Posts Tagged With: romance

Top 12 Favorite Books of 2020 (so far)

If there can be one good thing said about 2020 (and that’s a stretch, I know) it’s that it has given me a reason to double down on my reading. I have been positively devouring books this year and am proud to say I’ve finished 78 so far. Since we’re halfway through this delight of a year, I thought I would highlight some of my absolute favorites!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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You’re a good man, Linus Baker. I’m so very pleased to know you.

There may not be as accurate of a statement than this in the entire world. This book -guys, this BOOK. It’s like a dose of rainbow, sunshine, sprinkle glitter love happiness straight to the pleasure center. It’s beautiful.

Honestly, I want to write everything and yet nothing at all. You don’t need to know anything, you just need to read this book.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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This is a truly wonderful book. Gah – I wish I could go back in time and read this as a young adult because it would have had even that much more POW.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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This is a fantastic book that should be read. Not only it is well written with personal stories and facts of cases, it’s properly balanced with success and failure. It’s not a story about only innocent people being released – it’s about criminals getting appropriate representation as well. I really appreciated that this didn’t just feel like a giant pat on the back, but it was the emphasis on how the broken system breaks individuals – and breaks those people of color even more disproportionately.

All in all, a great read.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

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Undercover Bromance is a “great big manly hug huddle” (those are Lyssa Kay Adam’s words, not mine) and it’s and amazing 5/5 star book.

These books – they just GET me. I had legit belly laughs. I mean, the man-hating rooster? The banter? Heck, I was even belly laughing from FART jokes (I kid you not). It’s fun and funny and the relationships – romantic and friendship – are SO GOOD.

Can’t help it. Love these. Want more.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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Confession: I have never, not once, seen an episode of the Bachelor. Which I assume this book is a literary version of.

Guys – this is the equivalent of a romantic “who dun it” – you literally can’t guess who the murderer, I mean, perfect lover is! I mean, okay, I guess I could but I also couldn’t. I’m not spoiling this for you but it’s kind of amazing.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Heaaaaarts, rainbowsssss, and sunshine.

That’s what I feel about this book. I adored it. I giggled – a LOT. The characters are delightful, the setting adorable, there’s some very satisfying sexy time and ogling, etc, etc. Basically, it was right up my alley and I highly recommend.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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If Sue Monk Kidd hadn’t written this book I NEVER would have picked it up. No way, no how. I have as little connection to any religion as possible – I was raised in the US and therefore have those Christian influences to my society, but had nothing by the way of religious education. For example – it wasn’t until the end of the book that I found out Anna was fictional. Ha!

So – yes, from a topic, not typically one of interest to me. And honestly there were parts that were a bit dry in the book or that I didn’t quite “get” because my lack of knowledge. But the essence of it… the drive Sue Monk Kidd put into the story and the protagonist. Anna is a storm to be reckoned with and merged with the society in which she lived – it was beautiful. The fact that Anna really was the center of this story, and the most interesting of the characters, and she was married to Jesus is pretty outstanding for the author, I have to say.

Overall, a truly great read and another example of the artwork that is Sue Monk Kidd’s writing.

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

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Wow – this was truly excellent. Complex without being confusing, unique without being unbelievable, and horrifying without being gross. Great characters who have enough of their own issues to be interesting but not so much so that they are distracting. I truly didn’t guess the ending. All in all, I very top notch crime thriller!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Welp, that was perfect.

And, for the record, I usually really dislike stories where the character is a writer. And this one had two writers.

It’s still perfect.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

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Ok – yeah, I was really skeptical about this book. The premise is bizarre and, honestly, after reading it, the premise is still really bizarre.

But, man, I liked it! The style of the narration is amazing, I wanted to quote about half of it. I love the main character and just the way she IS. The way she responds and adapts to the strange circumstances she’s put it is fascinating.

It’s super quirky and it’s a book that gave me a lot of thoughts and feels. And that’s how I’m leaving that review.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Well, I should know better than to read what is the first in what is very clearly going to be a series so soon after it is published. I want to read the next one immediately and now I have to wait 😦

This is great – it raw and unique and Alex Stern is a bada**. I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning and, frankly, it’s a dense book. I was trying to read it quickly but it takes a lot of mind power – there is a LOT that goes on here. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually really good, but get ready for the investment.

All in all, Bardugo hit another one out of the park.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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What an excellent book. I blew through this in a single day – which is no small feat in the chaos that is my life.

Maybe it’s just me, but I love when I come across a book where everything just works. The story is perfectly paced and snappy with action, dialogue, introspection, and magic. The character relationships are genuine and heartfelt – the main characters, Ryn and Ellis, are beautiful and flawed. The problems they face are real and unique. This is such a fascinating story that I have – and haven’t – heard before.

Oh – and it’s a zombie book, so, you know, that makes is automatically awesome.
Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

1 out of 5 stars for The Baller by Vi Keeland

The Baller: A Down and Dirty Football NovelThe Baller: A Down and Dirty Football Novel by Vi Keeland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ugh. No.

Look – this book had a lot of potential. What’s not to like? Super hot and talented football player and equally hot and talented reporter fall for each other. Let’s make it happen.

But man – in the end, what WASN’T wrong with this book? Okay, so here are the reasons why I, personally, pick up a book like this (in no particular order).

1) For the laughs
2) For the sex
3) For the characters/story

If it can grant me, honestly, even one of those three, then I’m pretty happy. If it can give me one of those three without irritating me with other things, then I’m really happy. This book didn’t do ANY of it in the end.

Let’s review:
1) For the laughs – there was some serious potential here. I mean, a cocky, sexy football player? and when he first meets the reporter he drops his towel? That scene made me laugh for sure. It was perfectly awkward. Annnd that was pretty much the only time I laughed in this whole book. The rest of the jokes were just blah. I mean, Brody made a joke about wanting to “eat” Delilah like 100 times. Original. Not.

2) For the sex – the sex sucked. No really – I know you think I’m joking, but I’m not. It really, really sucked. First off, it was dragged way too far out and when they finnnnally bumped uglies it was just that – ugly. It was rushed and didn’t even make a lot of sense physically. And that was probably the best sexual encounter of the book. Most of it was just glossed over, to be honest with you. At one point the author literally said “many hours and multiple orgasms later” – uhhh, HELLO? I don’t pick up a book with THAT cover to have you skip that shizz! Light it up, lady!

3) For the characters/story – this genre doesn’t always have the greatest reputation for characters and stories and I’ll admit, sometimes I’m okay with generic or cliche if it means I get numbers 1 and 2. But It still has to WORK. Ultimately, this book was just sigh-worthy. First off, cocky and arrogant Brody fell way too hard and way too fast. I mean, honestly, why? Apparently Delilah was love at first sight? Even though we later learn he was still hung up on his girl-next-door-druggie-whatever-that-was? That was a stretch.

Regardless, Brody was just a shell of the ‘perfect’ guy. Hey, ladies, I’m super hot and arrogant but oooh wait no I’m really super sweet and caring and do everything perfectly. Gah. The attractive cockiness dissolved into stupid one-off (not funny) comments and we were just left with a super sensitive man with muscles. Boring.

And don’t even get me started on Delilah’s mess of humanity. She made no sense. At ALL. I mean, Delilah was doing a sex ‘cleanse’ but then claimed she didn’t ever have sex with anyone without being in a relationship first? Uuuh, okay? Then he can’t be with Brody because she never gave up on her old fiance who died? I mean, I guess but that only came up halfway through the book. And what was the point of her fear of flying? No point. None. I kept thinking it was going to matter but it didn’t. It didn’t even matter for a funny scene. Stuff like that really irritates me in stories. Make people’s quirks matter!

I’m not even going to mention how the book ends. Not the last real chapter and not the epilogue. I was ROLLING my EYES so hard they almost popped out, I swear.

There is lots more I can complain about, but I’m going to leave you with my one really big, HUGE, issue with this book. There is no FOOTBALL. NONE. A couple of stats are thrown out here and there but otherwise we see NOTHING. And the man plays (and wins!) the damn SUPER BOWL.

I just. I cannot. Stop before you start here, people.

Categories: Put Downs, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella – 3/5

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I power read this book and, normally, with a power read, it means the book was soaring. Not so today. I really, really wanted to love this book (after all, I’ve Got Your Number is one of my favorite books out there) but it just didn’t happen. I tried. I read it with gusto. I laughed aloud at parts. I wanted the love to flow, and it just couldn’t happen.

Thinking back, there was just no one I felt I could root for. I like a good flawed characters but these ones were just too much. Fliss and Lottie, two sisters, did nothing by lie to each other (and truly, everyone) all the time. It became so frustrating – you got to the point as a reader where you just wanted all the action to stop and for some conversations to happen. It just seemed all too illogical. And – this is going to sound horrible – but the addition of Fliss’s child, Noah, was terrible. It just made her look like a horrible parent. Instead of being a comic relief, the child was obnoxious and made Fliss out to be completely incompetent at life. Without her son, I think I could have liked her. Don’t get me started with Lottie – she’s dumber than a box of rocks and I couldn’t identify with her at all.

Next, there is not one, not two, but three potential love interests in the book and – honestly – they all kind of suck. Each one is wrapped up in his own issues and, even though these issues chance and evolve, they never seem to truly mesh up to the right parts at the end. Lorcan gets the closest, but even he doesn’t make it there. It all just kind of… ends. I don’t get the sense that any of them will truly be happier because of it.

I’m disappointed by the book. I had some pretty high hopes. Parts are certainly cute and I did laugh aloud; the idea of the wait staff keeping the lovers at bay was hysterical. As this is my second Kinsella I won’t let it stop me from trying some of her other works, but it’s still painful. For me, it just missed the mark.

Categories: Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Book Review: His Haven by Harper A. Brooks – 3 of 5

His Haven by Harper A. Brooks

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Debut author alert! This is such a great start – I fully intend to continue with the series when the next one is released.

In this book, the world revolves around Haven and Avrum, and their worlds revolve around each other. Sure, there are some other things going on along the way but that is the true meat-and-potatoes of it. Their eyes catch at the beginning of the novel and that’s the end of it. Though there are some wrenches thrown into the plot as a whole, we more-or-less know what’s going to happen at the end. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, after all, that’s why we have genre labels.

I love how human the vampires are in this book. It’s not easy to write a book that contains vampires after the Twilight rise (and then horrific crash and burn). Brooks’ vampires are different, though. Sure, they have an aversion to sunlight and a pretty intense lust for human blood but, other than that, they are just a like (and as variable) as you and me. I like that. I like that the vampires still breathe and sweat in addition to rapid healing and speed. It makes them “more-than-human” instead of different creatures overall and this makes the attraction between Haven and Avrum feel very natural.

Overall, I enjoyed reading the book. Brooks is showing herself as a great blooming author. Her story is fresh and, though some of the wording and scenes are a bit clunky, others are overall brilliant. I liked the addition of little subplots, though sometimes they were a bit of a distraction or not entirely resolved (I thought the whole Henri seeing Haven as Linna part would have more oomph to it). Also, some of the book moved dizzying fast from one part to the next.

Overall, though, this is a quick and enjoyable read. Great start, Harper!

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Book Review(s): Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon

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I can’t help it, I love these darn books.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to – let’s just say I can be pretty snooty about books that do really well in the eyes of the general public. I tend to over criticize them and decide to dislike them just because I wouldn’t be original if I did like them. Still, despite my efforts, the Outlander books have me hooked.

In my opinion, what’s not to like? Suspense, history, romance, adventure, this book is exactly what it’s cracked up to be. Somehow even with the dense, incredible amount of words this book has I was with it all the way. I adore Gabaldon’s descriptions – she’s managed to create a word with such meaningful detail. She doesn’t just tell us about the dew reflecting the cool, low sun on the horizon in the Highlands just because she wants to create a setting, she does it because it’s part of the story. I’ve never felt like the descriptions of place and people to feel quite so natural as with Gabaldon’s writing.

Now, I can’t speak too much to reading the dialect in the dialogue, something which apparently some people have a challenge with, based on reviews I had read. I have enjoyed both of these books on audio book – and, though I am sure the real book is nice to – I highly recommend you listen to the story. The narrator is incredible. She has so many beautiful accents and excellent rhythm. I truly believe Jamie and Claire, the two main characters, have come alive not only because of Gabaldon’s writing, but because of Davina Porter’s excellent performance. Even the smallest character has their own feel and cadence. As much as I love to read, it’s not often I feel a deep connection with a character and am truly sad to see him/her go. I won’t say anything more about the story because there are many twists and I don’t want to give any spoilers.

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If I weren’t already married to someone who is decidedly not Scottish…

Anyway, Outlander is great, and so is Dragonfly in Amber. This sequel to the first has just as much adventure, just as much love and sexy time, and one more added element to shake it all up – a realization of what the future truly is. It’s unnerving. In Outlander we didn’t know what the future would hold, truly. In Dragonfly we don’t know it all, but many, we know enough…

Okay, I won’t say any more. Chat with me if you want to gush – feel free to comment below. And If I said it once I’ll say it again -give this audiobook a try. It’s glorious.

PS – I started Voyager immediately after I finished this. Onward!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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