Reviewing the Unreviewed: September 2020

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 Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. Read August 29 – September 1. 4 Stars.

I enjoyed this. I thought Hilarie’s journey from teen drama star to small-town farmer\occasional actress was really interesting. Though I definitely respect all of the work she and her husband have put into their relationship, I have to say it came across as pretty dysfunctional most of the time. He mostly came across as self-centered and controlling to me, following all of his hollywood dreams while she either took care of things at home or just followed him around. I did think she downplayed a lot of the acting jobs she took, though. And she seemed happy with her life, so I’ll try not to judge.

While I think the tone of the book was supposed to be kind of inspirational about how you can do anything you put your mind to, there wasn’t much said about how everything they did was possible because of how wealthy they are. Overall, though, I thought she came across as likable and relatable and this was an enjoyable read.

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Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne. Read September 3-6. 4 Stars. 

I am always happy when a new Lauren Layne book comes out. This was cute and bantery and fun. I really liked both Carter and Olive and loved watching as their friendship evolved into more. I also liked that it was set mostly in a cute, small town. Most of Layne’s books these days are set in NYC with super rich, polished characters and it was a nice change to see a quirky high school teacher as the lead.

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Dating Mr. Darcy (Love Manor #1) by Kate O’Keeffee. Read September 8-9. 3.5 Stars.

This was pretty cute. I liked the dating reality show concept. I liked the romance, but thought it could have been developed a little more. It felt like they only had a couple real interactions before they were “in love.” I’d be interested in reading more from this, author.

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Steal Home (The Sweet Magnolias #1) by Sherryl Woods. Read September 8-11. 3 Stars.

I wanted to read this ever since watching the Netflix show. I enjoyed it for the most part. I liked watching Maddie navigate her divorce and becoming a single parent and her new relationship with Cal. I liked the romance, even if it was a little fast. I kind of skimmed through a lot of the rest of it, though. In the show, I really liked the friendship between Maddie and her two best friends, but they kind of annoyed me here. They weren’t really given much to do besides encourage Maddie to go into business with them and pursue a relationship with Cal (though, the next couple of books in the series shifts the focus to them, so I’m sure the character development will improve).

Since I’ve already watched the show, I have to point out some of the differences. The show made Noreen a much more sympathetic character than the book did. There were several plotlines on the show with Maddie’s kids and I have to say I’m not mad that most of them didn’t exist in the book. I thought Book Cal was a lot sweeter than Show Cal, but I thought Show Maddie was more likable than Book Maddie.

I’m looking forward to watching season two, but I don’t see myself reading more of this series, even though I mostly enjoyed this one.

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Not My Romeo (The Game Changers #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read September 12-13. 3.5 Stars.

I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The characters were likable and I loved the small town atmosphere. I thought Jack was really sweet, if a little unbelievable. There were several more graphic scenes than I generally appreciate, but that was one of the only things that brought it down for me.

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Loathe Thy Neighbor (Roommate Romps #1) by Teagan Hunter. Read September 17-27. 2 Stars. 

This wasn’t for me. There were some funny parts, which Hunter always does well, but the story itself was pretty ‘meh’. I didn’t like the main character and I didn’t even really ship the romance.

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

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The Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell – 2.5 Stars

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella – 3 Stars

WWW Wednesday: September 2, 2020

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

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary. I enjoyed this one. Look out for my short review next week.

What are you currently reading?

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The Nesting by C.J. Cooke. Honestly, I kind of feel like I’ve read this story so many times before. I’m not really into it and it might be DNF-ed.

The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan. I’m enjoying this so far. I was hoping for a little more One Tree Hill dirt, but I’m ok with the direction it’s gone instead.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne. This just came out and it’s on KU.

What are you reading?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ YET IN 2020

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The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan and Beach Read by Emily Henry.

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

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Since I already mentioned The Heir Affair, I’ll go with Wild at Heart (The Simple Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker.

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I actually bought this just after it came out, but still haven’t read it.

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

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The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. I’m in the minority here, but it didn’t come close to living up to my expectations. It read a lot more like Women’s Fiction than Mystery/Thriller to me.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

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The F List by Alessandra Torree. I expected nothing from this, but LOVED it.

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

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Karla Sorensen

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

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Dallas from Wait For It by Mariana Zapata.

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

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Caden from Anti-Stepbrother by Tijan.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I don’t think I’ve cried at any books yet this year. My cold, black heart remains intact.

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren.

FAVORITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION

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So I haven’t actually read these books, but I did enjoy the Netflix show that’s based on the books by Sherryl Woods- The Sweet Magnolias

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

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I actually do not buy a lot of books. I did pick up The Simple Wild ebook when it was on sale, though.

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

Midnight Sun (Twilight #5) by Stephenie Meyer

Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo

Yours to Keep (Man of the Year #2) by Lauren Layne

Review: Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A political golden boy and the woman of his dreams take the risk of their lives in a sexy romantic comedy of strange bedfellows and second chances by New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne.

Fresh off being named Citizen magazine’s Man of the Year, New York City’s youngest mayor, Robert Davenport, decides it’s time to strategize. Next move: a bid for the governor’s seat. In his way: an incumbent with a flawless reputation. He also has an Achilles’ heel: an estranged wild-child daughter with a past so scandalous it could be Robert’s ticket to victory. And a charm so irresistible it could be Robert’s downfall.

Rebellion is a thing of the past for Adeline Blake. As New York’s premier event planner, she’s all about reform and respectability. Then she’s approached by Robert to organize the party of the season. Curious, considering he’s her father’s most formidable opponent. And alarming, too. Because Addie can’t help but fall for the righteously popular candidate with the movie-star smile.

Now it’s Robert’s choice. Does he pursue a future that holds his legacy? Or the woman who holds his heart?

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

Yours in Scandal will be available March 10, 2020.

I have been in such a reading slump lately and a new Lauren Layne book was just what I needed. I loved this book!

I must admit I was a little wary that the male lead in this book is a politician. I read to escape from politics, so I don’t generally appreciate it in my fiction. However, there actually isn’t a lot of politics involved. Yes, Robert is the Mayor, but he’s honest and doesn’t play dirty and there’s not any mention at all of Red vs. Blue nonsense. I appreciated that Layne was able to have a story about a politician without pushing any political agenda.

I loved the romance between Robert and Addie. Though I thought their relationship happened maybe a little bit fast, I definitely shipped it. They had some great banter and chemistry. There were some very sweet and romantic moments, as well. I was hoping that Layne would continue with omitting the graphic scenes, like she did in the Central Park Pact series, but I’m sure there will be others that are glad they’re included here.

I thought there was a lot of potential for some major angst when some truths are finally revealed and I was bracing myself for it, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised with how it was handled. The couple actually communicated, took responsibility for the things they did, and maturely decided how they wanted to move forward. The whole “I can’t believe you lied to me” thing is such a common plot point in Romances and I loved that Layne took a different route here, as there were plenty of other avenues for the drama to come from. To that point, though, I had a hard time understanding why Addie’s teenage behavior from a decade ago would cause such a problem for Robert’s future campaign. I think the fact that she was the opponent’s daughter would be a bigger issue in the press, but that doesn’t seem to be quite as concerning to the characters.

Overall, I loved Yours in Scandal. Lauren Layne’s books are like comfort food to me. They never fail to lift my mood and make me happy. I definitely recommend this one to fans of Contemporary Romances and longtime Layne readers won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 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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The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves. Read September 28-30 (yes this was September, but it was after I posted my September installment of Reviewing the Unreviewed). 3 Stars. 

I found this a pretty average mystery. It was very character driven, which is fine, but the pace seemed soooo slow. It did pick up towards the end, though. The main characters were likable enough, but not really memorable. It was a decent read, but I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to continue the series.

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Read October 4-6. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but not what I expected. I didn’t think the alternate timelines were used that well, nor did I think we really needed POVs from all four girls in the past. I thought the story was a little too long and large parts of it were too unbelievable. And the most unbelievable wasn’t even the ghost parts (which made me take the whole book way less seriously, as well)

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Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read October 13-14. 2 Stars.

Did we really need another novella full of Kenji’s feelings? Honestly, getting his POV just makes me like him a little less.

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The Bridal Party by J.G. Murray. Read October 15-16. 2 Stars. 

There was so much potential for this story, but it failed to reach it. The events weren’t very feasible and the big reveal wasn’t at all surprising. I was still holding out for a fun twist at the end, but there wasn’t one and it was just kind of depressing instead.

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The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. October 17-19. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but I can’t really say much more for it than that. It was much too long and repetitive and I was bored for large parts of it. There were also thinly veiled political analogies between unregistered Luxens and undocumented immigrants and I found it a little annoying. There were multiple scenes of the main character yelling at protesters that just kind of felt like wish fulfillment from the author. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but I feel like everything that is wrong in the country comes down to two sides yelling names at each other instead of trying to talk and work things out. It’s so unproductive and I get enough of that in real life. I did enjoy getting more Luc, though, and I liked the romance, which is what JLA is always good at. I also liked the cameos from the Lux series. There was more of all the characters I love than the last book had, so that helped make up for some of the boredom.

*****DNF*****

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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag. DNF at 9%. I wasn’t too impressed after I started this, so I set it down to read something else. Two weeks later and I just have no interest in picking it back up again.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate. DNF @ 4%. Sometimes you know right away if you’re not going to click with a story and that was my experience with this book. The first chapter was enough to make me not like the main character – mainly because some of the events remind me a lot of my father. The writing style didn’t really mesh with me either. However, I will say that the reviews I’ve seen so far for this book are pretty positive, so this is probably just a case of not being the right book for me.

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

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Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter – 2.5/5 Stars

Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci – 3/5 Stars

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo – 2/5 Stars

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters – 2.5/5 Stars

Reputation by Sara Shepard – 3.5/5 Stars

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – 3/5 Stars

Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne – 4/5 Stars