Review: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart.

Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soulstretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.

Love, Life, and the List is about a girl who, in an effort to bring more emotional depth to her art, compiles a list of soul-stretching experiences to complete with her best friend—a boy she also happens to be in love with.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

I’m very stingy when it comes to spending my money on books, but if there’s one author I don’t hesitate to buy a book from it’s Kasie West. I know her books will always be super cute and make me happy and Love, Life, and the List did not let me down.

I loved how sarcastic Abby was. I loved the banter she had with pretty much every character in the book, but especially her equally sarcastic grandfather. I also found her mother to be a pretty empathetic character. She’s overly anxious and has some agoraphobic tendencies that I relate to all too well. I liked that the book didn’t just include Abby’s growth, but her family’s as well.

I loved the friendship between Abby and Cooper. There was a little while there when I was actually rooting for them to just stay friends and for no romance to really be involved. But, I don’t feel like it’s a spoiler to say there is a romantic Happily Ever After involved and that it was cute and a little bit cheesy and I loved it. I also liked how Abby made a few more friends in the book with Elliot and Lacey.

I wasn’t really sure what I would think of the list plotline. To be honest, it didn’t seem real interesting to me when I read the synopsis, but I ended up liking it. When she gets turned down for an art show because her paintings lack heart, her boss tells her that some more life experience will get her there eventually. She decides to try and speed up the life experience process by making the list. She also includes tasks inspired by people who have qualities she admires. I actually thought this was a really productive way to try and enrich one’s life. I think a lot of us say we want to try to be a better person, but don’t actually come up with ways to do that. I felt like this was a perfect book to read at the end of the year when we all try to come up with resolutions to do better in the future.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love, Life, and the List. It was so cute and I loved the friendship and the banter. It was everything I expect out of a Kasie West book and I definitely recommend it to fans of hers and Contemporary YA.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 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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The Bird and the Sword (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles #1) by Amy Harmon. Read December 2-3. 4 Stars. 

This started out a little confusing. And I have to admit that I was still a little confused throughout the novel. However, I still loved it! I loved Lark and Tiras so much. I loved their banter and their romance. I also really enjoyed Boojohni. This was a much different book than the other ones by Amy Harmon I’ve read, but it was still beautifully written, just like what I expect from her. I borrowed this book from a friend (Thanks Brandie!!!), but I think I’m going to have to get a copy of my own because I know I will want to read it again. I’m really looking forward to the next book, though I am a little sad that Lark and Tiras aren’t the focus of it.

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The Queen and the Cure (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles #2) by Amy Harmon. Read December 3-7. 3 Stars. 

Well, there is obviously something wrong with me. Almost every review I’ve read have said how this book was even better than the first in the series, but I didn’t think that at all. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good. I just liked The Bird and the Sword better. I never really fell in love with Kjell and Sasha the way I did with Tiras and Lark. Still, if Harmon writes more in this series I will read it.

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Roomies by Christian Lauren. Read December 8-10. 3.5 Stars.

This started out a little slow for me, but then when I got further into it I found it pretty addicting. That’s the thing about the Christina Lauren books I’ve read – even if I’m not loving the story, I still find it compulsively readable.

I liked both Holland and Calvin. I liked the fake relationship/marriage of convenience idea. There were lots of cute and/or funny moments. But I also feel like parts dragged on a little too long. There were large sections where I felt like I was waiting a long time for something to actually happen. I also did not like how open the ending was. Overall, though, it was a fun book.

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Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer. Read December 13-17. 3.5 Stars. 

A fun and quirky story full of the ups and downs of online dating. Match Made in Manhattan was an entertaining and often addicting read. Full review to come in January.

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By The Book by Julia Sonneborn. Read December 20-23. 2.5 Stars.

Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and I am always ready to jump on board a re-telling. Unfortunately, By the Book did not really live up to my expectations. Full review to come in January.

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Let Me Lie by Claire Mackintosh. Read December 24-28. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed Let Me Lie. I loved the way the multiple narrators were utilized and thought the twists were very well done. The pacing did feel a little slow in the beginning, but it definitely picked up as the book went on. I also really empathized with some of the emotions Anna tried to work through. I’m really looking forward to whatever Mackintosh does next. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West. Read December 29-30. 4 Stars. 

I’m very stingy when it comes to spending my money on books, but if there’s one author I don’t hesitate to buy a book from it’s Kasie West. I know her books will always be super cute and make happy and Love, Life, and the List did not let me down. Full review to post next week.

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

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall, Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan, Holiday Spice (The Shaugnnessy Brothers #6) by Samantha Chase. I just wasn’t in the mood for any of those, despite being super excited that a Sarah Morgan book was actually at the library. I will give them all another try, though!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR. I’ve been an extremely moody reader lately, so I may not stick to these, but they’re all ones I’m hoping to read.

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1. Roomies by Christina Lauren – publishing 12/5/17. I loved the last book I read by this author duo, Dating You/Hating You, and I have high hopes for this one.

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2. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills – publishing 12/5/17. I absolutely adore her other books and I can’t wait for this one!

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3. Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West – publishing 12/26/17. I love Kasie West books.

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4. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – publishing 1/16/18. I am so excited for this!!! I probably should add the first three books to this list because I feel like I need a re-read before going into this so I can fully appreciate it.

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5. Runaway Groom (I Do, I Don’t #2) by Lauren Layne – publishing 1/30/18. I really enjoyed the first book in this series. Lauren Layne has become one of my favorite Contemporary Romance authors.

6. The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon – publishing 2/13/18. No cover yet, but that doesn’t matter. If it’s by Amy Harmon, I want to read it!

7. The Comfort Zone by Sally Thorne – publishing 2/20/18. No cover yet for this either. I adored The Hating Game and have been eagerly anticipating Thorne’s next book ever since.

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8. Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi – publishing 3/6/18. Though re-reads have made me lower my original very high opinion of these books, I am still very excited for this series to continue. I will never be sad about getting more Warner!

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9. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover -published 10/3/17. Brandie from Running on Words and Wine gifted me a copy of this for my birthday! I am not a huge CoHo fan, but Brandie said this one was a little different than her normal books and thought I would like it. Thanks again Brandie!

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10. Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer – publishing 1/23/18. I got a physical ARC of this from the author so I really want to get this read soon. I’ve been such a moody reader lately that I’ve mostly avoided all my ARCs because I’m afraid my bad mood will negatively impact any book I read and I want to be as fair as possible with ARCs.

What books are you looking forward to reading this Winter?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 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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Mistakenly Married (Married #3) by Victorine E. Lieske. Read July 7-8. 3.5 Stars. 

I felt like I needed a little break from the Mystery/Suspense genre and this was just the cute story I was looking for. I loved the mistaken identity bit in the beginning. I thought this was a really well done fake relationship story and I appreciated that it could still portray lots of sexual tension while remaining very clean. I definitely want to check out some of the other books in this series.

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Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski. Read July 15-16. 1 Star. 

I think the only good thing I can say about this book is that I bought it when it was on sale so I only wasted $0.99. It was slow, repetitive, and drawn out for way too long. The “twist” was not surprising. The end was completely unsatisfying. Just another story of dumb kids behaving badly. For the life of me I can’t understand the 5 star reviews. I am obviously in the minority as everyone else seems to love it. Maybe if I had listened to the Serial podcast I would have appreciated this more? I did actually like the format, though, so I don’t think that’s it.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. Read July 16-18. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed Lies She Told. I loved the writing style and the alternating chapters made me never want to stop reading. I definitely recommend this one to fans of psychological suspense. This is my first book by Cate Holahan and I am now anxious to try out what else she’s done. Full review to come closer to release date. 

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The Summer I Became a Nerd (Nerd #1) by Leah Rae Miller. Read July 18. 3 Stars. 

Though I had several problems with this, it was overall pretty cute. I didn’t quite understand the main premise of Maddie needing to hide her love of comic books, especially since they’re kind of mainstream now (though this is a couple years old) and her whole need-to-be-popular-at-all-costs thing was pretty off-putting. However, I did like that she grew a lot from the beginning to the end. And I LOVED Logan. He is exactly the kind of guy I would’ve been friends with in high school.

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Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. Read July 19-20. 3 Stars.

The twist got me!

This book had some elements I wasn’t expecting and quite honestly found pretty annoying. However, it wasn’t until close to the end that I figured out what “the twist” would be. Then it happened and I was kind of disappointed because I figured it out and wasn’t surprised. But then the last chapter came and I realized what I thought was the twist wasn’t the twist and I was so happy! That is the reason I’m giving this 3 stars. The book dragged on for way, way too long and really wasn’t all that interesting to me. I was very set to give it 2 stars, but then that last chapter surprised me. I just wish everything leading up to it had been a little more compelling.

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Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens. Read July 23-26. 3.5 Stars. 

I decided to think of this as more a family drama than a psychological suspense and I think that made me enjoy it more. I picked out my number 1 suspect pretty early in the book and while Stevens did do a good job of making me second guess myself, I ended up being right and felt kind of disappointed. However, I thought the relationship arc between Lindsey and Sophie was well done (even though Sophie was one of the dumbest teenagers ever and I hated her most of the time) and the flashback chapters to Lindsey and Andrew’s marriage were compelling. I was ready to give this 4 stars, but I felt the last few chapters played out like a cheesy Lifetime movie and brought my overall enjoyment of the book way down.

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Lucky in Love by Kasie West. Read July 27-28. 4 Stars. 

Kasie West books just make me happy. They are always so cute and such quick reads. The short chapters make the story seem to just fly by. I liked Maddie, but found myself frustrated with her for most of the book – the way she didn’t realize when she was being used for her money and how irresponsible she was being with it at first. I kept telling myself that without those things there wouldn’t be much of a story, though. And she does learn a lot by the end of the story, which I appreciated. I loved her relationship with Seth. He was adorable and just might be my new favorite West male lead. I loved every single scene of the two of them together. West’s last book left me just slightly disappointed, but Lucky in Love has definitely restored my faith.

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. Read July 27-30. 2 Stars. 

What a disappointment! I pretty much disliked every second of reading this book and I really don’t know why I even decided to finish it. The story was very, very slow moving, the “mystery” was obvious and not very well done, and the characters were awful. I just hated Isa. I couldn’t believe all the stuff she dragged her baby through and she was so incredibly awful to her partner, Owen, who was sweet and completely justified in his few moments of anger. Those few chapters where Isa is home with him just made me hate her. I feel like the ending was supposed to have a great message about love and sacrifice, but it did not come across at all. So why am I giving this 2 stars instead of 1? Much like The Woman in Cabin 10, Ware does do a good job of setting up a creepy atmosphere. Though it was more detailed than I appreciate, there is no denying that she is a talented writer. I just wish she would have given the plot the same care as she did the setting

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017.

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1.  Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. Publication Date: 12/26/17

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2. Renegades by Marissa Meyer. Publication Date: 11/7/17

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3. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. Publication Date: 10/10/17.

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4. Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor #3) by Dani Pettrey. Publication Date: 10/3/17.

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5. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Publication Date: 9/26/17.

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6. Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton. Publication Date: 9/5/17.

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7. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. Publication Date 8/29/17.

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8. Ready to Run by Laren Layne. Publication Date 8/22/17.

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9. Lucky in Love by Kasie West. Publication Date 7/25/17.

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10. Down a Dark Road (Kate Burkholder #9) by Linda Castillo. Publication Date 7/11/17.

What books are you looking forward to?

Disney Princess Book Tag

I was tagged for this by Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse. Check out her blog, it’s awesome! Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to do it.

My Disney Princess Facts:

1. My favorite princesses are Belle and Jasmine.

2. I don’t really care that much for Sleeping Beauty because the movie used to scare me when the villain turned into that dragon thing.

3. I still haven’t seen the new Beauty and the Beast, but I really want to!


Snow White
Name your favorite classic.

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Persuasion by Jane Austen


Cinderella
Name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime.

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Most recently was The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond.


Aurora
Name your favorite classic romance.

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Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Ariel
Name a book that’s about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Belle
Name a book with a smart and independent female character.

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Lacey Flint in Now You See Me by Sharon (SJ) Bolton


Jasmine
Name a book with a character who challenged the social conventions of his or her world.

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Moses in The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon


Pocahontas
Name a book whose ending was a roller-coaster of emotions.

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Making Faces by Amy Harmon.


Mulan
Name a book with a kick-ass female character.

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Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Tiana
Name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character.

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Alexis from The Wedding Belles series by Lauren Layne


Rapunzel
Name a book that features an artist.

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Blue from A Different Blue by Amy Harmon


Merida
Name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship.

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Till Death by JLA.


Anna & Elsa
Name a book that features a great relationship between siblings.

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On the Fence by Kasie West.

The Sims Book Tag

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I was tagged by Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse (check out her blog!). I’m going to stick with only books I’ve read in 2017, which may be a little challenging since it’s only March.

The Original Sims –  the best author debut

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Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson is the only 2017 debut I’ve read so far this year and I really enjoyed it. It’s a YA re-telling of Mansfield Park. It comes out May 16th and I think  you should read it!

The Grim Reaper – the saddest character death

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*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER

There are a lot of people that die in Making Faces by Amy Harmon, but Bailey’s hit me the hardest.

*END OF SPOILER*

Sims Getting Stuck – a character that just got in the way

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Luke in Defying Gravity by Kendra C. Highley. Without him there would have been basically no conflict in the story, but I still think his character made no sense.

Simlish – a book with amazing writing

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I Found You by Lisa Jewell (Out on April 25th). This is only my second Lisa Jewell book, but her writing is always so impressive.

Expansion Packs – a series where the books keep getting better

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The Lacey Flint series by SJ/Sharon Bolton. Though I must admit the 4th book in the series (while still good) was my least favorite, but this series is fantastic.

Sim Romance – the worst case of insta-love

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I haven’t really read any books with insta-love so far this year (hooray for smarter book choices in 2017!). The closest is probably Candice and Ian in Mackenzie Fire by Elle Casey and they were supposed to be more of the hate-to-love trope than insta-love. But since the transition happened pretty fast, it kind of fits the bill. I still shipped them, though.

Cheats – a book that was entirely unrealistic 

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By Your Side by Kasie West. I really don’t think there is any way that every single phone in the library was behind a locked door. And I think Dax was probably savvy enough to pick a lock if need be. Still a pretty cute book, though.

Needs Fulfillment – a character that made all the wrong decisions

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How about Everyone in Twisted Palace by Erin Watt. Seriously these characters (while entertaining) did the stupidest things throughout this whole series.

Error Code 12 – a series that started off well but went downhill from there

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The Law of Moses series by Amy Harmon. Now I haven’t read a lot of series this year to choose from and this one is only two books. I just didn’t like The Song of David as much as I liked the first book, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.

The Sims Vortex- a series that completely engrossed you

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I’m going to have to go with the Lacey Flint series again. It’s become one of my favorite mystery/suspense series out there.