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  • Writer's picturekmbrownfiel5

Weekly-is Update 2

Last week I got to see my best friend for the first time in six months. She's a medical student, so our visits are limited to her school breaks. We soaked in the sun at the beach and pool and got to chat about her upcoming wedding. I've known her and her fiancé since we were freshmen, so it's so exciting to see her tie the knot soon! Unfortunately, I got sick when I got back home, so I've been stuck in the house during these (very hot) summer days. On the bright side, that's meant I've gotten way more reading done than usual. Buckle up, because this is one heck of a recap!

What I've been reading:

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

I finished the audiobook and enjoyed the memoir from start to finish. Ron and Clint have distinctive voices as storytellers, and there is so much warmth and real, genuine emotion in the memories that they shared. Clint vulnerably shared about the struggles he's faced with addiction and how his career has diverged so much from Ron's. However, there was and is no bitterness between the brothers. Instead, both men are immensely grateful for their family's enduring and selfless support of their careers. Ron's stories about his hustle, drive, and passion prove why he's been such an effective and praised director, but I most enjoyed the personal moments he shared. Whether he was discussing his first date or his proposal, Ron has a way of making the important moments pop in the reader's mind. I wish that the memoir included the births of his children, but I think that the story came to a natural conclusion if we look at it from a professional lens. My dad has read about Andy Griffith's life, so I'm interested in finding a memoir or biography about him soon.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Much like Netflix, my local library seemed to skip straight over poor Benedict's story. Colin has been a favorite of mine in the books, and I was looking forward to seeing him have more of the spotlight. His cheeky sense of humor and trademark Bridgerton banter were such great complements in the series. However, I didn't love Colin as much as a main character. Penelope, on the other hand, was far more likable in the novel than the TV series. While she was manipulative and, at times, cruel in the series, Penelope has a bigger heart and more room for introspection in the book. While her long unrequited love for Colin may make you sigh wearily, their Happily Ever After is sweet. Colin has a lot of growing up to do, and his emotional immaturity was particularly painful because we could see how much it stung Penelope from her point of view. I'm more of an enemies to lovers kind of gal, but Quinn has made a compelling argument for friends to lovers. Anthony's story still holds the prize as my favorite of the series.

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

I was able to find a copy of the 3rd book in the series on Libby, and while I don't love ebooks, they certainly come in handy when I'm traveling. There's only so much room for books in my luggage (especially with how thick Quinn's books are). Benedict, like Colin, had been a favorite side character of mine because of his banter with his brothers, but I had some serious issues with him as a leading man. He was manipulative and controlling, and I don't like reading about pressuring situations. Sophie's story was a copy and paste version of Cinderella, and while fairytale retellings can be innovative and original, this didn't have enough twists to win me over. However, Quinn does get some favor for me for writing the best scenes for Violet! Wow, she is certainly a force to be reckoned with in this installment! I would love to see Sophie interact with Kate and Penelope in future books, but I think I'll be taking a break from the series for a while. This was, without a doubt, my least favorite of the series so far.

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

I received this one as an influencer audiobook thanks to , and it ticked all of the boxes I could have had! Almost every single romance trope was included in this book, and it doesn't get more meta than having a romance audiobook narrator narrate her story about romance audiobook narrators. Also, how does Julia Whelan sound like a sexy Irishman??? Like, wow, just wow. Her voice legitimately will give you shivers, she's just that good! Sewanee was once an up-and-coming actress, but a terrible accident left her with one eye and shattered dreams. Not wanting to give up on bringing stories to life, she turned to audiobook narration again, and while she took the romance genre by storm, she has sworn that that part of her career is a thing of the past. When she gets snowed in with a handsome stranger in Las Vegas and has undeniable chemistry with her new audiobook co-narrator, Sewanne won't be able to deny that romance isn't part of her life anymore. Because Sewanne's beloved grandmother has dementia, there are heart-wrenching and heart-warming scenes about loss and love. Whelan drew from her own experiences with her grandfather, and it shows in the emotional truth of the work. I was blown away by the fear, hurt, grief, and confusion that were portrayed, especially in a romance-heavy book. Additionally, there were strong conversations about the difficulty of moving forward from traumatic events and re-inventing who you are after hardship. While Sewanee's rage and bitterness and low confidence can feel repetitive, they do provide a level of emotional truth to the text. I love that Sewanee has a fully developed set of friendships in the book and that she grows so much over the course of the story. And, of course, I loved the love. The witty banter, the flirting texts, the "one magical night," are all some of my favorite parts of romance books, and I found myself grinning from ear to ear as I listened. I'm planning to read My Oxford Year, and I'm looking forward to finding more books that she's narrated. Fun Fact: she's the narrator for Emily Henry and Taylor Jenkins Reid's books!

The Sign for Home by Blair Fell

I thought that this was going to be a romance book, and while this is a story with love in it, it is so, so much more than romantic love. This is a story about loving yourself, about loving your friends, about loving those who fight for you and fighting for those who love you. Arlo is a deaf-blind Jehovah's Witness whose whole life has been dictated by those around him. Sent away to boarding school as a child, Arlo met the love of his life and made friends who understood him, but it was all taken away from him after a horrible accident. Now, he lives with his controlling uncle and aspires to strengthen his writing skills at a community college class. He hires a new interpreter and could never have predicted how much his life would change. He begins to slowly tell his forbidden stories about the accident, and he learns that the stories he was told weren't true. Through the fearless advocacy of his outspoken interpreter, Arlo becomes brave enough to take his destiny into his own hands and find his happily ever after. This book is particularly heartbreaking because of how true it is. So many children and adults are language deprived because their families never learned or struggled to learn sign language. So many children and adults lack proper advocacy in hospitals, doctors' offices, and rehabilitation centers. So many children and adults are misunderstood and underestimated because of their disabilities. Fell will bring you to tears and have you jumping up and down in joy in the span of the novel. This book is truly a triumph, an education, and a warning all rolled into one. This is an unforgettable coming of age tale that educators and anyone in the medical field should read.

What I'm reading next:

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Stories about books and the people who love them have a soft spot in my heart, and because I was looking for a historical fiction book with a strong sense of place, this seemed like a good fit. I'm only a couple of chapters into the book, and while I don't feel hooked yet, the reviews have given me high hopes.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

This is the last book from my library haul, and it doesn't tick the box as a light read. However, I love messy multi-generational family dramas, and it's been a while since I've explored one. I've seen this one all over social media, and it was a NYT Bestseller for a while. Let's see if it lives up to all of the buzz!

Some things I'm loving

Watching: Virgin River

I may or may not have binged the entire fourth season of Virgin River in two days. I really needed answers! Well, now I have some answers but I've got some pretty massive questions! Jack and Mel's love story is harder and harder to root for because of his self-medication with alcohol. I love that the show tackles hard topics like infertility, grief, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, but it's difficult to see the characters facing the same problems over and over again. I'm glad (mild spoilers) that Jack is finally open to participating in therapy and is working towards making healthier choices for the sake of his relationship. As always, Preacher is the best character and deserves to have a steady girlfriend, a raise, and a vacation. The drug ring storyline was losing my interest until the major plot twist, and now I'm questioning characters' intentions.

Wearing: Aerie has the best bathing suits and bikinis, and I love that they have options with more coverage. Black has been my color of choice, and I like how sturdy the material is. I was feeling discouraged because the mall had very few bathing suit options left (it's still summer!), but I was glad they were on clearance. Their swimwear is pretty discounted online right now if you're looking for something new!

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