February spotlight: Valentine’s Day!

In honor of this day of romance, and obviously based on my generally high regard for the romance genre, I started doing a little thinking about Valentine’s Day and the meaning behind the cultural significance of the day. There’s a various amount of history behind the day, both involving the original romantic history we are all familiar with and also many other types of events that have happened since.

St. Valentine’s Day has been around since approximately 500 AD. The day has Catholic origins, and Saint Valentine is still considered a saint in the Catholic church to this day. He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics and beekeepers. Supposedly, he went against the Roman emperor and married couples that were in love. He was condemned and beaten to death and beheaded (which seems like overkill to me). There are a number of theories as to why he was marrying people in secret, seemingly romance is the first thing that comes to mind, but why was it done in secret in the first place? Well, during this time period the emperor Claudius had banned marriages in Rome to try and recruit more soldiers for his numerous wars. People in love don’t want to be kept apart though and so Valentine risked his life to continue to unite people in love.

Due to the original history of the day, with it’s obviously romantic if somewhat gruesome beginnings, it started being commercialized as a romantic celebration in the 19th century. Prior to that, many authors capitalized on the romanticism of the day, including both Chaucer and Shakespeare, but it was really the production of massive amounts of Valentine’s Day cards that pushed this day into becoming what it is today. Hallmark began mass-producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and today there are 190 million Valentine’s Day cards sent each year – not even including those exchanged by kids in school. In the U.S. alone, in 2017 there was a whopping $18.2 Million spent on celebrating this holiday. Some think of this day as Singles Awareness Day just because of how much of a spotlight there is on couples and romantic love. And while many are celebrating in couples, there are so many kinds of love to celebrate that the commercialized aspect of it has expanded to celebration of love within friendship and family also.

One of the more common symbols used on Valentine’s Day cards and decorations is cupid, a familiar cherub with wings and a bow and arrow. Cupid is a figure from classical mythology – he’s the son of the love goddess Venus and war god Mars. He is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, which makes it odd to me that he is often depicted as a baby.

Fun fact too – Valentine’s Day is the most common wedding anniversary in the Philippines! There are many people who share an anniversary date, as this highly romantic holiday is so commonly picked for wedding day celebrations.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day this year, whether you were celebrating with a significant other, with other loved ones, or just celebrating love for your self! If anyone has any fun facts or stories about Valentine’s Day, please feel free to share!

2021 Book #14 – Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Title: Love at First
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 2/20/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2021
Pages in book: 298
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A sparkling and tender novel from the acclaimed author of Love Lettering, full of bickering neighbors, surprise reunions, and the mysterious power of love that fans of Christina Lauren, Sarah Hogle, and Emily Henry will adore.
 
Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .
 
No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve come to really enjoy this author’s books lately. They are always so full of the emotional and over the top romance that really is one of the reasons I’m drawn to romance novels in the first place. Readers will be swept up by the emotions in this story too – as both Will and Nora have their own emotional baggage to deal with outside of the struggle that is falling in love. Some parts of the overall premise in this book didn’t work for me on a personal level just because of where I am in life. Nora is having trouble letting go of the way things were and making any changes at all to her apartment complex or getting rid of anything from her grandmother’s apartment that was left to her. And I’m at a point where I’m trying so hard to shed things and downsize what we need to hold onto that the idea of Nora’s struggle didn’t make logical sense to me. This was a personal thing though and honestly shouldn’t take away from anyone else’s enjoyment of the book. It was very well written and was so very romantic. Lots of tension leading up to Will and Nora finally admitting they have feelings for each other. And lots of quirky / funny side characters that really made the book so charming and enjoyable! I did really like this book and I’d definitely recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Book #12 – Hit Me With Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch

Title: Hit Me With Your Best Scot
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/11/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 9, 2021
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Wild Wicked Highlanders series #3
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Coll MacTaggert, Viscount Glendarril, is a big, brawny Highlander who doesn’t like being told what to do—not even by his exasperated English mother who is determined to see her eldest son wedded and bedded. However, when he comes to the rescue of an irresistibly beautiful woman, Coll discovers that he may have found his perfect match…

The challenge isn’t that Persephone Jones is famous, wealthy, independent, and smarter than anyone he knows. The problem is that she isn’t interested in marrying any man—especially not a hot-headed Scot—even if he is the only man who seems to understand who she really is even when she’s not sure herself. When Coll learns that Persephone is actually a lady-in-hiding and someone is willing to kill her for what she stands to inherit…Well, Coll has never been one to turn down a fight. When hearts are involved, nothing comes between a Highlander and his lady.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read the other books in this series so far and I was really interested to see how the series would conclude. Coll’s character through the beginning of the series was the most stubborn and I couldn’t imagine what kind of lady he would find that would really suit him. An actress was the perfect fit though and I loved the Persephone matched him so well. That being said (**spoiler alert**) I did wish that she was only an actress and not also a lady in disguise. I know that may have been less than historically accurate but I think it would’ve been a better fit for Coll’s character and his obstinance. And honestly after seeing the struggle that Anthony and his actress went through on the Bridgerton show, it would’ve been nice to see an actress win one. But still the story was still nice and I enjoyed the romance of it. The family aspect of it was still a little bit of a struggle for me (as it was in the previous books) since I don’t love what the mother did, leaving her sons and taking the daughter with her and then also forcing them all to play her games later in life. I know we learn in this book that she had written letters but still you don’t wait 17 years for your kid to respond to a letter – you go and see your kids. I struggled with that piece a bit. Overall the book was still really good though – I enjoyed Coll very much as a character and his devotion to Persephone. I didn’t love that he immediately started calling her Temperance as soon as he found out her secret. I felt like it would’ve been nicer to have him keep calling her Persie. It was still a really good story and a cute romance.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Monthly Status Update: January

2013January

And so we begin the new year! 2020 definitely had it’s ups and downs but I’m excited to see the start of 2021 and we have lots of plans for this year! So far we’ve been busy meeting goals and working on projects, but I’ve had time here and there for reading. Here is my progress for reading in January:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,726

Other Posts this month:

From Books to the Big Screen!

Favorite books from this month:

The Hating Game – 5.0 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Hit Me with Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch
  • Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Things will be very busy over the next few months as I try to keep up with busy season. I’m hoping to still find time to read at least a few books a month but we’ll see how the next few months go! In addition to my scheduled reads each month I’m also trying to read at least one book from my backlog and from my personal library. I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day in a couple weeks and hopefully getting some Valentine’s Day chocolates. It’s chilly where I live and it’s snowing today so we’re hunkering down and trying to keep warm. Happy reading everyone!

2020 Book #10 – The Survivors by Jane Harper

Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/28/21
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read another of Jane Harpers books in the past and found it intriguing so I was interested in participating in BookBrowse’s book discussion for this book. I’m glad I did too, because the discussion around the book has been really very engaging and though-provoking. There was a lot of stuff happening all at once with the plot – at certain points it was almost hard to keep track – but the co-mingling pieces all seemed to make sense in the end. Even with all the different things going on, there were a few points that still felt a little slow to me. I think my favorite parts of the book were with Kiernan and his interactions with his mother and dealing with the emotional traumas from their past. That and his relationship with Mia and his daughter and how that changed his view of events from now and the past. I enjoyed the book, though I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites just because of the slow pieces but I’ve been really enjoying the discussion. I think this is a great book club pick and overall a good book!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

From Books to the Big Screen!

There’s been a lot of activity lately with books being made into TV series or movies, or in some cases there’s been talk about some books being made or hopefully being made. So I wanted to feature some of my favorites! I was especially inspired for this with the very exciting recent release (which I’ll mention below!).

So to start, here are some of my favorites that are already out – this is a mix of recent and not so recent but some of these are absolute favorites that I’ll watch over and over again

  1. Ella Enchanted – I read this book a LOOONG time ago, back in middle school I think. And the movie version they made with Annie Hathaway was so great, it was funny and cute and had great music. Love this one!
  2. Crazy Rich Asians – I almost skipped this one because to be honest I haven’t read the book yet but the movie was just so good. The production of that movie was fantastic and the scenery and outfits were stunning.
  3. Gone Girl – I know some people don’t like this story line but the movie was so true to the book and I really love the plot twist.
  4. Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightley) – I love this movie! The music and imagery is so soothing to me, I find it so calming. And obviously its a great romance!
  5. Austenland – For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, go watch it now! It is adorable and I love pretty much everything about it – the music and the dresses and the story overall. Really cute movie.
  6. Last but not least! The recently released Bridgerton show! It’s definitely different from the novel so prepare yourself for that but it was still really good. I can’t wait for season 2! (Though it seems like I’m going to have to since I don’t think season 2 is coming out until 2022)

There are also a few movies that I’ve either heard are in production currently or were optioned but no word on a release yet – and I can not wait to see how these translate to the screen.

  1. The Hating Game – I just read this book this month and LOVED it. I know they’re currently wrapping up production on this one, though I don’t know if there’s a release date yet. I can’t wait to see this one and I hope they stay pretty true to the book.
  2. The Selection series – I’ll have to read this series before it comes out but I can’t wait to see what they do with this one. I think they’re making it into a Netflix movie.
  3. The Kiss Quotient – I think this one would be interesting to see how it translates to the screen, especially with one of the characters being autistic. Not sure if this will end up happening but I’m excited by the idea.
  4. Wicked – I CAN’T WAIT for this one. I did read the book and didn’t necessarily love it but I did LOVE the musical so I’m hoping the basically produce the musical. I’d watch it every day.

As I was compiling the other lists I realized there were so many books that I’d really want to become movies too. These ones I haven’t heard anything about them potentially become movies/TV shows but a girl can dream!

  1. The Winternight Trilogy – I think that if this one is done correctly it could be fascinating. There is so much that could be done with this one with the right special effects.
  2. The Evil Queen – I think it might be a little difficult with such a variety of mythical creatures – but again with the right special effects I think this could be a great film. I love fairy-tale retellings and others seem to love them as well.
  3. My Lady’s Choosing with the choose your adventure option – I heard about something like this being done on a Netflix show where they made it so it was like a choose your own adventure novel – you select the option you want next and Netflix plays that scene. I thought this would be a great grown-up version of that!
  4. One to Watch – I think this would be a great one to translate to the screen, especially since the dating shows are all so popular on TV. I loved this story and would love to see it made into a movie!

What about you all out there? What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations? Any amazing ones I missed?

2021 Book #7 – Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands

Title: Highland Treasure
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/15/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Pages in book: 366
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Highland Brides series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A Buchanan brother finds a love to treasure in this scintillating historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…

Let his brothers get married—Rory is too busy tending to the sick to be bothered with wooing a bride. But when he is tasked with accompanying a family friend’s “treasure” to the Highlands, he is surprised to learn the treasure is a beautiful woman on the run—and even more surprised to discover bruises hidden by her veil. Rory makes it his mission to tend to her injuries and protect her, but the thought of losing her makes him realize that perhaps it is his heart that is most in need of healing…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book really kicked off with an intense start. Intensely tragic obviously but it also really captivates the reader right from the beginning and really makes the reader want to see how Elysande is able to survive this. There was a lot of set up involved in her story though and it almost took some away from the romance because we don’t even get to the romantic side of things until like half way the book. Which is interesting because the development of the story started out really strong for me in the first half but then it got a little slow for me and somewhat repetitive. I think it was just that there was so much detail included that it started to feel slow at some points just with the amount of details. Overall though it was a good book. I didn’t want to put it down as I was really intrigued by the plot – just not the romance plot.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #6 – The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/12/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 413
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve enjoyed other books that I’ve read by Delaney and was intrigued to read this one too. It turned out to be not quite what I expected but was very interesting. The main narrator is an artificial intelligence robot and it was really compelling how human like her character and her voice was even though she was a robot. There was a weird ending though that I didn’t expect and that I didn’t quite follow how it came about. There were some good twists and turns along the way and the book took an interesting psychological look at Tim’s obsession with women. Overall this was a really engaging read and I enjoyed it – I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. It was a good book but some of the ending didn’t click for me so I wouldn’t say I thought it was great. I still think it’s worth a read though!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #5 – Shipped by Angie Hockman

Title: Shipped
Author: Angie Hockman
Date finished: 1/7/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 335
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book was described as The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game and, not only did that description really interest me because I enjoyed both of those books, but I think that was a really apt description for this book. The description of the travels of the cruise ship and the sites and scenery that Graeme and Henley were able to experience were very transporting. I felt like I was experiencing all of those things myself. I really like the enemy coworkers to lovers trope and this one was pretty good. Henley sounded whiny to me in some parts, but overall I liked her and Graeme’s story and how their relationship was developed. The focus on teamwork in the story was also a really endearing one – it was great to see the supportive crew that Henley was surrounded by. Some pieces of the story were a little slow for me but overall I really enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page