Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: December 2020

We’ve made it to the end of the year! I wrapped up the year with 250 books and am excited to see what a new year holds. I know I won’t hit that high of books again, but it was fun to expand genres and authors I’ve read.

Happy New Year y’all.

Favorite Reads: Forever Wild, A Sky Beyond the Storm, Skyhunter, and A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow
Least Favorite: Winterkeep, The Christmas Swap

  • Forever Wild (The Simple Wild #2.5) by K.A. Tucker
  • A Match Made at Christmas by Courtney Walsh
  • Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #1) by Jessica Townsend
  • A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
  • A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities (Keeper of the Lost Cities #1) by Shannon Messenger
  • Layla by Colleen Hoover
  • [ARC] A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright
  • On the Second Day of Christmas by Deborah M. Hathaway
  • Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend
  • Firefight (The Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • [ARC] The Lion of the Sea (The Maiden Ship #2) by Micheline Ryckman
  • Skyhunter (Skyhunter #1) by Marie Lu
  • The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
  • [ARC] Winterkeep (Graceling Realm #4) by Krisin Cashore
  • Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2) by Shannon Messenger
  • A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey
  • A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  • [Gifted] Ex on the Beach (The Extra Series #11) by Megan Walker and Janci Patterson
  • Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

How was your reading this month? Did we read any of the same books? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Royal We (Royal We #1) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 454 pages
Author: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: April 7th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

UNIMPRESSED.

We had a pretty good start then things just went downhill.

I liked the beginning. It was cute! Meeting at college, getting to know a new country and being truly on Rebecca’s own (without her twin). I honestly thought this would have been dragged out longer over the course of the book. Mostly because I was leaning towards that being that point of this romance. How they met, fell in-love, etc. What I got was…not what I was expecting.

About halfway is when things sunk, but I was far enough in that I decided to go ahead and finish it out. The Royal We could have easily been 100 pages (at least) shorter. There was an incredible amount of focus on the media. I understand that it plays a big role in all of their lives, but with how much it was discussed it got boring and repetitive. Not to mention the only characters I liked were Cilla and Gaz. And they were side characters.

Not to mention, with the way it ended, I think it as meant to be romantic and spontaneous. What it really portrayed was a relationship with a bunch of band-aids. There wasn’t enough of the romance with Nick and Rebecca having sincere and productive conversations about their difficulties.

I really just struggled with this one for a lot of reasons and I don’t want to continue listing them. This wasn’t the romantic normal girl turns princess trope I was hoping for.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a lot of closed door scenes
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a parent, and a parent suffering from mental health issues

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Book Review

Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary fiction
Length: 373 pages
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

GUT WRENCHING.

Well this was amazing. What a story. For a shorter novel, I was heavily invested in everyone’s lives and found this story raw. A great smorgasbord of religion, growing up, family, friendships, and being who you want to be.

Dill. Oh my sweet Dill. I loved his character. This poor guy got the short end of stick he never wanted. The way his character grew to the end of the book had me wanting to clap. I think I even fist-pumped once because I was so happy listening to him stand up for himself. Dill found his way through depression and grief to stand on his own and make decisions for his future that would be beneficial.

Lydia was the sassy best friend that brought another great angle to the story. She lived a bit more affluent life with pathways that she chose for herself and parents that cared for her. Lydia had another great character change over the book too. She was emotional and brave in being open to Dill. Being the friend he needed throughout the book. Even when they had conflicts, they were able to have productive talks that furthered my love for this book.

Travis was someone you wanted to root for and as relatable as Lydia and Dill were too. He was incredibly courageous and I love that he was his own person. Wearing a dragon necklace, carrying a staff, and loving a book series with his soul. And he never felt sorry for himself. Travis stood up to his demons (aka. Dad) and I just loved his character.

Watching these three really grow and change over senior year was tumultuous at best. The insane highs and lows kept me on a roller coaster of emotions. I felt the weight of this novel and story more times than once.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary fiction
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, guns, murder, see Trigger Warnings for more
  • Trigger Warnings: murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, a parent convicted of possession of child pornography, suicide, suicide ideation, grief and depression

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Book Review

Book Review: Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 365 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: December 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

COHO WRECKS MY SOUL AGAIN.

I mean, is this a surprise to anyone? This is why I LOVE her books and can’t help but read them in hours because I must know that at some point all the crap subsides and I get my happy ending.

What’s better even and different from a lot of books is that the endings are yes, “happy,” but I feel more so, optimistic. A lot of drama and true human pain reins through Regretting You. It’s not meant to have some super fluffy, run off into the sunset ending. It’s meant to show the strength of a soul and the power it takes to move on when the hand you’ve been dealt is less than ideal.

I connected the most with Morgan. Being a mother myself it was so hard watching her try to shield Clara from the pain and also try to stand on her own two feet. Morgan wanted more from her life than being at home, but it took that home to give her something more. I loved her perseverance (even when she ran away from confrontation). Morgan gave into her wants and was a little bit selfish, in that, finally do something for yourself, kinda way.

Clara on the other hand, annoyed me at times. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her character too, but ooooo boy did she make some poor choices and have an awful attitude. The more I thought about this though, the more I understood Hoover’s intentions. This is a 16/17 year-old dealing with what might be the most traumatic thing she ever goes through and she’s in HIGH SCHOOL. I can’t imagine how hard that would be and I would probably have a lousy attitude for a bit myself. Now, I still am not happy with some of her choices, but I feel that’s my mom voice talking so I’m going to let it be.

My sweet Miller was such a great addition. The poor guy was stuck in the middle of more crap than I would have ever dealt with and did it so dang gracefully. I loved his tender nature and the strength of his own decisions. Miller is such a sweet cinnamon roll and I could gush about him all day.

I love the raw nature of this book and the traumatic instances it chose to dive deeper into. This is a tough subject to write a book about and I appreciated the way it was done. Was it hard to read at times? YEP. But that’s sometimes what makes the book even more fantastic.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: Kisses, make-outs with clothing removed, a few love scenes that are light/mild detailed
  • Violence: car wreck
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one, cheating spouse/significant other

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