July 2015 Recap

Cute and Crafty 2015 Printable Calendar

So I really have not done a great job of reading or blogging in July. I’ve only reviewed 4 books and one of those is one I read in a previous month but saved the review for the release date. I did have a number of re-reads that I don’t count in my “Books Read” for the month or overall numbers, though.

Books Read: 7

Genres Read:
Adult: 2
Young Adult: 4
New Adult: 1

Books Read in 2015 Overall:

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Books Reviewed:

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – 3/5 Stars
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 3.5/5 Stars
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – 3/5 Stars
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga – 4/5 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesdays:

Hyped Books I’ve Never Read
Recently Acquired Books

Funny Fridays:

July 3, 2015

July 10, 2015

Indeed.

July 17, 2015

11 Charts That Accurately Sum Up Being A Book Nerd#.lq88JKV7K#.lq88JKV7K

Other Posts:

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2015
June 2015 Recap
Author Event: Linda Castillo
Totally Didn’t Book Tag
Mean Girls Book Tag
Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2015

Looking Forward to August:

Other than hoping to read (and review) more books I don’t really have any specific plans for August except for one. I am going to host my first ever publisher-provided giveaway! Stay tuned for my review of one of my favorite books of the year, Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin, for your chance to win a copy!

Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 2015

Stephanies Book Reviews Header

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

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After the Storm (Kate Burkholder #7) by Linda Castillo. Read July 14-17. 3.5 stars.

I enjoy this series and did enjoy this book, but it definitely wasn’t my favorite of the group. The main mystery felt pretty predictable and didn’t really contain any surprises (except for *SPOILER* a guy who we’ve only seen in a wheelchair, doesn’t actually need it. I still don’t understand what the purpose of that was. Why would he need to fake a stroke or whatever? For thirty years no one suspected him of anything *END OF SPOILER*). There were some exciting scenes with Kate and an unknown shooter that kept the book interesting, though.

On the personal relationship front, I was kind of annoyed at the new development. Tomasetti and Kate both learn something about themselves that bode well for the future, though, so I guess it’s ok. Tomasetti had a few moments where he got to be part of the investigation(s), but mostly his role was just Kate’s boyfriend – which isn’t a bad role, but I miss seeing him be more front and center.

Overall, After the Storm, is a good installment to the Kate Burkholder series and I look forward to the next one.

The First Wife

The First Wife by Erica Spindler. Read July 18-19. 3 stars.

So this is basically a Lifetime movie. And like most Lifetime movies, I felt oddly compelled to finish it, no matter how corny things are along the way. The writing left a lot to be desired, the characters weren’t really ones I connected with or rooted for. The resolution of the mystery seemed so blatantly obvious that I knew it couldn’t be right and I wanted to find out the twist. Though a lot of the book was drawn out and repetitive, it did do a good job of keeping me guessing. I suspected nearly everybody at one point or another and there was a couple of twists that surprised me.

I generally enjoyed the book, though I won’t be running out to read anything else by this author in the near future. I think fans of Lifetime mysteries would enjoy it.

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)

Ink (Paper Gods #1) by Amanda Sun. Read July 25-26. 3 stars.

I’m not sure if this would have been a book I tried if I hadn’t won it in a giveaway, so I’m glad that I did!

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Japan before, so the setting was definitely interesting. I enjoyed learning a little bit about the culture. One thing that always bugs me about multi-cultural books is when they say things in a different language and they don’t explain what it is. I was looking up a bunch of terms as I was reading and it wasn’t until I was almost done (I was actually counting the remaining pages last night so I could decide between going to bed or finishing the book)when I discovered there was a glossary in the back of the book! While I would rather terms be explained in context (and to be fair, some of them were), I definitely appreciate having a glossary.

I’m also really glad that I got to have an actual hard copy of this book. There’s illustrations throughout (and it’s always iffy how they turn out in my simple e-reader) and even a couple of instances where there were some doodles on the side of several pages that end up being like a flip book animation, which was cool.

The story itself was enjoyable. I thought that the explanation of the Kami could have been a little better done, as I was left a little confused through most of the book. The characters were likable and the two main characters, Katie and Tomohiro, were well developed. I knew Jun was going to play a bigger part in the story and thought it was fairly obvious what that would be, but I was ok with that.

I’m interested to see what will happen next and am looking forward to the next book!

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Audio Book/Re-read

I've Got Your Number

A few weeks ago I went to Canada for the first time to visit my sister and brother-in-law and my meet my new baby niece! The drive is about ten hours and I get really bad motion sickness if I try to read in the car, so I browsed the library for available audio books and downloaded I’ve Got Your Number, which is one of my favorite chick lit books. This was the first audio book I’ve ever listened to the whole way through and I really enjoyed it. I liked the narrator, too. The real kicker, though, was that I talked my parents into listening to it during the drive and they both really enjoyed it!

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RE-READS

The first half of July was the month of the Re-read. I’m not going to go into great detail, but I enjoyed all these just as much as the first time.

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)  Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)  Just One of the Guys  Definitely, Maybe in Love (Definitely Maybe, #1)  Someday Maybe (Definitely Maybe, #2)

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy #2) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Just one of the Guys by Kristan Higgns
Definitely, Maybe in Love (Definitely Maybe #1) by Ophelia London
Someday Maybe (Definitely Maybe #2) by Ophelia London

Review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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I Hunt Killers has been on my radar for a while now, but it’s not an e-book at my library and I’m super stingy about buying books from authors I’m unfamiliar with so it’s just been sitting there patiently on my TBR shelf. I recently won a giveaway for a Nook Book of my choice and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally check this out.

I’m a fan of serial killer plotlines. The psychological impact on the characters always makes for some compelling characters, which I love. I Hunt Killers is a new twist on the genre that I haven’t read before. The main character is not the cop/law enforcement officer chasing him down or the serial killer, but his son. Billy Dent is the world’s most notorious serial killer and has over 120 kills to his name. He’s used several different personas, “The Artist”, “Green Jack”, “Hand-in-Glove”, and  has taught his son, Jasper (“Jazz”) everything he knows in hope that he will carry on “the family business.” Jasper has no intention of following in his father’s footsteps, but the brainwashing he received from Billy all those years has seriously messed with his head and he is constantly on alert for the stray thoughts or incident that could easily push him over the edge to becoming his father.

The character development in this book was phenomenal. I really felt like I got into Jasper’s head throughout the story and it was not always a pleasant place to be. I’m a fan of the tv show Dexter and this book has a bit of a Dexter vibe at times. Dexter’s struggle with his “dark passenger” is similar to how Jasper struggles with Billy’s voice constantly in his head – telling him how to kill and that he should.  Jasper tries to combat the increasingly alluring inner voice by repeating a mantra of, “People matter” to remind him that they aren’t the insignificant and disposable things to be used for his own purposes, as Billy taught him. He keeps pictures of all of Billy’s victims on his bedroom wall to be reminded of what he doesn’t want to be. When a new serial killer shows up in town he’s desperate to help – not just to prove to the town that it isn’t him, but to prove to himself that he’s on the right side.

While he tries to ignore the most gruesome of Billy’s teachings, he has become a master manipulator and often utilizes those skills to get him what he wants. He usually knows that it’s wrong, but he also justifies it to himself and this peek into the possible sociopathic mindset is part of what makes his character so interesting.

I really enjoyed Jazz’s best friend, Howie, as well. He was a great side-kick, comic relief, but also got in on some of the action. His hemophilia is also an interesting addition to his character. He’s physically extremely vulnerable and thus an easy target, which makes for a surprising choice of BFF for a could-be serial killer. I also liked the sheriff, G. William, and Jazz’s girlfriend, Connie.

Overall, I enjoyed I Hunt Killers and am glad I finally got to read it. I haven’t encountered many YA books that pull off suspense and creepiness the way that this one does. It’s dark and slightly gruesome, but it’s balanced out with a bit of humor. While there were a few predictable moments, I was often in suspense. I loved the characterization of Jasper. I’m looking forward to see what happens in the rest of the series.

I struggled a bit with what to rate this, but I think because of the unique plot idea and the great characterization, I’m going to bump up my original 3.5 to 4.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Mean Girls Book Tag

I saw this over on Confessions of a Book Geek and loved it and knew I had to do it.

It’s Pronounced Like “Cady”.

Which fictional characters’ names did you get completely wrong?

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I just finished A Court of Thorns and Roses and I had no idea how to pronounce Feyre until I found out there was a pronunciation key in the back of the book. *Note to authors – if you need a pronunciation key for your character names, you probably should just re-name your characters!*

She Doesn’t Even Go Here!

Pick a fictional character that you would like to place in another fictional character’s world.

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I think I’ve said this before, but I would love to put Fia from the Mind Games series into the Shatter Me series. I would so love for her and Juliette to be best friends. I also think she would get along super well with Warner.

On Wednesdays, We Wear Pink.

Repetition, repetition. Which book gave you déja vu of another book while reading it?

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Red Queen was pretty similar to a lot of other books.

You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.

Which book gave you the complete opposite of girl power feels?

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Sang from the Ghostbird series. She completely lets the boys control her every move and word and it’s uncomfortable.

You Go Glen Coco!

Name a character you felt like you wanted to cheer on whilst reading.

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Katniss from the Hunger Games series, of course!

Get in Loser, We’re Going Shopping!

How long do you typically spend at a book shop?

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I generally try to avoid stores as much as possible, so if I’m going into one it’s with a specific purpose and I’m in and out. I do spend a lot of time browsing the Barnes & Noble website for my Nook, though.

It’s Not My Fault You’re Like In Love With Me Or Something!

Which character would have to get out a restraining order on you, if they were real?

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The Raven boys, Warner from Shatter Me, Daemon Black from Lux, Sean Kendrick from the Scorpio Races, Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door…There would probably be more than restraining orders since these are all YA characters….

I Can’t Help It That I’m Popular.

Which over-hyped book were you cautious about reading?

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Emmy & Oliver. I ended up giving it 3 stars, but I was super disappointed in it.

She’s A Life Ruiner. She Ruins Peoples’ Lives.

We all love Regina George. Name a villain you just love to hate.

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Amy Dunne from Gone Girl and the Dane Twins from A Darker Shade of Magic

I’m Not Like A Regular Mom, I’m A Cool Mom.

Your favourite fictional parents.

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Kami’s dad in The Lynburn Legacy series

That Is So Fetch!

Which book or series would you love to catch on?

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I adore The Lynburn Legacy and wish it got more attention.

How Do I Even Begin To Explain Regina George?

Describe your ideal character to read about.

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 The Raven Boys and Blue. Their friendship as a whole. Their individual personalities. I could honestly read about these characters forever – doing anything!

I Just Have A Lot Of Feelings.

A book that gave you a bad case of ‘the feels’?

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes made me cry. Like a lot.

Nice Wig Janice, What’s It Made Of? – Your Mom’s Chest Hair!

Which character’s one liners would you love to claim for your own?

I was trying not to repeat books, but for the third time I need to reference The Lynburn Legacy and say Kami Glass. She is such a funny character and I love pretty much everything she says.

Boo, You Whore.

Name a time a characters decision has made you roll your eyes.

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Becky Bloomwood from the Shopaholic series. That girl just never learns!!

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

So apparently my purpose in the blogosphere is to naysay the hype. Let me start by saying that I did like this book. The hype monster didn’t completely ruin it for me. However, it was a pretty middle-of-the-road book for me. I can’t for the life of me understand all the 5-Star Perfect reviews it gets.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. This time the beast is a faerie and the curse involves masquerade masks, not enchanted housewares. Most of the book was pretty different from Beauty and the Beast, but there were a few moments where Tamlin and Feyre start to grow closer where in my head I started singing, “Newwwwww, and a bit alarming…”

beauty and the beast silhouette - Google Search

Some random thoughts, since I’m not feeling a whole review…

-I was often a little confused by a lot of the faerie going-ons and politics – and the curse, but for the most part the world building was pretty well done.

-Feyre was pretty well developed and she grew throughout the story, but I found myself annoyed by her sometimes. Her attitude at the end of the book, while understandable, makes me dread how whiney she’s going to be in the second book.

-The Great Rite…it sounded like an erotica subplot…This book had some graphic moments that puts it firmly in the NA genre – cover your eyes kiddos!

-Tamlin was a pretty good leading man and I liked him, but due to the curse where he couldn’t always be straightforward, he kind of came across as a liar. And in the second half of the book we barely get to spend any time with him and the love story I was starting to get into was kind of forgotten.

-While Feyre & Tamlin’s relationship was supposed to be a hate to love situation, I didn’t think Feyre really ever hated him that much and the shift to love wasn’t that dramatic. That said, I was a fan of the romance, though my shipping waned once we got Under the Mountain

-Lucien was a perfect side character – friend to both Tamlin and Feyre, comic relief, tragic backstory.

-I have to say I kind of loved Rhysand. Don’t get me wrong, I’m dreading the inevitable love triangle to come, but Rhysand is by far the most compelling character of the book. He’s strong and clever and devious and thoughtful and broody and mysterious. More Rhys, please.

-The story was pretty slow-paced. There were a couple faster-paced, action-packed scenes towards the end, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the overall slow-paced, dragged out feel.

-The writing was good enough, but there were some times where the imagery, dialogue, or situation made me roll my eyes a bit.

Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses was a mostly enjoyable book. I liked it enough that I plan on reading the second book. I really, really disliked Throne of Glass by the same author and had no intention of reading any more from her. So while I definitely don’t think this book deserves all the hype it gets, if it wasn’t for that hype, I never would have given this book a chance and I’m’ glad that I did.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Totally Didn’t Book Tag

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Since I am completely blocked in writing reviews lately I went on a search for fun book tags. I saw this one over on Inspired by the Page and decided to give it a try.

1. Totally didn’t need to have a sequel/sequels!

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

The Mortal Instruments after the initial trilogy. It really should have ended after book 3 and even then it felt drawn out…

2. Totally didn’t need to have more than one point of view!

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)

Untold (The Lyburn Legacy #2). I’m generally a big fan of multiple POV and I didn’t really mind it in this book, either. My main problem was the POVs that we got in addition to the MC – Holly and Ash when all I wanted was Jared’s.

3. Totally didn’t need to change cover art through the middle of a series!

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The Dark Elements by JLA. Not that I don’t think this series didn’t needs a cover change, but it definitely didn’t need THIS cover change. Like, it’s really no better.

4. Totally didn’t need a love triangle!

Requiem (Delirium, #3)

Ummmm, pretty much every book ever. But I’ll go with a love triangle that I thought was one of the most horribly done ones – Requiem (Delirium #3). Don’t even get me started on how this series ended.

5. Totally didn’t need this book to be included in this series!

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4). Ughhh. This book was the biggest waste of time. Just page after page of whiney, heartbroken Rose.

6. Totally didn’t need a cliffhanger!

Boy Band

Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith. I’m not sure if it can technically be considered a cliffhanger, but I was expecting the book to be a standalone and it definitely wasn’t! I am looking forward to the next book, though.

7. Totally didn’t need to have just one point of view!

Emmy & Oliver

Emmy & Oliver. Oliver’s POV would have added SO MUCH to this story. Especially since Emmy often rubbed me the wrong way.

8. Totally didn’t need that much hype!

Red Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Red Queen. And also, Emmy & Oliver again.  Sorry, not sorry.

9. Totally didn’t need a relative book reference! (e.g. Hunger Games fan would love Divergent.)

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans. It referenced Gillian Flynn and this book is good enough it doesn’t need it.

10. Totally didn’t deserve my time!

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

There are many books that I end up not being impressed by, but there are just a few that I very actively dislike and I think Allegiant takes the cake. I just like to forget that this book exists.

Feel free to tag yourself if you like!