If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

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Ugh. I have a headache now from all the crying I did while reading this book. I still rated it a 5, but it was just so dang depressing for a Kristan Higgins novel! Spoiler alert (it’s in the blurb) one of the husbands is a cheater.

I’m not sure exactly what made me cry so much. They were the leaky tears that you don’t even notice until they either roll down your cheeks or make it difficult to see the page. I suspect my BF’s smoking played a roll in my tears because it’s our “other woman”. BF won’t lie about it, but he certainly isn’t as forthcoming as he should be and there are a lot of the same “I’m weak” comments. Grr.

My mom came out here to spend half the day with him since she had the day off and with two full grown children her compulsive shopping addiction has gotten out of control (she’s depressed). He took her out to lunch, drove her around the county on all his favorite back roads, showed her a Fort we found, took her to get a car with the tow truck, and at some point brought up the idea of marrying me. She gave her blessing, of course (she’s had us hitched since she first found out we were a couple). He told her that it won’t happen until he’s been smoke free for 2 months, but there’s still the Feb 29th deadline looming. And I came home yesterday to him in the backyard smoking a pathetic looking butt that he wouldn’t but out until he’d gotten one last drag on it. So yeah…while I don’t have to worry about another woman catching his eye, I still have to contend with the siren’s call that can be triggered by nothing more than a neighbor asking if he has a cigarette to spare. By the way, he’s been telling me for a week that he’s only been getting drags, rather than whole cigarettes from his friends–how did he end up with something smokable in his pocket?

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Northanger Abbey

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I’m very glad that I’ve decided to finally tackle the works of Jane Austen. The more I read of her, the more a fan I become.

Northanger Abbey started out kind of slow, which I expected when the introduction implied it was the first novel she’d written even though it was only published after her death. It starts out sounding very much like a rant against society, which I think is common amongst young writers. I know that my one attempt at writing a novel gets a C- from me simply because I spent too much time ranting. Of course, Ms. Austen had the skill that I lacked which is in her ability to reign it in, or at least when it’s viewed from 2015, these rants would have been shared by all of us modern women, so we sympathize instead of condemning her “youth”.

This is definitely a book that a lot of teenage girls today would still find relevant, especially when it comes to the “friends” who are self-centered and conniving. I could only groan at the comments that Catherine used to be so easy to persuade and that it’s her fault that their trip would be ruined because she has other plans. There are plenty of women in therapy now because of the guilt laid upon them by “friends” who are actually abusive users.

I also found the conversation between Catherine and Henry on the definition of matrimony as relative to a country dance. They end up with such a complex definition of what it means to be married, I’m surprised that just 2 weeks ago another debate was hashed out in our court system that a marriage can be so easily defined as “between a man and a woman”. Goodness: if that’s all it takes to make a marriage last, why on Earth does divorce exist?!? Of course, in today’s world, most people would agree that there is also more to a marriage than a man supporting his wife  and the wife making “an agreeable home”. ‘Course, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable if they proscribed way to find a husband (a woman’s only duty, of course) was for her to hide every scrap of intelligence she has, or to not be intelligent to begin with.

“Yes, I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” I’ve always been the “smart” one of the group, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been appreciated for not being pretentious. I do not like people using a “5 dollar word” as a measure of intelligence especially since many who do use such words incorrectly. I have had to say on a few occasions: “I’m not sure the word you just used means what you think it means” and I admit it’s difficult to do with a straight face. Luckily, most don’t mean any harm by it, they’re simply trying to sound smart, but I like to think that smart is something you do, not something you say.

I was listening to an interview on NPR with researchers who want to promote physical intelligence instead of merely mental intelligence in US society (the action of creating something rather than the mental processes of thinking about stuff). I disagreed with the whole notion that a single individual can excel at both ways of learning because I don’t think it’s probable for all humans to be geared towards the exact same way of learning: kinetic vs. listening vs. optical. Yes, US society looks down upon the individuals who lack “book knowledge”, but watching my BF load and unload a car Friday night shows me that there is a considerable amount of intelligence that goes into physical labor! My brother would also tell you that it IS a skill to be able to load a trailer properly–he’d been the unfortunate victim of one such person too many times when he quit his job loading them because the other person’s “walls” kept falling on him.

My only complaint is that when Catherine realized the error of her ways in making assumptions about the General based on her experience with romantic novels, she was only able to extend her miss-assumptions to those who live within her general area (or at least this is how I read this passage)–people in the far east and west would still be like the villains and heroes of her novels: either good or evil and nothing in between.

On that note, I anxiously await my next Blogging for Books request: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and as Warning. I’ve heard that it relates to the xenophobia we’re now seeing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Something doesn’t sit right with me when doctors, lawyers, and teachers are treated like vermin simply because they’ve been forced to take sketchy boats, trucks or just walk to cross borders  just to get away from oppression in their home countries.

P.S. Does anyone know why this book was originally called “Susan” by Ms. Austen? I’m pretty sure that there is no one called by that name in this novel!

Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Well, I’m going to start this review off with a minor spoiler alert: it ends more or less on a cliffhanger and the next book won’t be published until Aug. 2016. Boo. BUT, this is still a fantastic read for anyone who likes fantasy romances. Though, when it comes to this series, I really recommend starting from the beginning because even though every book stands alone, the characters intermingle amongst themselves and there’s a lot of subtle stuff that you’d miss out on if you read them out of order. Like the major squeal that escaped me within the first 5 chapters or so, hahaha!!! I’ll stop there because that’d be a MAJOR Spoiler! But I assume all fan-girls (and fan-guys) have already read this one, so I’m not very worried.

Anywho. Bad-ass dragons. Amazon warriors. The usual stuff for a Dark-Hunter novel. I’ll admit that these books get to the point that they’re really formulaic, but the stories themselves are so nuanced to keep things interesting. For instance this book explains the invention of the entire Were-Hunter species, which we fan-girls have been dying to learn for like 15 books!

One of the reasons I like the Were-Hunter stories (which is a subsection of the Dark-Hunters Universe) is because there are two types of “Weres”–those who are humans who can shift into animals (Arcadians) and those who are animals that can shift into humans (Katagarians). One of the running themes tackles the issue of who the “real animals” are and the answer isn’t necessarily the obvious one. In previous books we’ve been told/shown that they’ve been hunting each other for centuries because of some endless civil war. In this book, we learn what started it all.

Like I said, this book ends with me whining for more even more than I do usually with this series. I miss the days when I was 15 books behind the author and could order a new one every week! But actually, for anyone looking to get hooked on this series, there are about 6 additional books hinted at within this one (which one HUGE one, if I do say so myself).

Find it here on Amazon! Yes, that’s an affiliate link, haha.

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Idea Bank #29: Fictional Loves

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Since I haven’t finished a book yet this week (I’m only in the middle of 3 right now), I’ve decided to prove I still exist with another installment of the Idea Bank:

In a fantasy world, forget about spouses and loves, if you could fall in love with a movie or tv character, name 5 you would choose. Not the actors but the movie characters.

First of all, I’m going to expand this a bit to include a few book characters.

Number 1 on my list: The Doctor

No, I’m not really picky. (The War Doctor is by himself simply because I couldn’t find a proper image of all 13).

Number 2 on my list: Is a toss-up between Acheron or Styxx. Right now Styxx might have a slight upperhand because he got a slightly shorter end of the stick. But definitely if you’re going to read ONLY these two books in the Dark-Hunter series, read Acheron’s first. But if you like not-your-typical-vampires/Greek mythology fantasy romance novels, these are totally right up your alley and I say start with Night Pleasures so you can learn all the nuances of these characters! Rated M for Mature, though.

Number 3: Darling Cruel from Born of Silence part of The League series. It’s pretty standard that the males in a Sherrilyn Kenyon book will be beat down physically and emotionally so that they can be saved by the woman they would never have believed to exist. Darling takes that premise to a WHOLE new level. I think I started crying while reading this book 2 or 3 times because his case was so awful. I’d suggest starting with Born of Night so that, again, you can learn his backstory before you reach this book. The hints you learn early on will increase the experience when you finally get to read his story.

Okay…I promise that I won’t choose any more of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s characters for this post. Though…I think there’s only 4 that immediately jump out at me (all from the Dark-Hunter Series): Vane, Fang, Zarek and Valerius. (Links go to their books via Amazon).

Number 4: Malone from Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins. Strong and silent yet happily smitten with a klutzy, talkative town sweetheart. Oddly enough, Malone here is probably the closest we’ll come to my actual boyfriend. Though…BF does have his issues that align him more closely with the first “3” listed here. Anyway. Higgins is my go to when I need a quick and happy read. There’s just enough drama to keep things interesting, but not so much as to make me worry that a happy ending won’t happen.

And finally Number 5: Once again I have a toss up between Morpheus of the Splintered series and Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files. These would be the guys that would be hella interesting to be with, but based on their characterization in their respective series, would be prone to dramatics and not just because of the danger involved in their lives. While my earlier choices have had their share of personal issues affecting their relationships, they’re all open to the possibility of finding “The One” (yes, even The Doctor). Morpheus, however, tends to be a bit too much on the selfish side and Harry is currently stuck in a holding pattern of poor decision making in the romance department. Both can be redeemed, but in my opinion, it’d be more the work of the woman than them.

My own experience with a guy who had been in a “holding pattern of poor decision making in the romance department” (i.e. my current boyfriend), the fact that he met me and THEN decided to dump the dead-weight girlfriend, then took another 2 years to ask me out gave him plenty of time to work a few things out about relationships for himself before he started one with me.

Falling for Max

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Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he’s starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he’s always been a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, and working from home doesn’t help. He spends so much time alone, painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.

Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she’s intrigued. When she finds out he’s in the market for a wife, she’s fascinated…and determined to help.

Molding Max into every woman’s dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori’s plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she’ll have to find a way to show just how she’s fallen for him…the real him.

“The Kowalskis” is a very cute series. This installment will tug on the heartstrings of anyone who has a thing for the adorably awkward guy.

The Best Man

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Sometimes the best man is the one you least expect…

Faith Holland left her hometown after being jilted at the altar. Now a little older and wiser, she’s ready to return to the Blue Heron Winery, her family’s vineyard, to confront the ghosts of her past, and maybe enjoy a glass of red. After all, there’s some great scenery there….

Like Levi Cooper, the local police chief—and best friend of her former fiancé. There’s a lot about Levi that Faith never noticed, and it’s not just those deep green eyes. The only catch is she’s having a hard time forgetting that he helped ruin her wedding all those years ago. If she can find a minute amidst all her family drama to stop and smell the rosé, she just might find a reason to stay at Blue Heron, and finish that walk down the aisle.

As a non-drinker, I can’t help but giggle at the many wine tasting descriptions. Are the completely made up? And is that maybe the inside joke of wine production? And while these gifts are all wine related, please note that this is a romance novel set kind of on a vineyard. Wine consumption/adoration is not required for enjoying any of Ms. Higgins novels.

Wine Glasses bottle and grapes Zazzle HEART Wine Bag

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Wine and Wood Recipe Binder

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Not gifts per se, but I think these are a fitting accompaniment to this novel: