in cities teetering at the edge of the abyss young people still go to class–in this case an evening class on corporate identity and product branding–but that is the way of things, with cities as with life, for one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.”

Diversity Elements: Middle Eastern main characters

6. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This book is really difficult to read, which makes sense given that it’s about slavery. The first chapter is telling the story of Cora’s grandmother, which is fascinating, heartbreaking, and honestly just devastating. I think it’s so easy for us to fail to grapple with the horrors of slavery now that we’re fairly removed from slavery as it existed pre-Civil War. The first chapter doesn’t have information about the Underground Railroad (which is actually a railroad), but I’m very excited to find out more about how that was interpreted by Whitehead.

Diversity Elements: African American main characters

7. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

This is another book where I could not stop after the first chapter, though I did manage to stop after the second, so good job me! I adored Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ and I still think it’s such an important book. The books opens with Ramona saying farewell to her summer love, Grace. It’s really sweet and made me want to listen to “Tim McGraw” by Taylor Swift because, well, everything makes me want to listen to Taylor Swift. Chapter two introduces us to Hattie, Ramona’s sister, who is pregnant and the fact that the sisters seem extremely close pleased me immensely. There was also a lot of discussion about being from a small town and feeling trapped/wanting to escape, but also feeling like you can’t leave. I’m so excited to get to this book!

Diversity Elements: Bisexual main character; the love interest is black, I think? Will update you when I find out for sure at the end of the month!


Book Talk: Hold Me by Courtney Milan

The Ripped Bodice is the only all-romance bookstore in the United States and also a dream vacation location for me. They also happen to be having a Book Club discussing Hold Me by Courtney Milan, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite romance novels so I thought I would “participate” from afar by hosting a book talk. I would like to have Book Talks fairly regularly so let me know if anything about this format doesn’t work for you or if there’s something you would really like to see! I will say that because this is basically a one person book club, there will be an abundance of spoilers so do not read past the divider if you haven’t read Hold Me!

Let us begin with a quick cover squeal because, y’all, that is a trans Latina woman on that cover! And an Asian man! AS IN, THE COVER OF THIS BOOK IS ACTUALLY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE CHARACTERS INSIDE OF IT. I am so delighted by this. And Courtney Milan has talked about the process of getting this cover and I am just so thankful that she was able to make this work. She’s talked a lot about how difficult it can be for authors who have to use stock photos because stock photos tend to be pretty white. So, in conclusion 10/10 for the cover here. The Me even matches my blog. How cute.

Now for a synopsis of this beautifully written, absolutely fabulous book. Maria is a trans, Latina woman, who has an enviable ability to walk in high heels (someone please teach me this skill), is about to graduate college, and oh yeah, has a super successful and very popular blog where she contemplates various methods the world can end. Her blog is so popular that she frequently has fancy scientist people emailing her and wanting her to do all of these cool things. But she’s anonymous. She has a virtual friendship with one of her fans who goes by Actual Physicist (she goes by Em).

The book begins with Maria going to meet her brother at her brother’s friend’s lab. Her brother’s friend is Jay and they dislike each other immediately. So, obviously, Jay is Actual Physicist and their relationship dynamic is incredible to watch because you get to see both Em and Actual Physicist talking about their days and Jay recognizing when he messes up with Maria in real life. This is genuinely one of the best hate to love romance novels I’ve ever read in my life. Also, Jay is Asian American and also bisexual (I think?). This book is diverse, delightful, and utter perfection.

And there ends the spoiler free section of this Book Talk! Now for pretending I’m in a book club by myself because I don’t know anyone else in real life who has read this yet. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK AND SQUEAL OVER IT WITH ME.

Wait, what are you supposed to talk about in a book club? Turns out, I don’t know what I’m doing, so please provide feedback if this starts turning in some tangent of me squealing about how wonderful this book is.

Topic One: Let’s talk about sex, baby.

Priority number one for me in regards to sex in romance novels–scratch that, in literally anything where sex is mentioned–is consent specifically obtained? Priority number two, is the topic of STDs/pregnancy prevention discussed? If no to either of those things, there had best be a reason for it, you know?

So, let’s talk about sex in this novel. Consent gets a BIG check mark. Despite being a hate to love, Jay and Maria don’t get frisky for real until they’ve worked through that. I don’t specifically remember a conversation about STDs (pregnancy prevention not being an issue), but I’m 99% sure Courtney Milan would not have left that out because she’s amazing and wonderful.

Turning to still high priority questions, but slightly less high on the list: was the sex actually sexy?

Um. Yes! Always. You can trust Courtney Milan for that, y’all. If you don’t like well described sex scenes, you should skip this book, but you’re missing out!

Topic Two: Is the Hate to Love Trope a disaster or perfection?

The hate to love trope can be an unwieldy one, you know? Like, there’s a risk that the hatred is so real and genuine because one of the characters is irredeemable or because they have true fundamental differences that are impossible to overcome. But when it works, it really works. For me anyway.

So, are the relationship dynamics in Hold Me (a) healthy, (b) believable, and (c) shippable? Answer to all of the above is YES. I genuinely felt like Maria and Jay built a really solid relationship that could definitely go the distance. They knew each other so well as Em and Actual Physicist so once they finally realized one another’s identities and worked through that, I felt like their relationship was really strong. And, in case my excitement about Maria and Jay was not apparent enough, I AM OBSESSED WITH THEM. They are so shippable!

I also love Tina and Blake (from book one in this series and book three, I believe) so I was so happy to glimpse them as well!

Topic Three: Is this book good while reading it, but then you just forget everything that happened?

Um, no. Not at all. I finished reading this book on March 14, 2017 and I (a) loved it and (b) still remember most everything. Or at least the important parts. Courtney Milan is a really amazing writer and even if you have virtually nothing in common with Maria or Jay (like, I hate science, y’all), you’ll definitely find something in this book to relate to.

Topic Four: Girl Hate or Nah?

NAH. Maria and Tina are roommates and besties and I just adore their relationship. Maria is also super girly. She loves makeup and high heels and doesn’t think any of that makes her less than what she is (because it doesn’t). One of my favorite parts of this book is watching Maria call out Jay for his ridiculously outdated notions of femininity and intelligence. He knows he messed up and I just really appreciated seeing that call out on the page.

In conclusion, I hope not only that you read this book, but that you join me in devouring all of Courtney Milan’s backlist (two novellas to go on my end) and supporting her incredibly amazing self forever and ever.

If you’ve read Hold Me, leave a comment and let me know what you thought! If you also love Courtney Milan, please let me know so we can commence fangirling together because right now I don’t know anyone in real life who has gotten around to her books yet. On the bright side, that means some people are likely in for a very book-ish Christmas!


July Wrap Up, Pt. 2

Despite struggling through the Bar Exam (fingers still crossed because I definitely don’t feel great about it), I was able to get through another ten books! Because I’m obsessed with BooksandLala on YouTube, I’m going to give you all a lot of statistics that you probably don’t care about.

In total, I read nineteen books, which equalled 6,667 pages. Twelve of the books I read were actual paper copies, seven and a half (more on that later) were ebooks, and half of one was an audiobook. I’ve also kept my streak of reading a 500+ page book a month alive! So I’m very excited about that. Finally, five of the books I read this month were 2017 releases: Once and For All, The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband, and The Day of the Duchess can all be found in July Wrap Up, Pt. 1. Additionally, Hot Cop and I Believe in a Thing Called Love are 2017 releases featured in this post. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which is also featured in this post, was Becky Albertalli’s truly excellent debut novel from 2016.

This post is about the books though, so let’s get to it:

1. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I feel like I should have a lot more opinions about this novel, but, if we’re being honest, I really don’t have many opinions. I obviously agree with everything Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in this because we should all be feminists, but I also feel like, having heard her Ted Talk, I really would have preferred just watching her Ted Talk again to reading the book in this format. However, she narrates the audiobook so I think I should have listened to this rather than read it. I plan to read Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions via audiobook rather than an ebook or hard copy because she also narrates that and I think I would prefer that format.

2. Hot Cop by Laurelin Paige and Sierra Simone

In complete contrast to We Should All Be Feminists, Hot Cop is a contemporary romance by one of my absolute favorite authors (Sierra Simone) about a librarian who falls in love with a cop. I appreciated so many things about this book, but one of those things is that Chase’s sister is married to a black man and they have two kids, which has led Chase to think a lot about the way black men especially are treated by cops. Chase is a huge advocate for body cameras on police officers because of this and this line of thinking made him a much more appealing hero to me than he would have been otherwise.

I also really liked Livia who I found remarkably relatable despite the fact that she’s convinced she’s about to die because she’s 30. Livia, like me, really wants to have a child, but (also like me) is really wary of men. So when Chase persists in asking her out, she agrees to a date, and then asks him to help her have a child that he’ll agree to have nothing to do with. Of course, this doesn’t exactly go as planned, but I really loved the push-pull nature of Livia and Chase’s relationship. This book was a fun read and a well-written one. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a sexy contemporary romance novel.

3. The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne

The cover of this book is delightful eye candy, but it does anything to convey the mood or plot of the novel. This book is about Annique Villiers, a French spy, who was unfortunately captured by another French operative who is, well, not great. She rescues the two British gentlemen trapped with her, only to discover that they’re members of the Fox Club, aka British spies who are world renowned. Grey, while appreciative of Annique’s help and assistance, betrays her trust and kidnaps her because he believes (rightly) that Annique has information vital to the fight against Napoleon.

In the early part of the book, Grey behaves in some rather awful ways and I can understand why some people couldn’t get past that. On the other hand, I felt like Grey’s behavior and Annique’s responses were realistic for the situation. A sort of Crown first mentality and all. I also greatly appreciated how Annique’s manner of speaking felt genuinely French, without being a weird mangling of an accent on a page. Rather, it was the syntax of her words, the cadence, that really gave you a glimpse into Annique’s world through her words. Ultimately, I felt that Annique was an impressive heroine and I found myself adoring the side characters. I’m so excited to continue in this series.

4. Out of Bounds by Lauren Blakely

Again with the abs on the cover despite the fact that this very short ebook did not feature nearly enough of a shirtless Drew to merit the cover. As I stated on Goodreads, I really felt like this book was like reading a Hallmark Movie, with its formulaic plot and saccharine sweetness. Now, I love Hallmark Movies, but I tend to have to be in the mood for them. On most Saturday afternoons, I’m happy to curl up on the couch with my mom or my aunt and watch one, but when I’m reading? Yeah, I’m less often in the mood. I want a book with layers and substance and character development.

This book is about NFL quarterback Drew, who Dani observes trying to surf. He gets knocked in the head by someone else’s surfboard and since he’s trying to fly under the radar, Dani pretends not to recognize him at first. Dani, meanwhile, is a lawyer for the team Drew gets traded to so there’s some can we or is this violating some sort of workplace something or other (which frankly seemed ridiculous, because what does a lawyer have to do with players on the team? Virtually nothing.). Anyway, so there’s a fair amount of miscommunication and stupidity that is, obviously, overcome by actual communication and then they live happily ever after. And none of that is a spoiler because you know exactly how it’s going to go from about page twelve. So, read this if you’re in the mood for a Hallmark movie, but you don’t have access to it for whatever reason.

5. Moral Defense by Marcia Clark*

I have a full review of this book posted on the blog, which I highly recommend you check out if you’re interested in legal thrillers because I fully flesh out all of my concerns and issues in this book. I’m not going to reiterate most of that here. I’ll just note that I gave this book three stars and I’m pretty sure that was a generous ranking for how much I disliked this book. I don’t mind unlikeable characters, but I really don’t like Samantha. But again, if you like John Grisham novels where the lawyer throws the rules out the window, you might really enjoy this one. Let me know if so!

6. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

I loved this book so incredibly much, you guys. Like, this book might be my favorite book I’ve read in 2017 so far, which is really saying something. This book, as mentioned at the beginning, is a new 2017 release that came out on May 30th.

This book is about Desi Lee, a Type A, Korean-American, who believes anything can be accomplished with a plan. She is student body president, varsity soccer player, president of an association that has to do with plants… Just so much. She has an extremely close relationship with her father and since her mother’s death has done her best to make sure that Appa’s life is as full as she can manage. Appa, meanwhile, loves KDramas and this book has me desperate to try some out! Appa’s love for KDramas inspires Desi after another flailure (flirting+failure) in front of the new kid at school to come up with a plan to get past her flailure’s and finally get the guy. Desi’s best friends are Fiona and Will and they are truly excellent. Fiona is a lesbian who is killing the game with the ladies and Will is a straight dude, who is also killing it with the ladies. So they endlessly enjoy good-naturedly teasing Desi, but also supporting her in her hare-brained schemes.

This book is so funny, so relatable and engaging… I just honestly cannot say enough positive things about it. If you haven’t already gotten your hands on it, you really, really must.

7. Professor Trouble by Soraya May

This book is about Oxford professor (I think it’s Oxford), Will Spencer, who punches the Dean and is shipped off to America for a semester to teach Latin Literature until the fuss can blow over. He’s very young and very attractive and when Emily Masterson literally falls into his arms on the first day of class, he’s done for. He finds everything about her appealing and she feels similarly.

Professor/Student relationships are a guilty pleasure of mine, which seems odd considering my passionate displeasure over teacher/student relationships. But considering professor/student relationships don’t involve statutory rape, I suppose it can be forgiven. Additionally, this book does not have Will getting off on having any kind of power over Emily and there’s a line that specifically notes Will ensuring that someone else grades Emily’s papers so that she can know she’s doing well in his class based on her merit and not her skills in bed. This book does have rather steamy sexual encounters so if that’s not your thing, I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if it is your thing, I think Soraya May knocked it out of the park.

I did knock this book one star because I felt like the ending was a little rushed and didn’t quite tie up everything the way I would have liked. That said, I’m very interested in reading more of what she’s written, so I think she got the job done!

8.Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This book is about Simon Spier, who has been emailing a guy going by Blue, because the two are keeping their identities a secret. Simon gets blackmailed by someone and winds up having to deal with the fact that he’s falling in love with someone who he doesn’t even know their “real” identity and worrying about being out-ed before he’s quite ready. It’s a really excellent novel that tackles homophobia in an environment where there’s a lot of supportive characters, both friends and adults, which I think is incredibly important. I genuinely recommend this book for so many reasons.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the family relationship and dynamic between Simon, his parents, and his sisters. It was a really awesome experience getting to read two books in a row (basically) where family was heavily featured and in a positive manner. I love my family and my parents were and are so important to me and to my development. It’s nice to not always have YA books where there’s been a disaster and the parents are absent or awful. So, yeah, I highly recommend this book. And I’ve written too much about it here, but still have so much to say. Maybe I should write a full length review of this one. Let me know if you’re interested!

9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I honestly don’t have the words to describe this book. It is a monster and I would highly recommend the audiobook, if you’re interested in reading it because the narrator brings Theo to life in the most excellent way and voices the lyrical lines of Tartt’s style in an incredibly moving way.

The Goldfinch follows Theo throughout a significant portion of his life where he suffers the death of his mother in a terroristic event. He then suffers from PTSD and depression and a whole host of other issues throughout the book. I went into this book with no idea what it was about and I honestly think that’s the best way to go into it, so that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

So that is everything I read in July! My favorite book was definitely I Believe in a Thing Called Love, but I loved so many of these books this month!

I’m almost finished with Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate so that’s definitely getting finished up in August, but there are also all of the books I put on my TBR! I look forward to updating you all again when we get to the halfway point of August. I started my internship on July 31st though and on my first day had to read a 500+ page trial transcript so please pray for both my eyes and my continuing ability to read books for pleasure.

Have you read any of these books? What was your favorite book of July? Let me know in the comments!


A Book in which Samantha Brinkman Throws Morality and Professional Responsibility Out the Window

Let me begin by apologizing for the late post and follow up that apology with another apology because I’m about to tell you about a book that the more I think about it the more annoyed I get. You may have noticed that I’ve been studying to take the Bar Exam, which is both why this review is late (recovery time from the mental and physical exhaustion) and also, mostly likely the reason I am so frustrated by Moral Defense by Marcia Clark. Now, I want to preface this by noting that I adore Marcia Clark’s Rachel Knight series and would highly recommend it. Something about her Samantha Brinkman series is just not appealing to me in the same way. So, let’s get started!

Also, sorry for the less than stellar quality of this picture. I thought I would try for an artsy looking shot, but I was too lazy to make my bed or expend any real effort so… Here’s the book, laying on my bed. It has a nice cover, right?

In 2015, Marcia Clark released Blood Defense, which was the first in her new series about a criminal defense attorney named Samantha Brinkman who struggles financially, puts justice over the law, and… She’s a very interesting, very unlikeable character. In the first book, she lands a case where a cop is accused of murdering his actress girlfriend, but he maintains his innocence. His identity makes for an interesting plot point so I won’t spoil it for you, in case you decide to read it. The second book, Sam gets a request from a school counselor to handle a case for one of her students whose adopted family was just brutally murdered. The case is horrific and when the girl discloses to Sam that she was being sexually assaulted by her adopted brother and sometimes her adopted father, the case starts to hit a little close to home. This book is full of twists and turns and there are four different cases happening simultaneously that never seemed to have anything to one another, until suddenly, everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow.

TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR THIS BOOK: Child sexual abuse (like a lot)

On the one hand, I love that she’s an unlikeable female character. John Grisham has written many legal thrillers with unlikeable male attorneys who have similar thoughts about the law not necessarily being binding, so to speak, on their behavior. In the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t like those books either. My dad, however, loves John Grisham though, so he’s likely going to enjoy these books just as much, if not more than he did the Rachel Knight series. So, while these books are not my favorites, I definitely think there’s an audience for them and that those people should definitely read these. If you like John Grisham, you should mostly likely enjoy Marcia Clark. Both are former attorneys turned authors of legal thrillers and former attorneys turned authors are some of my favorites. For example, Courtney Milan is one of my favorite romance authors and she clerked for two SCOTUS justices. TWO SCOTUS JUSTICES. My hero, honestly.

I’m getting side-tracked. The point of this review is to tell you my thoughts. So… The good. It is a very fast paced and well-written legal thriller.

And now for the things that jolted me out of the story every so often and knocked my enjoyment down to a three star read (which might be generous, if we’re being honest).

In large thematic things, I found it really troubling how often fat-shaming language appears in this novel. For example, “I saw a short man whose body looked like a stack of circles waddle over to his table.” And another example, “I noticed he’d put on a little weight in the short time since I’d last seen him. The buttons on his shirt strained a little harder around the belly, and his jowls seemed to hang a little lower. Apparently being a massy murderer and [spoiler] could weigh on a person.” The way that she talks about this person is always a description of his weight and then something about strongly disliking him, which winds up feeling like fat = bad person. This is a small plot point so it’s not too relevant, but it bothered me enough that I took the time to write notes about it.

Additionally, “the trannie” was used once, which is a slur, in case you were unaware.

But arguably, the thing that made the most angry appeared on page 316 when Alex says, “But I just don’t know how you get past the fact that you can’t talk to them. Speaking strictly for teenage girls, they’re all idiots.” And Sam thinks to herself, “That pretty much fit my memory of them. Then against, I’d never dated anyone less than twenty years old–even when I was fourteen. ‘Well, in the name of full disclosure, teenage girls aren’t exactly material for the Algonquin Round Table, either.'”

There are many things that annoy me in the world, but I’m honestly not sure that there’s anything more annoying to me than people intentional underestimating teen girls. Or really just teenagers in general. Stop doing that. JUST STOP.

Finally, it’s like Sam doesn’t care about professional responsibility and there’s nothing more frustrating to me than fictional lawyers who are so careless with their professional license. I’ve worked too hard to earn mine for them to go around giving us all a bad name, thank you.

So, overall, my feelings on this book can be summed up with this:

It really wasn’t the best book to read before the bar exam if we’re being honest. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve read this book! Or a legal thriller you love.


July 2017 Wrap Up, pt. 1

Hi, y’all! I was starting to think about my post recapping what all I’ve read this month and then I realized that I’ve read too many books already (15) and that there was no way anyone would make it through a post with twenty books. So, here are the first ten books I’ve read in July, 2017!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these and what you thought! Or tell me about your favorite read of July.

1. Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

The first book I read this month was Once and for All by Sarah Dessen, who is one of my absolute favorite authors. Sarah Dessen has been referred to as the Queen of YA and I adore her because she’s so open on Twitter when she’s struggling and she’s given me books that have made me feel a whole spectrum of emotions.

Once and For All is about a recent high school graduate named Louna and her last summer before college working with her mom and her mom’s best friend and business partner as wedding planners. I enjoyed this book, but did not love this book. Sarah Dessen is such a talented author, but I just felt like I wasn’t as invested as I should have been in Louna and her best friend or Louna and the guy I was supposed to be cheering her toward. Like… At this point, I’m not sure I can even tell you his name. He felt like a less great Dex from This Lullaby, which made me sad. If you read this, definitely let me know what you think! I’m very curious to see what other people thought.

2. Once More My Darling Rogue by Lorainne Heath

This is a part of Lorainne Heath’s Scandalous Gentlemen of St.

James series, but can be read as a stand alone. This book features Drake Darling, the adopted son of nobility who has not forgotten his rather tragic past. He and Ophelia, his adopted sister’s best friend, have an extremely antagonistic relationship, but when he saves her life, she has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about her prior life, including him. Shenanigans ensue.

I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because I felt like the betrayal of Ophelia was so profoundly unforgivable that I just couldn’t really get past it. It was one of those books that if I could suspend reality and my sense of right and wrong, the book itself was enjoyable and well written, but I tend to only be able to manage one or the other. I do not recommend this book.

3. The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn

I had such high hopes of this book because of my complete adoration of Becoming Miss Bridgerton, the first in the series, but I must admit to being disappointed. This was another book where I felt like the unnecessary complication of lying to someone whose memory has been lost was just cruel and unforgivable. However, I felt that considerably less in this book because of the intent. In Once More My Darling Rogue, Darling lies because he wants revenge of sorts, whereas here, Cecelia really just needs information and she needs to take care of Edward. However, she lets the charade extend unnecessarily long, in my opinion, which creates unnecessary conflict that drove me a little crazy. I did, however, mostly enjoy this book, so I wouldn’t not recommend it. I love Julia Quinn and she really does write enjoyable books.

4. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

And then we get to this book, which should definitely raise your hackles and yet… I loved it. Lisa Kleypas writes alpha male heroes so well. This book is a companion novel to Then Came You and features Derek Craven and Sara Fielding.

Derek Craven is a rather tortured hero. He is a self-made man and owns a gambling club, Cravens, and has some enemies, including his now ex-lover. Sara Fielding is an author who gained quite a bit of critical acclaim after her novel about a prostitute became incredibly popular. She’s in London researching for her latest novel and winds up at Cravens.

This book is angsty and incredible. It’s one that I think you may need to be in a particular mood for, but I personally, really enjoyed it.

5. A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

This was the first book in this series, but now there’s a new one that I’m SO excited to get my hands on. Lachlain MacRieve, leader of the Lykae Clan, breaks out of captivity because he senses his mate. He had been in captivity for over a century so he’s extremely shocked by his surroundings when he escapes into modern day Paris. His mate is Emma, half-vampire, half-Valkyrie, but at first he only registers the vampire part. He basically kidnaps Emma, which turns out to be a good thing because the vampires are looking for her, which is NOT a good thing.

I had some issues with consent toward the beginning, but paranormal romance is probably the one genre where I can suspend my outrage to accept biological blah blah blah and respect the self-control and restraint that Lachlain exhibits. Also, Emma’s character development anyone? She’s amazing! I was so proud of her by the end.

6. The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean*

If you haven’t read my review, it’s posted, but the short and sweet of it is that I loved it. Sera is the Duchess of my Heart and I don’t care that she’s not real. Also, Haven is an idiot, but he’s Sera’s idiot so I forgive him. For significantly more detail, check out my review!

7. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

If you’ve read The Bridgerton series (which I hope you have), you

may remember the Smythe-Smith musicale… If you haven’t, the Smythe-Smith musicale is an annual event which causes Mozart to roll over in his grave because the performers are awful. It is a family tradition though and Honoria Smythe-Smith is invested in her family.

Honoria’s older brother, Daniel, was in a duel with Hugh Prentice and then made to leave the country because Hugh’s dad is… Awful. Anyway, Daniel asked his best friend, Marcus, to look out for Honoria and Marcus has taken his duty pretty seriously. So, of course, he’s pretty surprised when he finds himself looking at Honoria as more than just his best friend’s little sister.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s easily one of my favorite Julia Quinn books because it was just so happy. It isn’t nearly as angsty as many romance novels, which I really appreciated. So if you want an angsty read, don’t pick this one. If you want something that’s going to make you smile and make your heart happy, pick this one up! Also, isn’t this cover gorgeous?

8. The Viscount Who Loves Me by Julia Quinn

This is Anthony’s book from The Bridgerton Series and you can definitely check out where this fits on my list of Bridgerton favorites in my first ever blog post from earlier this month.

Anthony has decided to get married because he recognizes that he needs an heir. Anthony is also convinced that he’s going to die at a young age, like his father did. So he needs to find a wife, right now, and that wife needs to be someone he’s not going to fall in love with, but finds attractive. So he chooses Edwina. The problem is, Kate is extremely protective of her younger sister and Anthony soon finds himself thinking about Kate… A lot. More than he should.

This book also features a game of Pall Mall, Colin, and one of my favorite scenes in any romance novel ever, so to say I loved this book is probably a massive understatement. I highly recommend this book and this series.

9. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn

The second book in the Smythe-Smith Quartet, which wildly enough, I’m reading in order! When Sarah fakes an illness to get out of the annual musicale, Anne Wynter (the governess) has to step in. This book picks up about two chapters before the end of Just Like Heaven, so you really do need to read these in order. Anne meets Daniel, newly returned from Italy, and the two of them begin a forbidden romance of sorts.

I really didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first or third books in the series, but I’m not entirely sure why. I think that sometimes I tend to not like the servant/nobility trope a bit, especially when it arises because of a pretty tragic past history like in Anne’s case. It’s a reminder of how precarious women’s positions and lives were in this time period, which sends me into a bit of a rage. If this trope is one that you like, I assume you would love this book. In my case, this one is likely to be my least favorite, though I haven’t yet read the final book in the Quartet.

10. The Sum of All Kisses by Julia Quinn

I was so excited to get to this book because I was beyond excited for Hugh Prentice’s book and I kind of love Sarah. The Sum of All Kisses is the third book in the Quartet, which I reiterate, need to be read in order. This book opens with everyone gathered for Honoria and Marcus’s wedding and establishes that the house party will move to Daniel’s house for Daniel and Anne’s wedding once the first is over. Honoria requests that Hugh sit at the wedding party table and he is forced to oblige and then Honoria requests that Sarah keep Hugh company and she too is forced to oblige. The problem? Sarah really doesn’t like Hugh. And Hugh is not overly fond of Sarah. So, of course, they fall in love.

This is one of my favorite tropes, so it’s not surprising that I adored this book. Sarah is a fairly unlikeable heroine, if we’re being honest. She’s prone to melodrama and she hates Hugh for a pretty irrational reason. She also reminds me so much of myself that I loved her instantly. I also really like Hugh. I love how much he cares for his friendship with Daniel and how mature he is about the events that led up to their duel. I just really enjoyed this book so much. Let me know what you think if you’ve read it!

My favorite books from the first half of this month were undoubtedly The Day of the Duchess and Just Like Heaven. My least favorite book this month was Once More My Darling Rogue. I look forward to sharing with you the rest of the books I’ve read in July next Monday!

What about you all? What have you read in July so far? Have you read any of these books?


The Best of the First Half (ish) of 2017

The bar exam is in four days. I’m freaking out and trying not to so here’s yet another, Jenica is procrastinating blog post.

Today is July 21, 2017, which means it is a bit past the halfway point of 2017, which is wild because where in the world did the time go? So for today’s blog post I thought I would do a Best of 2017 so far. I have read 128 books already this year, which is an excessive problem, but I suppose there are worse addictions.

1. The Best Book You’ve Read in 2017

Y’ALL. I cannot choose. I went through my list and tried to just write down the top books and I wound up with eight books from which to choose. I then went and looked at which ones, if any, actually came out in 2017 and lo’ and behold, there were only two that fit that category so… The Devil in Spring in Lisa Kleypas was a delight to read and came out in 2017. If you’ve read The Wallflowers series (which I also finished reading this year), the hero from this book is Evie and St. Vincent’s son and Gabriel is amazing. He accidentally compromises Pandora (or Pandora accidentally winds up compromised?), so they have to marry (because Regency London), but Pandora is not having it. She wants to make and sell board games so marriage does not fit into her life plan. I just absolutely adored this entire book, so I highly recommend!

Honorable Mention: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Mass (the other 2017 release) and Hold Me by Courtney Milan (book talk coming to the blog August 3rd!)

2. The Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2017

If I’m being honest, this category had the least amount of competition, which is wild because I was looking forward to A Court of Wings and Ruin so much. But I absolutely adored Crooked Kingdom (’16) by Leigh Bardugo in every way. If you haven’t read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, I would highly recommend the audiobooks. There is a full cast for these, which makes the books so incredible. I got so absorbed listening to this one while driving that I passed six cops in Virginia still speeding like I was in North Carolina. Let us all thank goodness they declined to pull me over.

You should know though that the hard cover of Crooked Kingdom has the most gorgeous red pages and I need it desperately, despite owning the audiobook.

3. The Best Movie You’ve Seen in 2017

Oh boy. Yet another difficult choice coming down to Wonder Woman or Spider-Man: Homecoming. I love superhero movies and I generally like Marvel movies better than DC movies because I appreciate the tone so much more in Marvel than in DC. But Wonder Woman was just so magical and empowering. I’m so excited that it did well enough that they’re doing reshoots for Justice League. Diana’s character is so important and Gal Gadot did an excellent job with her portrayal. I loved it so much. So Wonder Woman it is!

Honorable Mention: Spider-Man: Homecoming and Hidden Figures

4. The Best Album of 2017

I expected there to be stiffer competition for this category by this point in 2017. Actually, to be more accurate, I expected there to be less competition because I assumed Ed Sheeran’s ÷ would blow me away so completely that nothing else could compare, but it was kind of a letdown. So the Best Album of 2017 so far is by far Melodrama by Lorde. This album is the most impactful album that I’ve heard in ages and maybe it’s because I’m a melodramatic person by nature, but the stories and emotions are so relatable in this album. And thanks to Taylor Swift, I can say that it’s sonically cohesive. So yay, Lorde! Hopefully the Grammy is yours.

Favorite Song: Liability

5. Biggest Disappointment of 2017

My biggest book disappointment was probably Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James because I don’t know that I’ve ever disliked a hero more in my life than Rees.

My biggest musical disappointment was Ed Sheeran’s ÷ even though I love a few of the songs from the album (“Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” especially).

My biggest movie disappointment has been La La Land. I hated the end of this movie so much. It won so many awards and I’m still so baffled. Just, no. Moonlight was a thousand times better and Hidden Figures was absolutely incredible.

6. Biggest Surprise of 2017

My biggest book surprise was probably A Hunger Like No Other by

Kresley Cole, which I’m choosing because it’s a paranormal romance, which tends to not be my kind of thing since I got past my Twilight phase. This book absolutely blew me away. It even has tropes I don’t like, including an alpha male who is excessive in the worst way. I adored it though and can’t wait to continue with the series.

My biggest music surprise was definitely HAIM’s album, Something to Tell You, because aside from seeing them open for Taylor in Nashville, I haven’t ever listened to their music. I think this album is great though! The beat to all of them are incredible and the sisters really slay on the vocals.

My biggest movie surprise is more difficult because I tend to not watch movies I’m not too sure about, but I watched Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates with my best friend and roommate (for only another few weeks!) on our best day ever. I normally wouldn’t have watched this movie so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

7. Favorite New Author

I wanted to tell you about a new debut author that I’ve read that I’m really excited for future books, but… Well, it turns out I don’t think I’ve read a single debut this year. Yet. Those will come, hopefully!

So instead, I will tell you that I’ve begun devouring Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Sarina Bowen this year. I’ve gotten through almost the entire backlist of all three at this point. So if you’re in the mood for feel good romances, Quinn and Kleypas write historical romance and Sarina Bowen is a contemporary sport romance writer (hockey, specifically).

8. Newest Fictional Crush

To pick only one new fictional crush… Ugh. The struggle is real. I’m going to have to go with Collin Bridgerton though because he is so squee worthy. I just adore everything about Collin’s character.

9. Newest Favorite Character

I still haven’t stopped fangirling over Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, in case that wasn’t apparent from the fact that I titled my review of The Day of the Duchess, Seraphina, Duchess of My Heart. Sera is so strong. She’s been through so much and reminds me of the line in “Better Man” by Little Big Town (written by Taylor Swift) “the bravest thing I ever did was run.” Sera and Haven needed to be apart, but I’m so happy that they found their way back together and that Sera got to grow so much while they were apart.

10. Book that Made You Cry

Does it count as cheating if these two really need to be read back to back? How Not to Fall and How Not to Let Go are two New Adult romance novels that absolutely shattered me in the best way. I’m so glad I impulse bought these after seeing them on Sarah MacLean’s recommends list because these two books are honestly some of the best romance novels I’ve ever read. Although, I’m not sure how well the first one categorizes itself as a romance because it’s not even HFN. My heart was destroyed and then it was so happy and then destroyed again. Just, really, read these.

11. Book that Made You Laugh or Made You Happy

Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy definitely fits this category. Blake annoyed me immensely when he was introduced in Us, but watching him fall in love with Jess Canning made me so happy. I laughed out loud entirely too many times reading this book. Definitely do not read this book in public if you’re weirded out by people watching you laugh at your book.

This is the first in Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s WAGS series and it opens with Jess Canning running around trying to make sure every moment of Wes and Jamie’s wedding is perfect and then having to confess to her mom that she actually doesn’t want to be a wedding planner either. Jess moves to Toronto, which is where Wes’s NHL team is located, and also where Blake lives. Blake, one of Wes’s teammates, is a ridiculous human being and also one of the best friends anyone could have. I adored getting to know him on a deeper level.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation

Big Little Lies is not really a movie, but y’all, this HBO miniseries was absolutely amazing. It was incredible and I loved it so much. Although, I will say that it bothered me so much that Reese Witherspoon felt that Madeline was “too perfect” so she made her have an affair. Like… No Reese. Just, no. Other than that change, I thought the miniseries was incredibly well done and a mostly true to the book adaptation.

I know I meant to make it to Everything, Everything but didn’t have the time because of bar prep. Or more accurately, I spent the time I could have been watching that movie reading books instead.

13. Most Anticipated Release for the Rest of 2017

Moxie!!!! I cannot wait for this book! I hadn’t even heard of it until Kirkus released the most ridiculously stupid review I’ve ever seen and everyone’s feminist hackles were raised. So now, this book has shot to the top of my most anticipated list and I cannot wait to get my hands on it September 19th. If you haven’t heard, it’s a YA novel about a teen girl who is sexually assaulted and the way she handles it in the aftermath. Unlike Exit, Pursued by a Bear (also a book I highly recommend), things do not go as “ideally” for her in the aftermath.

14. Most Anticipated Movie

Justice League! I absolutely can’t wait for this one.

15. Most Anticipated Album

I swear to goodness, if Taylor Swift abandons me for another year, I am going to be the most distraught. But I’m clinging to hope that we’ll see TS6 sometime this year. Please, Tay, please!

But if she doesn’t, I think Selena Gomez is likely to drop her new album this year, which is one I’m very excited for, along with Kelsea Ballerini’s sophomore album. I’m also very much looking forward to Kesha’s new album!

16. Best Cover of 2017

I haven’t read this one yet, but I did pick up my copy and am very excited to read it. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Honorable Mention: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (above)

17. Books You Need to Get Through By December

I’m trying to get through all of the books I currently own that are on my TBR, most of which are in eBook format, but not all. There are well over fifty of these books so I’ll just tell you the ones I’m most excited about: Wayfarer, Spotless by Camilla Monk, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Dietland by Sarai Walker, and First Comes Love by Emily Giffin. In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage to get these TBRs knocked out!

Post-Bar Exam TBR

Y’all, the Bar Exam is on Tuesday so obviously I’m writing this blog post right now instead of shoving more elements into my mind because sometimes there’s just no other option.

If you’re friends with me on Goodreads, you may have noticed that I really haven’t read anything but romance since… last summer, with a few highly anticipated YA installments to my favorite series. This is mostly because when I’m overwhelmed by life and/or by world events, I just dive in to romance novels to make me feel like everything is going to be okay.

BUT in light of the fact that the Bar Exam is about to be OVER, I’m going to try to accomplish completing some of the mountain load of books on my TBR that cannot promise me a happily ever after and, hopefully, tackling some of the non-fiction books that I own and have avoided like the plague because life is hard.

1. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

This book does not come out until August 22, 2017 and I’m so excited and I had it in my head that it came out next week so I’m also crushed. Tessa Dare is one of my all-time favorite romance novelists and I’m so excited for The Duchess Dare, which is the first in her new series Girl Meets Duke.

The Duchess Deal involves the Duke of Ashbury, who needs an heir, and Emma Gladstone, who needs payment for the wedding dress she created for the woman who abruptly declined to be the Duke’s wife after all. You can read the first chapter already, which I obviously did, and y’all… Y’ALL. This book is going to be so good! I was squealing and fangirling over the first chapter so I absolutely can’t wait to dive into the entire book.

2. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

I’ve been trying so hard to get through this book, but it’s so upsetting to me. If you’ve missed out on all the hype of this book, this book basically explains how even though you may have thought that we have dismantled some of the systems of systemic oppression of enslaved people like the Jim Crow laws that emerged in the Reconstruction era and stuck around for nearly a century (or maybe it was a century?), that we’ve really just been creating new systems of oppression.

I’m very excited to actually finish reading this book. I’m a chapter in and it’s already made me think about things more in depth that I hadn’t previously considered. The book is extremely thought provoking and so, so important. So I’m hoping this book will get finished in August. We shall see!

3. First Comes Love by Emily Giffin

I’ve had this book on my TBR since Christmas because I was so excited for it, but then got nervous about reading it and so it’s still languishing on my shelves.

The book is about two sisters, Josie and Meredith Garland, who seem to have had a typical sisterly relationship when they were younger and then some sort of tragedy strikes. The book picks up fifteen years later and Josie is a teacher who desperately wants to have kids of her own despite being single. Meredith is a highly successful attorney whose life on the outside looks great, but on the inside, less so. I am actually pretty excited to read this book after re-reading the synopsis so I’m sure it’s going to get read in August.

4. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I feel like a failure for the fact that I still haven’t read this book. Like, what kind of lawyer (can I call myself that yet?) am I that I still haven’t read this or Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman despite owning both books? And I never finished Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir either. Y’all, I’m failing. If Justice Kagan releases a memoir any time soon, I’m really going to be behind.

Anyway, if you don’t know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. She was appointed to the Court by President Clinton, but before she became a judge she was a co-founder of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. She is also my hero. So, really, the fact that I haven’t read her memoir is a tragic shame. I have, however, read and LOVED Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.

So, in conclusion, I have to read this book in August. It must be read by the time I’m sworn in. An arbitrary deadline, sure, but it’s happening, y’all. It is happening.

5. Moral Defense by Marcia Clark

I read and loved Marcia Clark’s first fictional series and was incredibly disappointed when I realized it had ended without a satisfactory (to me) conclusion to the romance element of it. These books are not romance books, which is why the sub-plots can be frustrating for readers of romance who just want to have their cake and eat it too. Anyway, I’m getting distracted.

Marcia Clark then began a second series about a defense attorney named Samantha Brinkman, the first was called Blood Defense and this is the sequel. Samantha is an exceptionally flawed character and is written in a way that makes her both compelling and a little grating. I think the fact that she grated on my nerves arguably had more to do with the fact that I was busy tallying up her questionable professional responsibility decisions than anything else, but you know.

The second book has a case where teenager, Cassie Sonnenburg, was adopted by a family whom she is being accused of murdering or trying to murder. The blurb makes it sound like Cassie has a history of sexual abuse that may have triggered the deadly attack, which causes Samantha to reflect on her own past history (which is shocking, by the way). I’m excited to read this one! It looks like it’s rated a little higher on Goodreads than the first too, so I’m hoping I will like it more than I did the first.

Alright, y’all, that about sums it up for me! These are the books I’m aiming to read in the month of August (and the last few days of July). I’ll check back in with you at the end of August to see how I did!


Seraphina, Duchess of My Heart

In Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess, Sera steals my heart and the show, aside from when I’m so distracted by Sophie and King having a baby that I forget to breathe. Also, look at the cover:

Isn’t it amazing? I’m madly in love with that dress, honestly.

If you asked me for my least favorite trope, I would probably struggle substantially because if we’re being honest, I love most tropes if they’re well written. However, I’ve read a few too many second chance romances that were not well-written for it to leave a funny taste in my mouth. This book, despite being a second chance romance, is also… Well, not.

It’s a story about Seraphina. It’s a story about Sera taking control of her life, going after what she wants, and about Malcom learning to be okay with Sera having agency over her life and her choices. It’s also a story about family and the importance of sisters. Now, neither of my sisters have disappeared for years without reaching out, but even if they did, I know that I too would be there immediately. That’s what sisters are for and that is something that Sarah MacLean expresses beautifully.

Now, for a real summary…

You may remember that in the first book of the Scandal & Scoundrel series, The Rogue Not Taken, that Sophie pushed Maclom, Duke of Haven into a fountain and then ran away because, well, you can’t cause a scandal quite like that. You may also remember that Sophie pushed the Duke of Haven into this fountain because she found him doing things he shouldn’t have with a woman who was not his wife and therefore, not Sophie’s sister. Sophie, like all good siblings, was not okay with that. So, she shoved Malcom into a pond.

In the time between that event that sets The Rogue Not Taken into motion and the opening of The Day of the Duchess, Seraphina took off and has now returned to London demanding a divorce. She does this in Parliament at the close of the legislative season when everyone’s dying to leave London. If you’ve seen Wonder Woman recently, you understand just how scandalous this truly was. (P.S., you have seen Wonder Woman, right?) So I’m all:

And Haven is internally like:

because omg, that’s my wife! I’ve been searching for her for three years! DID SHE JUST ASK FOR A DIVORCE?

But outwardly he’s all:

because Haven has an annoying habit of keeping all of his emotions trapped inside his mind because… Well, because he’s stupid, honestly.

Anyway, so Sera is basically being Wonder Woman and she and Haven engage in a battle of wits that was like Wimbledon, which eventually winds up with Sera agreeing (reluctantly) to go to Haven’s estate to play matchmaker for him.

If you, like me, are going, wtf Haven?, I KNOW, RIGHT? Anyway, but Sera doesn’t go into battle alone. Oh no. She takes her sisters. All of them. The Soiled S’s and y’all, my heart. I love it.

Oh, and in the three years that Sera’s been gone, she started singing in pubs and now she’s come back to England to open her own! At the moment because women aren’t people yet (*cue eyeroll*), Caleb (super cute American business partner) is taking care of business. But that, you see, is why Sera needs a divorce.

I’m stopping here to prevent myself from spoiling things for you, but… Um… Yes. Please come talk to me when you’ve read this book. We can squeal over it together on twitter or on tumblr or literally anywhere you can find me. THE END, Y’ALL.

In case it’s not apparent, this book gets a FIVE STAR rating from me on Goodreads, which, let’s be real, does not mean much from me. But it also gets my, I can’t stop thinking about this book and want to be best friends with Sera stamp of approval so, you can take that with a little more force. Me to Sera:

As for whether or not Malcom is fully redeemed… I’m not sure I would forgive him, but I’m also not convinced there wasn’t a lot more groveling between the end of the book and the epilogue. But the important thing is that I do believe in their love for one another. And right now, more than ever before, it is imperative that I believe that love prevails over all. Because Love Trumps Hate, it just has to.


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