Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [8.24.22]

Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [8.24.22]

This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words that asks us to answer the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I am going to very honest today. I did not want to make this post. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and depression for the past few weeks, and I barely have the motivation to do the work I’m actually payed for.😂 HOWEVER, I know that if I leave my blog for too long I will never come back to it, so here I am! Powering through!

Currently reading: I ran out to Barnes & Noble yesterday to pick up Love on the Brain, and of course I’m already loving it. Ali Hazelwood is absolutely one of my favorite authors now. I want to take this one slow though because I’ll be devastated when I finish and have none of her novels left to read.

Recently finished: I JUST finished my audiobook of The Last Olympian today because it was the last day of my library loan. I love this series to death. It’s not listed here, but I plan to go onto the Heroes of Olympus series next.

Reading next: I have a review copy of A Dreadful Splendor to read. I think this has some romance in it which is what I’m really in the mood for, so hopefully that goes well. I’ll get started on this one this weekend when I’m on my flight to visit some friends.

What are you reading this week?

A Sweet Summer Romance | Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon

A Sweet Summer Romance | Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon

Rowan McKinnon doesn’t believe in love. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, she has everything she needs. But she hides deep wounds from the past—from a negligent mother, and a fiancé who treated her like a pawn in a game. When an academic setback leads Rowan to take on the restoration of an abandoned vineyard, she relishes the opportunity to restore the grapes to their former glory.

She does not expect to meet a man like Harrison Brady.

An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania.

He does not expect to meet a woman like Rowan McKinnon.

As their combative banter gives way to a simmering tension, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. And after a lifetime of protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.

But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection. [From Goodreads]

First of all, let’s hear it for all the romances featuring ladies in STEM being released recently!! I am SO for this trend. I work in an engineering library, so I love seeing this representation in romances. The botany and science-y aspects were some of my favorite parts of this book. I always think the inclusion of these subjects leads to the most beautiful descriptive imagery, and Jen Devon does not disappoint here.

My actual favorite aspect of this romance, though, was the found family and every adorable moment Rowan was able to receive from the Bradys. These moments filled with dialogue that show off every individual family member’s personality are where Devon really shined in her writing. Family is the most essential thing in my life, found and not, so when a writer does a good job of writing this subject, it can make me very emotional. This book succeeded in doing just that.

Of course, the romance was also so tender and sweet and spicy all at the same time. The dialogue between Rowan and Harry felt so real. Their frustrations, wants, and needs all felt very true to a couple who are not really a couple.

I said already that the dialogue was the strongest part of this novel, so parts where Devon resorted to telling about the passing of time instead of showing it fell flat to me. Because of this, the pacing felt off, like there were points in the relationship that were skipped over where I would much rather had seen the development. I wanted one more moment in the beginning of the story to really solidify Rowan and Harry’s connection.

The relationship and the ending made up for this, however, and I ended up being very pleasantly surprised overall with this novel. If you’re a romance reader, this new release should definitely be on your list to pick up.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [8.3.22]

Recent, Current, and Future Reads | WWW Wednesday [8.3.22]

This is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words that asks us to answer the three Ws:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Happy Wednesday! I’m going to the bookstore in a bit with my dad to pick up a copy of the book I just finished (I’ll get to it!), and I plan on going to read on the porch for a while. So its shaping up to be a good bookish day for me!

Recently finished: I just finished my audiobook of John Green’s The Anthropocene Reviewed today. I teared up a few times listening to this. I know the Green brothers are very polarizing people, but I have always been more on the side of loving them. I’ve always enjoyed John Green’s voice, so this one was just a lot of really enjoyable essays.

Currently reading: I’m working on my ARC of Bend Toward the Sun right now. I love when STEM is incorporated into novels, especially biology or horticulture. I’m still undecided on how I feel about the actual romance, but I hope to finish this one in the next couple days.

Reading next: Bend Toward the Sun and Bronze Drum are both releasing next week, so I need to get Bronze Drum in as well once I finish the former. I don’t know too much about it, but I love a good tale of sisters. I’ve never read anything set in Ancient Vietnam before either, so that should be exciting.

What are you reading today?

Books I Read in July | Wrap-Up

Books I Read in July | Wrap-Up

COVID hit me hard this month! I’m still having breathing issues 4 weeks later! On top of that, my best friend from college came to visit this week. Both of these made for a not-so great reading month. But! I am looking forward to a relaxing August (aside from having to go back to school and work) filled with lots of reading!

I read five books this month, so not too bad. Not great, but not bad at all.

Emotional, adventurous, and lighthearted were my top moods. I don’t usually go for lighthearted, but I think those mostly correspond to Percy Jackson books which I’m really enjoying reading through! Emotional and adventurous are much more my speed, so those make sense.

Historical isn’t something I pick up too often–I didn’t realize I had two historical books this month. I really enjoyed them both, so maybe it’s a sign I need to start reading more historical fiction.

Here are the books I read! Click the covers to see my reviews 🙂

What’s the best book you read in July?

Harry’s House Book Tag

Harry’s House Book Tag

I was looking for a tag to do, and I love Harry (and One Direction, don’t get it twisted), and this seemed like the perfect one to do on a Friday afternoon! I found it on Riddhi’s blog, and it was created by Jawahir the Bookworm!

Rules

  •  List the rules
  •  Mention the creator (That’s Jawahir the Bookworm!) and link it back to the original post.
  •  Nominate as many people you want and notify them. (either by mentioning them or commenting in their posts).
  •  Name a song from the album you’d like for it to be a Single.
  •  Have fun!

The songs I like are not typically single material, so I’ll just say my favs which are Little Freak, Keep Driving, and Satellite. This album is so good I couldn’t just pick one–forgive me!

MUSIC FOR A SUSHI RESTAURANT — A book with a “ride or die” type of friendship

I just finished my reread of this one today, so that’s probably why I was instantly reminded of it with this prompt. Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and Tyson will literally die for each other, risking their lives to go off and find the other in a labyrinth. What’s more ride or die than that?

LATE NIGHT TALKING — A book you gave a second chance and ended up liking.

I listened to the audiobook of this one, and I remember being a little bored with the beginning and unsure of the direction the story would take. When I got into it though, I really ended up enjoying it. Super solid novel.

GRAPEJUICE — A book with “something old and red”

The Scarlet Gang–they’re old and red, right? This works.

AS IT WAS — A book you liked more as a child.

Did anyone else read this series as a young person??? I was absolutely obsessed with this series in middle school. I actually reread this series recently, and I still kinda loved it, I’m just sure I loved it way more when I was younger and the tropes were all new to me. The spooky vibes of this book were immaculate… why are there not more books with vibes like this?

DAYLIGHT — A book with a toxic relationship

I love this book, and the two main characters end up being really sweet, but MAN are they mean to each other in the beginning. I remember thinking, are these two actually going to end up together or what’s the deal? I don’t read dark romances or anything, so this is as close to toxic as my reading is going to get.

LITTLE FREAK — A book you wished you DNF’d

I read this when I was 14 because Kristen Stewart said it was her favorite. I’d like that week of my life back.

MATILDA — A book with a character/s that has a lot of trauma

Must protect Matty and Keelie at all costs.

CINEMA — A book who’s story is just as good as the cover.

Beautiful cover for a beautiful story. I’ve said all I need here.

DAYDREAMING — A series you desperately clung to so it “won’t end”.

I would give ANYTHING to read this series again for the first time.

KEEP DRIVING — A book with a road trip

I cannot think of one road trip book I’ve read, so please leave recommendations below if you have any! (Preferably romance)

SATELLITE — A book with a side character who deserved better

LEAH. FUCKING. CLEARWATER. If you know, you know. 😤

BOYFRIENDS — A book you have a hate/love relationship with

This one was incredibly disturbing and horrifying, I both loved and hated every minute of it.

LOVE OF MY LIFE — A book with a soulmate pairing

I mean, how could it be anyone but Jess and River??

If you love Harry too, feel free to say I tagged you in this one!

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola | Book Review

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola | Book Review

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

This book was a lot of fun right from the start. The writing style took a bit to get used to–it’s very dense and there’s a lot going on at all times. Despite the adjustment, I think the style really suited Kiki well and helped to show her personality better.

The most important elements to me when reading a romance are how well the characters and their chemistry are brought to life through the writing. Babalola definitely succeeded in carrying that chemistry across. Kiki was so easy to relate to with the fact that she was not trying to get attached to any of the men on campus. I also just love the premise of a college radio show. It’s such a common practice, but I don’t really see it used as a plot device. The use of the show as a crutch to Kiki worked so well. And Malakai. What a sweetheart. The way the two characters come together just felt very realistic to a college romance.

It took me a while to finish this book, however, which is something that really isn’t great for a romance. Along with the dense writing, I felt that there were a lot of different storylines going on at once. It made it a little hard to focus on the romance. Some of the side plots could have been edited down for a more easily consumed story, but I really did think this was a fun romance. And I’ll always support college romance (we do NOT have enough of those!)

Thank you to NetGalley and William Morrow Publishing for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
A Historical Queer Must-Read | Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

A Historical Queer Must-Read | Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

Wow. What a beautiful historical piece about queer romance. This is my second Malinda Lo book, and I am once again just blown away with the detail to her writing. The amount of times I read a really small piece of description and said “wow I know exactly what the feels like” was incredible. I know this book is highly regarded, but I don’t think Lo’s writing is talked about enough.

She also just really knows how to hit you in gut with love and queerness. I felt so seen with this novel. Lily was so sweet and brave—I wish I could be brave like her. I wish we could’ve seen a little more of Kath and her backstory, but that was my only complaint.

The historical 50s San Francisco vibe was everything, and I loved the pages she included on queerness and Chinese Americans in the 50s at the end of the story. I honestly just think Malinda Lo is brilliant, and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you’ve read this one, let me know what you thought!

Books I Read in June | June Wrap-Up

Books I Read in June | June Wrap-Up

Happy July! I don’t particularly feel like celebrating my country this year (or any year for that matter, but especially this year), so I won’t be doing anything this weekend except for relaxing by the pool with a book.

I had a pretty solid reading month in June. I read six books, but none of them were really a solid 5 stars except for my rereads.

I don’t think there will ever be a month where emotional isn’t my most read mood. No surprises there. I don’t often see lighthearted in my moods. When I think of lighthearted, I think “little substance” which I don’t go for in books. But I guess it makes sense in the context of my reading this month.

This one was surprising. I really don’t go for contemporary often, and middle grade even less. I know where they show up in my reading, but seeing them in a chart like this outdoing romance and fantasy, it’s jarring. It makes me want to keep stepping outside my usual genres. I really enjoyed the two contemporaries I read this month, so maybe I’ll keep it going.

The two contemporaries I read happened to be my favorites–Girl, Woman, Other and The Paper Palace (review coming for the former). They just had a lot of substance. Of course I loved rereading the Percy Jackson books, but I’m not going to consider those for favorites since it wouldn’t really be a competition.

In all, I don’t feel great about this reading month. I read some good books, but I didn’t get to the ones I really wanted to. I barely did any Pride reading which I try not to feel bad about. I’m a mood reader, and I’m queer myself. I don’t need a month as an excuse to read queer books. It still feels like I have something to prove, especially when I’m essentially reading for an audience. This is more a me issue, and I’m working on making sure my reading choices are for me only.

That being said, I am getting into some amazing Pride reads already in July that I can’t wait to talk about!

What was your favorite read in June?

Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List | Top Ten Tuesday

Books On My Summer 2022 To-Read List | Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! We’re really getting into Summer here, so this is the perfect TTT Topic! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is Summer TBR. I’m going to a beach town for the month next week, so this is a good time to really think about which books I want to pack with me. I also just went book shopping, so this list is definitely influenced by that haul.

THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

This is the next book I need to start out of my NetGalley arcs. I loved Mexican Gothic by Moreno-Garcia, so I’m so excited to dig into this one, too.

FRESH WATER FOR FLOWERS BY VALÉRIE PERRIN

This is one I found at a local bookseller and had never heard of before. It just sounds like the perfect summer read, though!

LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB BY MALINDA LO

I don’t need to talk about this one more than I already have, but yes, this one is going to be read by me soon!!!

DETRANSITION BABY BY TORREY PETERS

I haven’t seen much about this book, but I picked it up at the bookstore today. I’m hoping it will be just some good old queer greatness my summer needs.

TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM BY YAA GYASI

This is another I picked up at the local bookseller while I was on vacation a few weeks ago. I have Gyasi’s Homegoing but never got to it–this story is a bit more interesting to me, though.

THE WOMEN OF CHATEAU LAFAYETTE BY STEPHANIE DRAY

I’m usually wary to pick up historical war fiction, but this story caught my attention since it centers around female MCs. I saw it at the bookstore a bit ago and decided to pick it up, so here it is on the list!

SCORPICA BY G.R. MACALLISTER

Again, let’s pretend like this one isn’t still on the list and move on, ok?

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER BY ANDREA STEWART

Ok, I had never heard of this one before today. I saw it at Barnes and Noble and had to have it. It sounds so effing good. Has anyone read this?? Please tell me what you thought.

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY SERIES BY JENNY HAN

I just finished the Prime series last night and would love to go back and reread this series while on vacation this summer. I don’t think it will be as good as the TV series (seeing as they updated quite a bit for a 2022 outlook), but I want to absorb all the nostalgic beachy vibes from this one.

LOVE ON THE BRAIN BY ALI HAZELWOOD

This list could only end with this one which I have been very patiently waiting for. I am going to devour this book the second it comes out at midnight on August 23rd. The perfect way to end a summer.

What’s your most anticipated book on your Summer TBR? Do we have any in common?

A Very Unexpected Romance | Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

A Very Unexpected Romance | Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime. [From Goodreads]

Christina Lauren’s books so far have been very hit or miss for me. I absolutely adored The Soulmate Equation and Love and Other Words, but The Unhoneymooners and The Honey-Don’t List really did not hook me at all. That being said, I went into this one with a relatively open mind, but I didn’t expect anything other than the normal romance arc.

This was one of the wildest (no pun intended) romances I’ve read to date. I was very confused about the inclusion of alt-right incel Terry… like were Christina Lauren trying to inject a statement about our political climate into this romance? But no, clearly this horrible character I could not stand played a bigger part of this narrative.

I won’t lie, it was extremely over the top. I couldn’t believe the treasure hunt story that ensued. But it was also very fun. And the imagery Christina Lauren were able to create of the characters riding through Utah almost made me cry. I’ve never been, but this book made me feel like I have. I think that descriptive writing alone sealed the deal for me on this one.

Lily and Leo’s story was also very sweet, and obviously the chemistry was amazingly developed. I wish we had seen more of them, though. I think the treasure hunting parts of the story overshadowed the romance just a bit.

The treasure hunting and the chaos that ensues because of it was almost just a bit too unbelievable, too. All in all, though, it was a fun adventure romance. If you’re looking for a romance with a spin on it, this one is definitely for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.