THE HOOKUP PLAN by Farrah Rochon

September 2, 2022

Boyfriend Project, Book 3

From the publisher:

Strong female friendships and a snappy enemies-to-lovers theme take center stage in this highly anticipated romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Dating Playbook.

Successful pediatric surgeon London Kelley just needs to find some balance and de-stress. According to her friends Samiah and Taylor, what London really needs is a casual hookup. A night of fun with no strings. But no one—least of all London—expected it to go down at her high school reunion with Drew Sullivan, millionaire, owner of delicious abs, and oh yes, her archnemesis.

Now London is certain the road to hell is paved with good sex. Because she’s found out the real reason Drew’s back in Austin: to decide whether her beloved hospital remains open. Worse, Drew is doing everything he can to show her that he’s a decent guy who actually cares. But London’s not falling for it. Because while sleeping with the enemy is one thing, falling for him is definitely not part of the plan.

“Masterful…a winning romance.”―Kirkus, starred review

“Rochon’s skillful handling of her lead couple’s sexual fast-burn and emotional slow-burn, coupled with her well-rounded characters, make it impossible not to fall in love with this smart story.”―Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3ekqFrj

High school rivals London and Drew haven’t seen each other since they were co-valedictorians in high school. She became a pediatric surgeon, and he became a hedge fund manager and all the money that implies. They meet up at their 15 year high school reunion that London has organized in her spare time (ha!) The attraction startles London, but she’s hated Drew for so long that she can’t give in to her feelings.

On the other hand, Drew has had a crush on London since they met in high school when he decided the way to impress her was to best her grades; hence the co-valedictorians. But was he wrong about that!

Fifteen years later and their mutual attraction is so hot neither of them can ignore it, but London manages to convince herself she can have sex without any feelings getting involved. But it turns out Drew’s career has taken a bit of a turn.

With more than enough money to never have to work another day again, Drew’s latest venture is to help hospitals get their financials in order. In this case, it’s the county (public) hospital where London works. His company will be there doing an audit for a few weeks, to determine whether or not they should sell the hospital to a private owner or keep it public. London wants it to be kept public, and really so does Drew but with him, it’s all about the numbers.

Butting heads by day and sleeping together at night brings them much closer than London could ever have imagined. There are a lot of laughs along the way, along with heated battles and some hot sex until they reach their happy ending. An excellent ending to a terrific trilogy!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE HOOKUP PLAN by Farrah Rochon. Forever (August 2, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-1538716687. 400p.

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Coronavirus Diary: September 1, 2022

September 1, 2022

School is in session and the Coronavirus is making itself known. I am in the process of hiring student workers for the library, and one of my new hires had to miss the first week of school as she contracted Covid. I’m sure she won’t be the last.

The new vaccine that is supposed to target the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants which are plaguing the nation right now should be ready after Labor Day. But there is definite vaccine burnout and apparently, funding issues. I get it; I’ve had the two vaccines and two boosters, but I also get a flu shot every year so I’m just adding this to my to-do list.


I have two friends, one in Florida and one in Pennsylvania, who have sworn they never had Covid. They had family members who did have it and they tested daily but never had a positive test. That said, there is a blood test that some doctors are now giving that can show whether you’ve been vaccinated and whether or not you’ve had the actual disease. And both of these friends were shocked to find they tested positive for having had Covid. Completely asymptomatic and no positive tests. I’m not even sure what to think about this.

Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count

Book News

When they came for the librarians: My profession is under attack — what happens now? People in my profession are used to mockery and low salaries. We didn’t expect constant insults and real danger

Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they’re doing [Vox]

Ali Hazelwood’s sort-of-secret life as a best-selling author

Colleen Hoover is queen of the best sellers list. Who is she, and why are her books so popular?

Judge thwarts Va. Republicans’ effort to limit book sales at Barnes & Noble

NYC library: Youths read banned books online free: The Brooklyn Public Library offers a free library card to anyone in the U.S. aged 13 to 21 who wants to check out and read books digitally in response to the nationwide wave of book censorship and restrictions. Free Books Unbanned Brooklyn Library Card


Food News

We all fall into food ruts. I love to cook, but at the end of the day, I’m not often inspired to try something new. I’m more inclined to go with what is easy and what I know works for my family. But my husband is going through some dental issues that are going to take about a year to resolve, and for some of that time, he needs to eat soft. His dietary restrictions for dental work so far include no biting anything – he has to cut everything up to eat. Not that big an issue, but chewing is also iffy at the moment. I made a Caprese salad thinking tomatoes and fresh mozzarella are soft, but he had trouble with the basil. He usually eats a big salad every night but that was out until he healed a bit; now I make him chopped salad and that is working out for him.

Big Lasagna

In addition to his dental issues, he is also diabetic which imposes other dietary restrictions. He is managing with as little frustration as possible, but I’ve had to change up what I make for dinner. He rarely eats refined carbs; as most people know by now, carbs, especially refined carbs, turn into sugar – not good for diabetics. Yes, he could eat a lot of beans as they are soft, but not really his favorite. I want him to enjoy his dinners, not suffer through them. I’ve been making soups – thank goodness for the Instant Pot! I made split pea and barley soup, which took about 20 minutes total. Same with lentil soup. I made Samin Nosrat’s Big Lasagna – it took most of the day on Sunday (and I purchased fresh lasagna sheets!) but we’ll get at least two dinners out of it and my family loves it. Eggplant parm and meatballs with small pasta (spaghetti is too difficult for him right now) are in the rotation, as is what we call breakfast for dinner – pancakes, waffles, eggs, omelets, frittatas. I should really try shakshuka now, too. And I’m finally going to try Smitten Kitchen’s Pizza Beans! I bought him some sugar-free Klondike bars – it’s a treat and the man is in need of treats. And sugar-free puddings and Jello and yogurt. Chobani Zero Sugar is pretty good, especially if you mix in some fresh fruit.

And this too shall pass…

From the Archives

From BookBitch.com. March 31, 2001 via the Wayback Machine; then again on the BookBitchBlog in 2006. Twenty-plus years later, it still holds up!

America’s Hidden Problem:  Literature Abuse by Michael McGrorty

Once a relatively rare disorder, Literature Abuse, or LA, has risen to new levels due to the accessibility of higher education and increased college enrollment since the end of the Second World War. The number of literature abusers is currently at record levels.

Social Costs of Literary Abuse

Abusers become withdrawn, uninterested in society or normal relationships. They fantasize, creating alternative worlds to occupy, to the neglect of friends and family. In severe cases they develop bad posture from reading in awkward positions or carrying heavy book bags. In the worst instances, they become cranky reference librarians in small towns.

Excessive reading during pregnancy is perhaps the number one cause of moral deformity among the children of English professors, teachers of English and creative writing. Known as Fetal Fiction Syndrome, this disease also leaves its victims prone to a lifetime of nearsightedness, daydreaming and emotional instability.

Heredity

It has been established that heredity plays a considerable role in determining whether a person will become an abuser of literature. Most abusers have at least one parent who abused literature, often beginning at an early age and progressing into adulthood. Many spouses of an abuser become abusers themselves.

Other Predisposing Factors

Fathers or mothers who are English teachers, professors, or heavy fiction readers; parents who do not encourage children to play games, participate in healthy sports, or watch television in the evening.

Prevention

Pre-marital screening and counseling, referral to adoption agencies in order to break the chain of abuse. English teachers in particular should seek partners active in other fields. Children should be encouraged to seek physical activity, and to avoid isolation and morbid introspection.

Self-Test for Literature Abusers

How many of these apply to you?

1.  I have read fiction when I was depressed, or to cheer myself up.
2.  I have gone on reading binges of an entire book or more in a day.
3.  I read rapidly, often ‘gulping’ chapters.
4.  I have sometimes read early in the morning, or before work.
5.  I have hidden books in different places to sneak a chapter without being seen.
6.  Sometimes I avoid friends or family obligations in order to read novels.
7.  Sometimes I re-write film or television dialog as the characters speak.
8.  I am unable to enjoy myself with others unless there is a book nearby.
9.  At a party, I will often slip off unnoticed to read.
10. Reading has made me seek haunts and companions which I would otherwise avoid.
11. I have neglected personal hygiene or household chores until I had finished a novel.
12. I have spent money meant for necessities on books instead.
13. I have attempted to check out more library books than permitted.
14. Most of my friends are heavy fiction readers.
15. I have sometimes passed out from a night of heavy reading.
16. I have suffered ‘blackouts’ or memory loss from a bout of reading.
17. I have wept, become angry or irrational because of something I read.
18. I have sometimes wished I did not read so much.
19. Sometimes I think my fiction reading is out of control.

If you answered ‘yes’ to three or more of these questions, you may be a literature abuser. Affirmative responses to five or more indicates a serious problem.

Decline and Fall:  The English Major

Within the sordid world of literature abuse, the lowest circle belongs to those sufferers who have thrown their lives and hopes away to study literature in our colleges. Parents should look for signs that their children are taking the wrong path-don’t expect your teenager to approach you and say, ‘I can’t stop reading Spencer.’ By the time you visit her dorm room and find the secret stash of the Paris Review, it may already be too late.

What to do if you suspect your child is becoming an English major:

1. Talk to your child in a loving way. Show your concern. Let her know you won’t abandon her — but that you aren’t spending a hundred grand to put her through Stanford so she can clerk at Borders, either. But remember that she may not be able to make a decision without help; perhaps she has just finished Madame Bovary and is dying of arsenic poisoning.

2. Face the issue: Tell her what you know, and how: ‘I found this book in your purse. How long has this been going on?’ Ask the hard question–Who is this Count Vronsky?’

3. Show her another way. Move the television set into her room. Praise her brother, the engineer. Introduce her to frat boys. 

4. Do what you have to do. Tear up her library card. Make her stop signing her letters as ‘Emma.’ Force her to take a math class, or minor in Spanish. Transfer her to a college in Alabama. 

You may be dealing with a life-threatening problem if one or more of the following applies:
* She can tell you how and when Thomas Chatterton died.
* She names one or more of her cats after a Romantic poet.
* Next to her bed is a picture of: Lord Byron, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, or any scene from the Lake District.

Most important, remember, you are not alone. To seek help for yourself or someone you love, contact the nearest chapter of the American Literature Abuse Society, or look under ALAS in your telephone directory.


As always, thanks for reading and stay safe.

*Thanks to The New York Times and The Washington Post for allowing me to “gift” my readers with free access to these articles, a lovely perk for subscribers.


Spotlight Review: LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus

August 30, 2022

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK • A must-read debut! Meet Elizabeth Zott: a “formidable, unapologetic and inspiring” (PARADE) scientist in 1960s California whose career takes a detour when she becomes the unlikely star of a beloved TV cooking show in this novel that is “irresistible, satisfying and full of fuel. It reminds you that change takes time and always requires heat” (The New York Times Book Review).

“A unique heroine … you’ll find yourself wishing she wasn’t fictional.” —Seattle Times

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. 

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.

“Indefatigable and formidable, Elizabeth pushes the bounds of how women and their work are perceived in this thoroughly engaging debut novel.” —Booklist

“[An] energetic debut…A more adorable plea for rationalism and gender equality would be hard to find.” —Kirkus (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3AwuFw8

This is a fantastic debut novel that got lost on my Kindle (it came out in April), so thanks, Judy, for reminding me about it!

Elizabeth Zott is a feminist icon – or should be, if fictional characters could be. She is a chemist in the late 1950s-early 1960s when a woman’s place was in the home – in the kitchen and the bedroom, really, but she has no interest in that sort of life. She is studying for her master’s degree when she is attacked by her professor. She manages to elude the rapist, but again, this time period allows for women who are raped to get victimized all over again by the police and the judicial system. She is forced to leave school and lands a job at a research facility.

Zott’s boss is a misogynistic slime ball who steals her research and constantly degrades her. But he needs her because her specific research is being funded and no one else can do it. The lab has its star chemist, Calvin, who has the reputation of being brilliant and aloof. Calvin and Elizabeth meet when she steals some of his beakers, as her lab is bereft of necessary supplies. They meet again when he vomits on her, a first for a “meet cute” for me. Calvin has had a tragic life that rivals even Elizabeth’s tragic life, and they fall in love. But she has no interest in marrying. Instead, they live together and are very happy. They adopt a rescue dog that turns out to be about as brilliant as his owners and is a marvelous character in his own right. Six-thirty is his name, and there are snippets of his thoughts throughout the book, reminding me a bit of one of my favorite books, Garth Stein’s Racing in the Rain.

Tragedy befalls the happy couple, and Elizabeth’s life takes a turn when she finds out she is pregnant. She has the baby and is learning to parent when a neighbor helps her out. Harriet becomes her closest friend and ally. Needing a job, Elizabeth agrees to host an afternoon TV show, a cooking show that she is turning into Chemistry 101. Her fanbase grows but the old lech who runs the station wants her to dress sexy and make cocktails. She sticks to her guns and her show is a huge success. Eventually, she finds her way back to chemistry, her first love.

Elizabeth is a quirky, strong character and her story is both hilarious and heartbreaking, yet ultimately inspiring. She truly is unforgettable, as is this novel, which will appear on my best books of the year list. Book groups will have much to discuss here. Don’t miss it!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus. Doubleday; First Edition (April 5, 2022). ISBN: 978-0385547345. 400p.

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TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin

August 26, 2022

From the publisher:

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • A JIMMY FALLON BOOK CLUB PICK • In this exhilarating novel by the best-selling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry two friends—often in love, but never lovers—come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.

“Riveting… Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming…Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise…Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.” —Kirkus, starred

“Zevin creates beautifully flawed characters often caught between the real and gaming worlds, which are cleverly juxtaposed to highlight their similarities and differences. Both readers of love stories and gamers will enjoy. Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, starred

“Zevin… returns with an exhilarating epic of friendship, grief, and computer game development…. Zevin layers the narrative with her characters’ wrenching emotional wounds as their relationships wax and wane… Even more impressive are the visionary and transgressive games… This is a one-of-a-kind achievement.” —Publishers Weekly, starred

https://amzn.to/3cnF05v

Zevin’s book, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, was one of my favorite books, so I was happy to pick up this new one, even though it didn’t sound like something that would interest me. The book is about three friends who create video games. The closest I get to video games are Wordle, the NYT Spelling Bee & Crosswords, and Candy Crush. The video games serve as a backdrop to these characters, and at times, the games are front and center. Somehow I was drawn into their world and I didn’t want to leave.

This is a hard book to quantify; it probably is best slotted into the literary fiction genre (and boy, do they hate when literary fiction is called a genre!) All I can tell you is this is a tour de force and a mesmerizing read. I don’t want to give away anything, so if you like character-driven stories that are fast-paced and emotionally engaging, then this is your book. I loved it, and so did just about all the critics. Too much hype can sometimes backfire, but it is well deserved here.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW by Gabrielle Zevin. Knopf (July 5, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593321201. 416p.

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LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood

August 26, 2022

From the publisher:

A #1 LibraryReads and Indie Next Pick!

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

“Snappy dialogue with witty zingers make this tender enemies-to-lovers story, set at NASA in Houston, an unforgettable follow-up to neuroscientist Hazelwood’s popular The Love Hypothesis…Light espionage, some derring-do, and an unexpected villain are just some of the delights in Hazelwood’s smart, unusual, and superbly enjoyable tale.”—Booklist, starred review

“The snappy prose, engaging and twisty plot, and utterly endearing characters combine to create pure romance gold.”—Publishers Weekly

https://amzn.to/3wwojeX

It is the strangest thing – when I read Hazelwood’s books, which are often rooted in the hard sciences, the rational part of my brain knows I couldn’t possibly understand half of what these characters are dealing with, yet somehow, she makes me feel as if I do. That is remarkable, especially in a romance!

Bee Königswasser is thrilled that she was picked to head up a new project for NASA, especially as it gets her out from under her misogynistic boss at the National Institute of Health. She is less thrilled to find out she is co-leading the project with Levi Ward, her long time nemesis from grad school. When strange things start happening – lost emails, lost files, etc. Bee assumes it is Levi trying to make her look bad. We all know what happens when you assume…

Lots of angst leads to lots of laughs, and eventually, a happy ending, but not before some serious drama goes down. This book was such a page turner that I stayed up way too late to finish it, and I was so sad when I did. I grew so attached to these characters that I didn’t want to leave them, which says a lot about this author and her writing style. I can’t wait for her next book, but I’m going to have to – she only writes one book a year.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood. Berkley (August 23, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593336847. 368p.

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Spotlight Review: SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens

August 23, 2022

From the publisher:

A one-night stand between two old childhood friends turns into something more, but when a scandal threatens to tear them apart, they must decide how hard to fight for love—a steamy romance debut perfect for fans of Tessa Bailey and Kennedy Ryan​.

Exhausted and on deadline with a story that could make or break her career, investigative journalist Georgia Ross is on the verge of a meltdown when a cancelled flight leaves her stuck in the airport overnight. But when a familiar face appears—the older brother of her childhood friend—and offers help, Gigi seems to have caught a break.

Alec Kim is handsome, humble, and kind—exactly the sort of man that Gigi has forgotten existed after her own painful heartbreaks. An evening of reconnection followed by a night of no-strings-attached passion with Alec feels like a gift—that is, until Gigi finally realizes that their childhood connection isn’t the only reason he seems so familiar to her.

Alec is determined to prove to Gigi that he is truly the man she thinks he is, even if it means coming clean about his fame—and his family’s connection to the story Gigi’s been working so hard to break. But as their feelings for each other grow deeper, Gigi and Alec must navigate a new reality…one where both of their hard-won careers are put directly in the path of an international scandal.

“Ivy Owens’s debut brings the perfect amount of humor and heart to the story of childhood friends reunited under unusual circumstances. Scandalized imbues a fraught situation with more humor than angst, and readers will fall instantly for the charming, charismatic characters. The heated love scenes and intense emotional connection between the leads are sure to win Owens legions of fans.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Owens’s spectacular debut is beautifully written and a fun read. Fans of Suzanne Park’s So We Meet Again and Katie Delahanty’s “Brightside” series will have a hard time not consuming it in one sitting.” —Library Journal (starred review)

https://amzn.to/3TekEMz

I love finding a debut novel that is this good – it’s rare and wondrous, especially when it is also a super steamy romance! The chemistry between Gigi, a badass journalist, and Alec, a movie star, is so hot I’m surprised the book didn’t just incinerate in my hands.

Gigi is on her way back to Los Angeles from London, where she broke a story about an exclusive club where the owners/members drug women, rape them, and video the whole thing. Her connecting flight from Seattle to L.A. gets canceled. Gigi is so tired, and all she really wants is a shower and some clean clothes. Then she spots Alec, and with a flash of recognition, she realizes he is her middle school best friend’s older brother. She approaches him, and he remembers her as well. When the closest hotel to the airport is full, he offers her the use of his shower. Turns out Alex has the presidential suite and lots of room to share.

You can guess where it goes from here, but there is also a lot of intrigue about that London club. Turns out Alec may know something, but eventually, it all goes sideways despite the connection these two have. This book really does have it all; suspense, a sweet connection between these characters, not to mention some seriously steamy scenes. I loved it and if you can handle the sex, trust me when I say you will not regret reading this book. I couldn’t put it down and I hated turning that last page. Can’t wait to see what this debut author does next.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

SCANDALIZED by Ivy Owens. Pocket Books (August 23, 2022). ISBN: 978-1982199852. 320p.

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TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts

August 19, 2022

The Hearts of Montana, Book 1

From the publisher:

Sometimes you find what you need in the most unlikely places…

Charlie Ryan’s cheating fiancé left her with a broken heart and even broker bank account. She’s hit rock bottom, but everything is about to change. Suddenly, she’s inherited a Montana farm named Tucked Away from a grandmother she never knew existed. A fresh start is just what she needs – and no men in her future this time, even if the local vet is as hot as a Montana summer.

Zack Cooper is content with his simple life. Running his veterinary practice and raising his daughter are enough to keep him busy, and he doesn’t need a high-maintenance city girl like his ex who plans to sell her grandma’s ranch and split faster than a setting sun. So why can’t he stop thinking about Charlie and her hot-pink cowboy boots…and the way her eyes say she wants to stay while her lips tease him with plans of leaving?

Just when both start to believe love might be worth the risk…one night will change everything.

https://amzn.to/3QVaUFb

My love affair with Jennie Marts continues with a new-to-me-but-older series, The Hearts of Montana. I found this on Hoopla through my library. Marts has written several series and I’m working my way through them. For a change, I’m starting this series with the first book!

Charlie was brought up by a single mother in New York City. When she catches her boyfriend cheating, she dumps him and crawls home to her mom. Then she finds out she has inherited a farm in Montana from a grandmother she never knew existed. Ready for a change, she rents a car and hits the road.

Her first inkling that she’s no longer in New York City is when her driveway is blocked by an enormous bull, intent on goring her car. Trapped, she is grateful when a cowboy stops and gets the bull out of the way. Her high heels and silk blouse give her away as a newcomer to Montana, but she quickly acclimates to the old farmhouse she’s inherited and the sexy cowboy who’s working there. Cash is a big flirt, but Charlie isn’t going for it. Instead, she runs into the town veterinarian (and single dad,) and finds a serious spark. Turns out every unattached woman in town has her eye on the hunky vet, but he only has eyes for Charlie.

This is a small town romance with a hot cowboy, always a good combination! Charlie acclimated much more quickly to the small town than I certainly would have expected, but I went along for the ride and it was sexy, funny, and heartwarming. (I would read the rest of this series, but it’s not available through my library or Kindle Unlimited.)

The Hearts of Montana series
This western romance series is about three tough but tender cowboys who find love under the big Montana sky. 
1 – Tucked Away (Zack & Charlie)
2 – Hidden Away (Taylor & Cherry)
3 – Stolen Away (Cash & Emma)

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

TUCKED AWAY by Jennie Marts. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 6, 2015). ISBN:‎ 978-1511435932. 320p.

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MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane

August 19, 2022

From the publisher:

International bestseller Mhairi McFarlane delivers a sharp, emotional new novel about a woman who calls off her engagement to “the perfect man” and moves in with a charming stranger who makes her question everything about her life, her past, and the secrets she’s kept for far too long…

Harriet Hatley is the most in-demand wedding photographer in town, but she doesn’t believe in romance, loathes the idea of marriage, and thinks chocolate fountains are an abomination. Which is why, when her long-time partner proposes, she panics. Suddenly Harriet is single… and living down the hall from her ex. She needs a new apartment, like, yesterday.

Enter Cal Clarke, a hopeless romantic who just experienced his own wedding-related disaster. Harriet and Cal are like chalk and cheese, but as they go from strangers to roommates to friends, it becomes clear they’re both running from something. When Harriet’s most heavily guarded secret comes to light, her world implodes. And Cal, with his witty humor and gentle advice, is a surprising source of calm at the center of the storm.

With her career, friendships, and reputation on the line, Harriet must finally face her past in order to take control of her future. Because if she’s willing to stop playing it safe and risk everything to share her truth, real love and happiness may be waiting on the other side…

“McFarlane’s gift is writing romantic comedy that depicts a recognizable world… without dimming the luster of shining moments of humor, love, and connection.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Despite its heavy themes of coping with past abuse and loss, McFarlane’s latest, following Just Last Night (2021), is a mostly lighthearted romp through friendship, love, and starting over. Readers of Marian Keyes will be drawn to this British charmer.” — Booklist

https://amzn.to/3PBznyi

This is more women’s fiction than romance or rom-com. Harriet has been through a lot; first, several years with an emotional abuser, then a couple of years with basically a rebound, although it takes her a while to figure that out. She meets Cal when she needs to find a new place to live. One of her closest friends is in real estate and tips her off to this room for rent before it gets posted online. A brief phone call later, and Harriet is moving in.

Harriet is a wedding photographer. She has her own business and it has grown pretty much by word of mouth, helped along by social media. She is shocked to find her abusive ex is the best man at a wedding she is shooting and is even more shocked when it turns out the ex is engaged. Feeling a responsibility to perhaps warn his fiancée about him, she sends the young woman a letter, and unfortunately, she shares it with the ex. Payback is brutal and it costs her a lot of business, and eventually a friendship.

Meanwhile, Harriet finds out that her new landlord is actually the runaway groom from a wedding she was supposed to shoot. She’s harbored bad feelings about him ever since, but it’s getting harder to reconcile that behavior with the landlord she has come to know. Harriet and Cal have a spark for sure, but it is very slow burning.

This story is more about abuse and revenge and friendship, but eventually, it leads to a romance with the requisite happy ending. There are some very funny moments as well as a bit of sex. The characters feel real on the page, and I was completely engrossed in their story. This is another winner from McFarlane!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MAD ABOUT YOU by Mhairi McFarlane. Avon (August 9, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0063117945. 416p.

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Spotlight Review: GENDER QUEER by Maia Kobabe

August 16, 2022

 A Memoir 

From the publisher:

2020 ALA Alex Award Winner
2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Then e created Gender Queer. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fan fiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: It is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

“It’s also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand.” — SLJ (starred review)

This special deluxe hardcover edition of Gender Queer features a brand-new cover, exclusive art and sketches, a foreword from ND Stevenson, Lumberjanes writer and creator of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and an afterword from Maia Kobabe.

https://amzn.to/3SVREcz

This book has been getting a lot of press and is one of the most banned books in America, so of course, I wanted to read it. I’m very glad I did.

Kobabe uses the pronouns, e/em/eir, and I will try to honor that choice. E struggled with eir identity for most of eir life, and that struggle is graphically portrayed here. When I say graphic, I don’t necessarily mean sexual, although there are a few sexual drawings here (which is probably what is getting this book banned.) What I mean by “graphically portrayed” is that first, this is a graphic novel, but second, it is a raw, honest look at a life of struggle. The struggle is real, and if more people read this book, maybe there would be more empathy and understanding towards the “other”, those who are different, in the LGBTQ+ community.

Like most graphic novels, it is a quick read, but it is also compelling and thought-provoking. I don’t have much experience to draw on here, so I learned a lot about the asexual nonbinary community. I feel it is also an important book because if Kobabe struggled with these feelings, you can bet others do as well. If this book gives comfort to even one person (and I’m sure it has affected many, many people) then it is worthwhile, worth reading, and certainly worth being available to anyone who wants to read it.

It’s 2022 and Two Books Are on Trial for ‘Obscenity’

These obscenity proceedings are in line with a history of attacks on our First Amendment rights to read, learn, and think for ourselves.

Not sure what is going on with the publisher, but the paperback version is not available directly from Amazon, but rather through the secondary sellers on Amazon. The hardcover (pictured on top) is only $20 and way less than the paperback, which is odd. There are also 2 different Kindle versions at different prices; I linked to the less expensive (original) edition.

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GENDER QUEER: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe. Oni Press; Deluxe edition (July 5, 2022). ISBN: 978-1637150726. 240p.

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YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts

August 12, 2022

Cowboys of Creedence, Book 2

From the publisher:

This cowboy is falling hard

Mason James is the responsible one who stayed behind to run the ranch while his brother, Rock, took off to play professional hockey. Women have used him before to get to his brother―and Mason intends never to get burned again. But after he meets quirky Tessa Kane at his brother’s wedding, Mason discovers he’s ready to take a chance on love.

Tessa Kane is a reporter on the verge of losing a job she desperately needs―unless she’s clever enough to snag a story on the famous Rockford James. But when she falls for her subject’s brother, she’s caught between a rock and a hard-muscled cowboy. What will happen when Mason finds out who she really is?

Cowboys of Creedence Series:
Caught Up in a Cowboy (Book 1)
You Had Me at Cowboy (Book 2)
It Started With a Cowboy (Book 3)

https://amzn.to/3Ak8A5f

This is such an enjoyable series, especially if you like cowboy romance as much as I do. These books are set in Creedence, Colorado, outside of Denver. Creedence is a small, ranching town and I like small town romances, too, so these books are a win-win for me.

Mason is the middle brother and the one that stepped up to run the ranch when his older brother, Rock, followed his love of hockey to the NHL. Rock is home now and getting ready to marry his childhood sweetheart, Quinn, and their romance was in the first book of this series. Even though these books do stand alone, I think this series may be best read in order.

Mason has been burned more than once by women who pretended to be interested in him to get to his older, celebrity hockey player brother. But this whole week of wedding fun is becoming painful for him as he feels like everyone is pitying him for being alone, not to mention pointing it out to him. So not fun. So when he has to go to the supply closet at the welcome dinner, he gets quite an eyeful. Tessa is in there trying to button a clean shirt that isn’t quite fitting across her chest. Mason gets an eyeful and she is embarrassed, but being the nice guy he is, he gets her a shirt that will button. Their chemistry is palpable, and when she tells him she was invited to this dinner by a blind date who has stood her up, he asks her to be his date – for all the wedding festivities.

Tessa has had the day from hell. She just found out her grandmother who raised her after her parents were killed in an accident has fallen for the Nigerian prince scam and is flat broke. That prince hacked into her bank accounts and wiped her out, and now their home is in foreclosure. She’s a writer for a Denver magazine, and her boss just fired her unless she can get him all the dirt on the quickie wedding she’s now attending. She reluctantly agrees.

The more time they spend together, the more they fall in love. Tessa’s guilt is eating at her, and Mason can’t quite believe his feelings. But when he finds out she is a reporter, all hell breaks loose. No worries, they find their happy ending but so much angst before they get there! These were wonderful characters and I loved their story. Can’t wait to get into the next book!

8/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

YOU HAD ME AT COWBOY by Jennie Marts. Sourcebooks Casablanca (November 27, 2018). ISBN:‎ 978-1492655725. 352p.

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