Hiatus Highlights (and Lowlights)

Hello bookworms! I have missed you all! My October hiatus was a much needed break, but I’m glad to be back in the book blog world. I thought I’d share some highlights – and lowlights – from my hiatus.

Highlight – I met Elvis Duran!

I listen to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show every morning and I loved Elvis’ book, Where do I Begin? He came to the area on his book tour and Amanda and I went. He was flying back to New York the same night so he was on a time crunch and didn’t personalize books. They were all pre-signed, though. There was also a picture line, which was still taking much longer than they thought so by the time I got to meet him it was pretty rushed. That’s not awful, though, because I’m so awkward and can never think of anything to say anyways. It was a good night!

Lowlight – My friend passed away

My friend, Cindy, whom I’ve known for about 14 years passed away from cancer. I met her in my first adult job and worked with her for about 7 years (thought not all consecutively). She was one of my favorite co-workers and was kind of an Office Mom to me (which is kind of funny because my actual mother also worked there) and would do things like make me soup and hot chocolate when I was feeling under the weather. She retired a couple of years ago and we were all so happy for her, but it wasn’t long after that before she was diagnosed with cancer, amid several other health issues she was already having. She was such a wonderful person and will be greatly missed.

Highlight – I have a new niece!

She is beautiful and sweet and I get to meet her very soon! My brother and sister-in-law don’t like pictures shared publicly, so I apologize you don’t get to see her cuteness.

Lowlight – I had a major book slump

Of the 11 books I read in October, only one was 4 stars. There were a lot of 2s and a few 3s and a couple DNFs. I really don’t know what my deal is, but I kind of hated almost everything. I ended the month with a Lauren Layne ARC and that was my 4 star read. I’m hoping November will continue to improve.

Highlight – I met my Goodreads Challenge Goal

My goal for the year was 120 books and I ended October at 121 books. It is the one goal I meet every year 🙂

Highlight/Lowlight (depending how you look at it) – It’s my birthday!

Today is my birthday! Which sounds like it should be a good thing, but I am feeling pretty old.

How was your October? Feel free to share links to any of your posts that I missed and need to check out!

Review: Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Elvis Duran, host of one of the nation’s top morning shows and the voice millions of Americans wake up to, shares his wildest stories and hardest-learned lessons all with his trademark heart, honesty, and plenty of humor. 

Elvis Duran’s nationally syndicated radio program, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, is America’s most-listened-to Top 40 morning show and one of the 10 most-listened-to programs in all of radio, heard live by nearly ten million people every morning.

But his success didn’t happen overnight. Elvis spent years navigating the wild world of radio as a DJ for hire, working (and partying) in markets around the country before taking over the morning shift at the legendary Z100 in 1996. Over the last twenty years, he has become one of New York City’s signature voices (Variety calls him “a permanent fixture of the area’s daily commutes”) thanks to his show’s exciting mix of music, new artist discoveryinterviews, gossip, and live listener interaction.

Along the way, Elvis has become known not just for his incisive interviews (and occasional feuds) with pop music’s biggest stars, but for the show’s commitment to kindness and positivity and Elvis’s own candor and openness with his audience.

Bold, funny, and totally candid, Where Do I Begin? is sure to be loved by anyone who listens to Elvis live every morning—or anyone who wants to know what really goes on behind the scenes of the pop music machine. It reads like an old friend telling a new story you’ve been dying to hear.

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

Where Do I Begin? will be available October 1, 2019. 

Every morning as I get ready for work, I listen to Elvis Duran and the Morning Show. For those that don’t know, it’s a nationally syndicated radio show – number one in it’s market – based out of of New York. It’s a show with a wide variety of contributors, ideas, and gags. Sometimes they have segments that make me roll my eyes a bit, but other times I am laughing out loud or getting choked up (in a good way). Listening to the show is the best part of my morning and I have been looking forward to this book since I first heard Elvis mention it in on the air.

I really enjoyed Where Do I Begin? It read just like having a conversation with Elvis and though I am not generally an audio book reader, I definitely want to to experience this again with Elvis narrating (at least I’m assuming he’ll narrate it? If not him, my vote is definitely Greg T.). We start out hearing about how Elvis first fell in love with radio as a child. I loved learning about how this was his passion from an early age and basically the only thing he was ever interested in doing. He even built his own little radio station in his bedroom as a kid and put on a show that reached his closest neighbors – and then it blew up when he tried to give more power to the signal.

I have to admit that I was expecting a little more scandal, though. There have been multiple times listening to the show where they start talking about something and Elvis refuses to go into details, saying something like, “you’ll have to read the book.” However, there were still stories he kind of glossed over and names he wouldn’t share and while I understand that, I was kind of disappointed in it. There was also one chapter about fame that wasn’t so much about him, but of the celebrities he’s interviewed and it felt a little out of place.

I loved pretty much every other part of the book, though. Even if it didn’t go quite as in depth as I had hoped for, I feel like I learned a lot more about Elvis and about the radio industry, in general. There was also one chapter dedicated to how people basically went crazy during the 2016 election and how he wants his show to remain a positive place for all people. He reiterated what I’ve heard him say on the show, about how we can disagree with people without completely hating them. This shouldn’t be a profound idea, but it’s something people have seemed to forget lately and I really admire that he uses his platform to help build bridges between people instead of adding to the toxic political culture of blue vs red.

Overall, I really enjoyed Where Do I Begin? It’s been one of my most anticipated books of the year and it lived up to the hype for me. I’ve been a fan of Elvis for years and reading this made me just like him more. It’s definitely a must read for listeners of his show.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2019

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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Bred by Ginger Scott. Read July 6-8. 3.5 Stars.

I mostly enjoyed this book, though not a lot really seemed to happen. I thought Lily was a likable main character and I shipped the romance. There were several characters, though, that I wished we got more development on. Henry and Elena, particularly. I expected Elena to be a little more horrible than what she has. She has a reason for her behavior, but she was never much more than a caricature of a villain. I also would have liked to see Lily’s relationship with her guardians explored a little more. I also didn’t really love the end. It felt kind of anticlimactic and I expected a bigger payout. Maybe if the epilogue was set several years in the future instead? I must admit that I am a bad book worm and have never read Great Expectations, the story this book is inspired by, so I can’t say how close it is to the source material. I’m giving it an extra half star, though, because it was a pretty addictive read, even if slow paced.

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The Friend Zone by Sariah Wilson. Read June 30 – July 13. 3 Stars. 

Kind of cheesy, but sweet and cute. The characters were likable enough. Another book that was decent for a KU pick, but one I’m glad I didn’t spend money on.

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The Stories You Tell (Roxane Weary #3) by Kristen Lepionka. Read July 12-13. 4 Stars. 

I can always count on this series to deliver some addictive entertainment. I enjoyed this a lot, but after reading a few 5-star rave reviews, I hyped myself up for it a lot and was left a tiny bit disappointed. It was still very enjoyable, just not quite as amazing as I was hoping for. Anyways, the mystery was well done, even if the story telling felt a little unfocused at times. I didn’t really guess the ending, so that’s always fun. Some of the characters that were involved in the mystery of the last book show up, but since it’s been a long time since I read it, I couldn’t really remember who they were and there wasn’t really any recap info to remind me. Catherine is still the literal worst and I am Team Tom all the way. The romance aspect definitely took a backseat in this installment, though, and that was fine with me. I also always have to mention that this series is set in Columbus, which makes it extra fun, since I’m from Ohio.

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Maybe This Time by Kasie West. Read July 14. 4 Stars. 

This was probably more like 3.5 stars, but I’m bumping it up to 4 because it was a fast, easy read I finished in a day and it got a lot better for me towards the end. Sophie was really rude for the majority of the book and I had a hard time always liking her. I wish she would’ve become a little more self aware sooner. I liked how the story was broken up by major events throughout the year, but I don’t think it was always used very effectively. I felt like it was kind of just the same thing over and over again each time with Sophie and Andrew sniping at each other to hide their attraction and very little forward motion. I feel like their relationship should have progressed a little more each time, but it took about halfway through the book for the plot to advance at all. I felt like a lot more should’ve happened in the story for how long it was. However, once things started to develop a little more in their relationship and Sophie started to become more aware of herself and those around her, I really enjoyed it. I just wish more of the book was like that. I also could’ve used an epilogue. But, overall, it was another enjoyable Kasie West book and I look forward to her next one.

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The Prenup by Lauren Layne. Read July 19-20. 4 Stars.

I loved this. It did take me a little while to get into it, though. The story is told completely from Charlotte’s first person POV and I was expecting (hoping) to also get Colin’s point of view. However, once the story hooked me, I didn’t want to put it down and I completely got on board the sole POV. Both Charlotte and Colin were likable and I shipped them hard. A big thanks to Deanna for lending me her copy to read!

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The First Mistake by Sandie Jones. Read July 25-27. 3 Stars.

Pretty entertaining at times, but a little underwhelming overall. The twists and turns weren’t hard to figure out and it was a little frustrating how long it took Alice to put things together. Speaking of Alice, she reminded me a lot of the main character from this author’s previous book and that is not a favorable comparison. I was so annoyed by how she reacted to things. I didn’t care for the other characters, either. Part 2 of the book, from Beth’s POV, was very slow and I skimmed a lot. However, the first part and then towards the end was faster paced and much more entertaining. I think people who don’t read a lot of this genre might enjoy this, but it will be a little ho-hum for those that are more familiar with this type of story.

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Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Read July 27-28. 4 Stars. 

Another great installment in the Kate Burkholder series. I thought the mystery was well done and the story was really well paced. I liked seeing Tomasetti play a bigger part in the case than he has been in the last few books, though I will always want to see more of him. I love this series and can’t wait for the next book!

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Once and for All by Sarah Dessen. Read July 28-30. 3.5 Stars. 

This was my first Dessen book. I wasn’t exactly blown away like I expected, but I did enjoy it. I thought the character development was really well done. I liked pretty much all the characters, with the exception of Jilly who never really lived up to the Great Friend raving Louna often said about her. Some of Ambrose’s actions annoyed me, but overall I liked him and I shipped him with Louna. I liked the wedding planning backdrop, as well. 

Where the book really didn’t work for me was with Ethan. SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS* So it doesn’t take long to figure out that Ethan died and how he died. Because of that, I never got that invested his and Louna’s story. I also thought their relationship was ridiculous. They have “one epic night” together and then the rest of their short relationship is phone calls and texts. On the night that they meet Louna loses her virginity and before they say goodbye they declare their love for each other. *Insert eye roll emoji here* What made this even more ridiculous is that Jilly ends up having “one epic night” of her own with a new guy and while Louna is happy for her, she mentions several times that it happened really fast. You think, Louna?

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

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Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter. I enjoyed this just as much the second time around.

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

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Where Do I Begin? by Elvia Duran – 4 Stars

Love on Lexington Avenue (Central Park Pact #2) by Lauren Layne – 4 Stars

The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

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1. Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Publishing July 16, 2019.

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2. Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. Publishing July 30, 2019.

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3. Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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4. The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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5. The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter. Publishing August 20, 2019.

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6. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Publishing September 17, 2019.

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7. Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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9. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Publishing October 8, 2019.

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10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Publishing November 5, 2019.

What are your most anticipated releases?