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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Review: Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay #6) by Jill Shalvis

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

I received a copy via the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

I’ve really been in the mood for cute romances lately and Hot Winter Nights definitely fit the bill.

I liked both Molly and Lucas. I thought they really complemented each other well and made a good team. I thought they got together, physically at least, a little more quickly than I would’ve liked, but I did definitely ship them together. I enjoyed their banter and how they had each other’s backs. I also liked how Molly’s physical disability was portrayed. Though she had some struggles, she didn’t let it keep her from doing the things she wanted.

There were a couple of things I found a little odd. One thing I’ve noticed about this series is that all the chapters are titled with hashtags and for the life of me I can’t understand why. Social media is not really a part of the story at all and I just don’t get the hashtags. Speaking of social media, though, I also recognized a lot of the funny one-liners from Molly’s friends or the elderly elves were actually from memes I’ve seen on Pinterest. Other than those small things, the only thing I didn’t really like about the book were that there were a few more sexual scenes than I care to read, but from reading other Shalvis books I kind of expected it so it didn’t really hinder my enjoyment that much.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Winter Nights. I thought it was a cute romance with likable lead characters. I liked that the investigation plotline brought a little bit of action and suspense, as well. I definitely recommend this one to Romance fans, especially fans of Jill Shalvis.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 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. 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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Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare. Read May 28-June 1. 3 Stars. 

Once again, this book was much, much longer than it needed to be. There was just so much that felt unnecessary to the story in any way. I’ve been thinking how to describe the writing and it’s kind of like this: You know when you watch a tv show and someone is in their house doing something random (watching tv, reading, cooking, going online, etc.) and then someone else walks in and the scene begins? Well in this book, instead of the scene starting there, you spend a few pages on the person sitting there watching tv. And then some time with the other person as they drove there. And let’s not forget to check in with the neighbor who doesn’t really have anything to do with what is going to happen between the first two people. Ok, now we can finally start the scene and see where the story is going. But only for a few minutes before we abruptly leave to go see what someone across town is doing. There’s just too many perspectives and we get WAY more of them all than makes sense.

But, ok, other than the ridiculous length of this book, and wading through all the mundane (haha) things that happened, the actual plot of the story isn’t bad. I liked the characters. I liked that the supposed love triangle didn’t really take up much time like I thought it would. I was surprised by the ending, but I’m not sure how I actually feel about it. It was kind of abrupt and there was a couple of deaths that I’m not really sure made sense, but it does make me want to see what happens next.

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Ready to Run (I Do, I Don’t #1) by Lauren Layne. Read June 5-6. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed Ready to Run! It was exactly the sweet, lighthearted book I needed right now. Full review to come.

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Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton. Read June 16-19. 4 Stars. 

Even though I figured out most of the twists, I thought Dead Woman Walking was a really well-constructed mystery and I enjoyed pretty much every moment of it. I am impressed by Bolton’s writing in every book I read by her and this year she has become one of my favorite authors. I definitely recommend this one to mystery/suspense fans. Full review to come closer to release date.

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. Read June 23-25. 3 Stars.

This was one of my most anticipated YA books this year and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. The romance was super cute and I liked how Dimple and Rishi’s personalities really complemented each other. I liked both of them, but they both did things that frustrated me at times – especially Dimple. I liked that I got to learn a little more of Indian culture and I thought it was interesting the different feelings towards it that Dimple and Rishi had. I thought that it was kind of strange that Dimple went on and on about how important Insomnia Con was to her, but pretty much all her free time was spent being cutesy with Rishi. I mean, I don’t particularly mind because I’m not really into coding and all that, but the app development was supposed to be a big part of the story and we saw very, very little of it.

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

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Soulmated by Shaila Patel. I got a copy of this from the author and thought it looked pretty interesting. I started it, but found myself not in the mood for it and I didn’t want that mood to color my feelings of the book, so I set it down and I will try it again soon.

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

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Sweet Little Lies by Jill Shavlis. DNF at 30%. This isn’t a bad book. It seems pretty standard Shalvis . I just can’t make myself get into it or care about the characters. And just like in the other book I read in this series I do not understand why the chapters titles are all hashtags? I thought it would be explained in this book, but this far in and no one has gone on Twitter. It’s a little thing, but it annoys me.

Revewing the Unreviewed: February 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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By Your Side by Kasie West. Read January 31-Feb 1. 3.5 Stars.

I enjoyed the second half of this book much more than the first half. I thought I would be disappointed when the story shifted from being trapped in the library into the real world, but it actually got a lot better.

I appreciated the main character having anxiety, but didn’t really feel like it was that great of a representation. There were a few times that I thought were kind of spot on, though. I did like how it showed how anxiety can make you appear to other people. However, once all of Autumn’s friends knew she had anxiety they were perfectly understanding and I don’t think that’s very realistic (at least not in my own experience).

I liked Dax and his sarcasm and how he looked out for Autumn. I thought he was really sweet. It did take about half the book until I felt the romance was cute and I wish it would’ve happened sooner, but it did eventually get super cute and I shipped it.

Overall, I liked this, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite book by this author. While I really enjoyed the second half of the book, I have to admit the first half was only ok. That’s why I’m giving it 3.5 stars instead of 4.

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A Dark and Twisted Tide (Lacey Flint #4) by Sharon Bolton. Read February 2-5. 4 Stars.

This was probably my least favorite of the series, but still good. The plot felt a little convoluted at times, but it all came together by the end. I really like all of these characters and enjoy reading about them. I wish there were more Joesbury, but next up there’s a novella that I believe is from his POV, so that should make up for it.

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Here Be Dragons (Lacey Flint 4.5) by Sharon Bolton. Read February 5. 4 stars.

A pretty short, well-paced story told from entirely Joesbury’s POV. We get the whole story of what he was doing during the events of “A Dark and Twisted Tide”, plus a little more action. The ending included some major Joesbury-Lacey Feels and I can not believe that the author hasn’t even announced yet when the next book in this series will be. I need more!

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The Law of Moses (The Law of Moses #1) by Amy Harmon. Read February 1-6. 4 Stars.

Beautiful. Clever. A little on the weird side. This is my second Amy Harmon book and she is quickly on her way to becoming one of my favorite authors. I loved Moses and his POVs were the best parts of the book for me. I liked Georgia, but not quite as much as Moses. I also really liked Tag and am looking forward to reading his book. Definitely recommend this one.

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The Song of David (The Law of Moses #2) by Amy Harmon. Read February 7-9. 3 Stars.

I loved that this story was told from both Tag’s and Moses’ POVs. I liked the style of getting Tag’s POV through tapes he recorded and Moses’ POV in the present. I loved Moses just as much, but didn’t quite love Tag as much as I did in the previous book. His behavior just made me really angry sometimes. I liked both Millie and Henry and thought their disabilities were portrayed well. The reason this book isn’t getting 4 stars from me, though, is that I don’t like open-ended books and I didn’t feel satisfied with the conclusion of this one. Though Harmon did an admirable job of trying to convey that the black and white answer wasn’t needed, it just wasn’t enough for me. Overall, though, it was a good book that I would still recommend you read if you’ve read The Law of Moses.

A big thank you to Deanna  for loaning me a copy of the book!!

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Defying Gravity (Finding Perfect #2) by Kendra C. Highley. Read February 9-11. 2.5 Stars.

Zoey was a pretty unlikable character. I hated how wishy-washy and shallow she was – while we were supposed to think she was the opposite of shallow. Luke’s character make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I liked Parker, he was the saving grace of the book.

I read a lot of YA, even though I am around twice the age of the main characters. Usually I can still really appreciate them, but this is one of those books that makes me think I’m getting too old for YA.

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All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda. Read February 11-12. 4 Stars.

I liked this. This is my second Megan Miranda book and I’m still not sure I’m entirely sold on her writing style, but she is pretty great at character development. I don’t think the “backwards” storytelling was done as effectively as it could have been (I’ve seen it done better). There were only really two somewhat surprising reveals until it got close to the end of the book, so it seemed to drag a bit to me. However, I think that I will definitely re-read this sometime and read it in chronological order instead and see if things make sense. I did like the mystery, though, and I even liked the characters, even though they aren’t really the type of people you want to be rooting for. I found this one much more compelling than “The Perfect Stranger” and I’m sure I’ll give this author’s other future books a try.

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Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton. Read February 13-16. 3 Stars.

Good writing, good character development, steady pacing. Unfortunately, I just didn’t really care for the story. The characters were all unlikable, but I think they were supposed to be. I guessed who was behind the missing children long before the end and I didn’t really like the lack of impact the reveal had. There was also a lot of historical information about the Falklands that I felt took away focus a bit from the actual plot. Not a bad book at all (I don’t think Bolton can write a bad book), but pretty different from her Lacey Flint series that I love.

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Accidentally on Purpose (Heartbreaker Bay #3) by Jill Shalvis. Read February 17-19. 3.5 Stars.

A very cute romance. I think maybe I would have appreciated it just a bit more if I read the other books in the series first and knew the side characters better, but it still worked as a standalone. There wasn’t a whole lot of actual plot, but Archer and Elle’s relationship was fun enough to read that it didn’t really matter.

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On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins. Read February 17-21. 3 Stars.

It took me quite a long time to get into this book. If it wasn’t Kristan Higgins then I probably would have put it down to try another time. However, I am glad I kept reading. The character development was very good and I did like both Kate and Ainsley and their new romantic interests. Where Higgins writing really shines is with the romance and I wish this book would have focused a little more on that. I found myself skimming a lot of the rest of it. I know this is another foray into the “Women’s Fiction” world for this author instead of just a light and fluffy contemporary, but Higgins is my go-to when I want light and fluffy and I found myself just slightly disappointed that this wasn’t like the other books from her that I love.

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The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan. Read February 25-26. 3 Stars.

I liked the writing in this a lot and thought the multiple 1st Person POVs were done exceptionally well. Though I found the story kind of boring for the most part, it was written in such a way that I didn’t really want to put it down. I think one of my biggest pet peeves in fiction is when the main conflict in a story comes from poor communication and that’s what much of this book felt like to me. While I did feel sorry for things that happened to Zoe, I also was super annoyed by her behavior almost the whole time. Overall a bit of a disappointing story, but the writing really saved it for me.

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

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Silent Scream by Anglea Marsons. I got this from the library and read just a couple chapters before it became a victim of too many books in too little time. I will definitely give it another try, though.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October + Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday! I have nothing book related to say about that, but I just wanted to share it 🙂  Yesterday at work my coworkers made me a candy bouquet!

candy 1  candy 2

Before I get to my reviews, I want to say that you probably won’t see a lot from me in November, as I am attempting to participate in NaNoWriMo. If I’m successful at this, it means way less time for reading, so we’ll see how it goes. Now, onto the book stuff…

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.

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins. Read September 30 – October 2. 3 stars.

Another adorable book by Kristan Higgins. I liked that there was a pretty decent presence of the whole Holland clan in this one.        

Always On My Mind (Lucky Harbor, #8)           

Always on My Mind (Lucky Harbor #8) by Jill Shalvis. Read October 13-14. 3 stars.

I’ve read one other book by Shalvis and didn’t love it, but was encouraged to give her another shot, so I picked this one because of my love for the Fake Relationship trope. However, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. There weren’t really any cute moments where they were a fake couple out and about. It was just kind of announced they were couple to the town and the only times they were together really were in private where some slightly-more-graphic-than-I-would-like things happened. I felt like their background could have been expanded on and the side-plot was a little too predictable. But overall, it was an ok read.

Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 20-21. 3 stars.

While the premise of this book was interesting and had some unique aspects, I had a lot of issues with this book. Mostly in the relationships between the characters and how the guys viewed it. One example, a girl really liked one of the guys and slept with him and when Jordan asks him about how he feels about the girl his answer is that “she’s a good lay” and it’s a nice stress reliever. The whole book highlights all the reasons why these characters are too immature to be having sex, yet it is never addressed as being emotionally harmful, but completely normal and casual.

There were times that I was ready to give this book 1 star, but because of it’s interesting premise and the fact that I liked how it ended, I’m giving it three. I’m going to try the next book in the series only because I got the 3 book bundle from the library.

Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 21-21. 3.5 stars.

3.5 stars. I liked this book better than the previous one in the series. While it had it’s own set of issues, it made up for all the issues I had with the previous book (which was not showing any of the possible emotional effects all the casual sex could bring). I also thought it was interesting that it involved God and a relationship with Him and church, without being preachy. It had the full spectrum of “church people” which is unusual to see in a non-Christian-fiction book.

Perhaps my biggest problem was that Parker’s mom’s big life lesson to her daughter was to do whatever makes you happy and to forget everyone else. That may work sometimes for a seventeen-year-old, but as a mother of 2, it kind of makes you horrible.

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer Armentrout. Read October 22-24. 2 stars.

This book didn’t really keep my attention. I think it was a bit longer than it had to be. An interesting twist in this series is that readers get the chance to vote for which guy in the love triangle we want Layla to end up with in the next book. However, I didn’t feel like it was written in a way for there to be any real contest. I think it’s obvious who it’s supposed to be, even though I’m totally voting for the other guy!     

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. Read October 24-25. 3 stars.

I’ve been looking forward to this book for awhile and ended up being a little underwhelmed. While it was overall cute, it didn’t have a lot of the things I love about the fake relationship trope.

Racing Savannah

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 25-26. 3 stars.

When book 3 in this series didn’t keep my attention, I skipped to this one. It was ok, but I think it’s the last in this series that I’ll read.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)  The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)  Visions (Cainsville, #2)

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong. These are all books I barely started and  just couldn’t get into. I was in a pretty big reading slump, so I put them back on the TBR shelf.

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RE-READS

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I wanted to read this again before I watched the movie. While I prefer the book to the movie, I thought the movie was very well done. And I forgot just how much I loved the book!

Review: He’s so Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis

He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor, #11)

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

He’s So Fine will be available on September 30, 2014

Synopsis from Good Reads:

For Olivia Bentley, Lucky Harbor is more than the town where she runs her new vintage shop. It’s the place where folks are friendly to strangers-and nobody knows her real name. Olivia does a good job of keeping her past buried, not getting too cozy with anyone . . . until she sees a man drowning. Suddenly she’s rushing into the surf, getting up close and personal with the hottest guy she’s ever laid hands on.

Charter boat captain Cole Donovan has no problem with a gorgeous woman throwing her arms around his neck in an effort to “save” him. In fact, he’d like to spend a lot more time skin-to-skin with Olivia. He’s just not expecting that real trouble is about to come her way. Will it bring her deeper into Cole’s heart, or will it be the end of Olivia’s days in little Lucky Harbor?

I requested this book from NetGalley not realizing it was part of a series. However, it’s more of an anthology series about different characters in the town of Lucky Harbor than a series that focuses on the same set of characters with one overall arc. Usually these types of series annoy me, but coming in at book 11, I appreciated it.

He’s so Fine is a pretty typical romance read. The main couple, Cole and Olivia, meet in a cutely absurd way. They’ve both been burned before and are hesitant to start a relationship, but not that hesitant. There are some “steamy” scenes that contain a little more details than I want to read. There is a big misunderstanding, followed by lots of self reflection and the hopes of a Happily Ever After.

In addition to the main romance, we get to see the close relationships Cole has with two best friends and his family. Though I have the feeling there was more of them in the past books (and some of them will be in future books), I would’ve liked to see them more developed here. However, I still really liked Cole’s sisters. I didn’t care for Cole’s friends, Tanner and Sam, as much and I felt like they got off too easy when they had their own Big Misunderstanding with Cole.

If you’re a fan of the romance genre, you’ll probably enjoy this read. You read a romance book because you want a fun, light, romantic story that will leave you happy. You know exactly what you’re going in for and you get it. In that regard, He’s so Fine will not disappoint. However, I wanted to read a Shalvis book because my favorite romance writer, Kristan Higgins, speaks so highly of her on social media. I was expecting a similar style and was a little disappointed that this lacked some heart for me, compared to Higgins books. Despite that, I’ll still probably give Shalvis another a try.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 2.5
Characters: 3.5
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyability: 3
Overall Rating: 3.125 Stars

WWW Wednesday: September 17th

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WWW Wednesday is a feature from Should Be Reading that asks:

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

WHAT I’M CURRENTLY READING

He's So Fine (Lucky Harbor, #11)

He’s so Fine (Lucky Harbor #11) by Jill Shalvis. My favorite contemporary romance author, Kristan Higgins, often mentions Jill Shalvis, but I’ve never read her. I saw this available on NetGalley and decided to give it a try. I didn’t realize it was part of a series, but it’s more of an anthology series, I believe, so I shouldn’t be that lost reading it.

WHAT I RECENTLY FINISHED READING

Watched

Watched by CJ Lyons. (Click the link for my review!)

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

Ten

Ten by Gretchen McNeil. I just got this from the library. I’ve heard some mixed reviews on it, but I’m still looking forward to it.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?