Reading Update

I’ve definitely been hitting the romances hard lately – they’re just a much easier read when you have to jump in and out of the pages of a book quickly. Sometimes I’ve been able to snatch a good hour or so of reading when my daughter is down for a nap. Sometimes it’s only about ten minutes…

Series

Standalones – Novels

Standalones – Short stories

Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding

Overview

Title: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Author: Helen Fielding
Series: Bridget Jones #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1996

Thoughts

I wanted to absolutely love this. After all, I seriously love the movie and normally if I love the movie, I love the book. But it just didn’t quite do it for me… I found this version of Bridget WAY too whiney and painful. Honestly, she is a total and utter ditz, and she spends the whole diary just rambling on about all of her whiney-ness. It was kind of hard to feel any connection to her whatsoever really. And I so, so wanted to. Maybe it was just my mood.

This is one of those books that I didn’t hate, but I did struggle with. Which means it goes back into the pile for a second try later down the track. I’m not going to get rid of it, but it’s a close call. Probably, because as I mentioned earlier, I really want to love this. I also found that the plot wasn’t quite moving fast enough for me. Again, it’s something that I need to allow myself to be in the right mental space for I think…

I did really love the style of writing in this. I could hear Bridget’s voice as I read each of her diary entries. It did help me to feel connected to a character that I would otherwise normally not connect to at all. The style of writing and great indication of a flawed character were really fun. After all, it’s kind of hard to write a flawed character when everything is from their point of view. But, Fielding manages to do it.

As much as I was a bit “eh” about this book, I did ultimately enjoy it enough to read it. Just in fits and starts I suppose. I think it would be a great book to read when I was feeling a little more self-indulgent and self-pitying. Which, at the time of this read, I really wasn’t.

<- More Helen FieldingBridget Jones: Edge of Reason ->

Image source: Amazon

Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Overview

Title: Sweet Tea and Sympathy
Author: Molly Harper
Series: Southern Eclectic #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

You know a book is going to be good when it starts with a massive event that goes belly up because there are flamingos trying to eat the centre-piece. Amongst other shenanigans. It certainly makes for an incredibly easy and fun read. One that I enjoyed far more than I had anticipated. Mostly because I had never heard of Molly Harper and had absolutely no idea what to expect. Turns out I should expect some lovely romance, some wonderful southern culture (which I still know next to nothing about) and a whole lot of random enjoyment.

One of the aspects I always enjoy in fish-out-of-water stories is the fact that you get to discover a never before understood world right alongside the main character. It lets you bumble into a world that you literally know nothing of, and discover all of the intricacies along the way. Margot’s discovery of the family that she never knew and a world that she never knew she wanted does this perfectly. Plus, the whole family vibe immediately makes her fit in, even when she doesn’t quite. Plus, there’s the whole getting to know her family that you get to do alongside her. And what a unique and quirky bunch that is! Again, I absolutely adored this.

This was kind of one of those insta-lust romances. It wasn’t insta-love (thank goodness), but there was still that immediate moment of petting between Margot and Kyle as soon as the story starts. Considering this is something that I don’t always love, I found it quite pleasant. I mean, who hasn’t seen some irresistible hunk and just thought… yummm?? The fact that it just gets continuously more complicated as the story unfolds just made me sink deeper and deeper into the relationship. This was one of those ones that I most definitely emotionally invested in. Not something I necessarily do with all of the romances that I’ve been powering through lately.

I love how this story finished with the couple wanting to see how the relationship unfolds and looking to a future. Indeed, love isn’t even mentioned throughout as anything but a future possibility. It’s not a given, and it’s not seen as the ultimate goal. Instead, there’s a sense of potential, happiness and contentment at the end of the tale. It’s sometimes frustrating how every romance finishes with a wedding and happily ever after feel. This felt like the steps that go towards obtaining that goal. I’m sure in the next few books in this series, I’ll probably find out that Margot and Kyle, do, in fact get their marriage and happily ever after. But I love how it doesn’t feel completely like a given.

<- More Molly HarperAin’t She a Peach ->

Image source: Goodreads

Dare to Resist by Carly Phillips

Overview

Title: Dare to Resist
Author: Carly Phillips
Series: Dare Nation #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

There’s something that I’m loving about two romance tropes at the moment. The office romance trope. And the falling for a billionaire one. The billionaire obsession makes total sense – it would be lovely not to have any financial worries. The office one… well, there’s something about pencil skirts and office politics that seems to make me intrigued and just a little bit excited. Phillips is completely hitting those two happy places spot on in this book.

I didn’t realise until I was partway into this book that whilst Dare to Resist is the first book in Dare Nation, there’s kind of some series that take place before it. Which means that although I couldn’t put this down… I had to reach for the first book in the Dare to Love series. I mean, that’s where all of the intense and slightly insane Dare family loves start… so you just have to start at the beginning… but I digress. Although there are a handful of other stories which take place before Dare to Resist, it is not really necessary to read these beforehand. This story stands alone brilliantly and joyfully.

I love how Quinn is able to seriously take a good look at her past and her past assumptions, and find a way to move on. She’s got some scars and frustrations that her family has created (like everyone’s families), Austin less so, but he’s still got a few. They both spend most of this book working through their internal crap to find their happily ever after. For me, in this book, it’s the assumptions that Quinn’s family have made and continue to make about her are the most compelling of these. The fact that it involves a baby and I’ve just had a baby – that just made it all that much more intriguing and eager for me to dive right in.

This was one of those really easy and simple reads that had me diving right in and not putting it down. It was incredibly easy to go cover to cover with my read through and just sink into the joys of the Dare family. It’s gotten me very, very intrigued to go right back to the beginning with Dare to Love and find out more about these lovely and beautiful dynamics.

<- More Carly PhillipsDare to Tempt ->

Image source: Goodreads

Crime and Periodicals by Nora Everly

Overview

Title: Crime and Periodicals
Author: Nora Everly
Series: Green Valley Library #2, SmartyPants Romance
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

One of the things that I’m absolutely loving about the literature that is coming out these days is that there is a lot more representation of neurodivergent characters throughout. Even though in this book, the neurodivergent Harry isn’t one of the lead romantic characters, he is still front and centre. And honestly, he is so damn ridiculously gorgeous that there are often moments where he steals the spotlight. As do Wyatt’s two daughters throughout. Which, if there are children in a story, I can completely get behind them doing a whole lot of show stealing.

I’ve seen a lot of mentions of anxiety throughout the media that I consume. Sometimes it’s used as a bit of a punchline (as are many other things). And often I’ve seen it kind of glorified or made a little sexy. When I see it glorified and made into something that isn’t completely debilitating at times, I get seriously pissed. Believe me, if you have issues with anxiety – it is not fun, it is not sexy and it is not desirable. Everly totally gets this. Sabine’s issues with her anxiety and mental health frustrate the hell out of her. They constantly impact her life, and she is not in any way, shape or form enamoured with her reality. In fact, much of what I loved about this story was her trying to overcome her “crap” and build a more functioning life for herself. With or without Wyatt’s involvement.

I also love that this story features a dead-beat mother. It’s tragic and definitely makes your heart hurt for the girls, but again, it’s a nice look at something that is realistic. Not all mothers are great at mothering, and some are just downright terrible. I love that Sabine is able to go a long way towards healing the hurt and damage that is inflicted upon Wyatt’s poor children. Can you tell that I found the kids absolute show-stealers in this book? I love the romance and the development of Sabine and Wyatt’s relationship, but it’s the ways in which their children are worked into the future that really had my heart doing all of the happy leaps.

Like many of the other SmartyPants Romance books that I’ve read, there are many moments that dove-tail perfectly into the rest of the universe-happenings. Those mentions of some beautiful characters give a great sense of familiarity, particularly when I was reading a whole new author for me. An author that I must admit I have completely fallen in love with. And one that I look forward to reading again and again.

<- Love in Due TimeProse Before Bros ->

Image source: Goodreads

Love in Due Time by L.B. Dunbar

Overview

Title: Love in Due Time
Author: L.B. Dunbar
Series: Green Valley Library #1, SmartyPants Romance
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I have to be honest, I get a little bit over the storylines that feature a woman who has only had sex with the one man. Or who are virgins before they meet their one and only… and this did have a bit of that kind of trope. It made me feel a little hesitant to sink into this novel. Although I didn’t necessarily love that Naomi spent twenty-odd years waiting for Nathan to come back into her life, I did still enjoy this story. Probably because Naomi didn’t really spend that time pining for and waiting for one man, but just dealt with her sexuality and weird messed up feelings about it in her own time and her own way.

There are pretty much no contemporary books on my shelves that feature wiccans. Sure, I have plenty of paranormal stories which feature this practice – but they combine the paranormal views of magic. This is the first one that is all about what it’s actually like to practice Wicca in the everyday world. The practices, the beliefs, and the prejudice that people have to face. The fact that it endangers Naomi on a regular basis because she’s in a small town… it’s completely understandable and realistic. Unlike all other stories that I’ve read featuring Wicca.

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t go into a career as a librarian – I have a book obsession and am an introvert. Naomi’s job and the constant, beautiful reminders of Bethany Winston made me wonder even more why I haven’t trialled this as a career. Although, to be fair, I do love the career that I currently have… but I digress. The backdrop of the library and it’s potential for being closed against the drama of Naomi and Nathan’s relationship is absolutely gorgeous. Then, there’s the complete counterpoint of Nathan’s dramas – the Iron Wraiths and all of their horribleness. It made me fairly uncomfortable throughout. But it was most certainly the perfect obstacle to overcome.

I may have been a bit hesitant about reading this due to the virgin trope – but I did end up absolutely loving it. The virgin trope is a little less painful than I had anticipated – and probably takes up more of my review than it did of the actual story line. Definitely an enjoyable book that I look forward to reading again and again.

<- More SmartyPants RomanceCrime and Periodicals ->

Image source: Goodreads

Been There Done That by Hope Ellis

Overview

Title: Been There Done That
Author: Hope Ellis
Series: Leffersbee #1, SmartyPants Romance
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

Stories that feature a past and reconciliation in the romance department pretty much always make me happy. There is just something so sweet and beautiful about them. And often, a little bit heartbreaking. And this story really was no different. It was kind of tragic in moments when you realised all that was lost because of one teenage idiots’ rash decisions. But, it was also lovely – teenage sweethearts don’t always end up having their happily ever after because it is ridiculously hard to grow with another human being.

I love that there is a bit of a moment throughout this in which Zora points out that it is probably good that she and Nick didn’t run off into the sunset to get married. By being apart for the majority of their 20’s, they’re able to grow into their own people. It makes them a lot less reliant on each other in their structure for identity. And so much more sure of themselves. My partner and I have been together since we were eighteen – it is incredibly difficult to maintain some aspects of a relationship when you go through the drastic changes that your 20’s bring.

The title of this story makes it pretty obvious that there is history, and I love that it has this sense of yup, been there, done that. Not doing it again. Especially from Zora – she is such a little firecracker and is able to seriously hold her own. Which, of course is why I fell in love with her so quickly. I always love a strong, slightly off-kilter woman who is able to stand up for herself. Also whilst continuously being slightly uncoordinated and a little bit unable to stop the word vomit. She is so quirky and cute – the type of heroine that is pretty common in the SmartyPants Romance books and the reason I’m so obsessed with these stories.

This is yet another wonderful contemporary romance that made me incredibly happy and content. It’s so easy to understand the flaws and mistakes of both of the characters. And, it is just so damn cute. I definitely have a huge weakness for the SmartyPants Romance books, and I am steadily filling my shelves very happily with these…

<- More SmartyPants RomanceBefore and After You ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Overview

Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1911

Thoughts

I did enjoy this story, but I also didn’t really find it much of a story. Most tales that I really get stuck into have a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes this isn’t so distinct, but it is still there. I didn’t really feel like there was anything other than a beginning here. Burnett manages to introduce Mary and all of her flaws beautifully. She is an incredibly dislikeable character. But, after her introduction, it’s possible to feel sympathetic to the reasons behind her characterisation. However, other than that, it was not much of a story.

Alright, the development of Mary’s character, and the friendships that she makes are definitely a good storyline and development. But I always expect more of an external trial and obstacle. In fact, I thought there would be many barriers to the children getting into the secret garden and helping it grow. Instead, they find the secret garden, find friendship and then miraculously heal all of the wounds of the past.

I did enjoy this classic, but I also don’t think I’ll quickly dig into it again. It was a bit of a story line that I felt needed a whole lot more. And one that was just too simple. Maybe a better book to read as a young child than an adult…

<- Bulfinch’s MythologyTarzan of the Apes ->

Image source: Abebooks

Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix

Overview

Title: Remedial Rocket Science
Author: Susannah Nix
Series: Chemistry Lessons #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

I both liked and disliked the fact that Nix starts off this book with a trigger warning in the front. It’s great, because you don’t want to read something that might trigger you. But it also made me feel a little hesitant about reading this, because I didn’t know if I would be triggered by said triggers. Plus, at the core of it all, I really hate stories in which infidelity is rewarded. Personally for me, I find it to be a pretty big moral line that shouldn’t be crossed. Having said that, once I got into this story… I found that those “triggers” within the warning were so damn minimal that I wasn’t bothered in the slightest.

I’m going to be honest, it took me a little while to get my head around the timeline. I must have missed the three years ago heading in the first chapter, so I was wondering what was going on when the time jumped. But, I put that entirely down to my own brain lately. Once I got into the swing of things though, I found this book impossible to put down. In fact, I pulled an all-nighter to finish this. Which was bad, but also, oh so good. As soon as the dynamic between Melody and Jeremy starts to make a bit more sense, this became one of my favourite reads in a while. It just took a little while to get going.

I really enjoyed the many geeky references throughout this book. You can tell that Nix has many geeky interests and there were so many comments littered throughout. It wasn’t anything overwhelming, and if you’re not a fan of things such as Star Wars you wouldn’t pick up on it. They were lovely little moments and easter eggs that I will probably find more of on another read through. I know next to nothing about Susannah Nix, but reading this, I want to find out more.

Jeremy and Melody are a lovely couple, but it was the girl-friendship with Lacey that I really got into. Lacey is something intense and completely unexpected. Especially after the first meeting with her. It’s nice that whilst this is a story about Melody falling in love and finding her forever person, it’s also about settling into a new city. And, something I still haven’t figured out, how to make friends as an adult…

<- More Susannah NixIntermediate Thermodynamics ->

Image source: Kobo

Mr. Fiddlehead by Jonathan Carroll

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: Mr. Fiddlehead
Author: Jonathan Carroll
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Horror
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013

Thoughts

At first I really didn’t see where the horror in this story came from. And then I got to the ending… trust me, it’s horror. Or at least, horrible. My brain conjured so many less than pleasant moments that could have proceeded this short story. Which was most definitely the point. And, honestly, it was the kind of ending that I love in a horror short story – seriously dark, twisted and uncomfortable.

I know that imaginary friends are a really common thing. It’s not something that I ever remember. And the idea of an imaginary friend coming to life in adulthood… that in and of itself feels incredibly disturbed. I mean, there is something just seriously wrong about it. And brining that into a marriage also felt… well, icky. But it got worse.

Mr. Fiddlehead doesn’t feel romantic or attractive from the get-go. There is a definite parasitic feel to him and his presence from the beginning. It steadily gets worse until the climax of this story. And then you just feel kind of wigged. Or at least I did. And now I’m really hoping that my own child doesn’t have an imaginary friend…

<- AnnaThe Fooly ->

Image source: Amazon