Tuesday, December 8, 2020


The Ex TalkThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shay has been a producer at her public radio station since graduating college. To save herself from a staff cut, she proposes a new show idea: a relationship advice show hosted by exes. And who better to host than Shay and her colleague/rival, Dominic Yun?

Oh, wait, did I mention Shay and Dominic aren’t actually exes?

Despite the fact that they’re deceiving their listeners (and many of their colleagues), THE EX TALK is an immediate success…and Shay and Dominic might be starting to have feelings for one another…what could possibly go wrong?

Rachel Lynn Solomon’s adult debut, THE EX TALK, is everything I love in a romcom. It plays with the fake dating AND enemies-to-lovers tropes, set against the backdrop of a public radio station. Our protagonists communicate clearly and well. The banter is top-notch, the swoon is SO SWOONY, and the subplots (Shay’s relationships with her family and best friend) are well-developed. Also, Shay’s crazy rescue dog, Steve Rogers. Just you wait.

I also love how Rachel turns some archetypes upside down, particularly the age/experience levels of our leads. Shay is five years older than Dominic and the more sexually experienced of the two, which is something I haven’t seen often in adult fiction.

Trust me, you want to read this one in January!

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for the e-ARC!

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Friday, November 20, 2020


Rules for Being a GirlRules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a book about a fierce young feminist, and that’s exactly what rules for being a girl gives us. Marin, our protagonist, begins seeing how society holds girls to different standards than guys after her teacher (late-twenties) comes on to her. She begins pointing out these "rules for girls" in an editorial for her school's paper, starts a feminist book club, and tries to figure out whether or not to report the teacher's misconduct.

RULES FOR BEING A GIRL deals with the subtle manipulations in an inappropriate teacher-student relationship and whether a situation is "bad" or "serious" enough to report. Marin tries to rationalize what happens with Bex as "just a kiss" and a miscommunication. We see this often in society where people say, "It wasn't rape, so I shouldn't bother reporting." Plus Bex is the "hot" young teacher all the girls swoon over (not a creepy old teacher), which blurs those lines further, and the way Cotugno and Bushnell examine these subtleties is fantastic.

This book gets into all those gray areas teenage girls exist in and brings them into the light. Highly recommend for all teenage girls, as well as everyone who needs a deeper understanding of the world of double-standards society creates for girls.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020


The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie, #1)The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started THE MIDNIGHT LIE shortly after rereading The Winner's trilogy. It is set in a new country in the same world, and we follow Nirrim, a member of the lowest class in the country of Herrath. Class structure and struggles is the main focus of this story, along with a delicious romance between Nirrim and Sid, a traveler she meets after being arrested for a crime she did not commit. Sid makes her begin to question the possibility of magic and why members of Nirrim's class are under such harsh restrictions (unable to leave the Ward, can only wear certain colors and eat certain foods).

I struggled with the first half of this book, but I think it was because I listened to the audiobook and didn't like the narrator. Once my audio hold expired and I turned to the physical book, my feelings toward the story improved immensely. Marie Rutkoski's worldbuilding and prose are delicious (as usual). The plot is a slow-burn, in her usual style, and she spends most of the time developing her characters into fully dimensional people. I love the dynamic and banter between Nirrim and Sid, and the relationship between Nirrim and her guardian, Raven, is complex and tragic. I kept my eyes peeled for even the smalest hints of the countries and characters from the Winner's trilogy, and I was not disappointed!

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Friday, November 13, 2020

Book Review: CLEOPATRA

Cleopatra: A LifeCleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew nothing about Cleopatra when I picked up this book, and Stacy Schiff’s book paints such a vivid picture of a woman whose life story (until recently) was told by the men who hated her. She was so much more than the caricature that history has boiled her down to.

Cleopatra was a strategic and respected ruler, both in peacetime and wartime. She was eloquent, clever, and charming. Sure, she basically had all her siblings killed to eliminate any threat to her throne, but if you can get past that, you'll be treated to a tale of a powerful, capable woman (who had to deal with a LOT of garbage from men).

If the only thing you know about Cleopatra is that she had affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony (or that she died from a snakebite...which is most likely untrue), pick up this book and learn about this powerful lady.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander HamiltonEliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton by Tilar J. Mazzeo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so happy Eliza Schuyler Hamilton finally has a full-length biography of her own! This was a fascinating and well-researched account of Eliza's life, a feat that must've been incredibly difficult since women's lives were rarely documented in the 1700s-1800s. It has been speculated that Eliza burned much of her correspondence with Alexander, too, which must've made her an even more challenging subject to research.

I learned so much about Eliza that wasn't covered in Ron Chernow's Hamilton biography (or Hamilton the musical). Tilar Mazzeo also presents a new theory on the Reynolds Affair based on what we know about Eliza's reaction to the situation. While I'm not sure how much I agree, it was fascinating to read.

The book uses the occasional line from Hamilton, which actually pulled me out of the flow a bit, and at times felt a little clunky when it tried to assign certain emotions to Eliza (we have no way of knowing how she felt in many situations). Other than that, it was well-written and I flew through it.

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Friday, November 6, 2020


One to WatchOne to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bea is a plus-size fashion blogger who, after writing a post critiquing Main Squeeze (a Bachelor-inspired reality show) and its lack of body diversity, finds herself the show's new star.

If you've ever watched The Bachelor in any of its iterations, you know what to expect: fairytale dates, jealousy, drama. But Kate Stayman-London gives us a refreshing take on the dating show, both by putting a plus-size woman in the leading role and by making Bea different from the Bachelorette stereotype. She *gasp!* WEARS PANTS to a cocktail party! Her sharp wit is always on display, and I loved following her ups and downs.

The supporting cast is also incredibly diverse, which was amazing to see. The format also included emails, Twitter and text threads, and podcast transcripts, which was such a fun and real way to tell the story. If you want a book you will clutch to your chest with love after you finish, read ONE TO WATCH!

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020


Writers & LoversWriters & Lovers by Lily King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WRITERS & LOVERS poked all my most fragile places. Casey is a writer who has just unexpectedly lost her mother, and she's living paycheck to paycheck in a potting shed turned studio apartment and trying to finish her novel (and figure out her romantic life along the way).

It's a quiet, slow burn, and was exactly what I needed. I'm really loving novels about writers lately, and Casey burrowed her way into my heart. She's trying to deal with her overwhelming grief while being the only writer from her MFA who hasn't given up and taken a full-time non-writing job. She doesn't always make the smart choice, but I loved and related to her.

This one is completely character-driven, and I adored the cast of characters in Casey's world. They're well drawn and complex, and they kept me turning pages. Casey herself was my favorite, though, and I'd follow her for another four hundred pages if I could.

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