Bout of Books 34

Bout of Books 34 is coming next week! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to participate so I am really looking forward to do so for this round. Bout of Books is one of my favorite readathons. It lasts a whole week beginning on Monday and ends on the following Sunday. It is super low key but also has some fun daily challenges that you can choose to participate if you want as well as a few other things.

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 34 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

Normally I like to give myself a couple of goals and a tentative TBR just so I have something to go off of. Since I am a mood reader, I don’t hold myself to the TBR if I’m not feeling it when the time comes around. Since we are a week out from the readathon, I think I have a pretty good idea of what I would like to read but that could very well change so I will stick with it being a tentative TBR.

Personal Goals for Bout of Books 34:

  • Read at least 1 hour everyday
  • Finish at least one of each of the following:
    • audiobook
    • novel
    • graphic novel
  • Daily check-in on blog and Instagram stories

My tentative TBR plan is to focus on my ARC backlog. I have a few that have already been published and a couple that will be published very soon. I am also currently working on that so my plan for next week is basically to tackle the ones I have left. I would LOVE to be able to completely get caught up but I also have quite a few that I need to get through so I will just see how things go. I don’t want to push it too hard or I will end up in a slump for feeling forced to read these books. My selection includes the following:

  • The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick (published January 13, 20022)
  • Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves by Meg Long (published January 11, 2022)
  • The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth (published April 5, 2022)
  • The Summer Place by Jennifer Weiner (publishing May 10, 2022)
  • Kagen the Damned by Jonathan Maberry (publishing May 10, 2022)
  • Outside by Ragnar Jonasson (publishing June 28, 2022)
  • The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang (publishing November 15, 2022)

As far as the audiobook and graphic novel go, those will depend on what I’m in the mood for at the time.

I am really looking forward to participating in this readathon after so long away from it. Are you planning to participate?

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Bellinger Sisters #2

Published March 1st 2022 by Avon Books

385 Pages

Goodreads Summary: King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

Review: Last year I read and reviews It Happened One Summer, the first book in a duology by Tessa Bailey about two sisters who must leave their posh lives in Los Angeles to prove themselves to be capable adults in a small fishing town in Washington state. I really enjoyed that first book introducing the two sisters, with the main focus on Piper, so I was really excited to get a chance to read and review book 2 in the series that focuses on Hannah. I could more easily connect with Hannah than Piper so I knew the second book would probably be even better for me than the first book. I was not disappointed.

The book opens with a text string between Hannah and Fox over the course of several months while she is back in L.A. and he is in Westport. I loved the connection between them and how music brought them even closer together. They seemed to easily understand one another even though they were both so different at the same time. Even before Hannah got back to Westport, the way they fought their growing attraction made it seem more and more that they were meant to be together. Their chemistry was absolutely undeniable throughout the book. I also really enjoyed the vulnerability that they both had. Neither had been in a serious relationship and were scared to take that step. Especially with Fox knowing how his father was and thinking that everybody basically expected him to follow suite. Even more than the romance between Hannah and Fox, I very much enjoyed Hannah’s character evolution. She started out working as a production assistant for this director and always thought of herself as an extra or sidekick character rather than the leading lady. Gradually Fox helped her to see that she can and should be the leading lady in her own life. She started to take those steps to put herself out there more and get what she wants. I enjoy romances but it makes it so much better when the female character takes charge of her own life and doesn’t just let things happen to her.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and I am sad that there will not be anymore of these characters in future books. But I will definitely be checking out more books from this author in the future.

4 Stars

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Published December 7th 2021 by Atria Books

354 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

Review: The first thing that drew me to this book was the author, Shea Ernshaw. I read and loved The Wicked Deep a few years back when it was published so I knew that she was an author I wanted to keep my eye on. The second thing that drew me to this book was the cover. The cover image is so haunting and beautiful, I just had to know what this book was about. The third and final thing that drew me to this book was the synopsis. Missing author and a mysterious commune in the middle of the woods?! Yes please.

When the book began I figured that the story would be following from Travis’s point of view for the duration but it didn’t take long for me to be proven wrong. We are then introduced to three characters living within Pastoral, the secret community in the woods: Theo, Calla, and Bee. Theo and Calla are married and Bee is Calla’s sister. Together they live in a farmhouse near the edge of the commune. Each of them has secrets they are trying to keep from each other but those secrets don’t last for long.

I don’t want to say too much about the story because I think honestly one of the best parts was being unsure of what was going on and what was going to happen next. It was such a puzzle to try and fit all of the pieces together about what happened to Travis and Maggie. And when those pieces began to be revealed… I was shocked by each and every one of them. The last third of the book is so full of twists and turns. I literally just finished the book a few minutes ago and wanted to start this review while my head was still spinning. So many “Aha” moments! One of the other really cool things about this book is you get little excerpts from the Foxtail book that Maggie St. James was famous for. It was incredibly eerie with how well it fit the surroundings of Pastoral. Shea Ernshaw did a fantastic job writing this book. Her words had a way of drawing me into the story and I felt as though I was in Pastoral, seeing and experiencing everything that the characters were experiencing. Especially with Bee’s character. Bee is blind and so you get to experience all of her other senses being heightened, mainly her sense of hearing and smell. I definitely see myself thinking about this book for quite some time.

4.5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

2021 Year In Review

Another year has come and gone! I was hoping to post this closer to the first of the year but I’m still just going with the flow and posting when I feel the urge to post. So that day has come today! I had a fairly decent reading year for the most part. There were a few months that I fell into a bit of a rut overall, not too shabby. One of my main goals for the year was to finally read the giant tome, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, and it was even better than I thought it was going to be. I also wanted to read more of my owned but unread books but that didn’t quite work out. The majority of the books I read in 2021 ended up being audiobooks. And now for one of my favorite things… various statistics from my year of reading!

Total Books Read: 139
Total Pages Read: 56,116
Number of Different Authors: 98
Most Read Author: Stephen King
Books in a Series: 59
Standalones: 80

Hardcover: 30
Paperback: 13
Ebook: 12
Audio: 84

Adult: 116
Young Adult: 17
New Adult: 5
Middle Grade: 1

Average Pages Per Book: 403.7
Average Pages Per Day: 153.7
Average Pages Per Month: 4676.3

  • Fantasy: 40
  • Science Fiction: 1
  • Historical Fiction: 15
  • Contemporary: 8
  • Romance: 15
  • Classics: 3
  • Mystery/Thriller: 21
  • Horror: 31
  • Nonfiction: 4
  • Literary Fiction: 1

And for the finale…. my favorite book that I read in 2021, which may come as no surprise to those who know me….. EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE BY JAY KRISTOFF! This is the first book in a new trilogy and after reading it I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book. There were lots of special editions and I wasn’t able to collect them all but I did manage to get 6.

And that’s a wrap on 2021! What was your favorite book that you read in 2021?

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

It Happened One Summer (Bellinger Sisters, #1)

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Bellinger Sisters #1

Published July 13th 2021 by Avon

397 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong.

Review: When I first started reading It Happened One Summer, I wasn’t entirely sure if I was going to be able to make it all the way through the book. Piper is your stereotypical shallow Hollywood girl who is famous for being the stepdaughter of somebody famous and becoming a social media star. It opens with her being dumped by the guy she had been dating who was supposedly her longest relationship which had lasted all of 3 weeks. To blow off steam and repair the image of her begging not to be dumped, she breaks into a hotel pool and throws a raging party that gets busted by the cops. Her stepfather decides enough is enough and sends her north to the coastal WA fishing town where her biological father was from and she had spent the first few years of her life. I have a hard time reading and enjoying books where the main character is so far towards this direction but kept reading in the hopes that she would have some character growth once she got to WA and out of the Hollywood bubble

Enter Brendan… rugged fishing captain who finds Piper insanely gorgeous but incredibly naive and shallow. When they first meet you get a little enemies to lovers vibe, which I love, so I started getting more into it. As Piper and her sister Hannah settle into their new lives in Westport, the cast of characters they encounter have that classic Stars Hollow-esque charm… quirky and strange but lovable and would do anything for their community. The more Piper gets out there with her fellow townspeople, including Brendan, the more she begins to realize that the Hollywood bubble may not be all that she thought it was.

By the time the book was nearing the end, I was really rooting for Piper and had completely changed my view on her as a character. Overall I ended up really enjoying this book and am now looking forward to reading the sequel that follows Piper’s sister Hannah, and Brendan’s best friend and fellow fisherman, Fox. If you loved The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker and watching Schitt’s Creek, then this is the book for you.

4 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.