Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Turned my Cold, Black Heart to Mush

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a “Love freebie”. I decided to go to with Books that Turned my Black Heart to Mush. I don’t generally consider myself a “romantic” person, but there are some books that have such shippable, cute romance that it makes my cold, black heart melt a little.

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1. Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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2. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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4. The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

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5.  Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

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6. On the Fence by Kasie West

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7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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8. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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9. Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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10.  When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Most Disappointing Reads of 2019

I feel like 2019 was an overall disappointing reading year for me. There were several books I was really looking forward to and they just let me down. The following are the books I had the highest expectations for and ended up giving only 2 or 3 stars.

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Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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The Killing Tide by Dani Pettrey

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

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Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

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Woman in the Water by Katerina Diamond

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The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

What are some of your disappointing reads from 2019?

Review: Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Good Luck with That comes a new novel about a blue-blood grandmother and her black-sheep granddaughter who discover they are truly two sides of the same coin.

Emma London never thought she had anything in common with her grandmother Genevieve London. The regal old woman came from wealthy and bluest-blood New England stock, but that didn’t protect her from life’s cruelest blows: the disappearance of Genevieve’s young son, followed by the premature death of her husband. But Genevieve rose from those ashes of grief and built a fashion empire that was respected the world over, even when it meant neglecting her other son.

When Emma’s own mother died, her father abandoned her on his mother’s doorstep. Genevieve took Emma in and reluctantly raised her–until Emma got pregnant her senior year of high school. Genevieve kicked her out with nothing but the clothes on her back…but Emma took with her the most important London possession: the strength not just to survive but to thrive. And indeed, Emma has built a wonderful life for herself and her teenage daughter, Riley.

So what is Emma to do when Genevieve does the one thing Emma never expected of her and, after not speaking to her for nearly two decades, calls and asks for help?

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

Life and Other Inconveniences will be available August 6, 2019. 

Kristan Higgins has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. I’ve read all of her Romance books multiple times and they never fail to lift my mood. Higgins’ writing has evolved over the last few years, though, as she’s moved into the Women’s Fiction market. She is still an excellent writer, perhaps even more popular now than ever, but I have to admit I don’t love the books of her newer genre as much as her backlist.

Life and Other Inconveniences is a multi-generational story focusing on the lives of Emma, her estranged grandmother Genevieve, and her daughter Riley. In addition to their POVs, there are a couple chapters from Genevieve’s son and Emma’s father, Clarke, and Miller, a widower/single father and Emma’s new love interest. I felt like there was kind of a lot to keep track of, even though there wasn’t a lot actually happening. The story is heavily character-driven and the first half was almost nothing but character history. One of the things that makes Higgins’ writing so distinctive is her use of flashback chapters and I usually love them, but they just didn’t work as well for me here. At one point there were three flashback chapters in a row from different POVs and it felt like too much. They are usually so effectively placed and I was a little disappointed how they were used here. I think the story could have benefited from sticking with fewer POVs.

I often say that such a character-driven story either has to have characters I love or love to hate, but I felt a little ambivalent to the characters here. I did like Emma (for the most part), Riley, Miller, and a few of the side-characters, but I never really loved them. Emma would be completely wonderful and level-headed one moment and then petty and insulting when someone made her mad. It made me a little sad that it was every time she was standing up for herself – or someone else – that she devolved to name-calling and this was supposed to be applauded. I also thought Genevieve was a pretty awful person. I never felt sorry for her, despite the things she went through. I just didn’t really care about her and it made it hard to get through her chapters.

One part of the story that I loved, though, was the romance between Emma and Miller. It played just a small part of the book, but it was cute and sweet and I liked how they helped each other. I honestly would’ve loved it if their relationship was the focus of the book instead. I don’t tend to read a ton of straight up Romance books (unless I’m in the midst of a Kindle Unlimited binge), but I will never stop hoping Higgins will return to her roots and give us another one.

Overall, Life and Other Inconveniences was enjoyable, but also a little disappointing to me. I feel like I need to say that it very well might be that I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of book when I read it and I’m sure there will be many people that absolutely love it. When I think of a Kristan Higgins book, though, I think of those sweet and funny Romances that I love and this book just didn’t fall into that category.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

WWW Wednesday: June 26, 2019

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

What are you currently reading?

I am between books at the moment, actually.

What did you recently finish reading?

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No Exit by Taylor Adams, Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis, Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham, and The Stand-In Boyfriend by Emma Doherty. No Exit and Good Girl, Bad Girl were not as enjoyable as I was hoping, but I was pleasantly surprised by both Girl, Stop Apologizing and The Stand-In Boyfriend.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m not sure yet, but I think I’m either going to go with Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgans or Chasing Clouds by Kathryn Andrews.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

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1. Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Publishing July 16, 2019.

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2. Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. Publishing July 30, 2019.

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3. Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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4. The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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5. The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter. Publishing August 20, 2019.

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6. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Publishing September 17, 2019.

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7. Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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9. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Publishing October 8, 2019.

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10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Publishing November 5, 2019.

What are your most anticipated releases?

Review: Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, in her newest novel, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, GOOD LUCK WITH THAT tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

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

Good Luck with That will be available August 7, 2018.

Oh, do I have some thoughts on this one! Since lists are an important part of the book, I’m going to go that route with my review.

-Kristan Higgins has always been one of my favorite Romance authors. I’ve read all her romance books multiple times. Her last few books have moved into Women’s Fiction which I was resistant to. However, Higgins is a very talented author and despite some of the issues I had with this (I’ll get to those, don’t worry), I enjoyed almost every moment of reading it.

-We’ve all seen the pre-publication hate for the topic of Good Luck with That. I seem to remember the original synopsis was a bit different than it is now? I thought that’s why people came out so hard against it, but please correct me if I’m wrong. While I do have a level of trust in Higgins writing, I was still a little weary of reading this. I’m happy to say that while it still definitely had it’s moments, it was not nearly as offensive as I thought it was going to be. Yet another example of why people should not be allowed to rate a book before reading it.

-I felt like the main message of the story was really to live your life now instead of waiting for some arbitrary goal that may or may not ever be achieved. For the women of the novel, that was waiting to do things until they lost weight, but I think this idea will still be relatable to people from all walks of life. There was also a message that people of all shapes and sizes have a hard time with self-acceptance.

-I really liked both Marley and Georgia. They were very well-developed characters. There was never a time when I was sad to see the POV change between them. I also really loved Georgia’s nephew, Mason. He was so sweet and I loved his relationship with Georgia. I also enjoyed the romantic interests, Will and Rafe. Most of the rest of the secondary characters were not so great, though. Their behavior was so over the top that they didn’t feel very realistic.

-Even though the book was not as offensive as I expected, there is still a healthy (unhealthy?) level of fat shaming going on, as well as an underlying level of disgust towards the overweight. I feel kind of motivated to work out more and eat better, but not because I’ve been inspired to live a happier and healthier life, but because I feel straight up shamed into it.

**Ever so slightly Spoiler-y on a romantic interest – but it’s something you will probably figure out much sooner than it’s revealed, anyways** One of the characters has PTSD and agoraphobia and I REALLY disliked how Marley responded to it. She was a tiny bit sympathetic, but mostly when she wanted him to go out somewhere with her she told him he should just get over it because “she’s worth it.” People with severe mental health issues like that cannot just “get over it”, no matter how much they want to please their loved ones. It felt incredibly insensitive and irresponsible how this whole plotline was dealt with and I really expected more from Higgins. I also thought it kind of paralleled a storyline with Georgia and Rafe, where he thought she shouldn’t be insecure in her appearance since he found her attractive. In that scenario, however, it’s conveyed how incorrect that line of thinking is.

-By the end of the book, I didn’t really feel like Good Luck with That was a “body-positive” or a “fat-shaming” book. It definitely had aspects of both, but the central message was really more about friendship, family, and living life to the fullest, despite your circumstances. I think fans of Higgins writing and Women’s Fiction will enjoy it. While there are parts that some may find offensive, the story really is about so much more than those parts.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach (This can also serve as your summer TBR). I’m very much a mood reader so I find it hard to stick to a set TBR list, but these are all books I’m hoping to read soon.

36301023My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows). My Lady Jane was such a surprise hit for me and has become one of my favorite books and I have been looking forward to this one ever since reading it.36347470Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey. This is the last book in this series and I’m really excited for it.35924499Our House by Louise Candlish. I got approved for this on NetGalley, but I also won a physical copy from a Goodreads Giveaway and I’m really looking forward to it.36502041Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. Slaughter is one of my favorite authors and I’m sure I will enjoy this just as much as I have her other books. I’m over 100 people on the wait list for this at the library, though, so I don’t know if I’ll even get it this summer, but fingers crossed!36620943Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I FINALLY got approved for a Kristan Higgins book on NetGalley, but I still haven’t read this yet. I’m really looking forward to starting it soon, though.35410511Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’m a little concerned it’s been over-hyped for me, but I’m still looking forward to it. It sounds super creepy – in a fun way.37793086Girl’s Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I’ve never read anything by these authors and this one sounds really interesting. Plus, I love that cover!36461789A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is one of my favorite authors and I’m so excited for this one. I am also planning on seeing him when he’s in the area in July with my book buddy, Amanda!33413128Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman. I hear such amazing things about Backman, but I was never really sure of his books. However, Brandie from Running on Words and Wine recently read and loved this one and she let me borrow it, so I’m looking forward to finally giving him a try!36547961Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. I’ve seen some really great reviews on this one and I am next in line for it at the library!

What books are on your Summer TBR? Do we have any in common?