Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Thankful for This Year

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a Thanksgiving Day freebie. In this dumpster fire of a year filled with book slumps, I decided to go with the top ten five books I’m thankful for this year.

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1. Beach Read by Emily Henry. This was completely different than what we all thought it would be, but it ended up working for me. This is one of my favorite books of the year.

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2. The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I have been waiting for a sequel to The Royal We for so long and it didn’t disappoint.

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3. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. After loving the Beartown books, I was a little afraid to read anything else by Fredrik Backman because my expectations were so high, but this book definitely stands out as one of the best of 2020.

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4. The F List by Alessandra Torre. This book kind of came out of nowhere for me and I was surprised by how much I loved it.

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5. The Tourist Attraction (Moose Springs, Alaska #1) by Sarah Morgenthaler. This one stands out to me because it was the only 4 star read in the midst of a bunch of 2 and 3 star books.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books that Should be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies.

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1. The Simple Wild series by K.A. Tucker

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2. The Royal We series by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.

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3. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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4. Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

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5. The F List by Alessandra Torres

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6. The Beartown series by Fredrik Backman

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7. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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8. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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9. When it’s Real by Erin Watt

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10.  This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

What books would you like to see adapted on Netflix?

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: The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Making it up the aisle was the easy part: After marrying the heir to the throne, Rebecca “Bex” Porter must survive her own scandals as she adjusts to life in the glamorous British royal family, in this “highly anticipated” follow-up to The Royal We, the “fun and dishy” bestseller and NYT Summer Reading List pick inspired by Will and Kate’s romance (People).

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten — nor forgiven.

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

The Heir Affair publishes June 16, 2020. 

I remember being very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved The Royal We and I was so excited to see it was finally getting a sequel. Much like the first book, it wasn’t really what I was expecting it to be, but it was everything. This is easily my favorite book of the year so far.

I decided to re-read the first book before jumping into The Heir Affair and I’m glad I did. I loved it just as much the second time around, maybe even more. I found myself still getting very anxious or sad at parts, even though I knew how everything turned out, which I think is a real testament to the writing. I am so invested in these characters and I already miss them.

The Heir Affair picks up soon after The Royal We ended. The first book was written to be a standalone and it ended on a very positive note of implied Happily Ever After. However, that’s not quite how things turned out. And really, can we expect anything to be that easy for Bex and Nick? Right as the royal wedding was ending, Clive published his story about Bex and Freddie and the public immediately turned on them. Bex and Nick end up running away from their problems for awhile and get to start married life in their own private bubble, which they’ve always thrived in. Once they have to return to reality, though, they have to face everything they’ve ignored – especially the Freddie of it all.

I would love to tell you that things were easily worked out and it was all cute and funny and happily ever after. And while there was definitely a lot of cute and funny, there is so much more substance to it than that. That means that along with the fun banter and the highs, there were also some real lows. It gave my cold, black heart some FEELINGS and I loved every minute of it, even when I kind of hated what was happening sometimes. There are a lot of layers to this story, but at the forefront are the big three relationships: Bex and Nick, Nick and Freddie, and Bex and Freddie. There is just so much emotion there to unpack and I felt all of it. They each had to work at mending their relationships and coming to terms with their feelings and I think it wrapped up in realistic and satisfying ways, if not quite the neat little bow I like things tied up in.

As I mentioned previously, I absolutely love the characters in this series. I loved seeing Bex’s friends, Cilla, Gaz, and Bea again. We didn’t see quite as much as Cilla as we did in the first book, but both Gaz and Bea had some good subplots. I had absolutely hated Bex’s twin sister, Lacey, in the first book and was kind of hoping she’d be killed off or something here, but she was actually quite palatable in this one. She was the character I wished she was in the first book. I loved watching Bex begin an actual relationship with members of Nick’s family, especially the queen. And of course, my dear Freddie. He grew up so much in this book and while my heart broke for him time and time again, I like to think that he’s found his own happily ever after. I still wouldn’t mind a Freddie spin-off, though. And can I just say that one of my favorite things about this series is that Freddie’s nickname for Nick is Knickers. I love the relationship between these brothers and they really put me through the wringer in this one.

Overall, I absolutely loved The Heir Affair. This review does not even come close to expressing how much. The cute cover and overall storyline may fool you into thinking this is just a light and easy Romance, but it is emotional and intense – in the very best of ways. It’s very character driven and has many threads to connect, but I think the authors did a great job of tying everything together. There were a couple things left a little more open than I like, though, which I have my fingers crossed means that another book will be coming in the future. This is a must read for anyone who’s read The Royal We and if you haven’t started this series yet, you really should.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 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

WWW Wednesday: April 8, 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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I was so excited to get approved for an ARC of The Heir Affair, so I decided to re-read The Royal We before jumping into the sequel. I loved it just as much the second time around and The Heir Affair easily became my favorite book of the year so far.

What are you currently reading?

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. I actually started this several days ago and only got about 5% in before other things demanded my attention. I wasn’t really feeling it yet, but I’m going to give it another try.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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My hold for House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas just came in, but I also just noticed that it’s over 800 pages, so I’m not sure I have the patience for that nonsense right now.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020.

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1. One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus – January 7, 2020. I loved One of us is Lying and I’m hoping this is just as enjoyable.

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2. Lucky Caller by Emma Mills – January 14, 2020. Emma Mills is my favorite YA author and I’ve heard good things about this one so far.

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3. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – March 3, 2020. I loved The Wife Between Us, but was not super impressed with their second book. I’m hoping this one recaptures the magic of their first book.

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4. The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren – March 24, 2020. I’ve enjoyed most of this author duo’s last several books and I have high hopes for this one.

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5. Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier – April 21, 2020. I really loved Jar of Hearts and have been anxiously waiting for Hillier’s next book.

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6. The Split by Sharon Bolton – April 28, 2020. If Sharon Bolton writes it, I want to read it.

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7. He Started It by Samantha Downing – April 28, 2020.  I was so impressed with My Lovely Wife and I have been waiting for Downing’s next book! I also found out she’s coming to the area on book tour for this one and I have already registered for it!

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8. The Switch by Beth O’Leary – April 30, 2020. The Flatshare was one of my favorite books of 2019 and I’m hoping this one will be a favorite of 2020.

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9. My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3) by The Lady Janies –  June 2, 2020. My Lady Jane is one of my all time favorite books, but My Plain Jane left me tremendously disappointed. I’m cautiously optimistic for the third book in the series.

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10.  The Heir Affair (The Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – June 16, 2020. The Royal We was a surprise hit for me and I was so excited to find out there was going to be a sequel.

What books are you looking forward to in the first half of 2020?