Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2021

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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Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey. Read December 31-January 1. 4 Stars.

This was a fun little book. It was humorous and I liked the characters. I didn’t love that the romance between Jack and Meredith started while she was still technically married, though, even if she had left her abusive husband and was definitely planning on divorcing. I did like that they went slow, though, and Jack was really sweet. I never really felt like the title fit the book.

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The Swap by Robyn Harding. Read January 1. 4 Stars.

Well, this was an entertaining and twisted read. It’s a story of obsession and manipulation and pretty awful people, but it was incredibly addicting. Even though almost every twist could be seen from a mile away, I didn’t want to put it down.

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All the Rage (DI Adam Fawley #4) by Cara Hunter. Read January 3-6. 4 Stars.

Another great installment of the series. Loved the development of all the beloved characters, as well as the new mystery. There were lots of threads to bring together and Hunter did a great job with it.

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The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1) by Julia Quinn. Read January 12-16. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed Bridgerton on Netflix, so I thought I should try the book and I really enjoyed this, too. I realized the show made quite a bit of changes, which probably would’ve annoyed me if I read the book first, but since I watched the show first, I find I’m ok with it.

I loved the banter between Simon and Daphne. The book was much funnier than I expected it to be and I had a fun time reading it. I plan to continue with the series.

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A Temporary Marriage (Fake Love #1) by Summer Dowell. Read January 17-18. 3 Stars.

I love a good Fake Relationship / Marriage of Convenience story and this was pretty cute. It did drag a little in the middle and I considered DNF-ing, but I’m glad I stuck with it. I’ll probably try more from this author.

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The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons #2) by Julia Quinn. Read January 21-23. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this! I think even more than the first book. I didn’t like that Anthony was a little too mean in some parts, but I did like him overall, which I didn’t expect since he was not my favorite in the first book (or the tv show). I also really liked Kate and her family. There was so much fun banter, too.

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An Offer from a Gentleman (Bridgerton #3) by Julia Quinn. Read January 23-25. 3.5 Stars

I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the previous two books, but I still enjoyed it. The fun banter that I’ve come to expect from these books was present and I loved it. I liked Sophie and Benedict together. I wanted a little more character development from Benedict, though.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Stand-In Boyfriend (Grove Valley High #1) by Emma Doherty.

I started the sequel to this book and after a couple chapters it just made me really want to read this one again. So I did. I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Livy still managed to annoy me a good deal of the time, but Chase was just as sweet as I remembered.

*****DNF*****

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The Relationship Pact (Kings of Football #3) by Adriana Locke. DNF @ 16%. I wanted to like this, but I jut couldn’t get into it.

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The Backup Girlfriend (Grove Valley High #2) by Emma Doherty. DNF @ 17%. I wanted to like this, but I didn’t. At all. I’m not forcing myself to read any more of it.

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Varsity Rulebreaker (Varsity #3) by Ginger Scott. DNF @ 49%. I hated Cannon half the time. I hated Hollis all of the time. I have lots of other thoughts on why this didn’t work for me, but they all come back to the characters and their behavior, so I’m just going to leave it at this.

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The Class Reunion by N.L. Hinkens. DNF @ 17%. Just couldn’t get into this. I never really connected with the main character and the writing left a little to be desired.

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Marrying Mr. Darcy (Love Manor #2) by Kate O’Keeffe. DNF @ 20%. I enjoyed the first book in this series well enough and was looking forward to this one, but it just never captured my interest. Maybe if I could have read them back-to-back I would still feel invested in the characters, but I don’t now, so I’m going to call it.

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You Have a Match by Emma Lord. DNF @ 16%. I hate stories where the biggest source of drama is miscommunications. I also really didn’t care for the main character. I can’t make myself read anymore of this.

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The Happy Camper by Melody Carlson. DNF @ 50%. I really wanted to like this, but I never got invested. The main character was pretty unlikable and I found it hard to root for her.

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

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The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry – 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 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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Forever Wild (The Simple Wild #2.5) by K.A. Tucker. Read December 1. 4 Stars. 

It took me a couple chapters to really get into this, but of course I enjoyed it. I love Calla and Jonah and the rest of the quirky cast of characters. And I’m really glad ***SPOILER*** we got to see their wedding. I did think it left a few things too open, but hopefully they’ll be address in the spin-off book (about Marie, which I’m not thrilled about, but will still read).

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Play with Me (Grover Beach Team #1) by Piper Shelly. Read November 30 – December 2. 2.5 Stars. 

This has been on my TBR a long time. It was a pretty classic YA Contemporary for the time period it was published in. I didn’t love the characters, but I didn’t hate them. I would’ve given this 3 stars, except I found the love interest kind of skeevy in the epilogue. I won’t be reading any other books in this series.

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The Not-Outcast by Tijan. Read December 2-6. 2 Stars. 

Sometimes I am completely here for all the angsty, over-the-top drama in Tijan books. I wasn’t for this one. I did like how the story shone a light on someone living with severe mental health issues and I ended up liking the romance between Cut and Cheyenne, even though the whole alpha-possessive thing put me off at first. That was about all I liked, though.

I really didn’t care for Cheyenne’s friends. Sure, they were there for each other and were loyal and that’s nice. But I hated how they handled things. They either got drunk or did dumb pranks and just came off as really immature to me. A lot is talked about Cheyenne’s mental health issues, but I think her friends really could’ve used some intensive therapy, too, to be honest.

And while I liked the inclusion of the mental health issues, I didn’t think they were handled that well. Cheyenne kind of acts like no one except for people “like her” could possibly understand anything she goes through. While she did have a more extreme reaction to things, I think I lot of the ways she thought and had anxiety is normal for a lot of people.

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The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. Read December 6-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I enjoyed this, but thought it started better than it ended. There were a decent amount of twists and while I wouldn’t say that I was super surprised by any of them, I didn’t see all of them coming from miles away, either. I liked the characters and the multiple POVs. I thought it started to feel a little long, though, and the end was pretty underwhelming. What was supposed to be a shock at the end came off as kind of lame to me. Overall, though, it entertained me for a good few days and I look forward to McManus’ next book.

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The Clause in Christmas (Poppy Creek #2) by Rachael Bloome. Read December 10-12. 3.5 Stars.

I’ve been looking for a cute Christmas Romance and this one hit the spot. The romance was sweet and I liked the characters and small town setting. I did think that Cassie could be a little overdramatic, though, and then everything would work out a little too easily after. Overall, it was a cute story that reminded me a lot of a Hallmark Christmas movie and I might give the next book in the series a try.

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Date Me Like You Mean It by R.S. Grey. Read December 13. 4 Stars. 

It’s been a long time since I managed to read a proper-sized book in a day, but that’s what happened with this book. I enjoyed Maddie and Aiden and definitely shipped them together. I do have to say that I enjoyed the first half of the book a little more than the last half, though. Thankfully, the last couple chapters brought the overall story back to a 4 star read for me. I also want to say that the tone of the book felt a lot different than the synopsis suggests and I think that’s a good thing. If you’re a fan of R.S. Grey, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book, too.

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Best Friends Don’t Kiss by Max Monroe. Read December 13-16. 3.5 Stars

This was cute. I loved the best friendship between Ava and Luke and I liked when it turned into more. I thought the pacing seemed a little odd, though. I expected the majority of the book to be in the fake relationship stage, but it’s about half way through the book before they join Ava’s family. There was so much time spent on Ava going on bad dates that seemed a little pointless because we already know that Luke is going to agree to be the fake boyfriend. There were also a number of cameos of characters from other books by this author duo that I’m sure long time fans love, but I found really confusing trying to keep track of. All that said, though, this was an enjoyable read and I might even try some other books by these authors. If it wasn’t for the SUPER sappy last couple chapters that I found a little hard to stomach, I probably would’ve bumped my rating up to 4 stars.

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The Prince and the Troll (Faraway #1) by Rainbow Rowell. Read December 16. 1 Star. 

It hurts my heart to rate a Rainbow Rowell book so low, but what even was this? 25 pages of allegorical climate change and socioeconomic status commentary? This was a big NOPE for me.

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The Office Party by Whitney G. Read December 18-20. 3 Stars. 

The whole concept of this story was kind of ridiculous and the romantic lead seemed a little stalkerish, but it had some funny moments that I enjoyed.

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The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. Read December 22-23. 3 Stars. 

Usually I’m not a fan of novellas, but I thought this one could actually have benefitted by being a little shorter. There were some cute and funny moments and I did like Riley and Kennedy together, but I thought the story dragged a lot at times. There were also mentions of pretty heavy emotional topics that are brought up at random times and then quickly shoved aside. I also thought it was eye-rollingly sappy at times. That said, it was a quick, enjoyable little book that fit in with my holiday reading binge and I might give these authors another try.

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Scrooged by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. Read December 24. 4 Stars. 

I didn’t realize this was 3 stories instead of 1 when I picked it up, but it worked for me. They maybe weren’t the best quality books I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed them and I read them on Christmas Eve, so I gave it 4 stars.

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Floored by Karla Sorensen. Read December 18-26. 2 Stars. 

Knowing that unplanned pregnancy is one of my least favorite tropes, I probably should’ve skipped this book. It was definitely my least favorite Sorensen book. It took me a very long time to get on board with Lia and Jude. In the beginning I did not feel their chemistry at all. It felt really forced to me. It wasn’t until the last few chapters that I actually bought into their feelings for each other. I also didn’t like how they handled things for the majority of the book. However, I DID like that Lia didn’t waste too much time in telling Jude about the pregnancy because the only think I hate more than the unplanned pregnancy trope is the “surprise, you’re a father!” trope – where the mother tells the fathers years after the kid is born. While this book wasn’t for me, I am looking forward to Isabel’s book next.

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The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss. Read December 27-29. 2.5 Stars. 

This had a lot of potential, but it didn’t live up to it for me. It was way longer than it needed to be with far too much description about meaningless things. And after spending most of the book shipping Kate and Matt, I thought the big reconciliation moment fell flat.

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Searching for Coach Taylor by Mindy Kaling. Read December 29. 3 Stars.

A little funny, but not really anything special. I will probably skip the rest of these essays.

*****Re-Read*****

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Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd. I loved this just as much the second time around. I think this book is going to be one of my holiday traditions that I read every year.

*****DNF*****

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New Year’s Steve by Sara Ney and M.E. Carter. DNF @ 38%. I don’t really have any legitimate complaints about this book, except that I don’t think the humor was for me and I just couldn’t get into it. After a couple chapters I also realized that the side characters were from a book I read last Christmas by the same authors that I didn’t really enjoy, either, so I decided it probably wouldn’t be worth it to finish this one. I do love the colors in that cover, though!

Reviewing the Unreviewed: November 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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Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards. Read November 12-15. 3 Stars. 

This sounded a lot more intriguing than it actually ended up being. I thought that the identity of the “bad guy” was so obvious from the beginning that it couldn’t possibly be that person because it was so obvious. So that made me suspect some of the other characters briefly, but it ended up being the super obvious person, which was kind of disappointing. I’m giving this three stars, just because this is the first book I finished in a couple weeks.

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

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The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous – 3 Stars

Shipped by Angie Hockman – 3 Stars

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon – 3 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 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 Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler. Read September 28 – October 4. 4 Stars. 

This book is the absolute cutest! The romance was adorable, Graham was adorable, his dog was adorable. While I thought the book could’ve maybe been a little bit shorter, I really enjoyed it.

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The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn. Read October 11-12. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. It had a few funny moments, but a lot of things just made me roll my eyes. I do appreciate that it handled the whole Hate-to-Love trope much better than a lot of other books I’ve read recently.

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I Still Believe by Jeremy Camp. Read October 25-27. 4 Stars. 

I recently watched the I Still Believe movie and it has reignited my interest in Jeremy Camp and his music. Before picking this up, I was really struggling with reading anything, but this one broke through. I have to say that I’ve always had Jeremy Camp on a bit of pedestal – if you know his story you can probably understand why – and it was almost a little shocking to see just how not perfect he is. But that’s another great part of this story. It was very realistic and relatable to see that he has had his fair share of doubts and spiritual struggles and needs to continually recommit himself to living out his faith. I’m definitely glad I decided to pick this one up.

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

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The Ingredients of You and Me by Nina Bocci. I read a couple chapters and discovered I wasn’t in the mood for this. The main character was annoying me. I do plan to try it again someday, though.

*****DNF*****

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Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey. DNF @ 44%. I just can’t with this. The whole “Annie loves rom-coms” schtick was just too much. I think it could’ve worked and been cute if she wasn’t quite so obsessed/unrealistic. She just came off as insufferable. And can I say how completely over I am of the “hate-to-love” trope being twisted into the female lead being completely petty and a little crazy in her reactions to a guy that has literally done nothing wrong to her? I know I’m in the minority with this, but this book just didn’t work for me at all.

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Spoiler Alert and  40-Love by Olivia Dade. DNF @ 11% and 19%. Both books become available from the library at once and I ended up only reading a few chapters of each. This author just isn’t for me.

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Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan. I stopped properly reading at the 39% mark, but did kind of skim through the end because even though I lost interest in the details, I still wanted to find out what happened. For what this book was, I think it did it well. This is more a case of me not being the right reader for the book (which is happening to me a lot lately). With the way the world is right now, I just can’t make myself read a book that is all about people misjudging each other and being generally awful to one another. Reading is my escape and we get enough of this hatefulness in real life.

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

Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 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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Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. Read August 1-3. 3 Stars.

This was cute, but I thought it drug on for a little too long. Right when I thought things were winding down, I realized I hadn’t even hit the halfway mark yet. I kind of hated Pepper’s mom right up until the last couple chapters when her motivation is finally explained. Even then, she just came across as petty. It also made me like Jack’s dad less, after he finally did something fatherly that I approved of. I also expected a lot more from the Twitter war. I didn’t really think most of the tweets were that funny. That said, I liked the relationship between Pepper and Jack. I thought they were sweet and this was one of the cleaner YA books I’ve read lately, which I appreciate. I’ll be interested in reading more from this author.

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The Silent Wife (Will Trent #10) by Karin Slaughter. Read August 10-13. 4 Stars.

A new Will Trent book is always amongst my most anticipated books of the year and The Silent Wife did not disappoint. I enjoyed the mystery, solid, procedural police work, and – as always – Will. The subject matter of the mystery is pretty intense and was often hard to read, but if you’ve read a Slaughter book before, you know to expect that. I enjoyed many aspects of the multiple timelines, but I have to say I wasn’t thrilled to be in Grant County. I still haven’t read that series, but there’s been several visits there during this series and I am always wary of having to deal with Lena again. This was my first look at Sarah’s former husband, Jeffrey, though. I have to say I wasn’t impressed with him. And I also wasn’t impressed with Sarah in this installment. Like, I’ve had issues with her here and there throughout the series, but I straight up disliked her until the final pages of the story. That said, I did like the ending and I’m looking forward to the next Will Trent book.

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The Trouble with Quarterbacks by R.S. Grey. Read August 10-15. 3 Stars. 

This one was just ok for me. The main character was pretty quirky. While I did like her, I also found her kind of annoying. I didn’t find Logan’s character very consistent. He vacillated between being really sweet and being alpha/controlling. I preferred when he was sweet. Definitely not my favorite book by this author.

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Varsity Tiebreaker (Varsity #2) by Ginger Scott. Read August 10-16. 3 Stars. 

Tory was my favorite thing about the previous book in this series, so I was excited to read more about him. While I still liked him, I was disappointed in him for most of the book. You would think that with how upset he was with his mother for cheating, he would do a little better than cheating with his brother’s girlfriend. I hate cheating and it really brought down my enjoyment of the book. I liked the family storylines a lot more than the romance and I wish there was more focus on that. I did like how Tory and Hayden’s relationship got back on track, though.

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Office Mate (Milford College #2) by Noelle Adams. Read August 17-18. 3 Stars. 

Ok, but not my favorite by this author. I thought the couple jumped into a physical relationship too fast. The dialogue during those scenes made me roll my eyes a lot, too. The ending was cute, though.

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Treasure (Hush Collection) by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Read August 18. 3 Stars. 

I was a big fan of My Sister, the Serial Killer, so I was excited to see that Braithwaite had another book out. The downside is that it’s not actually a full length book, but a 30 page short story. Even though I’m not really a fan of short stories/novellas, I found this interesting. I wish it had been a little longer so I could really get to know the characters better and the ending was a little too open for my liking, but no other books have been working for me lately, so maybe this is what I needed to get me out of my slump.

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Thicker Than Blood (Zoe Bentley #3) by Mike Omer. Read August 15-23. 4 Stars. 

It took me a little while to get into this, but eventually it hooked me. The mystery was interesting and it definitely took some turns I hadn’t expected, which I enjoyed. While the mystery was good, I could’ve used a little more character development with Zoe and Tatum. And there wasn’t enough Marvin. However, it broke me out of my book slump and I’ll look forward to the next book in this series.

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

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Once You Go This Far (Roxane Weary #3) by Kristen Lepionka. I was really looking forward to this, but I got about 10% in then didn’t pick it up again for over a week and just couldn’t get into it. It’s a physical library book and I’ve already renewed it once, so it’s going back to the library and I’ll try it again some other time.

*****DNF*****

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Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score. DNF @ 28%. I’ve heard such great things about this book, but it’s just not for me. I picked this up because I thought it was supposed to be a fake relationship story, but that hasn’t been mentioned at all so far. I also thought the love interest was horrible. He comes across so smug, he just makes my skin crawl. I couldn’t make myself read any more of this.

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

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A Path to Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and Karin Stock Buursma – 4 Stars

The Switch by Beth O’Leary – 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 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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Hands Down by Mariana Zapata. Read July 3-5. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this! It was a terrific slow burn romance with really likable characters. I do have my usual complaint with this author that the writing was a little too repetitive and a little more editing would really help the pace, but I know to expect those things going in, so it didn’t hinder my enjoyment too much. It was a sweet story of friendship, family, and love. I liked the cameos of characters from some of the author’s other books, too. I was sad when it ended and I had to say goodbye to the characters. This is definitely one I’ll read again.

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Melt My Heart by A.R. Perry. Read July 5-6. 3 Stars. 

A cute, short read. The characters were likable and the romance was cute, if a little too cheesy there at the end.

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The Crushing Depths (Coastal Guardians #2) by Dani Pettrey. Read July 9-11. 4 Stars. 

I was really disappointed in the first book of this series, so I was a little nervous about starting this one. Fortunately, The Crushing Depths was back to the quality I have come to expect from Pettrey. I liked the main characters much more in this installment and enjoyed the mysteries. While I did like the romance between Rissi and Mason, it was another case of there being a past relationship and they were basically in love right away when they saw each other again. I wanted to see their relationship develop a little more organically. However, the B plot involved the beginnings of a romance between Noah and Brooke and I felt much more invested in them. I look forward to reading their book in the future. I also feel pretty invested in the inevitable relationship between Emmy and Landon. After the first book I didn’t really care about any of the characters and I’m really happy I got to know them better this time around.

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The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) by Emma. Scott. Read July 11-12. 4 Stars. 

Very angsty and a little too long, but enjoyable. I wish there was a little more time spent in the post-high school years and a little less in the teenage angst. However, I liked the characters and Miller and Violet’s relationship. It was a sweet, emotional story and I’m going to check out more by this author.

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One of the Guys by A.R. Perry. Read July 7-13. 3 Stars. 

This was ok. I didn’t find Rylee a very likable character. I hated the antagonistic relationship she had with her siblings and mother. I thought Spencer was sweet, though – most of the time. While this was ok, it’s probably going to be the last book I read by this author.

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The Fadeaway (Smart Jocks #2) by Rebecca Jenshak. Read June 29-July 16. 2.5 Stars

This was just ok for me. I did like Katrina and how she handled being a young, single mother. I didn’t really remember having a favorable impression of Joel in the first book and I didn’t care much for him here, either. It also took me a couple of weeks to finish this because it couldn’t hold my attention long enough to read more than a couple chapters at a time.

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Baking Me Crazy (Donner Bakery #1) by Karla Sorensen. Read July 19-25. 3 Stars. 

There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I liked the friendship between Levi and Joss. I liked the positive disability representation, the humor, and how incredibly sweet Levi was. Joss’ reactions to things really brought the book down for me, though. There are two instances where Levi has big news or a confession to share with her and she basically attacks him both times, refused to talk about it, and then disappears on him/gives him the cold shoulder while she processes. Both times she realizes she overreacts and she doesn’t really own up to it, she just shows back up and he is instantly fine with her again. It made me really dislike her at times. Especially when she thought Levi couldn’t possibly want to live with her disability – girl, he already had his family renovate their house to make it accommodating for you! That’s the reason this book is getting 3 stars instead of 4.

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Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo. Read July  21-26. 4 Stars. 

Another enjoyable installment of the Kate Burkholder series. This one is a bit of a departure from the other books in the series, as it’s more Suspense/Thriller than Mystery. The story almost entirely takes place at a snowed in farm and we don’t get to see much of the beloved side characters as we usually do. I liked getting to know a little more about Kate’s backstory, though, and I loved new character, Adam. I hope he shows up again in future books.

I do have to say that the plot of the book centered around corruption in a police force and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be reading during these times. Castillo does include a note about how she embellished things for her story and that the (real) police department she uses in the book is a good one and the mischaracterizations are for the sake of the plot. It just feels like unfortunate timing for a book with this topic to be out. Or the perfect time, I suppose, depending on your political bent. However, the corrupt cops get their comeuppance and justice is served, so it is positive to see a police force taking action to reform their force.

All that said, it was still a good book and I will eagerly await the next installment.

*****DNF*****

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Rage & Ruin (The Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. DNF @ 10%. I don’t know if I’m just in a mood or if my reading tastes have changed over the years and JLA books just don’t do it for me anymore, but I can’t make myself read another page of this.

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Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins. DNF @ 25%. I really tried with this one, but I just couldn’t get into it. The main character was really frustrating, though her mental health issues were completely understandable with her upbringing. There was some anti-religious stuff I found offensive and that kind of killed most of my desire to keep reading. I also thought the mystery of what happened to Astrid all those years ago was really obvious. While I stopped reading at about the 25% mark, I did skip to the last few chapters, just to confirm my suspicion and I was right. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time with all the chapters in between.

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The Dating Dare by A.R. Perry. DNF @ 17%. I recently read another book by this author that was cute, so I thought I’d give another one of her books a try. I only got through a couple chapters of this, but I don’t like it at all. I think the kids are crass and the whole dare scenario just doesn’t work for me.

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Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan. DNF @ 24%. I really wanted to like this one, but I just couldn’t get into it. I was expecting a thriller, but it was much more Women’s Fiction. The writing wasn’t bad, I think it was just an instance of me being the wrong reader for the book.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 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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Varsity Heartbreaker (Varsity #1) by Ginger Scott. Read. May 29-31 (yes, this was from May, but it was after last month’s feature posted). 3.5 Stars

This started out really slow for me, but after about the first 25%, it did pick up. I spent the first half or so of the book shipping June with Tory, even though I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I felt frustrated by how obsessed June was with Lucas when he had treated her so poorly. It is explained why he pushed her away, but I didn’t think it was necessary for him to be such a douche to her. That said, I did end up liking them together and he could be really sweet. There were a couple scenes I thought were a little too graphic for a YA book. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Tory more in the next book.

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Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally. Read May 31-June 11. 2 Stars. 

This was kind of disappointing. I thought Lulu and Alex’s relationship was toxic for half the time and a little too co-dependent the other half. They didn’t treat other people they dated in between very well, either. The execution of the concept was done kind of oddly, too. You expect the story to focus on four separate days, but it felt like it spent more time on flashbacks than on the actual days. All of the characters were also extremely immature and it made me cringe with how much sexual content there was.

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Read June 7-11. 3 Stars. 

This started out really well for me, but I didn’t think it ended very strong. I loved the use of multiple POVs and timelines. I thought they were well done and Foley did a good job of making me suspect multiple people. Some of the twists and connections felt just a little too convenient, though. I also didn’t love the end. I wanted more closure on what happened to the characters afterwards, especially one couple that really needs either massive couples therapy or a divorce. I also thought the pace was a little slow and even though this book wasn’t very long, it felt like it was.

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The House Guest by Mark Edwards. Read June 15-16. 4 Stars. 

This was my first book by Mark Edwards and it definitely won’t be my last. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery. There were several twists I guessed before they were revealed, but there were several others that managed to surprise me. I’m looking forward to checking out some of his other books.

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Faked by Karla Sorensen. Read June 16-18. 4 Stars. 

This was cute. It took a different direction than I thought it would, but it didn’t take me long to get on board. I thought Bauer’s feelings were a little too insta-lovey at first, but I definitely shipped him and Claire together. I thought they worked together really well. This might be my favorite book by this author so far.

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Rich Prick by Tijan. Read June 18-20. 3.5 Stars. 

This was ridiculous, but in that enjoyable Tijan sort of way. It took me awhile to get into, but I eventually became invested in Blaise and Aspen and I liked how they helped each other grow. I thought Aspen was more likable than most Tijan heroines. I liked seeing a different side of Nate in this, too. It made me excited for his forthcoming book, when I was kind of ambivalent about the prospect before.

This is marketed as a standalone, but I would consider it more of a companion novel to the Fallen Crest and Crew series. People who haven’t read those before would miss out on a lot.

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The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker. Read June 22-25. 3 Stars. 

I enjoyed this for the most part, but did have some issues with it. I didn’t like that Shane wasn’t really apologetic at all about what he did to Scarlet in the past. He kind of just excused himself for being a dumb teenager and didn’t own up to how much he hurt her. I felt like she was justified in not trusting him right away. I also thought there was way too much focus on the physical relationship. It made the relationship seem a little cheap. However, as the story went on, I did start to ship Shane and Scarlet and there were some cute and funny moments.

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Something New by Amanda Abram. Read June 25-27. 3 Stars.

This had some cute moments, but the book was far longer than it needed to be. I was pretty bored with it most of the time, but decided to push through. I did like Dylan and Cassie together, though.

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

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My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3) by The Lady Janies. I was so excited when my library hold came in for this, but I found myself really bored after the first couple chapters. I read several other books and just never felt the desire to come back to this before the library hold expired. I would like to try it again some day, though.

*****DNF*****

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Drummer Girl by Ginger Scott. DNF @ 38%. I wasn’t in the right mood to read something so angsty. I also found the characters pretty unlikable. I just don’t see myself caring enough to finish this.

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

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In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – 4 Stars

Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell – 4 Stars

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – 3 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 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 Ex Effect (Washington Wolves #2) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 30-May 1. 3.5 Stars

This was cute, but not my favorite by this author. I thought Ava and Matthew got together a little too quickly, but I did ship them. I wish there was a little more resolution with Ava’s family, though.

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Wait For It by Mariana Zapata. Read April 27-May 2. 4 Stars.

It took me awhile to get into this (as much as I enjoy Zapata, I always think her books could be a good 200 pages shorter than they are), but once I did, I loved it. I loved the growing relationship between Diana and Dallas and I loved Josh and Louie. I put off reading this one for so long because I didn’t like Diana in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and I don’t always like reading books when there’s kids involved. But I found Diana way more likable in this and the kids were two of the best things about the book. I think Dallas might be my new favorite Zapata man, too.

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The Bombshell Effect (Washington Wolves #1) by Karla Sorensen. Read May 3-5. 3 Stars. 

This was cute, but not my favorite book of the series. I liked Allie and Luke together and the big romantic gesture at the end had some “Never Been Kissed” vibes that I enjoyed.

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The Split by Sharon Bolton. Read May 5-8. 2.5 Stars.

I am so disappointed! I love Sharon Bolton, but I found this book so boring. It started off really interesting and the end was alright, but I just didn’t care about anything in the middle. I didn’t care about most of the characters and I guessed the twist long before it was revealed. I love so many of Bolton’s books, but this one just wasn’t for me.

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The Stranger by Harlan Coben. Read May 13-14. 3.5 Stars. 

The writing sucked me in and kept me reading, but this definitely wasn’t my favorite Coben book. I found myself super annoyed with Adam’s wife, Corrine. When he confronts her about the lie and asks for an explanation she basically says “I’m not ready to tell you right now. I’ll do it later.” And then she disappears. What annoyed me was the manipulative “I don’t feel like talking about this” response. And as the book goes on, you expect there to be some huge conspiracy she was caught up in and it would all make sense why she couldn’t tell him anything…but that’s not the case. It was just annoying. It made it kind of hard to care about what happened to her. I’m still interested in checking out the show on Netflix, though. I know they made some significant changes from the book, so maybe it will be a little better.

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Life and Death (Twilight #1.75) by Stephenie Meyer. Read May 10-20. 3 Stars. 

So with all the hype about Midnight Sun coming out soon, I decided it was time to revisit Twilight and realized I never read the gender swap book. It did take me quite a bit of time to get through, only reading a couple chapters at a time in between other books. I know that Meyer did the gender swap to show that if Bella was a guy, she still would’ve needed to be rescued because she’s human, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe I’m part of the problem in society, but there were so many times where I just wanted Beau to “act like a man.” A couple things were changed here and there, but mostly it was just pronouns and it didn’t work. I often caught myself reading it as if was regular Twilight. One thing that did surprise me was the ending! I thought it was a straight re-telling, but it’s not and I did find that interesting.

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From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read May 19-24. 2 Stars. 

*Sigh* This reminded me a lot of Armentrout’s Covenant series. Mixed in with a little Twilight and Shadow and Bone. And it was just ok for me. Actually, large parts of it were ridiculous. Poppy was so whiny, I found her really unlikable most of the time. Most of the book is her complaining about how unfair it is that she can’t sleep around like everyone else has the right to. Despite the whole cult-like religious system being pretty shady, she believes in it, which makes her choosing to ditch her Maiden status to have sex pretty selfish.

The romance between Poppy and Hawke played out very similarly to every other JLA couple, to the point where the names could’ve been switched out with any other JLA characters and you wouldn’t be able to tell which book you were reading. I though Hawke’s true identity was super obvious long before Poppy figures it out, too.

So, obviously this wasn’t my favorite JLA book, but all of her other fans seem to love it, so it’s probably just me.

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A Slice of Love (Slice #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read May 24. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I definitely shipped Frankie and Jonas. I thought there was a little too much focus on the physical relationship, though, and would’ve liked a little more emotional/romantic development.

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Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris. Read May 24-25. 3 Stars. 

This was pretty cute and was a lot less angsty than I anticipated, which was nice. I liked the dual POVs and shipped Lily and Stone.

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

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The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy and Love the One You Hate by R.S. Grey. I just couldn’t get into either one of these, but I think it was my mood, so I do plan to try them again in the future. 

*****DNF*****

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You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria. DNF @ 27%. I really wanted to like this one. I love the cover and the comparison to Jane the Virgin definitely intrigued me. There were just too many little things adding up that didn’t work for me. My biggest problem was how the scenes from the tv show were written. It starts out with just a bit of script direction to set the scene, but instead of staying in script format, it goes back to the normal narrative style. And instead of describing things from Jasmine’s POV as she acts the scene, it described them as if Carmen, the character she’s playing, was experiencing them. And we would get Carmen’s feelings and internal monologue, but then there would be some thoughts from Jasmine interspersed with those and it was just weird. I know I’m not explaining it well, but it just really threw me off. There were a few other little things, too, that just ended up making this book a chore for me to get through. While both the main characters and their families were likable enough, I just didn’t really connect with them and I don’t really care enough to keep reading this. That said, I have seen some really good reviews for this book, so I’m sure many others will love it.

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Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin. DNF @ 16%. I think it might be time to just admit that YA Fantasy just isn’t really for me anymore. I couldn’t really get into this and I set it down to read some other books. After more than a week, I still have no desire to pick this one back up and I don’t think I ever will.

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

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Head Over Heels by Hannah Orensten – 2 Stars

Cheesy on the Eyes (Slice #5) by Teagan Hunter – 4 Stars

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 2 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 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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Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw High #1) by Meagan Brandy. Read March 30-31. 2 Stars

So this is kind of the definition of Trashy Romance and Toxic Relationship. It was quite ridiculous and over the top. It’s getting two stars instead of one just because it kept my attention enough that I actually finished it. I might even try the next book to see where this crazy story goes. 

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. Super cute with likable characters. I liked that we got both POVs. I loved Logan and Paige’s relationship with his sisters. I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. Read April 8-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I was really frustrated by how childish Daisy acted for most of this book, but I did really like how it ended. And there were some funny and cute moments. Not my favorite Grey book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 9-10. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed parts of this. I liked the romance between Ava and Knox. I loved the relationship between Knox and his twin brother, Dane. I liked how Knox’s family finally got their act together. There were some things that didn’t work for me, though. The whole secret admirer love letter portion of the book was very short. There’s one letter, then some texts and you know who it is pretty much right away, even if it takes several chapters for Ava to confirm it (she also figured it out long before then, though). I was expecting that to be a much bigger part of the plot, so I was a little disappointed. I also didn’t think the sexual assault storyline was handled very well. It was used more for a “whodunit” type of plotline and didn’t deal too much with the physical, emotional, or psychological aspects that such a serious subject deserves.

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. Read April 12-13. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Both the characters had trouble with communicating and that frustrated me. This book also utilized one of my least favorite tropes. Had a couple of cute moments, but overall a pretty average Romance.

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Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 11-15. 2.5 Stars

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea. The angst was the only thing I really liked about it, which tells you how much I didn’t like the rest of it. But, I finished it and there were some funny or cute moments, too. 

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Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 15-21. 3 Stars. 

I got this for free awhile ago and finally decided to give it a try. It was just ok for me. It followed the basic formula every other book I’ve read by this author follows: Damaged protagonist falls for damaged athlete who has a complicated relationship with his father, a dead mother, and one close friend who provides comic relief.

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The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. Read April 21-22. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. I totally shipped Noah and Libby and I had a fun time reading about all their crazy adventures. One particular scene involving a big wedding dress and a public restroom made me laugh out loud. I did struggle with Libby a bit, though. Since it’s been so long since I read the previous books, I can’t remember if she was always so frustrating, but she really got on my nerves here. She did a ridiculous and crazy thing, after a history of doing ridiculous and crazy things, and then she got mad when her friends called her out on it. I also wish Swank wouldn’t have waited until almost the end of the book to reveal the root of Libby’s issues. I think I would have been less frustrated with her if we found out about it earlier. However, the rest of the book was so cute that these things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment at all.

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. Read April 21-23. 3.5 Stars

It took me a while to get into this, but about a third of the way in I really started to enjoy it. I was a little annoyed with Molly towards the end, but everything worked out in a cute way. I did like seeing Paige and Logan again. I’m definitely going to check out more books by this author.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram. Read April 26. 4 Stars.

This was both really sad and really sweet. Ella is in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her with scars on 70% of her body and mobility issues. She moves across the country to stay with her father who she hasn’t seen in ten years when he basically abandoned her. She has to deal with a lot of cruel people who make fun of her because of her scars, as well as new dysfunctional family dynamics. I really didn’t like her dad. I thought what he did and the reasons he did it were spineless and I think he should have been a little sorrier than he was. I also didn’t really like his new wife and I wish they would have handled the wicked stepsisters a little better than they did. Though, by the end of the book they have a lot of therapy and things do start to get better between them all and I liked that.

It took me a long time to get on board the romance. I found Brian (aka “Cinder”) really unlikable for awhile. Pretty much any time he wasn’t interacting with Ella, he was a dick. He did grow on me, though, and I shipped him and Ella. I’m a little nervous to read the next book because I feel like Ella’s already had to go through so much and I don’t want to see more bad things happen to her, which you know there has to be if a Romance/Family Drama gets a sequel. I still plan on reading it, though. I did really enjoy this, even if I had some issues with it.

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Fallen Crest Campout by Tijan. Read April 28. 3.5 Stars.

This was a quick, fun foray back into the Fallen Crest universe. There was still some immature drama, but for the most part it was a more grown up look at the Kades and I liked that. There was also the inclusion of characters from the Crew series, which spun off from Fallen Crest, and even though I haven’t read those yet, I didn’t feel too lost on the new characters. If you’re a fan of Fallen Crest, you should definitely check this one out.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 27-29. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed! I loved Jar of Hearts and have been waiting for Hillier’s next book ever since. I found this really underwhelming, though. It was super predictable with really unlikable characters. It read a lot more like a Women’s Fiction book than a mystery/thriller. The majority of the book revolved around a cheating plotline, which annoyed me. I kept waiting for all these great, twisty reveals and found absolutely none of them surprising. Just another hyped book that let me down.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I absolutely loved this just as much the second time around. I had forgotten how it really puts you through the emotional wringer. It was still a bit too long. I still wanted to punch Nick right in the face a few times. But I loved it so much. I loved Bex and Nick and watching their relationship unfold. I will say, though, that if Lacey meets an untimely demise in the sequel, I will not be sad.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. I still liked this a lot the second time around, but not quite as much as I was expecting. I forgot how unlikable Jasmine was about 90% of the time. For some reason I had less patience for her behavior this time around. I still loved Ivan, though, and the romance.

*****DNF*****

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. DNF @ 10%. I just couldn’t get into this. I found the main character really off-putting and couldn’t take any more of her.

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The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it’s just not for me. The dialogue made me cringe and everything the main character did just made me roll my eyes. I’ve seen some really good reviews on it, though, so it could just be me.

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

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The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – 4 Stars

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – 3.5 Stars

The Vacation by T.M. Logan – 4 Stars

The Bright Lands by John Fram – 2.5 Stars

Always A Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4 Stars