King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 31, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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My dearest Leigh Bardugo, congratulations on a phenomenal book. I’ve been trying to rate every book I read 100% sincerely, no matter if it’s a favorite author/series and I feel like I should love it, so know that this rating does not need any fluffing up of any kind.

I’ve loved Leigh Bardugo’s writing since her debut with SHADOW AND BONE and my connection with her and her books will always hold a special place in my heart since she was one of the first authors I ever met. With every book of hers I read, I’m so happy to continue to enjoy the stories she tells and I’m continuously impressed with each subsequent book. I’ve loved all of them but it’s amazing how I still feel like her writing continues to grow with every book or series. Shadow and Bone was the introduction to this universe and had a lot to set up, teach, and resolve within three books. Six of Crows took us to a new part of the Grishaverse with a stunning cast of characters who carried a brilliant heist-type plot but delved even further into character relationships and histories. KING OF SCARS continued to amaze me by diving into a layer of this universe that I didn’t even know existed and I was simply mind-blown with all of the hidden mysteries that I didn’t even realize I was missing.

While the writing style is different, the amount of world-building in KING OF SCARS reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s books. With each book comes a delicious amount of creation, history, and plot to leave the readers curious and satisfied but then BAM! another layer is introduced and much like I felt when reading Sanderson fantasies, it was a brilliant addition that I hadn’t even considered but fit quite perfectly into the universe. All of the pieces fall so perfectly into place that you wonder how you ever did without knowing these pieces of information, and I love how Leigh Bardugo delivers those reveals to readers. Every reveal is so intentional and carefully crafted, and I really felt like Leigh Bardugo made the Grishaverse a real place for me. It’s like it’s always existed and only Leigh knows every in and out of the universe and she always has — it’s just that we as readers slowly get to discover what’s been there the entire time. So many fantasy works are carefully built but still just feel like stories that the author is inventing as they go along. KING OF SCARS unfolds the next layer of this world with expert connections back to Shadow and Bone as well as Six of Crows, showing how brilliantly all of these books have been masterminded. They all connect back to one another in the most perfect ways, from adding on to the existing world to referring back to favorite quotes to sneaking in pieces of other books as special Easter eggs. Whether or not Leigh had these entire books and plot lines in the back of her mind from the very beginning, she certainly knows her way around this complex world that she’s created and always finds a new way to continue creating new adventures while still building upon the stories that we’ve already read and loved.

There was a point in the book where things got REALLY next-level and it was both cool and also a little confusing. It wasn’t in a bad way but it was just a whole brand-new piece of world-building that I kind of had to wrap my brain around and it took me a little while to get into that big fantasy element. It was amazing to witness this concept that I really never saw coming and it was also so series-changing that it took me a while for my brain to adjust. Once the plot continued and the characters sort of wrangled that piece of the story line into the book, it all came back together and I was able to keep all of those pieces together. It also really did add some stupendous fantasy creations and made this series and universe even bigger than they already were. I felt like Shadow and Bone felt more on the YA side (not in a diminutive way, of course), Six of Crows felt like a crossover series to span from YA into adult audience, and KING OF SCARS really broke any boundaries and had some intensely sweeping concepts that really launched it to the next level.

I also want to applaud Leigh Bardugo for how she handled each narrating character (Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina) and how she handled each of their character relationships. I’ve been tiring of a lot of forced romances in other books, jumping into a romance plot, or pairing characters off so each one might have their own romance. I appreciated the subtlety of Six of Crows and how it established those intense relationship feelings without every character having to instantly fall in love and pair off. While each main character really did have their own pair in the book, it never felt like the romances took over and they all felt natural, falling into place at their own time. KING OF SCARS was exactly what I wanted in the romance department which is to say that it didn’t have much at all. Some characters certainly have romantic inklings or feelings and I’m interested in the direction that it’s heading, but there’s much more to focus on and each character shows the proper restraint and focus on their tasks at hand. So much has happened to each of these POV characters that they’re a little reluctant to open their hearts to someone while attempting to keep Ravka from falling to pieces. Instead, each one slowly starts to let emotion come through, guarded and carefully, and there’s just a snail’s pace towards a romantic involvement. I love the hints, the tension, and the slow burn and I’m glad to see that things may lead somewhere but there’s no rush for that to take over everyone’s priorities. All three of these characters also sort of need to learn to love themselves or let go of a past hardship — or both — before they can move on to a romantic relationship with someone else and I truly appreciate that character development. It’s great to see characters working through their own limitations or hardships instead of allowing a romantic plot to “fix” it all. Leigh Bardugo truly knows what she’s doing here and I’m loving the pace of the story all the way through!

I’m just so impressed with everything on these pages and I’m so happy to have a new piece of the Grishaverse. I had no idea where this series was even going to go when it started and I’m not sure how it’ll finish, but I’m loving this new direction and interesting take on the existing world!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Digging deeper. I really got to know this world so much better in this book and it was SO interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. There were a couple moments where things got a little intense in the fantasy aspect but I did really enjoy it overall!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I absolutely loved this book. It did get a couple mixed reviews because of some things that happened, which I understand, but I thought it was stunning.

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BOOKS LIKE KING OF SCARS

             

Cover Love | Kasie West Contemporaries

Every time Kasie West has a new contemporary release, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love the cover. I don’t always love people on covers but these are always so fun and adorable, from the colors to the font to the backgrounds! Sometimes the outfits or settings aren’t 100% accurate to the story (like a tomboy in a dress — I’m looking at you, ON THE FENCE) but I love them no matter what.

If you haven’t seen all of the cuteness that are Kasie West covers, here are all of her contemporary novels for your eyes to behold! (And yes, I’ve read them all and I recommend them all too…)

The Distance Between Us    

    

    

I love how each cover is different but they all still match! Some have the same font/typography and others different, but I love how even when they’re published by different publishers (I think swapping back and forth between Harper and Scholastic), that they all still look amazing together! Each cover just really captures the feel of the book and you know exactly what you’re in for here.

Since these are contemporary romances, each book features the couple of the book within its various setting, which usually applies to the book. Sometimes it’s directly relating to the book (BY YOUR SIDE with the books, LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST with the art, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART on a lake) and other times I still love the cover but it strays a little too much (FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS with the car? I’m don’t think a car was like that in the book…).

I can’t believe how many books Kasie West has published and as of today, there are still MORE to be released in the near future!

MAYBE THIS TIME releases in July of this year and GASP! It’s the first contemporary cover of Kasie West’s that doesn’t have the couple on the cover, just the leading lady! Does this mean there are multiple guys? Or is it more of a girl power book? Or is it just a choice for the new cover direction? Whatever the reason, I’m still loving the bright colors, cover model, and cute typography! Goodreads | Amazon

THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE TRUTH is currently noted as a 2020 book but has yet to be attached to a publisher. I think I actually heard about this book before MAYBE THIS TIME (which I’m now singing in my head by the way…) but it still doesn’t have any publishing info. I’m actually really surprised since Kasie West seems to have two firm homes at Harper and at Scholastic. I would think one of those publishing houses would have grabbed that book up, but as anything in the publishing world, I’m sure there’s more to the story right now than we know.


Which Kasie West contemporary cover is your favorite? I really love the brightness of LISTEN TO YOUR HEART and the colors of the cover and colors of the spine of LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST!

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine – Sally ThorneTitle: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 10, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Hating Game

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

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THE HATING GAME sprang onto the scene as an adorable rom-com beloved by so many so the anticipation of 99 PERCENT MINE was naturally quite heightened. As much as I don’t like comparing two books that are in no way related, I admit that 99 PERCENT MINE fell incredibly short compared to my love for THE HATING GAME.

Firstly, 99 PERCENT MINE felt much more serious. THG was so cute, cheeky, fun, and had amazing tension. 99PM felt like it was much more in the way of a serious romance, despite Darcy’s cheek and sass. The difficult part for me is that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was incredible boring and monotone and didn’t have the flirtatious fun that THG’s narrator did, so that affected my take on the tone entirely as well. She read it as a serious book so whether it was or not, that’s how I felt about it. Her narration affected me a lot, and not in a good way. It only exacerbated how much I wasn’t enjoying the plot and made for a difficult read. I really didn’t want to continue but pushing me forward was the fact that I knew I could finish quickly. My problem wasn’t the fact that it was a more serious book, but the cover matched that of THG with a sass and cuteness that didn’t really reflect the story inside. I was just expecting the same tone and it really wasn’t for me.

Okay, onto the story itself. I didn’t much like the feel of the characters and I hated how they treated each other. You know I love a good friends-to-more romance and the situation between Darcy and Tom was best friends as kids, reunited as adults and the tension is still there. He’s the only guy Darcy ever had strong feelings for and the childhood crush/teenage bigger crush carried into adulthood and Darcy still has it bad for this guy, all hidden under a very hard exterior. The hard exterior isn’t false — Darcy is tough and can handle herself, but it all felt like a bit TOO much. Leather pants, swearing (don’t get me wrong, I love swearing), teasing guys, a nipple ring… Meh. It just wasn’t for me and I just didn’t click with it. There was something that just felt really off about her character. Jamie (her twin) was a little too black-and-white, stripped down to the basics of a character. Tom was a little better but also still a little too melodramatic for my tastes. And I just hated the way everyone treated each other. Darcy basically tried to force Tom into liking her back (she knew he did but she put him in uncomfortable situations) and she and Tom were so afraid to talk to each other. It was constant aggressive moves, then not wanting to talk, hiding things from each other and making up for it afterwards. All of the relationships just made me cringe instead of having me swoon.

The book finally made up for it some in the end when the two do finally get together (no spoiler there, that’s the whole point of the book so if you don’t see that coming…..) and I finally got a feel for some of the chemistry without the secrets and non-sensical reluctance to be in a relationship. They both loved each other and the only thing holding them back was themselves. Meh.

I also really hated this dependency and ownership. The “99% mine” thing is kind of cute until you realize that Darcy actually wants to make Tom “hers” and keep him all for herself. She thinks her brother, who is best friends with Tom too, has too much of him and she keeps counting up the percentages until he’s all hers. It’s just such an unhealthy way to think of relationships and the fact that she couldn’t even share him with his friends was off-putting. I get a sibling rivalry of sorts, but Darcy and Jamie actually liked each other and had a good relationship (until a stupid fight which they have to overcome) so it bothered me that she wanted to steal Tom away from an important person in his life as well as hers, which would hurt her brother in the process too.
The dependency came in where both Darcy and Jamie felt they would die without Tom, Darcy quite literally with her heart condition… And that took it too far. Things can be romantic and her heart beating faster and responding to Tom was cute, but dying without him? I get the point being made, losing your soulmate and I suppose I do believe the possibility of dying of broken heart, so to speak, but it just didn’t fit in this situation and the concept just didn’t seem to jive. I never got a good handle on Darcy’s character with her pushing everyone away and then clinging so tightly.

The characters really didn’t pull me in and this is a character-driven novel so without some other plot (besides Darcy’s heart, which also irritated me because she could have taken care of herself but chose not to), I just didn’t connect with it. Thinking about two stars but I’m not sure yet.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary. I don’t read a lot of adult contemporary romances but I think I want to get into more cute and fun ones! This was an instant read for me thanks to THE HATING GAME and I think I’d like to read more cute contemps!
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. Among other things, I would have loved to see the chemistry sooner. There was too much time putting it off because the two main characters were afraid or hesitant. We missed so much good emotion time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

There are so many mixed reviews on this book that I don’t know what to tell you! I felt let down and disappointed but other friends really loved it. I guess it depends on what you’re aiming to get from this book and I didn’t get it.

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BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

What I Loved [January 2019]

In an attempt to get back into the blogging swing, I wanted to revisit my monthly recaps but in a much more casual way! Instead of focusing on stats and posts, I’m sharing some of my favorite things about this month, from books to merch to life and everything in between!

BOOKS

I had trouble figuring out what book I wanted to kick off 2019! It didn’t need to be anything crazy but I do like starting the year on a good note, and I try not to make it a reread for arbitrary reasons. After four days of watching Netflix, I finally chose a book and then got into my reading swing! I ended up reading eleven books this month which with all the TV I watched is a pretty good number and a healthy start to the year!

 

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BOOKS READ (11):

JANUARY READING STATS

  • # BOOKS READ: 11
  • # BOOKS DNF: 0
  • RATINGS:
    • 5 STARS: 1
    • 4.5 STARS: 1
    • 4 STARS: 2
    • 3.5 STARS: 2
    • 3 STARS: 1
    • 2.5 STARS: 1
  • FORMATS: 
    • AUDIOBOOK: 9
    • ARC: 1
    • HARDCOVER: 1

EVENTS & WANDERINGS

I stopped by local indie Harvey’s Tales again this month, this time to drop off a candle order, and I can’t get over how cute it is! This time I got to stay and chat with some staff and I ordered myself a coffee to go, not to mention I did some shopping for myself… Oops! I picked up a copy of THE WICKED KING, an enamel pin, and a t-shirt which I’ve already worn multiple times. Their t-shirts were only $10 and that’s SUCH a good deal. A bookish shirt, a local business, and an affordable price? I was instantly sold.

 

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MOVIES & SHOWS

I started a bullet journal this year in part because I wanted to make my own reading journal but also so I could keep track of TV shows! I realized how much I actually watch while I’m working and when Shane and I sit down to watch things at night so I started keeping track of the shows I’ve been binge watching! Here’s what January brought:

  • BREAKING BAD (Netflix): Finished Season 1 (started in December), watched all of seasons 2-5 | SERIES FINISHED
  • YOU (Netflix): Watched all of Season 1 | SERIES FINISHED up to current releases
  • MANIAC (Netflix): Watched all of Season 1 | SERIES FINISHED
  • FUTUREMAN (Hulu): Watched Season 1, episodes 1-4 | SERIES ABANDONED
  • THE GOOD PLACE (Netflix, Xfinity On-Demand, Hulu): Watched Seasons 1-3 | SERIES FINISHED up to current releases
  • THE OFFICE (Netflix): Finished Season 1 (started in December), watched all of Seasons 2-4, watched Season 5 Episodes 1-3
  • BETTER CALL SAUL (Netflix): Finished Season 1, watched Season 2 Episodes 1-6

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate StrohmTitle: Love A La Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publishing Info: November 27, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

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LOVE A LA MODE was an overall enjoyable book! It was compared to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which are big shoes to fill in my book since I re-read that every year, but honestly aside from the Paris setting, it really shouldn’t be compare to ANNA. Not in a bad way but they’re really not that similar, and I actually feel like Paris had even less to do with LOVE A LA MODE because it wasn’t explored and didn’t mean as much to these main characters. The main focus here was the cooking and baking, which was a lot of fun to read about! I used to get into watching Chopped and the Cooking Channel (though I don’t much anymore) and I do enjoy cooking and baking on a basic level, so it was fun to read about something new to add a theme and a unique concept to a book! I think the cooking and Paris setting helped it stand out a bit from other contemporary YA novels but I also think it could have had a little more that helped it stand on its own two feet.

I think overall, I feel like everyone and everything could have had just a little more depth. I would have loved to see more from the main characters aside from their crushes, more of the Paris setting… We did see a lot of cooking but as much as I enjoy cooking and baking, it’s not really on a technical or fan-based level, so I wasn’t as connected to that. I enjoyed the book overall and I think the maturity level and interactions between these teens was accurate, but I still felt like we could have learned even more about them, their stories, something to make them more well-rounded characters. We dipped into some family histories but there wasn’t a whole lot there to really bring the characters’ experiences to the page until later on in the book.

There was a bit of a love triangle but I also liked that it wasn’t really Rosie truly caught between two boys. There was an instant attraction to Henry and then she had a crush on a TV star’s son (who is also a bit of a TV star). Once she gets to know the star, she figures out her true feelings for each of the boys, but it isn’t dragged out to be going back and forth between the two. What I didn’t really enjoy were Henry’s jealous feelings, which were valid but it was another case of “if these two just talked we wouldn’t have an issue”. I know that’s not always how life works but sometimes the way it plays out on the page can be a little frustrating, and this time it got the best of me!

Overall, I did enjoy listening to LOVE A LA MODE on audiobook. The narrator was actually the author and I really enjoy listening to authors narrating their own works! You know that everything is being said exactly how they want it to be said, inflection and all. I think she was a good narrator, not my favorite, but enjoyable to listen to. The story was cute, had a unique spin, and an easy read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cooking and baking. There are a lot of characters in books who enjoy baking and this book took it to a whole new level with a cooking school! I didn’t connect as much because I don’t know things on a technical level but I think it was really fun to read about!
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I would have loved to see more personality and character depth! They could have been a bit more well-rounded, I think.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was enjoyable and a lot of fun! I think it’s definitely worth the read. It was cute and interesting!

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE A LA MODE

             

6 Books on my January TBR

January is halfway over already but there were so many books being published this month on my reading list! I don’t set a “to-be-read” list for myself each month (aka “TBR”) because I’m such a mood reader, but I do like to keep track on Goodreads when all of my anticipated books come out so I can try to read them around their pub date, if possible!

Today I wanted to share with you some books that are still on my January 2019 TBR and a few I’ve read already!

6 BOOKS ON MY JANUARY TBR

      

THE GIRL KING by Mimi Yu | I picked up an ARC of THE GIRL KING at ALA this summer but haven’t made it around to it yet. I’ve been waiting to see the reviews for it because the book sounds interesting but I’ve also been shying away from some YA fantasy if I don’t know the authors. I’ve gotten fairly picky and have put a few other YA fantasy books down because they just didn’t feel any different from others I’ve read before.

FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN by Emma Mills | I received an ARC of FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN from Macmillan publishers and I keep hearing such good things bout Emma Mills’ books! I’ve only read FIRST & THEN of hers so far and it was enjoyable but I didn’t super love it, so I haven’t gotten around to reading a lot of her other books yet, plus nothing else she’s published is available on audio, which is how I read 75% of my books.

THE VANISHING STAIR by Maureen Johnson | I read the first book in this series, TRULY DEVIOUS, last year and was very interest by it! I didn’t realize that it was a series so I was kind of bummed and surprised, but fortunately I requested this one on audio from Harper and I’m interested in continuing the story!

      

CIRCLE OF SHADOWS by Evelyn Skye | I absolutely loved Evelyn’s Skye’s debut series with THE CROWN’S GAME and I’m so excited to read a new book from her! I can’t wait to see what CIRCLE OF SHADOWS has in store! I got this one on audio from Harper as well and I’m excited to listen to it!

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY by Brigid Kemmerer | I’ve seen so many glowing reviews for this book and so I started reading it the other weekend! It’s a really interesting concept so far with its Beauty and the Beast adaptation with a modern twist, but still keeping that fantasy world there.

KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo | And of course, there’s the highly-anticipated KING OF SCARS! I’ve been waiting for this book ever since it was announced (maybe even before then haha!) and it will be something I pick up the day that it’s released!

3 JANUARY BOOKS I’VE ALREADY READ

      

UNDYING by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | I absolutely loved UNEARTHED, the first book in this series, when I read it last year so I was dying for UNDYING (no pun intended)! I actually didn’t know that it was only a two-book series so I wasn’t ready for the way it ended. I was actually hoping for a little bit more space-action so that was a little bit of a bummer but it was still interesting!

THE WICKED KING by Holly Black | I had to read THE WICKED KING on its release day, naturally! I had similar feelings to THE CRUEL PRINCE, where it was enjoyable with a lot of great plotting and planning but I still didn’t quite love it.

99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne | THE HATING GAME was one of my favorite books in 2017 (I read it in 2017, published in 2016) so I was dyingggg for more from Sally Thorne! Sadly, I didn’t connect with 99 PERCENT MINE much at all. The more I think on it, the worse I feel about it, which is even more of a bummer.


Which January books are you excited to read? Are any of these on your TBR, or have you read any on my list?

(I bet you’ve already read THE WICKED KING, right?) 

End of Year Book Survey | 2018

One of my favorite bloggers (and people. She’s a gem!), Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, hosts a wonderful thing called the End of Year Book Survey. I had an absolute blast completing the survey for 20122013, 2014, 20152016, and 2017 so I was excited to hop on board for the 2018 END OF YEAR BOOK SURVEY!

As usual, all links will take you to my reviews for these books so if you see something you’re curious about, check out my reviews!

 

2018 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 133
Number of Re-Reads: 22
Genre You Read The Most From: Hmmm I’m guessing fantasy!

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  1. Best Book You Read In 2018? The books in the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown! Specifically MORNING STAR
  2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Probably IN THE AFTERLIGHT… I had high hopes for the rest of The Darkest Minds series but they fell so flat!
  3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? SADIE by Courtney Summers! It was so powerful and I had to finish it in one sitting.
  4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? Hmmm, probably RED RISING! 
  5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018? Series: I binge read so many! Probably the October Daye series. Sequel: GOLDEN SON! MORNING STAR! Series Ender: MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown
  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018? Has to be Seanan McGuire! I binge read two of her series this year and loved them both!
  7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Hmmm probably THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS. I haven’t been reading a lot of “serious” books lately and it gave me a lot of feels!
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? MORNING STAR… repeating things but it’s true! They’re so good! 
  9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Well I do have my annual re-reads, but I don’t think those should count. Hmmm maybe re-reading the Red Rising series? Or re-reading FOUNDRYSIDE before the next book? I’m not sure, actually! 
  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018? BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire. Those colors!
  11. Most memorable character of 2018? Mia Corvere from NEVERNIGHT!
  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS! It was so lovely.
  13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2018? I guess also THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS!
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? NEVERNIGHT and THE BONE SEASON!
  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018? Eh, I don’t keep track of quotes.
  16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018? EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire (170), KINGDOM OF ASH by Sarah J. Maas (992)
  17. Book That Shocked You The Most: Hmmmm. GOLDEN SON and MORNING STAR! Those twists!
  18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): Mia and Don Tric. Sigh.
  19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Darrow and Sevro/Sevro and Ragnar from the Red Rising series! 
  20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff
  21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.: The October Daye series!
  22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018? Hmmm can I keep Thomas from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series since ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was a new book? 
  23. Best 2018 debut you read? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS
  24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? Red Rising, FOUNDRYSIDE
  25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? UNDEAD GIRL GANG!
  26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS
  27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? I think FOUNDRYSIDE. 
  28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? I guess SADIE? 
  29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018? Ooh that’s a difficult one! SKY IN THE DEEP? SCYTHE? UNDEAD GIRL GANG?
  30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET. It was just… not good. 

 

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    1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018? This is hard! I can’t remember who was new as of 2018.
    2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018? My Stranger Things recommendation guide!
    3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018? It’s a recent one, but I loved my photo of STRANGE THE DREAMER and MUSE OF NIGHTMARES! 

 

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4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)? I had a blast at ALA Annual in New Orleans as well as BEA/Book Con in NYC!
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018? Does candle work count? Because getting more candles into bookstores was very awesome! Also being in the acknowledgements of ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was amazing!
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? Probably just keeping up with the blog this year! I really struggled with carving out time for it but I’m trying!
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? Out of any year published: If You Liked… Anna and the French Kiss | Published this year: Review of NEVER FADE by Alexandra Bracken

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? Also my Stranger Things recommendation post! I feel like it barely got any views and I worked so hard on it!
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I loved finding new bookstores in my area! Harvey’s Tales just opened in Geneva, IL and I found a used bookstore in Batavia!
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Just the Goodreads annual challenge! I completed my goal of 100 and went on to finish 133.

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  1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019? Hmmm I’m not sure! I did get to some older books and I intentionally put off GODSGRAVE to wait a little bit longer until book three is coming out. I do need to catch up on a lot of ARCs.
  2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)? KING OF SCARS!
  3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? I don’t even know, TBH. I haven’t been reading a lot of debuts unless someone else has read them first. I just have so many things to read and haven’t even been thinking forward like that.
  4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019? Hmmmm. The Ronan Trilogy? Is that coming out in 2019? 
  5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019? Just to keep on blogging! I want to get back to regular reviews and come up with other unique posts like I used to. I’m trying!
  6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable): I haven’t read many 2019 books yet! The one I did read I didn’t love. Oops. 

Another big thanks to Jamie for organizing this survey! I always have so much fun with it every year and I am SO excited for what 2019 has in store for me!

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet EvanovichTitle: Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: December 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times bestselling series.

There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

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This was one of the more enjoyable story lines in the series without anything too wacky or crazy! In several of the more recent books, the plots just get too silly (especially anything involving animals), but LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE was one of the more grounded ones for me. I mean, I know they’re supposed to be a little silly and a whole lot of fun, but I can’t stand when monkeys start acting human-like, etc. I always love the wacky antics that these characters get up to on their own and this was one of the better Stephanie Plum reads for me!

I actually liked the diner aspect, which I didn’t think I would when it was first introduced. It allowed the characters to be silly without going way far over the top and added a fun, new atmosphere. It was fun to see where things went with this new atmosphere and added a new spin on the character relationships.

I’ve abandoned hope of a romance going anywhere (that seems to be the theme with these cozy mystery series — just draw things out as long as possible) so I just sit back and enjoy the show. Each time Stephanie moves forward with Morelli, she moves right back in the next book. At least the is one of the love triangles I actually kind of enjoy since I love Ranger (even if I don’t want Stephanie to mix and match love interests).

I also just love listening to these audiobooks. They’re so easy and fun and comfortable. Each one is an easy go-to read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Stephanie Plum series. Things do get a bit too silly for me at times, but then we have books like this one where it comes back to a more normal — but still fun — base. It’s what helps keep me interested in the series.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I always wish for more commitment Stephanie/Morelli department. I’ll keep hoping even though it may never happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Let’s be honest, if you’re checking out a review for Stephanie Plum #25, you’re already into the series! Might as well continue and enjoy, and no matter what, they’re all quick reads!

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BOOKS LIKE LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE

          

On the Same Page: Secret Sister Project | Round 10 Sign-Ups!

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I cannot believe that it is already time for round TEN of #OTSPSECRETSISTER!!

Let’s first get some housekeeping things out of the way…

The two most important things to do when signing up to be a part of this project are:

  1. Head over to the google form which coincides with your monetary tier and fill it out in full. NOTE: If you forget to do this then we cannot pair you, it is what we use to do all of our pairings.
  2. BEFORE scrolling down to the questions, and BEFORE signing up to be a part of this project please thoroughly read our FAQ and Rules post. Memorize the rules and refer back to it throughout the project to make things easier for everyone.

Just to cover all of our bases let me reiterate a few things, but please keep in mind that this is just a basic glossing over of these rules, we go more in detail and clarify everything in the main post that we are asking you to read.

First, please remember that this is a commitment. By signing up to be a secret sister you are promising to send at least one small card AND gift to your secret sister a month depending on the “monetary group” for which you sign up. Those in the pen pal tier are not expected to send gifts, that is strictly letters/cards AND you will NOT keep your identity secret if you are ONLY in the pen pal tier. Those in monetary tiers: you are also asked to send letters and or/postcards to foster positive communication IN ADDITION to packages. Please remember: this is not a subscription box. It is not about the gifts. It’s is about the connections you are making!

Last thing, sign-ups run from January 12 to midnight on January 31!

NOTE FOR INTERNATIONAL PARTICIPANTS: Due to time zone differences and issues in the past with late questionnaires, etc. we are only able to give you until January 25 to sign up for round 10 of The Secret Sister Project. More details on how to sign up as an international participant below.

The Rules:

  • You must “know” one of the hosts in order to join!
  • You must be 18 or older to participate in The Secret Sister Project
  • You must actively use the hashtag (to thank your sister, etc.) #OTSPSecretSister during your time participating in The Secret Sister Project.
  • If we have to reach out to you more than once to ask if you why your sister hasn’t yet received anything then you will be asked to cease in participating.
  • If we contact you and ask if you sent something to your sister and you say yes but are unable to provide tracking for the package then you will be asked to cease in participating.
  • If you have not received anything by the end of the month then YOU must contact US.
  • If for any reason you find that you have to drop out of this project, please email us immediately.
  • You will be asked to provide the name and contact info (email addresses, please) of a “buddy” who will be willing to answer questions put forth by your sister. We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy to contact.
  • Below, you will be asked to provide a Goodreads or Amazon wish list with 20 or more books including newer and older titles that is specific to The Secret Sister Project. *Do not share this list with anyone else!
  • You must answer ALL of the questions put forth in the sign-up email as well as be detailed and thorough.
  • Keep in mind that there is strong emphasis on the pen pal aspect. Meaning that if you have signed up for one of the higher price ranges, you should still send a letters to your sister.
  • Do not tweet or use the hashtag to ask for specific and/or luxurious items.
  • Do not tweet negativity while using the hashtag
  • Do not send swag
  • Pay attention to your sister’s likes/dislikes and wishlists
  • ARCs and shipping do not count toward your monetary limit
  • Do not send packages directly from Amazon without speaking to your point person first

Please read and re-read our FAQ and Rules post and remember that we are here for you. Do not hesitate to reach out to use if needed, we want to help you and can’t unless we know what is happening! This all probably seems like a lot – but please keep in mind that we sometimes have up to 200 participants at any given time and we ask you to follow these guidelines to make things easier on us as we all share in this community.

Okay, now we can move on to the fun stuff!

So how do I sign up?

It’s easy! Just answer every question in the questionnaire below and email it over to onthesamepagesecretsister@gmail.com by midnight on January 31! ALSO In addition to the questionnaire, you will also be asked to answer a few questions for a Google form. PLEASE NOTE: If you do not fill out BOTH of these things in full, then you will NOT be paired. This is what we will be using to pair you, so do not forget!

For those of you wishing to join the Pen Pal Tier ONLY: please still fill out the questionnaire in full with the exception of your wish lists. The questions will be a good way for us to pair you up with someone, and for your pen pal to get to know you. REMEMBER: Your identity is not to be kept secret from your pen pal.

International participants: Please use this Google form to sign up instead of one coinciding with the tiers. There will be a place for you to fill out your preference of which tier you would like to belong but we can not guarantee this. Due to international participation being low, we may have to put you all into the same tier, or may not be able to include international participants this round. Please remember that you have until midnight on January 25 to sign up as an international participant.

Here we go!

Name:

Mailing Address:

Is the above address a residence/PO Box/Condo/place of employment: (*As in, will your mail get to you when the tracking says delivered, or will you need to wait to get to the mailbox/mailroom?)

Email Address:

Blog:

Twitter Name:

Did you participate in one of the prior rounds of the Secret Sister Project? If yes, which round?

If yes, please provide us with the names of your former sisters (those you gave to, and received from – it is okay if you don’t yet know who is sending to you this round):

How much are you willing to contribute to the project monthly? Choose one (NOTE: this is just a range, you can of course go over the limit but please keep the pen pal aspect in mind, and please remember that is about cheer and not just gifts.) REMINDER: International participants are to fill out THIS google form only, do not fill out one provided below.

  • Pen pals: That’s right, this is strictly letters and cards. No trinkets, no extras, nothing besides letters. If you want to send ANYTHING more than a letter or a card every month then we ask that you sign up for one of the higher monetary tiers. NOTE: YES you may sign up for a pen pal tier and a monetary tier. Ensure that you fill out a google form for BOTH. *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE PEN PAL TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $5-$10: (Send a heartfelt letter to catch your sister up on how things are going that month and then send an e-book, baked goods, homemade bookmark or other DIY project, or how about a movie night box with a DVD (thanks to the $5 bin at Walmart) and some candy for a movie night!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $5-$10 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM.
  • $15-$20 (Any of the possibilities listed above and perhaps a newer hardcover from your sister’s wish-list, some fun socks, fandom tshirt, themed box, get creative!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $15-$20 TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM
  • $25+ (The sky’s the limit here, we just ask that you remember to reign it in a bit and remember the goal of this project is for cheer, and joy and forging positive relationships, not excessive gifts. Send those heartfelt letters!!) *IF YOU ARE CHOOSING THE $25+ TIER THEN CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT YOUR GOOGLE FORM

Your OTSPSecretSister “buddy’s” Twitter or email: (*We are asking that you keep this to someone who is in the community and therefore will be easy to contact. Husbands/moms/sisters are not easy to contact.)

Goodreads Profile (*so that they can access your wishlists! Make sure to turn off the privacy setting & try and keep it updated!):

Goodreads/Amazon bookish wishlist: (*must have at least 20 titles of older and newer titles, please try not to purchase any books off of this wishlist and if you do please let your sister know via your buddy or one of us. Do not give anyone else access to this list. Not parents, husbands, friends, co-workers, secret santas…etc. If you do not want to share a wishlist by making it public, you may list the books here instead.)

“Other” wishlist: (*Keep these within reason for prices, etc! Please do not include pricey things, this is more for places like Etsy or for cheap DVDs on Amazon, and so on!)

Important Dates to Remember (*This can be anything and everything! Your birthday, the day you are expecting your baby, the day you are leaving for your next vacation, your anniversary with your partner, a big test you have coming up, the first day at your new job, the anniversary of the day you quit smoking, even a sad anniversary on which you would need some cheer!):

Your favorite items under $5: (things like stationary, nail polish, fav candy etc.)

Food Allergies:

Fandoms:

Your Likes (*Give us an array of things here! Types of snacks, TV shows, movies, bands/types of music, art):

Your Dislikes (*Example: chocolate covered cherries, anything cinnamon flavored, the color brown):

Do you have a favorite store?:

Are you okay receiving a gift card? If so, to where?

Would you be comfortable receiving baked goods of some kind?

What Do You Splurge On?:

Favorite Flowers:

Favorite Color?:

Favorite (or least favorite) smells: (*for things such as candles, soaps, bath bombs/bubbles, perfumes)

Do You Collect Anything?:

Do You Drink Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate?:

Do You Have an E-reader?:

Would you be okay being gifted an ebook? If so, please provide the email associated with your e-reader:

List some of your favorite genres or authors:

Are there any authors or genres that you won’t read?

T-shirt size:

Hogwarts House:

Favorite Disney movie and/or princess:

Any magazine that you wish you had a subscription to?

Anything else we should know about you? (*Be thorough here! There is no such thing as “saying too much,” the more your “secret sister” knows, the easier it is to spoil you!)

Third and final reminder that you MUST also fill out a google spreadsheet which coincides with your monetary tier. Links can be found above.

As always, please remember that you can always reach out to us with any inquiries or issues, that is what we are here for! Especially reach out to us if you have not received anything by the first of the month. We want to keep everyone active and honest! Use the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag to talk with us and your fellow sisters, the best part about this project is the community. Thank you for helping us continue to spread positive vibes and cheer throughout our community!

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie WestTitle: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Publishing Info: December 26, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

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LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was another wonderfully put-together Kasie West book! You know I’m a sucker for friend-to-more romances and this was another one that I really loved. The friendship was so great and enjoyable and I really liked how everything felt so realistic with the way that Abby handled her crush on her best friend. Did I love how Abby acted in every situation? No, and that’s what made it so realistic. Teenagers (and hey, even adults) don’t make very good decisions when feelings are involved and I know we’ve all made some choices that have hurt people when trying to figure out our love lives. I actually really appreciated that everything wasn’t perfect and smooth.

I will say that after reading this book, it kind of made BY YOUR SIDE seem a little less realistic with it the way that the anxiety issues were handled. It’s hard not to compare sometimes and LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST handled Abby’s mom’s agoraphobia much better than the anxiety issues in BY YOUR SIDE.

While LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST is still not my favorite out of all Kasie West’s contemporary books, it was so strong, realistic, and just really well done. I loved the sarcasm, banter, and friendship and all of the different friendships throughout the book. There were so many moments that felt natural and not forced and I really appreciated how Katie West handled so many of the situations here. I could have even gone for a few different endings but I was also really happy with how everything wrapped up!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Messy romances. I’m sure every romance in a book is a little messy and has its drama, but really there were so many different ways that this book could have ended. I could have gone for a few different endings, but I actually kind of liked that it was so complicated that I didn’t know how it would end and who Abby would choose.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I could have used a bit more time with Abby and Cooper actually together without the animosity of the other girl.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’m a big fan of all of Kasie West’s books. Even the ones I don’t love as much, they’re all so solid and great.

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST