Say No to the Duke

Title: Say No to the Duke

Author: Eloisa James

Star Review: ♥♥♥♥ /5

If you’re into Eloisa James (and you should be), you’ve been waiting for this one!  If you’re like me, not very patiently.  You’re almost there!  This book arrives on June 25, 2019.  This book continues the Wildes of Lindow Castle series and I loved every. second. of. it.  The Wilde family has not has an easy go of it in society – on of the Duke’s sons, Alaric, has been infamously depicted in every imaginable swashbuckling situation, and the love (and infamy) has spread over time to the entire Wilde family.  Alaric, Parth, and North, brother with their own set of issues, have all gotten their happily ever after.  But what about the ladies who occupy Lindow Castle?  Is there no hope for them?

This book features Lady Boadicea, the oldest girl of the large brood, determined to have a great Season, make a great match, and prove to all and sundry that just because her mother was an disreputable wild woman who ran off with the help doesn’t mean that she will do the same.  She is demure, charming, and modest – in public.  But family friend Lord Jeremy has been watching her – while he recovers from complications of PTSD after serving the British in the Revolutionary War.

This is an enemies to lovers romp that involves billiards, family connections, and great older characters that drift in and out of focus.  I really enjoyed the respectful treatment of PTSD (obviously not called that in this book), and the very real struggles that Betsy has in trying to determine how much of her mother has been passed down to her – and what it means about her as a person if indeed anything has been.  Though not my favorite Wilde story (I really loved Lavinia), it was an excellent continuation of the family saga.  I can’t wait to see if the rest of the Wilde women get their stories told as well – because I love the Wilde family so much, and every last one of them deserves their happily ever after.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Title: Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia

Author: Sabrina Strings

Star Review: ♥♥♥ /5

This book came out this month and is a really great exploration of a topic that many people are afraid to touch.

This nonfiction work has several goals at once.  First, to outline the history of the ideal woman from somewhere in the European middle ages into the present.  Second, to connect the introduction of slavery and black slaves to the turn toward idealization of the thin (and white) woman.  Finally, it uses a few leading critical theories to postulate that the changing tides support the degradation of black women and a source of controlling white women.  Strings also notes the complicity of the medical field in current opinions and treatment of overweightness and obesity.

This text was fascinating and I feel more knowledgeable for having read it.  In a work this ambitious, the common failing is simply that there is too much to say and not enough space to say it in.  As the text closed, I thought little time was being spent on some of the important information with regard to current medical practices and their continued connection to race.  I additionally thought more would be said with regard to some of the mitigating factors that contribute to the obesity of black women, such as the continued food deserts in areas of high African American and minority populations. At times this reads like a master’s thesis cut a bit short.

However, this is the first time I’ve seen, as the author herself notes, a strong intersectional approach to this topic in particular.  The racist origins of certain brands of American exceptionalism were extremely well laid-out and clear, and while the writing was not that of a compulsively readable nonfiction in the style of Erik Larsson or Mary Roach, it was still engaging enough that I finished it over the course of a few days.  I would recommend!  Have you read anything about this topic?  What areas of study do you wish were more intersectional?

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions stated are my own.

 

Backlist: Code Girls

Title: Codegirls

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.

The Right Swipe

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!

A Prince on Paper

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.

Backlist: The Stranger in the Woods

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.

Mahimata

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.