Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Recently Added To My To-Be-Read List

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List.

The First Wife

1. The First Wife by Erica Spindler.

Dumped: Women Unfriending Women

2. Dumped: Stories of Women Unfriending Women by Nina Gaby.

The Start of Me and You

3. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord.

Made for You

4. Made for You by Melissa Marr

My Soul to Keep (Soul Screamers, #3)

5. My Soul to Keep by Rachel Vincent.

I'll Meet You There

6. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.

Emmy & Oliver

7. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway.

The Walls Around Us

8. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma.

Cuckoo

9. Cuckoo by Julia Crouch.

99 Days

10. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno.

What books are new to  your TBR list? Have you read any of the above?

 

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2015

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles 3.5) by Marissa Meyer. Read February 26 – March 1. 3 stars.

While I enjoyed this novella, I was really hoping to see Levana be a psychopath, in full Amy Dunne fashion. While she’s still kind of a psychopath, it’s in a sad way and makes her more a somewhat sympathetic character. I did enjoy the backstory, though, and the peeks of young Cinder, Winter, and Jacin.

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy, #1)

Paranormalcy (Paranormalcy #1) by Kiersten White. Read March 4-7. 2 stars.

I’ve loved the other books by Kiersten White that I’ve read, so I was surprised in how uninteresting this book was for me. The main character wasn’t exactly unlikable, but she wasn’t very likable either. Not a lot really happened and a lot went unexplained. I got all three books of the series from the library, but I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing on with them right now.

My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers, #0.5)

My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers 0.5) by Rachel Vincent. Read March 7-8. 3 stars.

Though I’m mostly left with confusion, the story was intriguing enough that I really want to find out what happens next.

My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers, #2)

My Soul to Save (Soul Screamers #2) by Rachel Vincent. Read March 10-12. 3 stars.

I thought the premise for the plot of this book was really interesting, but it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. I thought things dragged too much at times. I don’t feel like there was any real character development with anyone besides Kaylee and even that was minimal. Overall this was just ok for me. I’ll still be giving the next book a shot sometime, though.

They All Fall Down

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire. Read March 14-15. 2 stars.

Had potential, but then went into the wildly unbelievable. It was entertaining for the most part, though.

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RE-READ

Attachments

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Yes, I am FINALLY going to review this book. I’ll tell anyone who will listen it’s one of my favorites, but I haven’t read it in years. I was almost afraid I wouldn’t like it as much, but it still holds up (obviously – it’s Rainbow Rowell). I’m going to take my time writing the review, but it will be coming. My mother is currently reading the book, though, so I have to wait for her to give it back.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

Call Me Princess (Louise Rick / Camilla Lind #2)

Call me Princess by Sara Blaedel. I liked The Forgotten Girls and wanted to read the other books in the series, but I just couldn’t get into it. As you can probably tell, March was a big YA month for me, so I wasn’t really feeling up to anything too serious. I’ll be giving this book another try, though.

Stray (Shifters, #1)

Stray by Rachel Vincent. This was recommended by a blogger friend and was readily available at the library, so I gave it a try. I like the different take on “shifters” than most books are and the main character was funny enough that all of the annoying things she does weren’t too much to put me off her. The relationship with her brothers and childhood friends were kind of weird, though, and made me almost uncomfortable at times. I just couldn’t get too into it, so I decided to stop it for now, but I’ll pick it up again some day.

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DNF

Faking It (Losing It, #2)

Faking It by Cora Carmack. I was trying to find a good Fake Relationship book and I came across this one and decided to give it a try. Ugh.  I didn’t get terribly far in before I decided to DNF it. I liked the male character at first, but found the female lead pretty off-putting. Then there was a bunch of ridiculousness at a bar and I just couldn’t take anymore.

Review: Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers.

To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change.

Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the centre of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control.

But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

Oh, Red Queen, I so wanted to like you. I could forgive you for the dystopian clichés (because, let’s be real, all dystopians are pretty cliché) and how predictable everything was. I could forgive you for the unlikable characters. Unfortunately, the most interesting part of the whole book is the cover.

Before I go to spoiler city, I will just say that I had to pretty much force myself to finish this book, which I only did because of some great reviews I read. It did get better towards the end, especially the well-described action sequence in the second-to-last chapter (I think it was second-to-last, might have been the last two chapters?), but it just did not make up for how bland the rest of the book the was. The pacing was slow, the characters were not well-developed, and I was just bored. I didn’t connect to the characters so I didn’t really care what happened to them either. I will say a lot of people seem to love it, so it might be worth a try, but if you try it and are struggling, I would suggest just forgetting about it.

***SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT***

I think I’m just going to list some of the more specific things that didn’t work for me.

-Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, came crying to her when he found out he would be sent to the war. She does everything she can (which isn’t much) to keep him from it, and eventually saves him after the royal family finds out what a special snowflake she is. But the first thing he does with his freedom is join the rebel army. He not only joins, he is immediately part of the inner-circle. If he was a stronger person I could overlook that, but he was too weak and scared about the idea of going to the war front, so I can’t buy him as a great rebel.

-There’s a very half-assed love square. A romance between Mare and Kilorn is vaguely hinted at, it’s more of a “what if” scenario if the world was different. I think their relationship would have benefited from being just a stronger friendship. Cal is the obvious love interest in the beginning – the one that realizes how special she is before anyone knows there’s anything special about her, but there’s not really any development with their relationship besides a couple of dances and longing looks. The story seems more caught up in trying to pull one over on the reader by focusing on Maven as the surprise hero and love interest. I could almost get on board this ship, but Mare swings back and forth so much about which brother she likes more that I couldn’t really root for either of them. Eventually she tells Maven she’s choosing no one, so that was a nice change of pace. However, her circumstances has thrown her together with Cal, and all of her following actions make it seem like Cal is the answer.

-When I was trying to decide to keep reading or not, I read some reviews. I came across one that was not marked as being spoilery and it mentioned something about how surprising the big betrayal was. I wasn’t far into the book at this point, but I was far enough to realize that the only betrayal that could hold any sort of emotional impact would be from Maven. I didn’t really trust Maven in the first place, but I might not have been expecting his turn around if I hadn’t read that first. So, unfortunately, I spent the whole book waiting to see Maven turn against Mare.

-Obviously Shade wasn’t killed. No one should be surprised when he shows up in the Epilogue.

-Overall the pacing of the story was just slow. I was really bored most of the time. The character development for everyone besides Mare was pretty poor, and while she was more developed her character didn’t really grow at all. I found myself not really caring about what happened to any of them. As I mentioned earlier, there was a really well-written action sequence towards the end and that was the only time I really got into the story. If the whole book would’ve been written that well, I would be able to recommend this. I might read the next book, just because the ending was more interesting, but I’m not sure.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

2 stars

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

I was so obsessed with this book! I can’t believe I almost let it expire from the library before I decided to give it a try! I think the synopsis makes it sound like it was going to be serious and kind of hum drum. However, it’s surprisingly hilarious. The satirical views of small community life were spot on and the recollection of events from the school parents made me laugh out loud.

Big Little Lies starts on Parent Trivia Night at the local school where high tensions and too much champagne result in disaster. We then go back 6 months earlier and get to know the characters and what led up to that awful night. Included in the beginning or ending of each chapter are snippets of witness statements that gradually clue us in to what happened. However, instead of mentioning what happened on Trivia night, they mostly make self-indulgent comments of themselves or mockingly judgmental comments of others. It was funny to see all the different view points and how easy it is for things to be taken completely out of context.

The main focus of the story falls on three of the women who have kids starting kindergarten. Madeline tends to be on the self-obsessed side and thrives on drama, but she’s there for her friends. She’d dealing with her ex-husband having a daughter also starting school and their shared daughter is now a teenager and seems to be favoring her father and step-mother instead of her. Celeste is rich and beautiful and has a seemingly perfect life, but she’s constantly putting on an act for those around her to hide what her husband does to her behind closed doors. Jane is a young, single mother new to town and on the first day of orientation her son is accused of bullying another student. Due to the only violent incident she knows of his father, she’s afraid the rumor might just be true.

I loved all of these characters. They were all very different and at times could be over the top, but they were very real and relatable. I loved Madeline’s good-humored husband, Ed, and the local owner of the coffee shop, Tom. The kids also made for several humorous moments.

Though the book was very funny, it dealt with some very serious issues. Bullying, rape, and domestic abuse, just to name a few. I felt like these were all handled in a respectful and realistic way and was glad to see the growth and development of those involved.

Overall, Big Little Lies was a compelling, compulsive read that I just loved. The humor was surprising in the most delightful way and was a wonderful way of balancing out the heavier issues involved. I was expecting a big twist at the end, though, and ended up being a tiny bit let down that the ending was not as explosive as I was expecting. This is the only reason I’m not giving this  book 5 stars.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

4.5 stars

Review: Vendetta (Blood for Blood #1) by Catherine Doyle

Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)

 

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Blood Will Spill, Hearts Will Break: With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

For Sophie, it feels like another slow, hot summer in Cedar Hill, waitressing at her family’s diner and hanging out with her best friend Millie. But then someone moves into the long-abandoned mansion up the block–a family of five Italian brothers, each one hotter than the last. Unable to resist caramel-eyed Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling for him — and willfully ignoring the warning signs. Why are Nic’s knuckles cut and bruised? Why does he carry an engraved switchblade? And why does his arrogant and infuriating older brother, Luca, refuse to let her see him? As the boys’ dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. Suddenly, she’s torn between two warring dynasties: the one she’s related to and the one she’s now in love with. She’ll have to choose between loyalty and passione. When she does, blood will spill, hearts will break. Because in this twisted underworld, dishonor can be the difference between life and death.

I wasn’t going to review this book because I had few positive reactions about it, but after a couple of days I’m still annoyed by it, so I thought I’d just rant it out. My original “review” posted on Good Reads was just this, “2 Generous Stars. This book was ridiculous.

I’m just going to go the list route here.

-In the beginning of the book the writing seemed on the younger side of  the YA spectrum. I don’t really have a problem with that, but as the book went on the content became much older YA and the writing didn’t really change.

-Sophie’s best friend, Millie, had potential to be a funny, entertaining side character with her over-the-top theatrics, but she just came off spoiled and annoying. And I didn’t get the point of her being British. She didn’t really use any British specific phrases and I don’t think it was ever mentioned why her family moved to this little, boring town.

***EVERYTHING FROM HERE ON OUT CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Ok, a little more plot explanation. Sophie’s dad is in prison for  murder. He thought he was going to be attacked and ended up shooting an unarmed man. We will later find out that this unarmed man was a well-known mob boss. Sophie’s dad still goes to jail for awhile, though. Her uncle is acting all sketchy and leaves town to do “business” that Sophie isn’t real clear on.

When an Italian family with 5 sons move into a local gothic mansion, Sophie immediately falls for Nic. This is a good example on why “insta-love” doesn’t work. The boy who was so nice and courteous and gorgeous is a PSYCHOPATH. Seriously. And obviously Sophie will wind up with his older brother, Luca, who isn’t a great guy either, but he’s obviously not as crazy. I’m not sure I can stomach another installment of these characters to find out for sure, though.

So anyways, everyone tells Sophie to stay away from the boys, but they won’t tell her why so she doesn’t listen. She goes all puppy-love on Nic and things are good until he finds out who her father is. She thinks he’s just upset because her father killed a man by accident, but what she later finds out is that the man he killed is Nic’s father. Neither one of them particularly cares about that, though. Sophie becomes slightly concerned when Nic tells her his family are mob assassins and at 17 he’s already a “career assassin”, but they’re noble and only take out people who deserve it, so no big deal, right?

Sophie was not a well-developed character. She was whiney and naïve for most of the book, then she was knocking a mob enforcer unconscious and cursing at adolescent psychopaths. She was morally disgusted at the right times, but then all of a sudden she didn’t care because Nic’s eyes were so dreamy. She was hard to like.

So it turns out that there was a good reason everyone told Sophie to stay away from the brothers because they are out to kill her uncle who is a drug dealer and they are owed a “blood debt” because of their father being killed – and that’s where Sophie comes in! She’s kidnapped to lure in her uncle and we find out the new mob boss isn’t the boys’ uncle like we are led to believe, but the oldest son, who is Luca’s twin. Luca ends up letting Sophie go because he’s not really the douche Sophie thought he was, but instead of running to safety, she goes to the warehouse where they were going to take her anyways. A couple people are killed and her uncle shoots Luca and Nic shoots her uncle. They all live, though, to see another ill-advised sequel.

Overall, Vendetta had potential, but the uneven writing and characters and over the top plot made it sound more ridiculous than anything else.