If You Like That, You Like This: Romance Novel Edition

If you liked Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff, you’ll like Party Lines by Emma Barry

Most people who bought Fire and Fury probably realize that they have to read it with one thing in mind: the information wasn’t obtained with journalistic integrity in mind. Therefore, I think most readers are reading it as political/historical fiction. If you like reading about politicians, Party Lines by Emma Barry is for you. The two protagonists are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, and this hate-to-love romance does not disappoint.

 

If you liked Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, you’ll like Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai

Little Fires Everywhere deals with suburban drama, and so does Hate to Want You. The warring families and divided town involved in Alisha Rai’s romance make it seem like a Happily Ever After is impossible–but this book totally satisfies by the end!

 

If you liked Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, you’ll like Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

Big Little Lies was the hit of the television season last year, and readers loved seeing moms be a little bad. That’s why Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect is great for Liane Moriarty fans! It centers around a group of women who decide to list all the qualities that would make up their perfect man. The List eventually gets picked up by media outlets…and then, one of the women is murdered! Read this one to bide your time before season 2 of Big Little Lies comes out (or Liane Moriarty writes her next book)!

 

If you liked The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, you’ll like Ghost Shadow by Heather Graham

Heather Graham’s Ghost Shadow is about a woman researching an old murder, and fans of the amateur (and unreliable) sleuth in The Girl on the Train will love it!

The Glass Menagerie’s Amanda was the First MLM Saleswoman

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Amanda in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (selling magazines): 

“Ida Scott? This is Amanda Wingfield! We missed you at the D.A.R. last Monday! I said to myself: She’s probably suffering with that sinus condition! How is that sinus condition? Horrors! Heaven have mercy!- You’re a Christian martyr, yes, that’s what you are, a Christian martyr! Well, I just have happened to notice that your subscription to the Companion’s about to expire!”

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2018 Amanda (your friend from high school, on Facebook)

“Hi Ida! Long time no see! Your kids are beautiful and your trip to Hawaii looked so fun! I saw your daughter was sick last week. Boo! Anyway, are you happy with your skincare routine? Because The Magical Skincare Company has empowered me to be financially independent and go out of the house without makeup!”

 

Note: I really respect women who sell things to people. It takes such guts! This is just in fun, I promise!

Oh, hey, here are some books I like!

I was thinking about how last year in January I felt like I would never read again. Part of this was my pregnancy, part of this was feeling dispirited, and part of this was just normal reading slump stuff.

How things have changed since then! I feel like I’m on a real reading streak lately and I’ve already finished my first book of 2018!

[Side note: My friend Whitney tweeted something to the effect of, “When did reading become a contest?” the other day and, unbeknownst to her, it really owned me. I make reading such a contest–with myself–sometimes. I should stop that and just enjoy it.]

Ok, so here are some books I’ve enjoyed lately. If romance makes you feel dirty or something, I’m so sorry–most of these are romance titles! I know there’s a lot of stigma around the romance genre, but I love romance novels. They’re hopeful, happy, and very fun. They’re also written WITH WOMEN IN MIND! What’s not to like? (Note: the romance novels I write about are NSFW and have what we’ll call “adult scenes” for the purposes of this blog and my audience.) Anywho, here are two good ones (with one mystery thrown in):

 

  • Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

Christina Lauren is a new-to-me author, but she’s huge in the romance community. I should say they, really, since “Christina Lauren” is a pen name for two writers. DY/HY is a lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers story. The main characters meet, fall in like with each other, and then realize they’re going to be put up for the same job. Lots of conflicting feelings of hatred and desire ensue. I really loved the characters in this one and the writing is great!

  • Roomies by Christina Lauren

After reading Dating You/Hating You, I had to get my hands on the one of the newest titles by this pair. Roomies is ADORABLE. I seriously fell in love with the male lead in this one (my husband is totally ok with me falling in love with book characters as long as I let him continue to go on fictional quests in video games). Our female lead is in an aimless stage of life. She wants to be a writer, but is suffering from major writer’s block. She works for one of her uncles at his hit Broadway musical and even lives in an apartment where he pays her rent. Her only real passion is listening to this guy play music in the subway. Through a series of crazy events, the two are thrown together (I won’t spoil anything) and they have to decide whether they’re pretending to like each other or whether they really do. I loved this one!

  • A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

This is the first book in the Lady Sherlock Series. I was skeptical about this one because I’m kind of tired of Sherlock Holmes adaptations. However, it blew me away! Charlotte Holmes is trying to get away from her parents and their expectations. She doesn’t want to marry, but instead wants to get training to be the superintendent of a girls’ school. Her father promises her that if she doesn’t get married by a certain age, he will fund her studies. When he breaks this promise, Charlotte takes desperate measures that get her exiled from London society. This, in turn, gives her the freedom to use her talent for deduction and begin a detective agency under the name “Sherlock” Holmes. You guys, I loved this book! The mystery is based on A Study in Scarlet, but has different twists. The character development was awesome, and I absolutely love the unrequited/requited romance here. I highly recommend it and plan to dig into the next installment (A Conspiracy in Belgravia) asap!

 

Have you read any of these? Do you like romance and suspense? Any suggestions for me? Comment below!

The Wonders and Horrors of TV

As my friends, family, casual acquaintances, and basically anyone who will listen to me can attest, I’ve been worrying about television lately. This is a strange feeling for me, as I’ve always loved TV like I was the one who invented it or something. I watched GLOW in ONE. DAY. this summer. I binged all of The Sopranos in a matter of three weeks. I also have a full time job, lots of social obligations,  and many, many books to read, so I feel like my TV-watching skills are impressive.

Lately, though, I’ve become a fanatic about not having the television on while Oliver is awake. I know I’ll probably give in some day, but I just don’t want him to watch TV, hear TV, or even know such a thing exists. I can’t help but think it’s going to melt his brain, despite the fact that I’ve turned out fine so far. I guess I have this fantasy about him going to kindergarten and having a conversation that goes like this:

New friend 1: “[Insert show character here] is so cool!” 

New friend 2: “I know, I can’t wait to see the movie coming out!” 

New friend 3: “My dad got me a t-shirt with [cool character name] on it!” 

Oliver: “I don’t know what you guys are talking about. What’s television? Do you guys mean live theater? Books? Is anyone else as obsessed with the Hardy Boys as I am?”

I know I would be setting him up for a lot of wedgies, but it’s my fantasy and I’ll have it if I want to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not be exposed to any screens until they’re two. Then, they recommend only one hour of quality programming. I only know one couple who’s actually been able to pull off following these restrictions with their kid, so I’m not too optimistic about us achieving this. However, we’re going to give it a go. This doesn’t make us better than other parents or anything like that…it probably just makes me crazier. Some people plan to make their kids eat organic, I’m obsessed with shielding mine from TV.

On the other hand, I plan to watch plenty of it (after Oliver goes to bed, hopefully). These are the shows I’m excited about this fall:

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The Good Place

If you haven’t watched the first season of Mike Schur’s The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, DO IT! The premise is that Kristen Bell’s character, Eleanor, has died and gone to heaven, the titular “good place.” However, she soon realizes she’s not supposed to be there and has taken the place of another actually good Eleanor, who has gone to the bad place. Hijinks ensue. However, it was the end of the first season (and I won’t say too much here because it’s soooooo good and I don’t want to spoil anything for you) that had people talking last year. The second season is on now and I can’t wait to see where it goes. Some of the best comedy writers in TV are writing for the show, like Megan Amram and Jen Kirkman. If you liked Schur’s Parks and Recreation, make sure you catch up on The Good Place.

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Crazy-Ex Girlfriend

Rachel Bloom, star and co-creator of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, is crazy alright. Crazy talented. (I’ve taken to making bad mom jokes now, by the way.)

The show’s premise isn’t even the best thing about it, so I won’t get into that here. I will say that if you like musical comedy, this is the show for you. Every episode is a musical with hilarious songs and great choreography. My favorite part about this show, however, is the diverse, amazing cast. The main character’s love interest, Josh, was widely praised as one of the first prominent Asian guys playing an object of desire rather than a nerd or joke. (Asian-Americans have long lamented Hollywood’s portrayal of their men as somehow less than masculine). The cast is also full of people whose bodies are different–no cast full of similar-looking, usually skinny people here. And they’re all hilarious and super talented. I love this show and if musical comedy is your thing, you will too.

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The Mindy Project

We’ll be saying goodbye to The Mindy Project after this season, so I’m so excited to see how it ends. Mindy Kaling and her writing staff come up with some of the most laugh-out-loud funny jokes on a weekly basis. For example, I guffawed at this joke on an episode this week:

Mom at Mindy’s kid’s school: “Your son is so sweet.”

Mindy: “I know he’s sweet. I had gestational diabetes the whole time I was pregnant!” 

 

So that’s my fall TV lineup. I guess I’ve been thinking about this because having a kid has made me examine my own habits. The way we eat, talk to one another, and consume media has to get healthier now that our little guy is watching.

What are you changing about your life these days? Leave a comment and let me know, if you want!

Why I Left, Why I’m Back, and What I’ve Read Lately

I stopped blogging after the election last year. I know that sounds stupid, but it was right after I got pregnant and I found myself being angry and stressed all the time. Blogging seemed trivial and stressful at the time, and I dropped a few other things from my life along with it.

Our son is about eleven weeks old now and I am still on maternity leave, so I’ve decided to start blogging about books again when I can. If you’re reading this, thanks for indulging me. I’ve missed you!

Last summer I read around 20 books and this summer I read half of that. I like hanging out with my kid, so reading has definitely taken a back seat. However, I’ve read more this summer than I did the whole time I was pregnant! Reading is such a relaxing pastime for me, so it makes sense that in this time of transition I’ve gone back to it. Here’s what I got up to this summer.

Romance

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I read a few romance novels this summer, which was a first for me. Friends have been telling me to get into romance novels, and they’ve made some good arguments for how feminist and enjoyable they are. I really liked them and plan to read more in the future. Did you know that romance novels basically keep the publishing industry running? So even though people (read: me) have a tendency to think of them as guilty pleasures, we shouldn’t be ashamed of reading ANYTHING that we like.

(That reminds me of this scene in Liberal Arts when Josh Radnor’s character makes fun of Twilight.)

Anyway, these are the romance titles I read this summer:

  1. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  2. How Not to Fall and
  3. How Not to Let Go by Emily Foster
  4. Dark Wild Night by Christina Lauren

My favorite of these were the two Emily Foster books. They were really sweet, smart, and insightful. The two main characters are smart science-y people who work in a lab together (she as an undergrad, he as a postdoctoral fellow). At the end of Annie’s undergrad career, she asks Charles to start a relationship with her. The romantic tension between these two is great, but even better than that is the depth of these characters; since there are two books, Foster really gets to flesh these two out (no pun intended). I loved Annie’s self-assuredness, her great relationship with her parents, her willingness to ask for what she wants, and the way she tries to understand those around her. Charles is kind, but a little broken. His family is fascinating and the way he battles with his horrific childhood and the scars it left behind was just so satisfying. I loved these two books so much that I wrote into my favorite book podcast to find a couple more like them!

Mystery/Thriller

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  1. Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
  2. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  3. Final Girls by Riley Sager
  4. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips

It’s really hard to choose which of these I liked best, so I’ll go with the one I read most recently. Fierce Kingdom is about a mass shooting at a zoo. The main character is there with her four-year-old son when the shooting starts, but since they are far away from the action they are able to hide. The novel takes place over the course of three hours, and during that time Joan has to make really hard decisions (should she help others and risk her son’s life in the process? how much should she tell her son about what’s going on?). I cried in parts of the book, so–TRIGGER WARNING–this one is not for you if you don’t want to be a little depressed. Babies and animals are involved here…so it’s tough. I liked it so much, however, because of the mother-son relationship. Joan knows Lincoln so well and the way they converse and negotiate fascinated me.

Stuff About Motherhood/Memoir

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  1. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg
  2. I Like You Just the Way I Am by Jenny Mollen
  3. Live Fast, Die Hot by Jenny Mollen

In case you don’t already know, baby books are evil…or at least they have been for me. I felt compelled to read a few during my pregnancy and then I read this Tracy Hogg one right before my son arrived. It was great, but I’ve found that reading books that say stuff like, “If you do everything I say your baby will be smart and happy and sleep through the night at two weeks!” are lying. These kinds of books have really made me feel like I must be doing something wrong, so I’ve stopped reading/listening to them.

What I have enjoyed, however, are books by mothers about motherhood! Mollen’s Live Fast, Die Hot made me laugh so hard I thought I was going to bust my c-section incision (too graphic?). I highly recommend it if you don’t mind some crudeness…I seriously laughed so hard I was worried about tearing myself open.

Comics

 

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 8 vol. 1

I loooooooove Buffy TVS and have been meaning to read these comics for a long time. Daniel got me some for my birthday and they have been a true delight. They’ve added years to my life, I’m sure, as it is a true pleasure to read them at night (when my son is safely tucked in bed) and imagine that the world is a simple as the good guys/bad guys in these comics. I highly recommend them if you liked the show!

 

Anyway, that’s what’s been up in my reading life. Real talk, my son is waking up from his nap, so I have to go. Thanks for reading! I hope to update again soon!