Recently Received ARCs (from July 2020)

Recently on NetGalley, I found myself getting approved more and more from romance books, but less so for young adult books. However, this month, it seems like the opposite is true: I was approved for a few young adult titles that I’m excited to read and share my thoughts on! Here are some of the books that I was recently approved for:

  • Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Rent a Boyfriend

While I wasn’t extremely invested in Gloria Chao’s first book (which I DNF’d around the 50% mark), her next book sounded a little more up my alley. This book has the fake dating trope, which I enjoy, so I am excited to pick this one up.

Rent a Boyfriend follows Chloe, who hires a fake boyfriend to impress her parents.

  • Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)

Love & Olives is by Jenna Evans Welch, the author of Love & Gelato and Love & Luck, both of which I enjoyed, so I knew I had to request this book as soon as it appeared on NetGalley. While I’m never completely drawn in by the plots of these books, I am always completely sucked in by the descriptions of the scenery.

Love & Olives follows Liv, who travels to Greece to assist her estranged father with a documentary.

  • You Have a Match by Emma Lord
You Have a Match

I had no idea that Emma Lord, the author of Tweet Cute, was releasing another book this year. While it isn’t my all-time favorite contemporary, I did enjoy Tweet Cute, especially the dialogue between the two main characters. After reading the synopsis of this book on NetGalley and based on my previous reading experience of a book by this author, I requested it right away on NetGalley. Since this author has been pretty popular this year, I wasn’t expecting to get approved, but I was extremely excited when I did!

You Have a Match follows Abby, who learns that she has a sister after taking a DNA test. Abby and her sister decide to meet at a summer camp and figure out why her sister was given up for adoption.

What upcoming releases are you excited to read?

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**I was sent Rent a Boyfriend, Love & Olives, and You Have a Match as eARCS via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.**

Goodreads Alternative?: The Story Graph

Over the past few weeks on Twitter, I have seen so many posts on two new websites that people are suggesting as an alternative to Goodreads: The Story Graph and the Book Sloth. As someone who loves many features of Goodreads, such as how my Kindle will automatically update that I am reading a book and the community threads, there are other features that are in desperate needs of an update. For example, all of my books recommendations are either inaccurate and do not feature recently released books.

However, I am always willing to try something new, so of course, I immediately created accounts on both The StoryGraph and Book Sloth. It is important to know that these new websites and apps are either in the beta stages or the beginning phases of their launches. As a result, there are many features promised to be developed later on into the future compared to Goodreads which has more permanent fixtures. As a result, when I discuss both the StoryGraph in this post and Book Sloth in a later post, I am going to focus on what I enjoy now and what I hope to see in the future.

What I Like Right Now

One of the most attractive aspects of The StoryGraph for me was the recommendations feature and the graphs that described my personal reading tastes. Upon signing up for this website, each user takes a survey about the books they like to read. You can also import your Goodreads library, which also gives the site an idea of books that you like to read. This also helps you to establish your presence on the site with books you’ve already read. For me, the only hiccup with this feature was in the reads for the year: it duplicated some of the books so it looks like I’ve read more books this year. With the site still in the beginning phases, I could not figure out how to stop the duplication. However, this wasn’t extremely frustrating to me as I know this website is only in the beta phase.

How accurate are the recommendations/reading statistics?

The Ordered for You Page

While I’ve seen many users have success with the Ordered for You page, for me, this feature was hit-or-miss. While there are some books that I saw by authors I have read in the past or books that I heard of that I was possibly interested in, there were quite a few that I thought missed the mark on my tastes. The creator of this site explained that they are still uploading books into their library, so it is possible that as time goes on or if I can just adjust my filters when searching on the ordered for you page.

The Reading Statistics

On the other hand, I was extremely impressed with my reading statistics as I feel it perfectly described by reading tastes. The StoryGraph described my ideal book as a fiction book that is light-hearted, emotional, and funny as well as fast-paced and under 300 pages… which is exactly what I like to read!

The StoryGraph, as its name suggests, provides even more detailed graphs about books you read in terms of mood, pacing, page number, and fiction vs. nonfiction. I know a lot of people in the past have created different tables and and graphs on their own because this is a feature that Goodreads lacks, so I think many book bloggers will be pleased with this feature on the website.

What I Would Like To See In the Future

Easier to Navigate and More Complex Community Features

Currently, there is only a community tab on The StoryGraph. You can see the activity of everyone on the site, or choose just to look at people you follow. Compared to Goodreads, this is a very basic community feature that doesn’t allow much interaction between users. In the future, I hope that The StoryGraph can make the community aspect of this site a little more uder-friendly and extensive.

Easier To Edit Books Read

Like I mentioned a few times in my post, I have had a difficult time navigating and changing books that are added or duplicated. For example, sometimes when I click on my number of books read in a year, it won’t let me see a list of the books that I read in a year. As the website becomes more established, I hope that some more of these little details are worked out to make it easier to edit and change books that I have read.

Overall Thoughts

The StoryGraph promises some interesting features that current book websites lack. That being said, this website is still in the Beta stages, so there are some little details that need to be worked out in order to make the site easier to navigate.

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The Baby-Sitter’s Club Netflix Series Review

Need a new show to watch?

Netflix’s newest books-to-movie adaptation, the 10-episode The Baby-Sitter’s Club serves as the perfect modern adaptation of the beloved children’s book series. When Kristy’s mom needs a sitter, but can’t find one, she comes up with a great idea: one place for parents to call where they can reach several babysitters at once. The series follows Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, Stacey, and Dawn as they take on challenging babysitting jobs and major life changes during their middle school years.

Was the series adapted well?

Whenever a book is adapted into a movie or television series, readers always wonder how everything they love about their favorite series will translate onto the big screen. The Baby-Sitter’s Club, a series that lasted between 1986 and 2000, brought excitement to many readers when the series was announced, as well as many questions. Could this series reach a modern audience?

This Netflix series perfectly balanced playing homage to the original characters and storylines of the original series, but also updating the characters and the content for a modern audience. Every character maintains true to their personality in the book, especially how they react to current events, such as activism. Every episode of the series, each thirty minutes long, follows one of the original series (however, I can’t remember if episodes 9 and 10 appear anywhere in The BSC timeline) with slight plot changes to make the series more relevant.

How is the casting?

There are few book-to-movie adaptation where I can say every single member of the casting is spot-on. In fact, the only time where I’ve ever thought the casting was near perfect was The Hunger Games franchise. Like with The Hunger Games, the casting for this Netflix show set the bar high for other book-to-movie adaptation.

Every actor, from the main members of the BSC to the side characters like Karen and Kristy’s stepfather, completely embodied their role and brought the characters from the book to life. As each episode balances humor and emotion well, every actor balances the humor and emotion of their characters as well. For me, each character felt like a real person, not like someone just playing a part on a television show. I also appreciated that Netflix diversified the cast of main characters.

My Last Thoughts

This book-to-movie adaptation will please fans of the original series, as well as children in the show’s target audience. I can see the original Baby-Sitter’s Club series, as well as the graphic novels, growing in popularity after the release of this series and many young children wanting to be like the characters on this show. I give this series five out of five stars.

Recently Received ARCs (June 2020)

Like I mentioned on my last ARC TBR post, I’ve really focused on reading books that catch my attention and that excite me because of my reading slump last year where I found that I was more forcing myself to read certain books than enjoying them. Recently on NetGalley, I found two books that sounded really interesting to me, and fortunately for me, I was approved to receive an eARC. Here are the ARCs that I was recently approved for:

  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

I requested Tools of Engagement because I was looking for more books in the adult age range to read as well as adult books read by new-to-me authors. This book specifically interested me because I read The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren earlier this year, another adult romance book involved with home improvement, and enjoyed it. Also, I’ve heard a lot of positive reviews for Tessa Bailey books.

This is the third book in a companion series, but after reading this book, I didn’t find it absolutely necessary to read the other two books first (although the main characters in this book do interact in the previous installments, if that is something that would bother you as a reader). While I had small issues with some aspects of this book, it was exactly what I was looking for in a fun and light-hearted read.

Tools of Engagement follows Bethany Castle who steps aways from her family’s real estate business to flip her own house, much to her brother’s dismay. Their feud catches the eye of a television producer, who wants to turn their situation into a reality competition. Unfortunately for Bethany, the only person on her side is an annoying ex-member of her brother’s renovation crew.

  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
In a Holidaze

Christina Lauren’s books always sound interesting to me, but only come across as average in execution. However, I received an ARC of The Honey Don’t List this year and enjoyed it much more than previous books by this author duo, so I was definitely more interested in reading their next release, In a Holidaze. I am a sucker for books set around Christmas. Although I’m not completely sold on the Groundhog’s Day element of this book, I’m always looking for a book to prove me wrong on a trope that isn’t always my favorite. I haven’t read In a Holidaze yet, but I’m looking forward to reading this book closer to the end of summer.

In a Holidaze follows Maelyn Jones after she spends her final trip to her parents’ cabin in Utah. On the journey home, however, Maelyn gets in a terrible accident where she finds herself reliving her the trip again and again.

What are some books that you are excited for in the second half of 2020?

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*I was sent copies of Tools of Engagement and In a Holidaze as eARCS from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

Tier Ranking Series that I’ve Finished

Tier ranking posts and Youtube videos have been circulating around for awhile now, so I thought I would give it a shot at ranking all the series that I’ve finished. Tier ranking is where you take a certain category, like series you’ve finished, and rank them into different levels. I first saw tier-ranking books on Hannah at Clockwork Reads channel (see here), although tier-ranking has been popular on various social media sites before this video.

Disclaimer: Protect Your Privacy

Just as a note, I watched Peyton Reads video (see here) where she tier-ranked books by Sarah J. Maas and she gave some advice that I thought was worth sharing. While reading some fine print of tier ranking websites when in the process of creating an account, which makes you connect the website to your Twitter, she saw some questionable permissions, like blocking people that follow you or changing your Twitter settings. This is a little bit of a red flag, as Peyton noted, that they could go into your account and mess with settings completely unrelated to the purpose of the website.

While Peyton made a different Twitter to use to make an account, I just decided to make my own tier-ranking system using a document on my computer. If you want to participate in this trend, but think those permissions are a little fishy, I would recommend opting for the strategy that Peyton Reads used or making your own system using a program on your computer.

The Series

With those disclaimers out of the way, let’s move onto the ranking! After I scoured my read list on Goodreads, I discovered that I finished the following series:

What counts as a series?

I used the following criteria to determine whether or not I finished a series:

  • It can be a “typical” series or a companion series. A typical series may follow the same character or the same group of characters for all of the books in the series. Also, I will count companion series, where the books may follow a different character than in the first book, but also includes characters from the first book. I only counted companion series that were listed as series on Goodreads. In all, I have 26 different series that I will be sorting into my tiers.
  • It can be an ongoing series. This means, it is a series where I have read all of the current books in the main series. However, additional books may be added later on by the author. For example, the main series in A Court of Thorns and Roses is finished, but several books following different characters will be added on in the future. This means that when this series appears on the list, it only applies to the main trilogy that has currently been released.
  • It can be a duology. I’m not sure if duologies technically count as series. However, I haven’t read enough duologies to rank them aside from series, so they will be counted in this list.

How will I rank the series?

There are six tiers that I will use to rank the series that I’ve finished. Here’s my criteria for each tier:

  • All-Time Favorites: I thought about these books for a long time after reading them. I probably recommended these books to everyone I know and was crushed when they didn’t love them as much as I did.
  • Like, but not Love: These series were enjoyable or well-written, but there is just something that holds me back from making them an all-time favorite.
  • Fun, While it Lasted: These series may not be the most well written, however, I had a great time reading them. I may not pick up and reread them in the near future, but I will always have fond memories of these books.
  • Average: I don’t have strong feelings for this series either way. There are probably aspects that I really love about this series and others that I don’t really like (but don’t hate) either.
  • Why?: Maybe I liked the first book in this series, but it went downhill from there. As I continued this series, I kept asking, “Why?” in my head after certain plot points.
  • Did I Really Read This?: This is a series that I read. Whether it was a long time ago or it just didn’t capture my attention, there is little that I remember about this series outside the synopsis.

The Rankings

  • The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg (Fun While It Lasted)

I read The Lonely Hearts Club way back in high school. I read the first book in this series so many times that the spine looked dreadful and I could practically recite several sections. That being said, the second book was only okay. While I enjoyed reading about the same characters, it just wasn’t the same experience as the first book. Overall the books in this series were fun, especially for when I was in high school.

The Lonely Hearts Club follows Penny Lane Bloom who creates a pact with a few other girls in her grade to not date after her boyfriend cheats on her.

  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (Average)

There are so many books in this series and many of them are average. While I love The Princess Diaries movies, the book don’t have the same charm. These books were easy to read back then, but I found some of the books unnecessary. Also, the last book which was released years after the original, was only okay.

The Princess Diaries follows Mia Thermopolis, a geeky girl who discovers that she is the heir to Genovia.

  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (Did I Really Read This?)

I read this duology WAY back in high school. While I remember a few minor details, I can’t remember much of the story besides what is on the synopsis. I remember that these books were okay, but obviously that wasn’t enough for me to remember them.

13 Little Blue Envelopes follows Ginny who follows envelopes placed around Europe by her aunt who recently passed away.

  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski (All-Time Favorites)

I was so invested in this series when I read it near the beginning of my book blog. I wasn’t a huge fan of fantasy books at the time, so it was a big deal that I committed to this series and finished. To this day, I think the final book, The Winner’s Crime has some of the best war strategy that I’ve seen included in a young adult series.

The Winner’s Curse follows Kestrel, the daughter of a general, who is given two options: marry or join the army. Kestrel’s musical aspirations strikes a bond between her and a slave who plans to overthrow Kestrel’s father.

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth (Why?)

I actually loved the first Divergent book when I read it shortly after I finished The Hunger Games. The series, however, went downhill quickly for me in the second book. Insurgent was slow and confusing for me. And don’t even get me started on Allegiant. I found myself constantly asking, “Why?” to everything that was happening in the second and third books because they made no sense to me.

Divergent follows Tris Prior who must leave her family and choose one of the five factions in her world, each that abides by a different ideology.

  • Fraternize by Rachel Van Dyken (Did I Really Read This?)

This is a two book companion series that I picked up as a Kindle Daily deal. I could tell you that it centered around cheerleaders and football players but not much else. I do remember that I found these books only to be average.

Fraternize, the first book in the series, follows Emerson who finally made a professional cheerleading squad and is the only plus-size cheerleader on the team.

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Fun While it Lasted)

The Kiss Quotient is a companion series by Helen Hoang. For me, the first book was only average, but I really enjoyed the second book, The Bride Test. These books are definitely fun contemporary adult books, so it fits best in the fun while it lasted tier.

The Kiss Quotient was pitched as a gender-swapped Pretty Woman and also features a main character with autism. There is also a character with autism in The Bride Test and both are extremely well done as this is an own voices story.

  • Letters to the List by Brigid Kemmerer (Like, but not Love)

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Letters to the Lost because I usually steer clear of drama-heavy contemporaries. I especially loved the second book in this companion series, More Than We Can Tell, which has Rev who is an incredibly well fleshed out character. While I do like this series, it is not one of my all-time favorites.

Letters to the Lost follows Juliet after someone responds to a letter that she left at her mother’s grace.

  • Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West (Why?)

I actually loved Love, Life, and the List… I just wish it was a stand alone rather than the first book in a contemporary series. I use series loosely with the books in “series” because they have less and less of a connection as the series goes on and I think each book would have been much stronger as a stand alone. This goes in the “Why?” tier because “Why are we forcing so many contemporary companion novels in young adult and adult fiction?”

While each book in this companion series has a vastly different plot, Love, Life, and the List follows Abby who creates a list of experiences that she wants to have in order to give her art more heart along with her best friend, Cooper, who she not-so-secretly loves.

  • Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (Why?)
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Like, but not Love)

When I read Six of Crows, I really enjoyed it. The books in this duology have many twists and turns as well as my favorite trope, a ragtag teams of sort of heroes. While I liked this book, I can’t say that I became as invested in it as some of my all-time favorites.

Six of Crows follows a group of six outcasts who try to pull off a large heist in a fantasy world.

  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (Average)

The When Dimple Met Rishi series has been hit or miss for me. I really liked There’s something About Sweetie, but I found When Dimple Met Rishi average, and wasn’t as into 10 Things I Hate About Pinky. While I like the concepts of Sandhya Menon’s books, the execution isn’t always there for me.

When Dimple Met Rishi companions follows three Indian-American teens either in the same friend group or family. When Dimple Met Rishi follows Dimple who goes to a coding camp where she meets Rishi, who her parents want her to marry. There’s Something About Sweetie follows Sweetie, an athletic girl who faces scrutiny from her mother because she is plus-size. 10 Things I Hate About Pinky follows Pinky, an outspoken teenager who tries to please her parents by fake-dating a guy that she can’t stand.

  • The Folk of the Air by Holly Black (All-Time Favorites)

This is a series that I find myself constantly recommending to other people. The writing style in this book is amazing and each time I read a book in this series, I couldn’t put it down. If you like faeries, this is definitely a series that you need to check out.

The Folk of the Air series follows Jude, a human forced to live in a world of faeries after her parents are murdered. Although Jude despises the faeries, and the power that they hold over her, she will do anything to gain power in their courts.

  • Shelby Holmes by Elizabeth Eulberg (Average)

Shelby Holmes is a middle grade mystery series. While both books are solid in terms of writing style and character development, sometimes the mystery aspect of the stories frustrated me, for either being too repetitive or being too difficult to solve based on the information given.

Shelby Holmes follows John Watson after her moves into a new neighborhood where he befriends aspiring sleuth Shelby Holmes and they solve mysteries together.

  • Love & Gelato (Average)

Like with many of the other series in this round, the Love & Gelato companion series is average. While I love the descriptions of scenery in these books, I’m always looking for a little more in terms of plot. Additionally, I don’t think these books even need to be a companion series.

Love & Gelato and Love & Luck follow two different girls (one who goes to Italy, the other to Ireland) and discover more about their families and themselves.

  • The Selection by Kiera Cass (Fun While It Lasted)

The Selection seems to be one of those series that a lot of people admit isn’t technically well-written, but it is still very fun to read. As someone who is a fan of the Bachelor franchise, this book was basically made for me because it has all of the ridiculous drama of the show with a loose dystopian element.

The Selection follows America Singer, a poor girl who is selected to compete for the prince’s heart. This book is currently in development to become a Netflix series.

  • Hundred Oaks by Miranda Kenneally (Average)

The Hundred Oaks series is hit-or-miss for me. While there are some books in this series that I absolutely love and other that I don’t like at all. As a result, that balances out to be average. Overall, these books are apart of fun and easy companion series to read.

The Hundred Oaks series follows students who live in the Hundred Oaks area, often times involved with a competitive sport. For example, Catching Jordan follows Jordan, the female quarterback for her school’s football team who must compete for her spot when a male quarterback moves into town.

  • The Superlatives by Jennifer Echols (Why?)

I bought The Superlatives series on a whim at Half Prince books because you could get the whole companion series for around $6. Unfortunately for me, these books were not my cup of tea, with the exception of the last book, Most Likely to Succeed, which was only average for me. Overall, this book series is riddled with unlikeable characters doing many, many unlikeable things. That is why it ended in my “Why?” category–many times while reading these books, I was asking myself that question about what was going on.

The Superlatives follows the dramatic aftermath when school superlatives are released for the senior class at a high school.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (All-Time Favorites)

If I read these books again, I’m not sure if I would love them as much as the first time around because I would probably look at them a little more critically. That being said, when I read this series for the first time, I was completely invested even in the most ridiculous parts (which there are many). I have a lot of nostalgia for this series which is why it made it’s way to to my all-time favorites.

A Court of Thorns and Roses follows Feyre Archeron, who kills a faerie disguised as a wolf. She is forced to go live in the faerie kingdom with the faerie’s master where dark secrets threaten to emerge.

  • Lewis Creek by Michelle Smith (Did I Really Read This?)
  • The Hunger Games (All-Time Favorites)

For The Hunger Games, I will just be referring to the original trilogy. Of course, this series is an all-time favorite. I don’t think I ever have been or will be invested in a trilogy like I was invested in The Hunger Games. Some people loved Twilight, some people loved Harry Potter, but I was always a Hunger Games girl. Was the last book not that great? Yes. But will I always have nostalgia for this series? Absolutely.

The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to take her sister’s place in a televised fight-to-the-death.

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Like, but not Love)

I love To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before, but I didn’t get an invested in this series as I did my all-time favorites. However, I did like this book enough to visit the sandwich shop mentioned in the third book when I went on vacation to Williamsburg a few years ago!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean, who writes a love letter for each boy she has a crush on, after the letters are mailed out.

  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Fun While it Lasted)

The Anna and the French Kiss companion series is definitely a fun while it lasted series. Looking back, a lot of people see how problematic some of these stories were. However, when I was the same age as the characters in these books, I was completely hooked on this series, specifically with Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Anna and the French Kiss, the first book in this companion series, follows Anna who is shipped off to a boarding school in France.

  • Summer by Jenny Han (Fun While It Lasted)

The Summer trilogy is another fun while it lasted series. This series reads like a CW show. It has ridiculous drama and all the tropes that you hoped for at the time it was released. That being said, it’s a fun and easy series to speed through during summertime.

The Summer series by Jenny Han follows Belly during her summers at a beach house where she finds herself caught in a love triangle between two brothers that she grew up with.

  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (All-Time Favorites)

Like with the other series in my all-time favorites, I couldn’t stop thinking about this series after I read it and I recommended it everyone that I knew. I still love the characters in this series and I know if I read these books again, I would love them just as much.

The Lunar Chronicles follows Cinder, who is volunteered by her stepmother to take part in trials to solve a deadly plague. However, when Cinder starts to interact with the country’s prince, she uncovers some dark secrets about her past.

  • Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (Why?)

It is so sad for me to place Rebel Belle in this category. But, I found myself asking “Why?” to a lot of the story after the first book. The first book in this series was strong for me, but it quickly went downhill. The last book was the worst, containing little plot, and the plot it did was riddled with tropes and plot twists that I don’t like.

Rebel Belle follows Harper, a Southern belle, who accidentally becomes a Paladin and must protect her worst enemy.

How would you rank series that you’ve read?

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20 Books I Plan to Read in 2020 (Mid-Year Update)

During my month-long blogging marathon back in 2020, I made a list of 20 books that I hoped to read in 2020 (check out that list here). Usually, I find that these lists aren’t too accurate regarding my reading the next year. However, I put a lot of thought into my list last December and created a list of books that I had been meaning to read for awhile and others that I was extremely excited to read once they were released this year.

Here’s my original list of 20 books:

Screen Shot 2019-12-22 at 1.30.44 PM.png

The Changes

Looking at this list, there were a few changes that needed to be made based on release dates.

  • For Sarah J. Maas, my original choice was the next book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, however, that book was pushed back to 2021 because of her first adult fantasy release. I’m not interested in reading her adult fantasy book, House of Earth and Blood, so I decided to substitute this with another sequel I was excited to read, Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
  • For Morgan Matson, there is a book listed on Goodreads to release this year, but no information has been released since I discovered it in December. As a result, I am changing this book to another Morgan Matson book that I’ve been wanting to read for year, Second Chance Summer.
  • The Heart Principle has also been pushed back to 2021, so I will be substituting this with another adult romance. I was recently approved for In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren on NetGalley. Since I do plan to read this by the end of the year, I thought it would be a good substitution on my list.

The Progress

So far, I have read 8 out of 20 books. That is almost half, which is perfect, because we are about halfway through the year. I have plenty of time to read the remaining books, many of which I have already purchased.

The Disappointments

This year, most of the books that I have read were average (3 stars) to me. However, there were a couple books that I had high expectations for that just fell flat.

  • Moment of Truth by Kasie West

I was a little nervous going into Moment of Truth by Kasie West. It is the third book in the Love, Life, and the List series, which steadily went down hill with the second book. Overall, this book just wasn’t well-executed. The pacing was all over the place as was much of the plot. This book probably could have been more successful as a standalone, as all of the aspects that made a companion to the first two books were very loose and many times completely unnecessary.

Moment of Truth follows Hadley, an overachieving swimmer who is determined to figure out the identity of a masked classmate after the person interrupts an important swim meet.

  • The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

I really loved The Proposal by this author, which I read the year before, so I was very excited to read this book in the companion series. Like with Moment of Truth, this book just wasn’t well executed with a very repetitive plot and very inconsistent characters.

The Wedding Party follows enemies Maddie and Theo after they are both selected for a mutual friend’s wedding party.

The Favorites

While most of my year has been average, there are a few books that have really stuck out to me. I can see myself rereading these books in the future and recommending them to other readers.

  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

I put off reading this book for awhile because I just haven’t gotten as into Sarah Dessen’s most recent releases as I loved her older books, like Just Listen or Along for the Ride. However, I quickly connected with the main character in this novel which really emotionally invested me in this story. This book is more reminiscent of her older works, like The Truth About Forever, without seeming like it was copied and pasted, like with Saint Anything (even though I do still enjoy that book).

The Rest of the Story follows Emma Saylor who reconnects with the family of her mother, who passed away when she was younger, at the lake where they live.

  • Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

I read Alex, Approximately a long time ago, but never bought into the hype surrounding this contemporary author. However, as I read more and more of her books, she has definitely become an auto-buy author for me. Every novel that Jenn Bennett releases, her writing constantly improves. Chasing Lucky was no exception and I especially enjoyed her descriptions of the setting in this novel.

Chasing Lucky follows Josie, who returns to the town where she lived as a child and runs into an ex-best friend who just might turn out to be more.

What are my full thoughts on these books?

Books that I Have Read (if a book has a review, there will be a link to the review on the book’s title):

Any book marked with * was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange from an honest review.

Tier-Ranking All of Kasie West’s Contemporary Books

Tier ranking posts are extremely popular across the bookish community, so I thought it was about time for me to do my own. Tier ranking is where you take a certain category, like series you’ve finished, and rank them into different levels. I first saw tier-ranking books on Hannah at Clockwork Reads channel (see here), although tier-ranking has been popular on various social media sites before this video.

Today, I want to tier rank all of Kasie West’s contemporary books. I was inspired to tier rank Kasie West’s books after reading her latest release, Moment of Truth, which massively disappointed me. Kasie West has always been a hit-or-miss author for me. While there are some books by her that I really love, others are either forgettable or memorable for all the wrong reasons.

In the comments of my Moment of Truth review, several other readers expressed how they love Kasie West, but they aren’t sure if she will remain an auto-buy author after her last few releases which disappointed them. I’m hoping that by sorting Kasie West’s contemporary books, I can see if most of her books fall into a positive category or if more of her books fall into a disappointing category.

I will link any book reviews to book titles as I tier rank them.

Disclaimer: Protect Your Privacy

Just as a note, I watched Peyton Reads video (see here) where she tier-ranked books by Sarah J. Maas and she gave some advice that I thought was worth sharing. While reading some fine print of tier ranking websites when in the process of creating an account, which makes you connect the website to your Twitter, she saw some questionable permissions, like blocking people that follow you or changing your Twitter settings. This is a little bit of a red flag, as Peyton noted, that they could go into your account and mess with settings completely unrelated to the purpose of the website.

While Peyton made a different Twitter to use to make an account, I just decided to make my own tier-ranking system using a document on my computer. If you want to participate in this trend, but think those permissions are a little fishy, I would recommend opting for the strategy that Peyton Reads used or making your own system using a program on your computer.

The Books

Kasie West has primarily written young adult contemporary books, however, she did write a couple of young adult science fiction books. Today, I will only be ranking her contemporary books as I haven’t read her science fiction books and I don’t plan on reading them in the future. In this tier ranking, I will also include Snow in Love, in which she wrote a contemporary short story.

Kasie West’s contemporary novels include: The Distance Between Us; On the Fence; The Fill-in Boyfriend; By Your Side; Listen to Your Heart; Lucky in Love; P.S. I Like You,; Love, Life, and the List, Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss; Maybe This Time; and Moment of Truth.

How will I rank the books?

  • Heart Eye Emoji: These are my all-time favorite books by Kasie West. I have given these books a four or five star rating and I have re-read them multiple times.
  • P.S. I Like You: These books are books by Kasie West that I really enjoy, but they aren’t my favorites. I probably rated these books as four stars.
  • Average: These books are typical Kasie West books: easy to read, but weren’t unique enough to stand out to me. While I love the tropes that Kasie West typically uses, the tropes in these books didn’t have their own spin.
  • Forgettable: This book wasn’t very memorable that I actually don’t remember much of the plot besides the tropes in the synopsis of the book.
  • By West, but went South: These books lacked Kasie West’s typical charm in her writing. I struggled to get through these books and rated them under three stars.

The Rankings

  • Maybe This Time (Heart Eye Emoji): Maybe This Time was an unexpected hit for me. I saw some negative reviews before I read it, so I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I liked this book by West because the love interest had a very distinct personality, which her love interests don’t always have, and had a very different personality in general than other love interests by this author.
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend (P.S. I Like You): The Fill-In Boyfriend is often one of Kasie West’s least popular books because of the main character’s very self-centered personality. This actually used to be in my top three favorites because I think there’s a lot of depth to the main character and the events unfold in a very authentic way which doesn’t always happen in West’s books.
  • The Distance Between Us (Forgettable): The Distance Between Us was the first book that I read by Kasie West and I don’t remember much beside that the girl works in a doll shop. This is definitely one that I need to reread because I remember thinking it was average, but thinking I should have liked it more because West is such a beloved contemporary author.
  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss (By West, but went South): Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss was a massive disappointment. This is the second book in the Love, Life, and the List companion “series” (I use the term series loosely). I expected to love this book because I really liked the main character in Love, Life, and the List. However, this book wasn’t as easy or fun for me to read as other books by this author. The characters and plot weren’t particularly memorable and seems very scattered.
  • P.S. I Like You (Heart Eye Emoji): P.S. I Like You was the book that I read by Kasie West which made me consider her an auto-buy contemporary author. P.S. I Like You is like a high school movie. While predictable, the characters in this book are fairly developed and the plot is paced well. The main character in this book definitely has a unique personality which makes her stand out against other protagonists by this author.
  • Love, Life, and the List (Heart Eye Emoji): I was hooked with Love, Life, and the List from start to finish. I liked the amount of character growth the main character, as well as the side characters, go through throughout this novel. This is always one of the best friends-to-lovers stories that I read because the emotions are very realistic, especially when the romantic feelings aren’t reciprocated at different times during the novel.
  • Snow in Love short story (P.S. I Like You): I loved Kasie West’s addition to the Snow in Love short story collection and I wished that I got a full story featuring the characters in this book. It was unfortunate that West opened this book for me because none of the other stories could live up to how much I loved her part in the collection.
  • Moment of Truth (By West, but went South): I recently reviewed Moment of Truth on my blog… and it wasn’t pretty. As I mentioned earlier, it served as my inspiration for this post. The characters, the plot, and the pacing were all completely off-kilter in this book which made for a frustrating and unenjoyable reading experience. This is the third book in the Love, Life, and the List series and I was hoping things would get better after Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I feel like this book could have been much stronger out of the confines of the companion series.
  • By Your Side (Average): By Your Side wasn’t what I expected, or what many other readers expected, so that’s why it is only average for me. The whole pitch for this book was being stuck in a library, which wasn’t a significant chunk in the book and it got a little soap opera-esque at the end for me. However, it was still a cute and quick read that I enjoy from thisauthor.
  • Listen to Your Heart (Average): Listen to Your Heart was a cute story, but whenever Kasie West involves some sort of mystery, I find the story not as strong as it could be. Because West’s stories are typically tropey, which I love, they are often very predictable and there really isn’t a “mystery” at all, but you have to watch the characters go through the same conversations and situations over and over again. I did like in this story, however, the relationship between the two best friends who liked the same guy. I found their response to this to be very mature and a good message for the target audience.
  • On the Fence (Average): On the Fence is a cute story, and is often regarded as a favorite by Kasie West fans, but for me it is only average. It is one of her earlier books, but I read it after I had read some of my favorites, like P.S. I Like You and The Fill-In Boyfriend. As a result, I don’t think I liked it as much as I would have liked it if I read it prior to reading some of my favorites. Still, it was a fun and cute story, exactly what I look for from this author.
  • Lucky in Love (Forgettable): There are a couple specific plot points that I remember from this book, but not much else. I think a factor of putting this in the forgettable category is that Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith was released around the same time, which made the two books blend together for me. To see my Battle of the Books for Lucky in Love and Windfall, click here.

Final Thoughts

Looking at my list, I can see my thoughts towards Kasie West books are a little mixed than in the past. While I love her fun books with cute tropes, there have been quite a few books by this author that missed the mark for me. That being said, when I look at my list, I’ve had a positive experience reading the majority of them with only a couple extreme outliers.

What are some of your favorite/least favorite books by Kasie West?

June TBR

Hello, summer!

As someone who loves the summertime and reading, June begins my favorite time of the year. Not only do I have more time to read, but it’s the perfect time to read my favorite genre: contemporary. Here’s what I plan to read in the first month of summer (books marked with an * were sent to me via NetGalley from the publisher):

  • Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey *
Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

Tools of Engagement doesn’t release until September, but I looked to read books that I’m approved for on NetGalley pretty quickly. Plus, Tools of Engagement is a fun, romance read which is perfect for the summer time. This is the third book in a companion series and I have not read the first two books. That being said, I have already started this book and not reading the first two books hasn’t negatively impacted my reading experience.

Tools of Engagement follows Bethany Castle who is typically responsible for staging the homes that her family’s real estate business flips. However, Bethany is determined to flip a house on her own, despite her brother’s protests. When a television crew catches wind of the family feud, Bethany’s insecurities of doing her own flip, and her complicated relationship with a former member of her brother’s crew, are put in the spotlight.

  • Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Brocka
Time of Our Lives

This book has been on my TBR since is released in May, I just haven’t gotten around to read it yet. However, June will be the month! I am a big fan of this author duo and I’m excited to read their latest release.

Time of Our Lives follows Juniper and Fitz, who are both touring colleges. While Juniper wants to go to college far away from her large family, Fitz wants to stay close to his mom who has early on-set Alzheimer’s.

  • A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)

As a former Hunger Games super fan, it isn’t surprising that I am so excited to read this book. I actually started it in May, but put it down, so I could finish Aurora Burning last month. As a contemporary girl who loves fun, upbeat stories, I can only take so many life and death stakes at a time. That being said, I ended off May with several contemporary stories, so I’m ready to jump back into this one.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows President Snow before he was President Snow as he mentors a girl in the tenth annual Hunger Games.

What books do you plan to read in June?

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Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition (Part Two)

Last week, I detailed my first renovations to my blog in five years! This week, I will continue to document my progress in revamping my blog to make it look more modern. To see how I created my own digital art and restructured my home page, see part one.

Today, I will focus on the pages in the primary menu of my blog: About Me, Contact Me, Review Master List, and my Review Policy.

The About Me Page

My old About Me Page

My initial About Me page was… lacking, to put it nicely. There was basically just a sentence that welcomed people to my blog and listed my social media.

My new About Me page

I still think My About Me page could be a little more detailed, but it is greatly improved from its original state. Like with my homepage, I swapped my picture for a more recent image. Next, I wrote a short paragraph to introduce myself, as well as some fun bookish facts about me. Unlike on my original page, I listed my social media, but made it more compact by using the social media images block in the WordPress editor.

The Contact Me Page

My old Contact Me page

My original contact me page was very similar to my About Me page as it contained little information. It was also boring and bland. On this page, I only listed my social media as I had a form on my review policy page. This wasn’t great because if a publisher wanted to contact me by email, but they only looked at my Contact Me page, they wouldn’t have access to a form that contacted me by email.

My new Contact Me page

To revamp this page, I wanted to keep my social media links, but I changed it to the social media block to look a little more cleaner and compact. However, I also added a Google Form to this page because if people want to contact me through email to review a book, then they would most likely look at this page, not my review policy.

To spruce up this page, I added a graphic that I created on a mix of Procreate and Canva. I also added additional questions to my form to make responses easier to sort. Finally, I put my social media at the bottom, but in a more compact way than the original by using the social media block in the WordPress editor.

Review Policy

My old Review Policy

For my review policy, I wrote this before I started reading mass quantities of books. Most of what I wrote next to my star ratings were reflections of what I thought a good book should have, not what I personally enjoyed in books. As I have read a larger quantity of books five years into my blog, I know more of what my reading tastes are and I want my rating scale to more accurately reflect how I rate my books now.

My new Review Policy (part one)

As a result, I updated my explanations next to my star ratings. I also put a little blurb at the bottom to explain about half star ranking. When I first started my blog, I didn’t use half star rankings. However, I have started using them more frequently to better distinguish books because there is a big different to me between a 2 and a 2.5 or a 3 and a 3.5. Also, I indicated that when I rate these books on places like Goodreads, which do not allow star rankings, I always round up with my stars.

My new Review Policy (part two)

Additionally, I updated the form on my Review Policy page with more questions for inquiries to be more specific in the form at the bottom of the page. I also updated my social media links on the page to the social block from the WordPress editor so they weren’t as cluttered in text form. To make the information on the page read easier, I also added headings to each section of text on the page.

Review Master List

For my review master list, I didn’t change anything because I already like the set-up. I did try to change it into columns, but it only looked more cluttered and confusing. One thing that I will change, however, is how regularly I update it. I haven’t updated my Review Master List in AGES so that will be my next project to update my blog!

How have you updated your blog since you first started blogging?

Extreme Makeover: Blog Edition (Part One)

In December, my blog will reach its five year anniversary. Since I started my blog back in 2015, I’ve only done one slight redesign, where I slightly changed the colors and added a few pictures to the homepage. Now, five years later, those pictures are outdated as well as the theme.

With the current state of the world, a lot of people are doing home improvement projects that they never had the time to do otherwise. For me, I decided to do my renovations online by sprucing up my blog.

This is what my blog looked like pre-makeover. At the top, there is a polaroid banner with pictures of me throughout the yea, followed by my blog name. I have a primary menu bar that is pink with a plain teal background. On the side, I have a search bar as a widget because the Sela theme did not have a search bar at the top. Underneath, there is an old picture of me with a short introduction.

Not only are these pictures of me outdated, but the bright colors are no longer my style. Additionally, when I started making my blog, I used PicMonkey to make the Polaroids. Then, I had to switch over to Canva after PicMonkey was no longer free. This made the Polaroids different sizes with different fonts and pictures, which I didn’t like.

In the first image, you can see that each blog post started with a polaroid picture that classified what kind of post it was. At the end of each post, I included my signature as well as images that linked to my social media. This ending for each post was particularly difficult when WordPress switched over to the block style, as my images would not go next to each other. This made the ending of my blog posts extremely long, which I did not like.

What do I want my blog to look like?

This is the first question that I asked myself. I knew that I wanted my blog to look more like my current style. While I didn’t want a completely neutral block, I wanted more muted colors than before. I also wanted my blog to mimic my current style.

During Christmas, I received an iPad as a gift. I’ve been playing around with the ProCreate app since Christmas and I knew that I wanted to incorporate some of my own designs. After I looked on TikTok for ProCreate Inspiration, I found a tutorial on how to make a marble pattern, which I could potentially use as a background or other artwork for my blog.

Here is some artwork that I created for my blog using Canva. I put my marble image in the back and then layered the text using different colors.

Next, I used Canva, an online design website, to enhance the images by adding text. I also created a star pattern that I could possibly use in some capacity on my blog.

What WordPress theme should I use?

I have used the Sela theme ever since I started my blog, but I no longer wanted the bulky color block for my primary menu on the homepage. I tested out themes over and over with my marble background, but I just didn’t like any of them. Luckily, WordPress had the try and customize feature so I could test what my blog looked like before I applied to the actual page.

Eventually, I found Nucleare which is a free theme on WordPress.

Why did I like the Nucleare theme?

  • You can justify the background to one side. This helps your text in your right menu still be visible, as the menu background is transparent.
  • It has a search bar at the top right. I have always like search bar to be at the top, which wasn’t in my current theme, where I had to add a widget instead.
The marble background made the text too difficult to read.

As you can see, the background tiles, which I don’t like because my image doesn’t smoothly duplicate and you can see the tiles. Also, the side menu is transparent and it makes it difficult to see the text in the menu.

I decided to switch it up. Maybe my star design could be the background and my marble design could be the accent instead.

The star background, justified to the left, added an extra touch without making the text difficult to read.

I liked how the star image looked justified to the right of the background, so I decided to keep it.

Next, I wanted to change the text. I struggled to scroll through the texts available, for some reason the bar wouldn’t appear on me the side to scroll. But, it was all okay because I knew immediately that Lobster Two looked like the funky font that I wanted.

Decluttering the Sidebar

With my base all set, now I needed to focus on cleaning up my sidebar. On my original sidebar, I had a search feature. Since the Nucleare theme already has a search bar at the top, I deleted it.

Next, I needed to update my picture. My old picture was from my sophomore year of college, a few months before I started my blog. I found a more recent picture of myself and used a frame on Canva to crop it into a circle. I added the stars on top from my background to carry on the theme. Instead, I have the category drop down in its place.

My new bio picture on my home page with my star theme

Moving on, I removed my bio from underneath my picture to clear up the space. In its place, I decided to put social media icons that link to my social media accounts.

Like on my old home page, I kept my currently reading widget from Goodreads as well as my Instagram widget, current posts, and subscription box. I’m still debating whether or not to keep the Instagram widget.

My new side bar

Now what?

With my homepage completely updated, it was time to update the pages in my main sidebar. Stay tuned for next week to see the updated pages!

When was the last time that you updated the appearance of your blog?