Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 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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The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn 0.5) by Renee Ahdieh. Read March 3. 3 Stars.

This works as a nice deleted scene to The Wrath and the Dawn. I wish it was a little longer, though.

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Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik. Read March 6. 3.5 Stars

A pretty decent Pride and Prejudice re-telling with likable main characters. Super cute and a quick read.

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Chasing Jane by Noelle Adams. Read March 5-6. 3 Stars.

A cute, fast, romantic read. I liked the premise of the Jane Austen/Jane Eyre tour of England and wish the book would’ve been long enough to really explore that, though.

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Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes. Read March 3-6. 4 stars.

It’s probably wrong how much I love Joe. He is one crazy, messed up, scary guy. But I couldn’t stop rooting for him. Kepnes writes him in such a way that I am SO in his head that his craziness almost makes sense. I thought the book was a little too drawn out and the ending was left a little too open to be completely satisfying, but it was overall a compulsively readable, enjoyable book.

Last First Kiss (Brightwater, #1)

Last First Kiss (Brightwater #1) by Lila Riley. Read March 9-11. 3 Stars.

This was a pretty average romance, but mostly enjoyable. I liked Sawyer. He was very sweet. Occasionally I thought he was a little TOO into Annie too fast (a couple times I almost found him creepy), but overall he was likable.

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The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright. Read March 17-19. 3 Stars.

A solid mix of adorable and cheesy. It’s a shame the synopsis basically gives everything away, though (not the author’s fault, though). We know Edmund is a prince so it’s not as fun as it should’ve been waiting for Evie to figure it out. We know who Evie’s mother was well before the 100+ pages it took for Evie to confirm it.

It’s also a bit of a mix of Princess Diaries and Anna and the French Kiss, but doesn’t quite live up to either. (Evie even says once, “I’d felt like I was in a bad remake of The Princess Diaries.”) The “quest” letters from her mother didn’t play as big a role as I thought it would.

Overall, though, it was pretty cute. I liked Evie, though she did have some moments where she “stuck up for herself” which just made her sound bratty and immature. And Edmund was SO SWEET. I just loved him. He did a few dumb things, of course, but he’s definitely book boyfriend material.

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Married ’til Monday (Chapel Springs #4) by Denise Hunter. Read March 20-21. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed this book. My hold came in at the library and I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood to read it, but decided to give it a try and couldn’t put it down. I really liked the characters, Ryan especially. I liked that it involved two of my favorite romance tropes: The Fake Relationship and The Second-Chance Romance. I liked that Abby finally realized she had some issues and worked on them instead of just jumping back into a relationship and let a guy “fix” her. I thought it did run just a tad long, though. Overall, I really liked it and I’ll be going back to read the first books in the series.

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Barefoot Summer (Chapel Springs #1) by Denise Hunter. Read March 26-27. 3 stars.

This book brought me out of a book slump, but it ended up being just ok for me. I liked it to start with, but I thought it just dragged on a little too long. A lot of repetition. And this is the first book in a series and I’ve already read the last book in the series and there are some continuity issues with the character who the last book focuses on which annoyed me a little.
Overall, though, it was a sweet romance with likable characters and a good message woven in.

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RE-READS

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The Lynburn Legacy: Unspoken, Untold, and Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan. I completely adore this series and I love it just as much every time I read it. I really thought I was finally going to get a review written for Unmade, but it still didn’t happen. Maybe next time.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh. I wanted to re-read this before the next book comes out. I enjoyed it, but I found myself skimming parts of it, too.

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Funny Friday

Celebrate the end of the work week with a little book humor

I feel like I should clean the house, so I am going to read until the feeling passes.:

*To those that stumble upon this little blog on a semi-regular basis: do you enjoy Funny Fridays? I post them mostly to amuse myself, but I get them all off of Pinterest in the first place, so I don’t really need to post them somewhere else to entertain myself. So should Funny Fridays still be a feature here? Yay or Nay?*

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

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This book is another perfect example of how hype can ruin something for you. I didn’t love the first book in this series like so many others did, but I liked it fine. When I read other reviews for this book (ALL glowing, ALL saying it’s even better than the first), I bought into the hype and I find myself severely disappointed in the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly fine book. But I feel like this review is going to focus much more on why all the hype is wrong than on what was good about it, just because the hype let me down.

*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*

So here’s a synopsis: Rhy is kind of mad he’s alive. Kell is kind of mad he’s trapped. Lila is learning magic from a pirate/privateer. White London is changing because Black London is helping it out, but it really wants Red London. There’s a magical dueling competition. Kell pouts and puts everyone in danger. Lila thinks she can help and she – abrupt cliffhanger. THE END.

In between is a lot of Lila being selfish and stupid.

***END OF SPOILER***

-Ok, so before we get to what was wrong, let’s focus on what was good. The writing is really top notch. It’s so good that for the first couple hundred pages it completely distracted me from the fact that NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. The writing was good enough to make up for a lot of my problems with this book and is why I’m giving it three stars instead of something lower.

-Other reviews made me think that I would absolutely fall in love with Alucard, but he fell extremely short of my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him. He’s clever and sarcastic and charming and slightly tortured. But I just liked him and didn’t love him like I thought I would.

-I loved getting more of Rhy and I loved how much Rhy and Kell together we got. They were my favorite relationship from the first book and they continue to be my favorite relationship. I would have liked to have seen even more of them, though. I felt like the majority of the POVs were given to Lila…

-…And I really, really dislike Lila. I didn’t like her in the first book, though she grew on me towards the end. In this installment I didn’t mind her in the beginning, but as time went on her selfishness and recklessness just made me ANGRY. I do not find her in any way likable or relatable and by about halfway through the book I found myself wishing the author would kill her off. (That’s right, I said it.)

-For the sake of fiction and fantasy, I can read books about Greek gods and witches and magic and etc, even though I obviously don’t believe in those things. In this book the vast majority worship magic. So, ok, not cool for me, but it’s fantasy, so whatever. What really bothered me, though, were the several times the characters straight up mocked Christianity. I found it offensive and unnecessary.

Overall, this book was fine, but I think all the glowing 5 star reviews I’ve read about it kind of ruined it for me. I really enjoyed the beginning and I started to enjoy it again towards the end, but the slow pace and lack of plot development made me really have to push myself through the middle. The writing is fantastic, though, and if you loved the first book, you’ll probably feel similar about this one. Though I know it doesn’t sound like I liked this book all that much, I do plan on continuing the series in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: Wife for the Weekend (Sugar City #3) by Ophelia London

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

When bad weather closes the airport, free-spirited Jules Bloom finds herself stuck with the admittedly hot but total suit Dexter Elliott. One night and one large pitcher of “Vegas Sunrise” later, Jules wakes up in a hotel bed with a vicious hangover…wearing nothing but a wedding ring.

Determined not to ruin his brother’s wedding, Dexter strikes a deal with the frustratingly gorgeous Jules to continue their quickie marriage through the weekend. Only she keeps getting under his skin in unexpected ways.

Jules has her own reasons for staying married to Dex but they seem less important with each exaggerated touch and staged kiss. But one marriage, one major secret, and two complete opposites don’t add up to a happily ever after…

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

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. It incorporated a lot of the uncomfortable (but humorous) moments between Jules and Dexter and the people they’re trying to fool that I look for in this type of story. And of course, while they’re working on fooling everybody else, they start to fool themselves. I really liked how their relationship developed and even though the story takes place over a week, it didn’t seem like they developed feelings for each other too quickly.

I loved the back and forth between Dexter and Jules. They knew exactly how to get under each other’s skin and they enjoyed doing it and it made me smile. The story is told in third-person through both of their perspectives and I really loved whenever we got Dexter’s POV. He’s smart and funny and sweet and focused and a little flawed and I just loved him. While I did like Jules, she did get a little on my nerves at times. I don’t have a lot of patience for the whole “free-spirit” thing and it really annoyed me how completely anti-technology she was and how judgey she was about Dexter using it.

I also really liked Dexter’s family. It’s been awhile since I read the previous book in this series so I didn’t remember all of the Elliots, but I liked seeing Roxy again, and of course Luke and Natalie. In their book, Kissing her Crush, the town of Hershey was kind of like another character in the story and I really enjoyed that. I was expecting to see a lot more of and learn more about Hershey in this book, but other than the occasional mention of using chocolate a lot (I’m totally going to try using chocolate milk in coffee now), it doesn’t really play much of a role in this installment, which made me just a tad bit disappointed.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wife for the Weekend. It was a cute, light-hearted read and is just what I needed. The Fake Relationship trope is one of my favorites to read and I thought this was definitely one of the better ones I’ve read. I definitely recommend it anyone looking for a quick, cute read and I’m looking forward to reading more from London in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Review: Far From True (Promise Falls #2) by Linwood Barclay

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

After the screen of a run-down drive-in movie theater collapses and kills four people, the daughter of one of the victims asks private investigator Cal Weaver to look into a recent break-in at her father’s house. Cal discovers a hidden basement room where it’s clear that salacious activities have taken place—as well as evidence of missing DVDs. But his investigation soon becomes more complicated when he realizes it may not be discs the thief was actually interested in….

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is still trying to solve two murders—one of which is three years old—he believes are connected, since each featured a similar distinctive wound.

As the lies begin to unravel, Cal is headed straight into the heart of a dark secret as his search uncovers more startling truths about Promise Falls. And when yet another murder happens, Cal and Barry are both driven to pursue their investigations, no matter where they lead. Evil deeds long thought buried are about to haunt the residents of this town—as the sins of the past and present collide with terrifying results.

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

For anyone that follows my blog, you know that Linwood Barclay is my Favorite Mystery/Suspense author and he does not disappointment in this second installment of the Promise Falls series! While the first book in the series, Broken Promise, featured mostly David Harwood (originally from Never Look Away), Far From True, features several characters, but the only 1st Person POV privilege is given to private investigator Cal Weaver (from A Tap on the Window). I love the way Barclay incorporates familiar characters, which is fun for his faithful readers, but new readers won’t be lost because the characters are continuously developing and growing (and finding more trouble to get mixed up in).

While I was a little disappointed there wasn’t as much David Harwood as the first book, we still see enough of him to keep him a major player in the book. I liked seeing Cal Weaver again and Detective Duckworth just gets better for me every time I see him. I loved his interactions with his wife, especially when they were at meals. It provided some much needed humor/light-hearted moments.

There are a lot of POVs and storylines to follow in this book. While I don’t think every author could pull this off, Barclay makes it work. There was never a dull moment and I was invested enough in each of the storylines that I was never upset when it was time for a POV shift. There were mysteries and storylines from the first book continued in this one, along with some new mysteries and twists introduced that may have implications to some of the ongoing investigations. While we do get some answers and clues, there are also more questions and unresolved mysteries that will continue on into the next installment, which I am very anxious for.

Overall, I really enjoyed Far From True. It has great, well-developed characters, intriguing mysteries, and is very smartly written. I definitely recommend the Promise Falls series to fans of Mystery and Suspense and to fans of Linwood Barclay.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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