Title: You Can Run
Author: Rebecca Zanetti
Date finished: 3/7/22
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Pages in book: 370
Stand alone or series: #1 in new Laurel Snow Thriller series
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:

Laurel Snow wouldn’t call hunting a serial killer a vacation, but with a pile of dead bodies unearthed near her Genesis Valley, WA, hometown, she’ll take what she can get. Yet something about this case stirs her in unexpected ways. Like the startling connection she feels to Dr. Abigail Caine, a fiercely intelligent witness with a disturbing knack for making Laurel feel like she has something on her. Then there’s Laurel’s attraction to Huck Rivers, the fish and wildlife officer guiding her to the crime scene—and into the wilderness…

A former soldier and a trained sniper, Huck’s thirst for blood is rivaled only by his fierce pursuit of Laurel. He’s been burned by love, wounded by the government, and betrayed before, and to say he has trust issues is the ultimate understatement. Plus, he might be closer to this killer than anybody knows…

Once in the heart of darkness with Huck, Laurel must negotiate her distracting desire for him, her complex rapport with Abigail—and her mission to find a serial killer among a growing list of suspects and a danger that’s far too close to home. So close in fact, Laurel fears she will never find her way back to the woman she once was…

My rating:  2.5 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 have heard about Rebecca Zanetti on the podcast I listen to but I’ve never read anything by her so I was excited to read her new release. It wasn’t quite what I expected – especially since spoiler alert but there’s no HEA at the end! Granted I have been really distracted with work over the last month so I was picking this one up and putting it down a lot more than a normal read. Made it a little harder to stay focused on the story line but even still I just had trouble connecting with the heroine. She was really interesting at first with her high IQ and her eccentricities but then she felt so normal for some of the book too. It felt like a weird dichotomy of characteristics that didn’t end up jiving for me. Overall it was an interesting book and I think people would definitely enjoy it but I didn’t love it.

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

2022 Book #7 – How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Title: How to Love Your Neighbor
Author: Sophie Sullivan
Date finished: 2/4/22
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Pages in book: 345
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:

Enemies-to-lovers meets HGTV in this frothy, effervescent romantic comedy from Sophie Sullivan, author of Ten Rules for Faking It.

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

My rating:  2.0 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 was really interested in the description of this book – I’m a fan of the enemies to lovers trope so I was excited to give this one a read. This book ended up just not being for me though. I’m sure that many other people will (and do!) love this book I just can’t say I was one of them. The hero was an ass right from the start and I never really felt like he ever turned into a likeable character for me. And the heroine was just not someone I could connect with either – it’s hard for me to really pinpoint exactly why, but I never enjoyed her character. So while the concept was promising and there was a decent plot involved, this book just didn’t end up working for me. I would still recommend giving it a try – there are a lot of people who did enjoy the book so there’s something redeemable in there I’m sure!

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

2022 Book #5 – Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Title: Electric Idol
Author: Katee Robert
Date finished: 1/20/22
Genre: Contemporary romance, erotic romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Pages in book: 350
Stand alone or series: Dark Olympus series #2
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:

He was the most beautiful man in Olympus.
And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche Dimitriou knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s jealous rage eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. Raised to be his mother’s knife in the dark, he’s been conditioned to accept that he’s more monster than man. But when it comes time to take out his latest target…he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche’s unexpected kindness, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he binds her to him, body and soul.

Psyche didn’t expect to find herself married to the glittering city’s most dangerous killer, but something about Eros wakens a fire inside her she’s never felt before. As lines blur and loyalties shift, Psyche realizes Eros might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss.

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 read the first book in the Dark Olympus series and enjoyed it so I decided to try the next book in the series too. This was an interesting read – it was definitely steamy but I wouldn’t say that I’d classify it in erotic romance. It just felt like a really steam contemporary romance to me. I love that the characters in this series are all based on characters from mythology and that it loosely follows along with some of the old stories while bringing a modern spin to it. The dichotomy between old and new is so engaging. This book was especially intriguing to me as there were echoes of traditional fairy tale stories as well – Aphrodite telling Eros to “bring me her heart” like in Snow White and also Beauty and the Beast is even referenced in the book. This book also spoke to a narrative around body positivity in a number of places and I loved it. I especially loved that when we’re getting Eros’ point of view he never had thoughts that were like “oh well she’s chubby but I like chubby” – his thoughts were just straight about how beautiful Psyche was with no qualifiers. I thought this was a great book and I’d definitely recommend it.

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

2022 Book #3 – Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne

Title: Made in Manhattan
Author: Lauren Layne
Date finished: 1/14/22
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Pages in book: 297
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Central Park Pact comes a reverse My Fair Lady for the modern era about a pampered and privileged Manhattan socialite who must teach an unpolished and denim-loving nobody from the Louisiana Bayou how to fit in with the upper crust of New York City. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne.

Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.

Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

My rating: 2.5 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 have read other books by this author in the past and have enjoyed them. And I was interested by the premise of this story also. I can’t say that I ended up loving it though. It just didn’t end up working for me personally – though it was a good book and was well written. I personally didn’t care for Cain – he was too surly for my tastes and was downright mean to Violet at times. And we went through the whole thing of “well if he is mean to you it means he actually likes you” and I just can’t get on board with that anymore. And I know Violet’s personal journey was important but I didn’t like the personal “transformations” that either she or Cain went through. It was still a cute story and there was some pretty good banter. I just didn’t end up loving it. I think it’s still worth a read but this one just didn’t work for me personally.

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

2022 Book #2 – Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Title: Love at First Spite
Author: Anna E. Collins
Date finished: 1/8/22
Genre: Contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: January 4, 2022
Pages in book: 298
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:

Falling in love is the ultimate payback in this delightful, breezy romcom about an interior designer who teams up with an enigmatic architect at her firm to get revenge on her ex the only way she knows how: by building a spite house next door

They say living well is the best revenge. But sometimes, spreading the misery seems a whole lot more satisfying. That’s interior designer Dani Porter’s justification for buying the vacant lot next to her ex-fiancé’s house…the house they were supposed to live in together, before he cheated on her with their Realtor. Dani plans to build a vacation rental that will a) mess with his view and his peace of mind and b) prove that Dani is not someone to be stepped on. Welcome to project Spite House.

That plan quickly becomes complicated when Dani is forced to team up with Wyatt Montego, the handsome, haughty architect at her firm, and the only person available to draw up blueprints. Wyatt is terse and stern, the kind of man who eats his sandwich with a knife and fork. But as they spend time together on- and off-site, Dani glimpses something deeper beneath that hard veneer, something surprising, vulnerable, and real. And the closer she gets to her goal, the more she wonders if winning revenge could mean losing something infinitely sweeter…

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.

One of my all-time favorite tropes is enemies to lovers, even better if they’re work place enemies. So when I saw the description for this one I was so excited to read it. I really liked the book at first too – there was some great banter, I loved the concept of the revenge rental property and it was entertaining! Dani just got to be too much for me – she was a little too whiny for me by the end. And her and Wyatt had like zero communication skills. By the end of the book I just had trouble believing that they were going to be able to make it work. This was still a very entertaining read and I’d recommend it because I did like it – it just wasn’t a great read for me.

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

2021 Recap and 2022 Goals

2021

2021 was such an eventful year for us! My husband and I welcomed a little baby boy in July and he has been such a joy for us. I had a few months of maternity leave during which I actually got a LOT of reading done. I had gallbladder surgery and then went back to work right in the midst of a busy season so had to dive right into things. We were so blessed this year and it’s hard to believe how much of our life has changed.

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2021:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 31 (May 2021) – Did not participate in this challenge, was very busy with work and the last few months of pregnancy
    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. – I did the Ripped Bodice summer romance reading bingo, I was off for two months in the summer and it was fun!
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month – I was definitely able to accomplish this, I actually read 26 books of my backlog which I was super happy about. I still have 42 books to get through so I have to stick with it !
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month – I did this one too! I might’ve even gotten through more than one a month a couple times, but I also bought more new books in 2021 than I read from my library so have not yet been able to deplete my library at all
  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 did this for January, February, March, and April and then I kind of lost track of it. I had a great time writing the posts that I did get out though, especially the Girl Scout Cookie, wine and book pairing post I did in March.

This year was very different for me since we added a new family member. My maternity leave included a lot more reading than I ever would have expected but those late night feedings it’s so easy to read on a Kindle!

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:

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 2021:

Favorite Reads from 2021

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – 5.0 stars – Also I watched the movie and I really liked it! There were pros and cons to it but overall I think it stayed really true to the book and it is definitely enjoyable
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4.75 stars
  • Block Shot by Kennedy Ryan – 4.75 stars
  • Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – 4.75 stars
  • The Invited by Jennifer McMahon – 4.75 stars
  • It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey – 4.5 stars
  • Getaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – 4.5 stars

Best New Author I Read in 2021

Last year’s best new author was Tessa Bailey and, even though she wasn’t a new author to me in 2021, I feel like I still have to mention her since I’ve been just gobbling up her backlog. I love a lot of the books I’ve read by her. But best new author I read in 2021 is a tie between Emily Henry (loved Beach Read!) and Nikki Sloane (who I heard about on the Fated Mates podcast).

Here we close out the 2021 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

Happy New Year!

Looking ahead to 2022, I feel so grateful for all the ways my life has grown this past year. Some of those things will take away from my reading and blogging time and that’s an adjustment I’ve been getting used to over the last few months. Reading is still very important to me so I want to make time for it where I can, but many of my 2022 goals are going to be personal goals for outside the blog. That being said, there are some reading goals that I’m still hoping to achieve.

Looking ahead to 2022, here are some of the goals I plan to work on:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges: Book Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in at least one bingo challenge again this year. Maybe the Ripped Bodice summer bingo since I’ve done that one the last couple years and have enjoyed it.
  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 four non-review and non-blog tour post during the year – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like! I wasn’t able to keep up with the one a month schedule this past year so I’m hoping doing just four during the whole year will be more manageable.

I wish everyone love and joy in 2022, Happy Reading!

2021 Book #108 – New Year Kiss with His Cinderella by Annie O’Neil

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Title: New Year Kiss with His Cinderella
Author: Annie O’Neil
Date finished: 12/23/21
Genre: Contemporary romance, medical romance
Publisher: Harlequin Medical Romance
Publication Date: December 28, 2021
Pages in book: 194
Stand alone or series: Nashville ER series Book #1
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:

From a midnight kiss…
…to a reunion in the ER!
When Dr. Carter shares a New Year’s kiss with a captivating stranger, he doesn’t expect a reunion. Then he walks into Saint Dolores’s ER the very next day…and discovers she’s his new colleague! Awkwardly, their smoking-hot attraction hasn’t gone away! But for Carter, life has meant staying mobile, and he can’t simply lay down roots. Yet there’s something about Nurse Avery and Nashville that’s starting to really feel like home…

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

Tour image_dreamer_Harlequin

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

I signed up to participate in this blog tour post for this month’s Harlequin blog tour and I thought this book sounded interesting so I signed up to read it. I liked some pieces of this book, but I have to say I didn’t love it. It was my first medical romance and I definitely liked that aspect of it and trying something new. I just couldn’t really get into the plot or the characters emotionally and the book ended up kind of dragging for me. I still think it’s interesting and is worth the read but it wasn’t my favorite.

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

2021 Book #106 – Here and Gone by Haylen Beck

Title: Here and Gone
Author: Haylen Beck
Date finished: 12/8/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 20, 2017
Pages in book: 304
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:

Here and Gone is a gripping, wonderfully tense suspense thriller about a mother’s desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities.

It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she’s pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff, things soon go awry and she is taken into custody. Only when she gets to the station, her kids are gone. And then the cops start saying they never saw any kids with her, that if they’re gone than she must have done something with them…

Meanwhile, halfway across the country a man hears the frenzied news reports about the missing kids, which are eerily similar to events in his own past. As the clock ticks down on the search for the lost children, he too is drawn into the desperate fight for their return.

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.

I had originally requested this book because it sounded very interesting. I haven’t read anything or even really heard much about this author before but the plot of the book sounded too intense to pass up. And intense it sure was! It was even a struggle for me to read it at first because of how frustrating I found it. Imagining what Audra was going through and (as a reader) putting myself in her shoes felt almost traumatic at points. If you push through that struggle at the beginning though, wow what a great ending! The reader will get the vindication of justice and also a couple great twists. I couldn’t put it down and just had to know what happened during the last like 1/2 of the book. I thought it was a really interesting book and, while I have trouble saying I “enjoyed” it just because of the subject matter, I would definitely recommend it.

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

2021 Book #104 – The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger

Title: The Singles Game
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Date finished: 11/25/21
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Pages in book: 353
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:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and When Life Gives You Lululemons comes a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.

How far would you go to reach the top?

When America’s sweetheart, Charlotte “Charlie” Silver, makes a pact with the devil, the infamously brutal coach Todd Feltner, Good Girl Charlie is banished. After all, no one ever wins big by playing nice. Charlie finds herself catapulted into a world of celebrity stylists, private parties, charity events on mega-yachts, and secret dates with Hollywood royalty. But in a world obsessed with good looks and hot shots, is Charlie willing to lose herself to win it all?

My rating:  3.25 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.

I had originally requested this book because it sounded very interesting. I  recently read another of Weisberger’s novels and didn’t love it but I will say the plot line of this novel was fairly intriguing. I just found the overall story to be kind of flat – there was some character growth on the part of Charlie but other than that I thought that there could’ve been more growth with some of the other characters involved. It was a good story and I honestly liked it more than I expected to but it still wasn’t my favorite. The romance tied into the end of the story felt a little bit like a second thought. And there were a LOT of details about tennis, which may be appealing to some but was a bit more than I personally felt I needed. Overall was a pretty good book but I just think it wasn’t for me personally.

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

2021 Monthly Status Update: October

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My favorite time of the year is almost over! Fall is the best – between the cooler weather and my birthday and all the Halloween decorations, I just love this time of year. We always have a big Halloween celebration and it’s just great. And this year we got to make lots of new memories with our son. I started back at work and it’s been hard at times trying to find a balance between work and home – this resulted in October being a slow reading month for me! Here is my reading progress for October:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 1,921
# books read year-to-date: 97
# pages read year-to-date: 32,870

Other Posts this month:

Nothing to report from this past month!

BUT I just have to mention – I made it onto one of my favorite podcasts FATED MATES!! I called in and left a voicemail to talk about the book that “blooded me”  and they used my recording to conclude one of their episodes! I literally screamed in the car when I heard it, I was so excited!! It’s episode 27 of Season 2 and was an interstitial about sickbed scenes on romance novels. I HIGHLY recommend listening to the whole episode because it was a good one but if you’re looking to hear from me specifically, my message starts at minute 29:00!

Favorite books from this month:

Nothing really that stood out this month

Next Month TBR List:

Nothing on the TBR for next month, which is good because work is just so busy right now and I’m going to have trouble keeping up between my work load and a baby at home. I’m hoping to fit in time for reading when I can and just read stuff from my backlog or my library. I’ve also started going to clients and to the office again and have been listening to my podcasts! So hopefully I can read some books this month for catching up with the podcast TBR.

Happy November to everyone and enjoy Thanksgiving (safely)!