Top 5 Wednesday: Second Book is Best

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (check out the Good Reads group) is: Second Book is BestWe’ve talked about series that went downhill, and series that are worth it, but which series were best in the middle?

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1. Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown. The first book was great, but this second book in the Red Rising series just blew me away. One of my all time favorite books.

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2. Scarlet & Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #2 & #3) by Marissa Meyer. (Since there are 4 books in this series I’m counting the middle two books as one.) I remember not being all that impressed with Cinder, but the books just kept getting better after that.

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3. Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black. With all the 5 star reviews I saw of the first book I ended up being a little disappointed. But then I read Red Glove and it was everything I expected the first book to be. I loved it.

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4. For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) by Lauren Layne. Even though I ended up reading this series in reverse order, it was still the second book I read and my favorite of the whole series.

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5. New Uses for Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay #2) by Beth Kendrick. This was actually the first book in the series I read, but I thought it (and the following books in the series) was a big improvement over the first book.

What are some of your picks for Second Book is Best?

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Disney Princess Book Tag

I was tagged for this by Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse. Check out her blog, it’s awesome! Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to do it.

My Disney Princess Facts:

1. My favorite princesses are Belle and Jasmine.

2. I don’t really care that much for Sleeping Beauty because the movie used to scare me when the villain turned into that dragon thing.

3. I still haven’t seen the new Beauty and the Beast, but I really want to!


Snow White
Name your favorite classic.

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Persuasion by Jane Austen


Cinderella
Name a book that kept you reading well past your bedtime.

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Most recently was The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond.


Aurora
Name your favorite classic romance.

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Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Ariel
Name a book that’s about making sacrifices and fighting for your dreams.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Belle
Name a book with a smart and independent female character.

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Lacey Flint in Now You See Me by Sharon (SJ) Bolton


Jasmine
Name a book with a character who challenged the social conventions of his or her world.

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Moses in The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon


Pocahontas
Name a book whose ending was a roller-coaster of emotions.

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Making Faces by Amy Harmon.


Mulan
Name a book with a kick-ass female character.

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Inej from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo


Tiana
Name a book featuring a hardworking, self-made character.

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Alexis from The Wedding Belles series by Lauren Layne


Rapunzel
Name a book that features an artist.

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Blue from A Different Blue by Amy Harmon


Merida
Name a book that features a mother-daughter relationship.

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Till Death by JLA.


Anna & Elsa
Name a book that features a great relationship between siblings.

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On the Fence by Kasie West.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2017

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. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Daughters of the Bride by Susan Mallery. Read December 27-31 (yes, last month, but it didn’t make it into last month’s post). 4 Stars.

I expected this to be a really light and fluffy read, but it ended up being a lot more serious than I thought it would be. I mean, it’s not super serious, there’s still cute and fluffy moments, but it’s not really as “Chick Lit” as I thought it would be. This is not a bad thing at all, though. I really enjoyed this book and thought the character development was really well done. I loved how each of the sisters were affected differently by the events of their childhood and how it still impacted their lives decades later. I really liked Courtney and Rachel right off the bat. I really didn’t care for Sienna for the longest time, but by the end of the book I was rooting for her. I shipped all the romances. I loved the humor. I definitely recommend this one to Contemporary fans!

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The Wedding Season by Samantha Chase. Read January 3-4. 3 Stars.

This was a quick, ok read. I liked the relationship between Ryan and Tricia, but the “fake relationship” aspect of it was very, very short and that kind of frustrated me because it was the main reason I decided to read this one. Ryan’s mother drove me insane and I wasn’t a big fan of Ryan’s brother (and Tricia’s best friend) Sean. If you’re looking for a quick read with lots of romance then you might enjoy this.

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Mackenzie Fire (Shine Not Burn #2) by Elle Casey. Read January 2-7. 2.5 Stars.

The latter half of this book was definitely better than the beginning, but it wasn’t quite enough to make up for it. Candice really rubbed me the wrong way for most of the book. I don’t particularly like the phrase “too stupid to live”, but that’s what kept coming to mind in pretty much every scene I read. However, she did grow on me by the end of the book and I liked her and Ian together (even though the romance happened super fast). If you don’t mind a ditzy protagonist, though, you might like this.

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Twisted Palace (The Royals #3) by Erin Watt. Read January 4-7. 2 Stars.

Well, that was disappointing. I don’t expect great literary things out of this series, but after how addicting the first book was, I except to at least be entertained. I had to force myself to finish this. My early prediction about the “mystery” ended up being right. All the high school drama seemed really unimportant since Reed is facing a murder charge, but it still got most of the plot focus. Disappointing end to a series that started out so fun.

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The Program (The Program #1) by Suzanne Young. Read January 7-8. 3 Stars.

This has been on my TBR forever and when nothing at all was sounding interesting to me I decided to finally give it a try. It kept my interest and I liked it, but I didn’t feel like it was really anything special. Some of the descriptions of depression I thought were really well done, but this is not a “mental health awareness” book by any means (this isn’t a bad thing – but if you’re looking for that be forewarned). I liked the characters well enough, but didn’t really love any of them. I shipped the wrong couple, even though I knew that they wouldn’t end up together and was really suspicious of the guy from the start. I did really like the epilogue, though. It had a few surprises that I appreciated. I liked this enough to read the next book, but this book didn’t blow me away like it has so many others.

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Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson. Read January 8-10. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoying Seeking Mansfield. I liked the characters and the romance and the message of self-worth and standing up for yourself. It was an easy and addicting read. Though I thought the middle of the story dragged a little bit with too much teen angst, it did pick back up and I really enjoyed it. I think fans of Mansfield Park would be happy to read this re-telling. Full Review to come.

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I Found You by Lisa Jewell. Read January 14-15. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed I Found You. It’s emotional and intriguing and I could hardly put it down. I thought Jewell did an excellent job of juggling the characters and timelines. I definitely recommend this book and really look forward to reading more from this author. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Dead Scared (Lacey Flint #2) by Sharon Bolton. Read January 15-17. 4 Stars.

What!? Why is there no epilogue? This book needed an epilogue! I am pretty unsatisfied with how it ended.

Other than that, I liked this book. One thing I really liked was getting Joesbury’s perspective. Though I wish we got more from him, pretty much everything we got just made me love him even more. The first 3/4 or so or the book lacked the urgency that I enjoyed about the first in the series, but the writing was still engaging enough that I didn’t want to stop reading. As the ending approached it got a lot more suspenseful. Though we find out the answer to the mystery, there is no resolution to how it all pans out and I’m really annoyed about that. Definitely still reading the next book, though.

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Lost (Lacey Flint #3) by Sharon Bolton. Read January 17-18. 4 Stars.

This was so good! A mix of psychological and urgent/action-y suspense. Also very character driven. While I was a little upset that we didn’t get Joesbury’s POV again, I liked getting Tulloch’s (though it made me not like her as much) and Lacey’s young neighbor, Barney. We get very little of Lacey’s POV for the first half of the book which I found a little odd, but still worked. The mystery was well done. I had it all completely figured out a couple of times before being proved wrong. While I did eventually guess the murderer before the reveal, it was probably my 4th or 5th guess. This is really one of the best mystery series I’ve read in a long time.

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The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle. Read January 19-21. 3 Stars.

Maybe it’s because I just finished several books in the same genre that were exceptionally well done, but I found all the mystery and thriller aspects of this book very disappointing. Though there were a lot of reveals thrown in every few chapters, the pace seemed incredibly slow to me. Until the last quarter or so I was just really bored and trying to get through it. The action and suspense did increase towards the end, but it wasn’t really enough to save the book for me. I feel like if you don’t read a lot of this genre then you might like this, but I could predict pretty much every development from the beginning and there just weren’t any surprises until the very, very end. I did very much like how it ended (and I’m talking the last few sentences), but I wish there would’ve been an epilogue to wrap things up. Overall, not a bad book, but not a great one.

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett. Read January 21-22. 3.5 Stars.

Overall, I did enjoy Alex, Approximately. Even though there wasn’t a lot that was happening, I didn’t really want to put it down. Though I think some of the side plots and character development could have used a little more work, the romance was cute and the characters were likable. I would recommend it to YA Contemporary fans. Full review to come.

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Waste of Space by Gina Damico. Read January 26-28. 3.5 Stars.

Overall, I found Waste of Space pretty enjoyable. I loved the satirical view of reality television. Though it did occasionally go a little far into cheesy territory, I thought it was really well done overall. If you’re looking for a humorous, different kind of YA book, I definitely recommend this one. Catchphrase forever! Full review to come.

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To Have and to Hold (The Wedding Belles #1) by Lauren Layne. Read January 28-29. 3.5 Stars.

This book had some really cute, if sometimes frustrating, romance. I liked both Brooke and Seth. I dropped the rating half a star though because there was one major theme that kind of infuriated me. Seth doesn’t trust his sister’s new fiancé and wants to check into his background because he loves his sister and doesn’t want her to get hurt. I think this is totally reasonable. I can understand where the sister might get mad about it, but in the big picture wouldn’t she be happy to know if something shady was going on before it’s too late? But Brooke and Seth’s best friend are horrified by it and tell him he doesn’t know what love is…um, NO! Seth was maybe a little stunted in expressing his emotions, but his heart was 1,000% in the right place. Other than that and some slightly too graphic sex scenes, I enjoyed this book a lot.

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Making Faces by Amy Harmon. Read January 29-30. 4.5 Stars.

Overall, I just loved Making Faces. It’s not a light book. It hurt to read at times. But it was beautifully written and included some amazing characters and really important messages. I really don’t think I can recommend this book enough. I’m definitely going to be looking up other books by this author in the future. Full Review to come.

****************RE-READ****************

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Tell Me Three Things and Red Rising. I loved both of these just as much as the first time around. I was a little afraid I wouldn’t like Red Rising as much because one of my favorite things were all the surprises in it (and I have hyped it to death, so how embarrassing would it be if it didn’t hold up), but even though I knew some things were coming, I still just found myself smiling at the twists and turns. If you have not read this series yet – WHY NOT?

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book to become available at the library FOREVER. But it came at one of those times where I just wasn’t feeling it. Lately I find myself sick to death of celebrities. And even though I want to be best friends with Anna Kendrick every time I watch Pitch Perfect, I just couldn’t make myself pick up this book right now.

****************DNF****************

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Someone Like You by Susan Mallery. Officially DNF-ing at 33%. I thought it would be nice symmetry to have the first book I read of 2017 be by the same author as the last book I read in 2016. I’ve enjoyed the other books I read by her, but I just couldn’t get into this one at all. I just don’t care about the characters or the story so far, so I’m calling it.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: November 2016

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. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Read November 4-6. 4 Stars.

Most of this book was around a 3 star read for me, but I’m upping it up to 4 stars for a couple reasons. The writing is very good. It was clever and I liked the style. The last third or so of the book is when it started to get trippy and I really started to enjoy it.

So what about up until then? The book, while unique, reminds me of bits and pieces of several other things (primarily the tv show, Fringe), so I wasn’t surprised by things I think I was supposed to be surprised by. The whole middle section of the book I found redundant and just wanted to get through. The science was really beyond me at times and I think it could have been a little more simplified. So overall, it was a good book, but it did not come close to living up to the hype for me. It does have great writing, though, and ended well, so I think it’s still probably worth the read.

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The Honeymoon Prize (The Honeymoon Series #3) by Melissa McClone. Read November 6-7. 3 Stars.

Nothing was holding my interest and I wanted something cute and quick and this was just what I needed. It was a good fake relationship story with likable characters and no graphic scenes. The ending got a little too cheesy, but overall I enjoyed it.

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The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell. Read November 11-12. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Young Wives Club (and it’s gorgeous cover!). It’s a well-written, character-driven story that I could hardly put down. Though the characters weren’t always very likable, I really appreciated how much growth all of them showed throughout the book. I also really liked that things didn’t just magically work out for all of them, but they had to work at it and learn to be ok if things in their life turned out a little differently than they expected. I definitely recommend this to fans of character-driven novels. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Read November 13-16. 3.5 Stars.

I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s writing and the whimsy. I shipped the romance (even though we all know it was destined to shipwreck). I enjoyed the book, but I don’t really feel like anything HAPPENED until the last quarter or so of the book and then it happened too quickly. I wanted a little more time spent with Catherine growing into the “Off with his head!” persona. The story, for the most part, was an insta-love romance interspersed with the characters having some random fun in a Wonderland setting. Because of that, even though I enjoyed it, I just can’t quite give it a 4 star rating. I think Wonderland fans will enjoy it, as will fans of Marissa Meyer’s other work.

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For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) by Lauren Layne Read November 26-27. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the banter and how Josh and Heather’s relationship progressed throughout the story. The whole commitment-phobe/player and friends with benefits plotlines are overdone and not really my cup of tea, but I could overlook it for how cute everything else was. I’m reading this series backwards and while the books do work as standalones, I do feel like I have a lot more insight into Logan and Alexis who star in the third book and may have to go back and re-read that one to better appreciate it.

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The Christmas Cottage (The Christmas Cottage #1) by Samantha Chase. Read November 27-28. 3 Stars.

I really liked Ean and Lacey. They really complemented each other well and I shipped the romance, though I did think things happened too fast. While Ava being a crazy bridezilla worked for the story, I thought it was a little too overdone and she came across as just a really unbalanced person. It makes me not want to read the next book in the series because she’s the main character in it. Overall, though, this was a cute, quick holiday-themed romance that I enjoyed.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer. I still have this from the library for a few more days, but I don’t think that I’ll get back to it before it expires. I was really optimistic about this book, but I got two chapters into and it’s just awful! I want to give it another try, though, to see if it gets any better.

****************RE-READS****************

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Aimee and the Heartthrob and Mia and the Bad Boy. I got the complete series from NetGalley. I’ve read the first two books in the series before and decided to re-read them since it had been awhile. I feel pretty much the same about them as I did the first time, though I think I liked Mia and the bad Boy a little more than I did last time.

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2016

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. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read October 2-6. 2.5 Stars.

Sigh. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it was just so average. Recycled plot, recycled characters. I’ve always been a big fan of JLA, but I don’t think there was one thing in this book I haven’t already read in one of her (many) other books. I’m not giving up on her books, but the last few I’ve read from her I have been really disappointed in.

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Truly, Madly, Famously (Famous in Love #2) by Rebecca Serle. Read October 7-8. 2 Stars.

Well. I did not like this one nearly as much as the first one. I liked Paige in the first book, but she was super annoying the whole time in this one. Cheating in books always makes me angry, too. Paige and Rainer were officially together in this one so all her pining over Jordan was just not ok anymore. I didn’t like the additional characters that were introduced. The one lesson Paige learned that I did appreciate was that she finally realized she was just 18 and choosing between the two guys was not choosing the rest of her life.

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Rock Falls, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar. Read October 8-9. 3 Stars.

I think this book had a lot of potential that it never fully lived up to. The characters, other than Aspen, were not that well developed and were easily removed from the story when their usefulness to Aspen’s development was over. I was expecting a lot more from the ending and was a little disappointed with how open-ended it was. The main thing that kept me reading this books was Aspen. When the main character is unlikable I need to LIKE not liking him and Ribar did a good job making me feel that. He was kind of an awful person and he was fine with it and I kind of enjoyed that about him. But as the story went on he started to feel bad about it and want to try to be better and I enjoyed that, too.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. Read October 10-15. 3 Stars.

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee. Read October 15-18. 3 Stars.

3 Stars because I’m feeling generous. I think the comparison to Gossip Girl is pretty accurate. I never read the books, but I’ve seen the show and I could totally see these characters and this world as a tv show like that. I liked the futuristic stuff. I thought there were too many perspectives, though. I only really liked Watt and I don’t think he got as many chapters as the others. I was kind of interested in Avery’s plotline because of how morally gray (like dark, dark gray) it was. I really didn’t care at all about the other 3 POVS. And the person I wanted to die, didn’t. The pace is really slow, but I think if you end up liking the characters more than I did that you wouldn’t mind it.

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. Read October 18-21. 3 Stars.

I liked Sophie and Stephen (and especially Stephen’s dry sense of humor in the first several chapters, though sadly it seemed to disappear as the book went on), but I disliked almost all the supporting characters. I thought all the “mysteries” were pretty obvious from early on and it took too long to reveal things. As in most Klassen novels, though, I enjoyed the romance and the subtle Christian themes. I wasn’t sure if I would be satisfied with either possible resolution given the circumstances, but I found I was really happy with how it all worked out.

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Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys. Read October 23. 3 Stars.

Overall, Dead Girls Society was a quick, enjoyable read. Though I thought it took a little long for the dare game to really live up to it’s potential, it did eventually get there. Hope, the likable main character, made me want to keep reading, even when the story was dragging a little and I liked how her disability was handled. I would recommend this to YA lovers who enjoy mild mystery and suspense. Full Review to come closer to release date.

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To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne. Read October 23-25. 3.5 Stars.

It took me just a little bit to get into this. It’s probably because I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I didn’t really feel like Alexis and Logan were really friends. She constantly referred to him as her accountant and though it was said that he was a lot more to her than that, we don’t really get to see their friendship in the beginning. It starts out with him wanting to be more than friends and she keeps shutting him down. However, once they got to Florida I really started to enjoy it. Alexis was still really wary, but they actually communicated and they were so cute together. I ended up really liking the romance and how it all turned out. I’m definitely going to go back and read the rest of the series.

Thanks again to Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) for giving me her extra copy!!! Book blogger friends are the best.

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Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk. Read October 25-27. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match. I liked the sweet romance and the Christmas setting. It reminded me so much of watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, which I love. I definitely recommend to those looking for a romantic holiday themed read. Full review to come closer to release date.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Loner by Teddy Wayne, Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & etc., The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Dating an Alien Popstar by Kendra L. Saunders. These are all books I’ve had on my TBR for awhile, but they’re just not interesting me at the moment and if I stay on track with NaNoWriMo then I won’t really have the time for them (and the first 3 are library books that will expire before I get to them). I didn’t even start Loner or Swarm, but I’m feeling book slumpy and neither sounded like something that would bring me out of it. I started The Unexpected Everything (my first Matson book) and didn’t even make it through the first chapter before I decided I wasn’t in the mood for it. Dating an Alien Popstar is a complete random pick that I saw quite awhile ago because I thought it looked kind of funny and I noticed the other day that it was free a Nook book at Barnes and Noble so I downloaded it and read the first chapter and I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever pick it back up, unfortunately. But it could get better?