Review: My New Crush Gave to Me by Shani Petroff

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Charlotte “Charlie” Donovan knows what she wants for Christmas: Teo Ortiz. He’s a star athlete, in the National Honor Society, invited to every party, and contributes to the school paper (where Charlie is co-editor). Basically, he’s exactly the type of guy Charlie’s looking for. The only problem—he barely knows she exists.

But Charlie has a plan: Rig the paper’s Secret Santa and win his heart with five perfect gifts. Enter J.D. Ortiz—Teo’s cousin, and possibly the most annoying person on the planet. He’s easy going, laid back, unorganized, and spontaneous—the exact opposite of Charlie (and Teo). But he knows what Teo wants, so she’s stuck with him.

Yet the more time Charlie spends with J.D. the more she starts to wonder: Does she really know what, or rather who, she wants for Christmas?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

What I Liked:

-There are a lot of YA books out there that I think are far too adult for the age group they’re marketed in, but I didn’t have that problem with this book. It seems geared more towards the younger end of the YA spectrum and is pretty clean. It’s the perfect amount of light and fluffy for a fun Christmas read.

-I liked the characters. Charlie is very Type A and likes to be in control, but she means well. Her best friend Morgan did a good job of balancing her out. JD is the polar opposite of Charlie, of course, and they often butt heads. As they come to spend more time with each other they begin to understand each other better and become friends. They had some sweet moments together and I shipped them.

-I love that cover! There’s an ugly Christmas sweater party in the book so it even ties in to the story well.

-Though I generally don’t like anything Holiday related until after Thanksgiving, this book did get me into the Holiday mood. I enjoyed all the holiday baking and liked the Secret Santa idea.

What Didn’t Quite Work for Me:

-I couldn’t really get on board with Charlie’s sudden crush on Teo. She basically just knew some stats on him when she decided he was The One. The way she read way too much into every interaction she had with Teo did remind me of being in high school, but it also kind of frustrated me. I also got frustrated by how clueless she was when it came to JD. A lot of the moments between them I thought were so sweet were kind of lost on her.

-I thought the end was  a little too abrupt. Things worked out very easily, very quickly for Charlie once she realized who she really wanted and I would’ve liked her to have to work a little bit harder for the happy ending.

Overall:

Overall, I enjoyed My New Crush Gave to Me. It was light and cute with likeable characters, even if Charlie was frustrating sometimes. I definitely recommend it to fans of YA Contemporary holiday reads.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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Review: The Angel (DS Imogen Grey #3) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

THE TRUTH WON’T STAY LOCKED UP FOREVER

When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

Miles and Grey are back in the thrilling new novel from bestselling author Katerina Diamond, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

In the past couple of weeks I have read all three Imogen Grey books and it’s definitely become one of my favorite series. Katerina Diamond has made her way onto my auto-buy list.

As with the first two books in the series, there is a lot going on in this story. There are several mysteries with connecting threads and Diamond really weaves them together effortlessly. I never felt confused and even though I didn’t know how things would come together, I knew that they would. Another thing I love about Diamond’s writing is that even though she has very intricate plotlines, she does not sacrifice any character development. I feel like many books focus on one or the other, but she really pulls off both. Even though it means that the books are a little longer than I usually like to read, I don’t mind the length because of how engrossed in the story I am.

In The Secret we got a lot of Imogen’s background and in The Angel we get more of Adrian’s. He’s not a perfect person by any means, but I adore him. He’s gone through a lot in his life, and in this book, and I really admire how he still manages to just keep going. I love his partnership with Imogen and how much they trust each other and are there for each other. I still like that their friendship is platonic, though I wouldn’t mind if it moves in a different direction in the future. Which brings me to Dean. I absolutely loved Dean in The Secret and I have to say he was one of the reasons I was anticipating this books so much. His relationship with Imogen is very complicated and it might very well be a circumstance where love is not enough to make it work, but I’m still shipping these two hard.

The other POV we get in this book is Gabriel, a young, slightly rebellious, guy who is really a sweet kid at heart. He gets arrested for inadvertently killing  a man from a fire he started and winds up in jail. As you may expect, a young cute guy in prison attracts the wrong kind of attention. I felt so, so bad for all that Gabriel had to go through, but I really liked getting his POV and seeing how he grew as a person because of it.

Overall, I just really loved The Angel. Katerina Diamond weaves together a complex mystery with really compelling characters. I felt like this book was a little less dark than the first two in the series and I liked that. I also like that justice is always served in her books, though there is often a bit of a moral grey area included. This series has become one of my favorites and I’m really going to miss Imogen and Adrian until their next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ’s next adult novel will be a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling of Pride and Prejudice, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe will be available October 17, 2017.

I love a good holiday romance and I love Pride and Prejudice re-tellings, so Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looked like it would be perfect for me. While it was a fun read, it ended up falling short of my (pretty high) expectations.

I loved the idea of a gender-swapped Pride and Prejudice. I can’t think of any other re-tellings I’ve read that took that angle. I also like the idea of getting Darcy’s POV instead of Elizabeth’s (or Luke’s, in this case). Unfortunately I felt like this was more of an “inspired by” then a true re-telling. If it wasn’t for the names of the characters (Darcy Fitzwilliam, Bingley Charles, Luke Bennett) and the title of the book I’m not really sure if I would’ve even noticed that it was supposed to be a re-telling. That said, the story wasn’t bad. It was a very quick and easy read and had many cute or funny moments.

Darcy was pretty unlikable, which was ok in the beginning because she was kind of supposed to be. However, I don’t think she ever became more likable. Even though she was supposed to be this brilliant, successful woman, she was super immature and self-centered and kind of oblivious. There’s several scenes where she explains how she’s just super confident and driven, and not snobby or selfish, but honestly I just didn’t buy it. I was rooting for her, though, and she did make some strides when it came to her family. Luke was more likable, but we actually don’t get a lot of him. There is not very much time spent with Luke and Darcy together before they are officially together, so I had a hard time really shipping them as a couple. We do get more of them together in the end, which I liked.

One thing that does kind of bug me, which is not the book’s fault, is that the synopsis sounds pretty different than the actual story. Darcy doesn’t really date the type of guys mentioned, I don’t recall a mention of multiple cell phones, and she comes home to see her mom, despite her estranged father and three brothers she’s never really liked. Luke is described as less ambitious than Darcy, but I don’t think he was ever referred to as a slacker. The “fall into bed” statement is also misleading. There were also some continuity issues within the story that bothered me. I’m hoping that those are just ARC issues, though, and will be ironed out in the finished copy.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a cute, quick, and easy read. I loved the concept for the book even though it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential. I think hard core Pride and Prejudice fans will find it a little lacking, but if you’re looking for a nice holiday romance I would recommend checking this out.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

Review: The Secret (DS Imogen Grey #2) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS A LIE…

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed… If she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement bedroom.

DS Imogen Grey is good at keeping secrets – truths she’d never reveal to her colleagues at Exeter Police. She worked hard to get where she is – she nearly died for it. Now her past is catching up with her…

As DS Grey and her partner DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a terrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder. And they realise that some secrets are better left buried…

Another fantastic book I discovered through Annie @ The MissteryThe Secret is a well-plotted, smartly written, super dark novel and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This is the second book in a series, but I felt it stood really well on it’s own since I didn’t read the first book and I didn’t feel lost at all like I was afraid of. Detectives Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles are newly re-united partners investigating a double murder and a missing person. As the case progresses it begins to tie back to one of Imogen’s past cases from two years prior, one that forced her to transfer to another department. I really loved the multiple timeline storytelling. It is told by multiple POVs in the Present, 2 Years Ago, and a POV from an anonymous boy as he grows up. I loved trying to figure out who all the characters were in the anonymous POV and how everything from the past fit into the present. I love that I didn’t figure everything out half-way in like I do with so many other books in this genre.

Imogen was kind of a hard character to like most of the time, but I did enjoy her overall. I really loved her partner, Adrian! Though he was definitely not a perfect person, he was sweet and protective and smart. I loved how his relationship with Imogen was really platonic, too. I also very much loved Dean, who is a bit of an anti-hero here. At first I was a little annoyed about Imogen’s attraction to him, but I very quickly got on board with it. Love him!

Overall, I really liked The Secret. There was so much going on in it, but I felt like it was well paced and fit together really well. It does have pretty dark subject matter – I actually gasped out loud at one part and that never happens anymore – but it was balanced well enough that it’s not one of those books that just depresses you when you’re done with it. The only thing I didn’t really like was that I felt the ending was a little too open-ended. While the case was solved, there were still some loose ends that weren’t tied up. I’m sure they will be in the next book, though, which I am very excited to read.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A woman without a memory struggles to discover the truth about her past and her identity in this cerebral and dark thriller reminiscent of works by bestselling authors S.J. Watson and Ruth Ware.

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address, and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

How I Lost You will be available October 10, 2017. 

I really wanted to like this book. It definitely looks like it would be just my type. Unfortunately, it just didn’t really work for me.

The pacing felt off. It seemed to drag on and on until about the last quarter of the book. It took me five days to read this, which is kind of unheard of for me for a book of this size. By the end things started to happen at a faster, more suspenseful pace, but it couldn’t really save it.

The alternating POV and timeline, which I usually am a big fan of, didn’t work for me. The story was told mostly through Susan’s 1st person POV, which I liked, but mixed in were flashback chapters from a group of boys from their high school and college days. Though we know they are obviously involved with Susan’s predicament in some way or another, it takes awhile until a connection is revealed. Besides that, though, I found those portions kind of confusing. Part of the problem could have been that the formatting of the ARC was kind of messed up, which I imagine will be cleaned up in the final published version. But I also think it could’ve used a little more editing.

I did find Susan to be a mostly likable and sympathetic main character, though. I found her frustrating at times, but she had obviously been through a lot. I liked her loyalty to her friend, Cassie, even though I was suspicious of her at times. I also liked Nick, even though I didn’t really trust him, either. While there was obviously many suspicious characters, I’m glad I was wrong about a few of them.

Overall, there was just something missing for me in How I Lost You. While I did ultimately want to find out what really happened, I just didn’t care for most of it and found myself skimming a lot. I think that it could have benefited from a steadier pace in the beginning. I’m sure that there will definitely be people who will enjoy this, though, even if it wasn’t really for me.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars