Monday’s Minutes

Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post where I share what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I just finished Shadow and Bone and really liked it. It’s another one of those books where you read the description and think, “eh.” But I’ve read so many blogs where people raved about it so I thought I’d give it a try. I think a full review is in order. As soon as I finished it I started Siege and Storm. I’m only a couple chapters in and so far so good.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

I started this book a couple weeks ago and haven’t made it past the first chapter. It’s a review copy so I really need to get to it. I’m hoping it gets better as it goes along.

What are you reading?

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A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears – 3 stars (out of 5)

A Bride for Keeps

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley

Synopsis (from Good Reads)

Although Everett Cline can hardly keep up with the demands of his homestead, he won’t humiliate himself by looking for a helpmate ever again–not after being jilted by three mail-order brides. When a well-meaning neighbor goes behind his back to bring yet another mail-order bride to town, he has good reason to doubt it will work, especially after getting a glimpse at the woman in question. She’s the prettiest woman he’s ever seen, and it’s just not possible she’s there to marry a simple homesteader like him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiancé. Having finally worked up the courage to leave her life in Massachusetts, she’s determined to find a place where people will value her for more than her looks. Having run out of all other options, Julia resorts to a mail-order marriage in far-away Kansas.

Everett is skeptical a cultured woman like Julia could be happy in a life on the plains, while Julia, deeply wounded by a past relationship, is skittish at the idea of marriage at all. When, despite their hesitations, they agree to a marriage in name only, neither one is prepared for the feelings that soon arise to complicate their arrangement. Can two people accustomed to keeping their distance let the barricades around their hearts down long enough to fall in love?

Thoughts:

-The first couple chapters in A Bride for Keeps felt like a story I’ve read several times before. The plot seemed obvious and clichéd. But the more I got into the story, I saw that it wasn’t quite the same. Was the ending still predictable? Sure. But, the journey to get there was not quite what I was expecting.

-I found most of the characters likable. Dex and Rachel, the meddling neighbors, and their children were all entertaining and, at times, insightful. I really liked Everett, who had been jilted by several potential brides before Julia. He was sweet and faithful and insecure. I felt like Julia and Dex were a little harder on him than he deserved at times. Julia asked that their marriage basically be a business arrangement and when he tried to protect himself from being hurt she resented him for it. While I’m not saying he behaved perfectly by any means, I don’t think he was really the bad guy in their relationship.

-And then there’s Julia. I went so back and forth on liking her. I understand her hesitancy around Everett – and men in general. I understand the need she felt to prove she was a good worker around the farm. But for most of the book she took no responsibility in her failing marriage. I also got really annoyed with how often she went on and on about how beautiful she was and how she wanted to be more than just a pretty face.

-Overall, I enjoyed A Bride for Keeps. It was a good mix of romance and faith and it took a clichéd idea and made it something different and interesting. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy Christian Fiction and Romance.

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead – Some Thoughts so far

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1) The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2) The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)

Click the picture for a full synopsis of each book.

The Bloodlines series is the spinoff of the Vampire Academy series. I’m not feeling a full review right now, so I’m just going to go with some thoughts about the series so far.

BEWARE OF SPOILERS

-As I mentioned in my Monday’s Minutes, I like Sydney more than I did Rose from The Vampire Academy. She’s more mature and not as impetuous. She’s just all-around more likable. One major problem I had with her, though, was in the first two books where she obviously has an eating disorder and it’s never addressed. She is finally confronted by Adrian in the end of the second book, so she’s a little better by the third book.

-There aren’t a lot of surprises in this series so far. Everything is pretty predictable. The writing and the characters (and by characters I mean Sidney and Adrian) still make it an enjoyable read.

-After the first book, the secondary characters kind of stop developing. They still have some storylines, but we don’t see much of them and they really aren’t developed into the full characters I would expect them to be this far into the series.

-I’m not really a fan of the magic/witch storyline. I found myself skimming the parts where it focused solely on Sidney practicing or learning about magic.

-With a spinoff series you still expect to get some interaction with the first characters you met. The first couple books had a little tiny bit of Rose and Dimitri and just a glimpse of Lissa and Christian. I hope the next books brings them back a little bit more. Or at least gives us a little more information about their lives now.

-Ok, now let’s just all agree on the reason for reading this series: ADRIAN. I loved him in The Vampire Academy and I love him now. He’s still charming and sarcastic and tortured. But he also grows a lot in this series. His relationship with Sidney really challenges him to be a better version of himself, not change into a different person like he was with Rose. And I just love him and Sidney together – their banter, their teamwork, their spirit dreams…

-Overall, I would suggest this series to anyone who read The Vampire Academy series and was disappointed in the end of it, like I was. I agree with the other bloggers I’ve read that the Bloodlines series is better than VA. While I would suggest reading VA before this series, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary. I am anxiously waiting for the next book in the series to come out in November.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Sequels Ever

This week’s Top Ten, sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish, is about the best sequels ever. My picks aren’t necessarily sequels that I liked better than the first, but ones that were just as enjoyable. (Click on the cover for synopsis.)

1. Circles of Time: A Novel
Circles of Time by Phillip Rock, the follow up to The Passing Bells. This book is a little more like what I thought the first book would be. And there is lots of Martin Rilke, one of my favorite literary characters ever.

2. Unravel Me (Shatter Me Series #2)
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, the second book in the Shatter Me series.

3. Scarlet
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. I actually enjoyed this book more than I did, Cinder.

4. Onyx (Lux Series #2)
Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout, the second book in the Lux series. As I’ve said many times, I love this series.

5. Insurgent (Divergent Series #2)
Insurgent by Vernoica Roth, follow up to Divergent. This book ramped up the action, the romance, and the “mythology”.

6. Catching Fire (Hunger Games Series #2)
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, follow up to The Hunger Games. The first book in the series will always be my favorite, but this series is one of my all time favorites and Catching Fire did not disappoint.

7. Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder Series #2)
Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, the second book in the Kate Burkholder series. I think this one might actually be my favorite storyline of the series.

Ok, so I only have a top 7 because I can’t really think of any more. I’m sure as soon as I post this or read through some other’s lists I’ll come up with some more. What sequels do you think are the best ever?

Monday’s Minutes

Monday’s Minutes is a weekly update on what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines, #2)

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2) by Richelle Mead

So because of how annoyed I was that so much of the last book of The Vampire Academy series was used to set up the spinoff series, I was determined not to read this series for a long while (I thought about ignoring it altogether, but I must know what happens to Adrian). Then I fell into a little bit of a reading slump. I started a couple other books and couldn’t maintain interest. I kept hearing about how this series was so much better than VA so I decided to try it. Now I’m just about done with the second book. Other than these being completely predictable, I’ve been enjoying them. I actually like Sidney more than I did Rose. And, of course, Adrian.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, #3)

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3) by Richelle Mead

Of course now that I’m into the series, I have to keep reading. The third book in the Bloodlines series, The Indigo Spell, is next on my list.

What are you reading?

 

Top Ten Books on your Fall To Be Read List

Today’s Top Ten are the books on your Fall To Be Read list. Some aren’t coming out until fall and some I just haven’t read yet. As always, it’s hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Allegiant (Divergent, #3)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I’m pretty sure this has been on every list I’ve seen. It’s an obvious choice. I have been dying for this book since I finished Insurgent.

2. Trust in Me (Wait for You, #1.5)
Trust in Me by J. Lynn. I’m a total sucker for retelling of stories from another character’s POV.

3. These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman. I don’t not read books for their cover, but there are some books I definitely read because of the cover. This is one of those.

4. World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2)
Word After by Susan Ee. I wasn’t in love with the first book, but I liked it. It’s an interesting take on the angel genre and I’m looking forward to see how it continues.

5. Resist (Breathe, #2)
Resist by Sarah Crossan. The second – and final – book in this series. I’m a fan of authors who don’t stretch things out to trilogies or beyond, when they can tell the story in less books.

6. The Dancing Master
The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen. Klassen can always be counted on for a sweet romance.

7. Untitled Shatter Me novella by Tahereh Mafi. This doesn’t have much info yet, but I’ve heard it will be from Adam’s POV.

8. The Unexpected Gift
The Unexpected Gift by Berna King. I got my signed copy a few weeks ago and am excited to finally start it.

9. Replica (Replica, #1)
Replica by Jenna Black. I thought this looked interesting and got it awhile ago, but I haven’t started it yet.

10. The Hallowed Ones (The Hallowed Ones, #1)
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle. Amish + Vampires. I’m so in.

Trapped by Irene Hannon – 2 stars (out of 5)

Trapped (Private Justice, #2)

I received a copy of this title for review from NetGalley.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

When librarian Laura Griffin’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help. But the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous–it’s deadly.

Chilling and at times terrifying, “Trapped” is the latest thrilling read from Irene Hannon, the queen of romantic suspense. Hannon outdoes herself with this fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

I’ve read a couple books by Irene Hannon and found them to be a good blend of suspense, romance, and faith. I was expecting to enjoy Trapped just as much, but found it a little underwhelming.

Let’s start with the suspense angle. There wasn’t much. I felt like the whole book was pretty predictable. There was one thing that surprised me and it wasn’t that much of a surprise. The pace was slow and there really wasn’t a whole lot going on for most of the book. However, the last few chapters ratcheted up the action and made it enjoyable.

The romance was a little lacking for me, as well. It followed the “insta-love” formula that seems to be so popular, but I rarely appreciate. The main characters, Laura and Dev, are likable, but pretty boring. There was nothing that interesting about them that would justify the instant attraction and affection other than both being attractive.

I would’ve liked to see the secondary characters developed a little more. Darcy, the teenage runaway/kidnap victim, wasn’t much more than a cliché. Dev’s PI partners, Cal and Connor, were both likable, but rarely seen. Since this is the second book in the Private Justice series, I gathered the first book was about Cal, so readers should’ve been already acquainted with him. The next book in the series I would assume will be about Connor, so he’ll be more fully developed in that book. My biggest complaint about this type of series – where each book is focused on a different character – is that it seems like an excuse to only develop one set of characters at a time. And then when you like those characters, they’re pushed to the background in the next book and almost forgotten. This complaint is one for the genre, though, and not just this particular book.

One character that I really found interesting, however, was Mark. I felt like he was the most developed of the book and some of the best moments of the story were with him. Even though he’s the villain of the story, he was a sympathetic character that I really felt sorry for.

The faith of the characters in the story sets it apart from your normal romantic suspense. Hannon does a pretty good job of letting Laura’s faith define her character and it never seems like it’s a reach when she prays or talks about God. However, it seems to be a much less central theme in the story than the other books I’ve read by Hannon and I would’ve liked to see more of Darcy and Dev’s spiritual growth.

Overall, this book was just ok for me. It moved much too slow for me to be suspenseful and it felt like it was way too long. Fans of Hannon may still find it enjoyable, but I would direct readers unfamiliar with her work to pick up Fatal Judgment or Against All Odds.