No Faves in 2019

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Okay, let’s get the preliminaries out of the way before I start this post: About 98% of the reason I don’t have a worst or favorites list posted, is honestly out of procrastination and poor planning on my part. Lesson learned for 2020: do better at tracking favorites throughout the year. I have plans in mind to help me with better tracking because for real, when I sat down to start making a list of ‘favorites,’ I became extremely overwhelmed.  As I roamed through my 2019 reads on Goodreads, I realized that books I was positive I’d read in reading years prior, were actually read this year, I saw many titles I’d honestly forgotten about and there was a plethora of titles that I remember reading but couldn’t tell you a single thing about.

My reading goal for 2019 was to read 75 books and I’ve read over 150. As of today, I am less than 10 books away from reading 200 books actually. That is the bomb, and I am so proud of myself. (You know there is a ‘but’ coming) The issue for me is, as I browsed through my reads for 2019, I became aware that at some point during the year my reading became more quantity focused, instead of quality focused.

It is so motivating and inspiring being a part of the online book community and seeing how many books a week some of my friends read. It definitely pushes me and motivates me to step my game up and read more. This is cool. I like seeing how I can incorporate reading into my day to day. What I found myself doing was binging quick reads. Totally fine, but in the end this caused me to neglect so many books that have been sitting unread on my shelves.  Books that at some point sounded interesting enough for me to haul, but also may require a bit more attention and time.

I’ve come to rely heavily on audiobooks. I love audiobooks. Listening to so many though, when I pick up a book that doesn’t have an audiobook available, I cringe a bit inside at the thought of having to actually read the book myself. This is crazy to me, because once upon a time that is the only way I consumed a book. I have seen how many more books I am capable of reading with audiobooks available and how quickly, so thinking of how slowly I read without an audiobook messes with my mojo. It really became about picking up books I could make my way through fast so I could move onto the next book and make my way through it fast!

I remember reaching my reading goal earlier than I tend to. In years past, I typically hit my reading goal mid-June. This year, by the time June came, I’d already surpassed it and as much as I wanted to just chill, it became this rat race..can I hit 120? 120 turned into 150. I think challenging myself is fine, but I would get on audible escape and look for books less than 6 hours, or so many pages and go with that rather than something longer.

Did I read books this year that standout? Absolutely. Do I have favorites? Yes. I am not going to stress myself out though with curating a list this year. Most of the books I loved, have been mentioned either here on the blog, or numerous times over on my Youtube channel. I want 2020 to be the year of dedicating time to the books that blow my mind. Showing love to those slow but steadies. Making dents in those chunkers. I have so many titles that have been calling my name and I’m constantly putting them off, choosing instead, something I can read quicker. I want 2020 to be the year of quantity. I know, I know.. we don’t know what we’re in for when we go into a book. I get it, but I have so many neglected gems sitting on my shelves and I want 2020 to be the year I rectify that.

At the end of 2020, when asked for favorites I want to be able to rattle off titles without having to revert back to Goodreads. I want to just know off the top of my head, whereas with 2019, it really took some though and a few glances back to my Read Shelf.

I would love to hear what your 2019 reading favorites were. Was it an easy list to make?

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#Blogtober What I Wish I Knew (As a New Blogger)

 

BlogtoberI am close to hitting my one year Blogging anniversary. I typed and submitted my first post during the fall of 2018 and began juggling my new love of blogging, with my current love (at the time) of creating bookish content on Youtube. I juggled both for a bit, then actually stopped blogging and made the decision to keep pushing on Youtube. I had a little over 3K subscribers and at the time felt like, if I already have a following here, why start all over again?

Long story short, at the beginning of 2019, I realized, I missed blogging, and was no longer in love with the process of creating on Youtube. Here we are. I thought today I would share some tidbits that I have learned so far in my blogging journey. Hopefully this reaches someone who may be starting out, or someone at home right now considering blogging..and if you have any tidbits you’d like to share with me I’m all for whatever guidance you have!

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Do your research. When I began blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I jumped in with my eyes closed but with an eager spirit. I reached out to friends who were bloggers and picked their brains but once I really began to make the decision that I didn’t want to blog occasionally, but that I wanted consistent content posted I knew I had my work cut out for me. I say all that to say this: research, research, research! Fast forward to now and I am constantly seeking new tips on creating a successful blog. Allison Lindstrom is a successful blogger, who creates some amazing, informational videos for bloggers on Youtube here. I can’t recommend her videos enough.

Consistency is key and looks different for everyone. If you tell your readers they can expect one post a week, every Thursday, then that’s what you should give them. Communicate any changes. Currently, I have three posts a week which happened kind of accidentally, but I’m sticking with it because it works. The mentioning of three posts a week leads me into my next tidbit..

You know how meal prepping is a very real thing for some people? I treat blog posts the same way. Like I said, it happened kind of on accident. Back in April of 2019, I began prepping for an idea to have a blog post everyday in the month of May. While I didn’t quite reach the feat of having a post for every single day, I did have enough for three posts a week. May comes around and I realize, I could then begin typing posts for June. Staying ahead of the game is so helpful. It allows time to truly focus on reading and if you find yourself in a blogging funk, you’re taken care of because you already did the work.

Promote yourself. Take credit for your work. I still don’t go as hard with this one as I should. When I was in the early stages of blogging, I began paying more attention to some of the big Bookstagrammers I follow. They are constantly promoting their blog in their stories and their feeds. If you’re putting in the work, take credit for the work. Your opinion, what you have to say..matters. How are people going to find you if you’re not putting yourself out there for them to find? 

I really hope this helps. I look at my journey as constantly in motion, constantly evolving. I don’t have it all figured out, and probably never will..but for now, these things are working for me. Share with me some tidbits that you’ve learned and that have become important to your blog.

until next time, take care of yourselves. We will chat again soon.

xo.

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Love On Catalina Cove by Brenda Jackson

Love On Catalina Cove

by Brenda Jackson

Published October 30, 2018 by HQN

Goodreads Rating: 4.29 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Plot:

In her brand-new series, Brenda Jackson welcomes you to Catalina Cove, where even the biggest heartbreaks can be healed…

In the wake of a devastating teen pregnancy that left her childless and heartbroken, Vashti Alcindor left Catalina Cove, Louisiana, with no plans to return. Now, over a decade later, Vashti reluctantly finds herself back in her hometown after inheriting her aunt’s B and B. Her homecoming gets off to a rocky start when the new sheriff, Sawyer Grisham, pulls her over for speeding, and things go downhill from there.

The B and B, a place she’d always found refuge in when it seemed like the whole world was against her, has fallen into disrepair. When a surprising benefactor encourages Vashti to reopen the B and B, Vashti embraces a fresh start, and soon old hurts begin to fade as she makes new memories with the town—and its handsome sheriff…

But some pasts are too big to escape, and when a bombshell of a secret changes everything she thought was true, Vashti is left reeling. With Sawyer and his teenage daughter determined to see her through the storm, though, she’s learning family isn’t always a matter of blood—sometimes it’s a matter of heart.

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My Review:

Brenda Jackson is such an incredible storyteller, and I have no excuse at this point to not read more of her work. Love In Catalina Cove is my second read by her, and I adored it. I will admit, I followed along with the audiobook thanks to my local library, and it was a bit slow in the beginning for my liking. It took a few chapters to get into the slower paced narration.

Love In Catalina Cove is one of those examples of how romance novels have the ability to inspire hope in people. Our heroine, Vashti, is this small town Catalina Cove native, now living and working hard in New York City. The stars basically align and she finds herself both unemployed and the inheritor of the bed and breakfast back in Catalina Cove left behind by her Aunt.

Vashti is not excited initially about returning to the small town which holds so many secrets for her, but then she meets Sawyer and her mind begins to change.

Honestly, I can’t say much about this book without treading on the border of completely spoiling it for you. What Brenda Jackson does in this book is magical. We have our heroine who has basically been lied to by the most important people in one’s life. She is fresh out of a crappy relationship, has lost her job, and now has this inn that she didn’t really want. Vashti is all over the place and things are really messy.

The romance between Vashti and Sawyer is a slow moving one. In the beginning he writes her a ticket as she speeds into town, so it takes her a bit to see beyond that. He feels so perfect as you read. He is respectful. As Vashti points out at one point, ‘he doesn’t assume things,‘ he’s a good father, and he is written to sound so damn sexy. We see though later on in the book, that he is not perfect. The scene where we learn this was completely understandable though. I think Sawyer acted in a way that every other person whose found themselves in his situation probably would’ve acted.

Brenda Jackson can write a damn subplot. As the pacing picks up I found myself hooked. The secrets Vashti has to uncover will have you engrossed on every sentence, every word. I had speculations on where things were going, and I was totally wrong. This book is about so many things; family secrets, specifically how far family will go to protect their reputation, giving love a try (again) after saying you’re done, the depth of a lie someone will tell to keep the one they love, motherhood, sisterhood and what family looks like.

This romance completely filled my plot driven soul. I adored the characters but it truly was the plot which did it for me.

If you’re like me, and new to the writing of Brenda Jackson, I think this would be a great first read for you. It is a good insight into what’s to expect with her writing, and the way she crafts her stories. At the same time though, be prepared to have no idea what’s going on and allow her geniuses to unfold.

xo.

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Cowboy to the Core by Maisey Yates

Cowboy to the Core

by Maisey Yates

Published June 18, 2019 by HQN Books

Goodreads Rating: 4.17 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Plot:

Jamie Dodge is confident she knows everything there is to know about cowboys. She grew up surrounded by them, after all. But somehow her new boss, champion saddle bronc rider Gabe Dalton, and his brand of cowboy charm have her interested in all kinds of things she never has been before.

There are a million reasons Gabe should ignore his attraction to Jamie. He needs her horse-training skills on his family’s ranch…and the Dodge brothers would happily hurt him for touching her. Forget kissing her. He’d be a dead man. But Jamie’s tough-talking attitude masks an innocence that tempts him past the breaking point…and soothes the restlessness that’s dogged Gabe his whole life. Has this cowboy finally found a place he wants to call home?

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Review:

Maisey Yates flawlessly creates what we believe to be a stable foundation in the beginning of Cowboy to the Core. This is book six in the Gold Valley series, following Jamie Dodge who is the sister to the Dodge brothers and Gabe Dalton. We see Gabe back when Mckenna entered the picture in book 4 but it was only a small glimpse. Oh boy, am I glad Gabe got his own book.

By six books in, I went in under the assumption that I had things figured out. I thought I knew all the characters and by this point, it’s just time to see the single siblings left, find romances of their own. Well, Ms. Maisey Yates quickly showed me how wrong I was. Cowboy to the Core follows two very complicated people. Gabe and Jamie both all throughout this romance are grappling with their individual identity issues. Gabe has this fear of becoming his father who he has been angry at for years, before we gradually see him recognize how he was totally wrong about which parent he identified with the most and why. While Jamie was the sister raised by a widowed father and her brothers. She loves her life, but now that everyone is getting older and she sees her brothers settling down, her Dad has remarried and moved on..she no longer has to be the tough sister, ‘one of the boys,’ chick she has always been. Jamie for a big part of the book is trying to figure out who she is, how to occupy the space she’s in and who she’s becoming.

“They all knew something that she didn’t.”

Jamie begins working for Gabe helping on his ranch with the animals which is obviously where the two get to spend a lot of time together and get to know one another. Which leads to one night at a local bar when Jamie sees Gabe chatting it up with this ‘buckle bunny,’ and realizes she doesn’t want him chatting it up with this chick! This is where things begin to shift.

Gabe becomes the first for a few things for Jamie. It was a very frustrating ride, but we see Jamie knock the walls down that she had built around herself for so long, as her relationship with Gabe began to change and flourish. Gabe however, hits this point where he armors himself and Jamie calls him out on it:

“Don’t kiss me. Don’t kiss me if you don’t love me. Don’t touch me if you don’t love me.” She was shaking, rage pouring through her like a river. “Because I deserve better than that. Because I had to figure out what everything meant. And then once I did I offered it to you. I changed. And I dug deep. And I found a pieces of myself I didn’t even know were there for you. And you want to stand there and tell me everything I don’t know. Want to tell me what I want, and how you have less growing to do. That’s bullshit, and I’m not here for it.”

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I felt on a whole other level the beauty behind how finding love can help you grow as a woman, and help in the process of figuring out who you are and who you’re becoming. I loved seeing the growth in Jamie.

“In life, the only thing we can control is our own choices.”

So much of this romance is about choices, and I think Maisey Yates did a fantastic job of weaving such a complex story together with this theme at the center of it all. It was so damn beautiful and a true love story.

Gabe, oh Gabe. I have already come to accept the fact that cowboys are my thing. I love a hard working man who doesn’t mind getting a little dirty and is totally okay with spending most of his day outside. Gabe just melted my heart, especially with how alpha male he comes across, yet Jamie is totally able to hold her own around him. And until we get into the weeds and seeds of how much of himself he needs to work on.

I am a total sucker for the guy having to go get his girl, so of course I swooned as high as swoons can go at the end of this book. I adored it. I’m so thankful I received the next book from Harlequin. I need to know whose story is next. There were some new characters kind of/sort of introduced in this one, so I’m antsy to see if their presence is shown in the next one.

I can’t recommend this series enough. If you don’t want to go back and read al the previous books, I think you’ll be fine starting off with Cowboy to the Core, but there may be some confusion on certain back stories, like McKenna and the Dalton brothers.

Thanks for reading yet another Maisey Yates fangirl post.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

xo.

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Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber

“Pride will only take you so far, Mom”

Window on the Bay 

by Debbie Macomber

Published July 16, 2019

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

Plot:

Jenna Boltz’s life is at a crossroads. After a messy divorce from her surgeon husband nearly twenty years ago, she raised her two children on her own, juggling motherhood with her beloved job as a Seattle intensive-care nurse. Now that Paul and Allie have gone to college and moved out, Jenna can’t help but wonder what her future holds.

Her best friend, Maureen, is excited for Jenna’s newfound independence. Now is the perfect time to finally book the trip to Paris they’ve been dreaming of since their college days. But when it comes to life’s other great adventure–dating–Jenna still isn’t sure she’s ready to let love in . . . until an unexpected encounter begins to change her mind.

When Jenna’s elderly mother breaks her hip, Dr. Rowan Lancaster saves the day. Despite his silent, stoic exterior, Rowan is immediately smitten with Jenna. And even though Jenna is hesitant about becoming involved with another surgeon, she has to admit that she’s more than a little intrigued. But when Jenna’s children approach her with shocking news, she realizes that she needs to have faith in love and embrace the unexpected–before the life she has always dreamed of passes her by.

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Review:

Window On the Bay is a slow paced, dual narrative romance following two friends, Maureen and Jenna. These two ladies are best friends, singles Mom who have both raised their kids, worked, provided for their families and found themselves in the routine of being alone.

What I liked about this book is that in true Debbie Macomber fashion, our heroines are older which I think is always a refreshing perspective to read from.  However, because these ladies were older, with grown children who they raised alone, provided for alone, I expected to genuinely feel that I was reading from the perspective of a older woman with age and wisdom under her belt.

When I think of angst I think of me being a 17 year old, starry eyed girl with her head in the clouds and the push and pull, back and forth, love me/love me not I put myself through and others through when I thought I was in love. When I’m reading from the perspective of an older woman, with adult kids, and feel that the author is attempting to write in angst or an older woman’s version of it, I tend to roll my eyes a bit. Now, I’m 32 and am nowhere near having things figured out but I hope that if I am alive and well in my mid forties, early fifties that I will be at some kind of peace with all I’ve endured in my thus far and know it’s either a yes or no for whoever is trying to ease their way into my life. Maureen and Jenna both felt entirely too childish for me!

One has a love interest who is the complete ‘opposite’ to her. She is a librarian, he’s a plumber. It felt a little judgmental at times. The other is worried because professionally, she has Told herself due to what’s happened in the past, she wouldn’t allow herself to go there with another professional like he is.  All of that I fine, if you like it, I love it kind of thing but it was so childish and immature it made the story very unbelievable in parts for me.

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Debbie Macomber crafts her stories in a way where you are completely on board with what issues your heroine needs to work through. Typically you see your completely flawed, but stitched together with good intentions, hero, and are fully aware he Is 100% smitten with the heroine. You then spend the entire story seeing events unravel that lead to the heroine getting a handle on her issues, moving on, and learning to recognize and appreciate our Mister Right whose been under her nose all this time.

In Maureen and Jenna’s cases, things were no different, but as women who have issues because of whatever has happened in their past, they looked for excuses to not give things a chance. Everytime Maureen and Logan had a disagreement she basically dumped him. I was so happy when he finally stood his ground and was like fine, if that’s what you want. I was like heck yes, MOVE ON LOGAN..no one has time for these games! With Jenna whose kids have a dead beat, sperm donor father, she learns that Rowan, her love interest is the father of her daughter’s college roommate. The girl tries to paint him as this deadbeat father too, and it never crosses Jenna’s mind to allow him the opportunity to explain himself. She just kicks him out. Later to find that the girl moved to their city because she knew he was there, and she tried to manipulate him into giving her all the things she wanted. Within moments, Jenna had her mind completely made up that he wasn’t the guy for her because of what his daughter was saying.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars because although there was a lot about it I didn’t enjoy, there were things that I did. Most importantly the setting. Debbie Macomber has this way of transporting me to the location unlike any other author. She plucks me out of down south Texas and plops me in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. I love it, every time.

I did enjoy seeing the growth of these women as mothers. Despite their age, they still didn’t have all of the answers, and still had things they had to learn to better their relationships with their kids. I’m not always a fan of the ways Macomber writes the kids of the heroines in her books but in this one in particular, the annoying daughter I couldn’t stand, was able to redeem herself by the end of the story.

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Overall, if you are already a fan of Debbie Macomber’s writing style and way of crafting a story, I do think you’ll enjoy this one. Around this time last year we got Cottage By The Sea released by her, and that’s a story that really impacted me and has stood the test of time. Window On The Bay I can already tell will not have that affect on me. If she is an auto buy author for you already though, I think it is worth reading since you’re already invested in reading what she puts out. Just know it didn’t become a new favorite of mine.

xo.

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The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Published by Avon, August 6, 2019

Book 1 in the Modern Love series

Goodreads Rating: 4.05 Stars

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

Plot:

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

– Nude pics are by invitation only

– If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

– Protect your heart

Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears.

Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

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Review:

The excitement when I learned we were getting a new romance from Alisha Rai, was off the charts. I’ve read the first two book in her Forbidden Hearts trilogy and both of those I really enjoyed. There isn’t anything fun about them, so I have be in the right mood to pick them up, but I’ve come to expect that with that particular trilogy. Maybe I was a tad guilty of judging a book by it’s cover with The Right Swipe. The summer romances we’ve been seeing released have been, or appeared to be, fun, summer reads. The Right Swipe comes packaged in this gorgeous hot pink illustrated cover, so I braced myself for a good time.

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The premise had promise. Second’ish chance romance between Rhiannon and Samson who hooked up once. The pair made plans to link up again but Samson never showed, which lead to Rhi moving on and believing he deliberately ghosted her.

Rhi owns an online dating site called Crush and wants to purchase a site called Matchmaker. Enter, Samson. Samson is the nephew of Matchmaker’s current owner. The two end up working together on a side project. Start sleeping together again. I’m trying to not get irritated by writing this review so I’m going to just cut to the point.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars. The premise was there and it could’ve been amazing but where it went wrong was: to me it was pretty boring and I didn’t like Rhiannon. There. I said it. What Alisha Rai tries to do is really get you as the reader to understand how difficult it has been for Rhi, a black woman in her tech career. I got it. She has this tough exterior. She sticks to the script. She keeps it professional at all times. I got it. What didn’t work for me, was that it felt like I never got anything from Rhi but that tough exterior. She remained so hardcore throughout so much of the book that even during scenes where I felt the author was attempting to soften her up a bit, it didn’t feel believable. Her tough exterior made the happy ever after in the ending extremely hard to believe. I read it. I know it happened, but it felt kind of mediocre. There was nothing exciting about it which makes me sad, because although I would’ve enjoyed to see more from Samson, what I could see was that he was totally smitten with Rhi.

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The book brings up some very important issues though; relationship violence, workplace sexual assault, the me-too movement, feminism, being a woman in a male dominated industry..add in that the woman is a woman of color. I liked that Alisha Rai was able to weave such important issues flawlessly into the story. None of these topics felt forced or out of place, but even the scenes depicting these topics felt more believable than the romance between Rhi and Samson. The romance is what I was there for and it was a let down.

I would love to chat with anyone who has read this book. I feel like I am in the small minority of readers who weren’t fans but it also has some 5 star ratings, so I would never say Don’t read it. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me. I will definitely keep a look out though for whatever else is to come from the series. Rai introduces us to a cast of characters I’m really interested in. I want to see whose story is next!

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Book Review: A Lesson In Thorns by Sierra Simons

A Lesson In Thorns by Sierra Simone

Published March 19, 2019

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.22 Stars

My Review: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis:

When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…
***
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes…

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My Review:

This is only second read by Sierra Simone but I am left with the same emotions I experienced after reading Priest by her last year. A Lesson In Thorns is dark, sexy, twisted, grimy and feels all kinds of wrong, but feels so damn good.

The heir

The dreamer

The priest

The genius

The socialite

The saint

This is their story but we mostly follow Poe, the dreamer.

“I’m jealous of Delphine and yet turned on by Delphine. My skin is hasted by the ghost of Saint’s lip ring…and I haven’t even felt it yet. I wonder if Rebecca is willing to take me on as a sub, and I wonder if Becket ever breaks his vows. I can’t stop thinking of the expression on Auden’s face when he was hoisted over Saint and me on the gravel, I can’t stop thinking about those hazel eyes and how they would look burning over me in the heat of power and play.”

Simone reunites this group of friends and creates the perfect gothic setting. Old inherited house. Library filled with old books and secrets stuck amongst the pages. She creates the perfect dreary setting and amidst all of that, a group of friends with tension in every room they enter.

“The darkness outside feels like a living thing, seeping inside the windows and settling in the tucks and corners of the house. It’s awake, aware–but it’s not sinister, and there’s nothing baleful in its observant gloom as I push through it to get to the tower. It’s more like the night has decided to keep watch with me, as if it wants to wrap itself around my shoulders like my blanket and follow me around. Except when I finally emerge into the tower, I see that the Thornchapel night is already keeping watch with someone else.”

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It almost feels like a spoiler to discuss the romance in this book because there is more than one and you really have to just go along for the ride to see who ends up with who. There are surprises but it’s more so, characters coming into their own and I really liked seeing their evolution.

This story does have a but of a mystery element to it that I hope we get to see a bit more of in the books to come. I thought even with all the other craziness going on, Simone did a wonderful job of not letting you forget the small mystery element to the story.

I think if you don’t mind your romances a little darker and sexier, you’ll enjoy this. In true Simone fashion, she challenges you morally. The same vibes I felt with Priest, I felt with this book too but as wrong as it feels, she weaves everything together so beautifully. It is beautiful and whimsical and dark, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I need the next book asap.

xo.

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Books I Haven’t Read & Probably Never Will

Let’s chat about romances I have no shame in admitting I haven’t read and probably never will:

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I feel like this first one may get me burned at the stake, but No friends, I have not read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

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I absolutely love and adore a good time traveling romance, so it still takes me by surprises *sometimes* that I have yet to read Outlander..which is I’m sure in some people’s eyes, the standard for time travel stories. Nope, haven’t read it though. I actually hauled the mass market paperback copy a few months ago with the intentions of following along with the audiobook because I hear the narrator is the Bomb! I had it for maybe a month before unhauling it. Just as quickly as the interest came, it quickly left as well.

Next, is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

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I know people both in real life and friends from the online book community who adore this book and it’s series. I for whatever reason though, have never been interested in reading it. I remember when I lived in Georgia, my female Commander at the time and basically every other female in our unit was obsessing over the books and the movie. I didn’t get it. I had no idea what the fuss was about which sometimes will lead me to explore and find out for myself, but here we are years later and I haven’t budged.

In this next book and it’s series defense, I love hearing other people talk about it..but even that doesn’t persuade me to read it. That is Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.

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I have been watching Jess from PeaceLoveBooksxo make her way through this series over on her Youtube channel, and this series currently has 17 books. Since I began reading romance, I have definitely fell in love with getting sucked into a series..but I haven’t gotten sucked into a 17 book deep series yet! That is a pretty big commitment and I foresee me getting to a book that I’m not a fan of and that making it hard to continue on with the rest of the books. Also, vampires have never really been my paranormal creature of choice..so that’s a lot of books to read when I’m not too fond of the characters.

I feel like this next one is going to cause a total scandal! The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Sorry, but not sorry..I am kind of cringing as I type this and it isn’t even this particular books fault.

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Although The Hating Game came out first, I read 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne first, and if you weren’t aware: I loathed that book. I couldn’t stand it. I know, I know. I’m not giving The Hating Game a fair chance, and I don’t think I’ve heard a single negative thing about it, but I can’t bring myself to read it. I have this strong feeling that Sally Thorne just isn’t an author I vibe with. Everything I heard people rave about with 99 Percent Mine were the exact things I hated, so..I’ll pass.

Lastly, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

me before you

I remember this book was everywhere! I couldn’t watch a single Youtube video without someone hauling it, or doing a review on it or recommending it. It was everywhere. Despite that it was all over the place, nothing about it sounded interesting to me. I am still a little shocked that I didn’t at least go see the movie, but even with that I don’t feel like I’m really missing out. A lot of people loved it, but the few reviews I saw from people who didn’t, discussed some important stuff from both the book and film that solidified for me that I didn’t really miss anything.

So those are a few books that I haven’t read and more than likely never will. Let me know what books you show no shame in having not read. I’m really interested in knowing.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. xo.

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Thoughts While Reading: Unexpected by Kelly Rimmer

July 1, 2019 at 6:51 p.m.

First things first *hello Friends* I am starting this check in a tad bit late. I am already 280 pages into this book, so I have less than 100 pages to go. Please excuse indecisive me, I was certain I was just going to type an entire review for this book but as I was listening to the audiobook while cooking, decided I’d prefer to do my check in and thought sharing.

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Unexpected by Kelly Rimmer is feeling like a solid 3 star book for me at this point. It follows Abby Herbert and Marcus Ross who are best friends and roommates. Abby learns from her doctor that if she wants to get pregnant, she needs to get working on it asap, like yesterday! Long story short, Marcus steps up to the plate and the two start working on getting Abby pregnant.

I want friends to lovers to be in my top 3 of favorite romance tropes, but books like these have me reconsidering. Both Abby and Marcus have started to realize that maybe there is a little something more than just them trying to create a baby together and as much as Marcus tries to persuade Abby to just chill and allow herself to see how things could be, she is being annoying and refusing to, because..reasons. I get it. When the love interest has also been your best friend, you are privy to how relationships of theirs have been in the past. Then you add in that mutual friends are all in Abby’s ear basically trying to get her to understand that Everyone But Her has noticed that he is crazy in love with her, yet she is still being a little too annoying about it for my taste. I get with the whole friends to lovers trope that typically one friend is afraid of things changing from how they have always been, and what if we break up..will it ruin our friendship? It just tends to be annoying when the character who refuses isn’t presenting any logical reasons as to why not! I feel like Abby is making excuses at this point and I don’t get it. It doesn’t feel believable. Not when Marcus who is kind of presented as this man whore steps up to the plate to help her get pregnant. Like he was kind of hurt that he wasn’t her first option in the beginning. Eh. Let me finish these last 100’ish pages and I’ll check back in. I could go on and on at this point and still have a few chapters to go.

July 2, 2019 at 6:09 p.m.

I finished Unexpected this morning.

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I ended up maintaining the 3 star rating I was feeling during my first check in. I was fine with the way the author wrapped up the story. I was grateful for the happily ever after and the unexpected twist to the happily ever after but this book honestly felt like it could’ve been shorter. I say it could’ve been shorter because all of the dramatics put on by Ms. Abby felt unnecessary. I felt like a big chunk of the book was her being so worried about ruining the friendship between her and Marcus when clearly he is in things for the long run..it just wasn’t believable to me.

I found myself preferring Marcus’s chapters although I will admit, I couldn’t stand the male narrator for this book. Despite that, I still preferred Marcus’s point of view. Marcus and his brother have their own stuff going on, with their biological father whose never been in the picture, reappearing. We see the brothers struggle with the indecision behind responding to him or not. I thought that story line added something different to the story and I liked how even though Marcus didn’t grow up with a father, he didn’t hesitate with the decision to step up to the plate and father Abby’s baby.

Overall, solid 3 star book for me. There were things that could’ve done better and I think I would’ve liked it a bit more.

Have you read Unexpected? Share your thoughts with me.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

xo.

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Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Book 1 in the new series, “Women Who Dare”

Published May 28, 2019 by Avon

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Synopsis:

Valinda Lacey’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.

As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.

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My Thoughts:

Beverly Jenkins is my go to with historical romance. For the longest, I didn’t think this romance sub-genre was for me. As a woman of color it was just very hard to see myself in the popular titles I find recommended by romance readers for others looking to get into this sub-genre. Then I found Beverly Jenkins.

As soon as I saw she had a new release coming out, I snagged myself a copy and only a few weeks later, my library hold of the audiobook came through.

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I am still on the high that I’ve been on since finishing the last page. Have all the thoughts, all the feels and am basically going to fangirl, nerdOut, share with you the many reasons why I couldn’t rate this book any less than 5 stars.

Rebel is book one in Jenkins’s new series, Women Who Dare, and this book really stayed on brand with the series name. Our heroine, Val, is living in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War and it’s a racist, classist, crap show. It is so dangerous. We see not only white supremacist groups who want to turn back time, but even the evils from men from Val’s own race. You would think there would be this sense of cohesion during this time, but hell no! Val isn’t even from New Orleans. She is from New York City, so as I read this book I kept thinking, “She doesn’t even have to deal with this mess, she could just go home.” She has her reasons why doesn’t want to go home, but the most admirable reason is that she wants to stay and help make change.

I loved that Val is a teacher, in New Orleans teaching freedmen and children how to read. Knowledge is power and by keeping this ability away from people, you’re able to control them. Teachers are already superheroes, but add in a heroine in this profession during a time period where people didn’t want to see people of color learning this skill, and I’m a forever fan.

This romance was feminist as f*ck! Val refused to give into the role her father, back home in New York insisted she play. He turned his nose up at her educating herself so she had to do so on the low. Her grandmother was a slave who escaped on foot by herself. There were sprinkles of women defying the roles expected of them, in hopes of bettering themselves all throughout this book–and what made me even more happy was that Drake, our hero was a supporter of it, every time.

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I love the respect all of the characters show for the matriarch of the family. I haven’t read a Beverly Jenkins romance yet where this wasn’t done and it makes me think of my own family and how on both sides, my Grandmother’s are the center of everything.

The romance between Drake and Val was slow but real. Val grew up with no real examples of what a healthy relationship looked like so as her feelings grew, she was very unsure. I admired Drake for his patience sprinkled with a tad bit of persistence with her. I feel like with Beverly Jenkins’s historical the entire time period and setting could honestly be the conflict for the romance. Literally the time period makes it hard enough to be together. I know after a full day of just trying to survive, I’d be too tired to think about love  but in spite of all that, she still is able to weave a dark moment into the story that has me rooting when we finally reach that happily ever after.

Each time I read one of her romances, I finish and have all of this new information I never knew before and this was no exception. Rebel is full of New Orleans history and in true Jenkins fashion it is weaved flawlessly into the story, transporting you to that time period with such ease.

I can’t give this book enough praise. It was a wonderful ride. Literally not even 5 pages in and I was holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat. Jenkins really kicked this one off with a bang and never really let up! I can’t wait to see whose story comes next. I have an idea whose it is, and my fingers are crossed that I’m right!

xo.

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