Cock & Bull by Laura Barnard

Happy Friday Babes, I had the opportunity to read Cock & Bull by Laura Barnard and am excited to chat with you about it.

Cock & Bull

By Laura Barnard

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Goodreads Summary:

Who knew that owning a pub would come with so many extras?
When Phoebe and Ella Bellerose left England behind to run the Irish pub they’d inherited, it sounded like a great adventure… until they saw for themselves what a wreck they’d been left.
With no experience, a severe lack of money, and a rival pub owner threatening to ruin them, the two girls aren’t convinced they can actually make this work.
Not until they meet Clooney Breen, who just so happens to be packed with charm, charisma, and barman skills that could help them all survive. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s the son of Cock & Bull’s biggest rival, and he’s desperate to help Ella and Phoebe teach his father a lesson.
But can mysterious Clooney, with his obvious secrets and desire to be their saviour, really be trusted? Or are they being played by this handsome lothario who seems too good to be true? Their problems only seem to grow and grow, until Phoebe discovers a ‘gift’ of her own that changes everything for all of them…

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I love a ROMANTIC COMEDY BABY! Cock & Bull is laugh out loud, hilarious. It’s so refreshing and just what I needed during such a dirty trash bag of a year we’ve had. I will never get tired of reading the story line where the heroine in the story inherits something. Ever. It is one of my favorite plots to read. In Cock & Bull, the heroine inherits a pub which is something totally different from what I’ve seen. I see a lot of bed and breakfasts and restaurants but this was my first pub which was super cool to see. Cock & Bull is the name of the pub in Ireland that Phoebe and her sister Ella, inherit from their Aunt Breda who passed away.

Who wouldn’t want to move from London to Ireland? I mean both sound like amazing options, but Ireland sounds like a dream. I would love to live in one and have the unexpected opportunity to move to the other.  It totally transported me from the realms of self-isolation life.

Once in Ireland we meet Clooney and the chemistry between him and Phoebe was off the charts. Their back and forth banter had me hooked on every word and I love some witty dialogue.

I loved that everything with the pub isn’t all perfect; it’s a complete dump and needs as much attention and clean up as it can get. I expected the girls to arrive to a warm welcoming too and that was a nice surprise; Phoebe and Ella don’t arrive to the sweet welcome to town you’d think.

This is an amazing, fun story of Phoebe trying to turn the pub around, bring it back to life and trying to not fall for Clooney..while falling for Clooney.

 

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

Hello Friends! I’m back! Like I think, a lot of readers, I went through a crazy long reading slump. Really, it was about two weeks, but it felt like forever for me. It put such a damper on things but I am back reading, closing up loose ends and ready to binge write some reviews. A book I am excited to chat about today is Paris Is Always A Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay.

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

By Jenn McKinlay

Released July 21, 2020

Published by Berkley

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Goodreads Summary:

It’s been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong post-college European adventure. Since then, she’s lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea’s thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most talented fundraiser is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father announces he’s getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died, and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her gap year. Inspired to retrace her steps–to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy–Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago, can help her find it again.

From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.

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This was my first experience of being familiar with an author but due to their writing in another genre. I was super excited when I saw Paris Is Always A Good Idea was authored by Jenn McKinlay because I am a total fan of her cozy mysteries.

I tend to forget to mention trigger warnings: death of a parent; death of a sibling; cancer; brief mention of self harm

I really liked Chelsea though it does take some time to warm up to her a little, but before I knew it, I was completely invested in her and her story. Now, more than ever when everyone is in self-isolation, Chelsea’s story is the kind of story we need. I will never get tired of self-discovery and I think regardless of age or where you are in life, Chelsea’s story is a reminder that we are constantly discovering and becoming who we are meant to be. I love the travel aspect to this book. We tag along with Chelsea as she travels to a small town in Ireland, the big city of Paris in France and a dreamy vineyard in Italy to reconnect with the three men she fell in love with seven years ago before the death of her mother. There is also a rivalry with a handsome co-worker of hers. All tropes I am a huge fan of! The different locations were so fun and the will they-won’t they had me on the edge of my seat in regards to will she link up with these old flames?

I thought the familial aspect was done really well. Chelsea’s father comes to her one day with the news that he is getting remarried to a woman he only met two weeks ago and Chelsea is, understandably upset.

2020 has been ridiculously stressful, a complete dumpster fire. Paris Is Always A Good Idea is a well written, amazingly structured story of self-discovery, finding love along the way and honoring those we’ve loved and lost while moving on with life with them always in our hearts. Jenn McKinlay did a phenomenal job at capturing Chelsea’s loss and grief and determination to find herself again. I am so excited for more than just her cozy mysteries now, she can do no wrong at this point!

 

The Trouble With Hating You

The Trouble With Hating You

by Sajni Patel

Published 12 May 2020 from Forever Publishing

5/5 Stars on my Goodreads

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The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel is the romance between Liya Thakkar and Jay Shah set in Houston, Texas. Liya is a successful biochemical engineer who was recently given a promotion within her company, she’s a hard worker and has her own. She goes to her parents house for dinner one night and in walks Jay and his mother. Liya learns that her parents have invited them to dinner as a setup because this is the man they hope she will marry. She hightails it out of there and at work the next day, she runs into Jay again! Her company isn’t doing so good and Jay is the lawyer they have hired to come in and try and help things stay afloat. These two get off to a rough start obviously; Jay and his mother were under the assumption that Liya set up the dinner so Jay thinks the way she ran out of it was disrespectful to his Mom so there is just tons of tension between these two in their now close proximity situation.

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Nostalgia was the past. The present held a different meaning, as was apparent when I parked on the street, providing plenty of room to escape.” The familial aspect to this story hauntingly looms throughout, breaks my heart but put so many pieces to the puzzle that is Liya together and into context. Liya and Jay are both of Indian descent and this story is heavily rooted in the Indian community. The author’s note mentions this, so it isn’t a spoiler but there is a sexual assault storyline in this story and I think Sajni Patel flawlessly depicts a woman who has had a history of assault and due to the strong religious influence in both her family life and community has had to deal with the victim blaming that tends to come from that. I have seen reviews of this book with people saying Liya is ‘rude,’ or ‘unlikeable,’ which I absolutely disagree with.

“I stepped into a position of power with boys, and then men. Things never went further than my realm of control, and most times, they never went far at all. I required full control. At all times. In all things.”

Liya maintains control of her situations at all times which plays into her romance with Jay. Jay comes in, they aren’t the best of friends initially but the more they work with one another she begins to realize he’s a good guy. This is hard for her because it would be so much easier for her if he were a bad guy.

“I hate you.”- “No you don’t.” – “I wish you were a Mike. This would be easier.” – “I will never be a Mike. And what we have between us isn’t going away.” 

Very slowly we see the walls come down bit by bit as Jay gives her no reasons to not give him a chance.  He knows some things, but only so much out of that insecure feeling Liya has of not being believed.

I feel like this review isn’t making any sense but Babes, I freaking loved this book. It is a brutal glimpse into a culture and how victims in society can be treated after a sexual assault ESPECIALLY if the other person is a person of power and add in the religious power this person holds! This situation made Liya the woman she is, she’s tough because she has to be. She’s opinionated because her opinions are her own and she refuses to be silenced anymore or allow people to take them from her. So much of this book lies in Jay, once learning, having to decide how he fits into her life. I like that other than the opening up aspect, and falling for him, Liya, as a person doesn’t change. I liked that, I loved this book.

The cover is beautiful but don’t be fooled. While it is fun and has some funny moments, it deals with some important topics and has some very heavy moments.

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First Line Fridays

first line fridays

Happy Friday Friends! I am here with another First Line Fridays, which is hosted by Hoarding Books. I participated for the first time last week and really enjoyed it.

Today’s first line comes from The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez.

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“Do you want me to meet you at the cemetery, Sloan?”

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Let me know what you’re reading today! I’d love to know. Have you read The Happy Ever After Playlist? If so, what did you think of it?

 

The Honey Don’t List

Here’s the Plot:

Carey has been the assistant to Melissa and Rusty for ten years. Melissa and Rusty are this big time, famous, HGTV couple who have recently published a bestselling book all about their happy marriage and working together. What only Carey and a few others know is this: Melissa and Rusty can’t stand one another. James is the disgruntled assistant to Rusty. Carey and Rusty are given orders to tag along with Melissa and Rusty on their upcoming book tour to ensure things don’t blow up and the media never learns of their troubled marriage.

 

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First and foremost, if you go, like me, into The Honey Don’t List expecting a good time you will be highly disappointed. No my friends, don’t be fooled by the romcom vibes you get when you look at the cover or read the synopsis! There is nothing comedic about this book. I am holding myself and my reader expectations accountable; it is no one’s fault but my own.. but this book was kind of a downer and low key sucked that I didn’t enjoy it.

This book has one of the best set ups I’ve read in a long time. I read through the set up and thought, Oh this is going to be good! We learn of the trouble between Melissa and Rusty pretty quickly into the story and we are front row centered when Carey and James catch Rusty in a pretty bad situation. We see what happens when doing the right thing backfires. The amazing set up to this book does a disservice to the main premise of the book though; I was way more invested in Melissa and Rusty’s situation than Carey and James’s. Looking back, I don’t think there was ever a moment where I really cared what happened between those two. Melissa and Rusty’ situation, their unhappy marriage was written so strongly right off the bat, that the romance between Carey and James never really stood a chance for me.

Carey is the main character in this book and for ten years she has been the brains hiding in the shadows. I don’t know if the author duo intentionally wrote her In a way that even in the starring role she took a backseat or if that wasn’t their intentions. That’s how she read for me though. The book flip flops between Carey’s POV and James’s and I highkey preferred James’s chapters. Even in the storytelling, Melissa  overshadowed Carey.

Both Carey and James have their motivations for having their current jobs; Carey’s being her need for insurance. I think this aspect was one of the two elements in this story I really clung to. The author due via the relationship between Carey and Melissa were able to explore workplace abuse and manipulation. It’s hard to have a good time when the entire book you’re basically reading from the perspective of someone being manipulated and taken advantage of.  The other element I thought was done well, again, was the dynamic between Melissa and Rusty. We get a glimpse into a famous married couple. Their marriage has become their brand and while one is ready to just relax, the other wants to keep up the hustle because of all their fame has done for them so far.

I’d never tell you not to read a book, but don’t go into this one for the romance. The premise is amazing, so if you’re into troubled marriage stories and more women’s fiction type stories, absolutely pick it up. Sadly though, if it’s a knockout romance you’re looking for, I don’t think this is it.

First Line Fridays

first line fridays

Happy Friday Friends! I thought I’d begin participating in First Line Fridays which is hosted by Hoarding Books.

I will be sharing the First Line from my current read which is Almost Just Friends by Jill Shalvis. She has become such a comfort author for me, and I’m basically binging whatever I can by her at the moment.

Almost Just Friends

by Jill Shalvis

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My First Line:

Piper Manning closed her eyes and plugged her ears against the horror.

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I’d love to know what the First Line from your current read is. Let me know in the comments section and Thank You to Hoarding Books for hosting.

I Reached My 2020 Reading Goal

My Goodreads reading challenge was to read 115 books this year, and I completed it!

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My reading momentum has been crazy this year, it seriously kicked off with a bang! The new year came and I was full of so much excitement to start over with a clean reading slate and a new challenge. This is my first year where my goal was set higher than 75 books and although I was confident I’d achieve the goal, I didn’t think I’d reach it so soon. Here’s what I’ve been doing this year and How I’ve hit my goal already:

Really, there isn’t anything life changing, but first and foremost; go with your gut. If you’re not feeling the book you picked up, put it down. Sometimes it’s simply not the right time and sometimes the book just isn’t for you. Every book isn’t for you and that’s okay. I typically know within 60ish pages, if a book is for me or not, and if it isn’t, then I move on.

Being a mood reader is both a gift and a curse. I will 100% be in the mood for a book, so I place it on hold with the library, then by the time it is my turn to read it- I’ll no longer be in the mood for it.  If I know my mood has changed, I don’t beat myself up; I return the book early and move on. I mention both of these statements to say; don’t waste your time on books you’re not vibing with. Every minute you spend reading a book you’re not enjoying is a minute you could be reading your next favorite read.

Challenge yourself. Okay, so you’ve set an amount challenge for yourself; you’re striving to read so many books in the year. In March and April I got specific and challenged myself to read a book a day. In March I came close but became a bit burnt out towards the end of the month but in April I read 39 books.

Show yourself some Grace. Yes, my 39 April reads consisted of quite a few novels but it also consisted of quite a few novellas, graphic novels and poetry collections. I’d sat this challenge for myself but there were plenty of days I didn’t have the mental capacity to read a full length novel. Having 40 page novellas came in very handy. I have also been making my way through  a graphic novel series that has been a fun way to switch things up a bit with my reading so I continued my way through that series.

Audiobooks. Audiobooks are very convenient. My favorite way to consume an audiobook is with my headphones on while I’m doing work around the house; I’m up moving about being productive and before I know it, my book is finished.

I keep myself excited about reading. Sometimes this means taking a break and doing other things which usually means catching up on Podcasts or watching movies from my DVR. Doing other things causes me to miss reading so when I do pick up another book, I want to just read, read and read some more.

 

 

What 2020 Has Taught me (so far)

Grab a drink and let’s chat. It’s been a while.

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Be prepared, stay ready for anything. Back a few years now, when Atlanta, Georgia had its famous snow storm that shut down the city, I found myself part of that. My husband and I had driven my kids to Chicago to spend a month with my Mom while we packed our home in Georgia in preparation for our move to Texas. As soon as we crossed into Georgia it began to snow and we had no idea what lay ahead of us an hour or so up the road. The storm completely shut the city down. At 3 in the morning it looked like five o’clock traffic. We had three vehicle accidents and slept in our car outside of a gas station. I remember being cold and crying, because I was so afraid. I told myself that night that I’d make emergency kits so that when crap hits the fan we’d be ready. Fast forward to now, 2020, and I still hadn’t done that, though I’m in the process now. The world is crazy and people freak out when they are afraid. 2020 has definitely taught me to always be prepared. It’s okay to have a stock pile, buy a little extra and stash it away for later-you never know when the store will go days without being able to stock up on something again!

Never underestimate Light & Fluffy. I am taking place in ChickLitAthon, which is a month long readathon hosted by Sophie from All Things Equilateral over on Youtube and I’m making it a lifestyle movement all month long. Everyday I’m trying to consume books, podcasts, movies-something entertaining that gives me Chicklit vibes. So far I have been successful and let me tell you! It’s been wonderful and just what I need. I think what constitutes Chicklit is very broad but for me personally, I consider it girl stories and making it a point everyday to consume girl stories has 100% put more sunshine in my days. Never underestimate or apologize needing to consume what makes you feel good.

Take my meds and journal more; both are so good for my depression.

It’s okay to take a bath in the middle of the day just to relax and listen to a podcast. Absolutely okay.

There’s nothing wrong with dinners that consist of leftovers and frozen foods from the freezer. Cut yourself some slack; every night doesn’t have to have this huge meal you slaved over all day.

It’s okay to treat yourself to a night of binging the shows on your DVR. They have to get watched eventually; stop putting everything off for another day. Take advantage of now.

No matter your age, get on the trampoline with the kids! It is still fun and it will make them so happy to see you having fun on something they love. You don’t have to be in adult mode all the time. Treat yourself to fun that takes you back to summer days of your own childhood. For those few moments you can pretend to be a kid again with no worries-sometimes its the escape you need.

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Mid Month Reading Wrap up

It’s Monday, March 16th. Its 11:05 in the morning as I type this..and I’m exhausted. I was wide awake until 2:30 this morning, slugged out of bed at 8-tried to do school work: and here we are. I wanted to share with you all how my reading so far in March is going, so without further ado..!

Weekly Wrap Up (3)

Inappropriate by Vi Keeland. I am used to reading Vi Keeland as part of her author duo with Penelope Ward, so I was really excited to see a new release of hers alone. At this point, I am so used to these two as a duo, I don’t even know if I could tell the difference between a book written by the duo versus individually written books if I was blind folded. I rated Inappropriate a 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.  There wasn’t anything about this book that blew me away; it kicked off with a lot of promise and potential but in the end, ended up just being an okay book.

His Outlaw Valentine by Jessa Kane. Jessa Kane’s novellas can be so twisted and feel so wrong, all the while feeling so damn sexy. His Outlaw Valentine is a friends to lovers romance between best friends Jessie and Ryan. Ryan is OBSESSED with Jessie. Like, it took me a while to get into it there for a minute, but Jessa Kane has this way of making it work, unapologetically, and I liked it. 4 stars.

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Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin. I stayed up one night, binge reading all four of the books in this graphic novel series. Lesbian love. 90s nostalgia. A music store is where the bad ass heroines work, and where the new girl learns that her co-workers are all part of an all girl vigilante fight club. It is amazing. I was sad once finished because it didn’t look like we’d be getting anymore books,  but through some digging on Goodreads it looks like a spin off is coming!

Perky by Julia Kent. Perky is hands down, my favorite romantic comedy so far in the Do-Over series. The novella prior to book one wasn’t bad-I wasn’t the biggest fan of book one, but then I got to Perky! It is laugh out loud hilarious. What happens when the ex-boyfriend who you are 100% positive leaked some compromising photos of you to the internet shows up as part of your best friends wedding? You give his ass a hard time (obviously)! But, what happens when you start to wonder if he really did it or not..? I loved this.

Murders and Metaphors by Amanda Flower.  Seriously, with the Little Women craze we have going on at the moment, I can’t recommend Murders and Metaphors enough! This Alcott classic tries its hardest to help Violet, our protagonist and sleuth, solve the latest murder in her small New York town. This series is addicting, hands down my favorite cozy mystery series so far. I love the magical bookshop setting, Violet’s Grandmother (Grandma Daisy) and Emerson and Faulkner (the shops cat and crow). If you are a fan of cozies, this series is a must read!

Secrets We Told The City: Poems by J.R. Rogue and Kat Savage

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“I’m caught up in the way you breathe me in differently.” I loved this. I find myself awake at 2 in the morning, one clicking away on kindle unlimited poetry collections and man..there is some not so good stuff out there! But, I really like both of these authors individually, and this collection of theirs together was so. Damn. Good. One of those collections that had my emotions all over the place. My mind was racing back and forth, reminiscing on past and present situations. I just love when a collection is able to do that. Bravo to these ladies, they killed it with this one.

The Way To A Man’s Heart by Frankie Love. I’ll post a picture of book 1

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I binge read the first three novellas from this series in basically a day or two. They all have these cute pun intended titles and bright, cute covers. All three books were 3 star reads for me. ENTER RANT: Okay, my issue or side-eye with this series is more of a personal preference, or something I am noticing. Each heroine in this series is completely innocent-she has never had sex. I completely understand that for some women, this is reality. They are in their 20s and have no sexual experience. Trust me, NO SHADE! However, in a genre written for women, BY women, I don’t get why this has to be the NORM! It feels like it is saying, only innocent women get a happy ever after. I as a reader, am not going to judge an author for writing a heroine who is whatever age, and has slept with a few guys, or girls. I’m not going to judge that at all. At this point, I’d absolutely welcome it. I am getting a little tired of what I’m seeing.

A Witch In Time by Constance Sayers. I am slightly disappointed that I didn’t love A Witch In Time more. It had all the makings of a five star read for me; reincarnation, story following more than one heroine who are all connected in some way, a love transcending time. In some ways, the things I didn’t love about the book were also, not that bad. This book is really the story of four women with our main character living in present day. She learns that she is the reincarnation of a woman from 1890s France named Juliet, who made some choices-and ended up with a curse placed on her. The curse entails not living beyond your 34th birthday and our present day heroine, Helen, is quickly approaching her day! Throughout the book, we tag along with Helen as she relives her past lives. Cool. Each woman’s story felt like its own book which absolutely should have worked for me, but I think after a while it felt more like a drag.

My last and most recent finish was Open Book by Jessica Simpson.

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I gave this 5 stars, I really liked it! I listened to the audiobook which Jessica narrates herself and it was a blast. I love her honesty, her willingness to poke fun at herself and her ability to share some of the toughest times of her life; horrible moments with girls at school as a teen, not making the Mickey Mouse Club. I think for anyone who grew up during the time of the boy band boom and when Britney, Christina and Jessica came out- this book will definitely add some perspective to things we probably assumed at the time but weren’t sure of. I remember watching and loving Newlyweds and thinking her and Nick Lachey were perfect together; Jessica’s recounts of their relationship weren’t done in a harmful way, but still provided what she was going through during that time. I really liked it and if you’re a fan of memoir, I think this one is definitely worth the read.

 

xx, those are the books I have read so far in March. Let me know what you’ve been up to and what you’ve been reading!

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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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