REVIEW: Not That Kind of Guy

Author: Andie J. Christopher

Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3.5)

Genre: Romance

Pages: 336

Date of Publication: April 14, 2020

Synopsis: State attorney Bridget Nolan is successful in all aspects of her life—except romance. After breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she’s been slow to reenter the dating scene. To be honest, she has more important things to do like putting bad guys behind bars. But with her brother’s wedding right around the corner, she suddenly needs a date and fast. Lucky for Bridget, the legal intern is almost done with his program.

Matt Kido is dumbstruck by Bridget—total love at first sight—but there’s one problem. She’s totally off-limits while she’s his boss. But the moment he no longer reports to her, Matt decides to take a chance. An impulsive decision takes them to Las Vegas where, as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Unless you put a ring on it.

Review: Workplace romances are my JAM so I was super excited to read Not That Kind of Guy and experience a different take on the trope. And while this definitely wasn’t my all-time favorite, it was still a charming, easy, and enjoyable read! I wasn’t aware of this going in, especially since I had never read from this author before, but apparently Christopher draws inspiration for her novels from popular rom-com movies. Looking back, this book definitely gave off slight The ProposalWhat Happens in Vegas, and even Crazy Rich Asian vibes, which is a fun and interesting approach. I mean it when I say slight, though. There were very subtle nods and overlapping plot points from these movies in the book – it was still very much its own story.

WHAT WORKED: Bridget was GREAT – such a girl boss. Her character felt very developed and relatable, which I really enjoyed. I liked that she was the one established in her career and that Matt was presented as the less experienced intern, which as I stated above, was a really refreshing take on workplace romance. The storyline was very cute, light, and rom-com-y, which kept me engaged for the most part. Bridget’s friendship with Hannah was another one of the aspects of this book that really worked for me. I love seeing strong female friendships represented in romances.

WHAT DIDN’T: While I loved how Bridget was characterized and presented, I had a difficult time connecting with Matt. He came across pretty flat and not as well developed, and because of that, I had a hard time connecting to his relationship with Bridget and believing their chemistry, which felt a little insta-lovey to me at times? The last quarter of the book dragged a bit and the conflict seemed a bit cliche and drawn out, however, I was ultimately satisfied with the ending!

ROMANCE RECOMMENDATIONS: Favorite Romance Novels

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a sucker for a good romance. And trust me when I say I’ve read my fair share over the years. Some have been bad, like really bad, most have been good, and then there have been the romances that have stuck with me, made me feel all of the emotions, and have gone on to become some of favorite books of all time, ever.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I felt compelled to compile a recommendations list of my all-time favorite romance novels for your reading pleasure. Love is in the air, y’all!

Age-Gap/Forbidden Romance

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
Other Tropes & Themes: Slow Burn, New Adult
Available on Kindle Unlimited

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
Other Tropes & Themes: Slow Burn, Survival, Teacher/Student

Credence by Penelope Douglas
Other Tropes & Themes: Slow Burn, New Adult
Available on Kindle Unlimited

Contemporary Romance

One Day in December by Josie Silver
Other Tropes & Themes: Rom-Com, Holiday Read

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Other Tropes & Themes: Slow Burn, Enemies-to-Lovers, Self-Discovery

Enemies-to-Lovers Romance/Hate-to-Love

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
Other Tropes & Themes: Slow Burn, Workplace Romance

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Other Tropes & Themes: Fake Dating, Rom-Com, Summer Read

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

Historical Romance

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Other Tropes & Themes: Marriage of Convenience, Beauty and the Beast Retelling

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Other Tropes & Themes: Time Travel, Adventure

New Adult Romance

Paper Princess by Erin Watt
Other Tropes & Themes: Enemies-to-Lovers

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
Other Tropes & Themes: Friends-to-Lovers, Second-Chance Romance

Too Late by Colleen Hoover
Other Tropes & Themes: Suspense, Dark Romance

Second-Chance Romance

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Other Tropes & Themes: Sports Romance, Rom-Com

All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Slow Burn Romance

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata
Other Tropes & Themes: Sports Romance, Marriage of Convenience
Available on Kindle Unlimited

Young Adult Romance

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Other Tropes & Themes: Road Trip, Summer Read

REVIEW: Fight or Flight

Author: Samantha Young

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Romance

Pages: 382

Date of Publication: October 9, 2018

Synopsis: The universe is conspiring against Ava Breevort. As if flying back to Phoenix to bury a childhood friend wasn’t hell enough, a cloud of volcanic ash traveling from overseas delayed her flight back home to Boston. Her last ditch attempt to salvage the trip was thwarted by an arrogant Scotsman, Caleb Scott, who steals a first class seat out from under her. Then over the course of their journey home, their antagonism somehow lands them in bed for the steamiest layover Ava’s ever had. And that’s all it was–until Caleb shows up on her doorstep.

When pure chance pulls Ava back into Caleb’s orbit, he proposes they enjoy their physical connection while he’s stranded in Boston. Ava agrees, knowing her heart’s in no danger since a) she barely likes Caleb and b) his existence in her life is temporary. Not long thereafter Ava realizes she’s made a terrible error because as it turns out Caleb Scott isn’t quite so unlikeable after all. When his stay in Boston becomes permanent, Ava must decide whether to fight her feelings for him or give into them. But even if she does decide to risk her heart on Caleb, there is no guarantee her stubborn Scot will want to risk his heart on her….

Review: Fight or Flight is a super fun, fast-paced enemies-to-lovers romance that centers around two strangers who meet in an airport following a flight delay. Caleb is tall, bearded, tattooed and Scottish. The CEO of a large tech company, he’s extremely successful and confident in himself. Ava is a small, put-together, sassy interior designer who’s been hurt in the past and has thus developed a tough exterior. When they’re seated next to each other on the flight, they bicker and banter but sparks fly and they can’t deny their underlying chemistry. Recognizing their undeniable attraction to each other, they agree to a steamy one night stand, which leads to a no-strings-attached friend with benefits deal, which works out perfectly until they’re forced to confront their true feelings for each other.

What Worked: I picked this book up on a whim one night, honestly not expecting too much, and then proceeded to stay up way past my bedtime in order to finish it. This was a super addicting read full of tension, witty dialogue and angsty situations – a few of my favorite things! The relationship between Caleb and Ava was entertaining and heartwarming as they discover their feelings for each other. I was rooting for them so hard. Aside from their romantic relationship, I also found Ava’s relationship with her best friend, Harper, to be super sweet and endearing, and would love to see a spin-off book following her and her story. Regardless, I’ll definitely be picking up more of Samantha Young’s work in the future.

What Didn’t Work: While I ended up giving this book a 4-star rating, I would be amiss if I didn’t acknowledge that this book definitely had its cheesy moments and some slightly problematic instances as well. Caleb has no filter and is often downright rude to those around him, including flight attendants and waitstaff, which was frustrating. There’s a difference in being a confident “alpha male” and having zero respect for those around you. Just because you’ve been hurt in the past doesn’t mean you get a free pass and can be an a**hole to everyone around you, especially people that are just trying to do their jobs. The ending was super abrupt and wrapped up too nicely and too quickly, in my opinion. I felt like Ava was way too quick to forgive Caleb for his misgivings and that he should have been made to grovel a lot more. She seemed super adamant on staying strong and sticking to her guns and then ultimately takes him back the first chance she gets.

Overall, this was a really cute, light read that I enjoyed. If you’re a fan of Scottish men and a good enemies-to-lovers trope with lots of chemistry, give this Fight or Flight a try!

February TBR

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day and ~love~ and all that, I’ve compiled a romance-heavy February TBR that I’m super excited about! Check out the books that are top priority for me this month and let me know what you’re planning on reading!

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

I devoured The Simple Wild last month and am hungry for more of K.A. Tucker’s romance & atmospheres. This one is number one on my list!

Synopsis: Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway. On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences. 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

This is one of those books that everyone was talking about so I picked it up got distracted, put it down, and never picked it back up again. I’m on a mission to read as much romance as I can during the month of February, so this one will definitely be getting read this time around.

Synopsis: Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

I recently read book #1 & book #3 of the Girl Meets Duke trilogy and can’t wait to pick up (albeit of out order) The Governess Game! I never thought much of historical romances, but Tessa Dare’s writing is so clever and addicting that I’m finding myself wanting to explore more of the genre!

Synopsis: After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart… without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling… and he’s in danger of falling, hard. 

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This selection is a bit multipurpose: one of my goals for 2020 is to make progress on my back list Book of the Month books AND as I stated above, I’m on a mission to read as much romance as possible this month. Red, White & Royal Blue was on the top of so many people’s Best of 2019 lists, so I’m excited to see what the hype is about.

Synopsis: What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

Okay, I read this book in late middle school maybe early high school, I can’t remember when but what I do remember is LOVING it. I’m so excited to reread this bad boy to see if it stills holds up!

Synopsis: All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….

Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

Throwing a poetry book in the mix just for fun! This was an impulse buy after spotting it on clearance at Urban Outfitters? Really wanting to ~expand~ my reading tastes, so I’m excited to pick this one up this month.

Synopsis: Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood is a thrilling new voice in contemporary feminist poetry. In Life of the Party, she weaves together her own coming of age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. In precise, searing language—at times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant—she explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear. How does one grow from a girl to a woman in a world wracked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? What is the meaning of bravery? Visceral and haunting, this multifaceted collection illustrates that what happens to our bodies makes us who we are.

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Y’all… I’m embarrased to say that I pre-ordered this eBook and it’s been sitting, unread, on my Kindle since release day. Making it a point to finally pick this one up. Considering my history with Colleen Hoover, I’m bound to love it.

Synopsis: Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together. 

WHAT I READ: January 2020


Historically, the month of January has always been a toss-up in terms of my reading habits. It seems I’m either slowly (and desperately) crawling my way out of a horrible reading slump caused by my attempts to cram in those last few reads before the start of the new year OR I’m extremely motivated and focused, knocking out book after book.

This year, I’m proud to report that I started 2020 off on the right foot, rounding out the month of January with a total of 14 books read.

Two-Star Reads

Dreams of 18 by Saffron A. Kent
Check out my Goodreads review here.

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
Check out my Goodreads review here.

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Three-Star Reads

The Bet by Tara Crescent

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Four-Star Reads

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Check out my Goodreads review here.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Check out my Goodreads review here.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Five Star Reads

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Credence by Penelope Douglas
Check out my Goodreads review here.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
Check out my Goodreads review here.

BOOKISH BULLET JOURNAL: SET UP & SPREADS


Bullet journals have taken the bookish community by storm – a trend that I’m both excited and hesitant about.

I, like many people, hopped on the bullet journal train a few years back, and have religiously started a new journal at the beginning of every new year. When I would sit down to start planning the look and feel of my journal, I found so many amazing, creative planner spreads on Pinterest and Instagram that I couldn’t wait to emulate and draw inspiration from. However, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many hours of preparation and creative energy I poured into it, the end result was always ultimately just a notebook, half-full of mediocre doodles and embarrassingly crooked and smudged lines.

The truth is, while I try again every year, all of my bullet journal attempts have gotten tossed aside for a traditional planner, because while I love the thought of customizing my own project management and reminder system, I’m not very artistic and I don’t really have the patience to establish everything from the ground up.

With all that in mind, you’re probably wondering why on earth I’m excited about starting a book-specific bullet journal. I’m definitely still adamant on keeping an already established physical planner (My favorite is Passion Planner) to jot down hand-written lists and notes in order to organize my thoughts and keep on top of my daily, weekly, and monthly to-do’s. And I’m definitely still not very creative, artistic or patient, but I’m going to attempt to supplement my planner with this bookish bullet journal: a place to track my reading goals, progress and stats for the year, plan blog and Instagram content, and more. Whether or not this bullet journal will find its way to the graveyard of past attempts is yet to be determined, but I’m excited to experiment and see if using the bullet journal system for a different purpose better suits me.


SUPPLIES

After conducting a bit of research, I decided to purchase the Archer & Olive A5 192-page dot grid notebook for my bookish bullet journal. They offer a ton of cute designs to choose from and the quality is unmatched. I’ve always used Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebooks for previous bullet journals, which definitely work just fine, however the pages are a bit too thin and apt to bleeding/ghosting for my liking.

To prevent myself from feeling creatively inadequate, I decided to up my game with the following tools and accessories from Amazon, Target and Michael’s:


SPREADS

It always takes me so long to actually start creating in my bullet journal because I’m nervous I’ll mess things up or I’ll regret a certain design or color choice. To combat this, I decided to implement a few simple spreads (most of these were inspired from YouTube videos, which I’ll link below if I can find them!) with a neutral color palette and I’m actually pretty pleased with how things turned out!

Here’s a look at my bookish bullet journal flip through:

Cover Page
I kept my cover page super simple with a slight planetary feel as a nod to the cover of my journal. I know I’ve said it a million times, but as someone who’s not super artistic, utilizing kraft paper and stencils definitely helped give me a creative boost and resulted in a super clean design for this page. I didn’t intended to create a Saturn-like planet with the “Twenty Twenty” on kraft paper, but I actually love how it turned out!

Bookish Goals
I wasn’t sure what I was going to put on this page at first, but I settled on my 2020 bookish goals. Having these detailed right at the beginning of my journal will hopefully serve as a constant reminder for what I’m challenging myself to accomplish this year. I decided to get a little fancy with the white gel pen on the kraft paper, giving a little variety while tying everything together. In retrospect, I wish that I would have created space to mark whether or not I had accomplished each goal by the end of the year, but lesson learned for next year!

Books Read in 2020 Bookshelf
The bookshelf tracker is a bookish bullet journal staple. I knew I wanted to incorporate this spread into my journal but was dreading the implementation. After studying a few examples, I got to work, and while I could definitely still use a crash course in drawing books, I’m fairly pleased with how this spread turned out. I’m keeping it simple with no doodles and no additional colors to make keeping up with it easy on myself. I used a stamp for the title of this page, which ended up being messier than I thought, but still looks cute.

Books Read in 2020 Log
As a complement to my bookshelf tracker, I set up a log to track additional information for the books I read this year. While there was a lot that I could have incorporated, I settled on date finished, title, format, and rating, as those typically tend to be the stats that interest me the most. I’ve seen other reading logs that track genre, where the book came from, if a review was completed, etc., so this spread is definitely one that you can customize to fit your specific wants and needs.

Top 20 of 2020
I believe I saw this spread on Instagram and thought it was a neat idea. I’m not super proud of the execution on my end as things definitely got messier than I bargained for. I love the kraft paper detail for the page title, but I regret using stamps for the numbers. Now I know to draw those types of details for future spreads, but this is something I’m excited to use come the end of the year! I wish I would have given myself more room to where I could print copies of the book covers to paste in, but I’m sure I’ll be able to get creative with this one.

Anticipated Releases
While I’m really focused on getting around to backlist titles this year, there are still several 2020 releases that I’m highly anticipating. I wanted a space to track those releases and their release dates and thus this spread was born. I decided to make seasonal buckets, which in retrospect, I probably wouldn’t do again. Personally, I think a calendar view would look much better but we’ll see how useful this ends up being!

Blog Ideas
This spread is pretty self-explanatory – I wanted space to brainstorm content for my blog. I’m planning on creating space within my monthly spreads to actually track what blog posts I’m creating, but now I have room to map out ideas, whether they come to fruition or not. Design-wise, this spread is super basic but I actually really like how it turned out.

Book of the Month Tracker
One of my bookish goals for 2020 is to actually read my Book of the Month selection each month. It doesn’t sound hard, but I’ve amassed quite the pile of unread BOTM books that I really need to get around to. I’m hoping that this spread will keep me accountable and hopefully make me stop and think before choosing my book for the month and a bunch of ad-on’s. I still need to fill in my January selections, but I think this spread ended up looking really nice and clean.

Goodreads Challenge Tracker
Can you tell that this spread was a bit of an after thought? I wish I could move my Goodreads Challenge Tracker up with my bookshelf and reading log as that placement makes a bit more sense to me but it’s all good. In keeping with my neutral theme, I’ll be shading in a block for each book read with a gray crayon.

Monthly Spread
After mapping out all of my yearly content, I was grappling with what I wanted to track each month. January is a bit of a test run for me, so we’ll see what sticks and what I end up shifting for February. I’ve established a page tracker (seeing as I’ve started this journal toward the end of the month, I’m planning on starting to track my page count on January 20), a blog post to-do/tracker, and specific monthly reading stats, including star ratings, whether the author was male or female and new-to-me or a repeat. I don’t always stick to a TBR but since I did actually complete all of the books that I said I wanted to in January, I included it for this month. I also thought it would be fun to add a page for my favorite book of January and my worst book of January, printing the page covers and pasting them in my journal.


INSPIRATION

As I mentioned, there are so many YouTube videos, Instagram posts and Pinterest pins revolving around bookish bullet journals.

Here are a few YouTube videos that I think are interesting and definitely served as inspiration for my personal journal:

REVIEW: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Genre: Romance/Women’s Fiction

Pages: 401

Date of Publication: August 7, 2018

Synopsis: Calla Fletcher was two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago.

It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

Review: *AIR HORN* First 5-star read of 2020 and one of my new favorite books of all time! I am kicking myself for taking so long to get around to this heartbreaking, beautiful story that made me feel things, y’all.

The Simple Wild follows twenty-six-year-old Calla, who was born in Alaska but moved to Toronto with her mother at a very young age. Because of this, her relationship with her father, who stayed in Alaska to run his airline business, Alaska Wild, has always been strained and nearly non-existent. When she receives a phone call one day with news that he has been diagnosed with lung cancer, she makes the decision to travel to Alaska in order to get to know him and repair their relationship before it’s too late. Upon arriving in Alaska, she meets Jonah, a hot-headed pilot and one of her father’s employees who seems intent on making her life miserable. Calla has to not only brave the Alaskan wilderness, but her relationship with her father, Jonah and their community and the result is *chefs kiss.*

While I definitely wasn’t a huge fan of some of Jonah’s actions (i.e., hiding Calla’s makeup and luggage, the Barbie nickname, etc.), he, much like all of the characters, grew on me so quickly and I was truly rooting for their romance after learning more about him and his heart. More importantly, watching Calla and her dad’s relationship rekindle and blossom as they both grow to understand one another was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. I didn’t want this book to end and highly recommend you pick it up!

MOST ANTICIPATED 2020 RELEASES

ROMANCE

Credence by Penelope Douglas
Expected Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher:
Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis:
Tiernan de Haas doesn’t care about anything anymore. The only child of a film producer and his starlet wife, she’s grown up with wealth and privilege but not love or guidance. Shipped off to boarding schools from an early age, it was still impossible to escape the loneliness and carve out a life of her own. The shadow of her parents’ fame followed her everywhere. And when they suddenly pass away, she knows she should be devastated. But has anything really changed? She’s always been alone, hasn’t she? Jake Van der Berg, her father’s stepbrother and her only living relative, assumes guardianship of Tiernan who is still two months shy of eighteen. Sent to live with him and his two sons, Noah and Kaleb, in the mountains of Colorado, Tiernan soon learns that these men now have a say in what she chooses to care and not care about anymore. As the three of them take her under their wing, teach her to work and survive in the remote woods far away from the rest of the world, she slowly finds her place among them. And as a part of them. She also realizes that lines blur and rules become easy to break when no one else is watching. One of them has her. The other one wants her. But he… He’s going to keep her.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
Expected Publication Date: March 10, 2020
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Synopsis: Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef. Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club. Inspired by the romantic suspense novel they’re reading, the book club assists Liv in setting up a sting operation to take down the chef. But they’re just as eager to help Mack figure out the way to Liv’s heart… even though she’s determined to squelch the sparks between them before she gets burned. 

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren
Expected Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Synopsis:
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other. James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus. Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Beach Read by Emily Henry
Expected Publication Date: May 19, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Synopsis: A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters. Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites. In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. But as the summer stretches on, January discovers a gaping plot hole in the story she’s been telling herself about her own life, and begins to wonder what other things she might have gotten wrong, including her ideas about the man next door

THRILLER/MYSTERY

Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
Expected Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow
Synopsis: Being the second wife can be murder . . . “Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested. So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off. Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder. 

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Expected Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Synopsis: For the first eighteen years of her life, Rose Gold Watts believed she was seriously ill. She was allergic to everything, used a wheelchair and practically lived at the hospital. Neighbors did all they could, holding fundraisers and offering shoulders to cry on, but no matter how many doctors, tests, or surgeries, no one could figure out what was wrong with Rose Gold. Turns out her mom, Patty Watts, was just a really good liar. After serving five years in prison, Patty gets out with nowhere to go and begs her daughter to take her in. The entire community is shocked when Rose Gold says yes. Patty insists all she wants is to reconcile their differences. She says she’s forgiven Rose Gold for turning her in and testifying against her. But Rose Gold knows her mother. Patty Watts always settles a score. Unfortunately for Patty, Rose Gold is no longer her weak little darling… And she’s waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

The Herd by Andrea Bartz
Expected Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Synopsis: When an exclusive New York women’s workspace is rocked by the mysterious disappearance of its enigmatic founder, two sisters must uncover the haunting truth before they lose their friendships, their careers–maybe even their lives. The name of the elite, women-only coworking space stretches across the wall behind the check-in desk: THE HERD, the H-E-R always in purple. In-the-know New Yorkers crawl over each other to apply for membership to this community that prides itself on mentorship and empowerment. Among the hopefuls is Katie Bradley, who’s just returned from the Midwest after a stint of book research blew up in her face. Luckily, Katie has an “in,” thanks to her sister Hana, an original Herder and the best friend of Eleanor Walsh, its charismatic founder. Eleanor is a queen among The Herd’s sun-filled rooms, admired and quietly feared, even as she strives to be warm and approachable. As head of PR, Hana is working around the clock in preparation for a huge announcement from Eleanor–one that would change the trajectory of The Herd forever. Though Katie loves her sister’s crew, she secretly hopes she’s found her next book subject in Eleanor, who’s brilliant, trailblazing–and extremely private. Then, on the night of the glitzy Herd news conference, Eleanor vanishes without a trace. Everybody has a theory about what made Eleanor run, but when the police suspect foul play, everyone is a suspect: Eleanor’s husband, other Herders, the men’s rights groups that have had it out for The Herd since its launch–even Eleanor’s closest friends. As Hana struggles to figure out what her friend was hiding and Katie chases the story of her life, the sisters must face down the secrets they’re keeping from each other–and confront just how dangerous it can be when women’s perfect veneers start to crack, crumble, and then fall away all together. 

WOMEN’S FICTION

You Were There Too by Colleen Oakley
Expected Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Publisher: Berkley
Synopsis: Acclaimed author Colleen Oakley delivers a heart-wrenching and unforgettable love story about a woman who must choose between the man she loves and the man fate has chosen for her in a novel that reminds us that the best life is one led by the heart. Mia Graydon’s life looks picket-fence perfect; she has the house, her loving husband, and dreams of starting a family. But she has other dreams too — unexplained, recurring ones starring the same man. Still, she doesn’t think much of them, until a relocation to small-town Pennsylvania brings her face to face with the stranger she has been dreaming about for years. And this man harbors a jaw-dropping secret of his own—he’s been dreaming of her too. Determined to understand, Mia and this not-so-stranger search for answers. But when diving into their pasts begins to unravel her life in the present, Mia emerges with a single question—what if?

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Expected Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Synopsis: Where do you see yourself in five years? When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future. After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision. Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
Expected Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Synopsis: Lydia and Freddie. Freddie and Lydia. They’d been together for more than a decade, and Lydia thought their love was indestructible. But she was wrong. On her twenty-eighth birthday, Freddie died in a car accident. So now it’s just Lydia, and all she wants to do is hide indoors and sob until her eyes fall out. But Lydia knows that Freddie would want her to try to live fully, happily, even without him. So, enlisting the help of his best friend, Jonah, and her sister, Elle, she takes her first tentative steps into the world, open to life–and perhaps even love–again. But then something inexplicable happens that gives her another chance at her old life with Freddie. A life where none of the tragic events of the past few months have happened. Lydia is pulled again and again across the doorway of her past, living two lives, impossibly, at once. But there’s an emotional toll to returning to a world where Freddie, alive, still owns her heart. Because there’s someone in her new life, her real life, who wants her to stay.

LITERARY FICTION

American Dirt: A Novel by Jeanine Cummins
Expected Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Synopsis: Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable. Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Weather: A Novel by Jenny Offill
Expected Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Synopsis: Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practice her other calling: she is a fake shrink. For years she has tended to her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. They have both stabilized for the moment, but Lizzie has little chance to spend her new free time with husband and son before her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. She’s become famous for her prescient podcast, Hell and High Water, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right-wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As Lizzie dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you’ve seen the flames beyond its walls. When her brother becomes a father and Sylvia a recluse, Lizzie is forced to address the limits of her own experience–but still she tries to save everyone, using everything she’s learned about empathy and despair, conscience and collusion, from her years of wandering the library stacks . . . And all the while the voices of the city keep floating in–funny, disturbing, and increasingly mad.

The Opposite of Fate by Alison McGhee
Expected Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Publisher: Mariner Books
Synopsis: Twenty-one-year-old Mallie Williams—scrappy, headstrong, and wise beyond her years—has just landed on her feet following a tumultuous youth when the unthinkable happens: she is violently assaulted. The crime leaves her comatose, surrounded by friends and family who are hoping against hopes for a full recovery. But soon Mallie’s small community finds themselves divided. The rape has left Mallie pregnant, and while some friends are convinced that she would never keep the pregnancy, others are sure that a baby would be the only good thing to come out of all of this pain. Who gets to decide? How much power, in the end, do we have over our own bodies? Mallie, her family, and her town find themselves at the center of a media storm, confronting questions nobody should have to face. And when Mallie emerges from the fog, what will she think of the choices that were made on her behalf?

YOUNG ADULT

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Expected Publication Date: January 21, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built. As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

The June Boys by Courtney Stevens
Expected Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Synopsis: The Gemini Thief could be anyone. Your father, your mother, your best friend’s crazy uncle. Some country music star’s deranged sister. Anyone. The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper, who takes three boys and holds them captive from June 1st to June 30th of the following year. The June Boys endure thirteen months of being stolen, hidden, observed, and fed before they are released, unharmed, by their masked captor. The Thief is a pro, having eluded authorities for nearly a decade and taken at least twelve boys. Now Thea Delacroix has reason to believe the Gemini Thief took a thirteenth victim: her cousin, Aulus McClaghen. But the game changes when one of the kidnapped boys turns up dead. Together with her boyfriend Nick and her best friends, Thea is determined to find the Gemini Thief and the remaining boys before it’s too late. Only she’s beginning to wonder something sinister, something repulsive, something unbelievable, and yet, not impossible: What if her father is the Gemini Thief?

MEMOIR/NON-FICTION

Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener
Expected Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: MCD
Synopsis: In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress. Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building. Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.

The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s: An Oral History by Andy Greene
Expected Publication Date: March 24, 2020
Publisher: Dutton Books
Synopsis: When did you last hang out with Jim, Pam, Dwight, Michael, and the rest of Dunder Mifflin? It might have been back in 2013, when the series finale aired . . . or it might have been last night, when you watched three episodes in a row. But either way, fifteen years after the show first aired, it’s more popular than ever, and fans have only one problem–what to watch, or read, next. Fortunately, Rolling Stone writer Andy Greene has that answer. In his brand-new oral history, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, Greene will take readers behind the scenes of their favorite moments and characters. Greene gives us the true inside story behind the entire show, from its origins on the BBC through its impressive nine-season run in America, with in-depth research and exclusive interviews. Fans will get the inside scoop on key episodes from “The Dundies” to “Threat Level Midnight” and “Goodbye, Michael,” including behind-the-scenes details like the battle to keep it on the air when NBC wanted to pull the plug after just six episodes and the failed attempt to bring in James Gandolfini as the new boss after Steve Carell left, spotlighting the incredible, genre-redefining show created by the family-like team, who together took a quirky British import with dicey prospects and turned it into a primetime giant with true historical and cultural significance. Hilarious, heartwarming, and revelatory, The Office gives fans and pop culture buffs a front-row seat to the phenomenal sequence of events that launched The Office into wild popularity, changing the face of television and how we all see our office lives for decades to come. 

WHAT I READ: December 2019

December was just a tad chaotic but I managed to read seven books. Not my strongest reading month in terms of the number of books that I finished, but certainly a great reading month in terms of star-ratings.

FIVE STAR READS ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas
I treated myself to an early Christmas present: re-reading Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas. This is my favorite forbidden, age-gap romance and just a super swoon-worthy book overall. I can’t wait for Penelope’s new book, Credence, coming out later this month on Kindle Unlimited.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway and it definitely did not disappoint. This book is dark and hard to read, but extremely relevant and worth reading. Check out my full review here and make sure to grab a copy in March.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
It took me almost a month to get through this monstrosity, not because I wasn’t enjoying the story, but because of how dang long it was! I loved seeing Jamie and Claire’s reunion in this book and the start of their new adventure. I’ve already started Drums of Autumn and am super excited to carry on with the rest of the series.

FOUR STAR READS ★ ★ ★ ★

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
This was my Book of the Month pick and another one of my most-anticipated 2020 releases. It was definitely strange but super engaging and fast-paced. I’m excited to explore more of Tarryn Fisher’s work in the future.

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare
This choice was definitely heavily influenced by romance booktube. I kept seeing everyone reading this book and wanted to see what all of the hype was about. This was my first historical romance and I really enjoyed it! Such a cute story.

The Making of Outlander: The Official Guide to Seasons 1 & 2 by Tara Bennett
I picked this book up in preparation for the TV show’s return in a few short months, which I can’t wait for. It was really neat learning more about the production and how much work goes into character development, costume and set design, and filming locations.

THREE STAR READS ★ ★ ★

The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart
This book was just okay for me. Again, another book that was heavily influenced by its popularity on romance booktube, but something that just didn’t resonate with me unfortunately. It was a middle-of-the-road romance, nothing special but definitely not terrible. I just couldn’t connect with the characters.

THE BEST & WORST BOOKS OF 2019

Welcome to a new decade, y’all! Now that 2019 is behind us, I’m excited to share my thoughts on what I read – the good, the bad, and the ugly -with my Best & Worst Books of 2019.

This year was a pretty great reading year for me. I discovered some amazing books, books that are now on my list of all-time favorites. I also, unfortunately, discovered books that made me cringe, made me sigh with disappointment, and nearly thew me headfirst into a reading slump. Such is life when you’re an avid reader.

After a very rocky start, I managed to knock out 53 books in total this year, which is my new personal best, so cheers to that. I actually created a post recently detailing my specific reading stats for 2019, including ratings and a full list of every title I completed, which can be found here if you’re so curious.

Disclaimer: The opinions stated below are entirely my own. You may love the books that I disliked and dislike the books that I loved – that’s the beauty of reading! We all have different tastes, different thoughts, and different topics we gravitate toward. Please do not be swayed from picking up a book that I disliked if it’s something that interests you. Additionally, this is my list of best and worst books read in 2019. That does not mean that all of these books were published in 2019.


THE BEST

The Bromance Bookclub by Lyssa Kay Adams Y’all this book was so fun and fast-paced and just what I needed after my thriller binge around Halloween. It was so refreshing to read a story focused on a couple staying together and working on their relationship instead of forming it. All of the characters were endearing and charismatic, and the excerpts from the group’s historical romance novel spliced throughout the book were such a cute touch.


The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah A story of family and survival in the Alaskan Wilderness, The Great Alone was definitely difficult to read but impossible to put down. Kristin Hannah is the master of atmospheric settings and relationship building. Her novel, The Nightingale, is my favorite book of all time, so I will definitely be picking up any and everything she writes in the future.


Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark I’ve been a huge fan of My Favorite Murder for years, so you bet I pre-ordered this baby as soon as I could. Karen and Georgia honestly feel like old friends. They’re candor, insight and humor are so appreciated and have a way of making you feel right at home. Or right at therapy? This book was everything that I wanted. While I read the physical version, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the audiobook which is actually narrated by Karen and Georgia.


Lock Every Door by Riley Sager My favorite thriller of the year! In Lock Every Door, we follow Jules, a girl who’s down on her luck when she’s presented with an almost-too-good-to-be-true opportunity: getting paid to become a tenant in an infamous luxury apartment building. This book was super creepy and unsettling, and the writing was super vivid and fast-paced. My first Riley Sager, but definitely not my last!


On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves My first five-star read of 2019! A story of survival and romance, we follow 30 year old Anna, a teacher, and 16 year old TJ, the student she will be tutoring for the summer. When their plane crashes, they become stranded on a remote island where they remain for almost 4 years. While this one seems a tad problematic, nothing happens in their relationship until TJ is 18. This was a super slow burn, high stakes romance that I couldn’t put down. Highly recommend!


The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead I read many challenging books in 2019, but none more challenging than this one. The Nickel Boys is a fictional story rooted in reality and based on a grotesque, abusive reformatory school that operated in north Florida for over 100 years. Set in the early 1960s in a segregated Tallahassee, our main character, Elwood Curt, finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time and is sent to the Nickel Academy, where he is subjected to awful, torturous horrors. A hard read but a necessary one.


My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell A thought-provoking conversation starter on abuse of power, consent, trauma, and the uber-relevant #MeToo movement, the book’s narrative switches back and forth between timelines; a vulnerable, 15-year-old Vanessa who’s being groomed for a sexual relationship with her English teacher, Mr. Strane, and present-day Vanessa, as she struggles with the aftermath of his abuse and manipulation. This is a very challenging, raw read but one that I highly recommend you pick up.


The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren This book CHARMED me, y’all. The Unhoneymooners is the perfect summer romance and, I’d venture to say, my favorite Christina Lauren yet! We follow Ethan and Olive, enemies who end up on a honeymoon trip together after unfortunate circumstances. This is hate-to-love romance with a fake dating trope, which is my ~jam.~ The chemistry between these two characters was swoon-worthy and their banter was spot-on. Such a good beach read!


THE WORST

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey This book DID NOT do it for me and I’m disappointed for so many reasons. I typically love a good fake dating trope and I also really enjoy a good “I’m in love with my brother’s best friend” story line. In theory, I should have enjoyed this book, but so many elements annoyed me to no end, especially the love interest, Travis. His excessive use of “baby girl” made me want to throw up and his cockiness was a major turn off for me. The illustrated cover was cute but the story was ugh.


Meet Cute by Helena Hunting On the note of cute covers, DON’T LET THIS ONE FOOL YOU. I went into this story expecting a fun, lighthearted romance, but the actual story was much more serious? Meet Cute is about Kaitlyn and Daxton, law school enemies who reconnect later in life and a second-chance romance ensues. This book had such potential and it was actually one of my most anticipated releases of 2019 (yikes), but the dialogue was cliche and cringey and I was unable to connect with any of the characters.


An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen I can’t quite put my finger on the specific reasons why I didn’t enjoy this book. Honestly, I was really bored and felt myself zoning out while listening to the audiobook. After perusing Goodreads, it looks like I’m the unpopular opinion on this one too so if the plot interests you in anyway, by all means, give it a go. I’m still planning on picking up their first novel, The Wife Between Us.


Elevation by Stephen King Another case of me getting bored and therefore not liking a book. I listened to this story via audiobook and felt very distracted throughout. The story line didn’t feel strong enough to keep my attention and even though the book was super short, I was ready for it to be over. 2019 was the year of me discovering that Stephen King is not for me.


A Serial Killer’s Daughter: My Story of Faith, Love, and Overcoming by Kerri Rawson Okay, I blame myself for not paying attention to this book’s full title. An avid consumer of all things true crime, I was super intrigued to learn more about the BTK killer and the impacts his actions had on his family. I did not, however, expect this story to be so heavily focused on religion. I don’t want to knock her for turning to religion to cope and understand, however, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.


Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis It’s no secret that Rachel Hollis is a bit controversial. She’s been accused of plagiarizing and she’s also been dinged for her privilege. All of that aside, I went into this book with an open mind and discovered that it just wasn’t for me. I’m not a huge fan of motivational self-help books to begin with, but Rachel’s guidance didn’t connect with me and honestly, a lot of her ideas seemed pretty common sense.