Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

Hey bookworms! Mid-year is upon us and with it comes the posting of the annual Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tags over BookTube and Book Blogs. This is a time for us to reflect on what we have read so far this year and what we hope to read before the year ends. Without further ado, let’s get right into the questions:

  1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2019 — I have read 86 books so far this year. It is really hard to choose just one as the ‘best’. I have given out a lot of 5-star ratings. For the purposes of this list however, I will choose just one and say that Julie Kagawa’s, 2018 release, Shadow of the Fox, swept me off my feet. I love this story so much. Japanese-inspired YA fantasy that incorporates dragon lore and a quest. Y’all know I am down for a quest. I am currently reading the sequel, Soul of the Sword, which releases on Tuesday, June 18th.
  2. Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2019 — I have actually read quite a few sequels this year as one of my monthly TBR challenges is to ‘read a sequel’. My favorite has been King of Fools by Amanda Foody. This second book in the Shadow Game trilogy takes the story to a whole new level. Foody’s writing has matured in leaps in bounds. The characters, the world, it was so good! I cannot wait for the final book of the series releasing in 2020.
  3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To — This answer could honestly be 50-books long. I should just pick one…but I can’t. Here’s a few:               To learn more about any of these titles, just click the cover photo above!
  4. Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year — Hands down, The Institute, by my idol, Stephen King. This all-new, 576-novel, by arguably the most important writer of our times, features a sinister institute housing children with paranormal gifts. A good versus evil tale where the good guy doesn’t always win. Set to release on September 10th, I have already preordered my copy and will be reading it immediately upon arrival. I feel like I have been waiting my whole life for this book.
  5. Biggest Disappointment — I won’t dwell on this but for me, my most disappointing read so far this year has been Internment by Samira Ahmed. I say disappointing because I was anticipating it so highly. It’s not a terrible book. I didn’t hate it. I just wanted it to be so much more. This is a YA-dystopian novel dealing heavily with Islamophobia. In this story, Muslims are rounded up and detained indefinitely in internment camps. While the premise and the topics discussed were so good, the writing, for me, was not. My final rating was just 2.5-stars.
  6. Biggest Surprise — For me, this easily goes to Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk. This gender-flipped retelling of the legend of Spartacus blew me out of the water. I had heard one person discuss this previously on BookTube, where she discussed how sadly under-hyped it was. When I saw it on Book Outlet for super cheap, I couldn’t resist picking it up and, oh man, am I glad I did! This action-packed story was so well written. I absolutely adored this! Read it.
  7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You) — Alex Michaelides blew me away with his debut novel, The Silent Patient, a gripping Adult Psychological Thriller. This book was so fun to read. He definitely rocketed up my auto-buy author list. If you read one Adult Thriller this year, it should be this one! My final rating for this one was 5-jaw dropping stars. I still break out in a smile when I reflect on the big reveal. So good.
  8. Newest Fictional Crush — The newest would probably be Carlos Ibarra from Jasmine Guillory’s, The Proposal. I first met Carlos in, The Wedding Date, and although I didn’t know him well, I was excited when I heard he was getting a companion novel to tell his story. I have an ARC of the next companion book in the series, The Wedding Party, which I hope to read very soon! Carlos is set to be Drew’s best man, so that should be a really fun time.
  9. Newest Favorite Character — Alex Claremont-Diaz, of course, from Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. This book basically broke the book world when it was released in May and I was all aboard that hype train. I had an ARC of this and finished it just before release. I raved about it and will continue to for sometime to come! Alex is just the best. I love him with my whole heart!
  10. Book That Made You Cry — I cried, actual tears falling down my face, while reading different parts of Too Much Is Not Enough, a memoir by Broadway Golden Boy, Andrew Rannells. His writing was so raw and heartfelt. When he lost his Father…ugh, man, it got me. A lot of his reflections were so relatable, I just found myself breaking down. Really well done with equal parts humor and weight. I loved this book!
  11. Book That Made You Happy — One of the most humorous books I have read this year is Sal and Gabi Break the Universe  by Carlos Hernandez. This great Middle Grade science fiction novel is part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. I have been blessed to received the last few books by this imprint in ARC form and they have all been so good. I was super impressed with Hernandez’s use of humor to tell this story. He is a funny man and a great writer! I cannot wait for the sequel. But seriously, just looking at this gorgeous cover makes me happy!
  12. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year — This is a tough one. I have loved a lot of beautiful books this year but I think a standout for me has been The Candle and the Flame  by Nafiza Azad. Honestly, I could just stare at this cover for hours and in person, it just has the most glorious muted metallic shimmer. I cannot even express its beauty!
  13. What Books Do You Need To Read By the End of the YearToo many to count!!!!!!!!!

That completes my Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag! Play along. Answer in the comments below or on your own blog or channel. Make sure to tag me so I can see your answers. Do we have any of the same answers? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine?

As always, thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate you all.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Everless (Everless, #1)Everless by Sara Holland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a world where the old adage, time is money, is more than just a saying, Jules Ember is watching her dear Father slowly waste away.

His remaining time is quickly being drained for things as simple as rent and sustenance. He won’t allow Jules to help but she refuses to stand idly by while his time slips through their fingers.

When an opportunity presents itself for Jules to make a lot of time relatively quickly, she jumps on it, even though it means returning to the kingdom they were forced to flee 10-years earlier.

The Gerling boy, Roan, is due to marry the Queen’s adopted daughter, so obviously they will need all hands on deck for a royal wedding.

Jules gets selected to be a part of the preparation crew and once inside the kingdom all sorts of memories begin to flood back to her. Jules once played with Roan in these very halls and upon seeing him again, a spark rekindles.

The past becomes clear as more and more pieces are revealed and Jules discovers her life is not at all what she thought. Buried secrets come to light that shake her to her core. Soon, Jules finds herself in a fight for her life and the sanctity of the kingdom, gaining unexpected allies along the way.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a pleasant surprise for me as I had heard some not great reviews.

Yes, I have watched the movie In Time with Justin Timberlake. No, it did not affect my enjoyment of this book in anyway whatsoever.

I feel like the concept of time as currency is not something that was first dreamed up with that movie. I feel like that concept, with the wealthy being at a startling advantage over the poor, is something that has been explored in various forms in the science-fiction genre for a while. I could be wrong though.

In all seriousness, I did enjoy this a lot. I thought it was fun to read and the writing kept me engaged throughout. I very much enjoyed the legends of the Alchemist and Sorceress at the heart of the story. Who else would love a prequel based on those legends?

I do have the second book, Evermore, gracing my bookshelves at home and plan to pick it up soon. I am interested to see where this story goes from here!

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Review: Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West

Listen to Your HeartListen to Your Heart by Kasie West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When summer comes to an end, Kate Bailey is bummed she has to return to spending her days in a classroom instead of on the lake at her parent’s marina. Kate is a lake girl through and through and struggles to see herself anywhere else.

This year, however, is going to be all about getting Kate out of her comfort zone.

At the behest of her best friend, Alana, Kate has signed up for a podcasting class where she ends up becoming a cohost of an advice show of her creation.

Being such a private person, Kate prefers to fly under the radar, but she soon finds herself taking on a sort of celebrity persona around school.

Alana gets to be in marketing and we meet a few other kids in the class as well. Victoria, Kate’s cohost, is an absolute doll and her rival, Frank, adds a slightly sinister, bad boy element.

Stealing the storyline however is Alana’s crush, Diego.

Cute, cute, cute — this boy is even grabbing Kate’s attention. But Alana is her best friend and it’s totally against girl code to go after your BFF’s crush.

I mainly picked this book up because I had been told there was a strong podcast storyline in it. That is a big selling point for me.

I have never read a Kasie West but figured, why not? It sounded so cute and fun and it’s summer! The perfect time to pick up a book like this.

I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed listening to this story. Sure, it’s cutesy and sugary sweet but that is exactly what it marketed itself as and that is what I got!

There was miscommunication, drama, funny characters, a cook-off, great family dynamics — the list goes on and on.

I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a quick, adorable YA Contemporary read. I can also see people of all ages enjoying it. I will absolutely be picking up more of Kasie West’s books this summer. Really good stuff!

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Review: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The ProposalThe Proposal by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Awwww, that was so fun.

In The Wedding Date we meet Carlos Ibarra as the fun and supportive best friend of Dr. Drew Nichols. We really get to know him on the day that he helps Dr. Drew by picking Alexa up at the airport when Drew gets called into the hospital on an emergency. At the time I was reading that, I thought to myself, this Carlos seems like quite a catch!

In this novel, Carlos takes on the role of leading man and I wasn’t wrong about him!

When Carlos watches the botched proposal made to Nikole Paterson on the jumbotron at a Dodgers game, he feels so bad. This poor girl is obviously have a super embarrassing moment and the paparazzi are in full force!

In order to rescue her, Carlos swoops in and pretends to be a long-lost friend, escorting Nik out of the stadium and away from prying eyes. He offers her a ride home and ends up bringing her to a bar to meet up with some of her friends.

Nik and Carlos really hit it off and the sweetest little friendship develops. But is more than friendship in the cards for them?

They both swear they are not looking for more but then things get physical.

Throughout this story we get a lot more of Carlos and Nik’s lives apart from one another. Carlos spends a lot of his time taking care of the women in his family. He feels an obligation to help them all so much. We also get to learn about Nik’s super tight friend group and the truly warm and supportive circle that provides her with.

One plot point I truly enjoyed was Nik and her friend group attending a women’s boxing class in order to learn how to protect themselves. It was a way of reclaiming her power after she was emotionally traumatized by her ex and his horrible proposal. In the aftermath of that, Nik really struggled with feeling safe. She is such a private person and to have her life exposed like that was really hard for her. I appreciated this and have taken boxing classes so know how empowering they can be.

I would say in comparison to The Wedding Date, this one differed by offering the reader more insight into our protagonists lives outside of one another. They both had really strong support systems and that was refreshing to see.

Overall, I thought this was really sweet. Although it didn’t have as much drama or steam as the first book, it was still a very fun read! I would definitely recommend this to people looking for a fun, easy summer read. Beach season is almost upon us and this would be a good one to take with you.

I am very much looking forward to starting the next companion book in this series, The Wedding Party which releases in July!!

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Review: Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2) by Jack Heath

Just One Bite (Timothy Blake #2)Just One Bite by Jack Heath
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favorite cannibal returns to the page in this second installment of the Timothy Blake series!

Timothy Blake is brilliant. He’s also as morally grey as you can get. Working as a civilian consultant for the FBI, Blake contributes a lot to the investigations he works, as it is easy for him to get into the mind of a killer.

In this second book, Blake is moonlighting as a ‘body disposal expert’ for a local crime lord and during the course of that work, stumbles across a naked corpse in the woods, which he promptly brings home. As you do.

Unfortunately, the next case he gets called in on to help the FBI with is to look for that missing man. The man now currently residing in his freezer. How is Blake going to solve the crime and get away with hiding the body?

Guys, I am so into Jack Heath’s writing. It is so good. It draws you in. It is easy to read, never overwrought. It is dark, grisly, disturbingnot for the faint of heartmorbidly humorous…all these things and more!!!

If you are sleeping on this series and you like dark, original stories, you need to make time for this. Hangman, the first book in the series, was one of my favorite police procedural thrillers of 2018. It really stuck with me. I was so psyched to be getting a second book with Timothy Blake. Now, where this one leaves off, there DEFINITELY needs to be a third book!!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Hanover Square Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I am so in love with this series and I will never stop recommending it to readers who enjoy darker content. I am highly anticipating the next book!

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Buzzwordathon Round 4 TBR

Beginning tomorrow, June 12th, I am going to be participating in the 4th round of BooksandLala’s Buzzwordathon. This is a readathon where the host, Kayla, selects a ‘buzzword’ based on trends she is noticing in book titles. Watch her announcement video here for more details:

Buzzwordathon Round 4 Annoucement

The Buzzword for this round is ‘You’ which is definitely showing up in a lot of titles as of late. I actually have three ARCs (advanced readers copy) that I can fit into this. The titles can have ‘you’ in any form, for example, your, you’re, yours, etc. The readathon ends on June 18th.

Without further ado, let’s get into the books I am hoping to get to during the week. If you wish to know more about any of these titles, simply click on the cover below for more information:

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West — This YA Contemporary was recommended to me by a friend on Goodreads who knew that I liked books that contained mixed media elements such as podcasts, newspaper articles and journal entries. This is a story following a girl who ends up becoming the host of a high school podcast. Kasie West is a beloved YA Contemporary Romance author. I have never read any of her books and looking forward to giving this one a shot. I will be listening to this in audiobook format.

Call It What Your Want by Brigid Kemmerer — This is a YA Contemporary that releases on June 25th. I actually requested a copy of this ARC directly from the publisher, Bloomsbury YA, as Brigid Kemmerer is one of my favorite authors. This story follows two teens, Maegan and Rob, who are both going through a lot when they get paired together for a calculus project. I am sure a friendship or romance of some sort will develop between them as they try to help each other with their problems. Kemmerer’s writing is beautiful and she examines difficult topics with such care. Rob’s father in this is a white collar criminal so I am also interested to see how that plays out.

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kahn — I received this ARC through a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher, Swoon Reads. I was so happy to hear I would be getting an advanced copy of this but as with life, I didn’t actually get to it before release day. This came out on June 4th so you can pick it up now! This YA Contemporary follows Winnie, a high schooler who works at her Grandmother’s Southern diner. She has big dreams but needs money in order to make them happen. Her solution is to compete in a cooking competition for prize money. This just sounds like a fun summer read and I am really looking forward to picking this one up!

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt — This chilling psychological thriller follows Zoe Adams, who fresh from America, moves into the McBride house on a remote Scottish island. The house has a mysterious and disturbing past and it doesn’t take long before Zoe begins to suspect something is seriously wrong there. This has the hints of a ‘things that go bump in the night’ kind of story and I am so down for that. I received an ARC copy of this from the publisher, Pegasus Books, but unfortunately, again, did not get to it before its March 8, 2019, release date. I am most excited for the location of this one and am hoping for a super spooky atmospheric tale.

Those are the four I would really like to get to. If in some totally bizarre string of events, I am able to finish all four of these and still have time remaining, I do have a few alternates picked out.

Are you participating in Buzzwordathon? What are you planning to read for it, if you are? Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? I want to know! Let me know in the comments here or reach out to me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Little DarlingsLittle Darlings by Melanie Golding
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A delightfully creepy story!

Lauren Tranter has just become a first-time mother of twin boys, Riley and Morgan. While still in hospital she begins to struggle with new motherhood. A terrible hemorrhage post-birth provides an additional trauma. She now finds herself in pain, alone and questioning her ability to be able to handle all of this.

Making matters worse, one night an intruder in her room, a very scary, ragged woman, tries to take her babies; trys to take them and exchange them with her own evil little monsters. Luckily, Lauren is able to fight her off. Hiding in the bathroom of her hospital room, she calls for help.

Unfortunately, no one believes her. No hospital staff report seeing anyone. How could an intruder have gotten past the surveillance cameras without being seen? Lauren must be hallucinating, suffering from some sort of postpartum psychosis.

Detective Jo Harper isn’t convinced that Lauren was imagining the incident however and she begins to investigate further, contrary to her superiors wishes.

Once back home with the boys, Lauren’s struggles continue. Her asshole husband, Patrick…

…is about as supportive as a dead jellyfish, so without any relief, she really begins to sink toward rock bottom. She never leaves the house, doesn’t socialize and lives in constant fear that the would-be kidnapper from the hospital will return.

In fact, one evening, she sees the woman outside the house, staring in at her. As Patrick begrudgingly goes to investigate, Lauren decides to call the sympathetic officer who spoke to her while she was in the hospital, Detective Harper.

This book has an absolutely wicked, ominous feel throughout. I don’t think I have ever read a thriller that bordered on the supernaturally horrific as much as this one did.

The idea of changelings is closely examined in this work and I loved how many chapters began with little excerpts from various fairy tales focused on that topic. Lauren is truly terrified for the majority of this book and that really got under my skin. The writing was so strong, I was definitely swept up in her thoughts and equally as much into Detective Harper’s investigation.

I loved so much about this book. There is a lot of the plot I am not even going to mention here as it is best to be taken off guard by it.

Immediately after finishing I was thinking I would give it a 4.5-star rating. There were a couple of plot points that I wished had been expanded on or moved around in the context of the story, but upon further reflection, to hell with that. This is a great freaking book. I loved it and would definitely recommend it to any reader who likes dark, slightly scary, content!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with an ARC copy to read and review. I will most likely read it again someday as I enjoyed it that much. Until then I will be loaning out my copy to all friends and family who will take it. I genuinely cannot wait to see what is next for this author!

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June Releases — My ARCs!!!

Happy June book world!

There are a lot of great releases coming out this month. Whether you are going on vacation or just living your regular day-to-day life, you will certainly have plenty of new books to choose from to pass the hours.

I thought now would be a great time to go over the June ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy) that I am planning to get to this month. A sincere thank you to all of the publishers who have provided me with these copies to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and have a ton to get to this month!!! If you would like more info on any of these books, just click on the cover photo!

Without further ado, let’s get into it:

Releasing on Tuesday, June 4th, is Your Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley, We Were Killers Once (Brigid Quinn, #4) by Becky Masterman, Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas, The Chosen by Taran Matharu and Just One Bite by Jack Heath.

 

Of these, I have already completed Your Life Is Mine, which I reviewed yesterday and ended up giving 3-stars. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ripley’s 2018 debut, Find You In the Dark, it was still a good read and I am lookingforward to more from him in the future.

I am currently reading Just One Bite, the follow-up to Jack Heath’s Hangman that released in 2018, and Wild and Crooked, which is a stand-alone YA Contemporary. I am really enjoying both of them!

Releasing on Tuesday, June 11th , Storm & Fury (The Harbinger #1), a YA Fantasy, by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Those People, and Adult Domestic Thriller, by Louise Candlish and The First Mistake, another Adult Domestic Thriller, by Sandie Jones which I received unsolicited from the publisher.

Releasing on Tuesday, June 18th, is Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, the follow up to Shadow of the Fox. I am currently reading this and it is truly giving me life! It’s so good! Also, The Girl in Red by Christin Henry, which I believe is some sort of post-apocalyptic retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It sounds dark and glorious.

Finally, releasing on Tuesday, June 25th, is Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer. This is a standalone YA Contemporary novel. I am a big fan of Kemmerer so am very excited to have an early copy of this. I am actually planning to read it next week for Buzzword-A-Thon which I will talk about in a later post.

Phew. I am exhausted just looking at all of these but obviously so excited as well! What June releases are you looking most forward to? I would love to know! Comment below or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: Your Life is Mine by Nathan Ripley

Your Life Is MineYour Life Is Mine by Nathan Ripley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of my most anticipated thrillers of the year!

Blanche Potter (nee Varner) is a documentary filmmaker with one true friend, a surrogate mother and a horrifying past. Her long-dead father, Chuck Varner, is an infamous spree killer who also was the leader of a death cult. Preaching a philosophy he termed, Your Life Is Mine, Chuck raised his daughter like she would someday become the cult’s leader.

Blanche distanced herself as much as she could from that life but as we all know, the past never stays buried.

When she hears that her estranged mother has been shot, she believes there is more to the story than the cops are presenting to her. She believes Chuck Varner’s cult members are making a resurgence and the death of her biological mother is just step one in a plan that will ultimately end in another mass killing.

Traveling back to her hometown, Blanche begins an investigation of her own which leads her to some startling conclusions!

Nathan Ripley (aka. Naben Ruthnum) is a talented writer. There is an edginess to his writing that is visceral. He does not shy away from dark subject matter and it is on page. He doesn’t keep you in the shadows or sugarcoat anything for his readers.

I was so impressed with his debut, Find You in the Dark, last year. It was such a gripping read for me. I was glued to the pages and flew through it and immediately knew I would read whatever he had coming out next!

While I felt Your Life Is Mine had the same tone and grittiness, I was not sold on the subject matter. The cult philosophy was disjointed and I never really understood what the point of it was. Blanche, as a character, was sort of like a dead fish. I felt nothing from her and nothing for her.

Part of the fun of Find You In The Dark, at least for me, was the perfectly crafted game of cat and mouse between the protagonist, Martin Reese, and police detective, Sandra Whittal. They were perfectly matched and I found myself rooting for both of them.

In this story, no one was likable and honestly, I didn’t care one way or another who killed Blanche’s mother or why. The second half of the book did pick up the pace a bit but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was either thrilling or mysterious. Overall, it was a good book but it didn’t live up to the quality and excitement of his debut.

Thank you, Atria Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As always, I appreciate the opportunity and I will continue to read anything that Ripley writes. As I mentioned, I love his writing, I definitely think this was more of a content issue than a writing issue for me.

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Review: Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mind Melt Alert!!

What is Middlegame?
Admittedly, I stared at the wall for a good 20-minutes once I had finished.

I don’t even think I can begin to attempt a synopsis.
Can I just say, what an achievement for Seanan McGuire?!

A tour de force of science fiction. Expertly crafted from start to finish in order to make you feel like the secrets of the universe are being exposed to you.

There are so many intriguing concepts in here and the narrative is so vast, following our two main characters, Roger and Dodger, from the time they are children up through adulthood.

I can’t lie. It’s a challenging read but so worth the effort. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking whilst reading this. It needs deserves your full attention.

This gave me Dark Tower vibes a bit, a huge positive for me, in how prodigious and all-consuming the narrative was. I absolutely adore McGuire’s writing. Each and every word seems to have been carefully selected and placed where it would be most effective.

I am really excited for more people to read this. I am so interested to see what others think. I know it will not be for everyone but I know a lot of people are going to be just as impressed as I was.

At this point, I will read anything, ANYTHING, that Seanan McGuire writes. She is a gift.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with an early copy to read and review. I certainly feel blessed to have received it. I appreciate the opportunity and know it will be a huge success!

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