Book Review

2018 A Year in {Book} Review- My Top 5 Favorite Books of the Year

I thought I would start 2019 off with a review on my favorite books of 2018. I read a total of 32 books this year and picked 5 of my top favorites. As you can tell, psychological thrillers and romances are my favorite genres!

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang– This was an unexpected steamy romance about a girl with Aspergers who hires a male escort to teach her how to be in a relationship.

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris- A fun choose your own adventure where the reader gets to decide how their love life pans out!

A Royal Shade of Blue by Aven Ellis- This novel delves into the world of royals and what happens when one of them falls for a commoner.

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena– When the power goes out at a resort in the Catskills and hotel guests start ending up murdered, it’s up to the remaining survivors to figure out who the killer is before they’re all goners!

The Wife Between Us by by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen– A thriller involving a jilted ex wife, a much younger soon to be wife, secrets, and the husband that ties them together. Or is it?

 

I have reviews for all of these on my blog; just search for the title if you’re interested! Have you read any of these? Let me know what some of your top favorites of 2018 were in the comments!

 

I read a few others this year that I would add to this list but didn’t because they actually aren’t being published until 2019!

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Book Review

Book Review: Swing and a Miss (Washington DC Soaring Eagles #2) by Aven Ellis- 5 Stars

Welcome back to DC, the home of the Soaring Eagles baseball team! Katie is still reeling over the night she fainted on her crush, baseball player AJ Williamson after getting the chance to meet him thanks to the fact her best friend Hayley dates his teammate, Brody.

Katie’s always loved baseball. She’s had a crush on AJ the baseball player forever, but when she gets the chance to really know the real him, she begins to fall for Andrew Joseph, who is more than a baseball star-he’s a lover of Fraiser, old movies, and amusement parks.

All of the interactions between the two of them just seemed so real and genuine. I loved how AJ stopped in to the coffee shop where Katie works after his game and they spent ours talking, and sharing coffee and pastries, and when they spent the day riding roller coasters together!

Of course, with new relationships come doubts that can threaten to tear a couple apart. Katie will be starting law school soon and knows it will take up all of her time. AJ is a celebrity, and he’s never felt settled in his life thanks to his parents moving him around constantly. Will Katie’s past celebrity crush cause AJ to have doubts that he isn’t good enough and that she just wants to be with him for the baseball part of him? Will he be okay with the fact that Katie’s schoolwork leaves little time for love and fun?

This is such a sweet romance! Even if you don’t like baseball you will still appreciate the relationship and fun moments between Katie and AJ!

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review!

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Book Review

{Children’s} Book Review:How Do You Say Good Night?- 4 Stars

This is the perfect bedtime story book!

 

Zoey the Zebra goes all over the land to find out how different animal families say good night. Everyone has their own traditions that make it special and just right for their family. I think it would be great for older kids to read together with their parents and start a good night tradition of their own. Younger kids will enjoy it for the beautiful illustrations and clever ways to say good night! This book not only shows the different bedtime routines but the various ways to thank God for his blessings. It is a sturdy cardboard book great for little hands to help turn the pages.

 

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

 

Get your copy on Amazon!

Book Review

{Children’s} Book Review: My Christmas ABCs (An Alphabet Book)-5 Stars

 

My Christmas ABCs is a beautifully illustrated book that gives an example of a Christmas themed item that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet. There is fun glitter detail on every page! My son loves touch and feel books and I think he enjoyed the scratchy, sparkly glitter in this book. It’s a sturdy cardboard that is great for little hands. There’s not many words on the page so it’s excellent for those with short attention spans!

The vibrant colorful illustrations capture little ones and make it fun to sit and read together. I only wish each letter example rhymed to make reading it flow better, but it’s still a nice book to read. It’s not overtly religious and preachy, but certain letters reference the true reason for Christmas and there are no references to Santa.

I am grateful to Thomas Nelson and Book Look Bloggers for a copy of this book! I’m excited to add it to my son’s book collection and look forward to reading it again and again as we get closer to Christmas!

Book Review

{Coloring} Book Review: Home Is Wherever Mom Is Adult Coloring Book: Creative Coloring & Hand Lettering-5 Stars

When I saw this coloring book available to request from Harper Collins/BookLook bloggers, I KNEW I had to request it as I love to color and I’m going to be a mom for the first time in August! This is a BEAUTIFUL coloring book filled with designs and hand lettered pages to color depicting real life motherhood, as well as bible verses and quotes. The pages are quite nice and sturdy, and perforated as well. This would be a great gift for a new mom, or a worn out mom just needing a break to relax and color. I’m in my second trimester and some days I’m so tired from work and growing a baby I can’t wait to prop my feet up and spend an hour coloring and relaxing!

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for the chance to review this coloring book complimentary!

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Book Review: Srsly Hamlet by Courtney Carbone (and William Shakespeare)-4 stars

As a self proclaimed “Shakespeare Purist,” when I first saw this online I thought it was blasphemous! Making a mockery of Hamlet?! But it is hilarious! “Srsly Hamlet” is the tragedy of Hamlet told in text message format with emojis and modern day acronyms! If you love Shakespeare and also constantly talk in emojis, you need to read this. I think it will be especially great for teens in school, after they’ve read the original play, to read this as a follow up. I love how emotions were conveyed with specific emojis! I knocked off one star because no mention was made to poor Yorick in the cemetery scene. Overall, a really funny and up-to-date take on Hamlet.

Book Review

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes-2.5 Stars

 

 

An active, life-loving, successful businessman named Will Traynor is now a quadrepligic confined to a wheelchair, who can do nothing but speak, turn his head, and wheel his chair with the limited use of one arm. He is grouchy, depressed, irritable, who has to be fed, bathed, and medicated all by someone else. Louisa Clark, eccentric, lovable, cheerful, recently unemployed, becomes a companion for Will. Not to tend solely to his medical needs, but, someone who can bring him friendship and contentment.

 

I’m acutely aware I will be in the minority regarding my thoughts towards this book. I simply did not enjoy it, well, it’s not meant to be an “enjoyable” book per say, but I found it boring. The only part I cared for was the epilogue. I found it redundant. I didn’t become emotionally invested in any of the characters. I only got watery-eyed while Lou was reading Will’s letter at the end. I respect Will’s decision and I applaud Louisa for stepping out of her comfort zone by traveling and going back to school. I can even appreciate the fact that while she was trying to help improve Will’s outlook life, he was, in turn, encouraging her to be stronger and more confident, even if she didn’t see it right off.

Louisa lives a comfortable life, with loving, albeit pesky, parents, and her granddad. Her sister annoyed me. She was a spoiled, know-it-all brat. I hated the fact that Louisa was expected to be the primary earner for the whole family. Will is understandably depressed, being confined to a chair and having to rely on someone for your every need. His father is a philanderer, his mother, spineless and rude, his sister, a snob. Nathan, Will’s medical aide, was someone I actually liked. He accepted Will’s decision but also appreciated Louisa for her efforts.

So while I respect Will’s decision, what irritated me is that he was so set in his choice, nothing, nor no one, could sway him, even when he had days of pure joy and happiness. I love Louisa for her “calendar of adventures,” for pushing Will to enjoy life and see that his wheelchair doesn’t define him. She was actually a likeable character, I just couldn’t get attached and relate to her. 2.5 Stars because the ending made it not completely horrible.

Book Review

Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater- 4.5 Stars

the raven boys

 

What would you do if you saw a boy who was destined to die, and the only reason you saw his spirit is because you either are the one who killed him, or you’re his true love?

The Raven Boys chronicles the story of 4 boys- Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, and a very non-psychic girl from a very psychic family, Blue. The boys belong to Aglionby Academy- a private, high-society school. Blue goes to your basic public school. They live in Henrietta, Virginia, a place teeming with magical/paranormal aspects.

All of the characters were superbly developed. Their present lives, backstories, physical descriptions, all of it. I think my favorite raven boy so far is Ronan, and Blue made for an excellent female protagonist. She was strong, sassy, passionate, and loyal. Gansey’s life mission is to find the corpse road/ ley line and wake Glendower- a welsh king. He who wakens Glendower can ask for anything. If you’re confused, it’s okay. I was too. You will began to understand as you read further in.

Trees that speak in Latin, little pools of water containing fish that can change with just a thought…walking through all four seasons in one place, time moving so slow that 45 minutes is really 7? What is Cabeswater? And where is Glendower?

For like 120 pages I was seriously confused and tempted to quit reading because I was so lost. I felt the book was lacking detail, or leaving out a lot of key information. But then it got GOOD, and I started to figure out what was going on! It’s funky and creepy but oh, so entertaining. I loved the relationship between all the boys, even though it seemed a little strange at times, but I really liked how they all fit together, each with their own uniqueness.

 

The writing and general world building was so descriptive and magical! While this is a pretty dark and creepy book, there’s lots of snarky sass and humor tossed in that lightens it up a touch. I love Blue and her raven boys. I can’t wait to go along with them in the remaining books!

Book Review

Book Review: Breakout by Aven Ellis- 5 Stars

breakout

While Texas is known for loving football, Lexi Stewart has always been drawn to the ice. Hockey is her passion, and she wants nothing more than to pursue a career in video editing for the home network of the Dallas Demons hockey team.
Lexi has an editing job for a corporate account, but it’s not fulfilling. Nor is her dating life, despite having the so-called help of The One Online Dating Service. Lexi knows there has to be more for her—on both fronts. She’s ready to take the next step, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon.
Until a flying puck changes everything.
Niko Xenakis is the new Dallas Demons TV producer, and he’s looking to make his mark in his new role and hopefully work his way back to his hometown of Baltimore. But once he meets Lexi, he might just change his mind on what he wants for his future . . .
But the road to love is never easy, complicated by the fact that they both carry emotional baggage from the past in their hearts. Can these two “breakout”of the past to find love in the present?

 

The third book in the Dallas Demons series is just as romantic and funny as the previous two! Lexi is trying to achieve her dream of editing hockey for Total Access Total Sports when one day, the answer to her dreams literally crushes her against the bleachers to save her from a runaway hockey puck! From the start I was in love with Lexi and Niko. Lexi is such a headstrong woman who, like I always say about Aven’s female main characters, is someone I want to be friends with. She grew up in Dallas with her adoptive parents, who are well off, but Lexi has paved her own way and never relied on their money, and by whom she is loved and adored by.  Lexi is surrounded by loving, encouraging people, like her best friend Kenley, and second mother, CiCi, but deals with feelings of being abandoned and left unloved since her birth parents gave her up. She is a wonderful friend, has beautiful red hair, an eclectic collection of pj pants, is passionate about hockey, and pursuing her dream job. Niko is Greek, with Mediterranean sea blue eyes, and a Greek tattoo that peeks out from his dress shirts. Niko comes from a completely different background than Lexi. He grew up working in his parents bakery in Baltimore without any encouragement from them to pursue his dream of producing. They expect him to work in the bakery and marry a “nice Greek girl.” He has always felt like he is not good enough and a disappointment to his family.

So the two each bring some baggage to the table. Like all of Aven’s novels, as in real life, this isn’t a perfect-nothing-goes-wrong romance. Lexi and Niko have fights, there are mis-communications, but they always work things out. Lexi has to deal with a “reality show reject” at work who has eyes for Niko. Niko  needs to stop thinking of himself as the son who lets his parents down and realize he is worth love, from the right woman. As I’ve said before, I don’t think any couple can top William and Mary-Kate (Connectivity) but Niko and Lexi are coming in at a close second! This book will make you laugh, cry, and wish with all your heart that things start to fall into place for Lexi and Niko soon! The little gifts that Niko brings Lexi, like finger-less gloves for working in the office, and her favorite Gingerbread Latte, are so sweet and thoughtful.

The supporting characters are awesome as well- I really loved CiCi in this book. She is still nosy, but loves Lexi like a daughter and will do anything to help her and Niko stay together! And Kenley is such a great best friend. She’s always there with some yummy chocolate and to offer advice, especially when Lexi doubts herself.

The setting, besides the romance, is one of my favorite aspects of this book as it’s set around the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love looking at Christmas lights and just being surrounded by the magic of the holiday season, and it’s always great when Starbucks brings back their red cups! 🙂 Another fun and memorable aspect of Aven’s books are the attention to detail. For example, how Lexi wears Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt perfume (I need to smell this!!) and applies her Bite Rhubarb lip crayon before her date. I LOVE little details like that, it helps me to really envision the character.

I love this book with the intensity of a thousand suns. There’s only one thing I disliked about Breakout- the fact that it had to end! I’m thankful for the epilogue-the fact that there wasn’t a cliffhanger and it was just so beautiful and romantic. Now I can’t wait for On Thin Ice and Trivial Pursuits, some upcoming releases by the author! As always, a huge thank you to Aven for gifting me this novel. Breakout releases November 4th on Amazon!!

Book Review

Book Review: Poison Town (The Crittendon Files #2) by Creston Mapes- 5 Stars

Goodreads Summary

Another winner by Creston Mapes! I read the first book in the Crittendon Files, Fear Has a Name, last year, so I was looking forward to continuing the series. The books are fast paced, non-stop action, with no boring lulls, but yet the storyline doesn’t feel rushed! Poison Town focuses on the Crittendon family, picking up after the first book left off. In Fear Has a Name, Pam Crittendon was harassed and kidnapped by a man she went to school with, whom, while others bullied, she was nice to. The series is also highlighted by the redeeming power of forgiveness and faith in Christ, but without a pushy religious agenda. Pamela has forgiven Grainger, but her husband Jack is still bitter, and sometimes lashes out over the unfairness of the situation with Grainger (If you read the first book before you read this one you’ll understand more). Poison Town could possibly be read on it’s own, since you do get some backstory, but I recommend reading in order.

In Poison Town, Jack, a reporter, comes across some info regarding the big fiberglass manufacturing plant in town. Several people claim to have been poisoned by the pollutants the plant puts off. One of those people, Galen Randall, and his two sons insist the plant ended up killing his wife, and now is making him sick. Jack, the persistent reporter he is, wants to help his friends and cover a story on the plant, Demler-Vargus. But they want to keep their business practices private, no matter the cost. People are paid off to stay quiet, or killed when they talk. It’s a tale of how money and power can make a person ruthless.

Poison Town was full of twists and turns. It was a wild ride packed with action, suspense, and shock!  I loved the characters, especially Travis Randall.  I thought the author did a great job with bringing all the characters to life. None of them fell flat for me; I was able to accurately picture them all while reading!

If you’re looking for a fast paced thriller with a happy ending, pick up The Crittendon Files and start reading!

*I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a review. All thoughts are my own!*