Annabelle “Annie” Coffey is a super intelligent undergrad student in her last semester of university when she decides to ask Dr. Charles Douglas, the brilliant and attractive postdoc fellow in her research lab, to sleep with her. For (obvious) ethical reasons, he turns her down.
Since Annie’s graduating in a mere few weeks, she’s hoping their budding friendship “can turn physical–just until Annie leaves for graduate school.”
I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I like this book so far. I’m about 22% in, and I find the voice of Annie completely engaging and believable. It turns out Dr. Charles is also British, endearingly awkward, and kind. Part of me thinks How Not to Fall may be Emily Foster’s answer to Fifty Shades of Grey, which I’ve never read.
After taking a little break from devouring books to play some Animal Crossing over the weekend, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this.
Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have been rival TV presenters for years. Now, with both of their reputations suffering, they’re forced to work together as cohosts of a morning show in an effort to save the show and their careers.
I started listening to the audiobook over the weekend–surprising no one, I’m sure. As with the previous book in the London Celebrities series, Billie Fulford-Brown narrates the audio. And I am here for it. 🙂
Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially whenFreddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
The audiobook. The voice actor Billie Fulford-Brown does a great job of performing the characters’ voices.
It’sentertaining and fast-paced. So much happens. Much like in the Austen-inspired play the heroine Freddy and the other actors perform in the book, there are twists and turns and action. Much more in the way of action than I expected.
The complex relationships among family members. Please see above about twists and turns.
Freddy! The heroine is determined and relentless, even when crap hits the fan and/or things get rough for her.
Grumpy hero is grumpy. Freddy refers to the hero Griff as Lucius Malfoy in the beginning of the book, which I found charming. Griff reminds me of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Of course, there’s a gentle, loyal, and loving man beneath all that grump.
Initially, I wanted to skip this part because I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like about The Austen Playbook.
Maybe the lack of direct conflict between Griff and Freddy in the latter half of the story is one thing I can nitpick. The quick resolution of the scruples each of them have about being together and the quickness of their getting past each other’s mistakes; however, line up with their characters. Especially after each of them undergoes their own growth.
Seeing as how I re-listened to the last three chapters and epilogue of the audiobook right after finishing, I think it would be remiss of me to give this anything but 5 stars. (I rarely reread.) Also, my initial rating on Goodreads was 4 stars, and, upon reflection, I realized 4 didn’t cover how much I like–nay, love–this book.
Highly recommended. And if you like to listen to audiobooks, definitely check it out. I found the copy I listened to on Hoopla.
Have you read The Austen Playbook? What did you think?
It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…
There was so much to enjoy:
The complex, engaging characters: Lily and Luc both have something to prove when the story begins (even if Luc won’t admit it, especially to himself). Both of them end up breaking through each other’s high walls and growing as people toward each other. It’s wonderful to watch.
The dialogue: Lucy Parker is so very good at writing dialogue, and her witty banter is no exception. Much like in the first book in her series, the heroine and the hero trade satisfying banter that was delightful.
The cameos: Lainie and Richard, the heroine and hero, respectively, from Act Like It make an appearance at a cocktail party where they talk to Lily. In this scene, Richard says to Lily,
Play to the public, not the critics. They’ve paid a lot of money, they’re out for a good time, and once that curtain is up and they’re caught in the plot, most of them will be backing you.
The audiobook narrator: Morag Sims does an amazing job voice acting. Her performance of Lily’s natural voice is spot on.
The grovel: Luc has an excellent grovel scene once he wises up to how wrong he was about Lily.
I wish there had been more theatre scenes. What we see about the goings on at the London theatre Luc has renovated and runs is fascinating. I would’ve liked to see more of the rehearsals between the characters before the opening night of 1553, the play they’re putting on about the three Tudor queens.
I recommend this to anyone who reads contemporary romance. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read featuring very human characters who undergo satisfying development. The witty banter is top-notch. The theme of keeping up appearances versus choosing your own happiness resonated with me and is handled well through the setting of the theatre world in the West End of London.
With this second book in her London Celebrities series, Lucy Parker has written another gem.
Have you read Pretty Face yet? What did you think?
I started listening to the audio of Pretty Face late last night (thanks, Hoopla!). After taking advantage of a price drop on my favorite contemporary romance—Act Like It by Lucy Parker–to get a copy for my Kindle yesterday, I decided to look for its follow up in the London Celebrities series. (Act Like Itis still on sale for $1.99 on Amazon.)
I thought getting back to reading the London Celebrities series, which now includes five books, would provide some relaxing listening while I wound down for bed. I didn’t anticipate how thoroughly the book would reel me in–and how much comfort it would bring.
My Goodreads progress update for today says, “I am loving this book. The narrator does an excellent job.” The author does, too. Parker’s writing is sterling and her heroine witty. Already, I recommend this audiobook, and I haven’t even finished it yet.
I’m about 20% into this fascinating and informative adventure memoir about Krakauer’s fateful ascent to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1996.
I began it while in a narrative nonfiction mood post Bad Blood. After making the mistake of reading this right before bed (and sometimes falling asleep to it), I had a few disturbing dreams. Now, Into Thin Air is a daytime read for when I have a few hours to devote to it.
This week’s topic isn’t book-related, as Shanah “decided to change things up because we all need to smile, laugh, be motivated, and have something to look forward to.” I wholeheartedly concur.
By the by, if you are interested in participating in Top 5 Tuesday, please remember to ping back a specific post of Shanah’s in your post so she gets a notification, and she will add you to the participants list!
Top 5 Sanity Savers–Things I’m Enjoying While in Isolation
1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Not going to lie, I’ve stayed up late a few nights (at least) playing this game for the Switch. I resisted getting into it when it first came out last month, but now it’s a wholesome distraction. And it’s something soothing to look forward to.
2. Daily Meditation
Okay, this one might be a bit of a head scratcher. How can you enjoy meditating? you might ask. I can’t say I enjoy it, per se, but it’s definitely a sanity saver right now. It gets me to sit still, to focus on my body and my breath, which helps me to stay grounded.
I use the app Headspace to listen to guided meditations with the husband. A lot of meditation and mindfulness apps exist out there besides Headspace; Calm is one I’ve used before and liked.
3. Socializing–from a safe distance, of course
I’ve found that socializing virtually with friends has been quite important and a true sanity saver during this difficult time. (This coming from the queen of homebodyness and spending time alone.)
Chat and messaging apps like Discord and What’sApp are my go-to for staying in touch–and hanging out virtually with friends. Discord is great for clubs, communities, and groups of friends to communicate via text, voice, and video, and it’s free.
I’m lucky that my local group of friends is extremely supportive. I miss seeing them in person, but using the apps at my disposal has provided the next best thing.
4. Bookish Podcasts
Fated Mates is one of my favorite podcasts. I go through cycles of listening regularly to podcasts, and I recently jumped back into this one, which is co-hosted by author Sarah MacLean and romance critic Jen Prokop, to catch up. The most recent episodes actually gave me some hope in humanity.
Lady’s maid Molly Wilkins is done with thieving—and cheating and stabbing and all the rest of it. She’s determined to keep her hands to herself, so she really shouldn’t be tempted to seduce her employer’s prim and proper companion, Alice. But how can she resist when Alice can’t seem to keep her eyes off Molly?
I just started reading this novella by one of my favorite historical authors. Cat Sebastian’s The Lawrence Browne Affair is one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read.
Hi. It’s been a while since my last post, I know. Life has been…interesting, huh?
Here’s a wrap up of my March, including some mini reviews.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt low key anxiety/worry with a bit of boredom thrown in as you self-isolate wherever you are in the world.
My March began with a post-elopement party for family and friends at our home; it was a lot of fun, and I was really glad when it was over. After that, the husband and I recovered, binged the new season of Altered Carbon on Netflix (more on that below), and kept up with the news as things quickly escalated re: the epidemic that became a pandemic.
Once the husband and our housemate had to switch to working from home and doing school from home, respectively, I had to rearrange furniture and relinquish my home office. Now my work space is downstairs in an open area. (It would be cool to have a door I can close again, but at least we have enough room that I could make this space for myself.)
Restlessness and boredom haven’t left us untouched, as you might expect, but we’ve been lucky. Although my husband’s job has laid off some employees and implemented shorter work weeks with a pay reduction, I consider us privileged, and I’m really grateful for what we have.
Speaking of gratitude, I have so much for friends right now. Two of them, after hearing about the difficulties the husband is going through at his job, dropped off a few beers at our door this morning and invited us to join them in their Minecraft Realm tonight.
Their Realm has an inn with a bar in it. It’s the next closest thing to going out to eat and drink together. I’m looking forward to virtually hanging out with them tonight!
TV and Games I Enjoyed
Season 2 of Netflix’s Altered Carbon: Such a great season, possibly even better than the first.
Netflix’s The Stranger: A twisty turny suspenseful crime series based on a book by Harlan Coben. It kept me watching late into the night.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Do I need to say anything to hype this Nintendo Switch game? I haven’t played every single day since it came out, unlike many, so I feel a bit behind. It’s a game you can really jump into at any time though, kind of like Stardew Valley.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: My first time playing an Assassin’s Creed game! Boy did it suck me in, despite how grindy it can be. I couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous graphics, and the ancient Greek setting fascinates the history nerd in me.
Books I Read
I wish I could say I gave this 4 stars, but, alas, I would be lying. It was, at best, a 3 star read for me. The reason? The discriminatory manner in which the main character Kay Scarpetta treats a trans character is never questioned or later undermined at any point in the book. In fact, at least one other character who appears regularly in the series uses offensive language about the trans character–who, by the way, is brutally murdered.
I’m all for separating the artist from the art; however, in an effort to give the Kay Scarpetta series and its author the benefit of the doubt, I continued to the next book in the series and again was disappointed when Kay expresses racist and sexist views about a person who works for her within the first 50 pages. At that point, I put the book down and haven’t picked it up again.
Dust was published in 2013 and its follow up in 2014. They don’t have the flimsy excuse of oldey times to justify their transphobia, sexism, and racism.
Dust was a compelling read that kept me wanting to know what would happen next–and whodunnit–even through the scenes that involve the use of scientific jargon that can tend to bog down a narrative. That’s why I’m giving the book a generous 3 stars.
Will I read more in the series? Probably not. Too many books exist in the world.
Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld was a fun, somewhat distracting, and quirky read. I’d give it 3.5 stars.
It’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice that involves a Bachelor-like reality TV series, a crumbling mansion, and a cast of perpetually self-centered characters. The pace lost a bit of steam for me in the latter half, which is why the 3.5 stars.
It’s got everything one could want in a compelling thriller, yet it’s nonfiction. Carreyrou tells the story that well.
Now that the book’s been out for a while, there are podcasts and at least one documentary that delves into what happened and the person(s) behind the fraud, but I highly recommend adding this to your TBR anyway. You can’t go wrong with it.
Aaand finally, the end of this update!
What have you been reading, watching, and/or playing?
How are you holding up during this difficult time? Letting yourself feel whatever it is you need to feel and utilize whatever (healthy) distractions you have access to when you need, I hope.
First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. “What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?”
I looked down the row of Aska hunched against each other, ducking behind the muddy hill. The fog sat on the field like a veil, but we could hear it. The blades of swords and axes brushing against armor vests. Quick footsteps in sucking mud. My heart beat almost in rhythm with the sounds, pulling one breath in and letting it touch another before I let it go.
Hello and happy Tuesday, lovely people! It’s been awhile since I posted. Life’s been busy, and I took a break from reading for a bit there.
When my time has been free from planning for next month’s wedding celebration, I’ve been watching streamers/broadcasters on Twitch. My favorite streamers play The Sims 4, and their streams are often cozy and welcoming. I can have a channel going on my laptop while I play The Sims 4 on my Playstation 4 or my husband’s PC.
It’s provided a much needed change of pace.
What I’m Reading and Planning
Currently, I’ve got a small stack of books from the library to read, including this month’s pick for my IRL book club:
It’s a YA historical with fantasy elements. I’ll share a review as soon as I finish reading it.
I’m also planning on expanding my blogging to encompass more nerdy media in addition to books. I’ll review video games I’m playing and share thoughts about upcoming releases and gaming in general as well as continue to share my thoughts on books I read and bookish topics.
Have you read Sky in the Deep or anything else by Adrienne Young?
Karen and Tom Krupp are happy–they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished–her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse–complete with phone and ID–behind.
There’s a knock on the door–the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.
The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay–except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.
Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.
Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.
The unreliable narrator.
The point of view shifts among a handful of characters. The shifts were handled quite well.
The voice actor who narrates–Tavia Gilbert–does a phenomenal job.
Thetwist at the end, which I will not spoil.
The obliviousness of the main male character. It’s believable, sure, but at one point I actually felt annoyed by this character’s naivete.
The middle was a little slow in its pace. I can see why some readers complain about the lack of suspense. The tension plateaus at a point in the middle rather than continuing to mount. I might have DNF’d the book at that point if I were reading an ebook or paper copy.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
I recommend the audiobook over any other format.
I don’t read a lot of psychological suspense or domestic suspense/thrillers so this was outside my comfort zone. As such, I don’t know how A Stranger in the House compares to other books of the genre.
I would read–and am currently reading–another novel by Shari Lapena, this time an ebook from the library. I have fairly high hopes for it.
Overall entertaining, with a twisty, satisfying pay off.
Have you read this novel or anything else by this author? Let me know in the comments. 🙂