Thursday, February 28, 2019

Blogging Seasons + Bloggy Friends

Hello Friends!

I had (the worst) work event this week, and it is over, and I am now v. happy! :) :)

I was reading Steph's post on how Blogging is Like Dating, and I was sitting there nodding my head! "Yes, this is so true!" (not that I have dating experience. LOL!) Anyhow, it got me reflecting on my time blogging, and especially the last year. (I'll keep it short!)

The Beginning:

baby alexandra ;) 

In college I felt like I was inspired by so many things and really wanted to get them out into the world, but also wanted to remember things that were going on in my life. I wanted mood boards + digital documenting. NO ONE read my blog. I didn't really care, because I was enjoying recording things and putting my thoughts out there. On the off chance that someone did read my blog, I was elated. When a travel review or recipe I posted sat well with someone or helped them, I felt like I was flying!

The Middle:

I've said a million times, but when I joined The Literary Ladies book club discussion for a few books and a challenge it brought me back to reading, but it also gave me so many blog friends. I was so grateful, I felt like blogging was finally whole. I wasn't just recording my life, I was sharing it with others, and sharing other people's lives too. I was so happy for the runners beating their records, the ladies having their babies, readers who enjoyed the same books as me, and the ones with the coolest outfits or best recipes. I love the social aspect of blogging. And I agree with Steph: I enjoyed reading about ladies who had lives similar to mine (twenty-ish, bookish, travel lover, etc.), but also ladies who had different lives than me! I loved reading about people who travel full time, people with families, people who have hobbies that I don't share.


Partially due to anxiety, and mostly due to purchasing and working on our home, I didn't blog a lot last year. I managed to (usually....) post for the linkups I was involved in, or post something when the inspiration struck, OR if I felt like I *needed* to, but it wasn't a good blogging year for me. I didn't have time, I didn't always have the interest, and I just kind of went with the feeling of the "season".


This year I finally feel like I have the time and interest to blog again. I may not be blogging a lot. I may not be reading or commenting a lot. But I am getting there. I've posted outside of a few linkups, I genuinely want to know what everyone is up to (which never went away last year, btw -- but thank god for Instagram! Amiright?!).

On Occasion I've Been Able To Meet Up With You In Person:

Kira was the first bloggy/online friend I met in person!

Meeting up with Gina in San Francisco.
Meeting up with Shea, a fellow Kansas blogger!
Meeting up with Kasi in NYC.
I got to meet up with Kira (who isn't online right now) several times! :)
Dinner with Dani in NYC.
TL;DR - So basically, I just wanted to say thank you to all of my bloggy friends. Whether we've known each other for years, or we're new acquaintances. Whether you stop by every time I post or once a month. Whether I've met you in person or only online. I appreciate all of you, and I appreciate you so much for not just "breaking up" with me when I had a bad bloggy year!

I'm so looking forward to blogging more, and keeping up with you guys more! And still on Instagram too! :) 

What do you think? How do you feel about blogging and relationships with other bloggers?

Have you ever had a bad blogging season?



Monday, February 25, 2019

Oscars Dresses 2019 // Red Carpet Love

Ahhh another year, another Oscars. :) I loved, loved, loved so many things about this year's awards.

1) So much diversity in the nominations and winners!
2) A man from my city, and university won an oscar!!!!
3) Kacey Musgraves
4) Youthful fashion

Here are my favorites! It's no surprise that I'm loving the feminine and flowy dresses most. That's my jam. Somewhat surprisingly there was A LOT of pink. Very bright, very pastel, very voluminous, and so so fun and youthful. Not normally my thing, but I thought it was lovely! Also, can we talk about all of the velvet tuxedos...?!

Here we go!

The Gowns:

Amandla Stenberg - so stunning!
Constance Wu - yellow is always a favorite of mine!

Elaine Welteroth - wowww!

Gemma Chan - Can we please talk about how it has pockets and she put a COOKIE in the pocket?! #gemmachanismyhomegirl

Helen Mirren - so much fun! So youthful!

Jennifer Hudson - so sleek!

Jessica Oyelowo - all that glitters!

Kacey Musgraves - like cotton candy.

Leslie Bibb - elegant.

Linda Cardellini - so fun!

Lynette Howell Taylor - that lace!

Marie Kondo - sparks joy ;) 

Marina de Tavira - my favorite this year! 

Michelle Yeoh - like a painting.

Octavia Spencer - like the night sky.

On to the Tuxes:

Billy Porter - making a major statement. Fabulous.

Chris Evans - That BLUE!

David Oyelowo - green is such an under-loved color!
Stephen James and Shamier Anderson - those accessories!

Anyhow, yeah, lots of great fashion this year. I admittedly haven't seen a lot of the movies that were nominated... just Black Panther ... which is nothing new... I'm not super into "film". LOL But I do hope to see Green Book, BlaKkKlansman, The Favourite, and If Beale Street Could Talk eventually. :)

What did you guys think? Did you watch the Oscars?

Which dresses or movies were your favorites?

Check out my 20182017 & 2014 Picks!



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Keep it Together // February 2019

I will be 100% honest and say that most of my time this year has been devoted toward reading and getting into a cooking/cleaning groove. I haven't done a ton of documenting just yet... BUT I am excited to post today with Lauren at Shooting Stars Mag for our Keep It Together!

If you are new here, this is our linkup for all things planners, memory keeping, and journaling. Please feel free to join us on the third Thursday of the month with any posts that fall into those categories! :)


I have been getting back into using a planner. I don't like that this planner has all of the monthly pages together, and all of the weekly pages together. I much prefer them spread out. It has been nice to have something to look at each day while I try to figure out my plan. We've been marking off date nights and days where we don't make any big plans, and are off limits if someone asks us to hang out. That has been so nice for our sanity.

This is still a pretty planner and I am having fun adding bits of washi tape again. And also putting in plans that I am looking forward to! :)


2018 Goal Documenting:

I made it through the beginning of August in my 2018 goals journal. SO much of it right now is based around moving into and doing work in our house! So it's going quickly. I hope to finish it up soon.

What's Next?!

I'm not sure how I want to document 2019, but I am considering doing another traveler's notebook, an art journal, or a a little 4x4 album. :)

Do you have any planning or memory keeping goals for the year?!

Please feel free to linkup with us below! We'd love to see what you are up to!

Make sure to hop on over and see Lauren's post! :)




    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, February 15, 2019

Romantic Books in Other Genres // Romance Month

This is my last post for romance month: romantic books in other genres. So if you like a little love, or a lot... but you'd rather read fantasy or historical fiction, check this post out! I enjoyed these books quite a lot!

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox*

Plot: When scandal strikes the Montrose family they must leave Boston for the country. There the three sisters and their parents move into the splendid Willow Hall. In the house strange noises are heard, figments are seen, and messages are written in foggy mirrors, but is it all in their imagination? Emeline, the youngest claims that there is a little boy by the pond, Lydia hears a wailing throughout the house, and Catherine is acting more desperate than usual. As they try to adjust to life in their new home, the gossip from Boston does not fade. Will Catherine and Lydia be able to make matches despite the rumors? What do their suitors know of the strangeness occurring at Willow Hall?
My Rating: 3.5 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction and classic novels with a bit of a dark theme.

The English Wife by Lauren Willig *

Plot: When Janie finds her brother, murdered, at his mansion's opening costume party she knows there is more to the story that meets the eye. Her family, one of the richest in the United States, is very proud and suddenly has a ruined reputation. When no one else will seek to investigate her brother's murder more fully, she teams up with Mr. Burke, a journalist, in hopes of discovering the truth, and getting justice. The story shifts back and forth between Janie and Mr. Burke solving the murder, and her brother Bay and his wife Annabelle's past. Both plots reach their apex at once in an exciting revelation.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries, historical fiction, and strong female characters.

Juliet by Anne Fortier

Plot: This book follows Julie, as she finds out that her beloved aunt Rose, the woman who raised her, has passed away. Not only that, but she has left her entire estate to her twin sister. She quickly finds out that she was left something even more valuable, a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, Italy. She is soon swept up in an adventure to Italy to solve the mystery of the key, all the while uncovering information about her ancestor Giulietta's tragic past in 1340. The past and present are woven together in a mysterious way, as what had happened in the past, was very much still relevant in the present.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy books that flash back and forth between multiple time periods, romance, adventure, and bits of "historical fiction". As well as Romeo and Juliet. (I'm not bonkers for R&J, but did enjoy this quite a bit!)

The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay*

Plot: This book follows the Turner family, when their father breaks his hand and is unable to sew boots to support his family, the lady of the house has an idea: she trains her daughters into a Vaudeville tumbling act.. and they set off to tour the country. Along the way the sisters grow, family dynamics are tested and strengthened, they meet interesting characters, and perhaps fall in and out of love.
My Rating: 4.5 - 4.75 stars - I recommend if you like historical fiction, colorful characters, family dynamics, or books similar to Water for Elephants. This also reminded me a bit of Call the Midwife.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Plot: This book follows a former WWII nurse named Claire as she explores the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. While she's exploring ancient ruins one day, she gets pulled into the 18th century, where she's promptly abducted by a band of Scottish men. She then meets Jamie Fraser, a dashing young Scot. She has every intention of getting back to the ruins and returning to the 1940's ... but it quickly becomes much more complicated than it seemed.
My Rating: 5 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for the perfect blend of romance, historical fiction, and action adventure. Oh yeah, and there's time travel in there somewhere too.

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Plot: Louise Brooks is a young dancer, who has been accepted to a dance school in New York City. Her parents make an agreement with Cora, a married woman, to be her chaperone for the trip. Cora has a mission of her own while she is in New York, one that she'd rather keep to herself. Over the trip Cora realizes that Louise is a lot more work than she had expected, but learns from her all the same. This story is an interesting coming of age, and coming into one's own story for both characters, set in the backdrop of the 1920's.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction and complex characters who experience a lot of character growth.

Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Plot: The plot centers around something that happened 18 years ago on an island off the Seattle coast, two young girls are preyed upon by a man. In the present, hotel executive Madeline is dealing with the aftermath of the situation 18 years ago, and struggling in personal relationships due to the trauma. When the caretaker of the hotel where the incident took place 18 years ago, calls Madeline saying they need to talk, she quickly travels to the island to meet with him. The caretaker was calling to say that their dangerous secret from all those years ago, is in danger of being discovered. When she arrives to find him dying.... and the killer still on the premises things get interesting. Her head of security Jack, comes to help her figure out what's going on. Arson, murder, mystery, and a little romance ensue. 
My Rating: I was really riveted by this one. I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, but this book had a lot of depth to the story lines, multiple POVs in the writing, and some character development that I thought was pretty good. Overall, I really liked this book at lot, and would definitely recommend it if you like suspenseful mysteries! I had to laugh by how glad they were to leave the PacNW and get to Arizona... I definitely felt that way coming back from Seattle! haha

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Plot: Nikki is a modern woman. Despite her family's Indian and Sikh heritage, she makes her own way in the world. She works in a pub, isn't interested in arranged marriage, and smokes cigarettes. When her sister asks her to take a marriage ad to the local temple for her, she sees that they are hiring a creative writing teacher for women. Nikki jumps at the chance to empower these women, and takes the job. She doesn't realize that many of them cannot yet read or write, she's even more surprised when she finds out that they really just want to share their deepest fantasies in story form. Kulwinder's daughter disregarded their rules and culture, and now she is dead. Kulwinder spends her days afraid of stepping out of line. When Nikki is hired to teach the women, Kulwinder finds that she is more like her daughter than she is comfortable with. This story blends two cultures, multiple generations, and brings women together.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy diverse contemporary fiction. Specifically books that delve into gender roles, religion, and immigrant families.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Plot: This book follows Marin who's grandfather, her sole guardian, passed away just before she's to move across the country for college. She deserts her friends and heads straight to school. She can't face San Francisco or her memories anymore. When she convinces her college to let her stay on campus over winter break, her best friend Mabel pays her a visit. Mabel has an agenda, but Marin isn't ready to dig up the recent past.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a raw and emotional contemporary YA read. This book explores loneliness, grief, sexuality, mental illness, and hope.

No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Benson

Plot: This book follows the life of Cara Benson as she pulls herself out of a quarter-life crisis complete with crippling anxiety, the bulk of the story occurs during a 13 day, 8 country trip, with (you guessed it) no baggage & a guy she met on OK Cupid. First of all, how intriguing! No baggage?! Also, no itinerary?! With someone you barely know... ?! Crazypants.
My Review: 5 Stars - I would recommend if you are feeling the "quarter life crisis" or like reading witty non-fiction or travel.

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven*

Plot: Gilene has the ability to summon fire. When the empire culls girls and women as slaves for the Rites of Spring, they will be given to the gladiators for a bit of fun, and later burned as a sacrifice to the gods. Gilene attends each year out of duty and to save another from her fate. This year, she is recognized (despite her disguise) by the gladius prime, Azarion.When Azarion explains his goal to escape the arena, she must help him or risk her secret being exposed to the empire. Upon escape, however, Gilene is taken Azarion's prisoner and whisked across the world to his plainland home. He needs her help, and her gift of fire.
My Rating: 4.25 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy with sweeping adventurous plots with a bit of romance.

Saga vol. I by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Plot: This graphic novel follows Marko and Alana, two soldiers from different planets as they embark on a journey to start a family and a new life in a dangerous world. It begins with them having a baby, and follows their journey as they are hunted down by members of their own races, as well as other galactic forces who know that the news of their interracial baby threatens the way their world works. Think action-packed, sarcastic, sometimes explicit Romeo & Juliet.
My Rating: 5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy science fiction, or if you are looking for something different to read. I don't love sci-fi, and I had only ever read one graphic novel before this... but I really enjoyed this one!

East by Edith Pattou
Plot: This book follows Rose, who was born facing North, by her mother's superstitions that predestines her to be wild and always seeking adventure. Fearing that life for her, she lies, and says she was born facing East, meaning she will be level headed and happy at home. However, Roses's destiny will be that of a North child, and everything sets into motion one day when a white bear comes to take her away from her home. Rose must leave with the white bear, figure out his curse, and then journey to the ends of the earth to save him.
My Rating: 4 stars - I recommend if you enjoy epic adventure novels (think long spans of time and space), as well as fantasy elements. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (whole series..)

Plot: This book follows Feyre (Fay Ruh), the main provider for her family. When she kills a wolf in the forest one day, she does not know that a price must be paid. When someone comes to claim her, she must learn to survive in a different world, with different dangers. (I don't like to give the plot away too much on this one!)
My Rating: 5 Stars - I HIGHLY recommend if you enjoy fantasy, action/adventure, and a bit (lot?) of romance. As always -- I implore you to stick with it through book #2. It's seriously soooo good!

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Plot: This book follows Tristran Thorne as he journeys from boy to man in search of a fallen star (a gift for his bride-to-be). In order to find it he must cross the wall into the realm of faerie, and weather all that he encounters there. To his surprise the star is not a star, but a woman, and he is not the only one in search of her.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you like fantasy novels, beautiful writing, and stories that are not sugar coated. Gaiman is a wonderful writer!

There you have it, quite a few books to add to your TBR for when you'd like something a little bit romantic, but not a full on romance novel!

Have you read any of these? Do you have favorite romantic relationships that are in books of other genres?!

Other Romance Month Posts: Diverse Romance Novels & Favorite (Non-Classic) Romances.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

January 2019 Reads // A Big Reading Month!


IT IS BOOKDAY! I feel like all I did in January was read. I'm ok with this, there were a lot of good books in there and I am decently ahead of schedule to make my goal of 60 books read this year! Woohoo! Though I am currently itching to create, so maybe February will not be a reading month. We will see.

I am joining in the Unread Shelf Project this year, so I tried to read as many books that I own (ebook or physical book) as possible. I will start notating that this year to keep track! :)

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - Owned, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary fiction that deals tough topics like the foster care system, homelessness, and mental health issues.This story has a lot of depth, but isn't entirely depressing. (just an FYI from someone who keeps that mental diet light!)

Victoria has been in the foster care system her entire life. When she turns 18 she moves to a transitional home to help her get on her feet in the real world. Once she moves in, her only goal is to grow flowers. She's obsessed with cultivating the earth, and giving messages to people via the flower's Victorian meanings. When she gets evicted from the group home, she is homeless living in a park near her plants. She manages to get a job at a flower shop that sets her life in motion. When she meets a man at the flower market who also gives messages via flowers, she reluctantly agrees to spend time with him. All through the book you learn about Victoria's past and how she learned about the meaning of flowers. As her past and present come together she must decide if she is worthy of love and happiness.

This book was not at all what I expected, but I ended up really enjoying it. I thought that Victoria was a very complex character, and while I didn't really understand her very well, I was very invested in her story. I loved the quirkiness that existed in her world, I loved the language of the flowers, I loved the flash backs to her upbringing. The vineyard, and her past there with Elizabeth were some of my favorite parts of the book. I loved Renata and her family the most. I was fascinated by her mom's work as an unofficial midwife, and her relationship with her family. I would like a book about them!! I appreciated that while this book dealt with some tough topics, and was pretty emotional, it was also hopeful and not overly heavy to read. I liked seeing how Victoria's life changed throughout the book, and how she came to find her place in the world. I appreciated that the flower dictionary was included at the end of the book. Having been to San Francisco a few years ago it was fun to read about some of the places the the characters went. I smiled in particular when Victoria visited The Conservatory of Flowers. :)

5 Points for Erin's 10.0! & January Unread Shelf Challenge Pick: Any book on my shelf.

Enchantee by Gita Trelease* - ARC, ebook

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy. historical fiction, and a bit of romance.

Camille's parents are dead, her brother is a gambling, violent drunk, and her younger sister is wasting away in sickness and hunger. As her brother continues to pawn off their only possessions, Camille must turn to la magie, a small magic she learned from her mother. She can turn rusted nails to coins, but not for long. As their situation becomes more dire, she must open her mother's mysterious magic box, and see what else waits for her in the world of magic. The magic dress in the box causes her to appear as an aristocrat. This is all for a price: her blood. As she begins to visit Versailles and turn cards while gambling, she starts to earn money to live on. However, not everyone she meets at court is who they seem. She also meets Lazare and his friends, aeronauts with a flying balloon, and wants a real life filled with hope and purpose, not one that relies on magical tricks and deceit. But can she turn away from the pull of Versailles before she becomes trapped?

This was such an interesting book! I enjoyed the setting more than I expected to (pre-French revolution). I appreciated how descriptive Trelease's writing was, especially in painting the picture of Versailles and Paris. There were so many dreamy lines about hazy nights, starlit skies, etc. etc. I'm a sucker for that. I liked Camille and her desire to care for her sister and remember her parents. I also really liked Lazare and his friends with their hot air balloon. The magic system was incredibly interesting, at first I felt like I could have enjoyed this just as much if it had been historical fiction instead.... but as things came together in the end it all felt just write. Really woven well together. I enjoyed Camille's struggle to provide for her family and build a new life, while navigating the perilous social structure of Versailles as well. I also appreciated that her friends struggled with double lives whether in the same way as her, or in a different way. The characters were fairly complex for YA fantasy. I also appreciated that there was a bit of diversity in the characters. There is an LBGTQ+ relationship, and one of the main characters is biracial. In the end the story went a few surprising places, and I was really caught up in the action and resolution. I loved that this book was a bit romantic as well. It wasn't the whole purpose of the book, but it was still a little swoony. In the end I liked that this book had so many layers, and that it ultimately focused on hope. Though this does not end on a cliff-hanger, I heard that there will be a second book, which I am excited to read in the future.

Neanderthal Seeks Human (Knitting in the City #1) by Penny Reid -Owned, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

When Janie finds out that her fiance is cheating on her, and subsequently loses her apartment and then her job in the same day, she's hit rock bottom. At least the cute building security guy escorts her off the premises? She moves in with her friend, and immediately starts trying to right her life. She applies for many jobs in hopes of moving out on her own soon. When she runs into the security guard, Quinn, at a club, and wakes up in an unfamiliar place, she starts to wonder who he is. When he offers her a job, it seems too good to be true. As she works for the security company she finds out that Quinn is much more mysterious than she thought.

Overall this book was really cute. I liked Janie and Quinn quite a bit. I liked how different they were from one another and their odd banter and chemistry. I wish that the romantic scenes did not all fade to black, but this might be situational due to the character? I liked the knitting group even though Janie did not knit, and it wasn't knitting focused at all. I am always pro-female group of friends where it's not backstabby, etc.. It was fun that this book had a bit of action to it in addition to the romance. I am excited to read the rest of this series, which I hear only gets better.

35 Points for Erin's 10.0!

Courting Darkness (His Fair Assassin #4) by Robin LaFevers* - ARC, ebook

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you have read the initial 3 books in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy. Though this says it is stand alone, I would not recommend reading it without reading the first 3 books.

Genevieve a young servant of Mortain, has been stationed in France for 5 years, waiting for her skills to be needed. During that time all she has done is be propositioned by the king, and sent off to a noble's home in Cognac. There her fellow initiate becomes pregnant by the man of the house and their friendship is severed. During her tours of the castle she comes across a prisoner left in isolation. She does not know who he is or what he did, but she feels she can use him to her advantage. Eventually she will use him to escape Cognac, and try to find her sisters. Meanwhile, Sybella will serve the Duchess as she plans to wed the king of France. She and Ismae desperately need more servants of Mortain, but do not know where Genevieve and Lousia were stationed.

I liked being back in this world SO MUCH. This book was just as good as the initial three books and I enjoyed meeting the new characters. I thought that Genevieve's backstory was interesting, and while I did not quite understand her character, I really enjoyed her journey throughout the story. I anticipate that she has a lot more to do in book two of this duology (Or book #5), both as a person and as an assassin. I liked Marauad quite a bit as well, he's a saint of a man. Very patient with a hurting and gruff Genevieve. It was fun to see some of the older characters, Sybella, Beast, The Duchess, Ismae, and Duval again as well. At first I didn't love the dual perspectives. I found myself looking forward to Genevieve's chapters quite a bit more, but then the action rose in both plots and later they converge which was really kind of fun. I'm very excited to see where the next book goes.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson - Owned, physical book, to let go

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy middle grade-low YA historical fiction.

Hattie is an orphan and receives a letter from a long-lost uncle that she will inherit his farm. She jumps at the opportunity and boards a train in Iowa, Montana bound. When she arrives, she quickly learns that she has just 10 months to settle up on her uncle's claim to the land by fencing it and farming a certain percentage of the land. With the help of her neighbors Karl, Perilee, and their kids, as well as Leafie and Rooster Jim, Hattie will find her place in Montana. As WWI rages overseas, tensions are high in the US. Many of the Germans living in Montana are being persecuted and discriminated against because of their country of origin. When Hattie makes it clear that this discrimination is wrong, and that she is willing to continue helping Karl and his family, she'll find herself on the bad side of the liberty council.

I always enjoy reading stories where the character has to work really hard to survive and achieve their dreams. Something about that struggle is really captivating to me, and even a slow story of that type is so fun to read. I really enjoyed Hattie's character. I cannot imagine being 16 and inheriting a farm half the country away. Also having to do any of that work on my own... wow. I also loved the relationship that she had with her neighbors, Karl and Perilee and the kids were so lovely, and I adored their friendship. It was also so pleasant to read about a simpler time where neighbors really helped one another, and every little bit of everything was used. It's so satisfying to me. It always saddens me to read a book where one group of people is being persecuted, only to acknowledge that it's not much different from the US we're experiencing right now. In this book the Germans living in the US are discriminated against, today, it is so many groups. It's really sad to see that some things haven't changed much in 100 years. BUT Hattie's character and all of their relationships are a good reminder that there are good people out there. There are so many sticking up for each other even when councils and governments are not. (This book also reminded me a little bit of the movie Sweet Land, which explores a similar theme of Germans within the US during WWI.) This book ended up being a bit sad and bittersweet too, I definitely cried for a while. Overall I enjoyed this book, and would be interested in reading the companion novel.

15 Points for Erin's 10.0!

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare - Owned, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy light-hearted historical romance with intelligent female characters and quite a bit of steam.

Emma Gladstone has spent months stitching, embroidering, etc. a lavish wedding dress for the woman marrying The Duke of Ashbury. When the wedding is called off she is not paid for her services. However, she needs that money to make rent and eat. As a last straw she shows up at Ashbury's home demanding payment. Ashbury, being recently jilted, and relatedly recently disfigured is in need of a wife and an heir, and is desperate to find a woman who is suitable... and, well, desperate. He immediately offers her marriage in exchange for an heir. Taken aback by the offer she refuses, but he quickly makes it clear that he will not be so easily dissuaded. Is a marriage of convenience really that convenient?

I really liked that this book started off super quickly. Sometimes there is a LOT of backstory in historical romance, but this one got straight to the point. I loved the idea behind the plot: a duke that needs a wife, a woman that needs security. A marriage of convenience. Overall the book was kind of goofy and fun which I wasn't expecting. I sometimes loved it: I laughed a lot! Other times I wanted more broodyness. Overall I thought this book was really cute, I liked the chemistry between Ash & Emma. I also really liked Mr. Kahn the butler. I thought that book was pretty darn steamy, and thought the dedication to the author's dad was hilarious, "please don't read chapters #, #, #, #.. ". LOL. This definitely felt a little bit like The Beauty and the Beast, especially with the servants intervening to make them fall in love. I really really enjoyed the last 40% of the book where they start to communicate just a bit better. I would definitely recommend this if you enjoy historical romance, especially one that is a little more lighthearted.

The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen - Owned, physical book, to let go

DNF - This sounds exactly like my kind of book... but after 130 pages, which I feel is generous, I was still not invested in the plot. It's rare, but this was a DNF for me!

Night Film by Marisha Pessl Owned, physical book, to let go

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy mysteries or thrillers.

When Ashley Cordova, daughter of mysterious and reclusive cult director Stanislas Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse her death is ruled a suicide. However, investigative journalist Scott McGrath thinks that her father's twisted films might reveal a very twisted family. As he sets off to solve the mystery he is aided by two moorless young adults.

If you know me, you know that I do not love thrillers or mysteries. They are usually slow, and not that complex... if I don't figure out what will happen, I get very very bored along the way. However, that was NOT the case with this book. It is very long (640 pages), and I found myself wondering how the pieces would fit together, and which wouldn't be related at all. I loved the setting, you can have such diversity within your book when it's set in NYC. I really loved the multi-format novel! Reading emails, transcripts, news pages, etc. etc. within the normal text is super fun. It made me feel more invested in the mystery. I also loved Pessl's writing style. Everything was very descriptive. I love it when the characters notice every little thing, and the comparisons are really interesting. In the end I didn't quite know what would happen, and I was not bored up until maybe the last 30-40 pages. Which is pretty good, but still a bit disappointing. I am not sure how I feel about the ending. I think I wanted it to be HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER a little bit darker....? It felt super mundane... I'm imagining in my brain that it did end creepy... hahaha That he really was in a Cordova movie the whole time and Nora was the fledgling actress and something very creepy happens on that island once he gets there. Maybe that's weird.. it just felt a little anticlimactic. 

The Allure of Julian Lefray Owned, ebook

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

After Josephine finishes fashion school in Texas, she makes her dream come true and moves to New York City. She has a fashion blog, and is looking for work in the fashion industry. When she meets a handsome stranger at a Fashion Week event, she finds out he is the brother of Lorena Lefray, as in Lorena Lefray Designs... where she just applied for an assistant job. Julian Lefray has both a very good and very bad feeling about Josephine working for him. Will they be able to run his sister's company without running it into the ground, or getting too involved?

I'm a pretty big R.S. Grey fan, and this one fell somewhere in the lower end of the pack for me.This book was fairly cute, it was fun to read a different setting or plot for a romantic comedy. I thought that Josephine and Julian had good chemistry. There were a few parts that were quite swoony. I felt like there were a couple of times where Julian was acting super psycho, and I wasn't here for that. It just felt a little problematic. There were also some parts where both characters were kind of doing some elder shaming which made me so sad and cringe. I dunno, I think everyone is judgy (myself included!) but I don't want to read someone else's mean thoughts about others. Also, there was one line, "those abs weren't letting anybody down" or something like that, and I just kept thinking how so many of these men have their worth in their abs. It gets a little old, doesn't it? I feel like this was a very ranty review about a few minor issues. In general I enjoyed the book, on a larger scale I'd like to see more positive characters, more progressive romances, etc. :) I will still keep trucking my way through Grey's books and laughing along the way.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata Owned, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary fiction and romance, especially of the (super) slow burn variety.

Vanessa has been pro football player Aiden's assistant for two years, he doesn't even say "hello" back in the mornings. When she's finally saved enough money to quit and pursue a freelance career in graphic design he asks her to come back. When she says no, he asks her to marry him. For the green card.

I had heard about this book for years from reader friends, and had been saving it for a rainy day. This book definitely started out really slow for me. I think I had to get to about 25-30% to be more invested in keeping up with it. And it is pretty darn long for this type of book, so I think that it could have been shorter. All that being said, I really liked how this marriage of convenience story turned out. I liked their complex characters, their evolving relationship, and their various friendships with other characters too. I felt like because Aiden is so quiet, it would have been nice to get his POV, but... there are things about it that would not have worked very well with it... so.. maybe it's fine. I guess he just *finally* started talking about his feelings at the VERY end of the book... and I wanted more. When did he fall in love with her? Was it while she was working for him?! I need details. LOL Otherwise I thought it was good. So overall, just a little bit too long for my taste, but a solid read. Last thing, this is the slow burniest of slow burns. I'm talking 97% through the book slow burn. Be prepared.

Monthly totals:

Read - 9
Owned - 8
Ebook - 7
Physical book - 3
ARC - 2
Library/Borrowed - 0
Bought - 2
To Let Go - 3

Yearly Totals:

Read - 9
Owned - 8
Ebook - 7
Physical book - 3
ARC - 2
Library/Borrowed - 0
Bought - 2
To Let Go - 3

Other Book Posts Lately: Diverse Romance Novels & Favorite (Non-Classic) Romances.

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Favorite (Non-Classic) Romances // Romance Month

Last year I started reading romance novels, and really loved them. As a reader in general I always appreciate a bit of romance in any book! If you are considering reading a romance novel this year, or just looking for a new book to pick up this month, this list is for you!

A note on classics: Before we get too far... let's go ahead and say that classics are not on this list, because they should have their own list! Jane Eyre and Austen, etc. etc. aren't really something that can be compared to contemporary romantic fiction. :)

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Gender Swapped Pretty Woman
My Rating: 5 Stars - OH MY GOD READ THIS!
Steam Rating: 5 Flames - Proceed with caution, R+ rated.

The Real Deal by Lauren Blakely*

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Family Reunion + Super Hot Boyfriend for Hire.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance and the fake-to-real dating trope.
Steam Rating: 5 Flames - Proceed with caution, R+ rated.

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren*

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: College acquaintances meet years later and try to be friends. Many disastrous double dates ensue.
My Rating: 5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, quirky characters, and lot of heart. 
Steam Rating: 5 Flames - Proceed with caution, R+ rated.

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast (and the rest of the Steampunk Proper Romance Series) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Beauty & the Beast meets steampunk Victorian England. 
My Rating: 4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy fantasy, steampunk and/or proper romance novels. This one is for fans of Edenbrooke (proper romance) and Changeless (steampunk setting).
Steam Rating: 1-2 Flames - The steam is in the banter and longing glances.

A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews*

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Man courts woman. Man never talks. Woman calls off courtship. They spend Christmas together, along with others, and find that they might like each other after all.
My Rating: 5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy Christmas fiction and/or proper romance.
Steam Rating: 1-2 Flames - The steam is in the banter and longing glances.

Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Horseman of the apocalypse comes to Earth, woman tries to kill him. He takes her prisoner.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy paranormal romance. Major emphasis on ROMANCE.
Steam Rating: The Steam Meter is BROKEN - PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

The Beau and the Belle by R.S. Grey

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Teenage girl falls in love with law student, but the age gap is too big. Ten years later they meet again. (IN NOLA!)
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy romance novels, "the one that got away" trope, and New Orleans.
Steam Rating: 4 Flames - Somewhere in the middle.

Head Over Heels by Serena Bell*

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Single dad goes on blind date with girl who is his opposite in every way, they become best friends. Years later she needs a place to stay and he needs someone to watch his daughter.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, especially ones that follow the "friends to lovers" trope, or include a single parent.
Steam Rating: 4-5 Flames - Somewhere in the middle, but steamier than The Beau and the Belle.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Woman desperate to escape suitor flees to the country to visit her sister who happens to be staying with the very flirtatious (and available) Phillip Wyndham.
My Rating: 5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy proper romance, lots of banter, and moments that are too cute to handle.
Steam Rating: 1-2 Flames - The steam is in the banter and longing glances.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han - entire series!

Quick (& Dirty) Plot Run Down: Girl writes letters to a crush when she moves on, one day they all get sent. The letters were never meant to be sent.
My Rating: 4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking for a cute YA read. The characters in this are complex and well written. I enjoyed the family relationship between the sisters (so Little Women!) and their dad. I also really enjoyed the perspective of a bi-racial main character, I wish there was more diversity floating around in popular literature.
Steam Rating: 3 Flames - PG-13, teenage love.

There you have it! My top 10 romance novels from proper to steamy!

What are some of your all-time favorites?!

What other proper romances are great?!

Other Romance Month Posts: Diverse Romance Novels.