Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2019

I’ve seen this floating around lately and thought it was about time I did it, too.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2019

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In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2) by Cara Hunter

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019

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On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum. I actually just had this from the library, but didn’t get to it before it expired.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Biggest Disappointment

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. After The Hating Game, I just expected so much more from Thorne’s next book.

Biggest Surprise

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The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. This was not at all what I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed reading it.

Favorite New Author

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Beth O’Leary. I loved The Flatshare and can’t wait to read more form this author.

Newest Fictional Crush

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Tucker from Just one of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen.

Newest Favorite Character

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Rob from Call it What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Book That Made You Cry

I don’t think any book has so far.

Book That Made You Happy

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Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne. I wanted this story since reading the first book in the series.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

If I’ve seen any, I haven’t remembered them.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

My 2018 Recap post

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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I think In the Dark is the only book I’ve bought myself this year, thus it’s the most beautiful.

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

Basically everything on this post

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Review: Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Stiletto and Oxford series, the first in a sizzling new series following the unlikely friendship of three Upper East Side women as they struggle to achieve their dreams and find true love and happiness in the city that never sleeps. 

For as long as she can remember, Bronx-born Naomi Powell has had one goal: to prove her worth among the Upper East Side elite—the same people for which her mom worked as a housekeeper. Now, as the strongminded, sassy CEO of one of the biggest jewelry empires in the country, Naomi finally has exactly what she wants—but it’s going to take more than just the right address to make Manhattan’s upper class stop treating her like an outsider.

The worst offender is her new neighbor, Oliver Cunningham—the grown son of the very family Naomi’s mother used to work for. Oliver used to torment Naomi when they were children, and as a ridiculously attractive adult, he’s tormenting her in entirely different ways. Now they find themselves engaged in a battle-of-wills that will either consume or destroy them…

Filled with charm and heart and plenty of sex and snark, this entertaining series will hook you from the very first page.

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

Passion on Park Avenue will be available May 28, 2019.

I’m a big fan of Lauren Layne and always look forward to her books. While Passion on Park Avenue was enjoyable, I have to admit I found it a little underwhelming.

I’m going to start with the things I liked:

-I loved Oliver. He was smart and sweet and loyal and I just adored him. I liked his dedication to his family, even though they had their issues. I liked the romance between him and Naomi, even if it was frustrating sometimes.

-I liked Naomi’s new friends, Audrey and Claire. We actually don’t see as much of them as I expected, but I’m interested in both of their upcoming stories.

-While Lauren Layne is one of my favorite Romance authors, my usual complaint with her books is that there are always a few scenes more graphic than I care for. I’m so happy to report that that was not the case with this book! There’s innuendo and suggestive talk, but there are no sex scenes and I really appreciated it. I thought it put the romantic focus much more on emotions and actual relationship details instead of just physical stuff and I found it much more meaningful.

Ok, so now onto the things that didn’t quite work for me:

-For a good long while in this book, I did not like Naomi at all. She just came across so shallow to me. Everything was just about status and money and expensive stuff and I just couldn’t care about it. Also, her big revenge plan was to move back into her old apartment building and then let her mom’s former employer and his son know who she was and how she had as much money as them now. I wasn’t really sure what that would accomplish? It’s not like she was buying the building and kicking them out. Or buying their business out from under them. It just didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

-I also thought Naomi was an odd choice for the first book in the series. She was that brash character that always speaks her mind, even if it could be hurtful. The kind of character that is usually the main character’s best friend that you don’t really like until she gets her own book and then you get to know her better. I did eventually like her, but it took me awhile. I’m much more interested in Claire and Audrey’s stories (particularly Audrey and Clarke).

-One of the subplots include the development of a tv show based on Naomi’s rags to riches story. I found that interesting, but thought it could have been explored much more than it was.

Overall, I did enjoy Passion on Park Avenue. I liked the friendship and Oliver and how the romance focused more on the relationship than on the physical stuff. I felt like not a whole lot really happened in the story, though, and it took me a really long time to start caring about Naomi, so I’m giving this a little lower rating than I do most Layne books. However, I am definitely looking forward to the next books in this series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2019

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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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne. Read February 1-2. 3 Stars. 

After reading a lot of mixed reviews, I went into this one cautiously and I think that helped. I mostly enjoyed it, but I did have some issues with it. I felt like Thorne tried just a little too hard to make Darcy the complete opposite of nice, people-pleasing Lucy from The Hating Game. She was a little too much sometimes. I did like the general storyline of the romance between childhood friends and Darcy’s relationship with her twin brother. I just felt like so much of the story was overtaken with Darcy’s pervy thoughts about Tom. I thought it really cheapened the love story. Overall, I liked the beginning and the end, but most of the middle I just kind of got through. I have to say, though, my favorite part of the whole thing was that there was bonus content that included an epilogue for The Hating Game. This may not be one I would want to read again, but I’d still be interested in more from Thorne in the future.

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The Foxe & the Hound by R.S. Grey. Read January 31 – February 4. 3 Stars

This one was just ok for me. I thought it was going to be a fake relationship story, but that plot line only lasts about a chapter, which was disappointing to me. I liked the characters and the dog and there were some funny moments, but overall I don’t think this is one that will leave any kind of lasting impression for me.

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Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. Read February 5-6. 4 Stars. 

Another enjoyable Kasie West book. I liked the movie set atmosphere and the characters and the romance was cute. The movie scenes left a little to be desired for me, though. If you like West’s other books, you’ll like this one, too.

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Text Me Baby One More Time (Text #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read February 10-11. 3.5 Stars. 

Another enjoyable book in the Text series. Hunter’s writing is really addictive which makes these pretty fast reads. When the main characters of this book appeared in previous books I didn’t really care for either of them at all, so I was happy that I did like them here. I liked their texting past and the whole hate-to-love thing. This series is a little more full-on Romance Novel then I usually read and I feel like as the series goes on they keep getting more explicit, which I don’t love, but it was still a fun read overall.

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King of the Friend Zone (Power of the Matchmaker) by Sheralyn Pratt. Read February 17-20. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Esme kind of infuriated me about half the time. I liked Hunter a little more, but he was a bit of a hothead, so I didn’t love him as much I had hoped for. The whole magic cookie lady thing was a bit odd. This book has been on my TBR for quite a while, so I’m glad I read it, but it’s not one I would be interested in reading again.

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Dizzy by Nyrae Dawn and Jolene Perry. Read February 20-23. 3 Stars.

Parts of this were cute, but for the most part a whole lot of nothing happened. I also found the whole plot surrounding the couple getting married odd. They’re in college (sophomores or juniors, I can’t remember) and get engaged and then decide to take a semester off to plan the wedding and get married. And all the parents are just fine with it. And there’s no talk about where they’ll live or how they’ll support themselves – although the guy’s family is super rich, so I guess he has a trust fund to take care of them? It just seemed really irresponsible to me. I think it would have made more sense if they had just graduated college. Anyways, this was another book that’s been on my TBR for a long time and I’m glad to get it off the list. 

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A Curse so Dark and Lonely (A Curse so Dark and Lonely #1) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read February 25-27. 3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this one. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales, so I’m always up for a good re-telling and I thought this did a decent job of that. There were times it felt really reminiscent of A court of Thorns and Roses, but I ultimately thought this one was better written. I liked Rhen and Grey a lot. I completely despised Harper for about the first half of the book, though. I really have a hard time connecting with characters that are so antagonistic and needlessly reckless. She eventually got a little better for me. I did like the romance, though it wasn’t as prevalent as I would have expected. I also didn’t realize this is a series and am kind of disappointed by that. With just a couple of small changes, this could have very easily been a standalone and I would have been happy with it. I’ll read the next book, but it’s not going to make my “most anticipated” list or anything.

*****Re-Reads*****

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I could not concentrate on anything, so I decided to re-read something so I could skim through it, but then I got invested and there was no skimming and I basically read this book in one sitting. Loved it just as much as the first time around.

*****DNF*****

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What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. DNF-ed at 47%. Though I have definitely enjoyed both from time to time, I’m not currently much of a fan of Historical Fiction or Fantasy. I have never really cared for time-traveling plots in particular. However, I’m a big fan of Amy Harmon and that’s why I picked up this book. Unfortunately, it was not enough for me to love it. I had a really hard time getting into the story and I decided to set it down for awhile and I read a couple of other books. I finally tried picking this up again and still couldn’t get into it. It was at 47% that I decided to stop reading and then I just kind of skimmed to the end. I didn’t really find the end very satisfying (mostly due to my time-traveling plotline feelings) so I’m glad I decided to call it when I did. However, everyone else I know has loved it and I wish Harmon nothing but the best. I’ll still definitely be picking up more books from her in the future.

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Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner. DNF at 23%. I just couldn’t get into this book at all. I think it will have a very specific audience that will love it, but I am not that audience. I found it kind of depressing and quirky and other than the very pretty cover, I don’t really have anything positive to say about it and I really couldn’t make myself read anymore. I found Sam incredibly off-putting. I found the writing in her chapters especially were just not my style.

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

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Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne – 3 Stars

Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin – 4 Stars

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin – 3 Stars

Review: Huge Deal (21 Wall Street #3) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Even for a top-gun banker, temptation this hot is quite a gamble, in a sexy Wall Street romp from New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

An alpha among the wolves of Wall Street, Kennedy Dawson rose to the top of the pack by striking the right contracts at the right times. But there’s one deal that’s been giving him a run for his money—a pact to never again let his assistant, Kate, get under his skin. She may be smart, gorgeous, and sharp as a whip, but she’s definitely off-limits.

Kate Henley isn’t a banker, but she knows a thing or two about risk management—specifically, about managing her attraction to her smolderingly sexy boss. She already fell once, and Kennedy showed no sign of paying a return on her investment. So when Kennedy’s brother starts pursuing her, Kate figures she has the best of both worlds. Jack is charming, rich, very attentive, and the spitting image of his older brother.

It’s also making Kennedy think twice. But to win Kate’s heart, he’ll have to broker the deal of a lifetime…and prove he’s worth the risk.

I have wanted a Kate and Kennedy story since book one in this series and Huge Deal did not disappoint. Lauren Layne reminds me once again why she is one of my favorite Romance authors.

Kennedy has been my favorite of the trio of guys in this series. I liked that he was more serious and less playboy-esque. He tends to be a little oblivious, though. While it was obvious in the first couple of books that Kate had a thing for him, it takes him a long time to really catch on. Meanwhile, Kate is trying to not have a thing for him anymore. For the most part, I liked the way their relationship evolved throughout the book. I liked seeing Kennedy realize his feelings for her and then pursuing her. I also like that he had to work for it a bit.

However, I thought he had to work for Kate’s affection for the wrong reasons. It’s one thing that she would want to be cautious because he’s hurt her in the past with careless words. Instead, the reason she started to pull back felt kind of disingenuous to her character. I don’t want to go too into it since it could be a spoiler, but she was basically one of those women giddy about the thought of love and then after a sad circumstance decides that it couldn’t possibly be worth the risk. It just didn’t really work for me. Thankfully, though, the story didn’t dwell too much on this stage.

Overall, I really enjoyed Huge Deal. I loved seeing the characters from the previous books and the addition of Kennedy’s brother, Jack. I wouldn’t mind a Jack book, actually. I loved seeing my Kennedy-Kate ship finally sail. This has been one of my most anticipated books of 2019 and it lived up to the hype for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Top 5 Wednesday: ARCs on the Top of My TBR

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Goodreads group, is: Top of Your TBR. I’ve adapted it a little bit to ARCs on the Top of my TBR.

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1. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. After trying to catch up on all of Harmon’s backlist, I’ve discovered a couple of her books are ones that I don’t really care for, so I’m just a little nervous about this since historical fiction isn’t really my thing anymore. But I do have faith that even if it’s not my favorite Harmon book, it will still be good.

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2. Fumbled (Playbook #2) by Alexa Martin. Intercepted was a surprise hit for me, so even though this book has some tropes that are not my favorite, I’m still very excited to read it.

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3. The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. This book just very recently got on my radar and it sounds right up my alley. I love stories that involve notes/texts/e-mails.

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4. Passion on Park Avenue (Central Park Pact #1) by Lauren Layne. I am always excited to read a Lauren Layne book and I have high hopes for this one. I actually read a review that was complaining that the love scenes were not as graphic as other Layne books have been, but that’s a really big plus in my book and made me even more interested in it.

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5. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin. I’ve seen a lot of hype for this one and I’m really hoping it lives up to expectations.

What books are on the top of your TBR?

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?

Review: Hard Sell (21 Wall Street #2) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

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

Hard Sell will be available September 4, 2018. 

I love Lauren Layne books. They are always the perfect choice to get me out of any reading slump. Hard Sell is the second book in the 21 Wall Street series and I think I enjoyed it even more than the first.

I love both Fake Relationship and Hate-to-Love stories and this book utilized both. In the first book of the series Matt and Sabrina were side characters and I wasn’t really sold on the idea of them being in a relationship, but I did end up really liking them together here. They’ve kind of had this dysfunctional thing for a few years and it was a slow burn to actual love and romance and I was here for it. I thought they were really well suited for each other and I liked how their friendship evolved, along with the romance.

Like all of Layne’s books there were a couple of scenes that were a little more graphic than I like, but other than that I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the book. I like the cast of characters and I am really looking forward to getting a book focusing on Kennedy and Kate. One thing I would’ve liked to have seen a little more, though, is Sabrina’s job. She’s a “fixer” so I felt like there were endless possibilities for a little extra fun or drama, but there’s really not much done with it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hard Sell. Layne is easily one of my favorite Romance authors and I just love her more with each book I read. I definitely recommend this to Romance fans. While it is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars