Trope-ical Readathon: August 2021

Start Date: August 01, 2021
End Date: August 31, 2021
Goal: Complete all prompts, including team reads

I went on an unplanned break from blogging and forgot to update my list for August 2021. I panicked when it posted without having been updated. Here’s the actual list.

The Trope-ical Readathon has helped me tackle my TBR in the past so I’m hoping it will work it’s magic again. I’m on Team Romance again. Woohoo! For more information about the readathon, please visit Trope-ical Readathon. The readathon doesn’t begin until August 1 so there’s still time to sign up!

  • Is my love of Kennedy Ryan apparent here? Heh… My biggest concern is lining up so many of her books. I love her, but she also leaves me in these book comas that make it difficult to read any other books after. I just find myself in a loop, rereading my favorite scenes over and over. I’ve been wanting to read her All The King’s Men series ever since I fell in love with her writing in her Soul series. I’ve been hesitant to read Hook Shot because Block Shot had me in a loop.
  • I’m hoping that sprinkling in books by Kayley Loring–whether on my TBR or not–will help. I can always count on funny business when it comes to Loring. She’s definitely another favorite romance author.

Trope-ical Readathon August 2021 TBR

Dead Parents
Food Themed
Published
2021
Has TV or Movie Adaptation
Reread
From the Past
Read in
24 hours
Challenge #1
Sports Romance
Buddy Read
Ebook
Multiple POC Characters
Challenge #2
Second Chance
Coming of Age
Fire on Cover
Genre don’t usually read
Team Book

Go #TeamRomance

Romance Interlude 2.11

I made the “mistake” of discovering the All About Romance this year while looking at reviews of one of my favorite reads. I liked the review enough that I signed up for their Steals and Deals newsletter and have been paying ever since. (Heh…). I look forward to the newsletter daily.

Every book below was from the newsletter, which often includes reviews if the book has been reviewed on the site. With the exception of one particular book below, I’ve generally liked the books I purchased via their reviews. Check out the website for reviews!


The China Bride (2000)
by Mary Jo Putney
ASIN/ISBN: 9780345433350
Publication: August 1, 2000
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Bride Trilogy #2

One liner: Troth Montgomery makes her way to England to tell her husband’s family that he has died only to have him return from the dead.

This is my first Mary Jo Putney book but I’ve seen Putney’s name on so many novels. The book jumps between the first time Troth meets Kyle and after his death. I found myself more interested in the present timeline because I wanted to see Troth’s growth and I wanted to find out when happens when they’re reunited. While I enjoyed most of it, the ending was frustrating. Crossed wires or the lack of communication is a trope I dislike immensely and it’s rampant in the latter part of the book. Troth doesn’t know if he loves her and wants her to stay but she would like to. He doesn’t know if she loves him or wants to stay but he wants her to. They never talk to each other about it. I had to skim some of the end because I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to scream, “Just talk to each other!!”


The Marquess and I (2015)
by Stacy Reid
ASIN/ISBN: 9781676994459
Publication: June 1, 2016 (Kindle)
Goodreads Summary
Series: Forever Yours #1

One liner: Alasdair is looking for a wife but first sees revenge against Willow, who previously rejected his proposal for being a third son but is now dowry-less.

This is a book that’s short and sweet. It can be a bit dramatic at times but because it’s short, the scenes are not drawn out. It doesn’t take long for Alasdair to decide if he is still in love with Willow and an even shorter time for Willow to decide that she’d be okay with an affair but definitely not marriage. For my first Stacy Reid novel, I loved it. I just wished it had been longer. I look forward to reading more from Reid.


The Bargain
by Mary J. Putney
ASIN/ISBN: B004IWR3II
Publication: April 1, 2011 (Original: October 1, 1999)
Series: Regency series #1
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Lady Jocelyn Kendal marries wounded and dying Major David Lancaster to secure her inheritance but then he makes a miraculous recovery.

I didn’t know what to expect of Jocelyn. If she was just trying to get her inheritance and then be with the guy that she likes well enough, I was thinking a spoiled and unlikeable character but she wasn’t. I liked her a lot. She’s quite the spinster and when David makes a miraculous recovery, she still remains the nice person that she is. Because I liked her character, I also felt sympathy for her fear of love and relationships. I loved David’s patience with her. While Jocelyn and David are the main couple, the book also has a secondary couple in David’s sister Sally and his surgeon Kinlock. While Sally and Kinlock were interesting, I would have preferred the focus to stay on Jocelyn and David. I liked the book a lot more than I expected.


Cherished
by Elizabeth Thornton
ASIN/ISBN: B07NF564WL
Publication: January 25, 2015
Series: The Devereux Trilogy #3
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Forced to marry Leon Devereux after they are found alone together, Emily Five years after going to the U.S. to make his fortune, he returns to consummate their marriage.

**This will be a rant and will be spoiler-filled. There will be sarcasm.**

I needed something to cleanse my palate after reading this book, turning to recent favorites to try purge this from my mind. Thornton is a fine writer. The writing is fine. Parts of the book are as well, but I couldn’t get over the main plot even though I tried to remind myself of the time period. I’m completely over books like this but I kept on reading because I needed to know if it would get better. Spoiler: It doesn’t. When they’re forced to get married, Emily is 16. Leon is 10 years older than her. Her uncle okays the marriage. They don’t consummate the marriage but Leon returns a few years later for her, with the intention to do so. **Shudder** He abducts her with her uncle’s permission, and forces himself on her–they’re married, it’s okay. She gives into him. Her body, you know, had a mind of its own, as if it’s now completely okay that he sexually assaulted her. I sped through the rest of the book hoping it could redeem itself somehow–I don’t know if that could even be possible–and it doesn’t. Leon never apologizes for anything. Obviously as the husband, he has the right, and Emily just eventually gives into her fate. Yup, it doesn’t look like she’s getting out of the marriage. It also turns into a suspense story. But surprise, Leon has always loved Emily, and Emily didn’t realize that when she was younger she loved him too. The book made me so mad.

Let’s Talk Bookish: What makes a book a 5-star read?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Discussions pertain to topics related to reading or books. Share your opinions, and spread the love by visiting other “Let’s Talk Bookish” posts.

Prompts:  How do you decide whether a book should get 5 stars? Do you try to keep 5 stars rating prestigious, or do you give them generously? Do you have a checklist of things a book must accomplish to be 5 stars? Are 5 star books perfect, or just very good? What are some of your favourite 5 star reads? What made them stand out?

Rather than a checklist, the amount of stars I give a book is often related to the likelihood of me rereading it. The book should speak to me in some way, whether it be through my emotions or connect me with the main character. It’s a combination of phenomenal writing, compelling characters, a satisfying ending, and an overall plot that I enjoyed. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it might feel nearly perfect to me. As someone who is normally detail-oriented and likes things explained clearly, I apologize. My explanation is completely nebulous. It’s hard to explain. Knowing a book is a 5-star read is a lot like being in love. You just…know. (Hehehe…)

I recently discovered I have two types of 5-star reads.

  • The book I may never be able to read again: The first time was just magnificent. I was speechless. It might have even left me bawling. The first time will always be the best, especially if there was some twist I didn’t see coming. Often, the experience of reading it the first time will never be replicated.
  • The book I will read over and over again: I will read this again in its entirety multiple times. Maybe I started on it again as soon as I finished. It was magnificent.

This is my all-time favorite novel. It embodies everything I love in a medieval fantasy including a strong protagonist, a compelling cast of characters, and an exciting plot that transports to another world. The series is not yet over and subsequent books have not been nearly as good but I’ve stuck with the it. I really want to find out what happens at the end.

I reread this nearly every year.

In Arrow to the Soul, a trained assassin who isn’t supposed to have feelings develops feelings for the person who is trying to capture her. It’s a common enough story but I knew this was a 5-star as soon as I picked it up because Lea Griffith’s writing is superb.

I recently finished another rereading. It’s still on my desk so I can still read my favorite parts again.

Kayley Loring is one of my favorite romance authors. Her books are hilarious. She’s stated in the past that she doesn’t believe the quality of Green is up to par with the rest of her novels. This is my favorite of her novels precisely because it’s a bit different from the rest. It’s not quite as funny but it hit all the feels for me and more.

I’ve already reread it.

This is my latest 5-star read. My review of it won’t be posted until a few weeks from now, but I was completely blown away by it. It was amazing. The experience was moving. I was in tears by the end.

I may never be able to read this book again.

Solomon is phenomenal author who took me back to my high school years. This was the highlight of 2020 for me. I connected with it on an emotional level and it also helped me to be more comfortable with telling people I love romance novels.

I reread it a few months ago.

What makes a book a 5-star read for you? If you have any 5-star reads, I’d love to hear about them!

First Lines Fridays 1.6: Once there was..

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.

Once there was a world called Kelanna, a wonderful and terrible world of water and ships and magic. The people of Kelanna were like you in many ways–they spoke and worked and loved and died–but they were different in one very important respect: they couldn’t read.

TheReader_cover


by Traci Chee
ASIN/ISBN: 9780399176777
Publication: September 13, 2016
Series: The Reader Trilogy #1

An instant New York Times Bestseller, this is a stunning debut set in a world where reading is unheard-of. Perfect for fans of Inkheart and Shadow and Bone

Finalist for the Kirkus Prize and nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award!

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.  (from Goodreads)

When I went on my reading hiatus, I missed so many good books. Because I stopped reading for so long, I feel like there was an explosion of diverse books. It’s been exciting seeing book after book with BIPOC main characters. A set of books I missed is Traci Chee’s The Reader Trilogy. I’ve had the trilogy on my shelves for nearly a year and am looking forward to finally starting them soon.

The Dating Dare (2021)

by Jayci Lee
ASIN/ISBN: 9781250621122
Publication: August 3, 2021
Series: A Sweet Mess #2

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

The Dating Dare is the second installment of Lee’s A Sweet Mess series, this time with Seth, Landon’s younger brother, and Tara, Aubrey’s best friend, in a variation of a dating contract. Seth and Tara are wary of relationships and, after a hefty amount of drinking, embark on a 4-date only dare with promises to not fall in love with each other. It makes a lot of sense because neither is particularly looking for anything long-term, and Seth is moving to Paris at the end of the month.

There’s a reason why the adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” is a familiar one. This isn’t to say that an opinion can never change–just think about Darcy’s opinion of Elizabeth and vice versa–but that first meeting can surely set the tone and mood for what’s to come.  I never overcame my first impression of Tara and Seth and how forced their first interaction appeared. The confrontation happened then jumped to the dare so quickly that I didn’t find it believable. Eventually, lust and the sexual chemistry are established–Lee infuses it well into their dates and nondates–and spices up the pages, but I couldn’t get over that first impression that something was missing from their relationship. I was never fully convinced they could fall in love with each other.

It was difficult to fully grasp what kind of individuals Tara and Seth were because most of their interactions were with each other and them thinking of each other. At first, it seemed like Tara would be outspoken and stick up for herself but beyond what happens at the beginning when Tara confronts Seth, there isn’t much follow-through. The limited conversations with her brothers try to showcase what kind of person Tara is, but it would have been more meaningful if it was action and descriptions, not just dialogue. Pieces of Tara’s and Seth’s pasts are also divulged throughout the book, explaining why they are both averse to relationships, and used to create some mystery, but I think it would have worked better to be provided the information earlier. Trying to work through one another’s past relationships would have brought more depth to their relationship, helping to illustrate why they would work well together.

The book lacks a sense of place, jumping from one scene of them together to the next scene of them together without much detail into their surroundings. I’ve never been to Weldon and would like to “see” what it’s like there, but I couldn’t envision the town through the book. For instance, Tara’s family owns Weldon Brewery, and she’s in there from time to time but I don’t learn much about it. Similarly, I don’t know much about Tara’s family or the other people residing there. I wanted to meet the residents and be an audience to conversations and interactions outside of Tara and Seth together, but people only popped in and out occasionally to serve as backboards and props as if life did not exist outside of the leads. My suspicion is the town might have a better introduction in the first book, which I haven’t read. Even if that is the case, it doesn’t negate that there should be descriptions in this second installment as well, especially when it’s written very much as a standalone.

I expected a bit more from the book, but it wasn’t a letdown.  Although Lee doesn’t include much detail about the town, there are beautiful descriptions when Seth captures images on his camera. I felt Seth’s love for his art and how important photography was to him. These moments were likely some of my favorites because there was so much detail; I could see and feel what was happening. I wish more of the book included descriptions like this. While my initial impressions of their relationship set the tone for my first reading of the book, it’s certainly possible I might have the urge to pick it up again. A second reading could make a better impression, but I’m not exactly ready to give it another go just yet.

So We Meet Again (2021)

by Suzanne Park
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062990716
Publication: August 3, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Repeatedly passed over for promotions despite her hard work and now finally terminated due to downsizing, Jessie/Jess Kim returns home to figure out her next steps. It doesn’t help that she bumps into boy wonder Daniel Choi, who she was always compared to while growing up. The only difference now is that he’s no longer the bowl cut wearing PK or pastor’s kid, but successful and very good-looking. Although long-time rivals in life and Daniel remains rather snobby, he ends up being a helpful presence as Jess and umma’s cooking show starts taking off.

The blurb of a book can often affect our expectations. In this case, I was expecting something a bit different from what I read. I was focused on the cooking show Jess eventually develops with her mom and also on her high school rival and frenemy Daniel because the description primed me to focus on these two aspects. When I didn’t get a lot of the cooking show as highlighted, I was disappointed. It takes about a quarter of the book for the cooking show to appear. When it does, there aren’t as many streams with umma and appa as I wish there had been, which would have helped support the fact that Jess’s success starts rolling in pretty quickly. She goes from live streaming to career-defining deals in what feels like a matter of pages.

I was also disappointed by the blurb’s spoilery information about Daniel, which I won’t mention because it’s a spoiler and also because I believe the description has since changed in some outlets but not in others. The setup sounded like it would be a pivotal part of the book, and it sort of is in some aspects, but it makes up only a small portion of the book. The emphasis should have been on Jess trying to find her place after losing a job that finally solidified her as being a success. Her outlook on her career became framed by the perspective of a company that didn’t know how to value someone like her–apparently, being hardworking and committed to the job is frowned upon. She spends much of the time figuring out how to start over. This would have better prepared me for the book. For those who have yet to read the book, the current description on retail sites leaves out this information, so I think you’ll have a slightly better experience than I did.

Although I had a different set of expectations for the book, there’s still a lot to like in So We Meet Again. Park’s signature humor is present. I loved the family dynamics, the emphasis on career aspirations, and the experiences highlighted because I can identify with many of them. A 50-lb or 100-lb bag of rice on sale is a big thing! I rush over when I know it’s on sale. Additionally, it’s a story that is easily relatable if you’ve ever been compared to other kids growing up. Unfortunately, similar to Sunny Song Will Never Be FamousSo We Meet Again is a good story that ends just as it’s only about to get better.

First Lines Fridays 1.5: The moment…

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

The moment Anh Nhi Walsh stepped into her wedding dress and shimmied the eighty-year-old silk over her hips, she knew there had been a mistake.

A mistake so terrible, all the chocolate in the world couldn’t fix it.

romeanticallychallenged_cover


by Marina Adair
ASIN/ISBN: 9781496727664
Publication: July 28, 2020
Series: When in Rome #1

Growing up the lone Asian in a community of WASPs, Annie has always felt out of place. Her solution? Start a family of her own. Not easy when every man she’s dated, including her ex-fiancé, finds “his person” right after breaking up with Annie. Even worse than canceling the wedding eight weeks beforehand? Learning the “other woman” plans to walk down the aisle wearing her wedding gown. New plan—find a fresh, man-free start. Too bad her exit strategy unexpectedly lands her working at a hospital in Rome, Rhode Island, rather than Rome, Italy, and sharing a cabin with a big, brooding, and annoyingly hot male roommate.

Home on medical leave after covering a literally explosive story in China, investigative photojournalist Emmitt embarks on his most important assignment—cementing his place in his daughter’s life. Three men and a baby might work in the movies, but with a stepdad and devoted uncle competing for Paisley’s attention, Emmitt has lost his place at the family table. Then there’s the adorably sexy squatter in his cabin, who poses another problem, one he’d very much like to solve up close and personal. But he can’t win—Annie has sworn off men, Paisley’s gone boy crazy, and Emmitt’s estranged father reappears with a secret that changes everything.

Annie and Emmitt are about to discover love comes in many forms, and sometimes the best families are the ones we make. (from Goodreads)

In between new books, I’ve been rereading books I enjoyed. One of them is RomeAntically Challenged. I liked Annie and Emmitt can be charming when he wants to be. Their first meeting is pretty funny.

Let’s Talk Bookish: Best ways to get over reading slumps

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. Discussions pertain to topics related to reading or books. Share your opinions, and spread the love by visiting other “Let’s Talk Bookish” posts.

Prompts:   Sometimes you just don’t want to read anymore, how do you get back into it? Do you give yourself a break? Watch booktube or read blogs? Read an old favourite book to reignite that spark? Do you just force yourself through it? Maybe you read a picture book or a graphic novel?

I went through a reading/blogging slump around the beginning of the year and didn’t quite realize it was a slump until I was already deep in it. I was feeling sluggish and nothing in my digital and physical shelves seemed interesting at all. Even new books I was previously excited about couldn’t get me to crack a book open. Self-imposed blogging deadlines didn’t mean too much either. There were a few things that helped.

Read something short. Books can be long, and when part of series, feel even longer, delaying the gratification that comes with completing it. Read something short like a novella so it doesn’t take as much time to reach the ending, and it still provides a sense of accomplishment.

Reread a book. I am a fan of rereading. The nice thing about rereading is that I already know what is going to happen next. I also know that I only reread books I like so there is no surprise about whether I will enjoy it or not.

Blog hop. While I may not want to read a book, there are plenty of people who are reading. Blog hopping can provide an alternative to books. If interest in books is lagging, bloggers can help restart it. If a trusted blogger is reading something new and they loved it, I am much more willing to not only put it on my TBR but also read it.

Take a break. Ride the slump out and let your brain rest. It’s possible that a slump happens because you’ve been reading too much. You can step away from all things bookish or you can just step away from reading but continue to blog or participate in the bookish community like attending author discussions or panels.

Have you ever gone through a reading slump? What strategies do you suggest?