How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Overview
How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Title: How to Love a Jamaican
Author: Alexia Arthurs
In: How to Love a Jamaican (Alexia Arthurs)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2018

Thoughts

This short story balances both loves that of the Jamaican on his home soil and the American immigrant. The constant flicking between that life and this is a good way to show how these two identities sit against one another for many people.

I’m noticing a bit of a recurring theme of infidelity in Arthurs’ writing. And I can’t say it’s one that I enjoy. But it does show a great understanding of the imperfections of humanity. Which I did enjoy… constantly giving me a conflicting viewpoint and emotional response.

I love how this story balances different aspects of life. And provides yet another insight into immigrant life.

<- The Ghost of Jia YiOn Shelf ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Importance of Being Alice by Katie MacAlister

Overview

Title: The Importance of Being Alice
Author: Katie MacAlister
Series: Ainslie Brothers #1
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2015

Thoughts

I wanted to like this novel a lot more than I actually did. Which seems to be a bit of a common occurrence lately. I mean, I loved the premise and the idea behind this tale. But I didn’t necessarily find the execution to be quite to my taste. Actually, from the moment that I read about Alice’s boobs talking to Elliot, I started to go, yeah, nah…

The other aspect of this story that I found kind of difficult was the rivalry between women. The idea that Alice is falling for a guy, and there is a random woman on their cruise who has just decided to seduce him. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m kind of over the opposing female as the villain. An accidental villain yes, but one who is adamantly out to get someone’s man? Can we please come up with a new trope? It just feels so… painful.

I did like the backdrop of this story. Stuck on a cruise ship together, touring around Europe? I can imagine that it would be very easy to fall in love in such a setting. But, honestly, that’s probably the most that I liked about this novel. Maybe I’m being spoilt for the romances at the moment.

Even though I didn’t enjoy this, I will probably read the next book in the series… just for curiosities sake.

<- More Katie MacAlisterA Midsummer Night’s Romp ->

Image source: Goodreads

Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You

Overview

Title: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You
Author: Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles Companion
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fae, Fantasy
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2004

Thoughts

This was enjoyable and easy to read. A nice book to flick through as I was waiting for my daughter to truly fall asleep. It was fun, light and very, very pretty. A perfect companion to the rest of the Spiderwick books.

I love that this has a feeling of legitimacy to it. Even if it is a fantasy story. Somehow, DiTerlizzi and Black manage to make it feel realistic and like you could just reach through the veil and experience this delightful world. Toeing that line between real and fantasy can be incredibly difficult, and they’ve made it work. Seriously enjoyable.

It’s obvious that there is a lot of research which has gone into this book, and the lore of the Spiderwick Chronicles in general. After all, these are all fae creatures and beings that show up again and again in literature and entertainment. Although, some of them are pictured in ways that I never imagined. And seriously loved. Another testament to DiTerlizzi.

A wonderful read and a lovely companion to the rest of the Spiderwick Chronicles. I can’t wait to share this with my daughter one day.

<- Care and Feeding of SpritesThe Nixie’s Song ->

Image source: Dymocks

Kross Kill by J.M. Edwards

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Kross Kill
Author: J.M. Edwards
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012

Thoughts

This was… disturbed. Which is not surprising considering the collection that I found this in. And the fact that it had the word “kill” in the title. Although, I was expecting more of a twist in this tale. It was actually a pretty straight forward, kill and murder kind of story…

I do like that although all of the bad in this happens through sheer stupidity, the guy who is a dumbass does get his comeuppance. It’s probably a little bit extreme and not necessarily poetic justice… but, still, I liked the just desserts at the end. Actually, both the dumbass bad guy and the bad guy bad guy got a pretty horrible / good ending.

Actually, I completely expected the uncle to be more of a bad ass. Certainly a determined man, but not anywhere near the level of challenge that I was expecting. Which was a little bit sad.

You know how when you read a story, there is one image that just seems to stick? For this one it’s blood splatter…

<- Nice Guy TypeLoose Lips ->

Image source: Amazon

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