29 February 2016

Monthly Wrap-Up // February

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I love February as my birthday is this month and the entire month has basically been build up to that fact. I’ve spent the month reading and attempting to get organised and I am wrapping the month with the delivery of a brand new bed so I can stop complaining to everyone I know about how my mattress is killing my back.

I haven’t listened to as much music because our office has gotten rid of the radio, but I have been better about saving the blog posts I really loved so I can link them for all of you to see.

Can’t Stop Listening

Walk Off The Earth // Hold On
Kimberly Anne // Hard As Hello
Imaginary Future // April

February Reads

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February Posts


February Links

The Book Addicts Guide: It’s Hard To Say No
Of Dragons and Hearts: All The Hype
Downright Dystopian: Pottermore Houses
Confessions of a Book Geek: Is Bigger Better? & Part 2
Metaphors & Moonlight: Do You Read Prequels?
Books of Amber: An Epic Guide to Superpowers (because everyone needs a list of good superpower books, okay?)

 

How have your February's been? Read any good blog posts, written any good blogs posts? Let me know below.

28 February 2016

Sunday Summary // 28.02.2016

Sunday Summary
This week has been great. I celebrated by 25th birthday on Friday (yay birthday) and have had Thursday and Friday off of work so I’ve been able to relax. I had these grand plans of getting loads of blog posts written and doing some general blog maintenance with my days off… but that didn’t happen. Instead, I’ve been shopping for bedding, attempting to figure out what to do with some of my old books, and shopping for food as I had the most delicious birthday meal at home.

To summarise, it’s been a wonderful week. The best week I’ve had in a long while, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m coming off of a birthday high. I just feel like it’s been really good, and I’m sure my Happy Thoughts post helped with that one. I wish I could claim I’ve done anything else interesting… but I haven’t.

As I said, it was my birthday on Friday. I haven’t exactly had all that much stuff as my parents are giving me money towards my shiny new bed (the days of uncomfortable mattresses are almost at an end). I am extremely excited about this new bed (in case you couldn’t tell) because I have needed a new for about three years and finally I’m getting one. It’s being delivered Monday and I cannot wait. I also got a gift card for a bookstore from work, a new bag from a friend, and my brother successfully followed my instructions and bought me a couple of books. I had a delicious meal with my family and my best friend Friday before a trip to the pub (where I almost fell asleep) and that’s it.

What I’ve Been Reading

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I have read some fantastic books this week. I was thrilled to be contacted by the author of Learning to Swim to receive a copy to review of that (I was thrilled because after reading I realised I loved it, review to follow). I then read Don’t Look Back, which has been sat on my Kindle for a while. I think I actually preferred this book to some of Armentrout’s other writing, it felt very different. It still had the usual elements of her writing, but I didn’t find myself getting annoyed with it in the ways I usually do with some of her books. I once more attempted to like Beautiful Disaster, with little success, but I gave it another chance several years after my original read so I know it wasn’t being too critical. I’m hoping the other book of Jamie McGuire’s I have is better. And then I read my birthday gifts. The Vicious Masks was amazing, I am so glad my own expectations didn’t ruin it for me. And then, sticking with the regency theme, I began reading The Dark Days Club and I’m loving it.

New To Me

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As you can see, I’ve had a bit of a poor showing when it came to not buying books. After You was fueled by my writing my review for Me Before You, I began thinking of the book again and simply had to buy it when I was shopping in Tesco. The next two were gifts from my loving brother (who is wonderful, and excellent about following instructions). Outlander was £2 and who doesn’t want a physical copy of Outlander on their shelves? Also, I’m hoping if I manage to reread that I’ll be inspired to read the next book in the series. The Wolves of Mercy Falls books were purchased for £3.50 from The Works, which is a bargain if I’ve ever seen one. It does mean if I like them and buy a copy of Sinner the editions won’t match, but I can’t have everything.

How have your weeks been? Anything exciting happen? Read anything good you need to recommend immediately?

26 February 2016

Happy Thoughts // The Birthday Edition

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I see a lot of these happy thoughts posts on lifestyle blogs and I love the idea. Too often I can focus on the bad things, things worrying me and generally all the crap that I should just forget about. It’s nice to occasionally remind myself of the things which make me happy.
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What better time to kick off the Happy Thoughts post than on my birthday? The day where I am most likely to be thrilled by all the things and in a good mood anyway.

Birthdays

I love birthdays. I always have and always will. Even though I’m turning 25, and have been informed I’m getting old, I cannot help but love birthdays. What’s not to love? You get presents and cards, and, most importantly, cake! It’s a day celebrating how happy everyone is that you were born! I love my birthday and I don’t even care that it means I’m getting older, I still get ID’d so I don’t mind.

GoodReads App Barcode Scanner

This is a silly thing to make me happy, but I find it so satisfying being able to scan in my physical books onto Goodreads. It means I am practically guaranteed to have the right edition. Also, I find little things like that really satisfying. It’s fun scanning a book in and seeing your edition appear on screen. I’m pleased by little things.

Long Weekends

I have booked a few days off for my birthday (obviously) and I am loving the lie-ins.  I also love the fact I can go shopping and only have to worry about roving youths at lunch time and there are no crowds to speak of. Fancy spending all day reading in my pyjamas? Well… only if you insist. I love it.

Singing Along To Your New Favourite Song

I love music, I can barely cope with silence and I love to sing and dance. I can’t sing and dance well, but that doesn’t stop my enjoyment. It’s just great to find that really catchy song that makes you want to get moving and potentially sing into your hairbrush whilst getting ready in the morning.

New (Or Fresh) Bedding

Look, I have become a middle aged woman who gets excited about these things, okay? There is nothing nicer than putting fresh sheets on your bed, though. They smell fresh, they look pretty and it’s really nice to sleep in them. If I could I would have a maid to change my sheets every day because I really love sleeping in a freshly made bed, and it’s even better

And there is the list of things which are making me happy at the moment, what’s brightening your day at the moment?

24 February 2016

Do You Read Out Of Your Comfort Zone?

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My Thoughts is a feature where I attempt to write bookish discussions. If you had spent any time with me in real life you would learn I have this habit of blurting out random thoughts from time to time when I allow my mind to wander. It’s from these random thoughts these posts emerge as I attempt to write some coherent thoughts about what’s been on my mind. I am trying to combine this with my attempts at participating in the Discussion Challenge this year.

***

I am terrible for reading book after book in the same genre. It’s not always a conscious thing I do, but something which happens as a mood reader. I have a very clear and defined comfort zone when it comes to reading and I struggle to read beyond that, which can be frustrating for me.

I am a mood reader and have a book to suit almost any mood I may find myself in, unfortunately I find myself sticking to a few set genres, regardless. They are romance (of any kind), fantasy (of various genres), dystopian (although they are declining) and contemporary reads (YA and adult). These are the genre I find easiest to get into regardless of my reading mood.  Romance is often perfect for any mood, but only if I haven’t read too many of them because then I get fatigued. Fantasy is great, but I can only read a couple before I need a break for something a bit more chill. Generic contemporary books with a touch of romance are good palate cleansers and can surprise me, but they can also lead to me craving romance as most YA contemporaries feature a mild romance. All other genres seem to get lost for me, and that makes me sad.

I know many will think that they know what they like and would rather spend their time reading books they know they’re likely to enjoy. To some extent I agree with that, but I will never find anything new and different if I don’t expand my horizons. If I had stuck with what I knew I liked I would never have discovered historical romance, that thinking can stop you from finding some real gems. It’s best to have a balance of knowing what you like but being willing to try something new every so often, I think.

I have taken a few different steps to try and force myself to read those books which have been long neglected on my shelves.

Use Force

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I literally force myself to read a book. I start reading a book I may not necessarily be ‘in the mood’ for. I won’t necessarily finish the whole book, but I will at least see if I’m still interested after the first few chapters. I’ve found many a good book using this method.

I know it sounds wrong, if you’re not meant to read a book then you’re not meant to read it. You can’t like every book, but I often find that if I don’t force myself to read another genre I will never read it. I used to read far more widely before I blogged and I want to be able to reclaim that title.

Book Challenges

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The only other way I try to read more widely is by taking part in bookish challenges which help to force me to read out of my comfort zone. I know I need to read books which match certain criteria for Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and this forces me to search out books and try something different. I don’t aim to necessarily complete all the challenges, but I would like to do about half and to be able to claim I’ve tried new things

Do you ever challenge yourself to read out of your comfort zone? Do you think it’s good to try different things, or do you think that you know what you like so better sticking with it?

23 February 2016

My Kind Of Wonderful // Jill Shalvis Does It Again

3
Published: 22nd December 2015
Source: Publisher (Headline Eternal)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Small Town Romance
My Rating:
UNEXPECTED AND UNDENIABLE...


Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Rockies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.

As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.
I am a shameless Jill Shalvis fangirl, so my review is going to be slightly biased by that fact, but regardless this book was amazing. It was the perfect romance read in the run up to Valentine’s Day. The rain was pouring outside, I was slightly hungover, and I was looking for a fun easy book to pass the morning with. That was this book, and there is nothing better than reading the perfect book to fit your mood.

Why Did I Love It?


The main reason for me loving it? I love Jill Shalvis’s writing and had been eagerly anticipating the second book in her new Cedar Ridge series and boy did this book deliver.

I enjoy small town romances anyway, but I really liked Cedar Ridge when we were first introduced to it, especially as it appears we are currently focusing on the close-knit Kincaid family, with their unusual family tree, gifts of outrageous underwear and their continual need to be violent and sarcastic to one another. The family dynamic is one of my main reasons for loving this book. The Kincaid siblings are cruel to one another, as all siblings are, basically torturing one another with brutal love. It’s so fun to read about Hudson’s relationship with his siblings, he both loves them and wants to punch them in the face out of aggravation. As a younger sibling, I completely understand the frustration you feel about your sibling, you hate them but if they need you, you’re there in a second. It’s strange and Shalvis perfectly captures that feeling in her writing and I love her for doing it so effortlessly.

The other reason for my adoration is the romance. Hudson and Bailey are adorable together. Their attempts to stay apart are ridiculous and so unnecessary, but they made for a fantastic story. I could understand where Hud’s guilt came from, and why Bailey wanted to hold back, but it was so obvious they were better together I couldn’t believe they couldn’t see it.

I Won’t Bother With The Bad, I’ll Just Summarise


Basically, I loved this book. If you like small town romances, men who have a blame complex but are hot with devilish smiles, women who are independent and are determined to have an adventure, and a romance where two people are in denial about how perfect they are together then this is for you. Also, you will have a strong urge to ski, or to wrap up in a blanket with hot chocolate. Both are viable outcomes.

Isn’t it great when you read a book at the completely perfect moment? What was the last book you read that happened to perfectly fit your mood or what you felt like reading?

21 February 2016

Sunday Summary // 21.02.2016

Sunday Summary
I am writing this post on Friday night because I both lack a social life and am also ultra organised. I am normally so behind in everything I do so it’s a real novelty to be working ahead of myself. The reason I began writing this up on Friday night is that I will be spending the weekend cleaning and organising my things. I like to have a yearly clear out of my things, it makes sure I am not hoarding too many unnecessary things and helps me clear out my wardrobe for new clothes.
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This year's clear out was inspired by the new bed purchase I was discussing last week. I have bought myself a bed, I am awaiting delivery hopefully in the next week or two and feel it is about time I moved around my furniture so my bedside table is actually by my bed and so I can actually open my wardrobe. It will be interesting, to say the least. It’s sad, but I am also excited to be able to scrub all my skirting boards down and do some hardcore organisation (I am incredibly lazy, but when the cleaning bug takes over there is no stopping me).

Apart from a strong urge to clean I was actually social at the beginning of the week. I saw a friend who I used to work with, we all went out for a meal and stayed out far too late for a school night (he will not want to see us again, we spent a lot of time venting our various work frustrations that probably made him feel justified in leaving). It seems leaving the department has gotten contagious as well, we had someone leave last week to move to a different team and now a team leader is moving as well at the end of March. I sometimes wonder if they know something I don’t.

What I’ve Been Reading

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Heartbreakingly, the first book I read this week, Private Arrangements, was a bit of a disappointment. It was okay, though, because then I began reading You Had Me At Hello and remembered all my reasons for loving Mhairi McFarlane. I didn’t adore it to quite the same degree as Here’s Looking At You, but it was pretty damn close. I began The Golem and the Djinni, that was is interesting but will be carried on into next week I think. I also began The Darkest Part of the Forest and I’ve remembered my love for Holy Black. It is going to be good, I can tell.

New To Me

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So, the new Illumicrate arrived this week and I was thrilled with the book which arrived in it. It was like an early birthday present getting Truthwitch in the post and all the other little gifts in it were fantastic. My other exciting new book was The Winner’s Kiss which I was approved for on NetGalley within minutes (seriously, it took about half an hour for the approval to come through. I will begin that next week).

I am off to prepare myself for cleaning. I have a list a bunch of cleaning supplies and armed and ready to deal with any spiders which may be lurking. Do you ever get these strange urges to be productive and do those things you keep putting off?

19 February 2016

Half Bad // It Was Brilliant, And Will Make You Rage At The Awfulness of People

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Half Bad - Sally Green
Published: 27th March 2014
Source: Bought
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
My Rating:
Wanted by no one.


Hunted by everyone.



Sixteen-year-old Nathan lives in a cage: beaten, shackled, trained to kill. In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most terrifying and violent witch, Marcus. Nathan's only hope for survival is to escape his captors, track down Marcus, and receive the three gifts that will bring him into his own magical powers—before it's too late. But how can Nathan find his father when there is no one safe to trust, not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad is an international sensation and the start of a brilliant trilogy: a gripping tale of alienation and the indomitable will to survive.
I have had this book in a pile of books waiting to be read for the past 2 years. Finally, Saturday 30th January 2016, I decided to read it. I am glad I did and I’m glad I waited until it was closer to the release of the third book, this is a series I plan to finish quite quickly. I was drawn in and finished this book in a day, it was fantastic and I only wish I read it sooner.

Let’s Start With The Bad And Get It Out Of The Way


First off, it’s written in the first-person perspective. I hate first person perspective, it makes me feel really awkward with being inside a character's head. I get used to the perspective eventually, but to begin with I really hated it. The story itself made forget about that minor narrative pet peeve, but it still bugged me.

Secondly, the whole thing with Nathan and Annalise really annoyed me. I didn’t understand why he was so fascinated with her because the entire time I was reading it felt like she had no personality to speak of. I couldn’t figure why Nathan cared about her at all when it seemed like he barely knew her. I mean, when they started meeting up more I got their connection, but then stuff happened that made it blindingly obvious she was a weak-willed pathetic child who couldn’t stand up for Nathan or herself and he still liked her! What is that?

Let’s Stop Being So Negative, I Loved More Than I Hated


I really enjoyed the story itself, and I think that was because we were following the entire story from Nathan'sperspective. We need to clarify now, Nathan is not the most likable of people, he is mean and a bit crazy and impulsive, but I really liked him. I liked the fact there was no trying to deny the flaws in his character, it just was and you had to accept that. I love when characters don’t try and be something they’re not, and Natahn doesn’t apologise for who he is. He is a selfih person who has been demonised and persecuted simply for being born to the parents he has. After all he’s been through he is actually pretty normal and functional, it’s impressive.

I loved the commentary that was going on with the White Witches and Black Witches separation. It’s assumed White Witches are good, but then their treatment of Nathan, a half code, and black white in general is disgusting. It’s like they think they are lesser beings, lower than animals with the way they treat them. I know we’re viewing it all from a biased perspective, but even that doesn’t justify what’s happened. I do wish there had been greater explanation for why white witches are viewed as good and are in control, and I wish there was greater explanation for what is so bad about black witches, but there are more books to come.

I found the formating of the story reallt interesting too, you immediatly feel cympathetic towards Natahn as you find him trapped in a cage and forced to train and run whilst basically being threated to stay or risk losing a hand from the bracelet on him. You then find how he got to where he was, where he gets into fights and goes wondering aroud the country and does things that make you realise he is not a flawless human being. Then you get the rest of the story, it was smart. You gain sympathy from the beginning so you can forgive some of the more negative things about him.

Would I Recommend?


Definitely, I really enjoyed this book. I looked over the reviews on Goodreads and can see that there were differing opinions on this book, I am very much of the postive end of the spectrum. This book features a completely flawed system of power, with those in control being raging hypocrites who deserve a punch in the face, with those willing to speak up being the ones who were oppressed. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read where the main character is not necessarily likable, or even a good person, and I loved it for that fact. It was a book with faults, but they were faults you should be willing to overlook. It deserves your love, adn with the third book coming out this year it’s the perfect time to get reading.

Am I the only one with a strong dislike for first person narrative? And what was the last book you read that featured a morally ambiguous main character who you couldn’t help but love?

17 February 2016

Bite Sized Books // The Lost Ones I Forgot To Review

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Bite Sized Books is a feature which I use to review those books I’ve read recently but haven’t got a whole lot of words to say about them. The books I enjoyed and don’t want to let get forgotten because I am a lazy book reviewer.

5
Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon
Published: 3rd September 2015
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
My Rating:
Madeline Whittier is allergic to the outside world. So allergic, in fact, that she has never left the house in all of her seventeen years. But when Olly moves in next door, and wants to talk to Maddie, tiny holes start to appear in the protective bubble her mother has built around her. Olly writes his IM address on a piece of paper, shows it at her window, and suddenly, a door opens. But does Maddie dare to step outside her comfort zone?

Everything, Everything is about the thrill and heartbreak that happens when we break out of our shell to do crazy, sometimes death-defying things for love.
This book was great, I found it really intersting and really enjoyed the various different formats in the book. I enjoyed reading Maddie’s struggle with not being able to go into the outside world along with her new temptation to experience life to it’s full, feeling as if she has been shut in and not experienced everything. It was fascinating seeing her transformation from not being tempted to go outside to her decisions in regards to whether the risk of leaving the house to experience will be worth it. I wasn’t sure where the story could possibly go and was worried I’d be bored, turns out that was stupid and I shouldn’t have even bothered having doubts/

I also loved the formatting of the book, the short book reviews, the IM conversations, the emails and the various different parts of the book that made it felt like I was reading someone's diary and following their life. It was unique and original and made this book even easier to read than it already was.

My only complaint? That ending. I enjoyed the ending, don’t get me wrong, I got an immense feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment from it, but at the same time I could take issue with it too. I am going to be careful with the words I use to explain why I was bothered with the ending, because that could lead to potential spoilers, but I will say that it appeared too convenient. It was both good and bad. I was still laughing and crying throughout this book and would highly recommend so definitely check it out.

13Match Me If You Can – Michele Gorman
Published: 14th January 2016
Source: Avon Books (NetGalley)
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
Ever thought about recycling your ex?


Best friends Catherine, Rachel & Sarah are fun, smart, successful and single – just like millions of women with a low tolerance for idiocy in their dates.

Mr. Right hasn't turned up yet, and Mr Right-Now isn't worth booking a wax appointment for. So when Catherine, London’s finest matchmaker, gets Rachel and Sarah to join her dating site where they can recycle their ex-boyfriends in exchange for an upgrade, they soon realise that anything could happen . . .

Three best friends, proving that sometimes it really isn't you… it's him.
This story is a bit different. There is only one other chick-lit book I can think of which involves a dating agency and that was a Lucy Diamond one. I liked the concept of trading in an ex for a new model. It was a fun and interesting story and more importantly featured a solid friendship between three women that didn’t revolve about their relationship status, that was just one element of the conversations they have. This book was a lot more than women trying to find ‘the one’ it was about women trying to reach those milestones in life and figuring out who they are and what they want.

I also didn’t realise this book was written by the same woman who wrote The Curvy Girls Club, which is still waiting on my Kindle for me to read. I loved the small reference to that book which was included, small things like that make me happy.

I did find myself worrying this book was going to be predictable when I began reading. I mean, they’re all bringing ex’s and they all appear to be hung up on something, it looked like an obvious read. Sadly, it did feel a bit predictable. I don’t mind predictability in my books, I am a romance reader, but it didn’t feel original. It felt a bit forced, I could see what was going to come next and I didn’t have a love of the characters to help me get over it. It’s not like I didn’t like Rachel, Sarah and Catherine, I just didn’t care enough about them to be absorbed in their stories. I found myself getting distracted as I read. THe romances and the characters were nice, but that was it.

Would I discourage you from reading? No, it was a decent book, maybe it was the wrong week for reading, maybe it was the wrong book for my mood. Whatever it was, we didn’t gel and it upset me because we had all the makings of a good book.

10
Published: 9th December 2014
Source: Bought
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
My Rating:
Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.
I love a good NA romance, I am less fussy than most when it comes to this genre, but I had heard a lot of positive things all around for Last Will And Testament and wanted to give it a chance. That, and I’d discovered that there is a second book coming out in the Radleigh University series and I want to read it, which I can’t so until I’ve read this one.

This books is about a girl whose parents die and she’s left as their legal guardian whilst trying to get her college grades up. It was predictable and fun and unlike Mtch Me If You Can, I enjoyed the predictability because the characters were fun and the story just had a better feel to it. I mean, the story is a little bit far-fetched and ridiculous, but it managed to stay dramatic but fun without making me want to roll my eyes. It was just a really great reader.

There was one complaint about it all, though, the ending. I know, two books where the endings left me slightly fristrated as things were resolved a bit too easily. The ending made sense, I could see why the book went the way it did, but it did felt a bit like it was all tied up with a bow a bit too easily. It’s a stupid complaint to have, but there it is. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the story, it was just what I thought when I finished.

Basically, if you’re on the lookout for a fun romantic read with a bit of angst and drama but far more heavy on the romance, then this is the book for you.

Do you hate when books endings seem to be wrapped up far too perfectly, or am I just looking for something to complain about?