Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Well we are half way through the year and in accordance this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015. (In converse, I posted my most disappointing booksnof 2015 so far yesterday.) In no particular order, my favorite books I’ve read so far are:

Big Little Lies

1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Ok, so this one is in particular order, as I gave this book 4.5 stars and it’s probably my favorite book of the year so far.

The Singles

2. The Singles by Meredith Goldstein. This has been on my TBR forever and I was so excited when I found it for $1 at a library sale.

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)

3. Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge. A great thriller/mystery.

Missing You

4. Missing You by Harlan Coben. My first Harlan Coben and it won’t be my last!

The Fill-In Boyfriend

5. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West. Another adorable book that reminds me why Kasie West is my favorite YA Contemporary author.

First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)

6. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells was one of my favorite books last year and it’s sequel did not disappoint.

The Start of Me and You

7. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. Another cute contemporary.

Unbecoming

8. Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm. A very well done character-driven novel.

The Beautiful Daughters

9. The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart. Beautifully written, another character-driven piece.

Black-Eyed Susans

10. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. This one isn’t out yet, but is easily one of my favorites. A great suspense story.

Law of Attraction  Discretion  Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis, #3)  A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

11. Ok, so I’m adding another one and making it a series because these books are amazing and is my favorite new series of the year – The Anna Curtis series by Allison Leotta – Law of Attraction, Discretion, Speak of the Devil, A Good Killing

What are your favorite books so far this year? Do you agree with any of my choices?

Most Disappointing Books of 2015 So Far

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Since tomorrow’s Top Ten Tuesday is going to be focused on the top ten books I’ve read in 2015 so far, I thought today I’d focus on the most disappointing books. These aren’t going to necessarily be the lowest rated books (though most of them are), but also ones that I was looking forward to and felt let down by.

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. The cover is so intriguing. The reviews were glowing. This was probably my most anticipated read of the year and it was…blah. The pacing was slow, the characters were not well-developed, and I was just bored. The link leads to my spoiler filled review if you want more specifics, but this book was a big disappointment for me. The saving grace was the final action sequence and the ending was interesting enough that I MIGHT read the next book.

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray. Another pretty cover that got my hopes up. I honestly can’t remember much about this book other than I was really looking forward to it and found it pretty boring. And forgettable, apparently.

Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle. I’ve seen almost nothing but 4 or 5 star reviews on Vendetta and I just can’t understand it. This book was just absurd. It was unbelievable and over the top and the writing was kind of immature.

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I really enjoyed the first book in this duology, but I found this one really underwhelming. I felt it tried to be too many things and because of that lacked focus. The pacing was choppy and the writing was uneven. I thought the whole thing felt like little kids trying to be grown-ups and it made a lot of the dialogue cringe-worthy to me.

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. While the book got better as it went along, it was nowhere near as good as I wanted it to be. The main character was very unlikable and not in a fun “I love to hate her” kind of way. I’ve heard this referred to as “this year’s Gone Girl” and that is exactly why I hate book comparisons.

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The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister. Everything about this sounded like it would be the kind of book that’s perfect for me. But it wasn’t. I felt like I was supposed to be tricked along the way and shocked at the ending. However, I guessed the ending long before it was revealed and found much of the story leading up to it to be slow and drawn out. This was not the mind-bending surprise I was hoping for.

The Wrong Side of Right

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne. Probably my most anticipated book after Red Queen and it ended up being just ok for me. I’ve seen pretty much nothing but perfect reviews on it, but a good deal of it really annoyed me. I pretty much hated the first quarter or so of it and then it slowly got better. The main character drove me nuts for much of the story, as well.

What about you? What books have you found most disappointing this year? Do you agree with any of my choices? Or did you love any of the ones that disappointed me?

Review: Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis #3) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear. A few miles away from where she’s enjoying her romantic dinner, two separate groups are gearing up to raid a brothel. A vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads one group. A few minutes later, Anna’s own investigative team heads in to search the brothel, as part of an ongoing fight against human trafficking in DC. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results.

As Anna investigates the bloody face-off, the boundaries between her work and home life begin to blur when she discovers a web of long-buried secrets and official lies that lead straight to her doorstep. And everything Anna counted on—the happiness she seemed so close to securing—comes into question as Diablo moves in for yet another kill.

Allison Leotta draws on her experience as a DC sex-crimes prosecutor to take you into the back rooms of the US Attorney’s Office, the hidden world of the Witness Protection Program, and the secret rituals of one of America’s most dangerous gangs.

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After finishing this book I am now caught up on the Anna Curtis series (since the first book I read was #4). I think it’s safe to say that Allison Leotta has gotten better with each book. I enjoyed Law of Attraction, I devoured Discretion and thought it was basically everything a DC-based crime novel should be, and Speak of the Devil keeps up with the crime/mystery aspect I expect while also really delivering on the emotional front.

Any book in this genre includes some scenes that are hard to read and when one features a gang who’s mottos is “Kill, Rape, Control”, you know you’re in for some heart wrenching situations. Not only do we get the violent POV of some of the gang members, we get the POV of one of those gang members who wants out. His character development was very strong and really conveyed the intensity of his emotions. I was really rooting for him throughout the book.

There are also big things happening in Anna’s personal life. Now, I’ve read A Good Killing (book 4), and know what the outcome of these personal developments would be, but I was not expecting how emotionally invested in it I would be. I’ve always been a little ambivalent towards Jack, but in this book we find things out about him that made me start to dislike him. And he handles things pretty poorly. But still. Anna really loves him and wants to marry him and I found myself hoping things would go her way.

In addition to the personal storylines, the actual crime/mystery part of the book was very well done. Leotta continues to impress me with her writing of the legal specifics, never going overboard on the details, but making it realistic and easy to understand. There are also several very suspenseful chapters that made me curse my 1/2 hour lunch break. The crime story itself had several layers that all came together well in the end, including a twist involving the murder of Jack’s wife, Nina.

Overall, I really enjoyed Speak of the Devil. It was an incredibly well-written, well-paced story that really tugs on the heartstrings. I’m looking forward to re-reading A Good Killing, to see if I feel any differently now that I know more of Anna’s background. I recommend this series to fans of crime/mystery/suspense. If you’re not reading this series yet, you should be!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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*There’s still a couple days left to enter my 2 Year Blogaversary Giveaway-Ending 6/26*

2 Year Blogaversary

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Today is Stephanie’s Book Reviews 2 Year Blogaversary! My first ever post was a review of Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo on June 23, 2013. I hope my reviews have gotten little better since then…

Since I’ve started I’ve written 430 posts. My top 5 most viewed reviews are:

Opposition (Lux #5) by Jennifer Armentrout

Sentinel (Covenant #5) by Jennifer Armentrout

Ruin & Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo

The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

(Apparently series enders are the most searched for reviews.)

Thanks to all those that have followed, commented, and liked things on this little blog. It’ll never be one of those blogs with thousands of followers or be a money maker, but I enjoy it.

To thank you, I’m hosting a giveaway for an ebook of your choice, up to $10.99 (I know that’s kind of a random number, but I’ve noticed a lot of ebooks on my own wish list are this price). The winner will get their choice of a kindle book or Nook book. Don’t have an e-reader? You can download apps on your tablet or smart phone.

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Review: Law of Attraction (Anna Curtis #1) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from B&N:

As a newly minted Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, Anna Curtis has already developed a thick skin to help her deal with the unsettling brutality she encounters daily in her overflowing stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson—battered to death by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s Day—crosses Anna’s desk, there’s something about this particular case that Anna can’t quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past.

It’s also the biggest case of Anna’s career—and the most personal. If she wins it, she could lose everything. The victim she tried to protect is dead. Her lover—no, her ex-lover—is defending the accused killer. Caught between seeking justice for Laprea and saving her personal life, Anna makes a series of choices that jeopardize her career, her relationships, and her very life as she uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder.

Weaving expert knowledge with deft storytelling, Law of Attraction provides a fascinating glimpse into the most emotional cases of DC’s criminal justice system.

LOA  Law of Attraction

I recently read A Good Killing, which is the 4th book in the Anna Curtis series, and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to start the series from the beginning and not too long after that I won a giveaway from Allison Leotta where I won signed copies of the entire series! I finally finished the first book and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it!

In Law of Attraction Anna Curtis is a relatively new prosecutor in Washington DC. A domestic violence case comes across her desk and she takes a very personal interest in it. Things get complicated when her old law school classmate and current crush, Nick Wagner, is the public defender of the abuser, D’Marco. After the case is finished – and D’Marco is set free, Anna and Nick’s relationship heats up, only to come to a crashing halt when Laprea is found dead and Anna and Nick find themselves on opposing sides of the court. Anna joins Homicide chief Jack Bailey to put D’Marco away for good. However, the twists and turns that come up along the way may lead to an outcome Anna could never expect.

The story is told in 3rd person POV and we get the perspectives of pretty much all the major players – Mostly Anna, but also Nick, Jack, D’Marco, Laprea, and a couple of other minor characters. Most of the books I read tend to be 1st Person POV, which I love, but I think the 3rd person POV really worked well here. I loved getting everyone’s perspectives and felt it helped move the story along at a good pace.

I thought Anna was a well developed character and I liked to see her starting out in the profession. I also liked meeting the characters that popped up in A Good Killing – Jack, Anna’s sister Jody, and her friend Grace. It was pretty easy for me to be completely Team Cooper in A Good Killing, but now seeing Anna’s earlier romance I’m feeling conflicted about what’s to come.

Leotta did a good job of weaving information of legal processes into the story. Sometimes I think books like this go overboard with explanations, but I here I think we got just enough information of how things worked and I really found those tidbits interesting. My brother’s a cop and often has to go to court so I liked hearing another perspective of those same type of court proceedings.

The only thing I didn’t really like in this book is that there were a couple chapters where it stopped feeling like a crime/suspense book and felt like a straight up romance-including an overly graphic love scene. I understand that it was important to build up the relationship between Anna and Nick, but it was maybe a little bit much.

Overall, I really enjoyed Law of Attraction. I liked the writing style, the characters, and the case. While some of the plot played out predictably, the final twists were ones I didn’t see coming. This is a series I’m definitely glad I started from the beginning and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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