Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 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 Mirror and the Maze (The Wrath and the Dawn 1.5) by Renee Ahdieh. Read May 1. 2.5 stars.

Nothing special. Glad it was free.      

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Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles 4.5) by Marissa Meyer. Read April 30-May 3. 3 stars.

I think I probably would have enjoyed this more if I read it sooner after finishing Winter. I’m not a big fan of short stories, generally. As soon as I get into one, it’s over. The last story, which works as the epilogue to Winter, was my favorite and is enough reason to read this book, even if you don’t care much about the other stories, though most of the others were enjoyable, too.

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Read May 3-5. 3.5 Stars.

A good deal of this book felt like a slightly less pretentious John Green novel.

Travis was my favorite character. At first he just kind of made me laugh because he’s a huge fantasy nerd that goes to renaissance fairs and carries a staff around and he reminded me SO MUCH of some people I knew in my youth. Then his huge, sweet heart and resiliency to the awful things in his life made me just love him. ***SPOILER*** I felt like something was going to happen to him, but I really didn’t think he was going to die and when he did I cried my eyes out. That and the several chapters of Dill and Lydia’s grief after that made me cry continuously. ***END OF SPOILER***
I liked Lydia about half the time. Sometimes she came across as kind of a bully, which I didn’t appreciate. I absolutely LOVED her father, though. He was smart, funny, insightful, caring…he was basically perfect.

Dill. You know that phrase, “I love you, but I don’t like you right now”? That’s how I felt about Dill for many parts of the book. I didn’t always like his behavior, but I did love his character. I felt bad for him and his situation and I understood why he was feeling the way he felt about a lot of things. His character development throughout the novel was pretty great.

The religious aspects in this story…I’m not sure what to think. Just once I would like to see Christianity in fiction portrayed in a normal way. But it wasn’t exactly Christianity portrayed here. It shows how you can take something and twist it and pervert it into something unrecognizable.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty solid debut. The character development was superb and the emotional impact was pretty strong, but only for the middle-ish of the book. Before and for several chapter After the Big Event, I felt for the characters, but wasn’t really invested in them that much. And at times I think it tried too hard to be meaningful and came off a bit pretentious to me. However, I did enjoy it (even when I was ugly crying) and think it’s worth the read. And this was long enough I totally should have made it it’s own regular review…

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The Perfect Neighbors by SarahPekkanen. Read May 22-25. 3.5 Stars.

Overall, The Perfect Neighbors was an enjoyable read. Though it lacked a little in terms of plot for me, the character development really makes up for it. I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more about these characters, who feel like friends. I would recommend this to fans of really character-driven novels. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas. Read May 25-28. 3.5 Stars.

I liked this better than the first one, but I still don’t think it quite deserves all the 5 star ratings I see. My biggest problem with it is that the book could have been about half the length. There was an abundance of needless description about EVERY THING. There were also numerous stretches where nothing was really happening. Even though I did quite often enjoy the banter between Rhys and Feyre and I enjoyed spending time with Rhys’s inner circle, I was also kind of bored a lot of the time.

What I did really like about this book was how much more Rhys we got. He was by far my favorite character in the first novel and I liked getting to know him better. While I shipped Tamlin and Feyre in ACOTAR it took awhile and then once they got Under The Mountain I didn’t like it as much. I’m glad that the love triangle I was expecting to follow wasn’t quite as angsty as I anticipated. And now I totally ship Rhys and Feyre. I will say, though, that there are quite a few graphic sex scenes that I could have done without. It makes me cringe to think this is basically marketed as YA.

The ending wasn’t what I expected, but I liked it. I look forward to seeing what will happen next (in hopefully a few hundred less pages).

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Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke . Read May 28-29. 3 stars.

What an odd little book! The writing was really interesting – definitely a unique style and for the most part I liked it. The chapters were really short which made this book easy to breeze right through. The characters were intriguing, but only one was that likable.  I was disappointed that the story wasn’t as twisty and shocking as I was expecting. I had my suspicions and expected them to be wrong, but they weren’t. The ending was pretty lame, to be honest. I’m giving this 3 stars instead of 2 just because the writing was so unique and the story kept my attention throughout.

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The Accidental Bride (A Big Sky Romance #2) by Denise Hunter. Read May 29-30. 3 stars.

A pretty cute read. I liked both the main characters, though Shay did annoy me with her stubbornness sometimes. I thought that it took a little too long for the relationship to grow, though. They’d have a small “moment” and then before the scene was even over Shay would take 3 steps back. Overall, though, it was quick, cute read and I’ll probably read some of the other books in this series.

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RE-READS

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Until there was You by Kristan Higgins. I had a pretty big reading slump this month and Kristan Higgins always helps me out.

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My One and Only by Kristan Higgins. As you all know by know, I have read basically all of her books MULTIPLE times, but I had only read this one once and I didn’t think it was one of her best. I decided to give it another a go and this time I just loved it! I don’t know what my problem with it before was, honestly. I love Harper and Nick. I love the story and how the whole plot plays out. I upgraded my original rating from 3 stars to 4!

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One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I count this as one of my favorite books, but I’ve only read it once. When I had a coupon I decided to buy the paperback. While I still enjoyed it and recommend it, I didn’t love it quite as much as I did the first time around. But it was also during my book slump, so that could have effected my enjoyment?

Thoughts on the Curse Workers series by Holly Black

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(Click on the pictures to go to the book’s Good Reads page)

I tried really hard to do a nice series review of the Curse Workers by Holly Black, but for some reason it just didn’t turn out how I wanted it to. I was just going to give up, but I ended up really enjoying this series and want to give it some recognition, so I thought I’d just share some random thoughts about it.

This book was pretty different than most YA books and I really appreciated it. I think sometimes authors try to hard to teach us some sort of big life lesson and it doesn’t always work for me. While Cassel does have character growth, he doesn’t really become a “better” person and he has no plans to lead a life free of crime. It’s probably kind of wrong to say on a moral level, but I really liked that about him. I liked that he could grow as a character without completely changing himself.

-I LOVE Cassel! In White Cat I liked him, but didn’t love him, but in Red Glove I really became all about him. He does try really hard to do the right thing – though his definition of “right” is often pretty skewed. He’s clever and sarcastic and I absolutely loved watching him be cunning and conning.

Holly Black rocks.:

-I loved the friendship between Cassel and his roommate Sam. It really grew throughout the series. Cassel has tried really hard to act like a normal kid and not a member of a worker family with ties to the mob and a mother in prison. He doesn’t really let himself get close to anyone, but he does start to trust Sam. I loved seeing their friendship grow. Cassel was always trying to shield Sam, but Sam had no interest in being protected. He was a true friend, always looking out for Cassel and helping out whenever he was needed. I loved that Cassel also had Sam’s back, too. They also have sooo many great banter-y moments.

-While Cassel’s love/obsession for Lila is a strong and recurring theme through the series, it doesn’t take a lot of actual time up within the pages – which I appreciate because I like a little romance in most books, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed by it (unless it’s an actual romance or a cute contemporary). I ended up being overall satisfied with how things between Lila and Cassel played out, but I can’t say I cared much about it in the first couple books. I found it more interesting how Cassel viewed Lila and how she motivated him than their actual romantic relationship. That said, by the end of Black Heart I was shipping them.

-The other big romance in the series is between Sam and Daneca. I really liked them in White Cat and about half of Red Glove, but then their drama got a little annoying. I really didn’t like when Barron entered the equation, but I ended up feeling bad for him. This development is one of the things I wished was resolved before the end of the series.

Cassel Sharpe. White Cat. The Curse Workers Trilogy. Holly Black:

-Cassel has one super dysfunctional family. While they do want to take care of each other and want the best for each other, they all have pretty radically different ideas of what that means. Cassel is lied to for most of his life and made to do things he doesn’t want to do because his family thinks that’s what’s best for him (and for them). And even when his mother or brothers do horrible things to him, Cassel still tries to help them. My favorite relative is definitely Cassel’s grandfather, who I think is the only one that really has Cassel’s best interest at heart, without having any type of selfish motive.

Some of the big twists throughout the series became pretty obvious long before Cassel figured it out. Especially who was guilty of the big murder in Red Glove. Still, though, I enjoyed watching him figure it out.

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-The Cons!!! This is quite easily my favorite parts of the books. Cassel is an excellent con man and I loved watching him get away with stuff. Or not really get away with stuff, but still manage to come out basically unscathed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series! I definitely recommend it to fans of YA/Fantasy. Cassel has become one of my favorite YA characters and I hope you grow to adore him as much as I do!

Individual Ratings:

White Cat: 3 Stars

Red Glove: 4 Stars

Black Heart: 4 Stars

Series Rating: 4 Stars

4 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Time Passes and so does my Love

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Welcome to my first Top Ten Tuesday of the year! This week’s topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed (less love, more love, complicated feelings, indifference, thought it was great in a genre until you became more well read in that genre etc.).  This is a topic that I’ve actually been thinking about writing a post about on my own, so it seemed like the perfect time to jump back in to TTT.

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1. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

I think that a lot of people identify with this one. After hearing so much about this I decided to give it a try and I ended up reading the whole series in a week. It was also the first time in a very long time that I had read for pleasure. The series reminded me what it was like to have fun reading, to fall in love with characters, to HAVE TO KNOW what happens next. It also had a super romantic lead and cute romance. I loved it. Then…I started reading a lot more. When I went back much later to re-read Twilight, I found myself not being able to get through it. I realized that the super cute romance wasn’t exactly a healthy relationship and the plot and writing left a lot to be desired. This series will always hold a special place in my heart, but it’s one that I no longer love or highly recommend.

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2. The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

Ok, this is probably the most controversial one on the list. I remember being a little confused by the story, but loving the characters so much that I didn’t care. I raved about this series all the time. Then I decided to re-read it before the last book came out and I was a little underwhelmed by it. While I still adore the characters, I’ve found the confusing plot makes it unbearable at times. And the further away from The Raven King I get, the more dissatisfied I am with it as a series ender.

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3. The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi

Another series I absolutely loved the first time around and didn’t quite enjoy as much the second time around. My biggest issue is on the last book. Adam’s complete change in personality was such an easy way out of the love triangle and I think it did a great injustice to the character. It bothered me a little when I first read it, but after going back later it really bothered me a lot.

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4. The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout

Ok, probably another unpopular opinion. I recommend this series ALL. THE TIME. I’ve said again and again it’s one of the best YA series around. But the last time I re-read it…I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. I mean, I still like it and I’ll still recommend it, but with a little less fervor than before.

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5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This book really surprised me when I first read it by how much I loved it. However, when I went back to re-read it before the sequel came out, there were many parts of it that I wanted to skip through. It’s still a good book, but I think going from no expectations to really high expectations kind of ruined it for me. And I was pretty underwhelmed with The Rose and the Dagger which has soured me just a bit on the series as a whole.

Ok, so just 5 books this time. I need to work my way back into it. What books have you had a change in heart about over time? Do you agree with any of my choices?

This Book is Making me Nervous – Novels that Feature Characters with Anxiety Disorder

Mental illness on screen is really difficult for me to see especially anxiety attacks and the like.:

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think that we, as a society, have come a long away in beginning to lose the stigma associated with mental illness, but we obviously still have a ways to go. It is hard for people who don’t deal with it on a daily basis to understand, so I thought I’d share some books that I thought realistically portrayed what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder. These are characters that made me feel understood and could maybe help others understand what it’s like.

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Sam suffers from not just anxiety, but Purely-Obsessional OCD. I can not even begin to tell you how much of myself I saw in her (to the point where I think maybe I have some form of undiagnosed OCD). This book is raw and real and was so identifiable to me that I often had to put the book down because it was making me so emotional.

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The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

Because this book is NA, I obviously had some issues with it, but I really loved pretty much everything that had to do with Eric. He’s insecure about his weight, has anxiety attacks, and doesn’t like to be touched (FYI – I identify with each thing in that list). I thought Mae did a great job of realistically portraying what it’s like to live with anxiety. I also think she handled the treatment of it much better than most books that have anxiety prone characters. Eric has coping techniques, family support, therapy, and medication.

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Crash into You by Katie McGarry

I’m not a huge fan of Katie McGarry books, but this one is one of my favorites of hers – primarily because the main character, Rachel, deals with anxiety. I don’t really remember enough about the story to say much about it, but I thought it was a pretty realistic portrayal.

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I have read a few reviews about how people don’t like Cath because they were frustrated with her behavior. However, I loved Cath, because I understood her behavior. I have so many highlighted passages of things that Cath says that are just so relatable to someone who lives with anxiety. While I will always recommend Rainbow Rowell’s work to everyone for every reason, this is definitely one to read to help broaden your mental health awareness horizons.

What are some books you’ve enjoyed that include characters with anxiety or other mental health issues?

I'm diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder with Associated Agoraphobia. It's real, and it sucks, but medication has given me back my life. You are not alone. Get psychiatric help... it's worth it. I promise.: