Blogmas: Top 7 Books of 2021!

Hello!

This is my final post of 2021, and I thought the only way to end out the year is talking about all of the books I read this year, plus give you my all-time favorites at the bottom. This may turn out to be a chunky blog post so get ready for the rambles I’ll be doing throughout this thing.


For my Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2021, I decided to read over 30 books, since that is the age I turned this fall, and I was particular surprised on my speed at which I hit the yearly goal. On October 28th, I finished my last book to hit my goal, but of course I couldn’t stop reading in general. I ended up taking reading five other books of different genres and length afterwards; that is another thing that happened, towards the beginning of summer I started reading novellas and I know they helped me get over that hump a whole lot faster, but I learned quickly to live with it because I have really enjoyed the last two months since I’m not rushing to finish out the rest of the year.

It’s actually kind of hilarious when I look back to my reading plan at the start of the year looked fairly cool, as I was going to continue various series and then I watched Chelsea Palmer’s haul within two days of scheduling that post and I found out that Scarlett St Clair’s Hades x Persephone series was on Kindle Unlimited on my original idea quickly went to hell and I did not finish the four books I initially bought for myself as a late Christmas present! If I had the control to stay off of KU, I think I would be able to get into those books, but I couldn’t get over the pull and that’s why I’m leaving them for 2022 now.

When the month of August came around, I went through a small phase of thinking I could complete four book series this year. I had already gone threw one series a couple of weeks earlier so I began to feel a little overzealous with confidence in my reading ability, and honestly, I probably could do it, but not this one. I still have the final book in “Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes and “Sinners On Tour” by Olivia Cunning series and I hope to make time for them because I truly adore those characters and want to see how they all end within their stories.

I did add on to last year’s limit because I made my own goal bigger, and I thought it would also ease the pressure of giving every book a spot if I truly believed they deserve it. I didn’t want to do like I did in my previous post and make my two favorite books of the year share the same number when I could just add on to the list itself.


1. This Is War by Kennedy Fox

I was in thick of my romance craze when I got to this book, I didn’t even plan for it to happen but was fairly glad for the amount that came my way in the end.

For my first Kennedy Fox book ever, this was amazing! I found out something interesting about myself and what I love about explicit romances and that is, I really enjoy funny banter between the characters: the enemies to lovers’ kind of topic. It was a thing I searched for while sticking to the goal, and I’ve only found three others that could rival the antics of Travis and Viola big time. It has become a bit of a standard in my choosing future books, especially for the new year. I have yet to get the next book in its duet series but maybe I can persuade Santa Claus to grant me this one.

2. Highland Blood by Melanie Karsak

After completing Jenny Han’s “To All Of Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, I wondered what the next batch of would be, and if I had kept reading “After You” by JoJo Moyes in January, this might have an even more confident spell in my brain but instead I wanted to chase my Scottish roots a little bit more and ended up finding the “Celtic Blood” series by Melanie Karsak. These books were available on KU and made the whole process of reading go very quick. Once I got the first book, I was gone! There wasn’t a moment I’d take back because I just adored the story of Gruoch so much.

I did have somewhat of a hard time picking between Highland “Raven” and “Blood” because I loved them equally, but I had to give it to this book because of the number of emotions I went through along with Gruoch. I enjoyed almost everything about it. I became interested in Celtic mythology, witchcraft, etc. for the majority of the year. I’ve been learning a lot about their beliefs, and I think seeing Gruoch become a strong woman in this story was amazing! I loved her relationship with Gillacoemgain, and wanted to stay in that Castle of Moray with the two of them forever, but then the ending came and she and I cried together in those last couple of chapters.

3. What Passes as Love by Trisha R. Thomas

By the time I came across this one, I was coming through a small slump. I had just finished the fourth and final book in the CB series, so I felt very lot and sad, but I went looking through the books in the genre historical fiction since I had a great turnout before, and I found this gem and it made me stay off KU for at least a week or two because I didn’t need to look for books, this was what got me through to the finish line.

I am one of those people who is attracted to the cover than anything else. The day I found this book was very boring, I had been searching for something to get me out of the slump for a while and it wasn’t long before I found “What Passes as Love” on Kindle Unlimited. I remember looking at the cover and thinking, this is really pretty, and clicking to see what it was about, and after learning about it, I thought it sounded great but I was still so unsure I was ready for it so I left it and could not stop thinking about it for two whole days! They always say, if you can’t stop thinking about it, get it and that’s what I did and I did not look for another book until I finished it about a week later!

4. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St Clair

At the end of 2020, I came across the Hades x Persephone series through Chelsea Palmer’s YouTube channel. It was new and steeped in Greek mythology, and this is how I ended up getting into the Celtic Blood series as it is somewhat centered in Celtic mythology as well, but this series is a modern take on those stories of the Underworld God, Hades and The Goddess of Spring, Persephone.

Anyways, I kind of cheated when I started reading the first book, which is “A Touch of Darkness” because I began reading it a week or so before the first day of 2021. I couldn’t stop myself from diving all-in with it and I didn’t. I’m glad I read it because it gave me a chance to really enjoy the prospect of another set of goals within the new year. I want to say it me over a week to finish this book and probably two months to complete the first three books between the two characters before I started on my CB journey.

5. Rough by Renee Rose and Vanessa Vale

I had the most difficult time figuring out which of my erotica books I loved the most, I could have done a Top 5 post of just those books honestly!

You might have noticed, Vanessa Vale was another big author for me as I read four books in total but my absolute favorite out of all those was Rough, and she wrote it with Renee Rose. Before this one, I had never read anything by Renee, but I loved the book so much that I literally got her “Holiday Gift Box” that has The Director (Chicago Bratva), Alpha’s Temptation (Bad Boy Alphas) featuring Lee Savino, King of Diamonds (Vegas Underground), His Human Slave (Zandian Masters) and of course Rough (Wolf Ranch) as an early Christmas present for myself. Technically it was free, so it wasn’t like a big deal on that part.

Back to this though. I go back and forth on whether I love cowboys–and it’s only with Vanessa Vale’s books that I really question it because they are always so damn dreamy! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I’m still embarrassed about the fact that I confused the male character’s last name “Wolf” to be for his ding-a-ling, but it was actually because he is a wolf…

6. Queen of Oak by Melanie Karsak

If the name Melanie Karsak seems familiar to you, well oddly enough, I read five books by Melanie this year. I’ve only had four other authors in total hook me with multiple books and/or series, and they are Kennedy Fox, Vanessa Vale, Jasinda Wilder, and J.K. Rowling.

This book is about Queen Boudica and her journey, and by the time I was able to read it, I was going through withdrawl because I loved the CB series so much! It was nice to come back into that world again and even though it wasn’t Gruoch as I’ve gotten to know her, I still enjoyed Boudica as a whole, but she actually wasn’t my favorite in the book though. I really enjoyed Don and Ula the most as they reminded me of “Gramma” from Moana, she was in my head for the character Ula, they are a little weird, but you never doubted their power as a woman. As for Don, she came across to me like, the Northuldra leader Yelena from Frozen II as she was very stoic but laidback too. They were two different personalities, but I just loved them so much.

7. The Boleyns at Hever Castle by Claire Ridgewater and Owen Emmerson

Shockingly, I only read a handful of nonfictions this year. I started out my reading journey with two distinct genres: historical fiction and biographical/memoirs. As I’ve mentioned above, I had a fairly good selection of the historical fiction but only three memoirs though!

I thought the book about The Duke of Windsor was interesting, but I felt it just dragged on and on as it continued that I almost gave up on it twice! After I was done, I took a very long break and then I saw this while on Goodreads earlier in the year, as it was being released to the public and I put it on my TBR list but figured I’d never get it, so imagine my face, the day a few months later when I discovered it on Kindle Unlimited! I was so happy that I literally stopped whatever I was doing to read it. I think it took me three days to finish it. I still don’t like the beginning of the book as Claire and Owen explain Hever’s medieval blueprint and how it changed up until The Boleyn family lived there. Other than that, I really enjoyed this book. It was different from what I normally read, and I hope I can find more books like it in the new year.


Later today, I have a little countdown of this list going up on my blog’s Facebook page. I had specifically made this banner for that video but I forgot to put it in so I thought I would share my thoughts on my favorite recent reads on the last bit of this post.

The first book I read after completing “Queen of Oak” was Mario Escobar’s “Auschwitz Lullaby” and it was a beautiful disaster. I always have a difficult time explaining how much I love a book about stories from World War II and the aftermath of the Holocaust, so that is why I called it like that. Anyways, this tells the story of what happened in the Gypsy camp of the Auschwitz II camp from 1941-42. I explain more in my mini review on Facebook if you’d like to check that out afterwards.

Secondly, we have Melissa Gilbert’s memoir “Prairie Tale” and I just finished it a few weeks ago and I am still reeling from it. I was a casual watcher of Little House on the Prairie growing up, and even as an adult, I’ve never seen it all the way through so when we got to certain parts like talking about her close relationship with Michael Landon really took me by surprise because I would just start bawling on myself and Chapter 21 definitely kicked my ass, but really, the entire book is so much fun and even a little hilarious here and there!

And finally, my most recent read, which if you enjoy holiday centered books, you should definitely check out “A Very Bossy Christmas” by Alexis Winter. Not only did I find out how much I adore Christmas books, but apparently like everything else, I liked the steamy romance books more than anything else, as you may noticed in last Friday’s blogmas post. I am in love with this book so this might be a worthy purchase after Christmas for me.


I’m officially done with all of my blogmas posts. I hope you have enjoyed everything I’ve published this month, and I already have some ideas coming to me for 2022 blogmas.

I do have a slight plan on what I want to do for the upcoming year, but I will not talk about it until I come back for the end of January as I am going to continue my blogging schedule, I’ve done for the last two years because it works very well for me. I will say I have an idea to do something different for the new year though, so I hope you have a lovely Christmas and enjoy the rest of your weekend too.

How did you go about your reading for 2021? What were all-time favorite book(s)? And do you have an idea on what you’re doing goal wise for the new year?

Book Review: “The Bratva’s Heir” by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark

Hello.

I can be easily influenced when it comes to books. Sometimes the cover can be enough but every once in a while, I find a book that is being shared by a favorite of mine: Brooklyn. I follow her on Goodreads and somehow I found her on Instagram and she is a lover of romance books like me, but she creates edits and shares cover reveals, deals and steals and the occasional recommendation, which is how I found out about this book: The Bratva’s Heir by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark.

I still consider myself a newbie while reading these dark romance stories, it can usually be a hit or miss, especially if any kind of mafia is involved which I know a lot of these books are–I mean this series is called Underworld Kings, which the concept is both odd and superficial in a lot of ways, that being said, I find it incredibly interesting how this series isn’t written by one author. There are over 17 books but they are all written by various women! I have the first book “”Razor’s Edge” by Mia Crawford on my e-reader to hopefully get me through these cold months a little easier! The entire series is available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited at the moment so if this book seems right up your alley, you should check them out soon. Every story is a standalone as they can discuss a different gang from each ethic background and it’s not just Italian and/or Irish. This is my second mafia dark romance where it is centered around the Bratva, which is the Russian branch and this was definitely my favorite of the two so far!

WARNING: There are spoilers below, along with some trigger that I discuss in more detail, such as bondage, rape, and regular BDSM terms!


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Prison’s a dark, bleak place.
But Clare brings me light.
My sweet little bird will be my ticket to freedom.

The first time I saw her, I had to have her.
From her big, dark eyes, to the curves she can’t conceal…
The way she can only hold my gaze so long.
The way she shivers every time I move inside these chains.
And most of all, the way she’ll bend the rules when I order her to…

I know a natural submissive when I see one.

Her degrees and titles don’t change who she is: a woman who will bend to my will.
She doesn’t know it yet, but Clare is mine.

Mine to train.
Mine to protect.
And mine to control…

taken from Goodreads.

When I began, it had a similar backstory like when Harley Quinn meets and falls in love with The Joker, however, the main defense with this, Clare did not have any romantic feelings for Constantine when they first met. He scared her like he should have for any woman honestly! Despite the events that happen within that first day together, I do not believe she was interested in him as much as he was, and even after they make their escape and what happens at the club would technically be in a form of rape. I know she doesn’t give rise to either situation but this part was a bit difficult to pull away from the act itself.

I understand that this is one of the main factors of these darker romances, but this was my first time since reading Fifty Shades of Grey back in 2011 that I’ve been brought to a similar scene where both female characters are subjected to things they may not want to experience but yet do not voice the other person’s actions immediately. This was one of my reasons why I abandoned Christian Grey in the first place. What I want to explain is that, I immediately saw a different side to both of these characters than what I saw between Christian and Anastasia throughout reading Fifty Shades. Clare was understanding and become much more confident as we continued whereas Constantine was able to flourish as a person outside of his persona there within the Bratva.

My whole body fits inside his in our reflection. I’m fully outlined with raw, muscled, inked alpha male, and I. am. here. for. it.

When there were BDSM elements, and the book is full of them by the way!

They were almost sensual which I really enjoyed since that lifestyle seems so frightening to outsiders, myself included–even though I read these types of books, I don’t consider to know the ins and outs of this style! The one thing I do know is there it is mutual understanding between the couple, and the other’s limits so even though Constantine is definitely an alpha male in this story, he was amazingly gentle to Clare. One thing that I am also learning about these books is that the authors are trying to portray these violent people as real human beings. Who they allow into their inner circles, much less their bed, has to be understandable about their intentions as a whole and change can be accomplished in some form or another too.

Have you read “The Bratva’s Heir” by Jane Henry and Sophie Lark yet? If you have been reading the rest of the Underworld Kings series, do you have a favorite book?

Book Review: “The Boleyns Of Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson & Claire Ridgway

Hello!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve done anything for my blog.

Honestly, I see this as a good sign because it means that I am starting to enjoy these mini vacations! I have to say though, I did not do a whole lot of reading, ever since I finished the Celtic Blood series at the beginning of the summer, I have had a rough time figuring out what I want to get into next, as you might know I have really allowed myself to enjoy romance again, but they’re not as fun as they were around May, so I decided to dive deep into my historical fiction and even some nonfiction in there too, which is how I found this book on Kindle Unlimited in the middle of August.

I remember seeing this cover on the History of Royal Women’s instagram stories a few months before it actually came out. Moniek tries to give everyone an overview of all of the books coming out in both the US and UK and since it isn’t uncommon for the dates to be different, you may see it more than once. If you do not have instagram, she also does a blog post usually at the start of the month with more information about the books and when they officially come out too! If you’re curious about the books coming out in September, click here.


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Hever Castle is a picture-postcard fortified manor house nestled in the Kent countryside. It is famous for its links with the Boleyns, an East Anglian gentry family who rose and fell dramatically at the court of King Henry VIII.

In The Boleyns of Hever Castle, historians Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway invite you into the home of this notorious family.

Travel back in time to those 77 years of Boleyn ownership. Tour each room just as it was when Anne Boleyn retreated from court to escape the advances of Henry VIII or when she fought off the dreaded ‘sweat’. See the 16th century Hever Castle come to life with room reconstructions and read the story of the Boleyns, who, in just five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway have combined their considerable knowledge of the Boleyn family and Hever Castle to create this luxurious book. Packed with history and full-colour images, The Boleyns of Hever Castle will educate and enlighten you

taken from Amazon.

So, the book itself is divided up in three sections. The beginning is how the entire castle looked like when it was first built before the Boleyn family came along. The authors give you a lot of blueprints and reconstructed photos to give you a better idea, and this was something I could follow easily with but reading along through what was important about all of the balconies, rooms, and stairs. At some point of this, I became very confused and was tempted to skip that whole section–I complained so much that even my mom was telling me to do it! Once you finally complete this part, you move on to the origin story of the Boleyns.

This was definitely my favorite part of the book. I like to look up family trees to see where they came from and how various names play a part in the line of decedents. The first person you are introduced to is Sir Geoffrey Boleyn, who begins his quest to learn and work his way up the amount of positions like a mercer to sheriff of London. The men of the Boleyn were very good at their jobs, and this is something that continues through the generations to the point where you have Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson Thomas Boleyn becoming a diplomat for England, France, and Austria and then finally becoming the first Earl of Wiltshire in 1529.

Thomas would inherit a large amount of properties and after he married the Lady Elizabeth Howard, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Norfolk, they would make Hever Castle their official residence. One of my favorite lines in the book was, they family could lived anywhere they wanted to, but they felt safe at Hever. The Countess would give birth to five children, but only Mary, Anne, and George would survive to adulthood. All of them were educated at Hever with their governesses and tutors, but most importantly Mary and Anne were allowed to take other courses that were mainly taught to the men of the household like falconry. Another part of their schooling, especially if they had family that worked within royal houses, they could live as apprentices or in Mary and Anne’s case, become ladies in waiting. They stayed with the Queen Margaret of Austria and Queen Claude of France before coming back to England and being part of Catherine of Aragon’s household.

This is the story of the rise of a remarkable family who, over five generations, rose from petty crime to a castle, from Hever to the throne of England.

My views on whether Anne was a schemer or a pawn has definitely changed over the years. I think the thing we all need to remember is, you never said no Henry. I am sure there was fear among the many families that served under the king, especially if you could not get something done right away, which is why my views on Cardinal Worsley’s responsibility has flipped as well. I do not believe Anne could get out of the king’s clutches or her family’s ambitions to gain even more control of the king. Unfortunately, the Queen could not give Henry a son, and Anne was at the right place at the wrong time and her fate was sealed.

The final section of the book is what happened after Hever was left to the Crown and the rest of the Boleyn family died out in 1634 with the death of Lettice Knollys, who was the daughter of Catherine Carey, who then was the daughter of Lady Mary Boleyn, the only child of Thomas and Elizabeth to not lose her head after the events in 1539. It wasn’t until William Waldorf Astor took control of the property and brought it back to how it could have looked like when the Boleyn family lived there, but with some added royal aesthetic. I thought this part was fairly interesting because it speaks to anyone who is obsessed with royal history, especially the Tudor dynasty! It doesn’t matter what century or year it is, everyone can fall in love with the stories this castle’s walls know by heart. It may be the only living thing to know the truth about Anne Boleyn’s thoughts about everything!

I really enjoyed this book, and think if you or someone you know loves learning about royal history, you should direct them to this lovely book. It is fairly short but it is full of information!

Have you read “The Boleyns at Hever Castle” by Owen Emmerson and Claire Ridgway yet? If you have, what were your thoughts about it? Let me know below!

Book Review: “The End Zone” by L.J. Shen

Hello!

If I am being totally honest, I’ve been going through a bit of a burn out with reading romance books in the last month or so. I have one other book in the genre that I am trying to finish, but I wouldn’t surprised if I decide to not read any more for a while.

Nevertheless, this one was a freaking godsend but first, let’s check out the blurb about it.


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Jolie Louis is a smart girl.
She knows that her best friend, Sage Poirier, is a bad idea.
He’s a walking, talking cliché. The Adonis quarterback with the bulging biceps and harem of fangirls trailing behind him on campus like a stench you can’t get rid of.
Sadly, that’s also the reason she can’t stay away from him.
Well, that and the fact that they’re roommates.
Jolie is already straddling the line between friendship and more when Sage comes to her with an offer she cannot refuse: be his fake girlfriend and live for free for the rest of the semester.
She tells herself that she can handle it.
He’s just the boy she saved ten years ago, right?
Wrong. So very wrong.
He is a man now, and she is his captive Heart, body, and soul…

taken from Amazon.


Every August I go through this thing of missing high school with its football games, colder nights, and gorgeous boys I had a crush on throughout those four years. I usually try to keep myself out of reading romance that talk about various sports, mainly football and basketball since they were the most present in my life. However, I decided to take a chance on it and ultimately I enjoyed The End Zone a lot more than I anticipated, so if you’re like me, going through the same thing around this time of year, hopefully this will help you out a little bit.

If you are afraid that because it has a football player on the cover, it’ll have a bunch of football terms, it doesn’t! Despite the fact that I enjoyed it so much, that was one thing that really lacked the most. As I’ve said above, every August to end of October, I want something to do with football in it, and this didn’t quite fit the bill for me.

My forever crush.

This is not a long story, it’s definitely written in the novella style so you don’t get a lot of information about the characters. It’s basically a day-to-day sort of read, which isn’t something I usually strive to find with books, because I use to do the same thing in the past and was always told I didn’t have enough history, for a lack of a better word, to learn everybody’s purpose in the story.! If you want something that is basically straight to the point–or in this case, straight to the sex–and everybody moves on, then you might enjoy it too. Honestly, it is like the shorter version of Kennedy Fox’s “This Is War” in certain ways, so you if you want to check out that book or vice versa beforehand, it might put you in the mood for the others.

I have one more thing to mention, with the Kindle edition, you get two extended endings or epilogues. My favorite is the final passage and I like how the entire scene is flat out hilarious in the beginning and ends on a very hot and steamy note, and that is all I am going to say about it.

Have you read :”The End Zone” by L.J. Shen yet? What were your favorite parts of the story? Is there any other books by the author you think I should look into in the future? Send me some suggestions below!

Book Review: “Bad Girls Throughout History” by Ann Shen

Hello!

So… I had hoped that I would have a completely different blog post for you today but I was up late one night and like I mostly do in the daytime, I scrolled through the “newer” books on Kindle Unlimited. I have figured a small system, and one thing I have noticed helps me out sometimes is clicking the “Last 30 Days” of when the books come out on KU. I have found quite a few books through this route but this was one of my most exciting discoveries to date, it was also the quickest reads in a really, really long time!


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Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World delivers a empowering book for women and girls of all ages, featuring 100 women who made history and made their mark on the world, it’s a best-selling book you can be proud to display in your home.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. Explored in this history book, include:

• Aphra Behn, first female professional writer.
• Sojourner Truth, women’s rights activist and abolitionist.
• Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.
• Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize.
• Joan Jett, godmother of punk.

From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, women in science, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women who dared to push boundaries vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute to rebel girls everywhere.

A lovely gift for teen girls, stories to share with a young girl at bedtime, or a book to display on a coffee table, everyone will enjoy learning about and celebrating the accomplishments of these phenomenal women.

taken from Amazon.

One of my favorite things is learn more about women, their histories, hobbies, relationships, sexuality, etc, just to gain another sort of boost of inspiration for my own life. I started my love of books, while reading fictional tales of famous women like Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette while I was in high school, and as I continue to grow, I am pushing for more stories like them. I will generally read a book in a female point of view but would rather write in a male’s point of view instead. Good luck explaining that one to me later!

I was very surprised by the fact that this book popped on my screen, and it wasn’t until I was done that I figured out how I found it at all. The author of “The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles,” Lauren Lee Mattingly was actually Ann’s editor for this book. After seeing this, I was like, “okay, that could be the reason why it literally appeared out of nowhere!” and made a note to make sure I included that piece of information for you guys. Honestly, even if I hadn’t known about it, I already had the actual book on my to-be-read list, so all in all, it was a nice easy book.

To be a bad girl is to break any socially accepted rule. For some women, it’s the way they dress. For other girls, it’s the act of going to school.

Unfortunately, I accidently read one or two reviews while trying to add it to my overwhelming “currently reading” stack of books on Goodreads, and someone had mentioned that although it was a great list of women, it wasn’t very diverse. I really try not to let another person’s comments reflect my own thoughts, but they were right. Out of 100 women mentioned in the book, there were only a handful I did not know about, and that really drove me crazy because as much as I adored reading about Grace O’Malley, Mata Hari, Rosa Parks and Nora Ephron, I expected lesser known bad girls included and the ones who were in the lineup, had like the smallest section. I was a little bummed out about this but again, it was a great book anyways!

Have you read “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed The World” by Ann Shen? If you have, what were your thoughts on it overall?