May 2021 Recap

2021 is just continuing to speed on by. I actually had a pretty good month in regards to how much reading I got done. I DNF-ed a few, but ended up reading 15 books, which is the most yet I’ve done this year. I’m pushing myself to get all my ARCs done so I can focus on mood reading without guilt. I also took a few days off work and was able to knock out several books.

Books Read: 15

Adult: 13

YA: 2

  Books Reviewed: 3

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren – 3/5 Stars

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 3/5 Stars

Shutter by Melissa Larsen – 1/5 Stars

Favorite Book of the Month:

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Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Books Read in 2021 Overall: 49

Funny Fridays:

May 7

May 14

May 21

May 28

Other Posts:

April 2021 Recap

WWW Wednesday: May 5, 2021

WWW Wednesday: May 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles that are Complete Sentences

WWW Wednesday: May 19, 2021

WWW Wednesday: May 26, 2021

Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 2021

Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 2021

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Eleanor & Grey by Brittainy C. Cherry. Read May 1-2. 3.5 Stars

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I feel like lately it’s been taking me a really long time to finish books, but I did not want to put this one down once I started it. I really enjoyed Eleanor and Grey’s love story, but there were a few things that made me not quite able to give it 4 stars.

The story is told in two parts – the first with the characters in high school in 2003-2004 and then the next in 2019. It felt like reading two different stories. I really enjoyed the first part and thought they were absolutely adorable together, but felt the time jump to be really jarring. Grey didn’t seem like the same character at all for a long time once the second part began. And I get it that they’ve grown up and he’s gone through a lot, but he seemed too different. I think maybe interweaving the timelines instead of keeping them in separate parts of the book might have helped.

Also, it’s never really mentioned, but based on the age of his oldest daughter, it means she would have been born his Sophomore year of college. It made me a little sad that he would’ve moved on with someone so quickly after leaving Eleanor. Which brings me to another point – I wish we would’ve seen some of his relationship with his wife before she passed. Without getting to see their love story, it made me just feel a little resentful towards him that he was with someone else and I wasn’t as patient with his grieving because I wanted him back together with Eleanor.

There were also a few things with the writing that threw me off. There’s a lot of the same words and phrases repeated a lot. I get what Cherry was going for, but it didn’t always work for me. I also didn’t like that the characters prayed to their dead relatives. And the last few chapters were way, way too sappy for my liking.

And I know this sounds like I didn’t like a lot about the book, but I did really enjoy it! It was sweet and funny and I loved what a booknerd Eleanor was and her introvertism. I loved that Grey read her favorite book so they could talk about it and I will definitely be reading more from this author in the future.

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Badly Behaved by Meagan Brandy. Read April 30-May 4. 3 Stars. 

I’m not really sure if this book is a little less crazy than the last couple books I tried by this author, or if my threshold for the ridiculous has changed, but this one was ok for me. It was over the top, but not all the time and I liked the friendship between the characters.

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It’s In His Kiss (Bridgertons #7) by Julia Quinn. Read May 2-4. 4 Stars. 

I loved this one! Hyacinth and Gareth’s banter was so much fun. While I did miss seeing some of the other Bridgertons, their absence wasn’t as noticeable as it has been in previous books since I loved Hyacinth and Gareth so much.

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Sunkissed by Kasie West. Read May 4-6. 3 Stars. 

This had some cute and funny moments, but ended up being just ok for me. It felt like there were a lot of things recycled from some of West’s other books – the songwriting from “PS I Like you“, the making a list of things to do to expand your horizons like “Life, Love, and the List“, the outdoorsy setting like “Listen to your Heart.” It was just kind of odd. I liked the main character well enough, but felt pretty ambivalent about everyone else, including the love interest. I also felt like she spent the whole book trying to become a better version of herself and then it happened all at once at the end. This probably isn’t one I would read again, but I’ll still look forward to the next Kasie West book.

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Hostage by Clare Mackintosh. Read May 8-10. 3 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, but not as much as I had hoped to. I recently read another book about a plane hijacking and couldn’t help myself from comparing the two. While this one did a much better job on character development and a giving a fresher take on who the hijackers were, it was not nearly as fast paced or suspenseful as the other one. Being a fan of Mackintosh, I knew to be on the look out for a great twist at the end – and we got it. However, there was a big clue into at least part of that twist throughout the book and I guessed it from a mile away. The epilogue was pretty great, though. I might have increased my rating by half a star due to those final few pages, but then my whole reading experience was brought down a bit by the condescending climate change lecture given in the Author’s Note.

*I received a copy of this title via a giveaway on Goodreads.*

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On the Way to the Wedding (Bridgertons #8) by Julia Quinn. Read May 13-16. 4 Stars.

I’ve seen some rather mixed reviews for this one, but I really enjoyed it! The last couple of chapters were a little on the ridiculous side, but I enjoyed the rest of the book enough to make up for it. I really liked Gregory and Lucy. I liked that there were some more Bridgertons around than the last couple of books had, but I wanted at least one scene where they were altogether since this was the last book in the series and was sad we didn’t get that. Still, though, this has been such a fun series that is outside the genre I usually read and I’m glad I gave them a try.

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Forbidden (Ward Sisters #4) by Karla Sorensen. Read May 22-23. 4 Stars. 

I’ve been waiting for Isabel’s story and while I found her much more frustrating than I expected to, I liked her and Aiden together. I wish we got a little more of Aiden’s POV and I wish there was more relationship development and less focus on physical fantasies. Still, though, it was a good end to the series that I sped right through. I liked that we got to see a good deal of the rest of the Ward family and that there was some closure with their estranged mother.

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The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Bridgertons #1.5-8.5; 8.6) by Julia Quinn. Read May 23. 4 Stars.

I was able to read the 2nd epilogues for all of the previous books when I read them, so I got this just for Violet’s story. It didn’t go the way I was expecting it to, but I did like it. I really liked that we got to see some of her relationship with her husband, who never got to make an appearance in the series. And while I wish she would have found love again, I liked that she was still happy with her life without it.

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In the Now by Jennifer Ann Shore. Read May 23-24. 3.5 Stars

3.5 Stars. I picked this one up randomly browsing KU and it’s one of the better books I’ve found in that way. I liked the characters, but I wanted a little more from the romance. Noah bullied Olivia pretty hard in high school. Like, really mean things and I thought it was all just brushed past way too easily. Adult Noah was like a completely different character. There’s also a lot said about his family that I thought could have been explored a little more. Overall, this was a quick, enjoyable read and I might check out more from this author.

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Find You First by Linwood Barclay. Read May 25-27. 4 Stars.

I enjoyed this one. When it comes to character driven thrillers, Linwood Barclay is one of the best. The plot veered into the unbelievable a bit more than his books usually do, but it was entertaining.

*****DNF*****

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The Engagement Arrangement (Boots and Bouquets #2) by Jaci Burton. DNF @ 4%. I usually try to give books a little more of a chance before I decide to DNF it, but this is the second time I’ve tried to read this one and I still can’t make myself get past the first chapter. I thought the main character was kind of creepy and found myself saying, “that escalated quickly” several times – and it was only the first chapter! I think it’s safe to say that this book won’t be for me.

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Match Made in Paradise (Paradise, Alaska #1) by Barbara Dunlop. DNF @ 58%. I thought this had a lot of potential in the beginning, but I pretty quickly became bored with it. I didn’t think the “hate-to-love” was that well done – they had bad first impressions of each other and then lots of inner-monologues about how attractive they found each other. I never really felt any real chemistry or friendship between them. I didn’t like the main character and her “poor me for being so beautiful and rich” behavior. Since I was so far into the book I thought I should finish it, but once I got to the part where the main character and her cousin discuss shipping in models from LA to date the local Alaskan men, I just couldn’t take any more.

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Just One Look by Lindsay Cameron. DNF @ 14%. I don’t have anything bad to say about the writing, but after just a few chapters I felt like I had already read this story several times before and I was just not in the mood for it. I did skim through to the end just to see if there was anything new or surprising. There wasn’t. I have seen some very positive reviews on the book, though, so I’m sure it will still be an entertaining read for many.

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The Bookworm’s Guide to Flirting (The Bookworm’s Guide #3) by Emma Hart. DNF @ 6%. I thought this looked funny and cute, but it only took one chapter to know it’s not for me. That’s not to say that it won’t be funny and cute. There was some banter that made me smile, but I know that I can’t take a whole book in the main character’s head. I really did not care for her and the general tone of the writing.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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Win by Harlan Coben. I think I was in a weird mood when I started this and I only read one chapter that didn’t grab me. I put it down to try some other books and was never inspired to pick it back up. I do plan on requesting it from the library again in the future, though.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda – 2 Stars

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish – 3.5 Stars

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian – 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences

This week’s top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Book Titles That Are Complete Sentences.

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1. Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

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2. He Started It by Samantha Downing

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3. Where Do I Begin? by Elivs Duran

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4. Date Me Like You Mean It by R.S. Grey

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5. Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

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6. I Knew You Were Trouble by Lauren Layne

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7. Wesley James Ruined my Life by Jennifer Honeyburn

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8. I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

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9. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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10. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

April 2021 Recap

April started off nice with a week off from work, but after that it wasn’t so great. The weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind, one day it was 80 degrees and a few days later it was snowing. Even for Ohio, that’s weird for April. The heating and cooling system in my apartment is very old and it is a long, frustrating process to switch it from one to the other – which I’ve done several times. Book-wise, I read more than I have in awhile, but most were only 2 or 3 stars. I did go to a couple of author Zoom events that were kind of fun, though. They don’t compare to being able to go to the live events and meeting the authors and getting signed books, but I’ll take it. My library did an event with R.L. Stine – one of my favorite childhood authors – and another library had Anna Gomez and Kristoffer Polaha. I haven’t read their book yet, but Polaha is an actor and I’ve liked some of his shows and movies and he was on set of his latest Hallmark movie so that was kind of cool.

Books Read: 9

Adult: 9

  Books Reviewed: 4

Where Secrets Lie by Eva V. Gibson – 2/5 Stars

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry – 4/5 Stars

The Insiders by Tijan – 3/5 Stars

A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams – 2/5 Stars

Favorite Book of the Month:

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All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata

Books Read in 2021 Overall: 34

Funny Fridays:

April 2

April 9

April 16

April 23

Other Posts:

March 2021 Recap

Happy Easter!

WWW Wednesday: April 7, 2021

WWW Wednesday: April 14, 2021

WWW Wednesday: April 21, 2021

WWW Wednesday: April 28, 2021

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2021

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2021

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson. Read April 3-5. 2.5 Stars.

This book was bonkers. The writing had that addictive quality I expect from Swanson, which I’m giving the extra half star for, but the story itself was like a campy Lifetime movie. I had some theories about what would happen that I thought couldn’t be right because it was too crazy, but then it went down an even crazier path. You definitely have to suspend your grip on reality to enjoy this, which I wasn’t entirely able to do.

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All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata. Read April 5-7. 4 Stars. 

I loved this! Such a sweet, slow-burn romance. I might have some issues with Zapata’s writing sometimes, but she definitely knows how to write a romantic hero that will make my cold, black heart have some feelings.

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When He Was Wicked (Bridgertons #6) by Julia Quinn. Read April 8-10. 3.5 Stars. 

Another enjoyable book in the Bridgertons series, but not one of my favorites. I wish there was a little more of the Bridgertons present, but I did like both Francesca and Michael.

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Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. Read April 16-18. 3.5 Stars.

The first several chapters were a bit of a chore to get through, but I was eventually able to get into the story. I didn’t like that the main character, Ruthie, keeps being referred to as old at 25, mostly by her 22 year-old assistant, Melanie. I didn’t really like Melanie at all. She’s supposed to be funny and supportive, but I found her a little grating. I also thought the two elderly ladies hiring young men to exploit and humiliate was a little tone deaf in today’s environment. There also wasn’t really much of a plot. But, despite all that, I did enjoy watching Ruthie and Teddy fall in love. There were several cute moments and I liked how they helped each other grow. If you’re looking for another The Hating Game, you’re not going to find it here, but it was definitely a solid effort from Thorne and I’ll try whatever she writes next.

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The Beach by R.S. Grey. Read April 25. 2.5 Stars. 

This was very short and didn’t have much of a plot. The characters are from Doctor Dearest (which wasn’t my favorite R.S. Grey book) and the story is basically the female lead internal monologuing about her crush on the guy, them hooking up a lot, and then deciding it’s not just an island fling. I would have liked a little more banter and romance thrown in to round out the story a bit.

*****DNF*****

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The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. DNF @ 47%. I saw so many glowing reviews of this book and was very excited to read it, but it just didn’t work for me. The beginning was so slow and felt like a chore to get through. I found myself really annoyed about how often this super amazing plot is mentioned, without actually finding out what it is. I also guessed right away who the internet “troll” who accuses the main character of plagiarism was. I stopped reading properly at around 47%, but then skimmed through towards the end so I could see if my prediction was correct. It was. And that plot that kept being mentioned as revolutionary? VERY disappointing. Honestly, I thought it sounded similar to an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer…

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren – 3 Stars

Falling by T.J. Newman – 3.5 Stars

Shutter by Melissa Larsen – 1 Star

Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

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Synopsis from Goodreads

For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades.

When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother’s baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery–stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The “Red Wolf,” as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

What did Heather’s mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.

A Dark and Secret Place publishes June 8, 2021

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

I’m always on the lookout for a good serial killer book and I thought A Dark and Secret Place looked pretty intriguing. Unfortunately, I ultimately found it disappointing.

I thought the “Before” chapters about Michael’s early life were well done and compelling. I found Michael a sympathetic, if unsettling, character. Once Michael started to grow up, though, I didn’t find the Before chapters as well done. I wanted a lot more background information about the mysterious man that takes him in and the commune he starts. There is very little said about it’s purpose and motivations and it left me with a lot of questions. 

I struggled a lot with Heather’s character. She was so unlikable and barely anything she did made sense to me. I really felt like I had to suffer through the chapters from her point of view to get to the Before parts I enjoyed more. I also thought that as she investigated, everything fell into place just a little too easily for her. 

Overall, I found A Dark and Secret Place pretty disappointing. I really wanted to like it and was intrigued in the beginning, but the over the top turns the story took, how unlikable the main character was, and the unsatisfactory explanations in the end really let me down.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

March 2021 Recap

I don’t have a lot to say about March. I hit a book slump about halfway through and haven’t been able to read anything. Instead, I started binging Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and just finished it yesterday. It took me a bit to get into it, but I really enjoyed it and I know it’s a series that I’ll be watching again. I’ve been feeling really burnt out and stressed with work, so I finally scheduled some vacation time. I’ll be off all next week and I could not be more excited for it. I have some plans, but would really love to pick one day just to sleep as long as I want.

Books Read: 7

Adult: 6
YA: 1

  Books Reviewed: 2

The Songbook of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon – 4/5 Stars

Bookshop by the Sea by Denise Hunter – 3/5 Stars

Favorite Book of the Month:

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Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Books Read in 2021 Overall: 25

Funny Fridays:

March 5

March 12

March 19

March 26

Other Posts:

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2021

February 2021 Recap

WWW Wednesday: March 3, 2021

WWW Wednesday: March 10, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring 2021 TBR

WWW Wednesday: March 17, 2021

WWW Wednesday: March 24, 2021

The Book Snob Tag

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2021

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2021

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons #2) by Julia Quinn. Read March 8-11. 4 Stars.

I have been eagerly anticipating Eloise’s book and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I expected to. It took me awhile to figure out what wasn’t working for me, and it was half way through when her brothers show up that I realized I was missing the other Bridgertons. The banter that I love wasn’t as present in this installment of the series due to the Bridgertons not being around for most of the book and also that Phillip is on the quieter side. I also was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see much of the initial letters that led up to their meeting and their wedding was glossed over. Though we did get to see more of it in the previous book, I wanted to see it from Eloise and Phillip’s point of view. And I know this sounds like a lot of complaints, but they’re small nitpicky things and I did end up enjoying this. I will be eagerly waiting the next book in the series to become available at the library.

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Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering. Read March 5-12. 2 Stars. 

I found this really disappointing. I kept hearing about great twists, but there was absolutely nothing in this book that was surprising. Maybe if you’ve read very few books in this genre? Still, though, at least one of the “twists” was super obvious from very early on and wasn’t “revealed” until after half way through the book. I was waiting for a really explosive ending, but everything that happened just made me roll my eyes.

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Love at First by Kate Clayborn. Read March 4-13. 4 Stars. 

Quirky, romantic, a little sad, and sweet. I really ended up enjoying this book. I loved Will and Nora and all their neighbors. Though it took me just a bit to get into the story (I think that probably had more to do with my mood at the time I started it than the book itself), once I did, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down. While it was just a little longer than I thought it needed to be, it was such a sweet story and I’m really looking forward to checking out more by this author.

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Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. Read March 17-18. 4 Stars. 

I struggled a little with how to rate this. There wasn’t really much to the plot for most of the book, it could get pretty cheesy, and the big dramatic turn it takes in the last quarter or so of the book seemed a little out of nowhere – and in how it impacted Meg a little on the unrealistic side. However, the romance was cute and sweet, there was some good humorous moments, it made me want to learn calligraphy, and I did overall enjoy the reading experience, so I’m going to boost my rating up to 4 stars.

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To Have and to Hate by R.S. Grey. Read March 18-19. 4 Stars. 

This was a cute marriage of convenience story. I got a little frustrated with the lack of communication and would have liked Elizabeth’s relationship with her family a little more explored. Overall, though, it was a quick read that I enjoyed.

*****Back on the TBR*****

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A Simple Murder (Kate Burkholder series novellas) by Linda Castillo. I was in a big book slump for the last week and a half or so and by the time I finally felt like reading again, I only got through one of the stories before my library book expired. I will definitely try this again later, though. 

*****DNF*****

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A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4) by Sarah J. Maas. DNF @ 4%. Yes, I only read a couple chapters of this, but I couldn’t really force myself to read anything more. I looked at a lot of other reviews and there was nothing in them that made me think it would be worth it to me to finish the book.

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Take it Off the Menu by Christina Hovland. DNF @ 36%. I thought this sounded cute, but I never really connected with it. I didn’t think the main character was very likable and I hate when poor communication is a major plot point.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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Where Secrets Lie by Eva V. Gibson – 2 Stars

The Book Snob Tag

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a tag and I saw this one over on Bookworm Blogger and thought it looked fun.

1. ADAPTATION SNOB: DO YOU ALWAYS READ THE BOOK BEFORE YOU SEE THE MOVIE?

No. A lot of times watching a show or movie will make me want to read a book that wasn’t on my radar before. Reading the book first will most likely ruin the show/movie for me because most adaptions are not done well when it comes to being faithful to the source material.

2. FORMAT SNOB: YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE ONE FORMAT IN WHICH TO READ BOOKS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE: PHYSICAL BOOKS, EBOOKS, OR AUDIOBOOKS?

While I’ll always love physical books, I could not give up my e-reader.

3. SHIP SNOB: WOULD YOU DATE OR MARRY A NON-READER?

Yes, but I would prefer another booknerd.

4. GENRE SNOB: YOU HAVE TO DITCH ONE GENRE – NEVER TO BE READ AGAIN FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHICH ONE DO YOU DITCH?

Non-Fiction. I usually only read a couple of non-fiction books a year, so I could easily give them up.

5. UBER GENRE SNOB: YOU CAN ONLY CHOOSE TO READ FROM ONE GENRE FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. WHICH GENRE DO YOU CHOOSE?

I want to say Mystery/Thriller (I’m counting them as one genre because I honestly don’t know the difference between them and always just push them together like that), but if I look at what I’ve read most of this year, it’s been Romance. But I might be too snobby to make Romance the final answer.

6. COMMUNITY SNOB: WHICH GENRE DO YOU THINK RECEIVES THE MOST SNOBBERY FROM THE BOOKISH COMMUNITY?

Romance. Even though it’s a huge market.

7. SNOBBERY RECIPIENT: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN SNUBBED FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE BEEN READING OR FOR READING IN GENERAL?

My brother used to send me a lot of memes like the below to poke fun at me, but other than that, not really.