February 2016 Recap

February Ombre Heart Calendar and Free Downloadables at Me and My DIY - I would love to do this heart on a card!:

I’m pretty happy with how my reading went in February, considering I spent most of it in a massive book slump. I spent the beginning of February just waiting for Morning Star and then I spent some time trying to get over it. Good news for me, though, it was announced that there will be a spin-off series of Red Rising, so my new found obsession with all things Pierce Brown will still be eagerly fed. There’s not much to report on the personal front. Work is pretty awful, but what can you do?

Books Read: 7

Genres Read:
Adult: 4
Young Adult: 3

Books Read in 2015 Overall: 20

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Books Reviewed: 5

Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey – 4/5 Stars
Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown – 4.5/5 Stars
Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown – 4.5/5 Stars
The Widow by Fiona Barton – 3.5/5 Stars
Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce – 3.5/5 Stars

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February 5

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February 12

21 Signs That Prove Booksellers Are The Absolute Best http://www.buzzfeed.com/katieheaney/21-bookstore-signs-that-capture-the-joy-of-reading?utm_term=.rf495x3gy via @KTHeaney @buzzfeed:

February 19

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2016

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2016

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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Lyfers (The Fandom Collection #2) by Rebekah N. Bryan. Read February 2-3. 3 stars.

Lyfers was a fun, quick read. I loved the idea for the story – an old boy band has reunited and goes on a theme cruise as part of their reunion tour. The story follows one of the boy banders and three groups of fans – two life time fans who are now in their forties, a trio of 30-something stay-at-home moms, and a couple of friends in their twenties. I really enjoyed getting the different perspectives and it really kept the story moving along at a good pace. My favorite character was probably Cody (one of the twenty-somethings). He agreed to go on the cruise with his friend because he wants to be more than friends with her and their storyline was cute and was my favorite to follow.

I did find most of the characters kind of hard to like at times, though. They all acted a little crazy and there were lots of times I was like, “Get a hold of yourself! You’re a mother!” But overall, I found the story fun and it made me nostalgic for the days of Boy Bands past.

New Uses for Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay, #2)

New Uses for Old Boyfriends (Black Dog Bay #2) by Beth Kendrick. Read February 15-16. 4 stars.

I really enjoyed this book. I had just read something pretty heavy and this light, quick, read was just what I needed. I liked the main character and her new friends, and her romantic interest. Her mother drove me insane for most of the book, but she did grow a lot by the end, so I can appreciate the character arc. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Kendrick, but I’m definitely going to check out some of her other books.

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The Rules for Disappearing (The Rules for Disappearing #1) by Ashley Elston. Read February 16-17. 3.5 stars.

I was really enjoying this, but the last several chapters made me drop the rating from the 4 I was planning to give it. I find Witness Protection really interesting so I thought the concept was really good. I thought the characters were pretty well developed for the most part and likable most of the time, too. However, while I overall liked Meg there were many times she drove me insane. She thinks she’s mature and smart and really she just acts like a bratty, stupid kid and ruins things. Her big trip with Ethan is the main reason I lowered the rating. I also thought all the “twists” were incredibly predictable. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable, easy read and I plan on checking out the sequel.

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The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2) by Ashley Elston. Read February 21-22. 3 stars.

I felt like a large part of this book was basically filler and then the end happened really fast. I did enjoy seeing more of Anna and Ethan (and Teeny) and I mostly liked how things got resolved. There were a couple things that seemed a little open-ended enough for another book, but as far as I can tell this is the last book in the series.

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Wife for the Weekend (Sugar City #3) by Ophelia London. Read February 22-24. 4 stars.

This book was so cute! I am always on the look out for good Fake Relationship stories and Wife for the Weekend is one of the best I’ve read in awhile. Full review to come closer to release date.

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RE-READS

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. This was one of my favorite reads from last year and I loved it just as much the second time around. I also got my dad to read it and he enjoyed it, as well.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. One of my other favorite reads from 2015. I was a little afraid I wouldn’t like it as much the second time, but I think I actually liked it more. The first time all I wanted was more chapters from Kaz and I thought there was way too much Nina and Mathias. But knowing what I was getting this time, I didn’t mind the Nina/Mathias chapters at all, nor did I think there was too much of them.

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Signal (Sam Dryden #2) by Patrick Lee and Chalk lines and Lipstick by Ophelia London. Both are books I’ve been wanting to read, but I couldn’t get into either of them more than a few chapters. I do plan to try again sometime, though.

Review: Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Elise Jameson is the secret author behind the bestselling, cult hit Viking Moon series. But when a stranger poses as Elise, the painfully shy, deaf nineteen-year-old starts to see how much she’s missing. Can she really hide in the shadows forever? This clever, coming-of-age debut is for anyone who has ever felt unsure in their own skin.

After a freak childhood accident leaves her deaf and physically scarred, nineteen-year-old Elise Jameson retreats into a world of vibrant characters she creates on her laptop. She is shocked when her coping mechanism turns into a career as a phenomenal bestselling novelist. Fans are obsessed with Elise’s Viking Moon series and its author—a striking girl with zero resemblance to Elise who appears on the back covers. Elise sent the randomly Googled photo to her editor following a minor panic attack. Now, horrified to learn she is expected on set of the television pilot based on her novels, Elise tracks down her anonymous stand-in. To Elise’s surprise, Veronica Wilde has been taking credit for Viking Moon for years. She eagerly agrees to keep up the charade if Elise will pose as her assistant.

It’s hard for Elise to watch a stranger take credit for her work and get all the perks she desires, including admiration from the show’s heartthrob star. Edged onto the sidelines of her own life, Elise reconsiders her choice to stay anonymous. Is she ready to come to terms with her true identity—and with the long-buried secrets that could cost her her career, her fans, and the few precious friendships she’s made?

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

Flirting with Fame will be available February 29, 2016.

What Worked

-My mother works with the deaf and hearing impaired, so I’m always interested to read about deaf characters. I liked that there were a few people in Elise’s life that knew sign language and that that was incorporated into the story. Since Elise was a teenager when she became deaf she has good speech and she’s talented at reading lips so a lot of people don’t realize she’s deaf. While I think that it was handled pretty well overall, I did think things were maybe just a tad too easy for her. Only once does she ever have to tell someone to slow down when they’re speaking and the majority of the time she talks with people is through speech instead of sign language, even with the people who are fluent with signing. I think it could have been just a bit more realistic if the communication barrier was greater explored.

-As someone who loves watching tv shows based on books, I loved that aspect of the story. I really enjoyed all the parts where Elise is on set and seeing how emotional she gets when she sees the sets and how the actors represent the characters she created. I wouldn’t have minded getting a little more information on the series, Viking Moon, but I did like that the story stayed focused on Elise and her real life.

-I really liked Elise’s new friend, the “cowboy” Clint. I have to admit a part of me liked him so much because when I was a freshman in college one of my first friends was a guy who thought of himself as a cowboy and it kind of reminded me of those days. I liked that he was often the voice of reason, but was also sweet and funny. I didn’t quite buy into his eventual romantic relationship, though, and how easy it was for him to shift his affections.

-For the most part, I really enjoyed the relationship between Elise and Gavin. I liked how they started out as friends and slowly grew into more. I thought Gavin was pretty adorable and just flawed enough to make him realistic.

What Didn’t Quite do it for Me

-Though I liked the romance between Elise and Gavin, I thought there were some scenes that were a bit too graphic for YA (though thankfully didn’t quite shift into NA territory). There was also a scene with Elise and some basically random guy, followed by some really heavy drinking and drunk shenanigans that really made me like her character a little less.

-I didn’t really care for Elise’s roommate, Reggie. She was pretty self-absorbed and made almost everything all about her. She did have several moments of being supportive, though, so she was a redeemable character.

-I think a lot of people will be able to identify with Elise’s low self-esteem and fear of exposure and understand why she goes so far to keep up the charade. However, I do find it a little hard to believe that she never had to meet in person (or even skype with) her agent, publicist, editor, etc. I also don’t think it’s that realistic that Veronica was able to pose as the author for so long without anyone figuring it out. Side note – Veronica was awful! But she was supposed to be, so I kind of enjoyed how awful she was.

Overall, Flirting with Fame was a pretty cute, fast read. I loved the concept and it was pretty well done for the most part. However, because I really didn’t respect a lot of Elise’s behavior, it made her and the story kind of difficult to like at times and is the reason I can’t quite give it 4 stars.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

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

The Widow is not really what I expected it to be. That’s always the problem when a book is compared to Gone Girl. I expected gleefully crazy psychopaths and shocking twists, but there is none of that to be found in this book. That’s not a bad thing, of course, on it’s own. But since my expectations were not met, I feel just a bit let down by it. So let my reading experience inform yours. This book is not like Gone Girl. But it is an intriguing, thoughtful, character-driven mystery that’s worth the read.

Jean Taylor is a recent widow. She knows she should be sad about it, and she is in a way, but mostly she’s relieved to be free of her husband, Glen’s, nonsense. Glen stood trial for the abduction of a two-year old girl, Bella, and the public opinion is that he’s guilty, even several years later with no concrete evidence. The story revolves around Detective Sparkes investigating the case, reporter Kate who scores interviews with the girl’s mother at the time of the abduction and finally Jean, The Widow, after Glen dies, and Jean herself. The timeline jumps around between the time Bella disappeared and several years later, after Glen is gone and I thought it worked well. It allowed small bits of information to be revealed at a time, when you least expected it.

I thought the POVs were done very well. Jean is told through 1st person while Sparkes and Kate are told through 3rd person and while I don’t usually like that, it worked. The pace of the story is slow and steady, so the in-depth study of the characters really kept me engaged. I love a good character-driven novel and The Widow is definitely that. I became pretty emotionally connected with Sparkes and his need to know what happened to Bella and I felt so bad for Jean and all that she had to put with it, married to Glen, though also a little suspicious of what role she may have played in the events.

Overall, The Widow, was a thoughtful, character-driven novel that kept my interest, even if it wasn’t the shocking tale I was expecting. I thought the writing was wonderful, especially for a debut, and I will definitely be checking out more from Barton in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

3.5 stars

 

Review: Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied – and too glorious to surrender.

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This book. It broke my heart so many times, yet still managed to leave me smiling (through the tears, but hey).

Morning Star does not have the frenetic pace that Golden Son had before it. Though there are plenty of battle scenes and action, this book is focused so much more on character development. While it didn’t have quite as many shocks and surprises as the first two books, I can’t be too upset about that because the character growth was just phenomenal (and let’s be real, good character development is what I crave from all my books).

One of the things I have come to appreciate most from Brown’s writing is his ability to surprise me over and over again. As I said above, this book doesn’t have quite as many surprises for me, but it still had a few (or maybe I’m just getting better at guessing them earlier?). There was one big event that shocked me and then made me immediately think (hope), “Oh, that’s a misdirect.” But then the chapters went on…and let’s just say the writing will always keep you on your toes.

Sevro, my little Goblin, has always been one of my favorite characters and in this book he’s given much more page time. He’s definitely been feeling the pressure of keeping things going after the heartbreaking events of Darrow’s Triumph and let’s just say he hasn’t exactly handled it very well. I went from loving him, to being really annoyed with him, to wanting to just hug him, to loving him again. He remains the comic relief when things get heavy, but he also confronts his emotions in a way we haven’t really seen from him before. My Howler heart will always be his.

In any book with war there are many deaths and Brown has never pulled any punches when it comes to killing off some of my favorite characters. Morning Star is no exception. I may have shed a few tears and yelled, “Screw you, Pierce Brown!” on more than one occasion.

It’s been a long time since a series has had such an emotional impact on me. I don’t even know why. It has beautiful writing, despite the blood and the death and the horror. It’s just beautiful. And it’s clever. And the characters! They were flawed and empathetic and I just loved so many of them. Darrow was an amazing protagonist that made me laugh, broke my heart, made me cheer, and made me hope. The deaths of some of his friends and allies (and even some enemies) made me tear up (and occasionally shed a few) and when I wasn’t reading about these characters, I was thinking of them. And I think that’s really the mark of a great book. When the characters and the stories live with you, outside of the pages.

Overall, Morning Star was a bloodydamn great ending to the series. While it didn’t have quite the same “fun factor” as the first two books did for me, it made up for it in the characters, the emotion, and satisfying conclusion. This series will go down as one of my favorites of all time and will be one I read again and again. If you haven’t read it yet, you really need to.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

4.5 stars