Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019.

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1. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. January 8, 2019.

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2. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills. January 15, 2019.

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3. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, January 29, 2019.

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4. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. January 29, 2019.

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5. Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. February 5, 2019.

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6. Huge Deal by Lauren Layne. February 12, 2019.

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7. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. March 1, 2019.

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8. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. April 16, 2019.

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9. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. April 23, 2019.

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10. Fumbled my Alexa Martin. April 23, 2019.

What books are you looking forward to this year?

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Review: I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella, an irresistible story of love and empowerment about a young woman with a complicated family, a handsome man who might be “the one,” and an IOU that changes everything

Fixie Farr has always lived by her father’s motto: “Family first.” But since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn’t take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It’s simply not in her nature to say no to people.

So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, Fixie not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. Turns out the computer’s owner is an investment manager. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, Sebastian scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. But Fixie laughs it off—she’d never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she?

Then Fixie’s childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie’s buttons. She wants nothing for herself—but she’d love Seb to give Ryan a job. And Seb agrees, until the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?

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

I Owe You One will be available February 5, 2019. 

I adored this book. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Sophie Kinsella novel and I’ve forgotten just how addictive they can be. Once I started it I could hardly put it down.

I really expected I Owe You One to be romance-heavy, but it wasn’t as central to the plot as I thought it would be. That wasn’t a bad thing, though. The story focuses a lot on Fixie’s relationship with her family and with her own issues of confidence and self-worth. Fixie got her nickname by always needing to fix things – messes, people, etc. Her siblings, Jake and Nicole, take advantage of her, as does Ryan, the man she’s had a crush on for most her life. Throughout most of the book I just couldn’t get over how awful those three people were. I was really frustrated by how Fixie let herself get steamrolled over and how she couldn’t speak up for herself. As the story goes on, though, she learns to speak up and practice a little tough love.

Even though the romance wasn’t as central as I expected, it did still play an important part in Fixie’s story. I just loved Seb. He was such a genuinely good person. I loved his sense of humor and how sweet he was. That’s not to say he’s perfect, of course. When he and Fixie first meet he’s dating someone else – who is of course awful and very ill-suited for him and that was frustrating. There’s a point where his and Fixie’s relationship hits a rocky spot and I wish they would have communicated a little more effectively, but I liked how it all turned out.

Overall, I really enjoyed I Owe You One. I liked Fixie and Seb and the quirky cast of supporting characters. I even liked Jake and Nicole by the end of the story. I liked Fixie’s character growth and her relationship with Seb. I was a little disappointed that the IOUs didn’t really pay as large a role in the book as I expected, but I did like how it was utilized. This is probably my new favorite Kinsella novel and I definitely recommend it to fans of Contemporary and Women’s Fiction.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

2018 Recap

Happy New Year bookworms! You may have already read my 2018 End of the Year Survey, but I wanted to compile a few more stats for myself to recap the year.

First, let’s look at a few Real Life things that defined my 2018.

  • January – One of my favorite aunts passed away
  • February – I got promoted to a new position (Administrative Professional)
  • June – My parents’ divorce was finalized
  • July – My mother moved back into her condo after spending 7 months with me (in my one bedroom apartment)
  • October – Started another new job with a new employer (Executive Administrative Assistant).

Ok, now the important stuff – books and blogging!

I read 150 books. 8 of those were Re-reads. I DNF-ed 5 books (not included in the 150).

Adult: 100
New Adult: 8
Young Adult: 42

Ratings – This is the first year I’ve had more 4 Star reads than any other rating. Part of it is me being more generous with my ratings, but I like to think that I just read better books this year.

4.5 Stars: 6
4 Stars: 66
3.5 Stars: 27
3 Stars: 33
2.5 Stars: 7
2 Stars: 10
1 Star: 1

Book Source:

Own: 23
Library: 48
NetGalley: 47
Kindle Unlimited: 22
Other: 10

Reviews

I wrote 69 reviews (though 3 of those won’t post until 2019). This is the first year since my blog’s inception that I did not get more views than the previous year. However, I did have more comments and likes than any previous year.  (So THANK YOU!) I also reached two milestones: I surpassed 1,000 followers and wrote my 1,000th blog post in 2018.

Most Viewed:

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

The Date by Louise Jensen

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic


Most Read Author:

Lauren Layne – 6 books


Top 5 Favorite Books of the year (not counting re-reads):

Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier


Top 3 Most Disappointing Books of the year:

Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies

The Date by Lousie Jensen

You can check out my whole year in books HERE.

I had a pretty successful reading year in 2018. Here’s to an even better 2019!

December 2018 Recap

Christmas Lights

December really just flew by. I had lots of meetings at work that kept me busy. My niece turned one and had a birthday party. She is just so precious and I always enjoy any time I get to spend with her. The Christmas season went well, but this was definitely a Bah Humbug type of year for me. I didn’t even put any decorations up. I did watch all the Hallmark (and some Lifetime) Christmas movies, though.

Books Read: 13

Adult: 11
NA: 1
YA: 1

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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Can’t Tex This (Text #3) by Teagan Hunter

  Books Reviewed: 6

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing – 4/5 Stars

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor – 3.5/5 Stars

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt – 2/5 Stars

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – 3/5 Stars

Watching You by Lisa Jewell – 3/5 Stars

The Smiling Main (Aidan Waits Thriller #2) by Joseph Knox – 4/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 150

Funny Fridays:

December 7

Always love a snack while reading from my kindle. ***GG

December 14

December 21

Smut book club

December 28

Other Posts:

November 2018 Recap

The Jingle Bell Book Tag

Merry Christmas!

2018 End of Year Survey

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2018

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2018

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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My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel. Read November 30 – December 1. 3 Stars. 

So, I kind of don’t get the hype with this one? I was expecting a lot of twists and craziness, but it was kind of a boring story about a manipulative person that we know is manipulative and the people she’s manipulating figures it out pretty quickly. At least this was a novella and not a book I wasted several days on. I’m giving it three stars because there wasn’t really anything wrong with the writing and the characters were kind of interesting. I think I just had higher expectations than I should have.

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A Woman Scorned by Jack Jordan. Read December 2-3. 3.5 Stars. 

Another over-hyped story I have been waiting a long time to read. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely had some fun elements and some nice, little twists. I kind of enjoyed how messed up everything/everyone was. But I expected something a little more explosive. The ending was really anti-climatic. 

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Day 21 (The 100 #2) by Kass Morgan. Read December 6-8. 3 Stars. 

Not a whole lot actually happened in this book, but I think I enjoyed it a little more than the first. Bellarke becomes official, so that’s enough to make me happy.

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Verity by Colleen Hoover. Read December 8-10. 4 Stars. 

This is definitely a different type of book than CoHo’s usual thing and I was into it. It has one of my favorite narrative devices – a book within a book. The characters were really interesting, if not always likable. I didn’t like that there was a cheating storyline. While I thought there was a definite creep factor, the suspense felt a little cheap and I wasn’t surprised by the “twist” at the end. I did, however, like that it left things kind of open-ended. I don’t usually appreciate that, but I thought it worked really well here. I’ve been struggling with what to rate this, but I think I’m going to knock it up to 4 stars because I did have a good time reading it.

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Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse by Shannon Thomas. Read December 10-11. 4 Stars. 

My father was never the easiest person to live with. Objectively, there were good times and he could be helpful and kind. But, those times were not the norm. Still, it was not until the events that led to my mother filing for divorce last year that we recognized his behavior over the years was narcissistic and abusive. This book had a lot of good information and there are many passages I highlighted that I will need to write down as reminders (I’ll probably update this review with them eventually). However, I feel like while I did face that psychological abuse, I was also kind of a step removed from it. I felt the focus of things discussed in this book would definitely be more applicable to my mother. I’m glad I read it, though, and would recommend it to people who are struggling with toxic people in their life.

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From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon. Read December 4-16. 3.5 Stars. 

First of all, I want to say I think everyone today that goes around calling people “nazis” when they don’t agree with them should read this book (or one like it…or even an actual History textbook…). The atrocities that were done to the Jewish people during this time are just disgusting and heartbreaking. 

In terms of the book itself, the writing is as beautiful as you would expect from Amy Harmon. The characters were real and likable. I did take a big issue with a main theme in the book, though, which is making me give it a lower rating than pretty much everyone else I know. Most of the time I feel Amy Harmon treats religion and faith very thoughtfully in her books. I am neither Catholic nor Jewish, but I honestly felt a little offended in how disrespectful both main characters were in regards to their faiths. Angelo is a priest, even though he should have never become one because he was already in love with someone. And then he sleeps with her while he’s a priest. And then he basically denounces his Catholic faith for one of Universalism instead. It wasn’t really a message I could get behind. One of the main reasons I put this book off for so long is because I was a little concerned about a priest being the love interest and while the book was still worth the read, I know I was right to be a little hesitant about it. 

Obviously, this is an unpopular opinion that didn’t really seem to bother anyone else. And I still definitely recommend Amy Harmon’s books, but this is not one I would pick up again.

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Can’t Text This (Text #3) by Teagan Hunter. Read December 16. 4 Stars. 

This is definitely not one of my usual type of books. However, just like the first book in this series, I read this in one evening. Basically in one sitting. I love the texting so much. Robbie and Monty’s banter just cracked me up. I didn’t love how sex-centered the plot was, but I kind of feel like the humor and characters made up for it. I also loved how much we got to see of Zach from the previous books. While this book would not be for everyone, it was exactly the light-hearted read I needed right now and I thoroughly enjoyed it. And that’s why I’m bumping my rating up to 4 stars.

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The Hardest Fall by Ella Maise. Read December 17-19. 3.5 Stars. 

I really loved the slow burn in this. It was so cute and romantic and funny. I was really ready to give this 4 stars, but it went a little off the rails for me in the last third or so of the book. Once Dylan and Zoe actually got together, it was all sex scenes and miscommunication drama, and cheesiness. I just did not enjoy the ending as much as I did the beginning, even though I was happy with how it all turned out. I’m definitely interested in reading more from this author, though.

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Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata. Read December 19-22. 4 Stars. 

Like every other book I’ve read by this author, it could’ve used way more editing and been about 200 pages shorter than it was. There is so much repetition and so many pages where nothing in the story moved forward whatsoever. However, the characters were still compelling enough to make me want to keep reading. Though Luna annoyed me sometimes, I liked her and her optimism. I enjoyed the slow burn romance with Rip, too. While there were plenty of sweet and romantic moments between them, there were some things that didn’t sit super well with me either. There’s about a 15 year age difference between them that isn’t really ever addressed. And there were times he came across a little controlling and jerky. I’m still giving this book 4 stars, though, because despite my problems with it, I still really enjoyed reading it.

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All These Beautiful Strangers by Elizabeth Klehfoth. Read December 26-28. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, but I had some issues with it that kept me from giving it 4 stars. First what I enjoyed – I liked the writing. I loved the multiple POVs and timelines. I thought they were really well done. The mystery was pretty well done, too. No shocking twists or any real surprises, but it worked. 

Now, my issues. I thought the whole A’s thing was ridiculous. It’s supposed to be a super exclusive club that will help you succeed in adulthood, but really all we see of it is horrible kids doing horrible things for really petty reasons. Every single thing they did was just stupid. I didn’t really care about any of the characters, either. Charlie was interesting, but I never really liked her. And I really didn’t like how her main confidant/love interest is a college graduate when she’s a junior in high school. I also didn’t really like how it ended. It kind of skipped over all the fall-out for her and her “friends” and I would’ve liked more details about what happened to them.

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The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. Read December 25-28. 4 Stars. 

I tried bullet journaling earlier this year and pretty much crashed and burned with it. I’ve been wanting to try it again, though, and I think after reading this book I have a much better chance at being successful. I know that as I get started with it in 2019 I will be referring back to this often as a manual and it will decrease my frustration. I also liked that Ryder really stressed that your BuJo does not have to be super creative and beautiful like so many you see online. The most important thing is that it works for you and that you are tracking and logging meaningful things. If making things really pretty helps inspire you, that’s great, but if you aren’t artistic, it’s ok. I thought it got a little too “self-help” now and then, but overall I definitely recommend this one for people who are thinking about bullet journaling, but not quite sure where to start.

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Diced by Ginger Scott. Read December 28. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. I think the biggest problem is that I’m just not a big fan of novellas. I mostly decided to read this because I wanted to hit a certain number of books read for the year and this would help me get there. It did have some cute moments, but everything just felt so rushed and things weren’t really explained to my satisfaction. And then instead of the characters really having a good conversation about the future in the end, they just say some cliched things in an extended sex scene and I was kind of over it. However, if you are a big Romance and novella fan, you will probably enjoy it more than I did.

*****DNF*****

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To Love Jason Thorn by Ella Maise. DNF at 28%. I tried. I really tried with this one, but I just can’t take anymore. I can’t stand any of the characters and I really don’t like the “little one” nickname. It makes me cringe every time Jason says it – which is a lot. I have heard from people that it gets better, but I just don’t care enough to make myself move forward with it.

*****Book with Future Review Scheduled*****

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The Temp by Michelle Frances – 2 Stars