Mid-Year Book Tag

Hello Friends! I have decided (just a tad bit late) to do the Mid Year Book Tag. What I like about this tag is that it kind of forces you to reflect back on what you’ve read so far this year, so let’s go!

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The Questions:
1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2018: This is tough, because I feel like 2018 has been a really good reading year for me. The book I feel has stuck with me the most this year though, is Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. I loved the Cuban history sprinkled throughout. I loved the deep running Granddaughter/Grandmother relationship you could feel bursting from the pages and there is something about the story line of your great love not being the love you spend your life with that I am a sucker for.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018: First and foremost, I am shocked at how good I am doing with series this year. Only a year ago, I wouldn’t skip a beat in telling you, “They aren’t my thing!” but ever since I started reading romance I see how easy it is to get addicted to them. My favorite sequel this year is Redemption Bay by Raeanne Thayne. This is book 2 in Thayne’s Haven Point series and after reading Snow Angel Cove, I didn’t know what to expect from the rest of the series. I was honestly hesitant to continue reading it, but after a while, I missed Haven Point and the people in it. So glad I kept going.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to: I have two I’m really excited for. The first is one I actually own, The Cottages on Silver Beach which is the 8th book in Raeanne Thayne’s Haven Point series and Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber which releases on October 2nd.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year: I am really anxious to get my hands on Becoming by the Queen herself, Mrs. Michelle Obama. I have been excited about this book since seeing a photo of it on Instagram a few months ago.

5. Biggest disappointment: This book makes me cringe every time I think about it and it’s Starlight by Debbie Macomber. The love interest, Rand, in this book understandably had his reasons not to trust people easily and to be a tad distant, but I felt he was such an asshole to the main character ALL THE TIME and she just dealt with it. At some points, I felt she did a good job of calling his bluff and sticking around, but he said things to her that I just couldn’t vibe with. This is the perfect example of “Sticking around and he’ll eventually come around,” but I just didn’t think it was worth it.

6. Biggest surprise. The book that was the biggest surprise for me was The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. This book is long and is such a slow burn romance, but oh my heart!  How everything wrapped up was perfect. It was well worth it in the end.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you): I will definitely have my eye out for anything by Jasmine Guillory.

8. Newest fictional crush: This is a toss up. I read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me at the exact same time I read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and found myself swooning over the love interests in both. Aidan was not my favorite person when I started The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, but he gradually grew on me and oh my, when he did, I found him irresistible. And Michael from The Kiss Quotient gets the award for the Most Patient Man ever, he was everything I didn’t know I needed.

9. Newest favorite character: Hands down, my new favorite character is Elle from An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole. Elle was so brave during such a dangerous time for women of color, and so intelligent. I love her and highly recommend if you’re looking for an intense read with a strong female lead..and swoon worthy romance.

10. Book that made you cry (Saddest book you have read): The book that made me cry was The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber. This is such a beautiful story of female friendships, and how they can grow unexpectedly. This story also shows what it’s like to  be given another chance at life but still living very hesitant–being afraid to let people get too close, in the case there is more bad news. I cried the last 30 or so pages of this wonderful story.

11. Book that made you happy: I could go on and on about Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. This story of friendship and a very sexy romance with the back drop of Manhattan was such a fun read.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year:  I think the only film I’ve watched this year that was adapted from a book is The Black Panther which was amazing.

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year: This wasn’t a review, but I am proud of the post I typed about how reading romance is good for my mental health.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received): All of the covers on the books in the Haven Point series are beautifully done in my opinion.
15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?: I have been hauling some gothic romances, and I would love to binge read them all in the next few months and have them all finished and reviewed by the end of the year.

What about you Friends? What has been one of your favorite reads so far in 2018? What’s been the biggest surprise?

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Book Review: The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

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The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Self Published/ February 2016

Audio Narrator/Callie Dalton(this book is part of Audible Romance Package)

5/5 Stars

I needed a sports romance for the Summer Romance Bingo I’m participating in and honestly was a little hesitant to tackle this prompt altogether. Left and right though, I kept being recommended The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata. It’s funny how after I read a book by an author I start hearing their name all the time! That’s been the case with Mariana Zapata during and since I finished The Wall of Winnipeg and Me. Luckily, I really loved this book. So I will gladly be continuing to make my way through her other novels.

Plot Summary:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

My Thoughts:

First and foremost, I was already nervous going into this book–sports romances weren’t something I had considered reading. After deciding to go ahead and give it a try after numerous friends recommending it to me, I saw that it was over 600 pages. All I kept thinking was, “Not another long book!” Then I saw that not only was it a long book but the general consensus is that it is a slow burn romance and I didn’t know if I was in the mood for slow.

This book follows Vanessa who starts off as the assistant to this big time football player named Aidan. Vanessa has been working for Aidan for a couple of years and feels pretty unappreciated. Aidan has never went out of his way to try and get to know her. It frustrates her that here she is basically taking care of his life and he doesn’t even know her birthday. She overhears a conversation between Aidan and his manager, Trevor, that really disappoints her and decides to quit. She is gone for a few days before Aidan starts showing up at her door step begging her to come back and eventually has a proposition for her.

Okay, so yes, this book is super slow burn. If you want that instant, steamy romance, you’re not going to find that in this book. What you will find though is a really well written, gradual, love story.

I think Zapata did a great job of instantly making Aidan unlikeable. I couldn’t stand him at first, but as I look back on it, I realize, we were only seeing the situation through Vanessa’s perspective.  Zapata in the end made me feel so wrong for judging Aidan a certain way in the beginning. Things take time, and people love you in their own ways. As we grow to learn more about Aidan and see his interactions with Vanessa, you slowly start picking up on the different ways he shows her that he cares about her.  There is this whole fake situation going on between them (part of the proposition) but I got the sense pretty early on that after a while, it stopped being fake for Aidan.

There were times that Vanessa annoyed me, just a little. I listened to this on audio and there were times the narrator was reading Vanessa’s thoughts in her head that I just wanted to shout, Shut Up! The thing that makes or breaks a main character for me though is how realistic they seem and Vanessa met the mark for me. Vanessa and Aidan both come from troubled pasts. Both of their childhoods down right sucked, and Vanessa was periodically face to face with those who hurt her the most. Because of her past though, she not only worked her butt off to be where she is now stability wise, but she knows the time and place for things. When there were situations I felt like she should snap, she would count to ten and be the bigger person. She was good to Aidan. She made him a promise and stuck to it. And she didn’t make Aidan and their situation the center of her life. She started pursuing her own business ventures and training for a marathon she really wanted to do. But you begin to see how well the two know each other and have each other’s backs.

I’m always a sucker for a good friendship in a romance. Vanessa and Zak’s friendship in this one is now a favorite. Zak is Aidan’s roommate/teammate. He and Vanessa are there for each other a lot and it was a lot of the interactions with Zak that had me laughing out loud.

The romance in this book isn’t rushed at all but it is so worth it. Sit back and allow the layers of this relationship to unfold for you. I enjoyed it so much. I honestly haven’t  been able to get it off my mind since I finished it!

 

 

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What I’m Currently Reading

Hey Friends! It is Friday and I hope you’ve had a great week. I unfortunately work this weekend, so I’m not sure how much I will get read but these are the books that I will be going into the weekend reading.

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I have been listening to The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata on audiobook from the Audible Romance package. It took me a few chapters to get into this book but now I’m loving it. This book is making me smile, I’ve giggled while driving, laughed out loud a few times and am finding myself completely swooning over the love interest Aidan.

Plot Summary:

Vanessa Mazur knows she’s doing the right thing. She shouldn’t feel bad for quitting. Being an assistant/housekeeper/fairy godmother to the top defensive end in the National Football Organization was always supposed to be temporary. She has plans and none of them include washing extra-large underwear longer than necessary.

But when Aiden Graves shows up at her door wanting her to come back, she’s beyond shocked.

For two years, the man known as The Wall of Winnipeg couldn’t find it in him to tell her good morning or congratulate her on her birthday. Now? He’s asking for the unthinkable.

What do you say to the man who is used to getting everything he wants?

This book has some pretty good reviews on Goodreads and when I asked for recommendations on the Summer Romance 2018 Bingo Group I am participating in, a majority of the recommendations were for this book. Up to the part that I’m at, I feel like this book deserves the hype that it gets. I’m really enjoying it.

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I am currently halfway through The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and wow, this book is living all the way up to the hype that it is getting.

Plot Summary:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

This book has had my emotions all over the freaking place! I feel like Mariana Zapata is doing an excellent job of putting you in the mind of the main character Stella, who lives with Aspergers. There have been scenes that had me on the edge of my seat because Stella is such an honest person because she doesn’t know how to be any other way, so some scenes are a little intense! I love the love interest, Michael, he is falling hard for Stella and I am totally here for it.

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Lastly, I am currently reading a vintage romance! I say vintage, but this book was published in the year 2000 and that is Enchanted Crossings by Anne Avery, Madeline Baker and Kathleen Morgan.

Plot Summary:

This classic anthology includes three romances by popular authors. In these stories, a Lakota warrior defies the boundaries of life to claim a beauty, a pilot and a dreamer on faraway planets learn that passion can bridge the heavens, and a dazzling temptress uses her powers to open a stellar portal and the heart of a reluctant warrior.

I am currently on the first story in this collection, Heart of the Hunter and it is SO GOOD. I love when a story has a little bit of a paranormal twist to it. The main character Kelly  inherits the home and land that has been in her family since her Grandfather purchased it. Kelly’s Grandfather told her prior to dying that on the land there is a cave with the body of a Native American warrior laying to rest in it, and with his body a bag of gold. Kelly locates the body and is surprised he is still basically in tact and shortly after starts seeing a man out of the corner of her eye and feeling a presence around her.

To be honest, I didn’t know how I would feel about this story. It appears that once upon a time there was a romance craze where stories were written with a Native American love interest and white heroine and the used book store I go to has boxes and boxes of them. I was hesitant at first to give them a try–I didn’t want to read anything crazy and disrespectful, but so far with the first story I’m reading, I am really enjoying it!

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Those are my 3 current reads. Let me know what you are currently in the middle of reading, Friends! Have you read any of my current reads? What were your thoughts on them? I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll chat with you soon!

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