Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2020

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The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan and Beach Read by Emily Henry.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

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Since I already mentioned The Heir Affair, I’ll go with Wild at Heart (The Simple Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I actually bought this just after it came out, but still haven’t read it.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

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The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. I’m in the minority here, but it didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. It read a lot more like Women’s Fiction than Mystery/Thriller to me.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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The F List by Alessandra Torree. I expected nothing from this, but LOVED it.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

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Karla Sorensen

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

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Dallas from Wait For It by Mariana Zapata.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

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Caden from Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I don’t think I’ve cried at any books yet this year. My cold, black heart remains intact.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren.

FAVORITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

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So I haven’t actually read these books, but I did enjoy the Netflix show that’s based on the books by Sherryl Woods- The Sweet Magnolias

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

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I actually do not buy a lot of books. I did pick up The Simple Wild ebook when it was on sale, though.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo

Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne

Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

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

Beach Read publishes May 19, 2020. 

It’s pretty rare that I say this about a popular book, but Beach Read totally deserves all the hype it’s been getting. I loved it!

I did find that I had to adjust my expectations when I started the book. I expected a tropical location and nothing but cuteness. However, the beach being referenced in the title is on Lake Michigan and there was a whole lot of seriousness and emotional punches mixed in with the cuteness. That ended up working for me, though. I really loved both January and Gus and thought they were relatable and likable characters. I thought they brought out the best in each other and were a great example of how a couple should grow together in a relationship and not just be “fixed” by love.

I loved January and Gus’ banter. They made me smile throughout so much of this book and there were so many cute and romantic moments between them. They also managed to make me emotional, as well. I thought Gus’ general pessimism was relatable, while also wanting to see him find happiness and heal from his awful childhood. January is not only dealing with the grief of her father’s passing, but she has also found out that he had cheated on her mother and is left wondering how much of her childhood was a lie because of it. I, personally, also found this very relatable. There were several things she tried to work through which I found pretty cathartic and I liked that while she came to terms with things, she didn’t necessarily get the closure she wanted on it, either. It felt real.

I also loved that both main characters are authors. Books about authors or journalists are my weakness. I liked reading about what they thought about different genres and their daily writing routines and dealing with writer’s block. I also wanted to read the books they were writing, especially Gus’ cult book.

Overall, I really loved Beach Read and this little review probably doesn’t do justice to how much. I loved the characters and the town (once I got over it not being a tropical beach location, I found the small town charming, even if it is in Michigan (I’m a Buckeye)) and the emotions and the romance. It was a perfect blend of serious and cute and I couldn’t get enough of it. I definitely recommend this one!

Overall Review (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2020

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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Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw High #1) by Meagan Brandy. Read March 30-31. 2 Stars

So this is kind of the definition of Trashy Romance and Toxic Relationship. It was quite ridiculous and over the top. It’s getting two stars instead of one just because it kept my attention enough that I actually finished it. I might even try the next book to see where this crazy story goes. 

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. Super cute with likable characters. I liked that we got both POVs. I loved Logan and Paige’s relationship with his sisters. I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. Read April 8-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I was really frustrated by how childish Daisy acted for most of this book, but I did really like how it ended. And there were some funny and cute moments. Not my favorite Grey book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 9-10. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed parts of this. I liked the romance between Ava and Knox. I loved the relationship between Knox and his twin brother, Dane. I liked how Knox’s family finally got their act together. There were some things that didn’t work for me, though. The whole secret admirer love letter portion of the book was very short. There’s one letter, then some texts and you know who it is pretty much right away, even if it takes several chapters for Ava to confirm it (she also figured it out long before then, though). I was expecting that to be a much bigger part of the plot, so I was a little disappointed. I also didn’t think the sexual assault storyline was handled very well. It was used more for a “whodunit” type of plotline and didn’t deal too much with the physical, emotional, or psychological aspects that such a serious subject deserves.

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. Read April 12-13. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Both the characters had trouble with communicating and that frustrated me. This book also utilized one of my least favorite tropes. Had a couple of cute moments, but overall a pretty average Romance.

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Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 11-15. 2.5 Stars

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea. The angst was the only thing I really liked about it, which tells you how much I didn’t like the rest of it. But, I finished it and there were some funny or cute moments, too. 

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Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 15-21. 3 Stars. 

I got this for free awhile ago and finally decided to give it a try. It was just ok for me. It followed the basic formula every other book I’ve read by this author follows: Damaged protagonist falls for damaged athlete who has a complicated relationship with his father, a dead mother, and one close friend who provides comic relief.

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The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. Read April 21-22. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. I totally shipped Noah and Libby and I had a fun time reading about all their crazy adventures. One particular scene involving a big wedding dress and a public restroom made me laugh out loud. I did struggle with Libby a bit, though. Since it’s been so long since I read the previous books, I can’t remember if she was always so frustrating, but she really got on my nerves here. She did a ridiculous and crazy thing, after a history of doing ridiculous and crazy things, and then she got mad when her friends called her out on it. I also wish Swank wouldn’t have waited until almost the end of the book to reveal the root of Libby’s issues. I think I would have been less frustrated with her if we found out about it earlier. However, the rest of the book was so cute that these things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment at all.

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. Read April 21-23. 3.5 Stars

It took me a while to get into this, but about a third of the way in I really started to enjoy it. I was a little annoyed with Molly towards the end, but everything worked out in a cute way. I did like seeing Paige and Logan again. I’m definitely going to check out more books by this author.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram. Read April 26. 4 Stars.

This was both really sad and really sweet. Ella is in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her with scars on 70% of her body and mobility issues. She moves across the country to stay with her father who she hasn’t seen in ten years when he basically abandoned her. She has to deal with a lot of cruel people who make fun of her because of her scars, as well as new dysfunctional family dynamics. I really didn’t like her dad. I thought what he did and the reasons he did it were spineless and I think he should have been a little sorrier than he was. I also didn’t really like his new wife and I wish they would have handled the wicked stepsisters a little better than they did. Though, by the end of the book they have a lot of therapy and things do start to get better between them all and I liked that.

It took me a long time to get on board the romance. I found Brian (aka “Cinder”) really unlikable for awhile. Pretty much any time he wasn’t interacting with Ella, he was a dick. He did grow on me, though, and I shipped him and Ella. I’m a little nervous to read the next book because I feel like Ella’s already had to go through so much and I don’t want to see more bad things happen to her, which you know there has to be if a Romance/Family Drama gets a sequel. I still plan on reading it, though. I did really enjoy this, even if I had some issues with it.

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Fallen Crest Campout by Tijan. Read April 28. 3.5 Stars.

This was a quick, fun foray back into the Fallen Crest universe. There was still some immature drama, but for the most part it was a more grown up look at the Kades and I liked that. There was also the inclusion of characters from the Crew series, which spun off from Fallen Crest, and even though I haven’t read those yet, I didn’t feel too lost on the new characters. If you’re a fan of Fallen Crest, you should definitely check this one out.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 27-29. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed! I loved Jar of Hearts and have been waiting for Hillier’s next book ever since. I found this really underwhelming, though. It was super predictable with really unlikable characters. It read a lot more like a Women’s Fiction book than a mystery/thriller. The majority of the book revolved around a cheating plotline, which annoyed me. I kept waiting for all these great, twisty reveals and found absolutely none of them surprising. Just another hyped book that let me down.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I absolutely loved this just as much the second time around. I had forgotten how it really puts you through the emotional wringer. It was still a bit too long. I still wanted to punch Nick right in the face a few times. But I loved it so much. I loved Bex and Nick and watching their relationship unfold. I will say, though, that if Lacey meets an untimely demise in the sequel, I will not be sad.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. I still liked this a lot the second time around, but not quite as much as I was expecting. I forgot how unlikable Jasmine was about 90% of the time. For some reason I had less patience for her behavior this time around. I still loved Ivan, though, and the romance.

*****DNF*****

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. DNF @ 10%. I just couldn’t get into this. I found the main character really off-putting and couldn’t take any more of her.

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The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it’s just not for me. The dialogue made me cringe and everything the main character did just made me roll my eyes. I’ve seen some really good reviews on it, though, so it could just be me.

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

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The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – 4 Stars

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – 3.5 Stars

The Vacation by T.M. Logan – 4 Stars

The Bright Lands by John Fram – 2.5 Stars

Always A Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: April 22, 2020

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

What did you recently finish reading?

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Always a Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen and Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. I loved Always a Bridesmaid! Fake Fiance was just ok for me.

What are you currently reading?

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. This is fine, but I’m not super interested in it yet.

The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. I read the first two books in this series a long time ago, but this one wasn’t at the library. It is in Kindle Unlimited, though, so I’m excited to finally get to finish the series.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I think I’m going to try Beach Read by Emily Henry.

What are you reading?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 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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#Nerd (Hashtag#1) by Cambria Hebert. Read January 2-3. 3 Stars. 

I couldn’t decide what to read and decided to go with something I wouldn’t normally pick. I had just recently gotten this for free, so I decided to give it a try. For the most part, this just reminded me why I don’t read much New Adult. It was ridiculously dramatic and clichéd. I didn’t particularly like either Romeo or Rimmel. However, I liked how the story was told in alternating first person POV. I thought their voices were really distinct and I actually liked the chapter’s from Romeo’s POV a little more. Because of that, it occasionally making me chuckle, and it’s the beginning of the year and I’m feeling generous, I’m bumping my rating up to 3 stars, even though I won’t be continuing the series (I just looked and there are several books in this series and they all look increasingly overdramatic and I just don’t have the patience for that).

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. Read January 6-7. 4 Stars. 

This is my second book by Jenn Bennett and I found it just as addicting as I did Alex, Approximately. It was a quick, easy read that kept me glued to the pages. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry. Read January 7-9. 3.5 Stars. 

If you ask me what this book is about, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you. There were a number of things I liked – the characters, the banter, the romance. I loved the first half of this book and couldn’t put it down. But, it’s weird. It’s really weird and I didn’t entirely understand what happened towards the end. That’s the reason I can’t quite give it 4 stars. It was still a good read, though.

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An Ex for Christmas (Unexpectedly Yours #5) by Lauren Layne. Read January 14-15. 4 Stars. 

This book was so fricking cute! Likable characters and a cute dog. I loved the friendship between Mark and Kelly. This story was incredibly predictable, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of this (though, as always, there were a few scenes a little more graphic than I like). Lauren Layne has really become one of my favorites of this genre.

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Read January 15-17. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about this book was still the non-traditional formatting, but I must say I enjoyed the actual story more than I did the first book. I found both main characters to be likable. The plot wasn’t quite as clichéd. However, I still think the surveillance video summaries take away from the non-traditional style and were used too often. And I still really dislike having Aidan narrate anything (thankfully it didn’t appear until later in the book). This is probably closer to a 3.5 for me, but since that’s what I rated Illuminae and I thought this was better, I’m bumping my rating up to 4. I’m looking forward to see how it all plays out in Obsidio!

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Tarnished Crown (The Royals #3.5) by Erin Watt. Read January 16-18. 3 Stars. 

I don’t think I really had an opinion about Gideon one way or the other before, but I liked him after this. The story was fine, addictive writing like Erin Watt books are known to be. I’m just a little disappointed that I don’t feel like I really got the full story on Gideon and Savannah. I would’ve liked more flashback scenes to the beginning and then the end of their relationship. I felt like things were just kind of referenced and not explored and felt a little lacking. I did enjoy the “Present” timeline, though and I am looking forward to Cracked Kingdom!

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More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost #2) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read January 19-20. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about Letters to the Lost was the friendship between Declan and Rev and I was very excited to hear that Rev was going to get his own book. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed More Than We Can Tell even more than I did Letters to the Lost. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic. Read January 21-24. 2.5 Stars.

I found The New Neighbors to be a pretty standard psychological thriller (and I’m using the word “thriller” loosely). The writing wasn’t bad, but I just found myself pretty underwhelmed with the plot and the characters. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross. Read January 24-26. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I thought it handled a lot of the heavier topics pretty well. I really liked the characters – not just Tate and Claire, but their friends and most of their families, too. I especially loved Tate’s stepfather, Roger. While I did think the heavier topics were handled well, I thought things were a little too rushed at the end and would’ve liked to have seen a little more resolution – especially with Tate’s anger issues. I also thought there were a couple scenes that were a little too graphic for YA. Overall, though, I enjoyed this.