Okay, this book is exactly what it looks like and I liked it.
And I don’t care what you think.
The Rogue of Fifth Avenue by Joanna Shupe follows Mamie Greene, the oldest of three sisters (the other two do get their own books and I am here for it) who leads a double life as uptown princess and Robin Hood of the tenement blocks. Her worried father has her followed by his lawyer…who is obviously tall, dark, handsome, smart, and secretive…and banter, tension, adventure, court cases, and everything else ensues.
I do not want to give too much away, but this book was a good escape, especially on a deck, with a coffee . I always go into books like this (guilty pleasure reads) wanting to find ridiculous speeches and descriptions to share with my bookish pals, but I always end up getting kind of sucked into the story.
Apparently, I am doing a lot of “guilty pleasure” reading this summer. Well…in between my YA reads and my anti-racist reading. Here is one that I liked. Didn’t love.
Am I hard to please? Well, no, but I have read over 3000 books in my 32 years and it is hard to really surprise me with a plot. I almost feel like I have read it all before. That means I hardly ever really “love” a book, but I usually still “like” it.
Please read my previous and future reviews with that in mind.
Bringing Down the Duke
Bringing Down the Duke, to frequent readers of historical romance, has a familiar plot. Beautiful, but too intelligent to land a husband, Annabelle Archer (love an alliterative name) crosses paths with handsome but cold and aloof Sebastian Devereux, Duke of Montgomery while she is handing out fliers in support of women’s suffrage. After that, you. know what happens.
This one was fun and steamy. I loved the build up of tension and the back drop of the British women’s suffrage movement. That was a new one. It is great when a main heroine asserts her intelligence, but loved to see her using it to affect change for a larger group of people, rather than just her own place in society.
What kept me from loving it was this: I’m not a huge fan of the “woman getting a fever from being out in the cold so they have to stay at the aloof, heartless, handsome aristocrat’s manor” trope. But it’s always a pretty convenient way to advance a romantic plot. Come on. I get it, but I would have loved something more.
With that being said, I did enjoy my experience reading it last night and I will absolutely pick up Evie Dunmore’s next one.
If Peter and Lara Jean or Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds made you swoon, this might be the book for you.
Not That Kind of Guyfollows hard working attorney Bridget. Fresh off a break-up with the only serious boyfriend she ever had, she is saddled with handsome and wealthy intern Matt.
I found it to be hot and kind of cute.
The premise, intern/boss forbidden lust to drunken Vegas mistake to fake relationship had, had all of the fun romance tropes. I liked both characters and loved her family.
I just kind of wish there was a little more build up of tension between the two of them. They work together for three months and we learn this because the book flashes forward and we are told that three months of meaningful looks and tension have happened.
I, for one, would have enjoyed being frustrated about that with them.
That all being said, I did not love it, but I liked it. Pick it up and make your own judgement.
Last week, I engaged in a Twitter discourse with followers of Epic Reads about the term “guilty pleasure” and how it applies to reading. Many fellow Tweeters expressed a similar sentiment to mine.
As I have mentioned before, almost ad nauseam, I find the term to be outdated and sexist. It mostly applies to female readers and books where the plot focuses on romance. Sometimes the book is humorous. Sometimes the book has a murder. Sometimes the book is vaguely historical. No matter the actual plot or setting, a “guilty pleasure” read usually has a steamy romance and a happy ending. Sign me up!
Readers have to hide their delight in these often predictable books. The couple meets, has some tension, has some smutty moments around page 150, has some sort of conflict, and then gets together in the end. So what if the text that brought them together would not be taught in an upperclassmen literature seminar? The idea that only highbrow novels are worthy of reading and worthy of discussing is elitist and foolish.
“Guilty pleasure” reads often provide socio-emotional and empathy training for readers without them even realizing it. These books give us an escape. These novels make us want to actually pick up and finish a book, instead of scrolling mindlessly on our phone. These books have value, even if they cost six dollars at the grocery store instead of twenty dollars at a book store.
So here it is. The newest addition to my blog: The “Guilty Pleasures” Book Project. As I review and think about books, I am going to update a new page on my blog that brings all of these reads together. Please recommend and comment so that we can start to reclaim the term and read things we enjoy without shame.
Because a love of reading is a love of reading, no matter what you choose to read.
But, am I learning that it is not a mark of shame for its reader? Also yes.
Two nights ago, I binge read The Dareby Elle Kennedy. I do not care what you think of her books or her writing style. Well, I do, but I refuse to be shamed because I enjoy them. Her books make me laugh. Her books make me swoon (a little and a lot…mostly a lot.). And, most importantly, they are something that I read because of my best friend. She shares new ones with me. She shares her favorite lines with me. We share our lol-worthy or swoon-worthy moments. As she would say: “Real friends share smutty books with each other.”
I think that is a beautiful sentiment.
This latest smutty-book-share follows elementary education major, sorority sister, curvier than she would like, college student Taylor. Very early on in the book, Taylor is dared by her arch-nemesis to seduce the hot new hockey player Conor, a tall order considering the lack of confidence that Taylor has in her body. Of course, high-jinx and smut ensue.
Not going to lie, this one is heavier on the smut, with a little bit of fun and feelings. It has the always great “fake dating” trope and fairly realistic heroine (who wants to be a teacher!)
My only gripe is that I wish Taylor had a bit more to her personality than her body image issues. As someone with a lot of hang-ups of her own, I like to think that I am more than that and I don’t need some handsome hockey player to convince me otherwise. So I found her relatable, but I thought we could have seen a little bit more of what she could be.
But complex characterization is not why you pick up an Elle Kennedy.
Using the term in quotations makes it not real, right? Remember, no shame allowed on this blog!
After Buzzfeed published its list of romance novels to read over the summer (you know, beach reads, mainly targeted at women..which I love,) I immediately put holds on most of them. Buzzfeed does do a great list of books. This particular list was diverse and intriguing to a teacher about to have a lot more time for reading. I have gotten through a few on the list and wanted to spotlight one that many people loved and I found to be just okay.
The Happy Ever AFter Playlist
BEYOND THREE STARS RATING: 3 STARS
Trying not to give books three stars, but honestly, I found this one to be just okay. The Happy Ever After Playlist starts out with a dog jumping into to the car of Sloan Monroe; a character who lost her fiance in an accident and is having trouble finding herself and moving on. Luckily for her, the dog’s owner, handsome rockstar Jason, is away and she has found herself a new friend in the dog and a flirty penpal in the man.
The plot was fun and predictable. The characters were quirky and mostly well rounded. I really liked the main character’s best friend who was fierce and protective of Sloan, but also hilarious. I really enjoyed the villainizing of the media and music industry. The story does dig into grief, loss, and the toll fame can take on a person’s mental health fairly well. Sometimes it all seemed a little overly dramatic to me and I worried that it made the otherwise strong Sloan seem like she needed saving, but this drama certainly added to the evolution of the characters and their relationships.
Otherwise, I mostly finished it to finish it. Cute, but nothing super special…to be fair, I am very hard to surprise or impress when it comes to this type of novels.
If you are looking for something fun, you can find it here!
When I was in college, studying great works of literature…mostly by white, dead, British men, a friend endlessly mocked me whenever I picked up a “chick lit” book. They would tell me: “You are better than that. You are smarter than that.” It bothered me. It bothered me a lot. At some level, I agreed with her and started hiding my “guilty pleasure” books from everyone. You know, things I enjoyed, that were not challenging or part of the literary elite.
Why are some books considered more worthy than others? Who decides this? Who decides that an English major at a large private university is reading beneath them if they pick up something that is not in the “canon” or, god forbid, fun? Why do we have to hide our reading of books that we enjoy and call them “guilty pleasures,” as though we should be ashamed to read them? Why is it often women who feel this shame and use this labeling?
**We KNOW who decided this and we KNOW why** But that is a longer and more complex conversation.
In my teen years, I learned more complex vocabulary words and more about history from vaguely historical bodice rippers, than I did from AP European History. To be fair, I did go and research the time periods and the people that the books were about, once the romance was done. I learned about feelings and continue to further my emotional and social growth by reading middle grade books, YA books, and romance novels. Sometimes I even pick up these genres because the plot or setting of a book appeals to me the way some movies and TV shows appeal to other people . Even if the plot, structure, or word choice are not always complex for this 32 year old, the feelings and emotional reactions still can be.
I always tell my students that I do not care what they read, as long as they read something. At the end of the day, a person that reads at least twenty minutes a day will learn a million more words than their same age peers. Whatever they read, article, how-to for a video game, graphic novel, middle grade fiction book, can be enough. If they like it and they will read it, that is the start of a lifelong love of reading…anything.
All books can be valuable, if the reader gets something out of it. No shame allowed.
Don’t get me wrong. I do appreciate, enjoy, and read the “canon” (such a problematic term,) various classics, and modern literary fiction. I read books to learn, to see what the buzz is about, to get me out of my comfort zone. And that is all important! But, often, I need something different.
Book Review: Verity By Colleen Hoover
That brings me to my first review. I plan to give my rating and break it down by star. You’ll see!
The literary elites might write off this author and her books as “guilty pleasures,” but I do not. Colleen Hoover is known for her Contemporary Romance and Thrillers. I read them and I am not afraid to admit that I like them.
Verity tells the story of down on her luck, one-hit wonder novelist Lowen Ashleigh, who is on the verge of losing everything. Seemingly randomly, she is offered the opportunity to finish the last book of a celebrated thriller novelist Verity Crawford. To do this, she must head to Verity’s remote Vermont home and sort through her papers. What Lowen finds among Verity’s papers and Verity’s home, leaves Lowen and the reader both disturbed and on the edge of their seat.
Why I liked it: First Star– My emotional reactions to the characters and plot were complex. I loved and hated everyone. I trusted everyone and no one. I was intrigued and disturbed, all at the same time. Second Star– The plot moved and the text wasn’t super challenging. I sat down for a few hours and devoured it. Never a dull moment. Third Star- The romance, although I could have done with the circumstances, was hot. Fourth Star– I cannot stop thinking about what the truth is. What really happened. I am still not certain.
What kept me from giving it 5 stars: Lowen finds a journal of Verity’s that details some horrifying things that she admits to doing. Some of it was very hard to read, even if it was compelling. Also, I found the main character to be a fairly weak one with almost no agency. I wish that she had been empowered to do more and take more control.
Did any of that stop me from enjoying the book overall? Nah. A reader can critique a book and still be able o enjoy. Myself included.
In sum, read what you want. Read what intrigues you. Read what interests you. Read what you think is fun. Read what moves you. No shame allowed.
But hey, occasionally, sneak out of your comfort zone and read something different, if you want. The way I see it, if people are reading anything that is a good thing.
What do you love to read, even if some might label them “guilty pleasures?”