Monday, March 11, 2019

February 2019 Reads // SO MANY BOOKS!


As usual I am struggling with the balance of reading books I own, ARCs, and exciting library finds... It's a good "struggle" to have. I have still been joining in on The Unread Shelf challenge, and Erin's 10.0. I have 5 books left for Erin's 10.0, and have read 11 books that I own of The Unread Shelf challenge, deciding to unhaul 5 of them. So I am doing pretty well at those, and most importantly enjoying reading. :) 

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai - library, ebook

4 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance and the "second chance" trope. Lots of dirty talk, you've been warned.

Nicholas and Livvy were dating in high school but a tragic accident between their families tore them apart. Since then they haven't spoken, or so everyone in their families thinks... they've been meeting up once a year for a single night. Last year Livvy never showed up, now that she is back in town Nicholas has to decide if he can stay away from her, and loyal to the family.

I didn't know much about this book going into it, but I definitely ended up liking it. I thought that the dichotomy between their lives executive in a business empire vs. a part-time tattoo artist really set the tone for the story. I generally liked all of the tattoo related bits and pieces of the book as well. I thought that the relationship between the two was complicated and angsty without feeling angsty. I loved that they were together in high school and had a secret agreement to meet up once a year, and then ended up in the same place later on. It was sort of like a "second chance" story, and sort of not. I liked that this book had diverse characters, and made consent really really clear. I thought that despite the angst, life differences, and family drama that they were actually decent communicators, which is good. I don't deal well with everyone acting like idiots. FYI this book is very steamy, and contains a lot of dirty talk. Just an FYI, don't pick it up if that isn't your jam. Overall loved this and am excited for the rest of this series.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai library, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. This is another sort of "second chance" trope, and also includes a single parent.

When Sadia's husband died she was left with a young son, a business to run, and his family's dramatic past. What no one knows is that her marriage was failing before he died. Living with the weight of all of this means that she's barely hanging on. When she sees a handsome stranger at the bar where she works several nights in a row she approaches him. However, the stranger isn't a stranger... it's her brother-in-law. Jackson is back in town for the first time in ten years. He's been avoiding the past, and the woman that he's always loved... his brother's widow. He knows she's still off limits, but when he sees how much she's struggling to make ends meet at her business he steps in to help.

Some things I liked more about this book than Hate to Want You. Other things I liked less... so it was tough to rate. Overall I think I liked Jackson more as a protagonist. He was gruff, quiet, and had a good head on his shoulders. I felt like I could relate to Sadia more than Livvy because she deals with anxiety and panic attacks and so that part of their relationship made sense to me. I wanted to like Sadia's relationship with her sisters just a little more than I did... but I always enjoy a family dynamic. The steamy stuff was alright. Overall a solid read. Excited to read the next book in the series. I might give it a little more space though so I'm not comparing so much!

Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippencott, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis library, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA, and "sick lit".

Stella has had Cystic Fibrosis (CF) since she was six. Her local hospital is her second home, and while she's not psyched about missing her senior trip to Cabo, she isn't too upset having to go in for treatments. Her friend she's known forever, Poe will be there, and she loves all of her nurses. Will is in his 50th hospital, undergoing yet another experimental drug trial for b. cepacia which not only makes his CF worse, but took him right off of the list for new lungs. b. cepacia is incredibly contagious, and a death sentence for other CFers. When Will meets Stella he has trouble staying away, and Stella, for once, has trouble following the rules.

So, I feel that I should preface by saying I haven't read a lot of "sick lit" the closest I can count is A Walk to Remember which I read about 17 years ago... so I don't have a lot to compare this to. I saw the trailer for the movie, and was sucked right in.. so naturally I added this to my TBR. I expected it to be dramatic, sad, and predictable... and it certainly delivered on those things. I found it refreshing to read a bit of YA after a long break, and liked this a bit more than I expected to. I liked that Stella and Will were very different, I liked that there was a wee twist in the middle of the book, I liked that the characters had to examine their lives (and deaths) and figure out what they wanted to do. I thought it was very interesting that they were both 18 or turning 18 so they really did have a "choice" as to what they did with their treatment and lives. In the end I'm not sure what I expected, there are only so many possible outcomes, right? I think I liked it, it's certainly not easy to put yourselves in their shoes and imagine what you might do.

10 Points for Erin's 10.0!

Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye WaltonOwned, physical book, to let go

TW: Self harm, abuse

3.5-4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA fantasy.

Nor is a part of the line of Blackburn witches. Ever since her ancestor Rona Blackburn, each woman of the family is doomed to love for just three days, get pregnant with a daughter, and only have one type of magic (or "burden"). Nor's mother was greedy and wanted her lover to come back, and started using black magic to make it happen, abusing Nor and then leaving her to live with her grandmother. Nor hasn't told anyone that she has more than one burden, and when signs of her mother pop up everywhere, she knows it is only a matter of time before she returns.

I picked this book because it sounded interesting and it is such a beautiful book. The cover and the red pages are just so stunning! I'm finding this really hard to rate. I loved the writing and the everyday world and characters that Walton created... but I didn't love some of the elements of the story and how they fit together. I loved Walton's writing style it is very magical and atmospheric. I wanted to go to their town and their house. I also liked that the story centered around a family of magical ladies, that is one of my favorite character groups! I really enjoyed this in the beginning and got swept up into the setting and lives of the quirky characters very quickly. A bit of the way through the book it felt like there was an awful lot going on. So many cool ideas for magic and creatures, etc. etc. but sometimes it just didn't fit for me. Overall I found myself smiling as the book went on even though it didn't go quite where I had hoped. The way this ended... I feel like there should be another book.. a lot of things were never explained, or felt like they needed weaving together, and there is a bit of a tense moment at the end....but it is just a standalone novel right now. So yeah, great writing, writing, setting, and characters.... a little disjointed in the story piece.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin - Owned, physical book, to let go

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction about the lives of historical figures.

This book is about Queen Victoria's early life. She began her reign at the age of just 18, and how she finds her place in the monarchy.

For me, this type of historical fiction is tough to read. I find that I enjoy situational historical fiction quite a bit more than something about a specific person. However, the short chapters helped me along and I was able to finish this somewhat slowly. I kept going back and forth between whether I thought Victoria was naive or she was really executing a plan to make her own way as a queen. Sometimes she was just so young, and self-centered. Other times the things that she fought for made sense. I also struggled with the other characters. I often felt bad for her mother, and frequently felt that she sort of deserved how things went. I mostly felt bad for Lord M though, he seemed in a tough spot. I started to enjoy the book a bit more toward the end when she finally gets to see Albert as an adult. Overall I found myself not overly compelled with Victoria's story, but the short chapters helped me power though. I am so far enjoying the show quite a bit more than the book! A rarity for me! 

February Unread Shelf Challenge Pick: A book that was gifted to me.

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare - Owned, physical book, to keep

4 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy light hearted historical romance with quite modern characters and sensibilities.

When Alexandra Mountbatten shows up at Chase Reynaud's manor to look for work as a timekeeper, he mistakenly assumes that she is applying to be a governess for his two new charges. When Alexandra loses all of her devices that determine her livelihood, she goes back to apply as a governess. She is immediately hired and finds that despite is rakish reputation, Chase is very attached to the girls he is raising. Can she help make them a family?

Honestly, I haven't felt like reading any of my usual genres... which meant that romance wasn't sounding appealing at all. I had a stressful work event going on and really needed to be immersed in something fun that didn't take too long to get into... and this was JUST the ticket. I was instantly swept up in the fun world, and it was such a relief. I found this book hysterical. His little charges were hilariously morbid. Their doll is constantly dying and I just couldn't stop laughing. The romance between Chase and Alexandra wasn't my very favorite, but it was still fun enough. Throughout the story the little girls remained my favorites and had me cracking up from start to finish. Overall I *think* that I enjoyed this more than The Duchess Deal.

Louisa on the Front Lines by Samantha SeipleARC, ebook

3.5-4 Stars? - I recommend if you enjoy biographies, and like learning about inspirational people, especially women.

This is a biography about Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, detailing her work as a nurse during The Civil War.

I haven't read many biographies, so I am finding this a bit hard to rate. On the one hand Louisa May Alcott was quite the woman: ambitious, forward-thinking, compassionate, dedicated, and accomplished. I found her story overall interesting, especially excerpts from letters she sent, and from her journal that were in her own words. However, I did find it a bit hard to keep track of some of the other people mentioned throughout the book. Particularly people involved in the war. There were also quite a few sections about other nurses or specific soldiers, that while related to Louisa's story... didn't always feel connected right away and left me asking myself who was who. I did feel like I learned a lot about the time period and the civil war, which was insightful. To be honest I struggle to recall many bits and pieces of history. Overall while short, this book wasn't overly gripping at first, but did pick up quite a bit around 35%. Once Louisa actually becomes a nurse I was much more invested in the story and situations. I felt like I could finally put a story or reality to the Civil War, and found all of her time as a nurse incredibly fascinating (and often disturbing). After the hospital section there are several other chapters where she goes on to do other things... which were ok, but not very gripping after the hospital part. Overall this book was interesting, I enjoyed learning what I did from it, and it made me want to be patriotic and help people... but most of it wasn't a page-turner. So again... I'm not sure how to rate this one. Perhaps biographies aren't my genre, even if I do enjoy the information. Maybe I'm more of a museum and visual learner of history? Glad I read it either way.

Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner* - ARC, ebook

5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy quirky YA, that is packed full of every adult feel.

Josie and Delia are two high school seniors who run a late-night cable access show featuring zany old horror movies. Delia has always loved horror movies, as she grew up watching them with her dad before he left her and her mom. Josie has always wanted to be on main-stream television. The two find that this show brings the two of them and their interests together. Josie's parents are pressuring her to move to Knoxville next year and take an internship with Food Network, Delia is trying everything in her power to get Josie to stay. When they find out that famous TV horror host will be at ShiverCon in Orlando, FL, and Delia finds out that her dad is living near there... they take the chance to make their dreams come true and confront the past. This is a quirky and incredibly emotional coming of age story.

I requested this one because it sounded so quirky and fun. I loved the premise: two teenage girls who have a late-night cable access show about really bad, old, horror movies. So much fun. I adored all of the quirky details related to their show and their characters, all of their funny teenage girl conversations, and the other characters in the book. You can tell based on the timing that the book will end up being fairly emotional and deep, however, I didn't expect how much it would effect me. This book deals with loneliness, divorce, coming of age, first loves, moving away, best friends, not knowing what you want to do with your life, and disappointment. Mid-way through the book there was kind of a strange patch when the girls go to Orlando, I thought that it might be going downhill, however, the ending of the book hit me so hard that it all felt perfect. Rarely am I emotionally effected by a book that is not outright tragic, than I was with this book. I won't spoil it for you, but I think if you like heartfelt YA, that isn't all about the fluff, you will enjoy this one. I'm giving this one five stars (my first of the year) because it was incredibly well written, quirky, real, and mostly because of how it made me feel.

Make Me Bad by R.S. Grey****ARC, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

Madison's life is sheltered. She lives with her father (captain of the police) and has an over protective brother (also a policeman). She works at the local library in the town where she grew up. When Ben comes back to town to start his law firm he's not too keen on following the rules. When he gets into a bar fight, he is sentenced to 100 hours of community service. He volunteers at the library. Madison agrees to let him gain his hours there on one condition: he has to help "make her bad". She wants to go to parties, get a tattoo, etc... when he says yes, they are both in for more than they expected!

I really enjoyed this rom com by R.S. Grey! I felt like Madison's character was unlike other female leads that I have read lately. I liked that she was a nerdy librarian, and that she was very sheltered. It was the perfect contrast for Ben. I felt like the characters had a bit more depth than in some of her older books, which was nice. I enjoyed the chemistry and the tension between the two characters quite a bit. The funniest part for me was when she had Ben dress up like Mr. Darcy for story time, I was dying over that whole situation. So funny!! The steamiest moment was definitely the ocean scene! One thing that this book had, that her others don't always, is much more fleshed out side characters, which I LOVED. Her dad and brother as well as several of their friends played a larger role than usual. There were sort of two "epilogues" which was a little strange, but I didn't dislike them. 

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid* ARC, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy compelling fiction set in another time. Specifically the 1970s, anything to do with life in a band, or something written in interview format.

This book chronicles the lifespan of the band Daisy Jones & the Six, and solves the "mystery" behind their breakup.

I should start by saying that this book is not at all up my alley. The 1970s is not a decade that I am drawn to, I generally avoid anything with more than very slight drug useage, and I'm not super into classic rock. However, I felt that way when I read the description for The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo too... and everyone ended up loving it. I jumped on the bandwagon this time and I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Despite my lack of interest in the topics and subject matter I found the story pretty riveting and read it in just two short sittings. I thought it was pretty amazing how much detail was possible even in an interview style format. I felt like the scene, time, and lifestyle of these people was incredibly vivid. My heart broke for different characters at different times, and I especially loved how the women treated one another. I didn't find the climax terribly dramatic, but I really liked how it shook out all the same. I'm excited to see this come to life on the screen, and I really hope that they do all of the songs, it was fun to have the lyrics in the back of the book. Overall, I would recommend this whether or not it sounds like your "thing".

Monthly totals:

Read - 10
Owned - 3
Ebook - 4
Physical book - 6
ARC - 4
Library/Borrowed - 3
Bought - 12 (8 physical, 4 ebooks)
To Let Go - 2

Yearly Totals:

Read - 19
Owned - 11
Ebook - 11
Physical book - 9
ARC - 6
Library/Borrowed - 3
Bought - 14 (10 physical books, 4 ebooks)
To Let Go - 5

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books today. :) 

What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time! 

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