Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 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.

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle, #2)

Miss Mayhem (Rebel Belle #2) by Rachel Hawkins. Read May 5-7. 3.5 stars.

All the reviews I’ve read have said this book wasn’t as good as the first, but I liked it at least just as much. I think I may have liked it even more than the first. Perhaps because the first book was so raved about and I thought it was just ok.

I found Harper much less annoying this time around. I liked David, though I think we could have gotten a little more of him. I didn’t mind Ryan in this book and the love triangle I was expecting wasn’t quite what we got. I didn’t like Bee, in fact I forgot her character even existed. Oops. I thought Bee’s trajectory was very predictable, as well.

Overall, the book was enjoyable and ended in such a way that I’ll definitely be reading the next book.

Summer in the City

Summer in the City by Elizabeth Chandler. Read May 9-10. 3 stars.

I’ve been on a YA Contemporary kick lately and was really craving something sweet and light and this completely fit the bill. (A big thanks to my generous blogger friend Diana that bought me a copy!!!!) The main character was likable and so were most of the supporting cast. I loved Josh, especially in the last couple chapters! Overall a cute read!

Secret Girlfriend

Secret Girlfriend by Bria Quinlan. Read May 10-11. 2 stars.

I loved Luke Parker! He’s so sweet! But he didn’t quite make up for all the ridiculous going on in this book. Amy drove me crazy for about the first half of this book. Chris was completely awful during the whole thing and there was no reason for Amy to be so misguided about him. I think the melodrama went on just a little too long, but I did like the ending. And I loved the whole Parker family.

Getting Lucky Number Seven

Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen. Read May 11-12. 3 stars.

I’ve liked some of this author’s other books so I thought I’d give this one try. It was a little more graphic than the others I’ve read which is a downside and very similar to a bunch of other NA books out there, but I liked the main characters and it was an easy read and fit in with my contemporary kick I’m on.

The Dare (The Bet, #3)

The Dare (The Bet #3) by Rachel Van Dyken. Read May 12-15. 1 star.

I started the first book in this series once and couldn’t get through it. I got this one for free so I thought I would give it a try. While there were some humorous moments, the characters weren’t all that likable – I HATED the Grandmother character. I’m glad it was free 🙂   

Cinderella Screwed Me Over

Cinderella Screwed me Over by Cindi Madsen. Read May 13-15. 3.5 stars.

Cute Chick Lit. I liked the “case studies”, though they didn’t really resemble the fairy tale characters they were compared to. I loved Jake and the main character was likable.

The Dead List

The Dead List by Jennifer Armentrout. Read May 24-26. 3.5 Stars.

This book reminded me that I really enjoy JLA’s YA books and it’s a cool idea that she released a whole book for free. This is a draft that wasn’t fully edited and really there weren’t many typos and only one glaring continuity error that I could tell.

I liked the characters. Ella was a good main character and Jensen was a pretty good book boyfriend, though I thought he was a little too domineering at times. The mystery was well done. While there were some parts that I thought were predictable, there were other things that surprised me. I would have liked a little more background from when they were younger and I think it took too long to find out what happened with Penn, but overall it was a good, enjoyable read.

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RE-READS

On the Fence

On The Fence by Kasie West. I’ve really been on a contemporary kick this month and with the anticipation of The Fill-In Boyfriend coming out, I was craving some Kasie West.

The Best Man (Blue Heron, #1)

The Best Man, The Perfect Match, Waiting on You, and In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron series) by Kristan Higgins. What can I say? I love Kristan Higgins. I re-read The Best Man and then I just wanted the rest of the series.

Somebody to Love (Gideon's Cove, #3)

Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins. This is kind of a sequel to both The Next Best Thing and Catch of the Day. The first time I read this I hadn’t read either of the other novels and I have to say that I enjoyed it much more this second time around, recognizing all of Parker’s friends now.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

End of Days (Penryn and the End of Days, #3)

End of Days (Angelfall #3) by Susan Ee. I think I may need a re-read before I go into this last book. I really didn’t remember much of what happened before and there wasn’t much recap.

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DNF

Taken

Taken by Dee Henderson

I got about a quarter of the way through this book before I decided I needed a break from it. After a couple of weeks I just can’t make myself pick it up again.

I’ve liked many of Henderson’s other novels, but Taken just didn’t do it for me. While I liked Matthew well enough, I just couldn’t stand Shannon. I found her attitude extremely off-putting. I was just really annoyed about how she had a plan in her head of what to do and even though she went to Matthew for help, she refused to listen to any of his input. For the life of me I can’t understand why he catered to her so completely and trusted her so easily.

And while what I read didn’t get very far into romance at all, I can’t really get behind Matthew and Shannon being romantically involved. His first impression of her was how she reminded him of his daughter and that just puts an ick factor to it.

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The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag

I was looking for a fun book tag and thought I would give this Zombie Apocalypse Tag a try.

The Rules

  1. Pick 5 books (preferably ones you’ve read or know the characters).
  2. Write the name of the books on pieces of paper.
  3. Put the pieces of paper in a hat or container.
  4. Pull one piece of paper out to choose your first book.
  5. Open to a random page and use the first name you see to answer question 1 (under “Your Zombie Team”).
  6. Use the same book for question 2, but turn to a different page.
  7. Pull one piece of paper out to choose your second book.
  8. You will use your second book to answer questions 3 and 4.
  9. Your third book will answer questions 5 and 6.
  10. Forth book with answer questions 7 and 8.
  11. The fifth book will answer questions 9 and 10.

OR

The Lazy Version of the Rules (because you shouldn’t work so hard on a book tag)

  1. Pick 5 books and use a random number generator to pick the order.
  2. Pick the first two characters that come to mind and follow the above steps (5-11) to get your Zombie Apocalypse Team

Books I’m Using:

Obsidian (Lux, #1)  Illusions of Fate  The Best Man (Blue Heron, #1)  The Fill-In Boyfriend  Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

1. Who is the first person to die? (Illusions of Fate)

Jessamin 😦

2. Who is the person you trip to get away from the zombies? (Illusions of Fate)

Finn! Oh no! I suck! But he’s resourceful, so I’m sure he’ll be ok. Plus, he’ll need to avenge Jessamin.

3. Who is the first person to turn into a zombie? (Obsidian)

Katie 😦

4. Who is the person that trips YOU to get away from the zombies? (Obsidian)

Daemon. He’s probably just acting out from Kat turning into a zombie. I can forgive him.

5. Who is the idiot of the team? (Cress)

Captain Thorne. But he’s really smarter than he acts.

6. Who is the “brains” of the team? (Cress)

Cinder. No surprise there

7. Who is the team’s medic? (The Best Man)

Levi. I feel good with that.

8. Who is the weapons expert? (The Best Man)

Faith.  Oh dear, I don’t see that going well.

9. Who is the brawler? (The Fill-In Boyfriend)

Bec. I can see that.

10. Who is the Team Captain? (The Fill-In Boyfriend)

Gia. Again, I can see that.

If you think you would enjoy The Zombie Apocalypse Book Tag, consider yourself tagged!

Review: The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I never wanted it to end!

Kasie West is really one of my favorite YA authors. Her characters are relatable, her male leads are sweet, and they act like high school students.

As like most of West’s leading ladies, Gia comes off a little unlikable at first. She’s pretty and popular and kind of shallow. We meet her as she’s being dumped in the parking lot of her senior prom by her college-aged boyfriend. She’s afraid to go into prom alone because her frenemy, Jules, has been trying to convince her other friends that Bradley never existed and Gia was just making him up. (This sounds kind of silly, but I did have a friend in high school who actually used to make up guys and then tell real elaborate stories about how she met them that I later felt stupid for believing.) Though she is upset over being dumped by Bradley, she’s more upset about having to face the possibility that her friends will dump her, so when she sees a guy sitting in his car, she convinces him to pretend to be Bradley and go to prom with her.

Luckily for Gia, Fill-in Bradley (FIB) is an actor and he plays the part well. So well that Gia can’t stop thinking about him. However, he leaves without her ever getting his real name and his sister, Bec, is not a Gia fan and won’t help her get in contact with him again – until she finds out he’s going to his cheating ex-girlfriend’s party and then she enlists Gia to return the fake relationship favor. From there a real friendship forms, not just between Gia and FIB, but Gia and Bec, as well. Adorableness ensues.

If there’s one relationship cliché trope I love, it’s the Fake Relationship. While this book didn’t have quite as much of the fake relationship scenarios I like to read, it still fit the bill. It actually focused way more on the actual relationship between Gia and FIB when they weren’t pretending to be anything else and that’s what really made this book so sweet. FIB isn’t perfect, but I loved him. He was very sweet and caring and funny. I loved the bantery fun between him and Gia. I also liked his relationship with his sister and his mom. Though his dad is mentioned several times as being a good guy, we never actually get to meet him, which disappointed mea little.

As I said above, Gia was a little unlikable at first, but she grows a lot throughout the story and becomes  a lot more likable. I felt her fears of not being good enough for her friends was a relatable and I liked how that part of the storyline played out. Her parents were present, but not great. I wish they would’ve been a little more developed and acted a little more like parents.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Fill-in Boyfriend. It definitely packed the cute that I expect from a Kasie West novel, but it also had some relatable themes on growing up and friendship that were well done. I would recommend it to fans of contemporary YA (especially those that appreciate more “clean” contemporary) and fans of West’s other books.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

 

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

I’ve been looking forward to this book for so long and unfortunately I found it very disappointing!

I haven’t re-read the first book since the first time I read it so I may be remembering wrong, but I thought it was a very cute book and I found Lara Jean’s naiveté kind of charming. That’s not to say I didn’t have some issues with the book, but over all I thought it was adorable.

I feel like P.S. I Still Love You suffered from trying to be too much, without every really defining itself. It acted like a “cause” book for awhile, calling attention to slut shaming and the double standard between males and females when it comes to sex. It had a bit of a love triangle/love square (but not with the person you would expect) and it didn’t take up the majority of the book like I thought it would (not that that’s really a bad thing, though). There were a lot of scenes and dialogue where it almost seemed more like a middle grade or very young end of the YA spectrum book, but then there were other scenes and language that seemed more appropriate for the more mature YA crowd. It made so many parts of the book just seem so awkward. It was kind of the book equivalent of a little girl playing dress up and instead of playing house, plays Sex in the City. They tried very hard to sound grown up, but instead just come across cringe-worthy.

The flow was kind of choppy, as well. There would be really random scenes of Lara Jean and her sisters or Lara Jean and her friends at the nursing home that just didn’t really seem to add anything at all to the story.

The book wasn’t all bad, though. There were still some cute scenes between Lara Jean and Peter, though not as many I would have liked. Her relationship with her sisters is solid again, which is nice to see. The lack of Josh is kind of surprising, but I liked the addition of John.

Overall, I found P.S. I Still Love You to be very underwhelming. It was not at all the book I was expecting it to be. I feel like it could have been much more focused. Perhaps the story was trying to combat the critics of the first book who thought Lara Jean was way too naïve, but unfortunately her “growth” in this book just made for an awkward read. However, fans of Han will probably still enjoy it and if you’ve read the first one, you might enjoy this one, too.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2. Stars

2 stars

Review: Remember Me by Lara Van Hulzen

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Detective Ben Russo is in trouble.

He just can’t remember why.

When a car accident lands Ben in the hospital, he can’t recall anything about his life. What he does know is he’s enchanted by a tiny nurse named Tess, but can’t shake the feeling they’re both in danger.

After being left at the altar, Tess Jansenn moves to a new town and starts over. When her ex-fiancé, Ben, shows up in the ER where she works with no memory of her, she must decide – tell Ben who he is or let him remember on his own.

Can Tess forgive and forget what drove them apart, and when Ben remembers, will the consequences of his choices make it too late for love?

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

Fun fact before I get started. I went to a Nazarene college and Van Hulzen attended Point Loma Nazarene University in California. Every year when it snowed there were always people who vowed to transfer to Point Loma. So while I never met the author, or visited Point Loma, it’s kind of a cool connection.

Tess is a nurse who has a John Doe patient, someone who’s lost his memory. She’s surprised to find it’s her ex-fiancé. She’s torn about whether or not she should tell him the truth, but ultimately decides against it. Her friend and neighbor , Mike, who is a doctor, gives her the (somewhat flimsy) excuse that it would probably be better if he remembers things on his own. He offers his home to the recovering Ben, thus keeping him close to Tess.

I have to say that this really bothered me. I thought for sure there would be some type of legal ramifications because Tess speaks with a  police officer and doesn’t tell him that she knows who Ben is. However, I asked my brother, a cop, and he said it could technically be “obstruction of official business”, but probably wouldn’t be more than a misdemeanor, if that. And since it doesn’t take long for the police find his ID (kind of), it’s not really an ongoing case or anything.

So Ben goes home with Mike and Tess and begins to develop a relationship with Tess all over again. While she struggles with wanting to know why he left her before their wedding, she’s enjoying the second chance. She knows she eventually needs to tell him the truth if they are to try having a future together, but things fall apart when he recovers his memory on his own and doesn’t let on that he remembers. There are things he can’t tell Tess, yet, not without putting her in danger.

The characters in Remember Me are likable. While Tess did annoy me at some times, she was overall a good character. She made some poor decisions, but she realized they were poor and did try to do better. I liked Ben and found him the most complex character of the bunch. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more background information given on their relationship, though. I also really liked Tess’s friends, Mike and Emma.

Remember Me is a faith based novel, but I think people who don’t generally like “religion” in books would still enjoy it. There are mentions of church and relationships with God, but it’s never “preachy” and isn’t even a huge theme in the book, however I think it will still satisfy fans of faith based romantic suspense.

Overall, I enjoyed Remember Me. While a few parts were kind of predictable, the focus was really on the relationship between Ben and Tess and it was well done. I think fans of romantic suspense will enjoy it. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel

Synopsis from Good Reads:

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…

Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.

But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.

Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

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

Eight Hundred Grapes will be available June 2, 2015.

Eight Hundred Grapes is a well-paced, character-driven novel about family and secrets. And wine.

Less than a week before her wedding is to take place, Georgia catches her fiancé in a lie. She runs away, back to her family’s vineyard to try to come to terms with it. However, once she returns she finds even more secrets. Her brothers are fighting, her parents are separating, and the vineyard is up for sale. Georgia works to fix everyone’s problems, while mostly ignoring her own.

There is a lot of cheating in this book. It’s different than most cheating books, though, in that it is emotional cheating. I found it just as intolerable, though. I thought Georgia’s mother was really selfish throughout much of the book. I thought Georgia was too forgiving of Ben, her fiancé. Margaret, Georgia’s sister-in-law kind of drove me nuts.

The thing, though, on why this book works, is because even though these characters were so unlikable most of the time, I was still rooting for them. I wanted Bobby and Margaret to stay together. I wanted Bobby and Finn to reconcile. I wanted Georgia’s parents to get back together. And I wanted Georgia to be happy, whether that meant reconciling with Ben and moving to London, or staying and trying to save her family’s vineyard – and see what can happen with all that chemistry with Jacob, the man who is buying the vineyard. When writing flawed, somewhat unlikable characters, it has to be done in such a way to let the reader empathize with them and Laura Dave really does a great job with that.

In addition to the many family storylines, we get information on wine and the wine-making process. I think wine aficionados will enjoy the extra information, but I kind of skimmed through those parts. I did appreciate, though, that the author didn’t go overboard with too much information, which a lot of authors seem to do to show off their research on any given subject.

Even though the characters frustrated me throughout most of the story, I liked how their storylines wrapped up. Not everything was clean and perfect, but it was still a happy book. I also really liked all the interactions between Georgia and Jacob. Their enemies to friends relationship and all their banter were the highlights of the book for me.

Overall, I liked Eight Hundred Grapes. Though the characters were often frustrating to me, they were well-written and I was really rooting for them. It was a quick read, one I finished in under 24 hours (though I was able to dedicate most of my Saturday to it). I think fans of contemporary and character-driven novels will enjoy it.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars