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: Starry Eyes by Jen Bennett

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this romantic dramedy from the author of Alex, Approximately, a teen girl’s way-too-ordinary life is driven off the beaten path when she’s abandoned in the wilderness with her worst adversary—the boy who broke her heart.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

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

Starry Eyes will be available April 3, 2018. 

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.

Ok, so let me get the things that didn’t sit great with me out of the way. There was some mocking of religion, which I never appreciate. There was much more adult content than I appreciate in a young adult novel. I found Zorie and Lennon to both be a little more on the immature side, so the adult stuff made me feel just that much more uncomfortable. BUT, there wasn’t really anything graphic, so there’s that. Lennon is described as kind of a goth, but other than wearing some black and being into some horror stuff he didn’t really fit the bill. It almost felt like Bennett was trying a little hard to make the characters “diverse” in a way that didn’t really impact the character or story that much.

I did end up really liking Zorie and Lennon. Their miscommunication for a good portion of the book drove me insane, but they finally got over that and I shipped it. They had some good banter, which I enjoyed – Lennon, especially. I identified with Zorie’s anxiety and her need to plan things and appreciated her growth throughout the story. Another thing I related to were the things Zorie finds out about her father. Whether you’re a teenager or in your 30s, finding out those things about a parent has many of the same emotions and thoughts. Several books I’ve read lately have had this particular theme and I am finding them so cathartic right now.

The events in the synopsis do not happen until almost half-way through the book. Usually that really annoys me, but I found I didn’t mind it here. I thought the character development leading up to that was really well done and was essential for what would happen next. I also really enjoyed the setting, which is another unusual thing for me. I normally don’t care much about description or anything outdoors, but I really enjoyed the imagery of the wilderness and the stars. It never felt over the top or too much. It really set the scene well and I enjoyed it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Starry Eyes. I loved the setting, the character growth, and how relatable I found many things about Zorie to be. I found the writing to be really addicting, too. Even though it wasn’t really fast paced at all, I didn’t want to put it down. I definitely recommend this one to YA Contemporary fans. I know it’s one that I will re-read in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Taking a Break

Books

As I’ve recently mentioned, 2018 has not gotten off to a great start for me. Lots of family stuff. Lots of work stuff. Life is just kind of hacking away at my mental health. Other than reading, there is just not really anything that I’ve felt like doing lately. I’ve been working on this little blog of mine for almost 5 years and while I have never been the most consistent of posters, I’ve never taken any planned time away. Since I have no more ARC reviews scheduled until March, I feel like now is a good time to take a hiatus from blogging.

I will probably still check my blog feed occasionally and you can connect with me on Good Reads, if you are so inclined, as I will still be tracking what I read, but I’m going to plan on taking the rest of February off from posting anything. Hopefully in March I will be feeling a little more stable and come back with some great content. Right now I have reviews for the following books scheduled:

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I hope you all have a great month. See you in March!

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.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2017

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. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery. Read December 27-31 (yes, last month, but it didn’t make it into last month’s post). 4 Stars.

I expected this to be a really light and fluffy read, but it ended up being a lot more serious than I thought it would be. I mean, it’s not super serious, there’s still cute and fluffy moments, but it’s not really as “Chick Lit” as I thought it would be. This is not a bad thing at all, though. I really enjoyed this book and thought the character development was really well done. I loved how each of the sisters were affected differently by the events of their childhood and how it still impacted their lives decades later. I really liked Courtney and Rachel right off the bat. I really didn’t care for Sienna for the longest time, but by the end of the book I was rooting for her. I shipped all the romances. I loved the humor. I definitely recommend this one to Contemporary fans!

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The Wedding Season by Samantha Chase. Read January 3-4. 3 Stars.

This was a quick, ok read. I liked the relationship between Ryan and Tricia, but the “fake relationship” aspect of it was very, very short and that kind of frustrated me because it was the main reason I decided to read this one. Ryan’s mother drove me insane and I wasn’t a big fan of Ryan’s brother (and Tricia’s best friend) Sean. If you’re looking for a quick read with lots of romance then you might enjoy this.

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Mackenzie Fire (Shine Not Burn #2) by Elle Casey. Read January 2-7. 2.5 Stars.

The latter half of this book was definitely better than the beginning, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for it. Candice really rubbed me the wrong way for most of the book. I don’t particularly like the phrase “too stupid to live”, but that’s what kept coming to mind in pretty much every scene I read. However, she did grow on me by the end of the book and I liked her and Ian together (even though the romance happened super fast). If you don’t mind a ditzy protagonist, though, you might like this.

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Twisted Palace (The Royals #3) by Erin Watt. Read January 4-7. 2 Stars.

Well, that was disappointing. I don’t expect great literary things out of this series, but after how addicting the first book was, I except to at least be entertained. I had to force myself to finish this. My early prediction about the “mystery” ended up being right. All the high school drama seemed really unimportant since Reed is facing a murder charge, but it still got most of the plot focus. Disappointing end to a series that started out so fun.

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The Program (The Program #1) by Suzanne Young. Read January 7-8. 3 Stars.

This has been on my TBR forever and when nothing at all was sounding interesting to me I decided to finally give it a try. It kept my interest and I liked it, but I didn’t feel like it was really anything special. Some of the descriptions of depression I thought were really well done, but this is not a “mental health awareness” book by any means (this isn’t a bad thing – but if you’re looking for that be forewarned). I liked the characters well enough, but didn’t really love any of them. I shipped the wrong couple, even though I knew that they wouldn’t end up together and was really suspicious of the guy from the start. I did really like the epilogue, though. It had a few surprises that I appreciated. I liked this enough to read the next book, but this book didn’t blow me away like it has so many others.

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Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson. Read January 8-10. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoying Seeking Mansfield. I liked the characters and the romance and the message of self-worth and standing up for yourself. It was an easy and addicting read. Though I thought the middle of the story dragged a little bit with too much teen angst, it did pick back up and I really enjoyed it. I think fans of Mansfield Park would be happy to read this re-telling. Full Review to come.

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I Found You by Lisa Jewell. Read January 14-15. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed I Found You. It’s emotional and intriguing and I could hardly put it down. I thought Jewell did an excellent job of juggling the characters and timelines. I definitely recommend this book and really look forward to reading more from this author. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Dead Scared (Lacey Flint #2) by Sharon Bolton. Read January 15-17. 4 Stars.

What!? Why is there no epilogue? This book needed an epilogue! I am pretty unsatisfied with how it ended.

Other than that, I liked this book. One thing I really liked was getting Joesbury’s perspective. Though I wish we got more from him, pretty much everything we got just made me love him even more. The first 3/4 or so or the book lacked the urgency that I enjoyed about the first in the series, but the writing was still engaging enough that I didn’t want to stop reading. As the ending approached it got a lot more suspenseful. Though we find out the answer to the mystery, there is no resolution to how it all pans out and I’m really annoyed about that. Definitely still reading the next book, though.

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Lost (Lacey Flint #3) by Sharon Bolton. Read January 17-18. 4 Stars.

This was so good! A mix of psychological and urgent/action-y suspense. Also very character driven. While I was a little upset that we didn’t get Joesbury’s POV again, I liked getting Tulloch’s (though it made me not like her as much) and Lacey’s young neighbor, Barney. We get very little of Lacey’s POV for the first half of the book which I found a little odd, but still worked. The mystery was well done. I had it all completely figured out a couple of times before being proved wrong. While I did eventually guess the murderer before the reveal, it was probably my 4th or 5th guess. This is really one of the best mystery series I’ve read in a long time.

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The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. Read January 19-21. 3 Stars.

Maybe it’s because I just finished several books in the same genre that were exceptionally well done, but I found all the mystery and thriller aspects of this book very disappointing. Though there were a lot of reveals thrown in every few chapters, the pace seemed incredibly slow to me. Until the last quarter or so I was just really bored and trying to get through it. The action and suspense did increase towards the end, but it wasn’t really enough to save the book for me. I feel like if you don’t read a lot of this genre then you might like this, but I could predict pretty much every development from the beginning and there just weren’t any surprises until the very, very end. I did very much like how it ended (and I’m talking the last few sentences), but I wish there would’ve been an epilogue to wrap things up. Overall, not a bad book, but not a great one.

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett. Read January 21-22. 3.5 Stars.

Overall, I did enjoy Alex, Approximately. Even though there wasn’t a lot that was happening, I didn’t really want to put it down. Though I think some of the side plots and character development could have used a little more work, the romance was cute and the characters were likable. I would recommend it to YA Contemporary fans. Full review to come.

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Waste of Space by Gina Damico. Read January 26-28. 3.5 Stars.

Overall, I found Waste of Space pretty enjoyable. I loved the satirical view of reality television. Though it did occasionally go a little far into cheesy territory, I thought it was really well done overall. If you’re looking for a humorous, different kind of YA book, I definitely recommend this one. Catchphrase forever! Full review to come.

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To Have and to Hold (The Wedding Belles #1) by Lauren Layne. Read January 28-29. 3.5 Stars.

This book had some really cute, if sometimes frustrating, romance. I liked both Brooke and Seth. I dropped the rating half a star though because there was one major theme that kind of infuriated me. Seth doesn’t trust his sister’s new fiancé and wants to check into his background because he loves his sister and doesn’t want her to get hurt. I think this is totally reasonable. I can understand where the sister might get mad about it, but in the big picture wouldn’t she be happy to know if something shady was going on before it’s too late? But Brooke and Seth’s best friend are horrified by it and tell him he doesn’t know what love is…um, NO! Seth was maybe a little stunted in expressing his emotions, but his heart was 1,000% in the right place. Other than that and some slightly too graphic sex scenes, I enjoyed this book a lot.

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Making Faces by Amy Harmon. Read January 29-30. 4.5 Stars.

Overall, I just loved Making Faces. It’s not a light book. It hurt to read at times. But it was beautifully written and included some amazing characters and really important messages. I really don’t think I can recommend this book enough. I’m definitely going to be looking up other books by this author in the future. Full Review to come.

****************RE-READ****************

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Tell Me Three Things and Red Rising. I loved both of these just as much as the first time around. I was a little afraid I wouldn’t like Red Rising as much because one of my favorite things were all the surprises in it (and I have hyped it to death, so how embarrassing would it be if it didn’t hold up), but even though I knew some things were coming, I still just found myself smiling at the twists and turns. If you have not read this series yet – WHY NOT?

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book to become available at the library FOREVER. But it came at one of those times where I just wasn’t feeling it. Lately I find myself sick to death of celebrities. And even though I want to be best friends with Anna Kendrick every time I watch Pitch Perfect, I just couldn’t make myself pick up this book right now.

****************DNF****************

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Someone Like You by Susan Mallery. Officially DNF-ing at 33%. I thought it would be nice symmetry to have the first book I read of 2017 be by the same author as the last book I read in 2016. I’ve enjoyed the other books I read by her, but I just couldn’t get into this one at all. I just don’t care about the characters or the story so far, so I’m calling it.