I have been “learning” Japanese for 144 days now. I put learning in quotes, because I am honestly just not very good at it. If an actual Japanese person said something to me in Japanese, I would completely freeze and stare at them blankly. If I had to say something to someone in Japanese, I could probably manage good morning (Ohio) or thank you (Arigato) or maybe even nice to meet you (ha-gee-may-mash-e-tay), but beyond that, not so much.

So why the hell did Duolingo think this was an appropriate thing for me to learn this morning?

This is not true. I did not write a new book, because I’ve been too busy learning Japanese and playing with my dog and binge-reading rock star romances.

Duolingo followed up with this.

No, Duolingo, no, I did not. But way to guilt trip me. And seriously, how can it be that while I’m still trying to tell time and barely know how to ask for a taxi and cannot tell one relative from the next (SO HARD!), Duolingo is asking if I am writing books? Like, just how??

Later in the morning, when I was again playing with Japanese instead of writing words, Duolingo offered up this.

Yes, Duolingo, this is very, very true. I do read a lot of books. In the past week, I have to admit, I’ve read something like 30 of them. I’m not entirely sure why but on February 15, according to my book tracking app, I read a book that was almost what I wanted it to be. It’s called Six Ways to Write a Love Letter, and it is a charming, off-beat romance, written entirely in the hero’s POV as he falls in love with a character who is essentially Taylor Swift. It could be Taylor Swift fanfiction, in fact, and maybe it once was. It’s really cute, fun, and a good quick read but something about it wasn’t quite what I wanted.

What did I want? I have no idea. But it was like I was searching for a book that I’d read once before — a romance featuring a rock star that was pure fun, beginning to end. Like craving a specific kind of food — not just a tuna fish sandwich, but a tuna melt, and not just a tuna melt, but the exact tuna melt made by Viva Baking in Ashland, Oregon.

So I proceeded to binge my way through Amazon’s vast collection of Kindle Unlimited rockstar romances. When I say “vast,” I mean enormous. I mean that Amazon is overflowing with rockstar romances. There are so many that I could probably read one rockstar romance a day for the rest of my life without finishing them all. Am I exaggerating? Honestly, I’m not sure I am.

Fortunately for me, many of them were… well. Easily rejected, that’s what I’m going to call them. If it only takes me three pages to despise the hero, I’m not going to waste my time, even if the heroine promises to redeem him. If I’m rolling my eyes before I’ve hit 10%, I’m returning the book. (It’s KU, so they all get returned eventually; I’m not buying books, reading them, and returning them, which is a very uncool thing to do.) If the descriptions read like they were written by an AI (in other words, a collection of cliches), I’m willing to take a pass, and if the angst is piling on before the first chapter ends, I could be pretty sure that I wasn’t going to find my pure fun.

I didn’t, in fact, find my pure unadulterated fun. But if you want to read rockstar romances, and what you’re looking for is off-beat, interesting, and even kind of grown-up, may I recommend Duet by Julie Kriss to you? I liked it so much that I had to read parts aloud to Suzanne while driving to Eureka yesterday. There’s a moment, early on, where the romantic leads are talking about music, and the heroine — whose POV we’re in — compares the joy of the conversation to being high, and it was just SO much more compelling than the dozens/hundreds/thousands of romances where the character falls in love with the hero’s blue eyes or muscles or, well, honestly, nothing, the characters are just in love because the author says they are.

Anyway, I’m probably done with my book binge for a while, not least because I’m currently sitting in the airport, waiting to catch a plane to Phoenix. I’m going to spend the next week having fun with my brother. It’s not going to be the fun we thought we were having — we were planning to go to Sedona and the Grand Canyon before the weather turned absolutely awful — but I expect we’ll manage to enjoy ourselves nonetheless. There will be no canyon pictures, but maybe I’ll post some cactus pictures later!