Bookish Posts

My Top 20 Books of 2018

Because there are waaaaay too many AMAZING BOOKS to limit the list to only 10 

 

Click on the title link to go to my review of each book to hear all the reasons why it’s an awesome book!

In no particular order . . . my favorite books I read this year 

 

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  • When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele  |  Add to Goodreads

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  • Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey  |  Add to Goodreads

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How many of these books have you read?

Which did your add to your TBR?

What are your favorite books that you’ve read in 2018?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Review | The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee by Victoria James

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The Firefighter’s Pretend Fiancee by Victoria James

Published: September 10, 2018 

Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC

Pages: 232

Genres: contemporary romance, romance

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: people needing a reminder there are good guys in the world, romance novels with firefighters and doctors 

Foodie Vibes: coffee with organic milk, green juices, meat lovers pizza

 

Synopsis:

Leaving Shadow Creek nine years ago was the hardest thing Molly Mayberry’s ever had to do…except maybe returning. She’s never regretted her choice, but a chance of a lifetime position at the local hospital means going home and facing her past, including her shrew of an estranged mother and the fiancé she ran out on. Ben Matthews is still the sexy, sweet man she left behind…and apparently still her fiancé.

Ben has been doggedly pursuing the position of fire chief since he was a teenager. There’s just one problem—he has to show his boss he’s ready to settle down. No matter how silly the condition, Ben will make it happen. And apparently so will his brother when he opens his mouth and decides to tell everyone Ben and Molly are engaged. Now the one woman he never stopped loving is living with him in a fake relationship, driving him crazy. Pretending only reminds him how right they were once, but if Ben gives in to the heat building between them, heartache is sure to follow.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Victoria James and Entangled Publishing for an ebook copy for review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As alway, an honest review from me.

At first I was a little skeptical based on the title. I assumed the pretend fiancee would be someone he barely knew, so it seemed a bit unrealistic that the couple would fall involve. Because it’s a romance novel after all. Once I learned that the fake couple had actually been a real couple years ago, and they still cared for each other, everything made a lot more sense.

This is a sweet romance. There’s love, romance, and passion, but the physical aspects described stop at kissing. The story is the perfect mix of sweet romance, heartbreak and personal growth. The more is revealed, the more I like the story. I really liked that the story shows the importance of communication and taking care of yourself. I think it will be relatable for a lot of women.

Other than my initial skepticism and a few of the commonly used romance novel tropes, I really enjoyed most of the book. The cover doesn’t match the characters I grew to know and love, in my opinion. 

I’m really glad I read this book that gives me hope for the future.

 

Should romance novels discuss consent and boundaries? Let’s discuss in the comments.

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · LGBTQIA+ Books · Young Adult

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

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The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Published: April 3, 2018

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Pages: 284

Genres: young adult, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: summer fun books with substance, adorable romances, books about bloggers

Foodie Vibes: the best burger you can get

 

Synopsis: 

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

 

Review:

The Summer of Jordi Perez is the perfect book for a late summer read. Fashion, photography, pink hair, fruit patterned dresses, internships, new relationships, and the search for the best burger in town. It’s a winning combination to create a fun but substantial read. Even though we look nothing alike (her fashion sense is way better than mine) I definitely relate to Abby. She’s unsure of herself, doubting her abilities, even though she’s very talented. I also appreciated that Abby’s whole personality doesn’t revolve around being gay. It’s discussed with her friends and family, and she has a girlfriend. But it doesn’t define her as a character. She’s so much more than one thing. And a book with characters who blog, Abby and her mother, a definite win for me!

There are very few things that I disliked in the book. As with many young adult books, some of the situations could have easily resolved with communication. However, it’s realistic that teenagers may not be great at communication and problem solving all the time. 

The Summer of Jordi Perez is seriously cute! I cannot get enough of it. I hope the author writes a sequel or other books with similar vibes. I highly recommend it!

 

Have you read The Summer of Jordi Perez?

How many of you have dyed your hair a fun color before?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Book Review | All the Way by Kristen Proby

 

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Be sure to scroll all the way down to the Bookish Question of the Review

I would love to hear all your answers!

 

All the Way by Kristen Proby 

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Pages: 288

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: steamy sweet romances, strong women and strong men

Read with food: chocolate covered strawberries ~ delicious, classic and effective

 

Synopsis:

 In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new Romancing Manhattan series, three brothers get more than they bargain for as they practice law, balance life, and navigate love in and around New York City.

Finn Cavanaugh is known for being a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom. He owns a successful law firm with his brother and brother-in-law in Manhattan. On the rare occasion that he has down time, he spends it at his home in Martha’s Vineyard. But when Finn’s troubled niece goes to stay with him for the summer in Martha’s Vineyard, he’s reluctant to take time off from work. That is, until he meets his beautiful new neighbor, London.

London Watson is a Tony Award winning actress on Broadway. When tragedy strikes her family, leaving her alone and injured, she flees Manhattan for Martha’s Vineyard. Hoping she can figure out how to pick up the pieces of her life, London is convinced that she’ll never be able to return to the stage. But when she meets the charming young girl next door and her sexy uncle, they soon lure London out of her shell as she finally begins to heal from the wounds of her past.

But when London feels confident enough to return to the spotlight, she’s dealt another devastating blow. Will the newfound love between London and Finn be enough to conquer all? Or will it be over before it has a chance to grow…?

 

Review:
I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, William Morrow Paperbacks and Kristen Proby for the copy. As always, an honest review.

All the Way is a quick, intense, sweet romance that is filled with sexy times. At the beginning Finn and London barely know each other. But the author is great at putting the characters in situations where they learn to authentically trust and get to know each other better. This sets up the book to be more than just a steamy fling between two very attractive people. I liked that the story is filled with a lot of real life moments in which their true personalities shine. They’re kind, hard working, compassionate, family oriented, successful and sometimes a little too stubborn for their own good. Showing these qualities makes for a very well rounded, even more enjoyable read.

That’s not to say the book is all talk, because there is a lot of action. Sexy time action to be exact. At her place, at his, in the shower, etc. It’s a romance novel for a reason, for sure.

However, the plot line about London’s brother was only okay. It didn’t really bring much to the story, other than the initial reason Finn and London meet. Her brother could have been eliminated and the rest of the book was still strong enough to stand on its own.

Overall, All the Way checks all the boxes a good contemporary romance should. Attractive successful people, sexual chemistry, lots of sexy time, a few complications, plot lines beyond only the romance, and a happily ever after. A lovely quick read for all you romance lovers out there!

 

Bookish Question of the Review:

Which sub genre of romance novels do you really enjoy? 

 

 

mystery · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays: Mystery Edition

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

 

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

 

3 Books a Week with 3 Words to Describe Them 

 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

 

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The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard 

4 stars 

Creepy, suspenseful, dramatic 

 

 

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Crime and Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett

4.5 stars

Cozy, entertaining, passionate 

 

 

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine 

4 stars

Addicting, whirlwind, unsettling

 

 

Well there you have it!

The first official edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · Southern Fiction · Women's Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rush by Lisa Patton

 

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Let’s start off with the Bookish Question of the Review:

How many of you were in a sorority/fraternity in college? What were your favorite experiences? 

 

Rush by Lisa Patton

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 416

Genres: contemporary fiction, southern fiction, domestic fiction, chick lit

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about the college experience, sororities, modern day southern charm, young women making the world a better place

Read with food: sweet tea, fried chicken, collard green, mac & cheese, and everything to complete a proper southern meal 

 

Synopsis: 

When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.

Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.

For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.

Achingly poignant, yet laugh-out-loud funny, RUSH takes a sharp nuanced look at a centuries-old tradition while exploring the complex, intimate relationships between mothers and daughters and female friends. Brimming with heart and hope for a better tomorrow, RUSH is an uplifting novel universal to us all.

 

Review:

I won this book for free in a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks to Goodreads, St. Martin’s Press and Lisa Patton for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review.

With sorority and fraternity life as popular as it is in this country, I’m surprised there aren’t more books surrounding Greek life. Rush perfectly fits this niche. We start off right before the school year begins following Ellie, Cali and Annie Laurie. They’re all college freshman from different walks of life hoping to pledge a sorority at Ole Miss. The chapters alternate points of view, which I really liked. It gave so much added perspective, and different stories were able to be told. The chapters’ POV include Cali, Wilda (Ellie’s mom) and Miss Pearl (a fabulous woman who works for a sorority on campus).

I like all of the main characters, which for me, is essential to enjoying a book. There are also a few love to hate, but redeemable characters, to keep things interesting. I really enjoyed Rush, because it’s fun, sweet, and poignant. Beyond just the fun process of sorority life, the author gets into tough topics such as living wages, health insurance, legacies, family money, racism, and micro aggressions in southern culture. We learn with the girls the unfairness that can be in the Greek life system. It certainly opened my eyes to things I really hadn’t thought about before.

However, without giving away any spoilers, the girls’ revelations are just the beginning of a fix to a much larger problem. The start of a conversation, not the end of one. I think the author does want it to truly be the start of larger discussions and change. Also, some of the behavior by the adults is appalling but contextually appropriate.

Rush seems like a fun, sweet, slightly catty book, but the depth of important topics makes it an important read. A great book for a book club or anyone looking to get a discussion going in a light hearted manner.

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Comics/Graphic Novels · history

The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia

 

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Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for my Random Question of the Review!

I want to hear all your thoughts and opinions

 

The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin by Sylvain Savoia

Published: September 16, 2016

Publisher: Europe Comics

Pages: 123

Genres: graphic novel, comic, history

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about history in a unique way, socially/culturally relevant comics, forgotten moments in history, graphic novels with a purpose

Read with food: water and be so thankful for every drop

 

Synopsis: 

This story takes place on a tiny, far-flung island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, whose nearest neighbor is Madagascar, 500 kilometers away… In 1760, the Utile, a ship carrying black slaves from Africa, was shipwrecked here and abandoned by her crew. The surviving slaves had to struggle to stay alive in this desolate land for fifteen years… When this tale got back to France, it became the cornerstone of the battle of Enlightenment to outlaw slavery. More than two hundred years later, the artist Sylvain Savoia accompanied the first archeological mission in search of understanding how these men and women, who had come from the high mountains of Madagascar, had survived alone in the middle of the ocean. This is the story of that mission, through which we’re exposed to the extraordinary story of the slaves themselves.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Europe Comics, and Sylvain Savoia for a copy of the comic to review. As always, an honest review.

I read the entire graphic novel in a day. By nature, they’re not too long, but since I hadn’t heard about Tromelin before I absolutely had to find out what happened to all the slaves shipwrecked on the island.

I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels and comics, because most of them are based on superheroes. Not my thing! However, when I saw this one I knew I had to read it. I first noticed the illustrations. They’re gorgeous, detailed, evocative of so many emotions, and incredibly powerful. They tell the story wonderfully. The combination of the illustrations and text makes the emotions jump off the page. I felt as if I was right there trapped on the ship with the slaves ~ tired, scared, hot, hungry.

Not too many graphic novels discuss slavery, especially a part of history that’s as forgotten as Tromelin. I certainly hadn’t heard of it before reading this. The story is told by alternating from present day scientists, journalists, archeologists, etc. excavating the site, and the historical events as they were occurring.

While the history was wonderfully done, the parts about the present day excavations were only okay. Their findings of long lost artifacts did help to complete the story. Also definitely a trigger warning for slavery, assault, abandonment, etc.

Overall, I highly recommend reading The Forgotten Slaves of Tromelin. Powerful, emotive, impactful, an important part of history that’s told through gorgeous illustrations in this graphic novel.

Random Question of the Review:

What book has opened your eyes to something new, recently? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Middle Grade

Holes by Louis Sachar

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Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:

What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published: August 20, 1998

Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version

Pages: 240

Genres: middle grade

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption

Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water

 

Synopsis:

A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.

 

Review: 

Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.

As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.

I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · historical fiction · Literary Fiction

ARC Book Review | Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

 

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Be sure to read until the end of the review for a fun, bonus question!

 

Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Published: August 7, 2018 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Genres: literary fiction, historical fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: fictionalized versions of real life, books about kidnappings, the 1950s

Read with food: a nice milkshake preferably from a diner

 

Synopsis:

Camden, NJ, 1948.

When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.

This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free from Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, the author and publisher for a copy. As always, an honest review.

Rust & Stardust was very loosely based on the real life kidnapping of Sally Horner in the late 1940s. Her story is also the inspiration for the book Lolita. The author took her story and imagined what might have happened in her day to day life while she was kidnapped. Sally was held for several years. I enjoyed the fictionalized version of what her life experiences might have been. Initially I didn’t realize the story was based on a real girl. I enjoyed it before and after learning this fact.

The storytelling is beautiful, haunting, and absolutely captivating. For a book about such a horrible topic, I couldn’t put it down. The author eludes to Sally’s terrible experiences, but doesn’t go into great detail which I appreciated. We learn more about Sally’s emotional state than anything else. Also each chapter alternates with different characters’ points of view, so we see the impact her disappearance has on her family as well.

The only part that frustrated me was the adults who were to scared or too unsure to help Sally. It was a different time and a different era but still frustrating none the less. Also, there are mentions of kidnapping and sexual assault. It wasn’t graphic by any means, and most of the story wasn’t about that. But I still wanted to mention it.

I was captivated by the writing right from the beginning all the way to the very last sentence. I highly recommend reading this amazing book.

Random Question of the Review:

How long does it take you to read a book?

4.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · Young Adult

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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Let’s start with the Random Question of the Review:

On a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being the best, how much do you enjoy young adult books? 

 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Rating: 5 stars

Published: April 15, 2014

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 355

Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance

Recommend to fans of: nice teenagers, coming of age books, books that give you all the feels, happy sweet books, sister bonds, Asian character representation 

Read with food: mocha sugar donuts ~ featured throughout and so accurately represents the fun and sweetness of the book 

 

Synopsis: 

Lara Jean’s love life gets complicated in this New York Times bestselling “lovely, lighthearted romance” from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Review: 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is an incredibly hyped book in the book community. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I tend to be nervous that overhyped young adult books won’t live up to all of the hype. Not to worry, because the book is fabulous! I so enjoyed reading about Lara Jean that I forgot to write down notes for my book review. For me, that’s the mark of a wonderfully engaging read.

The premise of Lara Jean’s love letters getting mailed to the boys she wrote them about could go either way. It ends up making for a great setup, because she focuses on living her life, not worrying too much about what others will think of her. Lara Jean’s relationship with her father and sisters is a major point of the story. I absolutely loved the importance the author placed on family relationships. It’s okay for teenagers to have strong relationships with their family as well as their friends and boyfriend/girlfriend.

Occasionally I was a bit annoyed with some of the drama and fighting, but that’s to be expected in a character driven young adult novel. The tension didn’t take over the story for too long.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is such a cute sweet novel that I can’t get enough of. I’ve already added the next books in the series to my TBR.