Friday, July 20, 2018

Tea Party Talk: Stop Undervaluing Romance Books and Shaming Romance Readers

In the last few years, I've been making an effort to expand my reading interest! This was an exciting and fun change that has led to a bunch of awesome books. Through this, I have discovered a love of romance novels! I've always been drawn to books that have romantic subplots so I was thrilled when I picked up my first romance book and found that the focus was on two people finding love. I found so much comfort in these stories, especially when I was going through times that I found emotionally difficult. They've helped me through some dark parts in my life and hold a special place in my heart. But since becoming a romance reader, I've wrestled with some ridiculous (but harmful) reactions from others. 

It wasn't until I began really falling into the genre that I was confronted by some of the not-so-great consequences of reading it (i.e.: people thinking you're dumb/not a "real" reader because you enjoy a good romance). I was honestly shocked that people were so harsh on the romance genre and its readers. I would go into the romance aisles at bookstores and catch the judgemental stares of other people browsing throughout the store (but, of course, staying faaaar away from the romance aisle). I got the impression that people thought I was somehow a lesser reader or not as intelligent because I was holding books in my hands that focused on romance. 

I honestly started feeling self-conscious and embarrassed whenever I found myself standing in the romance aisles. My kindle began filling with these titles because I felt better about buying them online rather than in the store (no one to judge you when you buy online). I hated the way other people made me feel, like I had something to be ashamed of just because I enjoyed this genre. It was infuritating, if I'm being honest. I've read widely and voraciously for many years -- everything from classics, to Young Adult, to high fantasy and beyond. And I've read romance novels that were just as (if not more) well written than books in those genres. Romance novels that tackled tough and nuanced subjects, that had three dimensional and complex characters, that brought up interesting and engaging questions to me as a reader. 

I have never seen romance as a "lesser-than" genre and it pisses me off that some people think of it that way and for what reason? Because there's kissing? Because they often end in a happily ever after? What is wrong with that? Sometimes a happily ever after is necessary (especially with all of horrors and negativity in the world right now -- if I want to read a book that will leave me happy, I damn well will).   

I'm tired of people (both in and out of the industry) not taking the romance genre seriously and looking down their noses at the readers. I'm especially tired of letting them make me feel ashamed for reading these stories! So, no more of that nonsense. Here are some absolutely amazing romance stories that you should check out because they're incredible.

LGBTQ+ sports romance that is so awesome I'm still flailing about it weeks after finishing. The MCs are so amazing and Gavin Brawley is my favorite and he needs to be protected at all cost. Add it on Goodreads.

Unproblematic fav and another sports romance. I loved the progression of the relationship in this one and the lack of unnecessary drama and angst. Read if you want to smile a whole bunch. Add it on Goodreads.

A romance full of awesome representation and diversity. The heroine has Asperger's and the hero is Vietnamese and Swedish and they are literally so amazing together. This was one of my favorite books of the year so far and I think everyone should read it. Add it on Goodreads.

This is one that I can read over and over again and never get tired of. I related so much to the heroine when I read it and fell head of heels for the hero. Seriously, Crosbie is so amazing and sweet. Add it on Goodreads.

I can't not add this book to a list of awesome, must-read romance books. I've read it only about a million times and plan to read it more. If you're a fan of enemies-to-lovers romances, you should read this one. Add it on Goodreads

What are some of your favorite romance books? This only barely scratches the surface of my favorites but these are a good start! Have you ever experienced judgement from people who found out you read a certain genre? How did you deal with it? I'd love to hear from you!

Leave your comments in the comments below!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Title: Children of Blood and Bone 
Series: Legacy of Orisha #1
Author: Tomi Adeyemi 
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers 
Publication Date: March 6, 2018 
Source: Bought 

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

You guys, this book was so good and I'm so happy it's getting all the recognition and praise it deserves. So many fantasy novels are all based in the same recycled worlds and this one felt so fresh and exciting -- I loved the history, the setting, and the magic systems. This fantasy novel makes me excited to see what other diverse and amazing stories will be released.

Children of Blood and Bone is told through three different point of views: Zélie, Amari, and Amari's brother, Inan. These characters were so interesting -- they were flawed, had unique backgrounds, and had to confront different obstacles throughout their journey. While they drove me crazy at times (particularly Zélie and Inan), I found myself rooting for them throughout the story. Also, I love Amari. Seriously, she was the character I was rooting for the most, the one that had me feeling all the feels. I want all her dreams to come true and for her to be happy for forever. As far as Zélie and Inan go . . . I was frustrated with them so often. Zélie kept making rash decisions that put people in danger and Inan was so wishy washy . . . I kept wanting him to have an independent thought and do what he wanted to do, rather than the people around him. 

The plot was fairly straightforward -- a quest in which the characters were working to retrieve something to save many people. I won't say much else because I don't want to spoil anything but I definitely enjoyed the main plotline in this. One thing that bothered me though was that there seemed to be so many side quests that took us away from the main story. I started getting frustrated and it made me take longer to read this than I wanted.

Overall, this novel was one that made me excited to read more like it. I'm hoping this will lead to more diverse and interesting fantasy books (and more diverse books in general). I'm also excited to see where this series goes -- the ending was a bit of a cliffhanger and I'm looking forward to getting answers to the questions I was left with!

“Courage does not always roar. Valor does not always shine.” 

Four out of Five Teapots

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday #130

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine which spotlights highly anticipated upcoming releases.

Title: Two Weeks Notice 
Author: Whitney G. 
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary 
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: July 20, 2018 

To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to formally announce my resignation from Parker International (& the arrogant, condescending CEO) effective two weeks from today.
This was a VERY EASY decision to make, as the past two years have been utterly miserable. I wish his next executive assistant all the luck in the world (she'll need it) and if my boss should need me to do anything over the next two weeks, kindly tell him that he can do it [his] goddamn self...
Sincerely (Not Really),Tara Lauren
That’s the version of my two weeks’ notice I should’ve sent to my boss, because the more professional version—the one where I said I was "grateful for all the opportunities," and "honored by all the rewarding experiences" over the years?
That letter was rejected with his sexy, trademark smirk and an “I highly suggest you read the fine print of your contract...”
So, I did.
And now I've realized that unless I fake my death, poison him, or find a way to renegotiate my impossible contract, I’m stuck working under one of the cockiest and most ruthless bosses in New York.
Then again, I thought that was the case until he called me late last night with an emergency proposition... 

Why I'm waiting on Two Weeks Notice this Wednesday: I've read a few books by Whitney G. before and have always had a pretty good time with them! I'm especially excited for this on before I'm a total sucker for the enemies to lovers trope AND I'm a total sucker for office romances. Best of both worlds here!

Have you ever read anything from Whitney G? Which one is your favorite? I'm seriously such a sucker for these tropes so I'm really hoping this one lives up to my expectations. It's supposed to release in two days and I'm happy I won't have to wait too long to read it and find out! 

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Novellas and Short Stories!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl in which we share out top ten lists relating to the bookish topic assigned that week.

This week's topic is...

Favorite Novellas and Short Stories!

Okay, a little warning: I hardly ever read novellas or short stories. I'm definitely more of a novel girl so this look is probably going to be a pretty short list! 

1. Filthy Gods by R. Scarlett 

2. Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

3. Trust in Me by J. Lynn

4. Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L. Armentrout 

5. A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas 

Aaaaaaand that's it. Honestly, it's so rare for me to read a novella or short story. I just always want more time with the characters and find it hard to get drawn into the story in that short amount of time. Luckily, most of the novellas I have read are from already established series where I am familiar with the characters and the world. Do you guys read novellas more than me? What are your favorites? 

Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Series: Creekwood #1
Author: Becky Alertalli
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT+, Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 7, 2015

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
I'm mad at myself for waiting so long to read this because it was so good. Seriously, so good. This is the sort of book that gave me all sorts of happy, giddy feels. The sort of book that left me with a smile on my face after I turned the last page. I totally get the hype around it now. It's so adorable; I had heart eyes the whole time I was reading!

Simon is my favorite. Seriously, he was such an awesome character and just a joy to read about. He's the kind of character I wish I could make real and be best friends with. Even though he's not real, he felt so real and I loved that. It was refreshing reading about a character who was so vivid and was an accurate portrayal of high school students today. He was friendly and had awesome friends but also dealt with anxiety and overthinking at times. I know I've already said it a bunch but I really appreciate the realness of him and the other characters in this!

I loved the slow development between Simon and the mysterious Blue. The fact that they became confidants and such good friends through email was so adorable and sweet. And I had a field day trying to figure out who Blue was. Every guy that Simon interacted with at the school was suspect and I really loved the mystery aspect of the story! 

ALSO! I loved the relationship between Simon and his friends. They were awesome to each other and -- even though there were some problems sometimes -- always had each other's backs in the end. This was a super healthy representation of a friend group which isn't often found in YA but which we definitely need more of. AND Simon's relationship with his family was just as awesome and healthy. It was wonderful.

My only little tiny complaint is that the story sometimes felt rushed, disjointed, or abrupt. Some scenes ended so quickly that I was left with a bit of whiplash -- not a huge deal but it sometimes took me out of the story.

If, like me, you've waited years to pick up this book . . . do it now! It's an amazing story full of awesome representation and it needs to be read by all! I'm looking forward to reading more from this author!

“People really are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it's a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.” 

Four out of Five Teapots
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