#killingthetbr: back at it again for 2018

Remember when I used to force myself to read books that I owned instead of buying new ones?  I think I’m going to do that again.  No, I am going to do that again.  In 2018, I’m bringing back my #killingthetbr challenge and hopefully, you guys can help hold me accountable.

I’m hoping that if I stick with my original goal of three books per month that I’ve owned for three months or longer, I’ll end up making my TBR shorter overall.  I don’t buy a ton of books anymore, but Overdrive and ARCs are very tempting, and my physical, owned TBR pile usually hovers around 100 books.

You can follow my progress in this tag.

Are you doing any reading challenges in 2018?

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Book review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

In the last seventeen years, Madeline Whittier hasn’t left her house once.  Allergic to everything, Madeline takes classes online from the comfort of her purified home.  She isn’t allowed to have friends, isn’t allowed to eat food that isn’t bland, can’t even check out books from a library for fear of pathogens and allergens.  Madeline has never known anything different and is perfectly satisfied with her life.

Then she meets Olly.  Oliver Bright is Madeline’s new neighbor, and he is so alive.  He makes Madeline feel things that she’s never before felt, and suddenly, Madeline is contemplating what life might be like outside of her bubble.

So, you know I have this thing with hype where books that I expect to be good often end up disappointing me.  I was worried about Everything, Everything because the lowest rating any of my friends have given it is 4 stars.  My friends have given it an average of 4.67 stars.  On Goodreads as a whole, with over 177,000 ratings, the book has a 4.1 average.  Clearly, the consensus is that this book is good.  My thoughts going into this book were pretty much just, “Please be good. Please be good. Please be good.”

The verdict? It’s good.  Nicola Yoon is an incredibly talented writer and I’m finding it very hard to believe that this was her debut novel.  Not only did she craft an entirely relatable character in Madeline, but she’s legitimately funny.  I mean,

He grins at me and his face is no longer stark, no longer severe. I try to smile back, but I’m so flustered that I frown at him instead.

Who hasn’t been there?  I feel like this happens to me on a daily basis.

Having lived her entire life inside, Madeline is a pure, innocent cutie patootie.  Everything amazes her.  Everything is a new experience.  Something as simple as an IM or email from the neighbor totally changes her life.  In many ways, it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

Olly is your stereotypical YA love interest, but you know what?  I loved him and I don’t really care what other people think.  He was the perfect combination of funny and sweet and that particular kind of surly that’s mostly just endearing.  I just wanted to scoop Olly up and protect him from all the terrible things in his life.  Is that too much to ask?

Now, I’ve seen a number of reviews (not from my Goodreads friends, but in general) that complain about the way that Yoon chose to end this book.  Personally, as someone who has worked in the medical field for several years and knows at least a bit about immunosuppression, I say that ending coming.  I can’t even claim to be a little surprised, but the big plot twist was glaringly obvious to me.  (There will be no spoilers in this review, but I’d be happy to get into this in the comments.)  That said, knowing how it would end actually made me happier rather than ruining it.  The last thing I wanted was some The Fault in Our Stars type of tearjerking ending.

This is a (mostly) warm and fuzzy book about some teenagers who fall in love and everything that they have to overcome to be together.  It’s also filled with a number of cute drawings from Yoon’s husband, miniature book reviews from Maddy, and dictionary definitions in the context of the book.  All in all, it’s a wonderful, imaginative debut and I’m heading over to my local library’s website right now to put a hold on The Sun Is Also A Star.

Final rating: ★★★★★

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my winter TBR

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is ten books on my winter TBR and honestly, what don’t I want to read this winter?  These are ten books that are at the top of the top because I already have all of them in my possession.  Some of these are books that I acquired through giveaways, some are ARCs, some have been given to me as gifts, and one is borrowed from the library. I feel guilty about not reading all of them, so here we go.

Saving Sara by Nicola Marsh
✖ Before I Knew by Jamie Beck
✖ Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

✖ Saint Anything  by Sarah Dessen
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
✖ Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Infraction by Rachel Van Dyken
✖ #Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid
✖ The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

Meternity by Meghann Foye

What are you planning to read this winter?

Book review: The Fortunate Ones by R.S. Grey

GoodreadsAmazon ⭐

Brooke Davenport has just been let go from her job as an au pair.  Needing some cash while she starts a new job search, Brooke takes a job as a cabana girl at a local country club.  She doesn’t love the leers and loaded comments from creepy old men, but she does love the money – and getting paid to look at sexy billionaire James Ashwood doesn’t hurt, either.

Working late one night, Brooke finds James sitting alone at the bar. When he invites her to join him for a drink, sparks fly and they find that they have undeniable chemistry.  But James, eleven years Brooke’s senior, is looking for a commitment, while Brooke isn’t ready to settle down yet.  Can James and Brooke work out their differences, or will it all end in heartbreak?

If I’m being totally honest, it kind of pains me to write this review.  I am a huge fan of R.S. Grey – this is the sixth book of hers that I’ve read this year – but this is probably my least favorite.  Part of the blame lies with me.  I’ve been in a not-so-great-place recently and usually, I can rely on R.S. Grey’s books to pull me straight out of a funk.  Her books are typically witty, charming, fluffy, and cute.  The Fortunate Ones is none of the above.  I actually cried multiple times while reading this book, and that’s almost unheard of for me.  So I didn’t get quite what I bargained for, and that really clouded my opinion of the book.

As a lead, Brooke is perfectly fine.  She reminds me of a number of R.S. Grey’s heroines in that she’s sassy, headstrong, and focused.  She needs to find a new job as an au pair because there’s no way she’s spending the rest of her life as a cabana girl.  She’s not willing to give up on her dreams for a guy – even a guy as desirable as James Ashwood.

James is, at first glance, a respectable love interest.  He’s gorgeous, he exudes wealth, and, unlike many men who fit this description, he’s looking for a wife.  James is, however, exceptionally moody and a bit too alpha for my tastes.  (What happened to love interests like Julian Lefray?)  You see, James thinks that the best way to win Brooke over in an argument is to forcibly kiss her until she acquiesces.  He also mopes around and cuts off communication for days or weeks at a time when Brooke does something he doesn’t like.  It just didn’t sit right with me, but he does improve by the end of the book.

This was such a 180 from what I’m used to by this author.  It was good enough, but after a (mostly) solid string of five-star books by R.S. Grey, I was pretty disappointed to not love this one.  In the end, it’s a 2.5, but I’ll round it up to three.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Gift guide: Recent favorites!

It’s getting to be that time of year where I’m knee-deep in Christmas shopping.  While I’m still sorting out ideas of what to get for my coworkers, my friends, my mom, and my boyfriend, I thought I’d try to provide some inspiration for you by listing a few of the things that I’ve been obsessed with lately.

Don’t worry, this post isn’t sponsored by anybody and the only thing I get if you purchase anything from these links is the satisfaction of helping.

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This 2018 planner from Paper Source. I love planners.  I love writing everything down that needs to be done and then checking it off.  I need to write down the ARCs I have and when the reviews are due by.  I like to keep track of how much I liked and disliked the books that I’ve read so that I don’t post three straight weeks of negative reviews.  I need some help keeping track of my reading challenges.  Not only is this planner super cute, but it’s also super functional and I can’t wait to use it.

Of course, I just paid $32.95 + tax in the store but it’s on sale for $24.71 on the Paper Source website.

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These food stickers from Hobby Lobby.  I actually don’t shop at Hobby Lobby very often (or ever) since I have an ideological opposition to the way they choose to run their business (but hey, that’s for a different post) but my mom got me these adorable stickers and they are just. so. cute.  There’s actually a sticker that says I wish I was full of tacos instead of emotions and isn’t that the truth.

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I actually bought this Lush Charity Pot quite awhile ago, and then it got shuffled in with other cosmetics that I never really use and I only just found it earlier this week.  Um, it smells so good.  Like, if you told me that you were giving me a “delicately floral perfume of ylang-ylang and rosewood oils” I would probably think that you were crazy, but it is amazing.  It’s also really nicely hydrating, and the best part is that 100% of the purchase price benefits a different charity.  (They’re labeled so you know who you’re supporting.)  Mine supports the Garden State Equality Education Fund, which is an LGBT organization here in New Jersey.

So, there you have it!  Three great gift ideas for different people in your life.  (Or for yourself.)  I hope this helped at least a little bit, and I’ll try to keep this going to give you more ideas as the season rolls along.

Book review: Cocky Roomie by Faleena Hopkins

Update May 2018: Given the recent controversy over Faleena Hopkins’ trademark of the word “cocky” in romance novels, I have made the decision to avoid further books from her. My original review of Cocky Roomie below remains unchanged.


Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

When Drew Charles answered Jake Cocker’s ad for a roommate, she didn’t expect to find Georgia’s sexiest bachelor at the door – and wrapped in a towel, no less.  But Drew’s nothing if not adaptable, and she quickly adjusted to the idea of living with such an attractive man.  After all, a relationship – or even a hookup – was far from her mind after everything her soon-to-be-ex-husband put her through.

When Jake Cocker got Drew Charles’ email about renting, he expected, you know, a guy.  Not a gorgeous woman in a business suit who had already resolved that she was going to live in his apartment.  Not happening, he said.  No way.  And then Drew cried and it was game over.

Cocky Roomie is my first book by Faleena Hopkins and I got it for free from Amazon a couple months ago.  It had generally glowing reviews, so I’m not sure what happened when I read it.  I just didn’t really enjoy it.

The first half is fine.  I enjoyed watching Jake try to get to know Drew as she resisted his efforts over and over and over again.  I liked meeting Jake’s family and how realistic Drew’s struggle to find a job seemed after being married to a man who wouldn’t let her work.

The second half is where it all falls apart.  The characters become almost caricatures – Drew as the stereotypical southern belle who clutches her pearls while whispering, “Well, I never,” and Jake as the typical rich boy who’s likable enough but has never had to deal with being told no.  The story becomes very over-the-top with a biker gang and Jake being sent away to Denver for work with seemingly no real reason and this subtle shaming of Drew’s best friend, Bernadette, who has a number of issues and isn’t shown any real empathy after their full extent is revealed.

The book is edited surprisingly poorly, particularly toward the end, and I was so distracted by the number of typos and odd grammatical choices that it really detracted from the story.  I’m not really sure how this is one of Amazon’s top-selling erotic series.  (Or, at least, that’s what the author’s note says.)

In the end, I think I was just expecting too much from this freebie.  I have one of the other books in the series on my shelf and while I might read it later, it’s not going to be anytime soon.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

2018 Debut Author Challenge!

I haven’t decided yet whether I’m doing the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 challenge, the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge, both challenges, or neither, but I have decided that I’m doing the 2018 Debut Author Challenge.  I participated in this challenge in 2017 and honestly, it was such a great experience.  Sure, one or two of the debuts I read were downright terrible, but the majority were amazing and written by authors who are now on my auto-buy list.

I’m not going to go too crazy, so I think I’ll keep my goal the same for 2018: one debut each month, for a total of 12 debuts in 2018.  If you’re interested in taking part in the Debut Author Challenge, head over to That Artsy Reader Girl to sign up.  Then, check out the Goodreads group, Goodreads list, and Google Doc of all eligible books.