Top Ten 2020 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

Posted January 18, 2021 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 26 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s list features books I meant to read in 2020 and didn’t get around to. I thought about sharing which books I didn’t get to from each of my seasonal TBRs from last year, but have decided to just share some 2020 releases that I was super excited about and just didn’t have enough time for. Hopefully I can squish them in this year around all the 2021 releases!

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
RomeAntically Challenged by Marina Adair
The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez
To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters
The Deep by Alma Katsu
Your French Kisses by Lauren Blakely
Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid
The Return by Rachel Harrison
Lord Holt Takes a Bride by Vivienne Lorret
Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

I can’t wait to read some of these this year! 
Which books had you been hoping to read in 2020, but didn’t have enough time for?

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One of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely | Mini Book Review

Posted January 17, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 2 Comments

One of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely | Mini Book ReviewOne of Those Flings by Lauren Blakely
Published by Audible Original on August 31, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
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3 Stars

Get ready for the virtual vacation of your life with this scripted multi-cast rom-com by number-one New York Times best-selling author Lauren Blakely!

Skyler’s breakup survival plan is simple: Swear off men for a year and celebrate her man cleanse with a solo tropical vacation to Hawaii. Snorkeling, sightseeing, zip lining, and leisurely dinners by the sea are just what the doctor ordered to mend her broken heart.

That is, until she meets a hunky adventure tour guide who makes her want to break all her own rules. Handsome, funny, and exciting, Caleb is by far the hottest local attraction. Will a romantic island fling lead to more heartbreak - or a new beginning?

I have been loving Lauren Blakey’s audiobooks during the last year, so when I saw this one in the Audible Plus catalog I jumped on it. It was fun and entertaining, but not the kind of story I’ve come to expect from Lauren. The sound effects and background noises were cool, and the voice acting was well done. I loved all the narrators. It kind of felt like I was playing an episode of a TV show I’d seen before in the background while doing chores. The story just didn’t flow well, and there was a significant lack of depth (most likely because it was so short). Really, it was practically too short to be able to even form an opinion. For a free offering, it was worth it.

3 Stars
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Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler | Book Review

Posted January 14, 2021 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review / 4 Comments

Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler | Book ReviewEnjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler
Series: Moose Springs Alaska #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 19, 2021
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Edelweiss)
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5 Stars

A grouchy mountaineer, a Hollywood starlet
And miles of untamed wilderness...
What could possibly go wrong?

Former Hollywood darling River Lane's acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start fresh behind the camera, she agrees to film a documentary about the picturesque small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. The assignment should have been easy, but the quirky locals want nothing to do with River. Well, too bad: River's going to make this film and prove herself, no matter what it takes.

Or what (literal) mountain she has to climb.

Easton Lockett may be a gentle giant, but he knows a thing or two about survival. If he can keep everyone in line, he should be able to get River and her crew up and down Mount Veil in one piece. Turns out that's a big if. The wildlife's wilder than usual, the camera crew's determined to wander off a cliff, and the gorgeous actress is fearless. Falling for River only makes Easton's job tougher, but there's only so long he can hold out against her brilliant smile. When bad weather strikes, putting everyone at risk, it'll take all of Easton's skill to get them back home safely...and convince River she should stay in his arms for good.

So… it should surprise nobody that I read this and that I loved it and that I gave it 5 stars and that I marked it as a favorite and actually pre-ordered a beautiful copy for my shelves AND the audiobook 8 months before I even read it because I KNEW I WOULD FEEL THIS WAY ABOUT IT. So really, what more can be said about this book, you ask? LOTS. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. Easton. Hi, Easton, my love. I’ve been waiting for this moment and it was worth the wait. I fell in love with Easton in The Tourist Trap, so when I saw that my favorite mountain man was getting his own love story I knew it was going to be awesome. Like, it had to be. I think probably maybe Sarah Morgenthaler loves Easton as much as I do, but… I dunno. I loved getting to know him better in this book, and seeing his soft side and his connection to nature and marmots… *ahem* what? Yes, I said connection to marmots. Let’s just say… everyone loves Easton. And they should, because he’s so kind and sweet. A big teddy bear.

2. River definitely concerned me at first and I was a little scared that Easton would end up with the wrong person, but she quickly grew on me! I do not like celebrity romances. If I read that there’s going to be a rockstar or a starlet or even a reality TV star in a book, I tend to set it down and move on but this is Moose Springs, people. I owed it to Easton to not set this book aside, and River made me realize that maybe Hollywood darlings are ok after all. I really, really liked her. She’s tenacious and assertive and has this deep desire to prove herself and fight against the stereotype that comes with being famous. She wanted her work to mean something more than she wanted to make money off of it, and I appreciated that. She’s also got a big, caring heart.

3. Enjoy the View is definitely the most intense of the Moose Springs books. The characters are climbing the dangerous Mount Veil for the bulk of the book, and this brings in danger and high stakes. I loved it! I’ve always been a fan of survival type stories, and while this one wasn’t necessarily a “will they survive or will the perish?” level of intensity, there was that excitement of wondering how things would end for everyone. I loved reading about their progress as they climbed, the camps they set up, and especially the little tidbits of how to survive in the conditions they were enduring. 

4. The secondary characters were really great. River brings a two-person film crew with her to film the documentary as they climbed, and Easton brought a climbing buddy with him to help ensure everyone made it up and down the mountain safely. They all seem like really nice people, and I was glad they were there.

5. This is still a romantic comedy, even though there were some heavier issues and situations. The balance between the light and heavy was perfect.

6. I love Moose Springs so much, and even though this book spends more time outside the town than in it, it still felt like returning home for me. The people are all so great. 

7. I love Sarah’s writing. 

All in all, I loved Enjoy the View. It’s perfect. The trilogy is perfect. I will continue forcing everyone I know to read these book. I’ve already made at least 15 people (that I can count) read them, and I won’t stop there! Sourcebooks Casablanca: You MUST pick up more books in the Moose Springs series. This can’t end now. There’s too many stories that still need to be told. Ash needs her love story. That woman who manages the town resort needs one. There’s people in Moose Springs we haven’t met yet that I know deserve love as well. Please let me come back to Moose Springs again soon!

5 Stars
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Top Ten Goals and Hopes for 2021

Posted January 11, 2021 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 24 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! This week’s topic is about my hopes and goals for 2021. I’ve never subscribed to the idea that a new year means a new me. I’m good just the way I am. BUT a new year is a symbolic fresh start, and I enjoy making small goals and wishes for the coming year because they give me something to aim for. 2020 was hard, so my theme for 2021 is going to be “happiness”. Everything I’m hoping for and aiming to achieve in 2021 will ultimately be for my increased happiness and well-being. Some of these things are bookish, and some are more personal.

1. Learn to sew and crochet! I’ve always loved being crafty and artistic, and I’ve lost that in recent years. I got some sewing notions and a couple project books for Christmas that I’m excited to start working my way through. One of my friends sent me some minky fabric, and another friend is going to teach me how to make a throw blanket. I also got some crochet supplies for my birthday last summer that I haven’t used yet, so I want to learn how to do both of these things.

2. Become an amazing bread maker! I love homemade bread a LOT. I could live on bread and butter alone, so what better hobby to learn than baking bread? And my mom bought me a really cool bread cookbook for Christmas that teaches you how to make all kinds of breads and other bread products like cinnamon rolls and pizza.

3. Set aside at least an hour a day to do something good for myself (non-hobby related). This could be working on my mental or spiritual health, researching natural healing, doing biofeedback for muscle relaxation, going on a walk (even if on the treadmill), exercising, etc. I can do one or a combination of any of these things.

4. Do something that makes me happy each day. This can be reading a book, watching TV/movie, playing Animal Crossing or other video games, talking with friends, working on one of the new hobby I mentioned above, listening to music, working on a puzzle, etc. I don’t spend enough time just being happy, and I know it would do such good things for me.

5. Drink more water. I’m chronically dehydrated, and I know that’s not helping some of my chronic pain and organ dysfunction. I’d like to eventually work up to a gallon, but that’s going to take work. So for now I’d just like to try and increase my intake and see how I feel. I’ve heard that as you drink more, your body wants more.

6. Blog more! I love blogging and have always found it to be a fun outlet where I can share my thoughts. I fell into a bit of a slump in the last year and then got so buried by my backlog of reviews that needed to be written, that I just kind of quit altogether. Blogging is supposed to be fun and for me, so I need to make it fun.

7. DNF faster so I end up loving more books in 2021 than not. 2020 had a lot of great reads, but also a lot of meh or downright awful ones. If I’m not excited to read, I’m doing something wrong. I need to stop reading the books I’m not enjoying faster so that I can read more of the ones I love. I might even read more books this year if I do this!

8. Go through and organize and get rid of my stuff. I want my things to bring me joy, and if they don’t then they need to go. I have too much stuff.

9. Surround myself with good people, who make my life better and happier. Maybe not physically because COVID is still a thing (so hoping that it’s a thing of the past soon), but even just emotionally. I need to embrace the love in my life and move away from the toxicity.

10. Lessen the stress in my life. We don’t always get to pick what we deal with, but sometimes we bring it upon ourselves. I need to really figure out what I need to do to feel calmer and less stressed. Even just a little. If there’s anything I can do to change or reduce my stress, I want to figure out what that is and then do it (or work towards it).

I hope 2021 is everything you hope it will be.
And if all you hope is that you’ll be safe and healthy, that’s 100% good enough.

And I hope it’s so much better for all of us than 2020 was. 

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the First Half of 2021

Posted January 4, 2021 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 33 Comments

Happy New Year, and welcome to another TTT! I hope your 2021 is off to a great start (and let’s hope it’s going to be better than 2020, yes?). A new year brings a whole bunch of new books, and this TTT’s focus is on those upcoming releases in January – June of this year! I’m looking forward to quite a few, so this list was both tricky and fun to compile.

Mr. Right Across the Street by Kathryn Freeman
January 22, 2021

Mia Abbott’s move to Manchester was supposed to give her time and space from all the disastrous romantic choices she’s made in her past. But then the hot guy who lives opposite – the one who works out every day at exactly 10 a.m., not that Mia has noticed thank-you-very-much – starts leaving notes in his window…for her.

Bar owner Luke Doyle has his own issues to deal with but as he shows Mia the sites of her new city he also shows her what real romance looks like for the first time. And when he cooks up a signature cocktail in her honour, she realises that the man behind the bar is even more enticing than any of his creations. And once she’s had a taste she knows it will never be enough!

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young
February 2, 2021

At thirty-three-years old Evangeline Starling’s life in Chicago is missing that special something. And when she’s passed over for promotion at work, Evie realizes she needs to make a change. Some time away to regain perspective might be just the thing. In a burst of impulsivity, she plans a holiday in a quaint English village. The holiday package comes with a temporary position at Much Ado About Books, the bookstore located beneath her rental apartment. There’s no better dream vacation for the bookish Evie, a life-long Shakespeare lover.

Not only is Evie swept up in running the delightful store as soon as she arrives, she’s drawn into the lives, loves and drama of the friendly villagers. Including Roane Robson, the charismatic and sexy farmer who tempts Evie every day with his friendly flirtations. Evie is determined to keep him at bay because a holiday romance can only end in heartbreak, right? But Evie can’t deny their connection and longs to trust in her handsome farmer that their whirlwind romance could turn in to the forever kind of love.

Love at First by Kate Clayborn
February 23, 2021

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw–or rather, heard–the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar…

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting–maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron
March 2, 2021

Reena Manji doesn’t love her career, her single status, and most of all, her family inserting themselves into every detail of her life. But when caring for her precious sourdough starters, Reena can drown it all out. At least until her father moves his newest employee across the hall–with hopes that Reena will marry him.

But Nadim’s not like the other Muslim bachelors-du-jour that her parents have dug up. If the Captain America body and the British accent weren’t enough, the man appears to love eating her bread creations as much as she loves making them. She sure as hell would never marry a man who works for her father, but friendship with a neighbor is okay, right? And when Reena’s career takes a nosedive, Nadim happily agrees to fake an engagement so they can enter a couples video cooking contest to win the artisan bread course of her dreams.

As cooking at home together brings them closer, things turn physical, but Reena isn’t worried. She knows Nadim is keeping secrets, but it’s fine— secrets are always on the menu where her family is concerned. And her heart is protected… she’s not marrying the man. But even secrets kept for self preservation have a way of getting out, especially when meddling parents and gossiping families are involved.

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
April 6, 2021

Maybell Parrish has always been a dreamer and hopeless romantic. But living with her head in the clouds has long been preferable to dealing with reality, whether it’s navigating the wild world of dating apps or getting her coworkers to show her a little respect. So when Maybell inherits a stately old Tennessee manor from her Great Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.

But when she arrives at her new home, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the manor practically falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s just as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future.

Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than any of the many other dying wishes Great Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls and silences, she realizes they might have more in common than she ever dreamed. And as the two slowly begin to let their guards down, they just might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.

To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters
April 6, 2021

The widowed Diana, Lady Templeton and Jeremy, Marquess of Willingham are infamous among English high society as much for their sharp-tongued bickering as their flirtation. One evening, an argument at a ball turns into a serious wager: Jeremy will marry within the year or Diana will forfeit one hundred pounds. So shortly after, just before a fortnight-long house party at Elderwild, Jeremy’s country estate, Diana is shocked when Jeremy appears at her home with very different kind of proposition.

After his latest mistress unfavorably criticized his skills in the bedroom, Jeremy is looking for reassurance, so he has gone to the only woman he trusts to be totally truthful. He suggests that they embark on a brief affair while at the house party—Jeremy can receive an honest critique of his bedroom skills and widowed Diana can use the gossip to signal to other gentlemen that she is interested in taking a lover.

Diana thinks taking him up on his counter-proposal can only help her win her wager. With her in the bedroom and Jeremy’s marriage-minded grandmother, the formidable Dowager Marchioness of Willingham, helping to find suitable matches among the eligible ladies at Elderwild, Diana is confident her victory is assured. But while they’re focused on winning wagers, they stand to lose their own hearts.

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
April 13, 2021

Distraction (n): an extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at the Providence Luxury Retirement Villa for six years, dedicating her entire adult life to caring for the Villa’s residents, maintaining the property (with an assist from DIY YouTube tutorials), and guarding the endangered tortoises that live in the Villa’s gardens. Somewhere along the way, she’s forgotten that she’s young and beautiful, and that there’s a world outside of work—until she meets the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center.

Teddy Prescott has spent the last few years partying, sleeping in late, tattooing himself when bored, and generally not taking life too seriously—something his father, who dreams of grooming Teddy into his successor, can’t understand. When Teddy needs a place to crash, his father seizes the chance to get him to grow up. He’ll let Teddy stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but only if he works to earn his keep. Teddy agrees—he can change a few lightbulbs and clip some hedges, no sweat. But Ruthie has plans for Teddy too.

Her two wealthiest and most eccentric residents have just placed an ad (yet another!) seeking a new personal assistant to torment. The women are ninety-year-old, four-foot-tall menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a full week. Offering up Teddy seems like a surefire way to get rid of the tall, handsome, unnerving man who won’t stop getting under her skin.

Ruthie doesn’t count on the fact that in Teddy Prescott, the Biddies may have finally met their match. He’ll pick up Chanel gowns from the dry cleaner and cut Big Macs into bite-sized bits. He’ll do repairs around the property, make the residents laugh, and charm the entire villa. He might even remind Ruthie what it’s like to be young and fun again. But when she finds out Teddy’s father’s only fixing up the retirement home to sell it, putting everything she cares about in jeopardy, she’s left wondering if Teddy’s magic was all just a façade.

People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry
May 11, 2021

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
May 18, 2021

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: this Jess understands.

At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

The Layover by Lacie Waldon
June 15, 2021

After ten years as a flight attendant, Ava Greene is poised to hang up her wings and finally put down roots. She’s got one trip left before she bids her old life farewell, and she plans to enjoy every second of it. But then she discovers that former pilot Jack Stone–the absurdly gorgeous, ridiculously cocky man she’s held a secret grudge against for years–is on her flight. And he has the nerve to flirt with her, as if he doesn’t remember the role he played in the most humiliating night of her life. Good thing she never has to see him again after they land….

But when their plane encounters mechanical problems, what should have been a quick stop at the Belize airport suddenly becomes a weekend layover. Getting stuck on a three-hour flight with her nemesis was bad enough. Being stranded with him at a luxury resort in paradise? Even with the sultry breeze and white sand to distract her, it will take all the rum punch in the country to drown out his larger-than-life presence.

Yet the more time Ava spends with him under the hot Caribbean sun, the more she begins to second-guess everything she thought she knew about him…and everything she thought she wanted from her life. And all too soon, she might have to choose between keeping her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds….

Are you excited for any of these?
Can you tell I love contemporary romance and romcoms?
Any recs for some of your favorites in these genres? I am gobbling them up these days.
Which upcoming releases are you most excited about?

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2020 End of Year Book Survey

Posted December 31, 2020 by Jana in About Me / 4 Comments

I love doing Jamie’s End of Year Book Survey every year! It helps me look back and remember all the wonderful (and terrible) books I’ve read throughout the year! Also… buh bye 2020. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Can 2021 please be better?

2020 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 57
Number of re-reads: 0
Most read genre: Adult contemporary romance (I read 38 of them).

Best In Books

1. Best book you read in 2020:
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t:
In a Holidaze by Christinas Lauren. I love CLo and I love Christmas, but I realllly didn’t like this one bit.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:
Rolling In the Deep by Mira Grant. I started it on a whim because I needed something to break to romance monotony so I tried this and I was HOOKED. And then I started the second book as soon as I was done!

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did):
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler. I’ve been pushing this on everyone and have forced quite a few people to read it!

5. Best series you started in 2020. Best sequel of 2020. Best series ender of 2020.
Started: The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
Sequel: Well Played by Jen DeLuca
Ender: Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020:
Sarah Morgenthaler!!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I’m not one for horror, but this was great!

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:
Whiteout by Adriana Anders. I couldn’t stop reading!

9. Book you read in 2020 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
I can think of several I would re-read, but not next year. I want to wait longer!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020:

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kylie Dunbar

11. Most memorable character of 2020:
Janie Morris of Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid. She’s hilarious.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020:
Christmas At Frozen Falls by Kylie Dunbar. The descriptions of Lapland are stunning!

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2020:
N/A

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read:
Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

15. Favorite quote from a book you read in 2020:
I rarely mark my favorite quotes. I should change that.

16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2020:
Shortest: The One Night Stand Before Christmas by Jana Aston (84 pages)
Longest: Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch (512 pages)

17. Book that shocked you the most:
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware shocked me at the end and… made me so mad but I still loved the book? I dunno.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!):
River and Easton of Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year:
Lana and Zoey have the sweetest friendship in The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler. Graham and Easton also have a really amazing friendship, which is more prominent in Enjoy the View. Sarah is just great at friends!

20. Favorite book you read in 2020 from an author you’ve read previously:
Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely helped me stop blushing so much during romance audiobooks! And it was so much fun.

21. Best book you read in 2020 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else:
Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020:
Easton of the Moose Springs books by Sarah Morgenthaler.

23. Best 2020 debut you read:
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

24. Most vivid setting you read this year:
Lapland makes the best setting! Christmas At Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read:
Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec and Andi Arndt. SO funny.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2020:
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

27. Hidden gem of the year:
Eight Winter Nights by Liz Maverick. A really fun Hanukkah romance!

28. Book that crushed your soul:
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager was a HUGE disappointment. I have loved all of his books, but this one went in a direction I absolutely hated. It was so boring.

29. Most unique book you read in 2020:
Halloween Boo by Sarah Spade. It’s… a woman in love with the ghost who haunts her apartment. There was some weird stuff. lol

30. Book that made you the maddest (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):
I DNFed a lot of books this year that did that, but of the ones I finished… Home Before Dark by Riley Sager.

My Blogging/Bookish Life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2020:
I didn’t venture outside my usuals this year. It was just too exhausting.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2020:
Nothing is standing out, to be honest.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog:
All of the TTTs, really.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.):
Ha! There was nothing. I was supposed to sit at Tessa Dare’s table at the Utah Readers’ Luncheon this year, but COVID happened. I was so excited to meet her. I even bought ALL my favorites of her books so I could have her sign them.

6. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):
Top Ten Tuesday Is 10 Years Old! Updates to Many of My Old TTTs got 44 comments.

8. Post you wished got a little more love:
All my reviews, pretty much. lol

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.):
Audible Plus! Not really a discovery, just a new service, but I love it anyway.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:
I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 52 books this year. I read 57!

Looking Ahead

1. Book you are most anticipating in 2021 (non-debut):
Well Matched by Jen DeLuca

2. 2021 debut you are most anticipating:
The Layover by Lacie Waldon

3. Sequel you are most anticipating in 2021:
The Bride Bet by Tessa Dare

4. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2021?
Read what I love and DNF faster. I need to stop hoping things get better. There’s too many books for that!

Do we have any answers in common?
Pick a question or two and answer them in the comments! Let’s discuss!

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My Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2020

Posted December 28, 2020 by Jana in Top Ten Tuesday / 29 Comments

Welcome to the very last TTT of this dumpster fire of a year that is 2020! This year was HARD, but that doesn’t take away from all the amazing reading that happened! I know many people who read way less than usual, but I read more this year than I have in a few years and so many of the books I chose were really good! It’s going to be hard, but I’m narrowing my list down to my top ten favorites. I’m presenting them in the order in which I read them because you can’t ask me to rank my favorites. That’s just mean. I’m excited to see which books made your top ten of 2020!

 

Christmas at Frozen Falls by Kiley Dunbar
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Whiteout by Adriana Anders
Well Played by Jen DeLuca
Mistletoe and Mr. Right by Sarah Morgenthaler
The Sun-Down Motel by Simone St. James
Heidi’s Guide to Four-Letter Words by Tara Sivec and Andi Arndt
Enjoy the View by Sarah Morgenthaler

What are some of the best books you’ve read this year?
Here’s to a better 2021, full of even more amazing books!

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Letters from Deborah Rose of You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle | Author Guest Post

Posted December 28, 2020 by Jana in Guest Post / 2 Comments

I’m so excited to have Sarah Hogle, author of You Deserve Each Other, on the blog today to share with us letter from the bookish world’s worst mother-in-law ever. YDEO was one of my favorite books of 2020, and I’m so excited to read what Sarah writes next (it’s called Twice Shy, btw)!


Letters from Deborah Rose

Hello, readers! I’m Sarah Hogle, and my debut novel is YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER, which published on April 7, 2020. For those unfamiliar with the book, it’s a lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romcom about an engaged couple who have been pretending to be the perfect couple but are actually sick of each other. With the big, elaborate wedding just months away, neither of them want to get married and neither of them want to be responsible for the steep costs of canceling the wedding, so they begin a game of pranks to annoy each other into calling it off and, inadvertently, fall back in love in the process.

Besides Nicholas and Naomi’s issues, the biggest villain in this book is Nicholas’s mother, Deborah Rose. Deborah is what you’d get if you combined Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development and the worst Karen you’ve ever seen. She’s domineering. She’s manipulative. She doles out questionable advice in a newspaper column, Dear Deborah, and guilts her son into shoveling her driveway every winter. For A Bookish Little Christmas, I thought it would be funny, and maybe slightly horrifying, to take the lid off Deborah Rose’s deluded brain and see what her outgoing emails might look like. Chronologically, these come right after the last chapter of You Deserve Each Other. If you haven’t read the book but plan to, there are some major spoilers in here and I’d recommend waiting!

If you haven’t read You Deserve Each Other and don’t plan to, you can still enjoy these emails. You will probably say, “Oh, no, I know somebody exactly like her.” It will not be complimentary. XD

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Subject: Important

Dear Nicky,

Have I not given you everything you’ve ever wanted? Is there something I should have done differently? Maybe I should have forced you to pay your own way through college, and then you wouldn’t resent me for aiding your success. I can think of no other reason for this punishment. I have taken to my bed, as nowadays all I can do is cry and think miserably about the joyous occasion of my only son’s wedding, that I’ve missed out on. Tell your wife I said congratulations, and I’m so very glad she’s gotten what she wanted.

Confused and sad,

Mom

To: Susan Ratcliffe

Re: Would like to volunteer for bake sale

I couldn’t help but notice on Sunday that you were wearing a very familiar dark green Paige sweater with a turtleneck and shoulder cut-out. You have, no doubt, seen me wearing this same sweater on occasion and have, no doubt, heard the compliments paid to me. I bought it at Neiman Marcus last year and, I must say, this “look” has become somewhat iconic to the Deborah Rose personal brand. A great many people have complimented my sense of style, so I understand why you would try to emulate it. However, this particular sweater is inappropriate for church and makes you look like you’re hunting for an affair with one of your divorced son’s thirty-something pals. You are such a dear friend, which is why I must tell you that when you sneak into church two minutes into the sermon, drawing attention to yourself and your semi-bare shoulder, your choices are frowned upon by Jesus.

I am putting you down for six dozen peanut butter chocolate cookies. I understand that you are diabetic, but please do not make those sugar-free rocks you bring to potlucks. We need the best of the best to spread a heavenly message.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Joyce

Subject: Another day passes…

My dearest friend, you are absolutely right. Someday soon, Nicky will see how much he has hurt me and he’ll regret it. Hopefully I’ll still be alive to accept his apology with open arms. But, one never knows when the lord is ready to take them, and I’m gravely worried about the new neighbors who moved in two houses down. They are from California, where ANYTHING goes. Twice now I’ve noticed visitors parking in their driveway after eleven PM, staying for not even half an hour. The wife is a hippie with two eyebrow piercings and she wears HEMP. Do you know what hemp is? Hemp is drugs.
I’m thinking about getting a saltwater aquarium, but I don’t trust Harold with it.

Deborah

Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Subject: You do not have enough parking spaces

Dear Nicky,

Now on top of the pain I already feel, I have to put up with the yard looking like a catastrophe. I just find it disgraceful that after everything we’ve done for you, this is the heartless treatment we receive. Your father hasn’t left his chair in days. The only thing he has energy for is watching television. This tragedy has turned him into a shadow of his former self—if you’re not going to apologize for my sake, apologize for your poor father’s. I assume you no longer want to come over for Christmas, which means I have no reason to put up the tree or decorate. Your sister refuses to come because she thinks my remarks about her girlfriend having a degree from an online university were “insensitive,” so I will probably just sit by myself and look through photo albums to remember happier times.

Please tell your wife to stop coming over and shoveling our driveway. Her services are not needed or asked for, and she appears to not know what she is doing.

I found a screwdriver in the garage, if you want it. All the bird seed is gone. I don’t know why it’s so warm this week.

Mom

To: Magnolia Rose [BragnoliaRoseSwagShop@hotmail.com]

Re: for the love of god stop contacting me

MY husband smells like someone else’s Febreze. This is a confidential, legally binding petition for you to submit, as evidence, one of your recently worn (clean) outwear garments such as a jacket, cardigan, or scarf for testing purposes. You are lawfully obligated to comply within 10 business days, and must get in touch with my legal representative, Joanne P. at State Farm.

MRS. DEBORAH ROSE

Rose Brand Manager

Dear Deborah

Re: Submission: My Father in Law Goes To Brothels

Hello Seymour Butz,

Your father-in-law is a troubled man, but unfortunately I am not surprised. The destruction of the nuclear family has resulted in husbands and wives neglecting their proper roles. From what you say about your mother-in-law, she ought to mind her business. It is my experience that people who are happy with their own lives don’t stick their noses into others’! We must rise ever above.

To: Nick Jr. Contact Support

Area of Concern [write-in]: You’ve just lost a viewer

I am disappointed that you’ve chosen to give Ariana Grande a wider platform to corrupt our children. I just read an article that said Ariana will be voicing a guest character on your show “Bubble Guppies” next week and am APPALLED. You are supposed to be role models for our children, and this angelfish who teaches the Guppies to reach for their dreams is going to convince preschoolers to get tattoos and date Peter Davidsons. I have twelve grandchildren who have been loyal Nick Jr. watchers, but in all good conscience I can no longer air this channel in my home. I will instead give my patronage to the unproblematic Disney!

Deborah R

To: Star Magazine Tips Hotline

Subject: Kate Middleton

Message: I do not care for Kate Middleton.

To: Joyce

Subject: What sort of world are we living in?

I am in tears, I am shaking. Something truly terrible has happened. Do you remember the new neighbors I was telling you about? They reported me to the police for harassment, and only because I knocked on their door and asked them to take a polarizing “Spread Love Not Hate” sign out of their yard.

Make no mistake, I will not let these people bully me. I am going to have a discussion with the HOA about that sign, along with the poppy seed muffin gift basket they gave to the Harrisons. We all know what poppy seeds are really for!

My Amazon packages are late again. I’ve been looking at the tracker and it said expected delivery was yesterday, but now they’re suddenly delayed. I think someone is tampering with my packages.

I heard from Judy that your sister passed. How unfortunate! Would you mind getting the funeral home director’s information for me and forwarding it to my son? I feel incredibly unsafe with these neighbors around, and if I am killed I just want to make it as easy on Nicholas as possible to make arrangements, as he will be mourning his decision to let that wife of his come between us in my final days. Please also forward your divorce lawyer’s number to him. Are you still bringing German chocolate cake to the bake sale? The funeral isn’t until 3, from what I heard, and the bake sale starts at noon, so you should be able to help out for most of the day and your brief absence won’t affect us too negatively.

Deborah

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Arby’s Customer Feedback

Subject: The Beaufort Arby’s on Walter Drive

Hello, Arby’s. This evening I ordered two large curly fries and two roast beef sandwiches through the drive-thru. I have not had Arby’s in quite some time because my last experience was unsatisfactory (only one restroom, which meant having to wait a ridiculously long time to use it), but was willing to give you another chance. Well, you blew it. I drove home, opened up my bag, and discovered that one of the fries was a medium.
The worker who gave me my food is named Rhonda. (In case there are multiple Rhondas at the Arby’s on Walter Drive, this one has untidy red hair and is pregnant but isn’t wearing a wedding ring).

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist, Food Connoisseur, and Book Club Leader

To: Diana

Subject: Well I am sorry if you were offended

Actually, I am not sorry at all. If you didn’t want me to talk about you on public radio, you shouldn’t have left that explicit calendar in my guest bathroom. I will be deleting the series recording of The Masked Singer.

To: Pastor Thomas

Subject: Another one of God’s children has lost her way

I have reached out to Susan Ratcliffe regarding her disrespectful church attire, with no luck. I think you should have a conversation with Susan about showing off her shoulders when she is supposed to be Praising Him. I also think you should consider replacing her as a first-row choir singer, since right now she is front and center in front of impressionable young children. Coincidentally, I sang in the choir in college and would be willing to step in.

I am putting you down for six vanilla and chocolate marble cakes.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry

Re: Customer Satisfaction Survey

Dear Nicholas,

I suppose this means you don’t want me to be your mother anymore. If you do not come to my Christmas party, everyone will speak ill of you, and I can’t bear the thought of hearing my oldest friends and family call you a disrespectful, ungrateful son who has been brainwashed by his wife to care only about her and hasn’t even asked about his parents’ beloved housekeeper’s health scare (not that you probably care at all, since you are so busy, but the results came back and whatever it was is benign, which we all prayed for because otherwise this might have cast a dark shadow on our party and her ability to pull off a halfway decent one for once).
There is no need to bring a dish, since there isn’t enough time between now and Christmas for Naomi to learn how to cook.

Also, I need help blocking Diana’s number from my phone.

To: Amazon Support

Subject: Please transfer me to Jeff Beezus

Someone is sabotaging my packages and I want them fired. On December third, I ordered a waffle iron with two-day shipping, but it arrived a day late and there wasn’t even a refund. On December eighth, I ordered the “First Hill Storage Ottoman in Gray Linen” from BMXSHIPPINGINC, who is one of your middlemen, or perhaps a Russian, and my order took three days for them to ship. Then it simply disappeared somewhere, because the tracker showed no further developments. The ottoman arrived within the window it was supposed to, but I don’t appreciate the shady conduct here, not knowing what was happening to my package in the interim and who was handling it. I want one of your workers to come take it back, and replace it with “Hummel figurine Just Dozing, original MI Hummel Collection, gift-boxed.”

My husband is a very powerful man, and my son is a prominent figure in the health field, putting his life on the line every day. If your business continues to tamper with my purchases, I will take legal action and take my fight public.

Mrs. Deborah Rose

Popular Advice Columnist and Bake Sale Coordinator

Applebee’s Grill & Bar (Marshall, TX) on Facebook

Now offering a contactless menu option! Also NEW Berry Merry Colada and NEW Reindeer Punch!
74 Comments

Deborah and Harold Rose WHEN IS American idol coming back on

To: Rise and Smile Dentistry
Re: Appointment Confirmation (no-reply)

Dr. Rose,

I believe you still have my cardboard box from when I sent a few of your old school assignments and other trinkets home with you on August 13th. There are other things that I need this box for. I find it highly unlikely that you’ve even opened it since the items within are reminders of your terrible childhood and your family that has never done anything but love you, so I would like it back.

You may leave it on the porch, if it is too much to ask for you to come inside.

To: Facebook Support

Area of Complaint (other)

Dear Mr. Mark Zuckerberg,

My daughter-in-law posted something that I am unable to view. It says the post is only viewable for a select group of people and I would like for you to tell me what is in this post. There could be defamation in it, so I believe it is my right as a citizen to see. For more information: her name is Naomi Rosefield and her profile picture is Elmo from Sesame Street, and he is on fire. I believe it is a reference to the movie St. Elmo’s Fire. She lives in Morris, Wisconsin.

She is unemployed.

Sincerely,

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose for City Council

To: MAILER-DAEMON

Re: Failure Notice

I don’t know WHO you are or WHO provided you with my private email information and judging by your name, I assume you are satanic. This is your final warning to cease contact. These “failure notices” intended to intimidate me will NOT WORK and if you continue this harassment I will get the authorities involved!!!! My husband is a cop.

To: Naomi

Subject: NO SUBJECT

I saw that video of what you’ve been doing with my priceless heirloom salt and pepper shakers. Your childish behavior is an insult upon this entire family and I want them back. I also find it rude that you haven’t invited us over. It is lucky that my calendar is too full for a visit, or else I might feel slighted.

Mrs. Rose

Rose Matriarch

To: Community of Sycamore Lane HOA

Subject: We’re all in danger!

We’re all in danger of getting migraines from the excessively flashing Christmas lights the Harrisons have put up. I’ve checked with all the neighbors and they didn’t consult a single one of us before subjecting us to that enormous inflatable Grinch. It is spoiling the holiday atmosphere. When I am sitting in my upstairs guest room facing the northern window, half of my view is that awful Grinch and I feel no peace because of it.

Deborah Rose

Deborah Rose for City Council

To: viewers@crownmedia.com

Subject: important!!!

WHY are Andrew Walker and that woman from Full House in every single Hallmark movie and WHAT can I do to end it

To: Nicholas

Subject: emergency

NICHOLAS, YOU MUST MAKE HER STOP. I HAVE HIRED A SNOWPLOW MAN. I AM TOO OLD TO LIVE LIKE THIS.


You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Add to GoodreadsAmazon

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

About Sarah Hogle

A mom of three in southern Ohio, Sarah Hogle spends her free time planning weird pranks and hoping for a haunted castle to call her own. She is the author of You Deserve Each Other.

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One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book Review

Posted December 24, 2020 by Jana in Adult Fiction, Book Review, Bookish Little Christmas / 2 Comments

One Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey | Book ReviewOne Christmas Eve by Shannon Stacey
Series: Cedar Street #2
Published by Carina Press on November 11, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Holiday - Christmas, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

They couldn’t be more different. Or more perfect for each other.

New York Times bestselling author Shannon Stacey returns with a warm and cozy opposites-attract Christmas story.

Zoe Randall is busy living her life as she damn well pleases. She’s back in her favorite town, her divorce in her rearview mirror, and living out her childhood dream of running a bookstore with her cousin. She has no interest in the uptight nerd who opened his boring-ass business next to her shop…until he complains about one of her sexy window displays.

Then it’s game on.

Preston Wheeler knows he takes life a little too seriously. But when the saucy bookseller next door starts pushing his buttons, he can feel that changing. Beautiful, vivacious Zoe challenges him in all the best ways, and soon he’s pushing her buttons right back: teasing and flirting all the way through the holiday season.

As Preston loosens up and Zoe is treated to the man behind the suit (particularly his forearms), she realizes she’s more interested than she cares to admit. And Preston comes to see the beauty—the absolute delight—in adding Zoe’s bright splashes of color to his once very black-and-white existence.

What better day of the year than Christmas Eve to review this darling Shannon Stacey novel, One Christmas Eve? This one was described an opposites attract love story, and I love this trope so much in romance novels. We’ve also got a fun, outgoing, bookish heroine named Zoe that I really loved. She has the best job ever. She runs a bookstore with her cousin, and spends her days recommending books and designing elaborate window displays. Sounds perfect to me! Nerdy, uptight Preston Wheeler moves in to the office next door. He’s an estate planner, and gets offended by one of her displays because he thinks it’s tasteless. He doesn’t want his clients having to walk past the, so he pops into the store to complain. What follows is a bit of a cat and mouse game, where Zoe does everything she can to push his buttons. She knows he’s secretly following the store’s Instagram page, so she posts about how they’ve got books on estate planning and even though they’re boring people might want to come check them out. She also gets even more obnoxious with his window displays. The banter back and forth is so much fun, and the tension is top notch! I loved the small town and the cute little streets. The people are all great, and I loved this festive love story so much! Highly recommended.

 

5 Stars
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Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings: 2020 Edition

Posted December 21, 2020 by Jana in Bookish Little Christmas, Top Ten Tuesday / 17 Comments

Welcome to another TTT! Can you believe Christmas is this week?? I keep saying this, but this year has simultaneously flown and dragged. I feel like Christmas 2019 was 45 years ago, but I also wonder where this year even went. Does anyone else feel this way? This week’s topic is books I hope Santa brings on Christmas Eve.

1. The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
2. The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
3. Break and Enter by Lori Matthews
4. Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
5. Untraceable by Laura Griffin
6. The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn
7. The Sapphire Affair by Lauren Blakely
8. Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride around the Globe by Dean Nicholson
9. A Beastly Kind of Earl by Mia Vincy
10. The Gem Thief by Sian Ann Bessey (finished copy for my bookshelves)

What books do you hope to get for Christmas this year?

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