Review: An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.

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

An Anonymous Girl will be available January 8, 2019. 

After loving The Wife Between Us by this author duo, I have had sky high expectations for their follow up novel, An Anonymous Girl. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met.

It took me quite a long time to get into this book. I found the first third or so of it incredibly boring. I didn’t really care about either of the main characters. For awhile everything Jess did got on my nerves. I just didn’t think her behavior made sense. I did eventually start to enjoy it a little more, but it kind of came in waves. I was hooked for sections here and there, but mostly the pacing was just far too slow for me. In the previous book by these authors I also had a problem with the pacing, but the multiple big twists made up for it. Unfortunately here, there are no big, shocking twists to save it. There are several things that I guess are supposed to be surprises or small twists, but nothing happened that I didn’t already guess.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot because of spoilers. I will say that I thought the whole thing was a little far fetched. Whenever Jess “figured something out” I always felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and was a little too convenient. One positive thing I will say, is that I thought the writing was pretty seamless between the two authors. Their writing styles complement each other very well and despite my  disappointment with this book, I’ll still read more from them in the future.

Overall, An Anonymous Girl failed to live up to my high expectations. I never connected with the characters and didn’t really care what happened to them and found the overall mystery itself a little lackluster. I am upping my rating from a 2 to a 3 due to the seamless writing of the two authors and because there were a few moments here and there that I enjoyed myself. From the other reviews I’ve seen of this book so far I am clearly in the minority, so this still may be worth your time to give it a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2018

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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Bad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher. Read September 28-30 (yes, this was September, but I finished it late in the month and it didn’t make the last post). 3.5 Stars. 

I started out really liking this and just how crazy all the characters are. I was completely addicted. But then about half way through I started to get a little bored. I thought things drug out a little long. And I was expecting Jolene to really be more crazy than the other two and have some master plan or something, but I found her incredibly boring. I kept waiting for something completely shocking to happen at the end and was left really underwhelmed. ****Maybe a spoiler-alert??? So is this story supposed to be something that actually happened in real life to the author? Is that what the ending means? If it is, it kind of annoys me that the story had to rely on something outside of itself and couldn’t stand alone. If that’s not what it was supposed to mean….then what was the point?? Can someone please fill me in!!

**Note: I did get some comments when I posted this review on Goodreads that this story is in fact based on something that happened to the author. While it’s crazy, I still wish it would’ve been addressed in an Author Note or something instead of having the twist at the end be “this is based on true events.”

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Read October 5-6. 4 Stars. 

First, I want to say a big thanks to Brandie for giving this to me for my birthday last year! I also want to say I’m sorry it took me so long to read it! Though there were a few things I didn’t like (I thought dressing up the statue of Jesus was a little offensive), overall I thought it was a great story about family and communication and forgiveness. I can definitely relate to secret-keeping and lack of communication in family. I loved the characters, even when they sometimes frustrated me, and their whole quirky living situation was kind of fascinating. I am not the CoHo fangirl so many are, but this has been the second book of hers I’ve had a hard time putting down. I liked that the angsty romance wasn’t the main focus of this book, too. I really enjoyed this and definitely recommend it!

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Reluctantly Married (Married #2) by Victorine E. Lieske. Read October 14-15. 4 Stars. 

This was a super cute fake relationship story. I liked both the main characters and was definitely rooting for them. While it could have been maybe a little better plotted, I just enjoyed reading it so much that I’m bumping my rating up to 4 stars. I also thought this was a good example of how a Romance can still bring all the feelings without any of the graphic content, which is always a plus in my book.

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Acting Married (Married #5) by Victorine E. Lieske. Read October 16-17. 3.5 Stars.

Another cute, sweet fake-relationship story. This was a super quick read with likable characters. There was one major thing that bothered me, though. Tara sometimes acted like she had no say whatsoever in what happened. Like in the beginning when the topic of getting married to save Rick’s image comes up and was dismissed she says something like, “Thank goodness he didn’t insist.” Like because she was one of the maids in his employment she wouldn’t be able to say no if he really insisted? There were a few things like that that bugged me. But overall, it was cute and I shipped the romance.

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Blissfully Married (Married #4) by Victorine E. Liekse. Read October 18-19. 2.5 Stars. 

I did not like this book nearly as much as the other books in the series I’ve read. I had a really hard time liking Sidney. Blake was a little better, but I honestly didn’t care much for him either. I just couldn’t understand any of the choices Sidney made and found her really annoying. I also didn’t really get why Blake pursued her so hard. While I definitely recommend this series to Fake Relationship fans, I think it’s ok if you skip this one.

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Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross. Read October 23-25. 3 Stars. 

There were parts of this book I really liked and enjoyed, but there were also very large portions where I was just rolling my eyes a lot. I don’t remember a whole lot of the first book in this series, but I definitely didn’t like Haley in that book (though she did kind of redeem herself by the end). I honestly didn’t really like her any better here. She really annoyed me about 90% of the time. I did like Fletcher, though. I thought the severity of his allergies were a little inconsistent throughout the book, but I did find everything he had to go through because of them interesting.

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

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Betrayed (Rosato & DiNunzio #2) by Lisa Scottoline. Some day I will actually get this book from the library and read more than a chapter. It just wasn’t this month.

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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. After loving the Beartown series I decided to give this book a try. I only got a couple chapters in and just wasn’t into it. I’ll try it again someday, though.

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Say You Will (Summerhill #1) by Kate Perry. This book has been on my radar for years, but it’s never been at the library. Recently it was a free Kindle book and I snatched it up. Unfortunately, I just had such a hard time getting into it. I really disliked almost all the characters and pretty much everything they did. I’ll give it a try another time, though.

*****Book with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – 4 Stars

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – 3 Stars

The Smiling Man (Aidan Waits Thriller #2) by Joseph Knox – 4 Stars

Review: The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In this intricate and enthralling domestic drama, perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Affair, the internationally bestselling author of the “gossipy page-turner” (Glamour) The Perfect Neighbors goes deep into a marriage in crisis, peeling back layers of secrets to discover where the relationship veered off course—and whether it is worth saving.

Josie and Frank Moore are happy…at least Josie thinks they are. As parents of two young girls in the Chicago suburbs, their days can be both busy and monotonous, and sometimes Josie wonders how she became a harried fortysomething mother rather than the driven career woman she once was. But Frank is a phenomenal father, he’s handsome and charismatic, and he still looks at his wife like she’s the beautiful woman he married more than a decade ago. Josie isn’t just happy—she’s lucky.

Until one Saturday morning when Josie borrows her husband’s phone to make a quick call—and sees nine words that shatter her world.

Now Josie feels as if she is standing at the edge of a sharp precipice. As she looks back at pivotal moments in the relationship she believed would last forever, she is also plunging ahead, surprising everyone (especially herself) with how far she will go to uncover the extent of her husband’s devastating secret.

With her “conversational writing style and a knack for making readers care about her characters” (The Washington Post) bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen paints a vivid, kaleidoscopic portrait of a marriage before and during a crisis—and of a woman who fears that the biggest secret of all may be the one she’s hiding from herself.

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

The Ever After will be available on June 5, 2018. 

What I Liked

*While I could not personally identify with the plight of the main character in this book, I have had a front row seat to someone in a very similar situation for the last several months and I feel like The Ever After will be very relatable to a lot of women. There is a note from the author in the beginning of the book that shares a statistic that an affair occurs in one of every three marriages. There are many reasons I can’t imagine myself ever getting married, but kudos to all you who are because I can not imagine trusting someone enough to do it.

*I do really like Sarah Pekkanen’s writing. This is my third book by her and I find her writing to be very compulsive. Even though it’s a lot of introspection and very little action, I had a hard time putting the book down. Josie’s character development was very well done and if you are a fan of character-driven stories, then I definitely recommend Pekkanen’s books.

What I Didn’t Like

*Josie was kind of hard to like most of the time. I thought a lot of her reaction was normal and justified, but she did kind of stop being a parent to her daughters for awhile and I didn’t think that was ok. I also thought that all of the flashback chapters kind of painted her as a shrew and Frank as the long-suffering husband. I felt like this was to help justify why Frank did what he did (not excusing it, but still a reason for it) and it just didn’t sit well with me.

*I didn’t like the ending (it’s why I’m rating this 1/2 a star lower than I probably would have otherwise). I had a very definite opinion about which way I wanted the story to go and it didn’t go that way. I do think that there will be people that will really support the ending, though. I think it might depend on your own emotional baggage you bring to the book.

Overall

Overall, I did enjoy The Ever After. I really liked the writing and how relatable the story felt to me, even though it’s not a situation I’ve personally experienced. I thought the ending was a little rushed, though. After spending such a long time dissecting Josie and Frank’s relationship, I thought the resolution deserved a little more page time, as well.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

My Blog’s Name in Books

I saw this tag over on Fictionophile not too long ago and thought it looked fun. The basic rules are to use your current TBR list (no cheating!) to spell out your blog’s name. This might take awhile, folks.

S

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

T

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

E

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Exposed (Rosato & DiNunzio #5) by Lisa Scottoline

P

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

H

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Hangman (Detective Williams Fawkes #2) by Daniel Cole

A

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

N

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Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

I

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

E

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The Echo Killing (Harper McClain #1) by Christi Daugherty

‘S

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Silent Scream (D. I. Kim Stone # 1) by Angela Marsons

B

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Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

O

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One Small Thing by Erin Watt

O

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Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

K

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

R

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Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5) by Mira Grant

E

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Each Little Lie by Tom Bale

V

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Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong

I

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It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

E

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The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanen

W

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Watching You by Lisa Jewell

S

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Still Me (Me Before You #3) by Jojo Moyes

Do we have similar books on our TBRs? Did you find anything you wanted to add to yours?

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to play.

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

This week on Good Reads is Mystery and Thriller Week, so I thought I’d celebrate by sharing some of my favorite books from the genre (links go to my reviews).

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Sharon Bolton is one of my very favorite authors and all of her books I’ve read have been great, but my two favorite books by her (and just favorites in general) are Daisy in Chains and Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1).

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The Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond is fantastic. Be forewarned that they are pretty dark, but they are so worth it!

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Ragdoll (Detective William Fawkes #1) by Daniel Cole. This book completely lived up to the hype and I am dying for the next in the series.

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. A different take on the serial-killer novel, smartly written, and just look at that cover!

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The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen totally lived up to the hype for me. I thought I had it all figured out, but that twist completely got me.

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Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. The story within a story really worked for me and I loved this.

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I would be remiss to have a list about my favorite mysteries without including a book by one of my favorite authors, Linwood Barclay. I really enjoy his Promise Falls books and The Twenty-Three really stood out for the panic-inducing atmosphere the book starts out with.

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Another favorite author I need to mention is Karin Slaughter. I really love her Will Trent series, as well as her standalone titles.

Ok, I’m going to stop myself here because I could go on and on with this topic. If you want to find some more great mystery titles, I am going to refer you to my favorite Mystery blogger: Annie @ TheMisstery. Several of the books I mentioned above I discovered because of her. I feel like almost every blog post she writes results in me adding another book to my TBR.

And lastly, I’m going to leave you with this fun little game that is over on Good Reads. What is the name of your mystery novel? Mine is The Stalker on Flight 42

What are some of your favorite mysteries and thrillers? What was the title of your mystery novel?

End of the Year Survey: 2017

This End of the Year survey was created by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

Number Of Books You Read: 134
Number of Re-Reads: 5
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Suspense

best-YA-books-20141. Best Book You Read In 2017?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2017 release vs. backlist)

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton, Ragdoll by Daniel Cole, Making Faces by Amy Harmon and Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I gave all these books 4.5 stars and I can’t pick between them.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I thought this looked adorable and had so much potential, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. Didn’t think it would be my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I can’t think of a book that I really pushed on people this year. I recommended Sharon Bolton to just about everyone, but I’m not sure if anyone actually read anything of hers because of me. 

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Started: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Sequel: The Secret by Katerina Diamond

Ender: The Song of David by Amy Harmon

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Sharon Bolton, Amy Harmon, and Elizabeth Eulberg

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I’m going to go with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue again. I don’t read a lot of Historical Fiction these days or LGBT+ books.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I read a lot of thrilling and unputdownable books this year, but I think the most action-packed/fast paced would be Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton bc I just got it for Christmas and am itching to read it again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. She always has the best covers.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

David Drucker from What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Nothing really stands out, but probably anything by Amy Harmon.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

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Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. My first book by Eulberg and I discovered a new favorite author.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

From Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren:

I try to ignore the pressure to be coupled up, but it’s everywhere…There’s my own biological clock, quietly yet persistently ticking away…But of course there’s that niggling voice suggesting I not care about any of it, that maybe I should give in and buy the cats instead. The problem is that I don’t like them. I may be a terrible married person someday, but I know for sure I would be an even worse cat lady.

“Evie?”

“Sorry…I was just trying to figure out whether I could still be a crazy cat lady without the actual animals.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest: Winging It by Cate Cameron

Longest: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Lark and Tiras from The Bird and the Sword, Evie and Carter from Dating You/Hating You, and Lacey and Josebury from the Lacey Flint series.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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Declan and Rev from Letters to the Lost

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (AKA Sharon Bolton). It wasn’t really a personal recommendation, but I saw a review on The Misstery. Many books I’ve read and loved this year came from Annie.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

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I loved Matt from Always You by Denise Grover Swank.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

Ragdoll from Daniel Cole

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. Did not like the book, but she really knows how to set a scene!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The DS Imogen Grey series by Katerina Diamond. More people need to read this!!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Making Faces by Amy Harmon.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Lying Game

book-blogging1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I can never answer this question. There’s been so many.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Sometimes the worst books make for the most fun reviews.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Convince me to buy a Kindle (I think it’s also the only discussion post I wrote)

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

I went to three author events: Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Lisa Scottoline.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Linda Castillo remembered my name at her book signing from previous book signings. Also, I’m counting this as blogging life, I finally got to meet Brandie from Running on Words and Wine!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Going through long periods of time where I had no patience for romance or contemporary novels. Also, personal life issues put reading on hold a lot of the time.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Most viewed of the year was the review for Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo that I wrote a couple years ago, but the most viewed from 2017 content was the review for Fallen Heir by Erin Watt.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

All of them 🙂

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Not really a discovery, but I finally bit the bullet and got a Kindle Paperwhite.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did the Good Reads Challenge and surpassed my goal of 100 books.

looking-ahead-books-20151. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

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Maybe not number 1 priority, but I still need to read Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

There’s not really one on my radar right now.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi – the continuation of the Shatter Me series.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Be more consistent on writing reviews for non-ARCs.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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The Wife Between Us

Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Wishlist

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Good Reads group, is:  2018 Wishlist – Looking forward into the new year, this is a list of the types of books you’d like to see more of in 2018! Try to avoid actual titles, and discuss themes, genres, or tropes you’d like to see more of in the new year!

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1. Books w/in books. What’s better than reading one book? Reading two! This year I’ve read a couple of books that did this really well (Lies She Told by Cate Holahan and The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter) and I would love to read more like them.

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2. Realistic Christian characters. Most of the time if a mainstream book includes a “Christian” character it portrays them as some kind of hypocritical psycho. And sure there are lots of people who claim to be Christians who really are hypocritical psychos, but there are many genuine people out there, as well. In 2018 I’d like to see more of the genuine people. I thought Amy Harmon did this really well with Making Faces.

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3. Well-written twists and surprises (that actually surprise me)I feel like I can almost always predict the twist in books these days and in 2017 I was pleasantly surprised by several books (such Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton,  One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – which actually publishes in 2018).

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4. Fake Relationships. This is my favorite romance trope and I am always on the look out for a good fake relationship story. This year’s favorite was When It’s Real by Erin Watt.

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5. Alternative FormattingSometimes this annoys me because I read e-books about 95% of the time and lots of alternative formatting makes things unreadable, but I do love them in physical format. Even though I wasn’t blown away by the actual story, I really loved the formatting for Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

What type of books are on your 2018 Wishlist?