How to Find Love in a Bookshop: A review

Have I got a book for all of you book lovers.

The whole premise of this book is love and, well, books.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry tells the story of all of the people who have had their lives impacted by a local bookshop and it’s owner. Most of the story focuses on Nightingale Books and Emilia Nightingale’s struggles to save the business after her father’s passing; however, stories of others are spread throughout its pages to give you an idea of just how much influence Nightingale Books had on the people of Peasebrook.

A great of this book was how the characters came to life throughout the story. I found myself feeling like I knew Emilia and her father, Julius, as if I lived in Peasebrook myself. I felt for Thomasina and found myself encouraging her to power through her shyness. I wanted to hug Alice and tell her what a terrible decision she was making with Hugh… Henry did an amazing job making me feel like I truly knew the characters in the world she had created.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop was a truly lovely read. Despite the sadness woven throughout, the book told a happy tale about love and human connection. I think that my favorite part about this book was its message about connection and how just one person can have such an impact on everyone, even in death. Although Julius was not physically present in the book (save for the exposition chapter about how Emilia came into his life), you could feel his influence through all of Peasebrook.

Henry’s writing style was lovely and got me lost in the book’s pages. In the story, the lives of the characters, the city of Peasebrook… everything. Everything in this book was so heartfelt and had me wishing I could experience the love created by Nightingale Books.

If you love books and find yourself happy when you’re surrounded by them, I highly suggest you lose yourself in the world of How to Find Love in a Bookshop. It tells the story of so many types of love (especially a love of books) and I don’t think you’ll regret reading this book.

Stacks on stacks: Books I hope to read in January

In lieu of a traditional to-be-read pile for the month, I have my stack of “hopefuls”. My hopefuls are books that I want to get to in January, but if I add or subtract from it, there is no harm done.

There are a couple books missing from this stack. One of them being my January pick from Book of the Month Club. My pick this month was Red Clocks by Leni ZumasRed Clocks is a dystopian novel that some have compared to a modern day The Handmaid’s Taleso there was no question it would be my pick. The other book missing is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Confession time… I have never read the Harry Potter series so this will be my first read through. I’m joining a group of people reading the series throughout the year and will be discussing my thoughts with them. I’m very excited!

Moving onto the stack above, I’ve already finished one of these books (We are Okay by Nina LaCour) and will be posting a review soon because it was absolutely beautiful. I have picked up The Alienist by Caleb Carr as my next read for a couple of reasons. One, my mom and I were at Barnes & Noble recently and she pointed this series out to tell me how much she loved it. I take her recommendations so seriously because my mom is where I got my love of reading from. Two, the show on TNT premieres at the end of this month so I definitely need to finish the book before I start watching the show!

After I finish The Alienist, I have no idea where I will go next in my stack. There’s Promise Me, Dad by Joe Biden which has caught my eye again and again. It seems like a heart-wrenching memoir that I have to be ready for, but something important to read.

I also am dying to read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for quite some time. It is in a completely different format from other books with documents and conversations scattered throughout. I’ve also seen nothing by high ratings on this book (and I’ve pre-ordered the other books in the series), so it is a must read this month.

Another book I am hoping to get through this month is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. The entire Raven Cycle series has come highly recommended to me and I want to get started on it and immerse myself in a fantasy world again. I’m thinking this one will be next after The Alienist, but who knows where my hopeful pile will take me!

The final book that I’d love to get to by the end of the month is The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This series caught my eye a while ago and when I received all of my Christmas gift cards, I bought the whole thing. I really enjoyed Patrick Ness’ Release and think I will love this series. The only scary this is that The Knife of Never Letting Go is a big book and will take me a little longer to read. But! I need to stick with my resolution of reading larger books in 2018.

Wish me luck on this pile and tell me in the comments what you’re looking forward to reading this month!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!

Distractions from reading: TV shows that I highly recommend

I got a cold during the holidays. One that made my life a little miserable. I could barely get through books because I was so exhausted and did not want to get out of bed.

This is where binge-watching TV shows came in handy.

I recently caught up on a few that I feel are worth mentioning:

5. Outlander

Most bookworms probably know all about Outlander. This show was created off of a series of books written by Diana Gabaldon. It follows the story of Claire Beauchamp Randall and Jamie Fraser. Claire travels to Scotland with her husband in 1946 as a second honeymoon. It is on this honeymoon that Claire discovers a circle of standing stones, which she travels through and disappears from 1946.

Claire wakes up in 1743 with nothing but the clothes on her back. It is in 1743 where she meets (and has to marry) highlander, Jamie Fraser,  and their love story begins.

This show is currently on season 3, which is well into Claire and Jamie’s story. If you haven’t watched this show, I highly suggest it. It’s a great historical fiction love story that is filled with adventure and interesting politics. I also can’t complain about Sam Heughan and his looks.

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I mean… c’mon.

I will give you a fair warning though! Season 1 is quite slow and I had to power through the first couple episodes. I think the last few episodes of season 1 is where the show really finds its stride and is definitely worth watching by that point.

4. Ultimate Beastmaster

I might need to explain this one a little for you.

I love competition shows.

I especially love obstacle course competitions.

Ultimate Beastmaster is both of those things. This show has competitors from around the world (season 1 and 2 focus on different countries) to take on, what they call, “The Beast”. Each episode focuses on 12 competitors (2 from each country) as they make their way through a physically demanding obstacle course. The winner from each episode then goes on to compete in the final episode for a prize of $50,000 and the title of “Ultimate Beastmaster”.

This show is ridiculously fun and exciting. My favorite part of the show is the hosts. There are two hosts from every country so there is diversity and fun rivalry. This is a great show to have on in the background when just need something mindless.

Ultimate Beastmaster currently has two seasons on Netflix so, if you have any interest, go watch it!

PS. Did I mentioned Terry Crews is a host in season 1?

3. The Good Place

Kristen Bell is my idol. She is fun and bubbly and adorable and, of course, loves sloths. So when I found out she was in a new show, I knew I had to watch it.

The Good Place is about the afterlife. Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) wakes up in “the good place”, but it doesn’t take her very long to figure out she’s not supposed to be there. She hides in plain sight from the good place’s architect, Michael, and enlists the help of her neighbors and soulmate so she can earn her place in “the good place”.

This show is bizarre, fun, and utterly hilarious. The chemistry between all of the characters is amazing. All of the characters are eccentric and are what make the show so good.

The Good Place is a classic sitcom. The characters find themselves in some far-fetched mess that they need to clean up by the end, but the twist at the end of season 1 turned the whole show up on its head. It also has funny jokes throughout each episode that I can’t help but laugh at.

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Quite possibly my favorite joke in the show: The Shrimp Dispenser

I cannot recommend this show more. It takes a boring trope and surrounds it with such strangeness that it turns it around completely. The jokes are well thought out and I will sing the praises of the cast until the end of time.

2. MINDHUNTER

Do you like true crime? If the answer is yes, then MINDHUNTER is for you.

MINDHUNTER is a fiction retelling of the conception of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI. It follows young FBI agent, Holden Ford, and veteran agent, Bill Tench, as they begin to study a new type of criminal: serial killers.

The best part about this show is Jonathan Groff (of Glee, Frozen, and Hamilton fame). Groff plays Holden Ford and does a stellar job. He captured the essence of the character so perfectly and made me forget that he was the king in Hamilton any time I watched the show.

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Kind of hard to forget Groff’s performance as King George… but he made it happen!

MINDHUNTER is classic true crime. It features prolific serial killers, questionable characters (even those who you think are supposed to be the “good guys”), and intense themes. Every minute of this show put me on my toes and made me want to watch more of it.

It’s definitely not a quick watch and you have to focus on it while you’re watching it, but I think it’s totally worth it!

1. Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Let me tell you about my favorite show ever. It stars Andy Samburg and it is the most important cop show ever.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine a sitcom about the 99th precinct of the Brooklyn police force. The show starts with a new captain joining the force, Ray Holt. Holt’s commanding presence throws a wrench in the life of Jake Peralta (Samburg) an immature, but talented officer.

This show is the perfect balance of chemistry between characters, cold opens, and witty humor. It is funny without being insulting to any groups of people. There, of course, is the right amount of stupid humor. There are jokes that have made me laugh uncontrollably. Andy Samburg has had stare-downs with a corgi, Terry Crews constantly refers to himself in third person, Chelsea Peretti’s character is a role model… I could go on.
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There are so many reasons to love this show, but the friendships between all of the characters is what keeps me in it. Sure, they all make fun of each other, but you can tell it’s because they all love each other. The 99th Precinct is a team that compares to no others.

If you need a show to put you in a good mood, to make you laugh, or to revel in how amazing human friendships can be… Brooklyn Nine-Nine is for you.

Honorable mentions:

 

It’s better to have a chalk smile: A review of The Chalk Man

Throwing another book review your way because I got way behind on posting these!

I just finished The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor last night and it was quite a thrill. I received this book as one of my December picks from the Book of the Month Club (see my post script for a sales pitch on why you should join and a referral code).

The Chalk Man was a classic thriller. It’s full of questionable characters, twists you don’t always expect, and creepy events.

This book follows Eddie in both 1986 and 2016. In 1986, he is 12 years old and spends all of his time with his friends (Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and Nicky). The five of them started a secret code between the two of them. Color-coded chalk men. They use these drawings to talk to each other and send messages that only they can understand. Until, one day, chalk drawings lead them to a dismembered body in the forest and their lives change forever. Thirty years later, Eddie is a poorly adjusted adult whose past comes to haunt him in the form of a letter containing a single chalk drawing. At first he thinks it’s a prank, but when one of his childhood friends turns up dead, Eddie must dig up the past to save himself.

I was on the edge of my seat for a good portion of this book. It was interesting and definitely gave me chills in parts. This book alternates chapters between 1986 and 2016 so the events unfold at the same time. While I think this was intended to build the suspense of the novel and was executed well, it is a format that I do not enjoy very often. One positive of this format was, because each chapter ended in a cliffhanger, it kept me reading. I wanted to know what happened at the end of each chapter and the events wouldn’t be resolved until two chapters later.

The best part of this novel is that Tudor did an excellent job in creating a classic 80s-inspired thriller. The Chalk Man was full of the characteristics that make a good mystery. It was similar to Stranger Things or IT, a group of friends who face gruesome events that no kid should have to face (however, The Chalk Man did not have any supernatural elements). I think my favorite part was the relationships. I enjoyed reading the relationships between the characters (especially those involving Metal Mickey) in 1986 and comparing them to 2016. It was really interesting to see how the events of 1986 changed their lives and pushed their relationships in other directions.

I’ve been in need of a good thriller and The Chalk Man didn’t disappoint. I did not expect what happened at the end of the novel and only had small suspicions of the culprit. This book introduced many suspects and brought to light many different motives. I found myself wanting to read this book every night because I needed to know what happened. All of these are elements of a good thriller.

In the end, this book gets three out of five stars from me. I really liked the story and enjoyed reading this book. It was well-written, creepy, and definitely thrilling. What kept it from a higher review was the format. I am a very impatient person and love instant gratification, so the format of alternating years and storylines (that do eventually come together) was not for me. However, if you’re a fan of thrillers, The Chalk Man is definitely worth a read and I recommend it!

PS. If you’re interested in joining Book of the Month Club, click this link for my referral code! You’ll get your first month for only $10 and a free tote bag. Book of the Month Club is one of my favorite monthly subscription services. It has been a great way for me to discover books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can skip any month (without losing credits) if the selections aren’t for you. Seriously, check it out!

His pride never deserts him: A review of Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Angry people are not always wise.

— Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

I received Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe as an ARC from St. Martin’s Press through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

As evidenced by the Jane Austen quote above, I may not have been very wise in this review because this book made me incredibly angry and I still finished it. The only reason I finished it was to say, without a doubt, that I did not like this book.

Being completely honest, I hate giving one-star ratings to books, especially ones that I finish, but this book was fully deserving of one star.

I was really excited for the premise of this book. A gender-swapped, modern Pride and Prejudice? Count me in! Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz? No, I want nothing to do with this book.

This book follows a 29-year-old Darcy Fitzwilliam who is a self-made millionaire who works had and has a lot of money (don’t worry if you forget that part, she’ll remind you). Darcy returns home after eight years after her mother suffers a heart attack shortly before the Fitzwilliam annual Christmas party. It is at during the Christmas party where Darcy reconnects with the frustratingly handsome and, maybe, lazy Luke Bennet. They have a couple romantic encounters and Darcy is left wondering if Luke is the one for her.

Let’s get some negatives out of the way…

First things first, the pacing in this book is terrible. Their love story (including two make-out sessions, countless fights, what I think was a break-up, and engagements to other people) all take place in about 5 days. This alone makes the book so frustrating. I even tried to participate in some suspension of disbelief, but couldn’t make it happen for this. None of these events would happen in real life. Not even something close to that would happen.

Another thing that killed me while reading this book were the constant reminders of Darcy’s wealth. It was like de la Cruz never wanted you to forget that Darcy was independently wealthy. Ever. In almost every chapter there was some line that either explicitly talked about her wealth or hinted at it. There was designer name brand dropping for day and really cheesy dialogue with her family about how much money she has made.

All of the characters (especially Darcy) were selfish and childish. The dialogue was one of the worst parts. Nobody actually speaks the way these characters do. The romantic scenes seemed forced and some lines of dialogue came out of nowhere. At one point Luke actually calls himself a gentleman for not having sex with Darcy when she’s drunk (not raping someone does not make you a gentleman). Darcy has a lot of internalized misogyny moments which made me cringe… This book was just utterly disappointing.

The one good thing was the relationship between Jim and Bingley. I thought they were a positive addition to the story, but they were never focused on. If this book was all about them, it might have been better!

Personally, I do not recommend this book. It has a lot of negatives and not enough positives to balance it out.

We had something. That kiss was magic.: A review of Snow Falling

“I’ll see you tomorrow and then everyday for the rest of our lives.”

— Michael Cordero Jr., Jane the Virgin

As a long-time fan of The CW’s Jane the Virgin, when I found out they had made Jane’s book a reality, I cried a little bit.

Jane and Michael are my all-time favorite fictional couple and seeing their love story again made my heart melt. It was hard to review this book based on how strongly I felt about the couple and the show, but here are my final thoughts…

Snow Falling by Jane Gloriana Villanueva (ghostwritten by Caridad Piñeiro) was an absolutely lovely love story. It is a historical romance that takes place in 1902 and follows the story of Josephine Galena Valencia. Josephine is newly engaged to detective Martin Cadden and has larger than life dreams for her future. That is until the attractive, captivating Rake Solvino reappears in her life. In a night fueled by champagne and heartbreak, Josephine and Rake partake in an indiscretion that results in a huge life complication. While dealing with this complication, Josephine must decide who she truly loves. Her dear Martin or the dashing Rake?

This book is a retelling of Jane and Michael’s love story from the first few seasons of Jane the Virgin. This book is important to the TV show because the most recent season has followed Jane’s journey to getting the book published and finally writing a book.

While the writing was poor at times and the pacing seemed strange, I adored this book. I think I may have bias clouding my judgement on my rating of this book because the show is one of my favorites, but I truly loved it after I put it down. My heart felt full and happy because I got to relive one of my favorite love stories of all time.

From an execution standpoint, this book was so-so. The dialogue seemed forced at times and interactions between the characters was strange. From a nostalgia standpoint, Snow Falling was absolutely perfect.

This book did end up getting five out of five stars from me because of all of the feelings and thoughts I had at the end. I truly enjoyed reading this book. It made me want to rewatch the entire series and see Michael and Jane on screen again.

If you are a fan of Jane the Virgin, I do highly recommend this book! However, I feel like to people outside the fandom, this book won’t deliver for you.

Podcasts that you should probably (definitely) listen to!

Since I am not a fan of audiobooks or the radio (and sometimes I need a break from the Hamilton soundtrack…), I usually fill my commutes with podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to get a daily dose of comedy, positivity, or insight on specific topics.

I’ve been listening to podcasts for a couple years now and have found some really great ones that I think everyone should give a try at some point in their life.

5. Wonderful!

Wonderful! is a podcast hosted by Griffin and Rachel McElroy, a husband and wife super duo. This podcast is based completely on positivity. Griffin and Rachel post an episode every week where they talk about the things they love. This ranges from music albums, video games, food, and so much more. The whole point of the podcast is to talk about the things that are wonderful in their lives. They end each episode with listener submissions so that everyone gets to hear what makes others’ lives wonderful.

My favorite thing about this podcast is it’s positivity. It has given me a new appreciation of the small things in my life that make me happy. I also think that Griffin and Rachel have really great banter throughout every episode. You can tell they work really well together (personally and professionally) and I enjoy hearing them talk every week.

Wonderful! is a part of the Maximum Fun network. You can learn more about it here or on iTunes!

4. Myths and Legends

The Myths and Legends podcast was started by Jason Weiser because of his love for traditional English literature. The Myths and Legends podcast brings you stories from folklore, fairy tales, mythology, etc. that have shaped our world. Some are stories you’ve heard tons of variations on (think Disney princesses or Grimm fairytales), others are stories that are seldom told.

This podcast spans generations and cultures. Jason shares stories from cultures you may not know and does an excellent job researching each story. With every story he provides his own commentary which provides an interesting look at classic tales.

As a book lover, this podcast is everything. It gives me a chance to listen to classic stories that may not be written down and shows me origins of stories that are being told today. Jason is a wonderful, funny host and this is one of my favorite podcasts to listen to on a long drive.

If you want to learn more about The Myths and Legends Podcast, check out their website or check out iTunes!

3. Cold Case Files: The Podcast

As a lover of true crime, this podcast is one of my favorites. If you’ve ever watched Cold Case Files on A&E, you’ll probably love this podcast. It is Cold Case Files in audio format. This podcast explores cases that have been cold for years and what it took to solve these cases. With breakthroughs in forensic technology and the advent of social media, cases that have been cold for decades are coming back into the the light.

Cold Case Files: The Podcast is hosted by Brooke Gittings. Brooke provides interesting insight to these cases. In addition to Brooke’s commentary, this podcast also includes interviews with detectives and others involved in the cases.

You can check out Cold Case Files: The Podcast on PodcastOne or on iTunes!

2. My Brother, My Brother, and Me

I think MBMBaM is might be my favorite podcast. It’s the podcast that got me into podcasts. MBMBaM is “an advice show for the modern era” (Maximum Fun). Three brothers (Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy) take questions from Yahoo Answers and listener submission and provide hilarious “advice”.

This podcast has been going strong since 2010 and the brothers get funnier with age. The three of them have great chemistry and bounce jokes off of each other almost professionally. Sometimes they have guest-perts (Lin Manuel-Miranda, Jimmy Buffet) who they interview, sometimes they have surprise segments (Munch Squad, Haunted Doll Watch), but they always answer your questions and provide you with the best possible advice they can come up with.

The McElroy brothers are hilarious and I always find myself laughing when I listen to them. If you want to learn more about MBMBaM or any of their other shows, check out their website! For more information about MBMBaM specifically, check out Maximum Fun or iTunes.

PS. My Brother, My Brother, and Me has a TV show. If you want to watch the McElroy brothers in their hilarity and give really great advice, check it out here!

PPS. They also have two other podcasts that sporadic, but hilarious. If you want to list to the only annual, eternal podcast in existence, check out Til Death Do Us Blart. The McElroy Brothers Will Be in Trolls 2 follows the McElroy Brothers’ journey to get parts in the Dreamworks movie Trolls 2.

1. My Dad Wrote a Porno

MDWaP is probably the best podcast in production. Ever.

This podcast is based on book. A book that happens to be an erotic novel written by one of the hosts’ dad. Jamie Morton’s dad, Rocky Flintstone, is the author of the internationally renowned novel Belinda Blinked.

Jamie Morton is joined by his friends Alice Levine and James Cooper as they read through Rocky Flintstone’s Belinda Blinked series. They release a new episode every Monday (appropriately named “Porno day”) and a footnotes episode on Thursdays where they dive deeper into the Flintstone lore and have special guests. Some of these guests include Michael Sheen, Nicholas Hoult, and Mara Wilson.

I have had the most fun listening to this podcast. Belinda Blinked is gross and terribly written, but the most hilarious erotic novel to ever exist.

This show is definitely for adult audiences, but for anyone over 18 My Dad Wrote a Porno is an amazing show that makes any Monday better. You can learn more about it on their website or on iTunes!

Honorable mentions: