2020 Book #10 – The Survivors by Jane Harper

Title: The Survivors
Author: Jane Harper
Date finished: 1/28/21
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: February 2, 2021
Pages in book: 379
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve read another of Jane Harpers books in the past and found it intriguing so I was interested in participating in BookBrowse’s book discussion for this book. I’m glad I did too, because the discussion around the book has been really very engaging and though-provoking. There was a lot of stuff happening all at once with the plot – at certain points it was almost hard to keep track – but the co-mingling pieces all seemed to make sense in the end. Even with all the different things going on, there were a few points that still felt a little slow to me. I think my favorite parts of the book were with Kiernan and his interactions with his mother and dealing with the emotional traumas from their past. That and his relationship with Mia and his daughter and how that changed his view of events from now and the past. I enjoyed the book, though I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites just because of the slow pieces but I’ve been really enjoying the discussion. I think this is a great book club pick and overall a good book!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

From Books to the Big Screen!

There’s been a lot of activity lately with books being made into TV series or movies, or in some cases there’s been talk about some books being made or hopefully being made. So I wanted to feature some of my favorites! I was especially inspired for this with the very exciting recent release (which I’ll mention below!).

So to start, here are some of my favorites that are already out – this is a mix of recent and not so recent but some of these are absolute favorites that I’ll watch over and over again

  1. Ella Enchanted – I read this book a LOOONG time ago, back in middle school I think. And the movie version they made with Annie Hathaway was so great, it was funny and cute and had great music. Love this one!
  2. Crazy Rich Asians – I almost skipped this one because to be honest I haven’t read the book yet but the movie was just so good. The production of that movie was fantastic and the scenery and outfits were stunning.
  3. Gone Girl – I know some people don’t like this story line but the movie was so true to the book and I really love the plot twist.
  4. Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightley) – I love this movie! The music and imagery is so soothing to me, I find it so calming. And obviously its a great romance!
  5. Austenland – For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, go watch it now! It is adorable and I love pretty much everything about it – the music and the dresses and the story overall. Really cute movie.
  6. Last but not least! The recently released Bridgerton show! It’s definitely different from the novel so prepare yourself for that but it was still really good. I can’t wait for season 2! (Though it seems like I’m going to have to since I don’t think season 2 is coming out until 2022)

There are also a few movies that I’ve either heard are in production currently or were optioned but no word on a release yet – and I can not wait to see how these translate to the screen.

  1. The Hating Game – I just read this book this month and LOVED it. I know they’re currently wrapping up production on this one, though I don’t know if there’s a release date yet. I can’t wait to see this one and I hope they stay pretty true to the book.
  2. The Selection series – I’ll have to read this series before it comes out but I can’t wait to see what they do with this one. I think they’re making it into a Netflix movie.
  3. The Kiss Quotient – I think this one would be interesting to see how it translates to the screen, especially with one of the characters being autistic. Not sure if this will end up happening but I’m excited by the idea.
  4. Wicked – I CAN’T WAIT for this one. I did read the book and didn’t necessarily love it but I did LOVE the musical so I’m hoping the basically produce the musical. I’d watch it every day.

As I was compiling the other lists I realized there were so many books that I’d really want to become movies too. These ones I haven’t heard anything about them potentially become movies/TV shows but a girl can dream!

  1. The Winternight Trilogy – I think that if this one is done correctly it could be fascinating. There is so much that could be done with this one with the right special effects.
  2. The Evil Queen – I think it might be a little difficult with such a variety of mythical creatures – but again with the right special effects I think this could be a great film. I love fairy-tale retellings and others seem to love them as well.
  3. My Lady’s Choosing with the choose your adventure option – I heard about something like this being done on a Netflix show where they made it so it was like a choose your own adventure novel – you select the option you want next and Netflix plays that scene. I thought this would be a great grown-up version of that!
  4. One to Watch – I think this would be a great one to translate to the screen, especially since the dating shows are all so popular on TV. I loved this story and would love to see it made into a movie!

What about you all out there? What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations? Any amazing ones I missed?

2021 Book #7 – Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands

Title: Highland Treasure
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/15/21
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2021
Pages in book: 366
Stand alone or series: #9 in the Highland Brides series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A Buchanan brother finds a love to treasure in this scintillating historical romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

After escaping from the English soldiers who attacked her home and imprisoned her in a dungeon, Lady Elysande de Valance is grateful for the rugged Scots who are escorting her to safety in the Highlands. Even with danger dogging their every step, she hadn’t expected to welcome the strong comforting embrace of their leader, Rory Buchanan. They say he’s a healer, but she finds the heat of his touch does so much more…

Let his brothers get married—Rory is too busy tending to the sick to be bothered with wooing a bride. But when he is tasked with accompanying a family friend’s “treasure” to the Highlands, he is surprised to learn the treasure is a beautiful woman on the run—and even more surprised to discover bruises hidden by her veil. Rory makes it his mission to tend to her injuries and protect her, but the thought of losing her makes him realize that perhaps it is his heart that is most in need of healing…

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book really kicked off with an intense start. Intensely tragic obviously but it also really captivates the reader right from the beginning and really makes the reader want to see how Elysande is able to survive this. There was a lot of set up involved in her story though and it almost took some away from the romance because we don’t even get to the romantic side of things until like half way the book. Which is interesting because the development of the story started out really strong for me in the first half but then it got a little slow for me and somewhat repetitive. I think it was just that there was so much detail included that it started to feel slow at some points just with the amount of details. Overall though it was a good book. I didn’t want to put it down as I was really intrigued by the plot – just not the romance plot.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #6 – The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

Title: The Perfect Wife
Author: JP Delaney
Date finished: 1/12/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Pages in book: 413
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative start-ups. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss.

She is a miracle of science.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins to question her husband’s motives—and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

Beware the man who calls you . . .

THE PERFECT WIFE

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’ve enjoyed other books that I’ve read by Delaney and was intrigued to read this one too. It turned out to be not quite what I expected but was very interesting. The main narrator is an artificial intelligence robot and it was really compelling how human like her character and her voice was even though she was a robot. There was a weird ending though that I didn’t expect and that I didn’t quite follow how it came about. There were some good twists and turns along the way and the book took an interesting psychological look at Tim’s obsession with women. Overall this was a really engaging read and I enjoyed it – I didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to find out what happened. It was a good book but some of the ending didn’t click for me so I wouldn’t say I thought it was great. I still think it’s worth a read though!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #5 – Shipped by Angie Hockman

Title: Shipped
Author: Angie Hockman
Date finished: 1/7/21
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 335
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game in this witty, clever, and swoonworthy novel following a workaholic marketing manager who is forced to go on a cruise with her arch-nemesis when they’re up for the same promotion.

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Galápagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Galápagos Islands…together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?

Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne, Shipped is a fresh and engaging rom-com that celebrates the power of second chances and the magic of new beginnings.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book was described as The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game and, not only did that description really interest me because I enjoyed both of those books, but I think that was a really apt description for this book. The description of the travels of the cruise ship and the sites and scenery that Graeme and Henley were able to experience were very transporting. I felt like I was experiencing all of those things myself. I really like the enemy coworkers to lovers trope and this one was pretty good. Henley sounded whiny to me in some parts, but overall I liked her and Graeme’s story and how their relationship was developed. The focus on teamwork in the story was also a really endearing one – it was great to see the supportive crew that Henley was surrounded by. Some pieces of the story were a little slow for me but overall I really enjoyed this story and would definitely recommend it.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Book #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Recap and 2021 Goals!

2020

Well. 2020 was definitely a different year. There were many challenges but there was also many benefits. Transitioning to working from home was easier than I expected – I spent more time at home than I ever have and it’s been great to have so much time with my husband. There was admittedly less time with other family members since we’re trying to be careful with the pandemic but it’s been great having so much time at home and we’ve been working on some house projects and have more to come!

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2020:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 28 (May 2020) – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February and October. I don’t think that the Bookish site is doing Book Bingo sheets anymore but I’m hoping I can find another site that has one for these two months. – So I couldn’t find a bingo to do for February and October that were new/appealing ones. I did participate in the Ripped Bodice Summer Romance Bingo challenge, which was fun!
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month – I didn’t quite make a book a month but I did read a number of books from my backlog list, which is great! I also read 100% of my 2020 reading list so I didn’t add any to my backlog. I’ll be continuing to work on reducing my backlog even further in 2021.
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month – I also didn’t quite make a book a month but I was close! I read a lot more from my personal library in 2020 and it was great to read random reads (not scheduled) for a little
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like! – Did not do this at all. I’d like to do it in 2021 but I just didn’t have time over the last year to do it.

This year was definitely different – due to the pandemic so many events were cancelled or done just virtually. I participated in a couple Zoom events for podcasts that I enjoy but other than that there weren’t as many events to participate in. The additional time at home gave me more time to spend with my husband and plenty of time for reading. I read a record-setting 12 books during my week in Maine.

In looking back on my year of reading this year, I was able to read a comparable amount related to previous years. Below is a chart of the books I read by month this year vs previous years:

Capture

I also really like the functionality of the Goodreads Year in Books summary for giving an overview of what happened during my year for reading. I don’t record 100% of the books I read on here so it doesn’t always match up with my own figures but I love having all the covers in one place, it makes for a neat graphic.

And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2020:

Favorite Reads from 2020

After Sundown by Linda Jones and Linda Howard – 4.5 stars
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – 4.75 stars
Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown – 4.75 stars
The Roommate by Rosie Danan –  4.25 stars
Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey –  5.0 stars
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – 4.75 stars
One by One by Ruth Ware –  5.0 stars

Favorite New Series

I really enjoyed Gena Showalter’s series The Forest of Good and Evil this year. The Evil Queen was my favorite of the two that I read this year but I also really liked The Glass Queen. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out! The series is such a fun mix of supernatural, fairy tale, and romance and also reminds me a lot of the favorite series I discovered last year, Immortals After Dark.

Best New Author I Read in 2020

Has to be Tessa Bailey – I actually read a couple books by her in 2020 but her book Tools of Engagement really just hit me so hard and struck such a personal note for me. I had heard a lot of buzz about her books prior to reading, and with good reason since she’s a fabulous writer. I can’t wait to read more by her in the future!

Most Emotional Read from 2020

I had heard a lot about Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan and finally had a chance to read it this year. Man that book is a RIDE. I was so sucked into the story and I cried a lot reading that book. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series too but trying to make sure I have the emotional space to read them.

Here we close out the 2020 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

2021

Looking ahead to 2021, I have so many things to look forward to but some of those things will take me away from blogging. More of my 2021 goals are going to be personal goals for outside the blog, but there are some reading goals that I’m still hoping to achieve. I may have to take a hiatus later in 2021 or I may have to figure out a way to reduce my time commitment overall to the blog but I’m planning on crossing that bridge once I get to it. I have so many blessings and exciting things happening this coming year and I just can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Looking ahead to 2021, here are some of the goals I plan to work on:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 31 (May 2021)
    2. Book Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in at least one bingo challenge again this year. Maybe the Ripped Bodice summer bingo but I’ll be busy in July and August so I’m not sure if that’ll work. We’ll see how things pan out but I do so much enjoy those so I’d like to participate in at least one.
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like!

I wish everyone love and joy in 2021, Happy Reading!

2020 Monthly Status Update: December

december newsletter

December was a great month! Lot of work to do plus the holidays so there were some definite distractions but I read some great books and had a nice relaxing holiday! I’ll also be posting a post reviewing my reading for the year but for now, here are some reading highlights from December:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,744
# books read year-to-date: 98
# pages read year-to-date: 32,738

Other Posts this month:

Top 5 Favorite Holiday Romances! 

Favorite books from this month:

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce
  • Shipped by Angie Hockman
  • Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper

I’m going right into the next busy season at work so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for reading but we’ll see. Christmas and New Years was great – hope everyone had a great holiday season! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Happy reading everyone!