Author: Liza Mundy
Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5
This book explores the real history of codebreaking during World War II. Prior to reading this book, I was unaware that thousands of women deciphered enemy code during the second World War, saving lives and enabling Allied Forces victories across the globe. What a fascinating topic! I was intrigued by this piece of history previously completely unknown to me. This book does a great job exploring the context surrounding the hiring and enlistment of women in order to support the war effort. It also unflinchingly examines the sexism and discrimination that women encountered when competing this intellectually demanding work. This book was well-researched and gives a lot of information. It is easy to read and anyone with an interest in the time period or in women’s history would enjoy the expansion of knowledge the book provides. This book jumps around the timeline and geographically in a way that was confusing to me, so at the end of the experience, I had broad brushstrokes of understanding but fear I lost out on some nuance because the trends were harder to see with all the jumping around.
Title: The Right Swipe
Author: Alisha Rai
Star Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ /5
Alisha Rai continues to hone her craft and this book is her best yet. I didn’t think I would love this premise, but it worked effortlessly. YES, a million times, to this book!
Rhiannon is on top of the world – or is she? A one-night stand from the dating app she owns comes back to complicate her life. Sexy former pro football player Samson never really expected the complications that arise from their tryst either. But when their personal and professional lives collide, they have to work through the resultant tension to achieve their goals, with or without each other. This book is super sexy and it is also sweet. It is my absolute favorite kind of romance novel, in which Everyone Gets What They Deserve. The characters are brimming with humanity in a way that made me so mad at them, so in love with them, so afraid for them, and above all, rooting so hard for them. If you’re a fan of Rai’s other work, you’ll have the delight of bumping into old friends, but if you haven’t, there’s nothing lost in jumping in here. I zoomed through this in one day, laughing, crying, yelling, and otherwise being inappropriately invested in the lives of Rhi and Samson. I can’t recommend this one enough.
The Right Swipe comes out July 2, 2019!
Title: A Prince on Paper
Author: Alyssa Cole
Star Review: ♥♥♥♥♥ /5
Romance time! This next installment of the Reluctant Royals series (releases April 30, 2019) manages to touch upon a lot of important social themes while remaining fun, fast-paced, and sexy. Johan’s appearance as a bad boy step-prince gone wild doesn’t deter shy, introverted Nya from fantasizing about him. Though he is friends with her friends, they are not friends – in fact, Johan seems to have dismissed Nya as a person totally. However, all of that changes as they share a plane ride to the wedding of their mutual royal friends. As they get to know one another, the attraction they feel is undeniable. Perhaps Johan is not as much of a playboy as he first appears, and perhaps Nya is not as shy… Whatever their reasons, as they begin to get closer, their own messy family histories seem to get in the way. Will Nya’s manipulative father, or Johan’s mother’s death, be enough to keep them apart?
This covers all kinds of great stuff, like familial piety, the role of monarchy in the 21st century, gender identity, sexuality, and lots more. At its core, though, the chemistry between Johan and Nya is undeniable, and the development of both of them as individual and empathetic characters is truly the hallmark of Alyssa Cole’s work. A not-to-be-missed continuation of the Reluctant Royals series.
Title: The Stranger in the Woods
Author: Michael Finkel
Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5
Hey folks! I figured that in addition to new stuff, it would be great to give you an idea of some of the backlist I’m reading in case it helps you to make future library and purchasing decisions! The first book from my backlist that I read in 2019 was this one. From the Goodreads blurb:
Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality–not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.
Intriguing, and this selection checks some boxes for me – I grew up in New England and I love reading about that extremely singular backwoods Maine way of life and culture. I listened to this book on audio, which was a good medium for the writing style. I think that the author did respectable work with an interesting subject. He had several hours of exclusive 1:1 interviews with Christopher Thomas Knight, the “Hermit” in question. Additionally, he extensively spoke with police, victims of Knight’s thieving, and psychologists and other “expert witness” types. Overall, Knight is not a person who is easy to categorize, and I think Finkel remains true to that while still providing a useful account of Knight’s life in the woods and subsequent capture.
This book, and many like it that come from the “exclusive access” angle, suffers from a touch of presumptuousness in understanding the subject. Finkel seems to intimate a deep understanding of Knight that I don’t think is there, and attempts to play up the importance of their relationship in order to lend credibility to the text. It seems, for Finkel, that this may be even more important, since it seems clear that Knight was at least in some part an unwilling participant in his fame. Finkel seems to use his thoroughness as a journalist and empathetic connection to the subject to avoid the appearance of paparazzi-like intrusion. I get that, but it feels disingenuous to me.
Overall, I think this is a solid read, especially if listened to on audio while cleaning or completing other tasks. If its objective was to rock my worldview, it did not accomplish that, but I learned about something interesting from an anthropological or sociological viewpoint.
Title: Mahimata (Asiana #2)
Author: Rati Mehrota
Star Review: ♥♥♥♥ /5
Mahimata and its predecessor Markswoman take place in Asiana, which is meant to be a far-flung future time on Earth, after the arrival and subsequent departure of alien life (The Ones) and our own self-destruction at the hands of guns and armed violence. There are Orders that protect the common people and provide law and order, and the evil influence of guns is prohibited.
This book continues where the first leaves off. In the first book, Kyra has had only one quest for as long as she can remember: because he killed her clan, Kyra must kill Kai Tau. While she grows ready for this all-important mission, Kai Tau grows an army and arms them with forbidden weapons, ready to take over Asiana. The first book was a significant investment in worldbuilding and character development. As Kyra matures, her singular mission becomes more complicated. The people in her life harbor secrets, and the pieces of the puzzle start to slowly come together.
That makes this book so much more compulsively readable – by book two, the reader knows the characters, the world, its history and the mission. The writing in this story is an excellent vehicle for a world that can be sparse and rough, but beautiful nonetheless. It felt a little ambitious, by the end – it was squeezing a lot in – but invested me in the story for all characters involved. I am unsure if this is a trilogy or a duology, but there remains more to say, so I hope I’ll get to follow Kyra into a third book.
Title: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy
Author: Alyssa Cole
Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5
This novella, out tomorrow, makes for a wonderful quick getaway in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. While the other books in the series (which I highly recommend!) have at least one member of the romance who is a member of royalty or nobility, this one does not. Instead, it follows the delightfully dapper and painfully honest Likotsi, Advisor Most High to the Prince of Thesolo, and her once-fling-come-around-again Fabiola. When Likotsi last stayed in New York City, she met Fab, and fell “just a little bit” in love with her. After only a few days today, they said goodbye – well, at least Fab did. Likotsi found that she had been ghosted. Only when she was back in NYC and trying to get over the memory of the brief but magical romance between the two, Fab appeared and a whirlwind rekindling began…
The central question of this novella becomes whether these two will be able to navigate their shared history, while also sharing parts of themselves they held back before? If they do, could their relationship have a chance at survival? I liked this narrative and felt its honesty in the telling of it. The writing was solid, and there was enough witty banter to keep it moving for me. It came to a satisfying conclusion. I wished that Likotsi had gotten her own full-length story, because more than anything, this narrative felt rushed. So, while I breezed through it, and I liked it while I was there, it suffered from its brevity. I would recommend this to fans of Reluctant Royals – and I would recommend Reluctant Royals to those interested in modern romance well-written by a great voice on the scene!
This year has started off with lots of romance! I’m twisting back into my niche with some fantasy next – I can’t wait to share the next two books I have in store for you!
Title: This Scot of Mine
Author: Sophie Jordan
Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5
Those of you who know me know I love a good historical romance. Historical romance in particular is what I read when I am in a reading slump, or when I am in between holds at the library. I find them to be quick, entertaining, and intellectually engaging. In the world of romance, Sophie Jordan is on my auto-buy list, along with Sarah MacLean and Eloisa James. I hope you’ll go and check out her works if you’re thinking about diving into historical romance – she may become your new favorite author!
This was, as the starred rating might indicate, not my favorite Sophie Jordan book but was still quite good. There are many positive aspects to the book that mean I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one to a friend. The basic premise is that a young lady, ruined despite her high-profile engagement, is fleeing to the Scottish countryside to avoid the scorn of the ton. Was the really ruined? Not all is as it seems. And when the handsome young man she saw punching his way through the crowd at an earlier inn turns out to be a friend of her brother’s, things get interesting quick. There’s some confusion, secrets are kept and spilled, and something about a curse…
This is one of only a handful of Scottish to English love stories that I thought have been handled appropriately. The hero was not treated like meat and while he had his “rugged” aspects (such as first meeting our heroine mid-brawl over a bull, but you know), he wasn’t the “barbarian” figure that I detest. The author neatly handed the question of Culloden, for a historical nod, and everyone got on with the business of being men and women in love. Of course, there is witty repartee. The sex is steamy and fun to follow. There are great supporting characters, including the Brother. I can’t remember the last time a brother in a story was kind and supportive of his sister without being oppressively protective! I loved it!
I think what really knocked this one down in my esteem was that cutesy names were used for anatomy (a pet peeve of mine) and a couple of phrases were repeated in multiple sex scenes, which took me out of the scene for sure. Overall, this is definitely a read that I enjoyed, and finished in one day! Great for folks who are interested in some female self-determination and Scottish brogues!!
I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This book comes out February 20, 2019!