Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day
Book Reviews

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, these romance reads will sweep you off your feet. Just in time for the sweetest day of the year: Valentine’s Day.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's DayPhoto by Leonardo Wong on Unsplash

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What’s better than getting gobs of chocolate and a night out on the town with the one you love? Snuggling up in bed with a feel-good book. (Is my introvert showing?)

Ah, romance. Where happily ever afters are real, and love almost always finds a way.

In keeping with the sticky, syrupy sweetness of this holiday, here are some reads that will make you feel all warm inside.

Sweet Romance Reads for Valentine's Day

Desperate Duchesses Series by Eloisa James

This series contains 9 books as of this posting. I’ve only read 2-4 and 7 at this point, so those are the ones I’m recommending. Because I never read books in order. Ever.

Beginning in the 18th century and moving into the Regency period, these books focus on British aristocratic romance. If you’re fond of historical romance but need a breather on the Victorian era, try this series.

The Rules of Scoundrels Series by Sarah MacLean

And here’s another historical romance series set during the Regency period. It’s only 4 books long, and I’ve read all of them. (Not in order, of course. I began with number 4.) What I love most about this series is how it focuses on redemption and justice in addition to the romance.

The First Freak House Trilogy by C.J. Archer

If you prefer your romance a little more on the supernatural side, this is a fantastic series. Set in Victorian England, this is a nice, clean romance. With plenty of fire and magic.

 

Emily Chambers Spirit Medium Trilogy by C.J. Archer

I’ve only read the first book in this series, but it was pretty compelling. It’s also set in Victorian England, and the heroine talks to dead people. As in ghosts.

 

 

 

The Bradens at Trusty, CO Series by Melissa Foster

If you’re in the mood for a modern romance firmly set in reality, this is a good place to start. I’ve only read one book in this series, but it’s fairly memorable.

 

 

 

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

If you enjoy romantic poetry, it doesn’t get much better than Neruda. Especially when read in the original Spanish.

 

 

 

Juliana Series by Vanda

Set in the U.S. starting in World War II, this series currently has 2 books. I’ve only read the second book, but it contains some of the most historically accurate and well-rounded depictions of queer romance I’ve ever read. If I had to choose my favorite book from this entire post, Olympus Nights in the Square would be it. Definitely an LGBTQ+ romance series to follow.

 

 

 

 

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Broken pieces of a ceramic plate are scattered on a smooth concrete floor.
Book Reviews

This Book Explores #MeToo Issues Before the Movement Even Began

Broken pieces of a ceramic plate are scattered on a smooth concrete floor.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

If you are opposed to strong verbal language, sex scenes and/or might be triggered by depictions of sexual assault and bullying, this book is not for you. And I’m not going to waste your time today.

But if you’re still with me, we’re about to dive into a New Adult (NA) novel that does some pretty extraordinary things. Ready? Grab your hat because we’re going to cover a lot of ground pretty fast.

If you buy something through these links, I get paid. I never recommend anything that I don’t believe is an interesting and high-quality product. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Published in January of 2017, Let Me Fall, by Lily Foster is a heartbreaking yet satisfying coming-of-age read. The narrative follows two characters, Carolyn and Jeremy, as they navigate their messy world from middle school through their early twenties. But this book doesn’t get bogged down in flashbacks, info dumps, or any of the other literary sins that can make novels unappealing. In fact, it flows along at a nice pace without any lulls. And the angst and pain the characters experience is palpable.

But what I love about this book more than anything else is how seamlessly it addresses a variety of difficult issues without ever glorifying or romanticizing them:

  • Differences in socioeconomic class
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Mental illness
  • Harassment
  • Bullying
  • Dyslexia
  • Consent
  • Alcoholism
  • Suicide

Each of these issues is subtly woven into the fabric of the story without ever seeming forced or preachy. Instead, Foster paints scenarios in a realistic light that all too many of us understand, firsthand.

As an older Millennial who grew up before smartphones and taught younger Millenials as well as part of Generation Z, I was especially affected by the online bullying scenes. It is something I never had to experience at that emotionally and mentally vulnerable stage of life yet is a very real threat to today’s youth. And this novel does an excellent job describing both the subtlety and the absolute horror that can be unleashed.

Graffiti heart on a wooden park bench.

Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash

However, at its heart, this book is a love story. Will Jeremey and Carolyn overcome their hurdles and finally get together? I’m not giving away any spoilers. But whether or not they actually become a couple in the book, I totally ship it. And you will, too.

PS: Don’t forget to buy this book!

Buy it here and I’ll get some money to pay bills and keep this site running.

Buy it here and I get nothing. (I won’t judge. You do you.)

5 Books with Cats on the Cover
Book Reviews

5 Books with Cats on the Covers

These poised cats are on the case.

5 Books with Cats on the Cover

If you buy something through these links, I get a commission. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

Cats have captured the human imagination for centuries. What is it about these graceful, paw-licking creatures that we find so captivating? Perhaps we may never know.

But, it turns out that there’s an entire book genre dedicated to the frolicking felines: cozy cat mysteries. And many of these books feature the furry crime solvers on the covers. Here’s a taste of what some of those covers look like:

5 Books with Cats on the Cover

1. The Himalayan Cat

2. A Body in the Trunk

3. The Cats that Broke the Spell

4. StrawBuried in Chocolate

5. Cats on the Prowl

PS: Don’t forget to put something in my tip jar. Thanks in advance for your support. 🙂

How Reading Suspense Changes Your Brain
Productivity Tips

Something Special Happens to Your Brain When You Read Suspense Novels

I’d tell you what it is, but I’d rather keep you in suspense. 😉

How Reading Suspense Changes Your BrainPhoto by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Suspense novels carry an undeniable intrigue. Our hearts race and our minds whirr as we race to put all the pieces together. Will our hero escape the forces of evil? Or will they meet an untimely demise? And which characters can you actually trust?

Fiction, in general, is a fantastic way to explore the dangers that surround us every day. From gossip at the watercooler to the less likely but far more dangerous kidnapping in the middle of the night at knife-point, stories help us explore what works— and what doesn’t.

Stories allow us to experience life-threatening circumstances from the comfort of our home. They are THE original simulation game. Plus, they increase our empathy by putting us inside other characters’ heads. Personalities which we may not like suddenly take on a bit more nuance and humanity.

But suspense does all that and more. In fact…

How Reading Suspense Changes Your Brain

In a 2015 study published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), researchers noticed something intriguing about brain activity surrounding suspenseful reading. Can you guess what it is? 🙂

The areas of the brain which were most active when participants read something they considered to be suspenseful are also tied to:

  • mentalizing (figuring out ourselves and others, finding motives, etc.)
  • predictive inference (Solve that mystery!)
  • and possibly cognitive control

And I was sorely tempted to title this article: Can Suspense Novels Make You Psychic? (I mean the research says predictive!) But that would be a gross oversimplification of what’s going on. None of these results should be particularly surprising to anyone who’s read mystery, thrillers, or suspense novels in the past. Any well-written book in this genre will make us ask the big questions.

Why is this character doing that?

Who is to blame?

Wait, I noticed a detail here. Will this be important in the future?

Hey, I think I know who the killer is!

Sound familiar?

So, while reading suspense novels won’t give you the ability to see forty years into the future, it does exercise those problem-solving muscles. And in a world with 99+ problems, those are some good muscles to have.

PS: Want to know more about reading and the brain? Check out this post.

 

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print
Productivity Tips

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

Print books have an undeniable appeal for many book lovers. Here’s why.

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you. See my Disclosure Page for more information.

In these cold winter months, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as snuggling up in bed with a good book and a warm cup of cocoa/tea/coffee. But for many of us, that book is either or a hardcover or paperback. Despite the fact that ebooks are more convenient and take up less space, there’s something about the experience of holding a physical book that people find satisfying. Perhaps it’s the smell of fresh or older pages, the texture of the binding, cover, or book jacket.

Perhaps it’s something neurological.

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

When we read, our brains treat text like separate objects. We attach abstract meanings to words and weave them together into a mental picture. According to Scientific American, this is much like drawing a map.

How many times have you flipped through a book looking for a line that you knew was on the top right-hand side? Or perhaps the middle of the left page?

If you’re reading a printed book, you have a lot of spacial and tactile references for this internal story-map. There’s the thickness of the book; signposts like chapter numbers can be found easily by referencing how close they are to the back or front cover of the book. But with ebooks, everything shows up in the same-sized window, and spacial references are entirely theoretical.

And, of course, there’s the eyestrain. Screens glow at us (although there are some e-readers such as the Kindle Paperwhite that work to reduce this problem).

The Science Behind Why You Might Prefer Print

Photo by James Tarbotton on Unsplash

And many of us come to screens subconsciously primed to be distracted. We use screens for so many different tasks involving varied apps, emotions, and the need for immediate gratification. Sometimes our reading comprehension gets entangled with these other things and interrupts our concentration. Especially if you read ebooks on a phone like I do. (*Hangs head in semi-shame*)

Additionally, studies have shown that people who read printed text have stronger long-term memory of the material compared to people who learn via text on a screen.

And if you were born back when libraries still had card catalogs, like me, there may be another factor at play. (I will add here that this particular bit is my own opinion and not based on any studies, so do take it with a bit of skepticism. I adore thought experiments.) Many of us were raised on printed books and only started reading on screens later on in life. It will be interesting to see how younger generations, who’ve had access to screen-based reading their entire lives, will adapt. Perhaps in the future, human brains will change and be primed to read digital text over paper text. Maybe stories will be wired directly into our brains. Who knows?

But if you ever get the feeling that there’s something about reading a physical book over an e-reader remember: it’s all in your head. And you’re not alone.

Other sources:

New Republic

Huff Post

PS: Liked this article? Don’t forget to share!

Don't Let the Dryads in This Book Fool You #bookreview fantasy book, books, reading
Book Reviews

A Book With Magic and an Ancient Evil

Magical isn’t always better.

Don't Let the Dryads in This Book Fool You #bookreview fantasy book, books, reading

A Book About Fighting an Ancient Evil #bookreview fantasy, epic fantasy, books, book, reading
A Book With Heroes Who Must Save a Magical Forest #bookreview books, fantasy, classic fantasy, RPG style read, books, book, reading

This post contains affiliate links. That means I earn a commission from clicks or purchases made through these links at no cost to you.

This is another NetGalley book I finished a while ago and haven’t gotten around to reviewing until now. Oops! If you enjoy epic fantasy, this book will be right up your alley.

Road of the Lost by Aidan Russell is slated for release in early January 2018. Personally, it took me a little while to get into this book, but that has more to do with my slight aversion to keeping track of kingdoms, deities, races, etc. If you enjoy complex and intricately-built worlds, you will love this book. And even for me, the story became more engrossing the longer I stuck with it.

I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the various characters’ supernatural abilities. It reminded me of various moves I’ve used in MMORPGs online, which was pretty cool. And some of the magical areas and creatures are painted with vivid detail that made me feel like I was right in the middle of things.

However, sometimes the flow of a discussion or battle got bogged down a bit by the insertion of description or purple prose. Overall, though, the pacing of the book is pretty good and picks up steam as you go. I am curious to learn more about the history of this world and see where the storyline goes next in future books.

Rating: 4.9 out of 5

P.S.: Read this review if you prefer more dragons in your fantasy.