Becoming by Michelle Obama

Holy crap, that was the longest book of all time. I love doing these types of book on audio and it does help that Michelle reads it herself, but wow. Not only, was it way too long, but boy do you have to speed her up! I had her at almost x2 speed! I’ve never listened to someone that fast before.

Now I know, there are going to be constant glowing reviews of this book. And that is deserved, it was really good. But seriously, it was way too long! I remember when I tried to listen to Condoleezza Rice’s book and then I decided to check it out from the library, I saw how big the book was and immediately decided not to read it. I wasn’t that interested in her life. Now, Michelle’s life I was very interested in. I honestly am not sure what I would have had her edit out. (Although I can think of one scene that features a dream…. not cool, Michelle, I thought that was real!). But all I can tell you is that it was too long! I will also tell you, that it was really interesting. It was interesting to hear what she thought of the Bidens, her impressions of Hilary, and her impressions of Trump. It was especially interesting to hear about her impressions of the Bush’s because I liked their interactions. I would also call out her time with the queen as somewhat memorable and fun to learn about- although that could be because I’m just getting excited for the next season of The Crown.

There were parts about the whitehouse life that I found to be very interesting. Like, did you know that the Obama’s paid to furnish the house with their own money? They weren’t required to do that at all, they just chose to! Did you know that each month they are provided with a bill for a breakdown of all of the food they consumed and they do have to pay for that? I know! So interesting! What… you didn’t find that interesting? Well, I did.

I liked how much emphasis she put into showing that constant love and high expectations drove her to succeed and made her feel secure enough to change paths when necessary. This is a small thing, but when Michelle would travel, she would meet with kids at school who weren’t at the top of their class, who wouldn’t necessarily get a scholarship to college- but it was those kids she wanted to inspire to keep going, and to graduate and try to get a degree. It was those kids that she would take to Oxford to look around at what they could still accomplish and impress upon them that it wasn’t too late for the students to expect something great of themselves. I just loved that! I think that story capture’s the heart of Michelle Obama that you’ll find in her book. Did I like her husband’s two books better than this one? Yes. Am I happy I took the time to finish this one even when I thought I would give up because I listened to it for like a year and half (literally)? Yes.

Get a Life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

I found another old review! This one is coming at you from November 2019! (What?! I was pregnant!)

get a life chloe brown

4 out of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

what i liked
Loved someone tackling chronic illness as a heroine! Seriously loved this aspect!  Chloe has fibromyalgia and chronic pain.  And in her words:  “fibromyalgia and chronic pain were invisible afflictions, so they were easy to dismiss.” I felt this quote in my bones!  (If you’re new here, I am an endometriosis sufferer).

This book also features an interracial couple.  Again, I’m team interracial couple because I’m in one and I’m a product of one! But do you remember ever reading books with interracial couples growing up? No! Because they weren’t around, but it’s another big perk of reading romance.  I finally get to see myself in the pages of a book!

This book shows the positives of going to therapy. We need more books like this!

This is gonna be a series with the next book being about her sister Danni. And I will read that one as well!

So many lines I loved in it- here are a few…

Chloe used cuteness to disguise her inner evil. Sort of like Professor Umbridge.

I climbed that tree like . . . like Lara Croft!”
“With sweaty cleavage and frequent, strangely sexual grunts?” Dani mused.
“With effortless expertise,” Chloe corrected. Inaccurately.

“That track is the biggest waste of vocal talent ever created.” Dani arched an eyebrow. “Darling. You act as though you’ve never heard a Miley Cyrus song.”

“They’re judgmental.”
“I had no idea that it was such a reprehensible trait. I expect to see you on the news soon, protesting the judiciary.”

As for Instagram, you really should get over your Too Cool for School reluctance and just sign up. This behavior is modern hipsterism.

Okay I could have done liks 7,000 more quotes but I think you get the jist.  This book was hilariously quoteable.

 

what i didn't like
The climax of the book was almost juvenile-y dramatic. Is love worth it? That was too much for me.

 

Content warnings for emotional and some physical abuse in a previous relationship- more description of the emotional than the physical. Lots of f bombs and crass language.

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Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid

engagement and espionage

official blurb
Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged! But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear. Sabotage! Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

3.75 our of 5🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

 

I loved diving back into the Winston brothers lives. I struggled through a lot of the “pennyverse” books so I was not sure how I would feel revisiting this world again, but in the end I was happy I did.

Cletus and Jenn are as adorable as ever. This was a different genre of book than the Winston brothers- I would call this a steamy cozy mystery, with the steam level being quite high.

I really liked this book! It was a little stressful for me (that’s normal with me and any suspense even if it’s minimal), even with it being pretty predictable. It was fun to try to piece together where this book intertwined with the other books in the timeline. I almost had to remember what I didn’t know yet.

One of the things that this book mentions is how rude Cletus is to Roscoe – I had no memory of this whatsoever! This is probably to be expected when you read 628183772 books in this universe but it was kind of funny to me that I didn’t remember that at all.

Like most PR books there are plenty of content warnings: abuse (emotional and physical), kidnapping, gun violence, attempted murder.

Overall I read this book quickly and really loved the time I got to spend in Green Valley. I loved seeing Cletus and Shelley interacting a lot.

One last complaint is the last chapter was from Cletus’ perspective and it felt as though it should’ve been from Jenn’s. it didn’t keep the same cadence or tone that Cletus’ chapters usually did.

While this is technically a stand alone novel I would not recommend it without reading Beard Science (but in all reality you should read the Winston brothersseries up through beard science and then read this book). And if you really wanted to go for it, it would give you additional knowledge of you read Ashley and Drew’s book (Beauty and the Mustache)  before the Winston brothers series. I know, that’s a lot before this but the series is on my required reading list for romance lovers, so really you should read it anyways.

while reading you should
listen to bluegrass music – may I suggest the civil wars?
Eat: a new cupcake from a local bakery.
Do: change your oil and have your tire pressure checked. (Cletus is a mechanic after all).

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

I had the HARDEST time rating this book.  Because there were things I really didn’t like about it.  But then I also loved parts of it and thought it should be five stars! Gah.  Okay I’m going to go with four stars for now, but I might revise it later.

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level but level 🔥🔥 description used.

 

what i didn't like

Two authors are in a relationship. Only one reads the others books. Do you root for them? I mean you do…but do you really? Because you’re pretty sure one is more invested than the other.

There wasn’t a love triangle exactly but enough of one where I felt like…so are you in love with two people at the same time? I’m confused how you can make grand proclamations after it took multiple days to decide which person you want to have a future with.

I feel I should mention this even though I really don’t want to because it’s a dumb reason to not like something in a book..  But January cried a lot in the book, and at one point I thought…sheesh.  I think if I felt that she was facing her feelings and crying I wouldn’t have minded it on the page at all. But she is avidly avoiding resolution in her life so it made the tears more eye roll inducing for me.

There were multiple communication issues that drove the plot but would get resolved pretty quickly. I’m not a communication issues fan, and even though there were resolutions taking place, I eventually got tired of the couple’s poor communication.

what i liked

I loved the banter, it was quick witted and had me smile reading quite a lot.

Shout out to a book that points out all of the positives of reading and or writing romance!

13 chapters into this book and I was positive it was going to be five stars. I read it quickly and it easily could’ve been a one day read for me if I didn’t have a newborn and two toddlers.

I loved the best friendship between Shadi and January.

 

Lots of content warnings in this book. If you find content warnings (previously called trigger warnings) to be spoilers then skip the next sentence! Content warnings include: physical abuse, living in a cult, death of a loved one, cancer storyline, infidelity.

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10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

10 blind dates

official blurb
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation. Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents’ house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That’s when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby. When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she’s started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available. This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever… or is it?

4 out of 5

what i liked
Okay well this was a super cute YA novel!  Totally adding it to my YA Make My Heart Smile list and to my list of Holiday Reads!

I was nervous going into this book because I thought there would be a love triangle and I just finished a stressful semi love triangle book (In A Holidaze), but alas this is more of a love triangle in the The Truth About Forever sense and not in a Twilight sense. (Okay, I still haven’t actually read twilight but I’ve seen the movie and that’s a total love triangle!) This book made me want to bake, it made me smile read, it made me want to be at a huge family gathering (I know, family gatherings in the time of corona…)  It was great! The family was a close knit Italian family that totally gave me My Big Fat Greek Wedding vibes.  In fact, as I was reading this book, I was shocked that it hadn’t been made into a movie yet!  WHY?! This would make the perfect movie! It was very close to a full five star read for me but there were a couple of things I didn’t love about it.   I also must confess that I was sure this book was called “the ten blind dates of Christmas” the whole time I was reading it. (Which in fairness was just over the span of one night because I couldn’t sleep).  The banter in it was funny and moved quickly.  Ready for a snippet?

“You should’ve been a Boy Scout,” Charlie says.
“I was a Boy Scout,” Wes replies.  “And so were you.”

what i didn't like

There was a bit of a stressful storyline with the main characters sister and her pregnancy.  Now keep in mind, I’m pretty recently not pregnant – and I know I could not have read this book while pregnant.  Keep reading for my content warning on this if you want further detail.
The other part I didn’t like- when the couple gets together – it is pointed out that they’re not girlfriend and boyfriend but best friends who makeout.  Wait, what?  I mean, that was my reaction.  Why are they anti labels?  It wasn’t as if the whole book, the characters didn’t like commitment and didn’t want the labels.  It was really weird. I just couldn’t get behind it at all, and it took away from the cuteness level for me.  Here’s the official quote:

Whatever I’m doing with [redacted name so you don’t have spoilers] doesn’t have a label. He’s not my boyfriend and I’m not his girlfriend. We’re best friends who kiss. A lot. 

Content warnings for this book include:  a high risk pregnancy, a NICU baby.

40 – Love (There’s Something About Marysburg #2) by Olivia Dade

40 love

 

official blurb
This match is no game.  When a rogue wave strips Tess Dunn of her bikini top, desperate, half-naked times call for desperate, please-cover-me-kids-are-coming-closer measures. Enter Lucas Karlsson, AKA that flirty Swede in the water nearby. When he prevents her bare buoys from being exposed to fellow vacationers, even an ocean can’t drown the sparks that fly.  Lucas, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at the resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. But he’s finally ready to move on with his life—and after a few late-night, hands-on sessions with Tess, he’s eager to prove he’s the ace she wants.  But this match comes with challenges: She’s forty, and at twenty-six, he’s barely old enough to rent a car. Worse, they only have two weeks together before Tess returns to her assistant-principal life in Virginia. During that brief time, they’ll have to play hard, take a few risks, and find out whether their chemistry is a one-shot wonder…or whether they’re meant to be doubles partners for life.

4 out of 5

🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥  out of 5 steam level

40 love

 

what i liked
I really enjoyed this book!  It featured a lot of body positivity that was very enjoyable to read!  I would describe the tropes in this book as: age gap, vacation romance, and plus size heroine.
I’m honestly not sure if I’ve read a plus size heroine book that I’ve enjoyed this much before!  Some of the previous ones that I’ve read had a lot of the guy liking the girl despite of her size.  That was not the case with this book.  Our main man, Lucas, is totally into Tess and there is no “despite of” involved!
Another major pro for this book (no pun intended… but also I’m now proud of that pun) is that Lucas was a former pro tennis player. I’ve never read a tennis book before, but I LOVE tennis!!!  It is a bucket list item for me to attend every major tennis open.  So far I’ve done the US Open and it was amazing.  Oh… what’s that?  This is a book review and not me fangirling about Roger Federer?  Fine.  Well, lets just say that I loved that this book had a tennis storyline in it and I now want to read 210982083 other books that feature tennis!  (Let me know if you have any recommendations!)
This is my first Olivia Dade book but it sure won’t be my last.  I laughed out loud multiple times when reading this book.  The banter between the two characters was amazing.  I should also mention that i rarely root for a couple when they fall in love in a really quick time frame in a book.  I was rooting for Lucas and Tess! I think that just says something about Dade’s writing of the couple in general that you want to root for them.
As you can see, this is the second book in a series.  I actually didn’t even know that and it didn’t affect the flow of reading this book at all.  So it is safe to say that it is a stand alone book within a series!  (Btw, how cool is it that so many romance books do that? Why don’t other genres do that as often?)

what i didn't like
Tess talks about her goal to be the principal at her school. She talks about it a lot.  Too much.  Did I convey that point enough? Haha.  I liked that she had a professional goal but it was driven home too much for me.
Also, at one point in the book I lost steam a bit.  The dialogue slowed down and I found myself skimming a bit to try to reach some dialogue.  That doesn’t necessarily say anything about the writing style of the book because it could honestly have been my attention span while reading it.  But I feel it must me mentioned in my review!

while reading you should
Do: Play tennis.  It’s okay if you suck at it, it’s still fun!
Eat: a cupcake.  Preferably after you play tennis as a reward.
Watch: Borg vs McEnroe

when to read
This book is a total vacation read.  Summertime is even better.

arc review

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Wall of Winnipeg by Maria Zapata

wall of winnipeg

official blurb
Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary. But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked. For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable. What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

4.25 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

Wow I cannot believe how long it took me to get into this book and also how much I ended up loving it for how long it took me to get into it!

There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this hefty book. That’s right… It’s hefty. Her books are SO long and this one was 673 pages! Alcoholism, physical abuse, drug addiction (side character), foster care. There were maybe more than that if I really broke it all down but those were the majors.

It was my first Zapata book and she was described to me as the master of a slow burn. Totally agree after reading and I am here for it! But let me tell you, I was well over 100 pages into this book… maybe 175-ish and I was so close to DNFing this book.  The only reason I didn’t is because I’ve had so many friends rave about it.  I totally get the hype now.  As I’ve been away from this book I almost upped my rating to 5 stars because I’ve thought about this book so frequently, but it is (in my opinion) too long.  Like, way too long.  But dang, was it good!!

There was one sex scene in the book. It was probably around a three steam level- and this scene could easily be skipped. There’s also cursing in it, in case that bothers you!

Aiden gave me major Joshua Templeman vibes from The Hating Game and I loved that! I do wish some of the chapters were written in his perspective.

I also stalled out a LITTLE bit in the end. I usually love an epilogue but this book was so long that I honestly didn’t enjoy the epilogue much at all. After finally getting into this book though, I cruised through the middle/end of it! So a solid four stars for me!

while reading you should
Watch: Love on the Sidelines
Eat: a vegan meal
Do: go for a run

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