Checking In with My Winter and Spring Most Anticipated Lists: Did I Read Them? Were They Great?

As y’all may know, I make lists for every season of anticipated reads and I try to also check in to see if I’m actually reading and making progress on those books. So this check in is with my Winter and Spring lists. I included ten books on the main winter list, but one of the books on it was actually pushed to this summer (and I’m still eager for it. Let’s ignore that I’ve had an ARC for months and could have read it). I had seven honorable mentions on my Winter post. Then for Spring, I technically had eleven books on the main list and only five Honorable Mentions. So of the sixteen books I could have read on my winter list, I have read twelve. That’s pretty good for me! We’ll talk about what those are in a moment. Turning to Spring, of the sixteen books on it, I’ve read 14 out of 16! Even better than the winter list. I’m so pleased. And now that we’ve got those statistics out of the way, time to dive in to actually talking about the books!

Checking In on My Most Anticipated Reads
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Contemporary ARC Reviews: Boyfriend Lessons, As Seen on TV, D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding, and An Island Summer

Normally I only review three books at once, but one of these was a DNF so I figured it was only fair to put all four of these together for your reading pleasure. First up, we have Boyfriend Lessons by Sophia Singh Sasson, which is a Harlequin Desire that actually came out in May. Then we’ll talk about As Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr, which is the book I DNF’d, and is already out from Forever. Third is D’Vaughn and Kris Plan a Wedding by Chencia C. Higgins from Carina Adores and the audiobook dropped yesterday, which I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of from Netgalley. Fourth, is An Island Summer by Jenny Hale, which is also already available for you to read and is on KU. So let’s talk about these!

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Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

It’s the middle of the year and therefore time to complete this tag that I’ve done the last few years and that is super popular on YouTube. The original tag was created by Earl Gray Books. I really enjoy this check in with my reading. I think I’m currently at just shy of 150 books of the year so it’s also a good time to check in from that perspective to see what I’m enjoying and what hasn’t really worked for me. So let’s dive in!

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag || firewhiskey reader
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Favorite Contemporary Romance Project

If you read my figuring out my all time favorites post, then you may have seen that, probably unsurprisingly, I have a lot of favorite contemporary romances and I am not sure how to really whittle those down into a top five or a top ten list. So I wanted to start a reading project to figure that out. And, I figured, why not make it an official thing for my blog? So this post is going to run through the 30 something books that I’ve got on my list (some of which were books I think I need to re-read) and which books I’ve re-read at some point in my life and how I think this list may shake out at the end of this project. I hope this post and project will be entertaining for you in some way because I’m really excited about it! So let’s get started.

Figuring Out My Favorite Contemporary Romances Project
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Historical Romance ARC Reviews: A Daring Pursuit, A Lady for a Duke, and The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

I’ve gotten a bit behind in my reviews again, oops, but I am excited to share with you my thoughts today on three recent releases that you can get your hands on! First up, we have A Daring Pursuit by Kate Bateman, out from St. Martin’s Press. This is the second book in a series with a sort of Hatfield and McCoy’s type family feud situation that has delivered on the hate to love aspect. I am still very much looking forward to book 3 in the series, which is the couple I’ve wanted since I read the first book last year. Then we have A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall, which is out from Forever, and it’s a book that will speak to anyone who is in the mood for some sad characters trying to pull themselves back to a full and happy life. And finally, we have The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian, which is out from Avon, which is a fun romp of a romance that perfectly delivers in a a whole host of ways. It was a delight to read. I was lucky enough to received ARCs of all three from Netgalley (and an ALC of A Lady for a Duke), but I listened to all three and would recommend you sample the audiobooks as narrators are always tricky and personal taste plays a large role.

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Narrowing Down My All Time Favorites

One of my favorite booktubers to watch is Books and Lala and a couple of years ago, she made a Tier Ranking Video where she went back to all of her old favorites list and ranked them into five categories. She then has re-read ten of them that she put into the need to re-read category to determine where they would actually fall. I don’t think blogging is the best format to straight up copy her, but I have been mulling over this idea for many months wanting to somehow figure out and narrow down what my FAVORITE books are. So what I’ve done is gone back through and looked at all of the different favorites lists I’ve made (and I’ve admittedly ignored all of the honorable mentions) and put them into categories. There were 159 books that I have included in a favorites list since 2017, which, you know, in hindsight seems ridiculous. I’ve whittled that list down and then gone through and added books I loved before I started blogging so there are a ton of books in this post. I went ahead and separated them out by genre just so it wouldn’t seem quite so overwhelming and because I really do think that it’s only fair to have favorites in different genres!

Figuring Out My All Time Favorites || Firewhiskey Reader
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June TBR: WhateverAThon, Reading the Rainbow, and some other reading challenges…

Am I doing too much with my reading this month? Undoubtedly. But I thought I would share these very cool reading challenges with you in case you haven’t seen them and might want to participate. And then we’re going to talk about the handful of books I have that will cover prompts across the challenges.

WhateverAThon was created by Maddie from book browsing blog and this year there are teams, so I’ve joined Team Beach Readers! It will last all month and there’s a special Beach Readers bingo board, which I’ll have down below to talk about it. Then there is Reading the Rainbow, created by Jacque, Beth, and Kelleen under the #ButDoTheyBang umbrella. There’s a bingo challenge for this one as well! It also will last all month and again, the bingo board will be down below. Also, I own too many books, so when the ClearUrShit 2.5 post crossed my timeline, I said, um, brilliant and have added it to my list. It also has a bingo board, but it’s very focused on reading what you already own. That’s the key that I need to remember for like, the entire summer and all of these challenges. Then… I may have created my own Taylor Swift themed bingo board for the summer and I am not hosting this, but after thinking about it, I’ve decided that there’s no reason not to share the board because it’s real cute and you could play it whenever you want. I’ll be playing from June 1 – August 31st. Anyway, that’s a lot of challenges, but uh, well. We should be fine. So let’s jump into this!

June TBR || Firewhiskey Reader
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May Wrap Up

This month we’re just doing a Wrap Up because my TBR is, um, well, beyond being out of control, also involves me trying to participate in entirely too many readathons so it needs a separate post. May was, ironically perhaps, a really not great mental health month for me. I did read a lot though. I also got strep throat for the first time in years and that was not a fun time. Also, I’ve more or less decided that star ratings aren’t really working for me so this month I’m going to try a forced ranking so you can sort of guesstimate my star rating that way. Please feel free to share your opinion on this format because I’m not sure about it! We’ll do the same way I do for my quarterly posts and start with the worst and go up to the best. So let’s get started!

May Wrap Up || firewhiskey reader
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#SpringIntoLoveBingo Wrap Up

I did #SpringIntoLoveBingo twice through from March through May and I’m really excited to share with you the books I wound up reading! If you didn’t know, Dani, Aarya, and I have these seasonal bingos that we host that mostly focus on romance, but you could really read whatever, I suppose. This particular installment began March 1 and completes today, although time is fake, so if you need to extend it, you do you. Anyway, let’s talk about the books that I read!

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ARC Reviews: The Bride Goes Rogue, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, and How to Fake It in Hollywood

I’m writing this post as an attempt to distract myself from emotionally dealing with the latest mass shooting because every time I open my social media, I find myself being confronted with the fact that in the U.S., we are literally not safe anywhere and the people in charge don’t seem to mind. So if you’re here because you also need a moment to breathe away from the horror that is so many children being murdered for no reason and two precious teachers having their lives cut short… Well, I’m sorry to confront you with this paragraph, but know that I too am grieving and angry. Furious, if we’re being honest. And also, as always, clinging to the hope that this time might mean we can finally, as a country, say that this is enough.

Now for the books that I have to review for you today. First up, we have The Bride Goes Rogue by Joanna Shupe, which is out from Avon as of Tuesday. I received this book as an e-ARC from Netgalley. Then we have You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi, out from Atria Books on Tuesday. I received this book as an e-ARC from Netgalley, but I purchased an audiobook copy from Libro.fm because Bahni Turpin was the narrator and it was a truly excellent choice. Then finally, we have How to Fake It in Hollywood by Ava Wilder, her debut, I believe, and it’s out from Dell on June 14th. I received this book as an e-ARC from Netgalley. And, if you’re wondering if I had other books that are out in May that you haven’t seen reviews for yet, well, yes. I do. But hopefully you’ll have them next week. For now, let’s talk about these three, shall we?

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