Okay, fuck it, I’m posting this, which written late-August/early-September… and I’m just now posting in in late November sans edits.
1. Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai
Recently (well, when I started this post in August…) listened to and loved Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You (2017; btw it’s 10 hours, so I feel like that might appeal to Christina since you’ve said you sometimes pick audiobooks based on length!). It’s fun and dramatic and about all these high-intensity emotions, but it’s still believable and grounded in reality.
As a minor, minor part… I loved Rai’s portrayal of depression in one of her characters. It’s so subtle and not overly dramatic and not something that is “fixed” by X, Y, or Z, but instead mentioned as a long-term health issue that is manageable. Anyways, I appreciated that.
Alisha Rai’s one of (what I think of as) a loose cohort of more diverse romance authors who are somewhat younger, more explicitly liberal and feminist (and unafraid of having a political identity in their social media presence). (Other authors I”m thinking of include the likes of Alyssa Cole, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Sarah MacLean, Courtney Milan, and maaaany more, like so many. In fact, I love my twitter feed of romance authors.) Anyways, I got the audiobook for this and was super excited because (I think) it’s the first one she’s released as an audiobook, and so that was super exciting for the audiobook-obsessed!
Since starting this post (and then not publishing it), I saw that Kelly Faircloth published an interview with Alisha Rai on Jezebel, which basically says what I wanted to say, only better :) And it includes some great thoughts from Rai. Discussing her heroine’s depression, she had this to say:
“My heroines are always kind of set in my head. And I was like, she’s going to have depression and she’s going to be doing her best to manage it and she’s going to come back to this town to help herself as best she can. Probably all my books, themes are that imperfection is beautiful and that even if you think you’re not all perfect and polished and with a bow tied on top, you can still be beloved and you can still carry on with your life and do everything everybody should get the opportunity to do…
That was something that I was like, I can’t really compromise on. I don’t want her cured by love or sex or anything like that. I want to make it clear that this is a chronic condition and she is going to have moments where she feels like she’s in despair or feels like everything is crashing down on her, and I want her to know those moments aren’t going to define her. That they’re just moments. They’re not her. And that she deserves to be loved despite those moments. That was really important to me and hopefully I carried that across. I think it’s a message that a lot of people need right now. It’s a message that I need right now! So I hope it rings a chord for people.”
Not to be overly cheesy, but I loved that last part when she says that while it’s a chronic condition, they’re all “just moments” and “they’re not her.” Love it.
2. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata (2016; 16 hours)
Mariana Zapata has also been on my tbr list for awhile. The only thing I knew about her going into this book is that Zapata is known for having super slow burns and the sex doesn’t usually happen until the very end, which is kind of unusual in the genre recently. So, I’m glad I knew that beforehand or I might have gotten frustrated. It’s definitely all about the slow development of the relationship. In some ways, it also seemed less of a “slow burn” and more of a “slow thaw.” I didn’t feel thaaaaat much sexual tension between the two characters—they didn’t really hate each other at the start (though that was claimed once or twice), which is often a means of creating a slow burn. Instead, they slowly shift their working relationship into a friendship into a romantic relationship. All that being said, I really enjoyed listening to it because sometimes, when I listen to books, it’s nice to luxuriate in a slow story that you just float along with happily. If you know what I mean.
3. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs, and Rock N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind (2011; almost 24 hours)
I’ve been enjoying this book (ignore the title) in the same way I enjoy the podcast. It’s definitely focused primarily on men in a way that I don’t love and think the podcast is much more explicitly focusing on women and analyzing gender all the time. But, there’s a lot of fun gossipy stories from the 1960s and early 1970s that are fascinating. The title kind of surprises neck because it’s not totally just praising this generation as “saviors,” but more focused on the luck, the insane environment, and the disappointments that plagued Hollywood at this time, despite the successes. And I appreciate that more cynical tone. I haven’t finished this, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed checking back in with every few days, as opposed to my more obsessive listening to romance audiobooks start to finish.
4. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (2015; 17 hrs, 54 min)
I finally got around to listening to this after it’s been on my TBR list for a loooong time. (Thanks audible sale!) I also couldn’t remember if Christina had recommended this to me before, I feel like we talked about it after news broke about it being turned into a movie by Lauren Graham and Mae Whitman, and I know she lent me a few royal romances and I’ve read some, like His Royal Secret and Royally Screwed… anyways, have you read this? Did you lend it to me in the past? What am I (mis)remembering?? So, I was definitely hesitant to try this book for several nonsensical reasons: like, maybe it was exactly like William/Kate, which didn’t appeal; and I was uncertain about the authors given their fug girls blog background, and as much as I enjoy royal themes romances on occasion, it’s not my catnip or anything. Anyways, all those misgivings aside, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a fairly long love story that covers several years from meeting to marriage, which is always nice, imo. They strike a pretty good balance between invention and using reality as inspiration, which, again, worked for me. It’s definitely more about relationships, atmospheric details, and side characters, as opposed to some royal romances that are primarily about the primary sexual relationship (those have their place in my heart as well).
The Friend Zone Kristen Callihan
I had reserved this ebook from the library months ago (hellooooo, romance book wait lists!) after being reminded of Kristen Callahan after listening to a romance podcast. I ate this book up over a few days. I thought it was pretty hot! The story was good-ish (I’m meh about the “New Adult” sub-genre, but this one was okay!) but I was mostly there for the sexual tension and the sex. That’s it. No super in-depth thoughts, it just made me happy.
I’m loving the current season so far! I’m into the fashions, the personalities, and the models! It’s frequently cringeworthy with regard to their greater variety of model sizes, but ultimately I’ve found it satisfying. Gimmicky, too little too late, awkward, useless, etc etc, yes. But! But! It also has some great moments where the models speak (gasp!) and moments when contestants are shamed for their inability or uncomfortableness dressing models with larger sizes, which is also nice. And rather than a single “plus size” challenge, we have a variety every week and the contestants never know which model they’ll be given and they have to adapt to that, along with adapting to the specific challenge itself. Anyways, I’d recommend it if my foreign friends can find a way to stream it.
I haven’t finished this series yet because I’m two episodes behind, but I’ve loved it. Or liked it. (Emotions are hard to evaluate.) I’m happy I see Jessica Biel on tv again, I find that I just enjoy looking at her face (she has the whole strong features thing that reminds me of Jessica Garner; I think Bri doesn’t particularly like women with square/strong/angular features, but I do!). Anyways. Umm I like the whodunit/whydunit going on, I like the weird detective, I like the creepy religious and sexual backstory. Nothing totally original, but it’s working for me. And it’s a limited series, which is always nice. We’ll see how the last 2 episodes pan out! [Brief update: Finished it, obviously. I liked it!? It worked for me as a short distraction. It’s been too long, so I have nothing better to say about it.]
I’m happy. Can’t talk, words gone.