How I’m Rating Books in 2020

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We have survived another year friends! Let’s pat ourselves on the back and bask in the excitement that comes along with the arrival of a new year. I am speaking it into existence: 2020 is going to be epic. Not Pictured: my fingers crossed under the table that I am not a complete train wreck at the end of it. Hoping that good romances and delicious wine help me along the way.

I have been reflecting quite a bit on how I want to rate the books I read in 2019 and here’s what I came up with:

5 Stars: The books that I know whilst reading or once I’ve finished, that I know are going to stick with me. These are the books I will recommend at every opportunity that arises. My goal is to not hand these stars out like candy.

4 Stars: My four stars are going to be amazing and great, they will be books I love. (brace yourself for the but..) However, although I loved them and they are books I’d recommend, there is something about them that kept them from being a five star. I know there will be quite a few reads that I have to do some heavy reflection on, to decide if it is a five or four star. There are times that this boils down to the experience of reading the book. We will see what happens.

3 Stars: Straight Up Now Tell Me (sorry, I am currently listening to my girl jams playlist) for real though, my three star reads are straight up, Okay reads. That’s it. No better way to explain it. They weren’t a four star read: they weren’t terrible, they were simply okay and its okay being, okay.

We are now entering into dangerous territory, so brace yourselves.

2 Stars: The writing was terrible. The pacing was off. There was no character development or growth. I very rarely hand out 2 stars, but in any given year, there may be one or two titles that find themselves in this territory. Fingers crossed, this doesn’t happen this year.

1 Star: Funny thing is, I don’t think I have ever rated a book one star. If I rate a book one star, I more than likely decided to not finish it. I couldn’t get through it.  I am pretty picky with what I read. I tend to go back and forth a few times with titles before diving in which, as crazy as it sounds, I think prevents 1 star reads from happening.

 

I would love to know how you are rating books this year! Let’s chat about it. sending good vibes your way. We will chat soon.

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#SmutAThon

Happy Day 1 of SmutAthon. I wanted to jump on here for anyone who may have missed that this romance readathon is happening!

This readathon is hosted by Riley and Lainey and takes place January 4th through the 11th. I will post both of their announcement videos for you:

The hosts have also created a Roaring Twenties themed Bingo Board with the prompts for us which you can find here.

I am playing it safe this round being that I start back to school next week, so I only have four books on my to be read list, but am very excited! I will leave a link to my video below.

I would love to know if you plan to participate. It is so much fun and all about reading romance for a week. I hope you’ll join us.

Chat with you soon. xx.

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Weekly Wrap Up

Weekly Wrap Up

This past week went by in such a haze. Over on my Youtube channel, I have been going so hard with trying to stay on top of #Vlogmas, that it has consumed so much of my life. It has been fun, I’m proud of myself; up to yesterday I had filmed and uploaded everyday. It feels like though, that I haven’t really consumed much. December is almost over and it feels like all I have to show for it is a video everyday. *the struggle* the weird thoughts I tend to have.

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I had two really stand out reads from this past week. Most recently, was Romancing The Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels. I was in the mood for nonfiction but romance at the same time and decided what a perfect time to remove this gem from the to be read cart. Whether wanting to create a romance novel of your own, or in my case, to step your review game up, I think this gem is a read that’s definitely worth it if you love the genre and want a bit more clarification on the mechanics which make it work.

I also read and loved (of course) Insatiable by Melanie Harlow. This is such an emotional and sexy as hell friends to lovers romance between Noah and Meg that to my core, hit all the right spots.

I chat about it in a recent video on my channel where I break down and chat a bit about a few of my favorite romance tropes..

 

Weekly Wrap Up (1)

On audiobook I have been listening to Fluffy by Julia Kent which I really recommend if you are subscribed to Audible Escape. I highly recommend reading the novella prior to this book, Little Miss Perfect, but this one is hilarious. It is a friends to lovers’ish romance between Will and Mallory. All I’ll say is “my high school crush thinks I’m a porn star.” If anything, read it for the hilarious scene the leads to this quote!

It is safe to say, I am addicted to the Fated Mates podcast. I recently listened to Season 2, Episode 15 which is a recommendations episode. Click here for more info and to check them out.

Weekly Wrap Up (2)

At 1 AM this morning, I watched Christmas On my Mind on Hallmark which starred, Alice from Twilight! She did a really good job. She was always my favorite side character in those movies and I’ve missed seeing her. It is so nice to see her in the starring role and in a Hallmark movie.

Of course I am trying my best to keep up with fellow creators vlogmas videos. One I have been loving is my girl Donna Tsundoku. I love her channel, her videos are so creative and I really look forward to seeing what she is reading next.

I hope your week was amazing and your December has been one you’ll definitely remember. I will chat with you soon friends. take care of yourselves. xx.

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#Blogmas Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes

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Christmas In Vermont by Anita Hughes. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye on a evening trip to Barnes and Noble. Mom trip, just wanted to get out of the house. The cover is stunning and although I knew I didn’t need anymore holiday romances, I couldn’t leave the store without it.

Emma is our heroine in Christmas in Vermont. It is just days before Christmas, and she surprisingly finds a jewelry store open in Manhattan. She goes in, wanting to get some cash for a bracelet her now ex boyfriend gave her. Once in the store though, she sees a watch that she gave to her boyfriend from college, Fletcher. She trades the bracelet for the watch and goes straight to her best friend Brownyn.  Brownyn believes in synchronicity, does some digging and learns that Fletcher is visiting a bed and breakfast in Vermont. She handles all the logistics for Emma and off she goes for Vermont!

signature5da8e3b9ed56dOkay, I didn’t hate this book, but I had more issues with it than I expected. Is it cozy? Yes. It is a good read to cozy up with, warm drink in hand and your favorite winter blanket? Yes. One of the biggest issues I had with this book, is one that I have had with a few other books I’ve read during this holiday romance binge I’m on. The issue is this: I don’t mind a romance where the hero is engaged to another person when the story initially kicks off, but I feel like this can be a tough story line to deliver well on. This is the second book I read, where our hero, Fletcher, is engaged and he’s engaged more than halfway through the book. Obviously, the author has to create some issue that arises that ends the engagement and now creates the part of the story where he and our heroine, Emma, can now pursue their relationship. In their case though, this is a second chance romance because the two dated in college, and I feel the author tried to make it work by giving us flashbacks between then and now. In my opinion though, it just didn’t work.

Was Fletcher’s fiancé just the worst person ever? Not really. She is a young actress trying to make a come up and Fletcher is a Broadway producer. It is obvious she has motives behind being with him, but the reasons why the two parted ways felt she obvious, like obviously this is where the story would go. It was so obvious, it didn’t feel believable.

So, now Fletcher is without a fiancé and realizes what he wants is Emma. By this time, the story feels rushed because there are like 50ish pages left in it. Maybe the author felt like, by giving us the time hopping, it would be enough, but for me it wasn’t.

Another issue I had with the book was in regards to Fletcher’s daughter. When Emma arrives in Vermont, she learns that Fletcher is not only engaged but he has a 9 year old daughter. Emma and his daughter grow very close, because Fletcher and his fiancé are constantly leaving her at the bed and breakfast. As a parent, I was just a tad uncomfortable with this. It felt irresponsible and regardless of your relationship status, the welfare of your 9 year old daughter should be number 1, and I’d think any woman who isn’t on board with that, shouldn’t be your fiancé. Personal opinion, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

If you can get past all of that however, it is a nice look at the belief that things happen for a reason. A series of events can be happening because they are leading up to something big. It was really interesting.

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#Blogmas The Christmas Shop by Nancy Naigle

“I want to jog on the beach with you–” He had almost forgotten. “Hang on.” He ran to the trunk of his car and came back with a bucket in hand. “To collect shells along the shore together. I want to buy you flowers just because it’s Tuesday, wake up to your smile and go to sleep knowing you’re nearby. I look forward to every piece of trivia you tell me.”

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Nancy Naigle takes us to Pleasant Sands, North Carolina in The Christmas Shop; don’t be confused, if you see Dear Santa, it’s the same book. This was my first romance by Nancy Naigle and definitely won’t be my last. I rated it five stars over on Goodreads and here’s why:

The You’ve Got Mail vibes.

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Rather than the heroine and the hero being bookshop owners, as you can tell from the title, they are Christmas shop owners. Angela, our heroine, is the owner of Heart of Christmas and both the shop and the lighthouse it’s located in have been in her family for generations. Geoff, our hero, is part owner with his Mom of a big Christmas store chain called Christmas Galore. Their store is new to Pleasant Sands and is giving Angela’s store the final push to closing. I adore the heck out of You’ve Got Mail, so any romance that’s well written and gives me the same vibes is bound to brighten my day.

I love when you read a book and come out of it having learned a lot about a place. Every day in her shop, Angela writes a historical fact about Pleasant Sands on a white board; a Did You Know board. I loved that. I love when you can tell the author is shedding light on wherever they are from without it feeling like a big information dump. In The Christmas Shop we learn how historical this small corner of the country is. Seriously, never underestimate the power and significance of small town America.

The lighthouse which Angela operates her store out of, has been in her family for generations. I could really feel through the pages that it was hard for her to see her shop closing, because she felt that with it’s closing, she’d be letting generations of family down. Angela and her sister were raised by their Grandmother, who Angela inherited the store from, and it was especially her, she didn’t want to let down. The family tie in, in Christmas romances are always a bonus for me. I loved Angela’s relationship with her sister, niece and brother in law. She truly has a strong support system. Our hero, Geoff, was raised by a single Mom and I really enjoyed seeing the dynamics of their relationship as well and learning the reasons why setting up a store in Pleasant Sands was so important to her.

Nancy Naigle really keyed in on running a business in today’s world where big chains are sweeping through cities and towns and ultimately closing the doors of smaller businesses. I respected Angela as a business woman. She sold handcrafted items for the price they deserved, but that doesn’t compare to bigger chains selling the same kind of items for cheaper. In today’s world it isn’t so much quality, it’s what’s cheapest. I like that in her own way she shed a light on this.

I was well over halfway through the book before anything romantic happened. I was basically at the end. Angela comes to terms with her business closing, but she let’s Geoff know that one reason it’s so hard is because she truly cares for Christmas and her business. To him, his store and Christmas, is a business. They both have to overcome their stuff before we reach that happy ending at the end. I liked that. Seeing the back and forth and the coming to terms, and eventual friendship, made me appreciate the ending so much.

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I really enjoyed this romance. If you’re a fan of You’ve Got Mail, small southern town charm and Christmas shops, I highly recommend giving it a try.

xx.

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#Blogmas Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

Her Naughty Holiday

by Tiffany Reisz

#2 in the Men At Work series

Goodreads Rating: 4.08 Stars

Plot:

Clover Greene would sooner crawl into her oven than host family for Thanksgiving dinner. Yet another annual ritual of too much food, served with a side of criticism over “Clover’s Bad Life Choices.” This year, she needs to distract them all—with a handsome fake boyfriend. And she has the perfect guy in mind.

Contractor Erick Fields is the poster boy for sexy single dads, and Clover has been secretly crushing on him for ages. She certainly wasn’t expecting Erick to agree to her insane charade…or to add lots of hot, wicked sex to the deal. If they can pull it off, the worst Thanksgiving ever might give them something to be really thankful for!

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Why Read This Book:

Her Naughty Holiday was a funny as hell, super sexy, fake dating holiday romance. This is my first Tiffany Reisz romance and will definitely not be my last. I really enjoyed that the heroine and the hero were a tad bit older. Erick is actually the Dad of Ruthie, who works for Clover, our heroine. Ruthie is a total force herself to be reckoned with. I adored her. She is this total 17 year old feminist and I couldn’t get enough of her scenes.

The entire beginning and middle half of this book is build up for Thanksgiving day where Clover and Erick prepare for Thanksgiving dinner with Clover’s terrible, so terrible, family. Clover and Erick agree to ‘fake date,’ so that there is a possibility that Clover’s family will back off and give her a break about being single. These people are hilariously terrible people. They give Clover a hard time about being a college drop out, despite the fact that she is still a successful business woman. They want her to settle down and have kids, but not with Erick who is the father of a 17 year old daughter because “step kids are second best.”

I was expecting a very passive scene that I see in a lot of books where the heroine is “the bigger person,” and doesn’t say anything but oh boy, was I wrong and a total Stan for it. This book had one of the best stick up for yourself scenes I’ve read in a book and it didn’t stop there. After Clover is done with everyone’s crap, she kicks THEM ALL OUT, even Erick. Her family is stunned and stubborn and doesn’t seem to get the point, so Erick has to help them understand why Clover is so pissed.

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I loved his scene alone with Clover’s family just as much, if not more than I did hers.  It was great, and in true romance fashion, she heard it all while standing in the background on the stairs unnoticed.

You have to add this holiday gem to your tbr. If you can snag a copy of the audiobook, I can’t recommend it enough. Erick is very sarcastic and uses a lot of jokes, and it just translates so well via audio.

I hope you read it and I hope you love it.

xo.

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#Blogmas Christmas With the Marine by Candace Havens

‘You don’t know how Beautiful you are, do you?’

Christmas With the Marine

by Candace Havens

Published October 18, 2016 by Harlequin Blaze

Goodreads Rating: 3.69 Stars

Plot:

Mission: To make one sexy civvie’s Christmas wish come true 

Christmas is almost here, and guys are the last thing on personal shopper Ainsley Garrett’s list. But her icy resolution melts when she sees an incredibly hot Marine shopping for toys. A man in uniform with a hot bod and a heart of gold? Maybe a gal can believe in Santa after all… 

Major Ben Hawthorne has his career to think about, but when it comes to Ainsley, he’s willing to break his own rules, at least for one night—provided they can get this insanely wicked attraction out of their system. Only, once isn’t enough. Now Ainsley’s checking her list twice…before she falls for a Marine who’s naughty and nice.

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‘I’ve just never met a selfless man before. You’re an anomaly.’

Christmas With The Marine was my first ever read from the Harlequin Blaze series.

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It was fun, and sexy as hell. Ben meets Ainsley while being tasked to buy toys on behalf of his unit for Toys For Tots. Their running into each other was totally meant to be, because Ainsley is a Professional Shopper.

This was a fun holiday romance because the meet cute and so much of the story is about these two getting gifts for other people but in the end, their meeting each other is the gift neither one of them expected or thought they needed.

Both have their reasons for trying to convince themselves that they can only be friends; Ainsley is trying to get her business off the ground and Ben wants to progress to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and knows the hard work and sacrifice that will go into that.

The fact that Christmas With the Marine takes place in Texas was a bonus. The city I live in was mentioned a few times, so I loved that. The story has a twist to it too that I actually enjoyed seeing. Marines are so proud of being Marines, but Ben definitely has to humble himself; Ainsley’s father is constantly trying to set her up with these big time business guys who behind the scenes are total jerks, but her dad doesn’t think Ben is good enough for her. It was a different kind of spin on the story. You have the guy who serves his country in probably the proudest branch of the military, but he’s made to not feel good enough.

The writing was easy. The pacing felt right, and I overall really enjoyed this story. I think if you want a holiday romance that is going to easily hook you from the first page and move quickly, I can’t recommend Christmas With The Marine enough.

xo.

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