The Ship of Brides - Jojo Moyes

Writing this review is my greatest shame, but I absolutely cannot end the year with this book still sitting in my Netgalley review queue, especially since I actually read it in 2018. The shame over writing this review has actually prevented me from putting these words down, but I gotta just rip that Band-Aid off and get 'er done.

I requested this book a million and a half years ago (Netgalley says the publication date was in 2014, which sounds about right) and I didn't download it before the archive date. I love Jojo Moyes' books so I knew I'd read it eventually, so I kept it in my queue. Over the next four years, I lost count of the number of times I borrowed this book from the library, only to return it unread. Sometimes it was because I just wasn't in the mood to read it, but honestly most of the time it was because I knew as soon as I read it I'd have to write this review, and then submit it to the publisher, and atone for my horrendously tardy review.

I've managed to dodge ARC April and August, as well as a Netgalley-a-thon this year, but now it's Netgalley November (or something along those lines) and I NEED TO WRITE THIS REVIEW.

In all honesty, I've forgotten a lot of the specific details of this book (it's been over a year and my memory barely rewinds a month these days), but I gave it three stars on Goodreads. It's a solid historical fiction, told in Jojo's typical style that has her weaving multiple characters' stories together and it held my interest as I waited to find out how it would all unfold. If you enjoyed The Girl You Left Behind, you'll like this one, as it has Jojo's signature style in a historical setting.

I think I've learned my lesson on not letting a book sit in my queue for quite this long ever again, as long as Netgalley doesn't revoke my reviewer permissions after I submit this review. Please, Netgalley, I'll try better next time, okay?

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher for review, but all opinions in this review are my own.

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The Bride Test - Helen Hoang

I was absolutely blown away when I read The Kiss Quotient last year. Other than Sophie Kinsella, I haven't read too much adult contemporary in recent years, leading more towards YA when I was in the mood for a contemporary, but lately I've been finding myself more and more in the mood for a good adult contemporary, especially when they're a bit on the steamy side (likely why I devoured every single one of Christina Lauren's books in a year!)

I absolutely love that Helen Hoang writes about characters with autism and she too is on the spectrum. Her characters come across as so genuine and real that I just want to be friends with them in real life too. Stella's story was amazing in The Kiss Quotient but I also loved Khai's story just as much. The Bridge Test is very different from her first book and The Bride Test is considered to be a companion novel, not a true sequel. If you haven't read The Kiss Quotient yet, you should start with that one as there is a scene in The Bride Test that will spoil the first book if you haven't read it yet.

If you loved The Kiss Quotient, you'll love this one too, although it does have a totally different feel than the first book did. They're both excellent stories with amazing characters and I can't wait to see what Helen writes next!

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Red, White & Royal Blue - Casey McQuiston

This book has been all over the blogosphere and since I am ridiculously late with this review (sorry publisher! I'll do better next time ... promise!) it's hard to think of something to say that hasn't already been said.

I think that this book tugs at the heartstrings in a unique way for my American friends as the United States is presented in a much more diversely wonderful way than its current state, complete with a  female president. The premise of the story is that the Prince of Wales falls in love with the son of the President of the United States. I loved how the relationship and the way so many plot points challenged the "norms" of their parts of the world. I loved the characters in this story - they were all so real and so well developed. I tore through the book despite being super busy at work and it was the perfect escape from a crazy week at work. When I finished the book, I immediately passed it along to a friend who I think will love it just as much. I love it when a book incites that immediate sensation of wanting to pass my copy along to someone else ... because I know they'll love it and also because I want someone to talk to about this book!

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Rosie Result - Graeme Simsion

I've been a big fan of the Rosie series since early 2015 when I read The Rosie Project and laughed so hard at Don Tillman's antics. It's rare that a book can make me actually laugh out loud but this series does just that ... over and over and over. There's just something about the way Don sees the world ... it's that awkward funny, like Michael Scott or Larry David. I just love it and I love his family and all of the characters Graeme has created. I was so unbelievably happy during the first two books and my heart soured with joy when I saw that we would get a third instalment.

Don and Rosie's 11-year-old son Hudson is having trouble fitting in. Since Don also experienced similar social issues, he decides to embark on The Hudson Project to help his son learn how to fit in. It's hilarious, it's heartwarming, and it's the perfect end to the trilogy. The only thing wrong with this book is that it's the last one in this trilogy so my time with Don Tillman has come to and end (until I reread the series).

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Under the Table - Stephanie Evanovich

When a book takes place in NYC, it's almost a guaranteed good read for me. Zoey has fled to NYC to escape her deadbeat husband and stay with her sister while she figures out the next steps to take. She starts a small catering business and meets Tristan when she's asked to cook for a date night. The relationship between Zoey and Tristan grows from a friendship to something more as she helps him to learn how to be in a relationship and he helps her to figure out how to free herself from her tangled past.

Zoey's character was a bit spineless for my taste but I did enjoy Tristan's adorable nerdiness. It was a light fun read that I polished off in a couple of days ... perfect to tuck into a beach bag this summer!

Note: An egalley was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag - Round 4

I've done this tag the past three years and thought I'd make it an even four ... it's way past the actual middle of the year, but that appears to be my brand this year ... so let's do this anyway! The tag was originally created by ReadLikeWildfire (see her video here) and Ely Jane (see her video here).

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019. 
SO MANY GOOD BOOKS this year. Kingdom of Ash was a phenomenal series ender and I read some incredible middle grade in March (Echo, Sweep, and Nevermoor). Plus some awesome adult fiction (Where the Crawdads Sing and all the Christina Lauren I could find).

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2019.
Whoops, should have saved KoA for this question! But also The Bride Test (which is a companion, not a sequel, but whatever). The Rosie Result too - loved having more of Don Tillman in my life.

3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to.

King of Scars! Definitely happening when fall arrives.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

Twice in a Blue Moon - I have only one unread Christina Lauren book left and my heart can't handle it.

5. Biggest disappointment.

99 Per Cent Mine ... I adored The Hating Game and this one just fell flat for me.

6. Biggest surprise.

Nevermoor. I always approach a "just like Harry Potter!" book with extreme caution, but this one BLEW. ME. AWAY.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Jill Santopolo. I loved The Light We Lost so so much that I immediately ordered her new book.

8. Newest fictional crush.

I'm not a book boyfriend kind of girl, but I love all of the love stories that Christina Lauren writes ... so can I just say that I'm crushing on their love?

9. Newest favourite character.

Bri from On the Come Up.

10. Book that made you cry.
The Girl He Used To Know is the only one that was added to my "Books That Made Me Cry" shelf on Goodreads, but I'm pretty sure I teared up in Kingdom of Ash too.

11. Book that made you happy.
I reread Eleanor Oliphant this year because my book club picked it and I wanted to have the story fresh in my mind and it gave me all the goosebumps all over again.

12. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)
The Priory of the Orange Tree, King of Scars, and Bridge of Clay are three of the prettiest ones ... but when I get my hands on the illustrated edition of Goblet of Fire it'll blow all the other books out of the water. 

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
My answer to this every year: OH MY GOSH.  So many.  

I've already finished six series this year, which is more than I've finished in any previous year, but I'm still hoping to read Queen of Air and Darkness and Archenemies (and possibly Supernova, depending on what I think of book 2). I'd still like to finish the Shatter Me series this year too, and probably another to make an even ten!

I've made some progress on my 19 books to read in 2019 list but will also need to add King of Scars, The Last Widow (which I found out later is a Will Trent book, which means I'd need to read the other seven first), Alias Grace, The Prisoner of Heaven, We Were the Mulvaneys, Back Roads, Midwives, Girls Burn Brighter, Peace Like a River, and The Tea Rose. Lots of good books in store for me!

My primary focus for the year is going to be to reduce the number of books that I buy, unless they're new releases by beloved authors, book club picks, or continuations of series. Hopefully I can get my total unread books down, since I started the year at 123 and was at 150 in the middle of the year. I need to read faster than I buy if I want to make my goal of having all my unread books fit on my book cart!

How's your reading going so far this year? Anything you'd like to prioritize for the remaining months of the year?

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Summer Reading Tag

I saved this as a draft post last summer so I don't know who to credit for where I found this or whose tag it is … if you know, please let me know too!

1. What three books do you want to read this summer?
I plan to read all of the things! Three that I really want to get to are: Queen of Air and Darkness (I AM READY!), Crimes of Grindelwald (plus watching the movie for the first time!), and Wundersmith (because I loved the first one so much).

2. Which character most embodies the traits of summer?
Amy in Roger and Amy's Epic Detour. I kind of want to reread this book!

3. What book do you most associate with the physicality of summer?
Anything by Sarah Dessen -- her books are the definition of summer.

4. What kind of books do you like to read on holiday? Any books that hold memories to certain places?
I read such a wide variety of books in the summer, so it's hard to say specifically. Generally, I gravitate towards contemporaries in the summer, but I also have very distinct memories of reading Shadow of the Wind on a beach on my honeymoon, which is pretty much the opposite of contemporary.

5. If you could go on holiday with any author, who would you go with and where? What would you want to know?
To Hogwarts with J.K. Rowling!

6. What's your top book of the year so far?
I've read so many! I loved Kingdom of Ash, three middle grades (Nevermoor, Echo, and Sweep), The Light We Lost, Where the Crawdads Sing and SO much Christina Lauren.

7. How did you spend your summer holidays as a child?
Ha ha … reading! We'd always go on a big camping trip and I'd load up on library books and read in the backseat, at the campsite, and every other spare moment throughout the summer.

8. What are your plans this summer?
Still the same as when I was a child … reading! My husband and my son are heading out on vacation just the two of them so I'll have three weeks solo before I join them. It'll make the days go by quicker to be lost in a good book, plus I have some catching up to do with how little I read in April and May and how many books I've purchased so far this year (#theunreadshelfproject2019 I'm coming for you!) I'm also participating in #summerofmyshelves on Instagram and committing to no library books and purchases for the summer (ignoring the first week of July when I added a few more to my shelves … oops!)

How about you? Any exciting summer plans and books that you plan to pick up in the next few months? Let me know in the comments below!
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