Review: Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of  The Convenient Groom  and  A December Bride  (now beloved Hallmark Original movies) comes the first novel in a brand-new series!­

When their parents die in a tragic accident, Molly Bennett and her siblings pull together to fulfill their parents’ dream: turning their historic home back into an inn.

Adam Bradford (a.k.a. bestselling author Nathanial Grey) is a reclusive author with a bad case of writer’s block. Desperate for inspiration as his deadline approaches, he travels to a North Carolina lake town, the setting of his next novel. There he immediately meets his muse, a young innkeeper who fancies herself in love with his alter ego.

When Molly finds an old letter in the walls of her inn she embarks on a mission with Adam to find the star-crossed lovers and bring them the closure they deserve. But the guest she invites along has secrets of his own. Past and present collide as truths are revealed, and Molly and Adam will have to decide if love is worth trusting.

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

Lake Season will be available November 12, 2019. 

I feel like I need to preface this review by saying that when I read this book I was kind of in a book-slump mood where I wasn’t really enjoying anything I picked up. I started several different books that I set aside after a few chapters, but I decided to keep reading Lake Season even though I felt the same way about it as all the others. Maybe if I had read it in a different mood, I would have enjoyed it a little more.

-The story begins right after Molly’s parents die. She’s discussing next steps with her older brother, Levi, and younger sister, Grace, and when Levi proposes Grace moves in with him – to another state – she throws a tantrum which ends up with her siblings giving up both of their current life paths to move back home and open the inn their parents were planning to do. I know that they obviously had just gone through a lot, but Grace came off as such a brat that I couldn’t stand her. It really set me off on the wrong foot with the story.

-I never really got on board the whole letter thing. Molly becomes obsessed with it and while I kind of understand the reasoning, I just found it pretty boring. I also thought it was kind of odd that she needed Adam’s help because she’s just “bad with computers.” It was like she barely knew how to Google something. Yet, she’s a millennial who was in college, so it’s basically impossible for her to not know how to use a computer.

-There are a few flashbacks to the letter writer in the ’60s and I just didn’t really think they were well done. They were very few and far between and not really enough to get me invested in the story. I could kind of tell the author wasn’t that invested in them either.

-Knowing that Adam keeps his author identity a secret and that Molly’s last relationship ended because of lies, you know what the big romantic conflict is going to be. This type of scenario is never my favorite and it was made even worse by Molly’s hypocrisy. She lied to Adam about things, too, but that didn’t really seem to matter. She also was kind of dating his best friend just because she thought he was actually the author. Not to mention that she also kind of cheated on him with Adam. I just found her a little hard to like.

-One prevailing thought I had while reading this was that it was pretty light on the Christian for being a Christian Fiction. However, the lessons came in really heavy handed towards the end. I don’t necessarily mind the strong push at the end, but I would’ve preferred it to be more evenly involved throughout the whole story.

Overall, Lake Season just wasn’t for me. I know I listed a lot of negative things, but I did enjoy some things about it, too. Even though I had some issues with it, there were some good romantic moments. I also fully admit that if I read this at a different time, maybe I would’ve enjoyed it a lot more and given it a solid three stars. However, I found it pretty hard to get through and so I need to give it a slightly lower rating.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2019

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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The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves. Read September 28-30 (yes this was September, but it was after I posted my September installment of Reviewing the Unreviewed). 3 Stars. 

I found this a pretty average mystery. It was very character driven, which is fine, but the pace seemed soooo slow. It did pick up towards the end, though. The main characters were likable enough, but not really memorable. It was a decent read, but I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to continue the series.

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Read October 4-6. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but not what I expected. I didn’t think the alternate timelines were used that well, nor did I think we really needed POVs from all four girls in the past. I thought the story was a little too long and large parts of it were too unbelievable. And the most unbelievable wasn’t even the ghost parts (which made me take the whole book way less seriously, as well)

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Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read October 13-14. 2 Stars.

Did we really need another novella full of Kenji’s feelings? Honestly, getting his POV just makes me like him a little less.

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The Bridal Party by J.G. Murray. Read October 15-16. 2 Stars. 

There was so much potential for this story, but it failed to reach it. The events weren’t very feasible and the big reveal wasn’t at all surprising. I was still holding out for a fun twist at the end, but there wasn’t one and it was just kind of depressing instead.

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The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. October 17-19. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but I can’t really say much more for it than that. It was much too long and repetitive and I was bored for large parts of it. There were also thinly veiled political analogies between unregistered Luxens and undocumented immigrants and I found it a little annoying. There were multiple scenes of the main character yelling at protesters that just kind of felt like wish fulfillment from the author. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but I feel like everything that is wrong in the country comes down to two sides yelling names at each other instead of trying to talk and work things out. It’s so unproductive and I get enough of that in real life. I did enjoy getting more Luc, though, and I liked the romance, which is what JLA is always good at. I also liked the cameos from the Lux series. There was more of all the characters I love than the last book had, so that helped make up for some of the boredom.

*****DNF*****

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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag. DNF at 9%. I wasn’t too impressed after I started this, so I set it down to read something else. Two weeks later and I just have no interest in picking it back up again.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate. DNF @ 4%. Sometimes you know right away if you’re not going to click with a story and that was my experience with this book. The first chapter was enough to make me not like the main character – mainly because some of the events remind me a lot of my father. The writing style didn’t really mesh with me either. However, I will say that the reviews I’ve seen so far for this book are pretty positive, so this is probably just a case of not being the right book for me.

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

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Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter – 2.5/5 Stars

Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci – 3/5 Stars

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo – 2/5 Stars

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters – 2.5/5 Stars

Reputation by Sara Shepard – 3.5/5 Stars

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – 3/5 Stars

Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne – 4/5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR. My list is comprised of ARCs, anticipated fall releases, and a couple others that I’m hoping to just be able to make time for soon.

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1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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2. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout

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3. Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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5. Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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6. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

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7. Endgame (Fawkes and Baxter #3) by Daniel Cole

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8. The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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9. Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

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10. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

What are you reading this Fall?

WWW Wednesday: August 21, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle. I thought this sounded cute, but I’m not quite sure about it yet. The main character is very, very unlikable. I think she’s supposed to come off as funny, but she seems more like a sociopath to me. That said, there was one scene that did make me laugh a lot, so I’m going to give it a few more chapters at least. It’s a good book to be reading this week since I’m not too invested in it, as I’ve been really busy with packing. Moving day is tomorrow! And I have soooo much to do before the movers get here.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren and Woman in the Water (DS Imogen Grey #6) by Katerina Diamond. These were both 3 star reads for me, which was a little disappointing since I love these authors.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I just got approved for Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter on NetGalley.

What are you reading?

Review: Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.

Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe’s love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram’s maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven–nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy’s heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they’ve become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.

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

Summer by the Tides will be available May 21, 2019.  

Summer by the Tides is one of my new favorite Denise Hunter novels. A perfect blend of family, faith, and romance, it was everything I hope for when picking up one of Hunter’s books.

Maddy loses her job and her boyfriend all at the same time so there is nothing holding her back from going to look in on her grandmother when she gets a call from her concerned neighbor. The concerned neighbor also called Maddy’s two estranged sisters, Nora and Emma. Nora and Emma had a falling out twenty years prior and are both still holding grudges. It makes things really uncomfortable when they all show up at their grandmother’s and then decide to stay there to help fix the place up. All the characters were pretty likable, though sometimes frustrating. The secrets that are discovered during their stay were not anything surprising – except there was an extra twist on one that I wasn’t expecting.

I really liked the concerned neighbor, Connor. He was such a sweet and stand-up guy. I loved his relationship with his sisters. I really shipped his growing relationship with Maddy, too. He was exactly the kind of guy that Maddy needed and he was extremely patient with her skittishness. Things did get just a little too cheesy at times when it came to the romance, but I’ll take sappy over graphic any day.

Overall, I really enjoyed Summer by the Tides. It was a cute, quick read that I flew right through. I liked the message of faith and trusting in God and felt it was incorporated really well into the characters’ lives and didn’t come off as preachy. I liked seeing Maddy and her sisters work through their issues and discover family secrets. I liked that reconciliation was shown as a process and small steps and not just a magical fix where everything is all of a sudden fine. I definitely recommend this one to Denise Hunter fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2019

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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Shadow Me (Shatter Me #4.5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read March 5. 2 Stars. 

Honestly, I thought this was kind of pointless. It doesn’t really add anything to the series, other than that Kenji is a sad little bird who wants loooooove. I wanted to buy him ice cream and sign him up for a dating app. Warner is once again the only saving grace.

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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. Read March 5-7. 2.5 Stars. 

This was one I was really looking forward to, but I found it pretty disappointing. I really liked the beginning and appreciated the short chapter lengths, but as the story went on I felt it dragged and the twist wasn’t exactly surprising. I felt the end was really anti-climactic, as well.

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The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker. Read March 8-9. 4 Stars. 

I liked this. Calla took me a little while to start to like, but I eventually did. I liked the slow burn romance between her and Jonah. I liked her new relationship with her father – even though I felt like their reconnection was just a little too easy. I really liked Calla’s stepfather, Simon, and I found myself pretty annoyed with the way her mother treated him. This was a good, character-driven story and I definitely want to check out more from K.A. Tucker.

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The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren. Read March 9-10. 3 Stars.

This was pretty depressing. I was kind of in the mood for something sad and depressing, though, so it was ok for me. I can see where this would be helpful for people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. For the average reader, though, I thought it focused on the sadness for longer than it should have. It’s not until the very end that the characters really start to feel any hope and then it’s only because the romance is finally working out. I definitely enjoyed Biren’s Cold Day in the Sun much more than this one.

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In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2) by Cara Hunter. Read March 17-20. 4 Stars. 

I loved this. If you have not been reading this series, you are really missing out. Cara Hunter is a fantastic writer. There are so many twists and turns and I just never knew what to expect. The main characters are really likable and I thought their development was balanced perfectly with the mystery. This is probably my favorite book of the year so far.

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Run Away by Harlan Coben. Read March 25-29. 3.5 Stars.

Well written and good character development. I loved the little cameo of Nap from Don’t Let Go. I thought it was a little too slow-paced, though. It wasn’t until the end that I felt any suspense. The twist at the end was good, but it wasn’t mind-blowing like I was expecting. I had guessed most of it long before it was revealed. The ending honestly just kind of pissed me off. I wished I would have liked this one a little more since this is the book I got from his book tour.

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

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Homecoming (The 100 #3) by Kass Morgan. I got about 20% of this and just couldn’t get into it. I’ll try it again, though.

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase. This is an ARC I was excited for, but I am definitely NOT in the mood for it right now. I’ll still give it another go since it’s an ARC and I think if I am in the right mood, I will probably enjoy it.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I was towards the top of the list for library holds, but it ended up expiring before I got to it. I just haven’t been in the mood for Fantasy lately. And while Nikolai will always hold a special place in my heart, I’m not thrilled with the other POVs I’ve heard this book includes. I’ll get to it eventually, though.

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

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Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter – 4 Stars

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda – 4 Stars

Trust Me When I Lie by Benjamin Stevenson – 3 Stars

The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman – 1 Star

2018 End of Year Survey

This annual survey was developed by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner.

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**2018 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 147
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Thriller and Romance/Contemporary
**These are the stats as of 12/26/18, it’s likely to go up by one or two before the end of the year

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

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I can’t pick one, so here are the three that I gave 4.5 Stars in 2018: Close to Home by Cara Hunter, Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

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

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My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies. I absolutely adored My Lady Jane and I expected to love this one just as much, but it was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

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

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I mean come on, does Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter look like a book I would enjoy? But I totally did enjoy it. I read it in a day and laughed all the way through it.

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

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So I don’t actually feel like I pushed many books on people this year. I will say that I told my mother about Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and then when I started sharing some quotes with her she said she wanted to read it so I bought it for her for Christmas.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

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Started: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, Sequel:  What You want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka, Ender On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge #3) by Denise Hunter.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Cara Hunter and Fredrik Backman

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

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I don’t read a lot of horror and while I had my issues with this one, I mostly enjoyed it.

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

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I can’t really think of any books that were really action-packed, so I’m going with one of my re-reads for this year, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Beartown

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Benji from Beartown

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

I mean, not to sound like a broken record, but Beartown. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

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There were a lot of good lessons in the The Faithful devotional.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Brandie bought me a copy for my birthday in 2017 and it was almost a year later before I read it and I really enjoyed it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“When we decide that boundaries are needed, they can be hard to set – and maintain – if we doubt ourselves and our assessment of the situation. Survivors often wonder if they are overreacting or being too sensitive…Another reason setting boundaries is difficult to do? We internally worry that we are withholding forgiveness and staying resentful. Boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness or resentment. They have everything to do with the quality of our interactions with the people in our lives.” – Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

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Shortest: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Longest: Oblivion by JLA (this was a re-read!)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

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

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The subtle twist at the end of Our House by Louise Candlish is probably my favorite shock of the year.

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

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Bellarke forever!!! This is more about the show than the book, but I’m counting it.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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The group of friends in My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Have to go with Beartown again. I wouldn’t have ever picked it up if Brandie hadn’t lent it to me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

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Chase from One Small Thing by Erin Watt.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

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

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Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

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

Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

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Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beartown and Us Against You

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

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

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi. I was so excited for this series to continue, but the majority of this book was just the characters taking major steps back and rehashing old drama. It seemed like really lazy writing and it made me mad because I expect more from this author.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I always feel too bad to answer these questions. Add to that I always forget how long I’ve been following someone, so I’m going to skip this question. I love you all, though!

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

This beautiful book-themed cake my former co-worker made me for my goodbye party.

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

This year I went to events for Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Linwood Barclay and they were all fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I hit over 1,000 blog posts and reached over 1,000 followers.

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

Due to real life, I ended up taking two month-long (or almost month-long) hiatuses.

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

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My review of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I mean, honestly, all of them.

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

I don’t really feel like I made a bookish discovery this year?

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 reading challenge with a goal of 105 books and I surpassed that (147 at the time of writing this, but it will probably go up before the end of the year).

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

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I don’t think it will be my number one priority, but I really wanted to read Archenemies by Marissa Meyer. I got it from the library, but my hold came in at a bad time and it expired before I got to it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Review more books. It feels like I only properly review ARCS and a few select other books and I want to get back into reviewing the majority of what I read again.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella