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!

2020 End of Year Survey

This survey was originally developed by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner. I maybe got rid of over half the questions – the original is long!

**2020 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 143*
*As of 12/29/20, it’s likely to go up by one or two before the end of the year

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Best Books You Read In 2020?

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

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

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I just have to give up on reading horror novels. I never appreciate them.

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

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The F List by Alessandra Torre. I went into this with no expectations and it became one of my favorite books of the year.

 Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?

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I loved The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler.

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

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I don’t read much historical fiction anymore, but I loved Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?

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Fallen Crest Forever by Tijan. I think this cover is just so cute and romantic.

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 

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Life and Death by Stephenie Meyer (originally released in 2015).

Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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No Way Out by Cara Hunter

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

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The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren. I know a lot of people didn’t love this, but I really enjoyed it!

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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I thought A Path to Redeeming Love was a very good devotional and recommend it if you’re looking for one!

Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?

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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

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One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be A Priority in 2021?

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I bought a hard copy of this when it first came out and still haven’t read it.

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021?

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People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Beach Read was one of my favorites of 2020 so I have high expectations for Henry’s next book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Winter 2020-2021 TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is: Books On My Winter 2020-2021 TBR. I’m going with a mix of anticipated releases, ARCs I currently have copies have, and KU books I mean to read before my subscription expires.

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1. Marrying Mr. Darcy (Love Manor #2) by Kate O’Keeffe.

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2. Varsity Rulebreaker (Varsity #3) by Ginger Scott.

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3. You Love Me (You #3) by Caroline Kepnes.

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4. The Newlyweds by Arianne Richmonde.

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5. The Love Proof by Madeleine Henry.

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6.  A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses #4) by Sarah J. Maas.

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7. Nate by Tijan.

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8. The Song Book of Benny Lament by Amy Harmon.

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9. The Minders by John Marrs.

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10. A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

What books are on your Winter TBR?

WWW Wednesday: December 9, 2020

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

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Not-Outcast by Tijan. I had been looking forward to this one, but it just didn’t work for me.

What are you currently reading?

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The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. To be honest, the synopsis for this one didn’t really grab me. That and the fact that most YA isn’t really working for me these days, I was a little apprehensive about starting this. However, I’m really enjoying it so far!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’ve been trying to find some cute looking holiday romances on KU that I haven’t read yet and I stumbled upon My Smalltown CEO Scrooge by Harmony Knight recently, so I think I may give it a try.

What are you reading?

WWW Wednesday: December 2, 2020

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

What did you recently finish reading?

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Forever Wild (The Simple Wild #2.5) by K.A. Tucker. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book in a day. Granted, this was a novella, but I’ll take it. It took me a couple chapters to get into this, but I definitely ended up enjoying it.

What are you currently reading?

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Play With me (Grover Beach Team #1) by Piper Shelly/Anna Katmore. So I finally bit the bullet and spent the money on a 6 month deal for Kindle Unlimited (since every other deal I saw ended up being only for people who have never subscribed before, even though they don’t say that in the ad, which I find very annoying) and I am determined to get my money’s worth out of it. This book has been on my TBR for a long time so I decided to finally give it a try. It was published in 2012 and it’s a pretty classic YA Contemporary for that time period. It will probably end up being a 3 star read for me.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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The Not-Outcast by Tijan. In all honestly, I’ll probably end up pausing my currently reading book to start this one instead.

What are you reading?

Books I’ve Read with the Highest Average Ratings on Goodreads

Last week I took a look at the lowest average rated books on my Read shelf on Goodreads and compared them to my own reviews. This week I decided to take a look at the books from my Read shelf with the highest average rating. I usually disagree with hype, so I’m actually really surprised that I rated most of these highly, as well.

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1.  A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Goodreads Rating: 4.64 Stars
My Rating:  3.5 Stars

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2. Awaken by Priscilla Shirer
Goodreads Rating: 4.62 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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3. An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.62 Stars
My Rating: 3 Stars

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4. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Goodreads Rating: 4.6 Stars
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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5. Fallen Crest Forever (Fallen Crest High #7) by Tijan
Goodreads Rating: 4.58
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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6. A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.56 Stars
My Rating: 5 Stars
(*Note this is one of the few books I rated 5 stars from my pre-blogging days)

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7.  Gemina (Illuminae #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Goodreads Rating: 4.51 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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8. The Crushing Depths (Coastal Guardians #2) by Dani Pettrey
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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9. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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10. Oblivion (Lux #1.5) by Jennifer L Armentrout
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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11. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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

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

WWW Wednesday: June 17, 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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In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell, and The House Guest by Mark Edwards. Three 4 star books in a row. Book slump, what?

What are you currently reading?

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Faked by Karla Sorensen. I’ve been looking forward to this one and hoping it lives up to expectations.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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My free Kindle Unlimited subscription ends after Saturday (fingers crossed I can find another deal to keep it going) and I’m going to try to squeeze in Rich Prick by Tijan and The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker.

What are you reading?

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books I DNF-ed

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned. I decided to go with The Last Ten Books I DNF-ed. 

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1.  The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it just wasn’t 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.

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2. 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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3. Doughn’t Let Me Go by Teagan Hunter. DNF @ 21%.  I didn’t really like either of the characters. Porter was way more skeezy than I can appreciate and I was just rolling my eyes at Dory and her whole Pretty Woman “sex is fine, but no kissing” thing. I also am not a fan of the Single Dad / Nanny trope. I’ve enjoyed several other books by this author, but this one just isn’t for me.

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4. Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen. DNF @ 7%. Whenever I sign up for Kindle Unlimted, I try a lot of books that I probably wouldn’t otherwise ever read and this book definitely fell into that category. I’ve seen so many great reviews of LJ Shen books and I wanted to see what the fuss was about, but I think it’s safe to say this author isn’t for me.

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5. By the Book by Amanda Sellet. DNF @ 5%. I try to go 25% before I give up on an ARC, but I couldn’t even make it through two chapters of this book. It was just trying way too hard. The main character was insufferable. I will say I’m also a lot older than the target audience for this book, so a younger, quirkier crowd may enjoy this much more.

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6. My Best Friend’s Royal Wedding by Romy Summer. DNF @ 15%. I just couldn’t get into it and didn’t like any of the characters.

Hate Notes

7.  Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. DNF @ 19%. I thought this sounded cute and I have heard good things about it, but the main character just drove me absolutely nuts.

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8. A Billion Times No by Kenzie Reed. DNF @ 33%. I thought this sounded kind of cute, but it’s just really not for me. I didn’t really care for any of the characters and there was some major cheesiness going on.

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9.  The Allure of Dean Harper by R.S. Grey. DNF @ 14%. A couple chapters in Dean goes on and on about how he only hires attractive people to work in his restaurants and even says it goes looks first and then experience when it comes to the hiring process. It just came off as so disgusting to me. And then there’s Lily. I thought I was going to have problems with her based on the previous book and I was right. Anybody who has ever worked in the service industry knows that you are going to have to deal with a lot of horrible customers and that you have to suck it up and do your job, no matter how much of a jerk they are. And while Dean was deliberately trying to fluster her, I think he was 100% in his right to fire her for her behavior and it REALLY annoyed me that he came off as the bad guy in that scenario (and it was just before that that I decided he was disgusting and didn’t like him, so that really says something that I feel the need to defend him).

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10.  Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson. DNF @ 8%. I read one chapter and kind of hated everything about it. I was going to try to read at least one more chapter, but my library loan expired and I know I’m never going to request this one again.

What books have you recently DNF-ed?