The Jingle Bell Book Tag – 2018

 

Silver Sleigh Bells

I’ve seen this tag going around and thought it looked familiar. Turns out I did in 2016. But a big thanks to Alyssa at Reading, Reading, Reading for tagging me this year! I’m going to try and not repeat any of my answers.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You…” – What book do you want to see under the Christmas Tree?

So I know this sounds crazy, but I only asked for one book for Christmas. And only when it was on on sale for Black Friday and when I found out the person I asked for it didn’t buy it then, I told her don’t worry about it because in all honestly I will probably never use it. Anyways, the book was The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.

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Elf – What book unleashes your inner child?

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Better off Friends was one of my few re-reads this year. While I’m not really sure it “unleashes my inner child”, the book starts out with the main characters in middle school (or maybe even earlier? I can’t quite remember now, even though I’ve read this twice) so relating to them is kind of inner child-esque?

“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” – Which book has most festive look to it?

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Hot Winter Nights is actually the only Christmasy book I’ve read this year.

The Holiday – Name your favourite TWO couples…

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Ruby and Aaron from Dear Aaron and Jasmine and Ivan in From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. While I do have several issues with Zapata’s books, I can’t deny that the couples in these two books melted my cold, black heart like nothing else.

What book would you like to give as a present to your followers?

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Beartown by Fredrik BackmanThis is one of my very favorite books of the year and I think everyone should read it.

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to participate

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End of the Year Survey: 2017

This End of the Year survey was created by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

Number Of Books You Read: 134
Number of Re-Reads: 5
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Suspense

best-YA-books-20141. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton, Ragdoll by Daniel Cole, Making Faces by Amy Harmon and Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I gave all these books 4.5 stars and I can’t pick between them.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I thought this looked adorable and had so much potential, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Didn’t think it would be my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I can’t think of a book that I really pushed on people this year. I recommended Sharon Bolton to just about everyone, but I’m not sure if anyone actually read anything of hers because of me. 

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Started: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Sequel: The Secret by Katerina Diamond

Ender: The Song of David by Amy Harmon

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Sharon Bolton, Amy Harmon, and Elizabeth Eulberg

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I’m going to go with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue again. I don’t read a lot of Historical Fiction these days or LGBT+ books.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I read a lot of thrilling and unputdownable books this year, but I think the most action-packed/fast paced would be Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton bc I just got it for Christmas and am itching to read it again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. She always has the best covers.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

David Drucker from What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Nothing really stands out, but probably anything by Amy Harmon.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

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Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. My first book by Eulberg and I discovered a new favorite author.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

From Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren:

I try to ignore the pressure to be coupled up, but it’s everywhere…There’s my own biological clock, quietly yet persistently ticking away…But of course there’s that niggling voice suggesting I not care about any of it, that maybe I should give in and buy the cats instead. The problem is that I don’t like them. I may be a terrible married person someday, but I know for sure I would be an even worse cat lady.

“Evie?”

“Sorry…I was just trying to figure out whether I could still be a crazy cat lady without the actual animals.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest: Winging It by Cate Cameron

Longest: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Lark and Tiras from The Bird and the Sword, Evie and Carter from Dating You/Hating You, and Lacey and Josebury from the Lacey Flint series.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Declan and Rev from Letters to the Lost

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (AKA Sharon Bolton). It wasn’t really a personal recommendation, but I saw a review on The Misstery. Many books I’ve read and loved this year came from Annie.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

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I loved Matt from Always You by Denise Grover Swank.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

Ragdoll from Daniel Cole

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. Did not like the book, but she really knows how to set a scene!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The DS Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond. More people need to read this!!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Lying Game

book-blogging1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I can never answer this question. There’s been so many.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Sometimes the worst books make for the most fun reviews.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Convince me to buy a Kindle (I think it’s also the only discussion post I wrote)

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I went to three author events: Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Lisa Scottoline.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Linda Castillo remembered my name at her book signing from previous book signings. Also, I’m counting this as blogging life, I finally got to meet Brandie from Running on Words and Wine!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Going through long periods of time where I had no patience for romance or contemporary novels. Also, personal life issues put reading on hold a lot of the time.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Most viewed of the year was the review for Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo that I wrote a couple years ago, but the most viewed from 2017 content was the review for Fallen Heir by Erin Watt.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

All of them 🙂

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Not really a discovery, but I finally bit the bullet and got a Kindle Paperwhite.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did the Good Reads Challenge and surpassed my goal of 100 books.

looking-ahead-books-20151. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

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Maybe not number 1 priority, but I still need to read Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

There’s not really one on my radar right now.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi – the continuation of the Shatter Me series.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Be more consistent on writing reviews for non-ARCs.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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The Wife Between Us

Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Chasing fame.

Chasing love.

Chasing a future.

Emme has long lived in her best friend Sophie’s shadow. She writes songs, and Sophie sings them. It’s always been like this, and feels like it always will be.

Sophie will stop at nothing to be a star. Even if it means using her best friend and picking up a trophy boyfriend, Carter.

Carter is a victim of a particular Hollywood curse: He’s a former child star. Now all he wants is a normal life. But being normal is about as hard for him as being famous.

Ethan has his own issues – a darkness in his head that he just can’t shake. He’s managed to sabotage every relationship he’s ever been in. Emme’s the only girl he’s ever really respected… but he’s not sure what to do about that.

Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan are all students at a performing arts school, where talent is the norm and fame is the goal. But sometimes, being in the spotlight isn’t as important as the people you’re sharing it with – as the four of them are going to find out in Elizabeth Eulberg’s excellent new novel, which is about the auditions life puts us through every day, both big and small.

I very recently discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have been working my way through her books. While I’ve enjoyed all of the ones I have read so far (especially Better off Friends), Take a Bow has become not just my favorite Eulberg book, but one of my favorite books of the year.

I loved the characters. The story is told from the 1st person POV of four students at a prestigious arts school: Emme, Ethan, Sophie, and Carter. I really enjoyed each of their perspectives. I loved Emme and how kind she was. I loved her relationship with her band members, Ben, Jack, and Ethan. Ethan came the closest to the “tortured artist” persona I was expecting for the setting, but it was never over the top. While he messed up plenty, he did really try and I loved him. Carter was the former child star who just wanted to have a normal life. He was so nice and I loved the friendship he developed with Emme. His part of the story is really focused on finding himself and while I appreciated it and did like him, he came across a little pretentious at times. I pretty much straight up hated Sophie at first, but as the book went on I started to kind of love to hate her. She could not be more different than sweet Emme and I couldn’t wait to see this mean girls get what was coming to her.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been binging on Eulberg books lately and I think the thing that keeps making me come back is the character development. All of her characters are really well developed and I become deeply invested in them. I almost start to feel like they’re real people and I wish I was part of their friendships. This year I have been really into mysteries/suspense and have not had a lot of patience for anything else. These books have made me really start to appreciate a good character-driven story again.

The only thing I didn’t really like about the book was how Carter’s chapters were formatted. Every time there was dialogue it had the character name and then a colon and then what was said. It took me a little while to figure out that’s it’s supposed to mimic a script. It didn’t work for me, though, because the rest of the text wasn’t like that. If the whole POV could have been written out like a script I think it could’ve been a really interesting narrative choice, but as it was it was just kind of distracting.

Overall, I really loved Take a Bow. I read it in a day. I loved the characters and the friendship and even the catty egomaniac. I know this review does not do justice to how much I enjoyed this book. I can’t believe how long it has taken me to discover Elizabeth Eulberg. If you are a fan of YA Contemporaries, you definitely need to check her out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

Review: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

I loved this book! I was caught up with all my current books and didn’t know what to read so I started searching through all the “available now” titles at the library and this was the only one to really grab my interest. I decided to give it a try and I’m so glad that I did! It was such a well done friends-to-more story.

I really liked both Macallan and Levi. I loved their bantering and their friendship and how they were there for each other. The story was told in alternating first person POV and between each chapter there was a short passage of them bantering back and forth about what just happened in the preceding chapter. I really loved this narrative style and thought it really worked for the story. I felt a good connection to both characters and it kept me from getting overly upset at one of them when they did something stupid.

Friends-to-more is one of my favorite romance tropes and, as I mentioned above, it’s done really well here. Instead of just being told how they’ve been friends forever and are best friends, we get to experience their friendship from the start. The book starts with them in seventh grade and ends with them as juniors in high school. My only problem with it is I felt a little weird shipping middle schoolers. Back in my day (oh so long ago) when kids that age “dated” it was basically writing notes and occasionally hanging out, but here they were going on proper dates and there was never a mention of parents driving them or anything. It was kind of weird. However, in other ways the parents were a big part of the story and I really appreciated that. Levi’s parents and Macallan’s dad and uncle were all present and encouraging and loving and you don’t see that a lot in YA. The only other nagging issue I had with the story was Levi’s almost desperate need for guy friends. The phrase “my guys” was used far, far too often.

Overall, I really enjoyed Better off Friends. I loved the writing style and the characters. I loved watching Macallan and Levi’s friendship grow throughout the years, even though they had several setbacks along the way. I definitely recommend this to YA fans and Friends-to-More fans. This is the first book I’ve ever read from this author and I am definitely going to be checking out her other books.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars