August 2015 Recap

Cute and Crafty 2015 Printable Calendar

I’ve had a much better reading month than I did last month. Despite having a bit of a reading slump within the last week, I really sped through some books early in the month.

Books Read: 14

Genres Read:
Adult: 5
Young Adult: 9

Books Read in 2015 Overall:

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Books Reviewed: 6

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin – 4/5 Stars
Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin – 3/5 Stars
The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman – 2/5 Stars
Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud – 3/5 Stars
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – 4/5 Stars
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins – 4/5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesdays:

Authors I’ve read the most books from

girl and book

Funny Fridays:

August 7th

#HarlequinBooks #FortheLoveofBooks

August 14th

August 21st

Sometimes even less ;) #Books #BookLove

August 28th

Other Posts:

The 1989 Book Tag
If my life were like Chick Lit…The Wedding Date
The Emoji Book Tag
Today I’d like to ignore everything else and just READ
Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 2015

Looking Forward to September:

On a personal front, there are a couple big things happening in September. My 4-month old niece (and sister and brother-in-law) will be visiting for a week! They’re from Canada and I’ve only seen my adorable little niece once so far. They will be here the week preceding my little brother’s wedding, which is the other event in September.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 2015

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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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Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3) by Jennifer Armentrout. Read July 30-August 1. 3 Stars.

If I’m being completely honest, despite being from JLA, I never really fell in love with this series. If it wasn’t from this author I probably wouldn’t have continued it after the first book. That said, Every Last Breath was a pretty decent ending to the series. We find out around 20% in Layla’s choice of guys – the result of fan voting – and I’m glad it wasn’t dragged out. However, SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER* I never once thought that Zayne had any chance of “winning.” I liked the idea that fans got to vote after book 2, but I don’t think it was written in a way that it would be an actual contest. Roth was always obviously the author’s top pick and thus was written in a way to be ours, as well. *END OF SPOILER* There was one “mystery” that was brought up and then left hanging in this installment that kind of annoyed me. The answer was kind of implied, but still left open. While Layla’s story ended conclusively, I think it left enough side plot ideas open enough that there could be more from this world in the future.

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Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga. Read August 1-4. 3 stars.

The Good:
-We get more POVs, including Howie and Connie
-I love Howie even more this time around. He’s still funny, but getting his POV we get to know the serious side of him, too.
-Once all the pieces came together, the Game was pretty clever.
-The New York setting

The Bad:
-Throughout the book I steadily grew to dislike Connie more and more. Girl is STUPID. All of her decisions were poor and she kind of deserves to be where she ended up by the end of this book. Her drama queen moments with her parents were very annoying, as were her parents’ reactions.
-The plot was pretty convoluted. Like it was hard to understand at times until it was all laid out. Even then, not everything is explained.
-Bringing a minor across state lines without adult supervision/consent to consult on police business? Really?
-Jasper’s discovery at the end of the book was very, very predictable.
-Cliffhangers in every plotline!

Overall:
I know it looks like there’s more bad then good, but the good things really did outweigh the bad. This series does have a pretty unique concept and Jasper is still a great character. While I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, it was still good and I look forward to the conclusion of the series.

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Blood of my Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga. Read August 4-7. 3.5 Stars

This book was a little longer than it had to be. There were several moments I hated Connie and the phrase “too stupid to live” came to mind. There was a big reveal that I think was supposed to be shocking, but I suspected it since book two. I think it ended well, though, overall. I’m glad I read this series. Maybe a more in depth review to come after I’ve thought about it a bit.

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Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot. Read August 8-9. 3.5 Stars.

This book was pretty cute. I was a big fan of the romance between Ellen and Yan. Even though it happens quickly (the book takes place over a week), it felt like a slow burn romance and not insta-love. I thought both of the characters were well-developed and they were really well suited together, despite their differences.

I thought the side-plots were a little ridiculous. Ellen’s ex-boyfriend really betrayed her and she got her revenge on him, but she spends the majority of the book waiting for it to come back to bite her. In the end, I thought it was all resolved a little too easily. Yan has a more troubled past, but other than him leaving Bulgaria and needing to make a new start, there wasn’t really any long-lasting consequences. He had a more personal problem that was skirted around for most of the book, but I thought was obvious pretty early on. However, it was still a little heartbreaking to see how it affected him so much and I was glad to see it resolved in the end.

I hated Lacey. HATED HER. She was a spoiled, selfish brat and even though she had a few nicer moments throughout the book, it wasn’t really enough to redeem her for me. In a literary sense, she worked as a nice counterpoint to Ellen’s personality, but I still hated her.

Overall, I thought this was a cute, quick, summertime read that I enjoyed. At times it seemed to drag a little, but I really enjoyed the setting and the romance. I’ll definitely be checking out more from Baggot in the future.

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Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London. Read August 9-10. 3.5 Stars.

I’m a complete sucker for boy band books because I looooved boy bands back in the day. This book was all kinds of adorable. I liked both Aimee and Miles. The romance was a little fast, but very sweet. There was some eye-rolling drama, of course. And some of the dialogue and Aimee’s internal monologues annoyed me – I think it was supposed to be “teenage slang”, but it sounded silly to me. But maybe that’s how kids talk these days? I don’t know. I didn’t like that the rest of the boy band members weren’t really well-developed characters at all. But then I found out that this is a series where each book – about a different band member – is written by a different author, so I can forgive the story for not developing the other guys too much. Overall, it was very cute and I’m sure I’ll re-read it any time I need a cute little pick-me-up.

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Mia and the Bad Boy by Lisa Burstein. August 10-11. 3 stars.

This book wasn’t as cute as the first one in the series, but there was still enough cuteness that I enjoyed it. The romance happened really fast and I didn’t buy into it as much as I would’ve liked to, but as I said, there was still cuteness. It read a little more like a less graphic NA than a YA read. I enjoyed the banter between Ryder and Mia and between Ryder and Miles. I do want to continue the series, but I’ll probably wait and see if the next one goes on sale before trying to buy it.

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The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar. Read August 17-20. 3 Stars.

This book has been on my radar for awhile, but it was never at the library. Then I won it in a giveaway! It was an enjoyable book. I think it started out good and then went downhill a bit, but overall it was still good. The main character was mostly likable and I really liked Oliver. The end is a major cliffhanger and I must now buy the second book to see what happens.

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Fiancé by Fate (Anyone but You #1) by Jennifer Shirk. Read August 22-23. 3.5 stars.

A quick, sweet read. It’s your typical Fake Relationship story, which is exactly what I was looking for and I enjoyed it.

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The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1) by Ali Novak. Read August 23-25. 2 stars.

A couple of funny/cute moments is why I’m giving this book 2 stars instead of 1. I’ve been on a boy band book kick lately – I don’t know why. This has been my least favorite of the bunch.

Stella was such a brat and she drove me crazy almost constantly. I liked the other three band members much more than the love interest. I was rooting for Alec to become the love interest instead, but he’s too good for Stella, so I guess I’m glad it didn’t happen.

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RE-READS

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Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith. As I said, I’ve been on a boy band book kick. This book has the most well-behaved members of all the books I’ve read, as well as the most likable main character. I’m looking forward to the sequel of this one!

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Play On (Lewis Creek #1) by Michelle Smith. I read some good reviews on this one and was looking forward to it, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll probably try it again some day, though.

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DNF

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Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton. To be fair, I only gave this book a few chapters before giving up, so it might get better? I’m just not interested enough to care, though.    

 

Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Wedding-dress designer Jenny Tate understands the happily-ever-after business, yet somehow she’s still involved in her ex-husband’s life. In fact, Owen’s new wife may—inexplicably—be Jenny’s new best friend. Sensing this, well, relationship isn’t helping her move on, Jenny trades the Manhattan skyline for her hometown up the Hudson, where she’ll be able to bask in her sister Rachel’s picture-perfect family life…and hopefully make one of her own.

Her timing couldn’t be more perfect, since Rachel will need her younger sister. Her idyllic marriage has just fallen to pieces in spectacular fashion after she discovers her husband sexting with one of his colleagues. Second chances aren’t in Rachel’s nature, but the desire for an intact family has her rethinking her stance on adultery, much to Jenny’s surprise. Rachel points to their parents’ “perfect” marriage as a shining example, but to protect her sister Jenny may have to tarnish that memory—and their relationship­—and reveal a secret about their family she’s been keeping since childhood.

During this summer of secrets and lies, temptation and revelation, Jenny and Rachel will rely on each other to find the humor in their personal catastrophes, the joy in their triumphs…and the strength to keep hanging on.

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If You Only Knew is a bit of a departure from Higgins other books. This book focuses on two sisters – in which we get multiple 1st Person POV – instead of two romantic leads. There’s still some zany family members and funny moments, but it’s overall more…mature. That’s not at all to say that her other books are immature because they’re not. They’re light and fun and I adore them. But this one is just much more serious and her main characters may be a little more realistic.

Jenny is a wedding dress designer who is moving back to her hometown from Manhattan. She’s had a divorce that devastated her, but she’s still friends with her ex-husband. In fact, the book opens up with her at her ex-husband’s new wife’s baby shower. Her relationship with Owen and Ana-Sophia (the ex and his wife) was frustrating. Jenny tried very hard to appear that she was totally fine with everything and because they’re such nice people, she couldn’t really despise them like she thinks she should.

Rachel is Jenny’s sister and is a stay-at-home mom, mother to three-year-old triplets. (Yikes.) She loves her life, though, and her husband and her kids. Her world is rocked, though, when she finds out her husband, Adam, is cheating on her. Throughout the book Rachel’s and Adam’s relationship goes from one extreme to another. They try counseling and make baby steps towards healing, but it seems every time Rachel gets a little closer to moving on from it, Adam lies again. I was soooooo frustrated by Rachel throughout all of this. I know it’s much easier to say from outside the situation, but she really needed to end things. She just kept denying it and then going back to him time and time again. I think she was right to try counseling first. She wanted things to get better. But after the 2nd lie – or even the 3rd – I think it should have just been done.

Jenny isn’t doing a whole lot better with her new romance. She’s developed a relationship with the super at her new apartment, Leo. Leo is not the typical romantic hero from Higgins’ books. He’s withdrawn, often surly, appears to be a bit of a slacker. But I loved his sense of humor and the banter between him and Jenny. That was probably my favorite part of the book. Despite the fact that he obviously has feelings for Jenny, he’s very firmly stated that he’s “only for recreation” and does not want a relationship. Even though Jenny does want a relationship, she agrees to go along with it, thinking he’ll change his mind. You can guess how that goes.

The heart of the story is really Jenny and Rachel coming to terms with who they are and how to handle the new events of their lives. They both grow backbones and confront the people who are treating them poorly. While I enjoyed both storylines, I have to say that I enjoyed Jenny’s a little bit more. I found her slightly more likable and I was just so frustrated with Rachel pretty much all the time. The times she really shined, though, was when she was with her triplet daughters, which also provided some great humor.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Though the ending didn’t tie everything up in a happily-ever-after, definitive way, I did like what happened with both sisters and am hopeful for their futures. I was feeling in a bit of a book slump and this definitely brought me out of it. Though it was different than her other books, I still love Higgins’ writing style and character development. I never wanted to stop reading it. My biggest complaint is that there is a lot more foul language in this book than her others which I didn’t care for. However, I would definitely recommend this to fans of Higgins and character-driven novels.

Overall Rating (out of 5:) 4 Stars

4 stars

There’s a giveaway from the book’s publisher for a trip to New York for you and a friend, including $1k in shopping money. You can enter it HERE.

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

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I often tend to disagree with the hype surrounding popular books, which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked The Wrath and the Dawn. It’s not a perfect book by any means, but I really quite enjoyed it.

The Wrath and the Dawn is apparently an A Thousand and One Nights re-telling. I’m not really familiar with A Thousand and One Nights, so I can’t tell you how it works as a re-telling. This story focuses on a young king, or caliph, Khalid who is in a routine of getting married one night and then having his new wife killed by the following dawn. Shahrzad is a young girl who volunteers as a new bride, her heart set on avenging the death of her best friend who was one of Khalid’s wives. In doing so, she unwittingly becomes the catalyst to a new army uniting against the caliph, and to her father learning a dark, dangerous magic.

I have to point out here that one of the main plot points I found a little ridiculous. Shazi volunteers to become a bride so she can kill Khalid. You would think she has some sort of solid plan in place. But her whole fate rests on telling him a story and not finishing it by dawn, so he’ll want to let her live another day to hear the rest of the story. Ummm, ok? But, it works and he lets her live. And because she’s such a special snowflake, he keeps letting her live and they – surprise – start to fall in love. Even though it’s obvious and predictable and fast, I was a fan of the romance between them and their growing relationship.

Shazi was not always a likable character. She was impulsive, immature, and arrogant. However, she was written in such a way that I still cared about her and was rooting for her. Khalid also had a lot of the same characteristics so they worked together. I did like Khalid a lot, though, because who doesn’t love the whole tortured soul thing?

There are several side characters I liked, as well. Jalal is Khalid’s cousin and captain of the guard. He’s the stereotypical sidekick – charming, arrogant, comic relief, but actually very smart and loyal. Shazi’s childhood sweetheart, Tariq, is on a mission to save Shazi from the fate he believes awaits her and his best friend, Rahim (who also serves as a bit of comic relief), joins him. One character I really didn’t care for was Shazi’s father. He’s determined to make up for his prior weakness and he goes down a dark path of magic. I was actually kind of surprised by the magical elements of this book. While it was subtle, it’s central to the major plot.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn. I liked the relationship between Shazi and Khalid and that they both grew a little throughout the story. While there were several points I found the plot a little on the ridiculous side and the ending I found a bit unsatisfying, the well-developed characters and the overall story really makes up for it. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of YA and I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars