Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 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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Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben. Read May 30-June 1. 3 stars.

Well, I did not see that end coming! If the whole book was as surprising and emotional as the last couple chapters this book would have been amazing. However, I felt really disconnected from Maya for most of the book and there weren’t as much suspense or big surprises along the way that I was expecting. Overall, a good book, though.

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The Convenient Groom (Nantucket #2) by Denise Hunter. Read June 1-2. 3 stars.

A cute concept, but could have been executed a little better. As with most of Hunter’s books, I found myself really disliking the female lead for most of the book and loving the male lead. I wish we would’ve seen more of their relationship before the marriage because I never really understood why Lucas loved Kate already. I didn’t like how she treated him for pretty much the whole book. But, I did like the Happily Ever After.

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The Trouble with Cowboys (A Big Sky Romance #3) by Denise Hunter. Read June 3-4. 3 stars.

This book was pretty cute. I liked the slow burn romance a lot, though Annie did frustrate me at times. I did like her, though. Who I really couldn’t stand was her sister, Sierra. Sierra almost ruined the book for me. She’s so selfish and childish and I just wanted to smack her for most of the book. Besides that, though, I liked watching Annie and Dylan’s relationship and it was a pretty enjoyable book.

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Falling Like Snowflakes (Summer Harbor #1) by Denise Hunter. Read June 7-10. 3 stars.

I really like the Callahan brothers. I wish there was more time spent with all three of them together, though. I was a fan of the romance and overall story, but I think this was supposed to slightly dip into the Romantic Suspense territory and the suspense fell a little flat for me. Not my favorite Hunter book, but I’ll definitely continue with the series.

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Imposter (Variants #1) by Susanne Winnacker. Read June 12. 3.5 stars

I bought this on a whim from the Dollar Tree and I’m pretty pleased with my purchase. I was a little wary in the beginning because I thought Tessa was kind of whiny and there was a lot of boy drama, but once we really got into the story I became a lot more invested. I thought Winnacker did a good job of keeping me guessing about who the serial killer was and I liked everything that had to do with the variant skills – it’s not an original idea, but I always enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to the next book, even though I’m pretty sure there’s a love triangle coming.

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. Read June 11-12. 3 stars

Bumping my rating up to 3 stars, just because I like Holly Black’s writing. The story wasn’t really my cup of tea. It was a little confusing at times and overall strange. I did like the relationships, though – between siblings, friends, and romantic interests – they were all pretty well done and I think if it would have focused more on those aspects, I would have enjoyed the story more.

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Defector (Variants #2) by Susanne Winnacker. Read June 13. 3 stars

A quick, easy read. There was a little more relationship drama than I wanted, but the love triangle wasn’t as bad as I thought. I did like that we got to see more Devon, though. I thought the intrigue surrounding the truth about FEA and Abel’s Army was good, but I am not at all satisfied with the conclusion. I did like the ending, but it’s definitely a middle of a trilogy ending and not a series ending and apparently the author has decided not to finish the series. According to a post on her Facebook, she’s over YA and writing Adult Romance under a different name…Very disappointing.

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The Regulars by Georgia Clark. Read June 15-16. 2.5 stars

Overall a quick read with some addictive writing, but the unlikable characters made it hard to read at times. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Poison Study (Study #1) by Maria V. Snyder. Read June 18-20. 2.5 stars

The characters were likable enough and I liked the romance, but the fantasy elements left a little to be desired for me. I also thought that a lot of the plot twists were predictable. I’ll probably try the next book to see if it starts to live up to the great reviews I’ve seen of this series.

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Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig. Read June 20-23. 2.5 Stars

This was just an ok read for me. The pacing was pretty slow and the mystery and suspense aspects were not as well done as I would have liked. We figure out Flynn’s big “secret” in chapter 2 and it really doesn’t have anything to do with January’s disappearance. I was afraid this was going to end up being a Coming Out book – which is a fine book to be, but not the book I was planning on reading – but it didn’t end up overwhelming the overall plot and that aspect was pretty well done. I just wish the mystery was as thoughtfully written. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A December Bride (A Year of Weddings #1) by Denise Hunter. Read June 23-24. 3.5 stars

A quick, cute story with likable characters.

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Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman. Read June 24-25. 3.5 stars.

A pretty cute fake relationship story. I really liked both Sally and Becks and their relationship. There was one big thing that kept me from giving it a higher rating, though, and that was Sally’s supposed best friend, Hooker, who felt it was her mission in life to set Sally up with a boy and how completely focused both Hooker and Sally’s mother were on how Sally NEEDED a boyfriend. I thought it was a little degrading, actually.

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Dreamology by Lucy Keating. Read June 25-26. 3 stars.

This was a cute idea, but I don’t feel like it ever lived up to it’s potential. It reminded me a little of Kami and Jared’s connection in the Lynburn Legacy, but was not done nearly as well. I did, however, really like the characters and thought the romance was cute, but the plot was really lacking.

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Put a Ring On It (Black Dog Bay #3) by Beth Kendrick. Read June 26-27. 4 stars.

Chick Lit at it’s finest! I really enjoyed this book. I liked the characters a lot and the development of the romance. It was definitely a different take on the fake relationship/marriage of convenience trope. It doesn’t exactly fit either of those, but it’s similar and I loved it.

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Make-Believe Wedding (The Great Wedding Giveaway #9) by Sarah Mayberry. Read June 28-29. 3.5 stars.

A very cute Fake Relationship/Friends to Lovers story. This was free from B&N and most of the free ebooks I get I never end up reading, but I’m glad I gave this one a try. The only thing I have to complain about is that it had a few graphic scenes I could’ve done without.  

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. Honestly the only reason I wanted to read this is because Pierce Brown said really good things about. I got it from the library and read a chapter or two and just wasn’t into it. I think I do want to try it again sometime, though. I didn’t realize at first that it’s a series, so maybe I’ll wait until the next one is published before I try it again.

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DNF

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The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks. I usually try to get to 25% before I decide to DNF something, but I got distracted by other books and just never had the desire to pick this one up again. I only got to about 13%, so I can’t really say much about it, just that it was a little funny, a lot awkward, and didn’t keep my interest.

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The Seaside Letters (Nantucket #3) by Denise Hunter. I have read several Denise Hunter books over the last few months and I really liked some while I found others a little ho-hum. I liked the idea of this book, but not how it was executed. We find out almost right away that both characters know who they are writing to, but Sabrina doesn’t know that Tucker knows. I just can not take a whole book of it – It’s too much obvious lying. Sabrina (like most of Hunter’s leading female characters) is super unlikable. I also read a review that spoiled what her “big secret” is and it really turned me off from wanting to finish the book. It should honestly be a deal breaker in my opinion. I’ll still read other Hunter books, but this one was just not for me.

3 Year Blogaversary & Giveaway

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Today marks three years since I’ve started Stephanie’s Book Reviews! I’ve had ups and downs and have thought about quitting about a hundred times, but overall, I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve read many great (and not so great) books and have made some great blogger friends.

To thank you all for the Likes, Comments, and Follows from the last three years, I’m having a giveaway. You can a win a copy of any book I’ve reviewed (you can look up lists by author or by rating), up to a $20 value from the Book Depository. Open international (as long as Book Depository ships to you) – must be 18 or over to enter.

THANK YOU!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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I saw Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse do this tag and thought it seemed better than the mid-year post I was thinking about doing, so I decided to tag myself for it.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2016.

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Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

I think the 2nd book in this series is my favorite because it’s here that it separates itself from The Hunger Games comparisons, it’s action-packed (which I normally am not a huge fan of, but LOVED it here), had a billion surprises and twists throughout, and also really brought the emotion. This book is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to rating a book 5 stars on my blog.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2016.

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Red Glove (Curse Workers #2) by Holly Black.

Ok, so obviously Golden Son would be this answer, too, since it’s a sequel and it’s my favorite…but Red Glove was also an exceptional sequel. I thought it was much better than the first book and I really enjoyed it.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To.

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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout (published 2/23/16)

Seth is one of my favorite JLA characters and I was really looking forward to this…but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve been waiting for it to come to the library, but it hasn’t yet.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows was one of my top three books of 2015 and I’m soooo excited fort the sequel. I love the characters so much and can’t wait to see what happens. You can read a sneak peak of it here!

Biggest Disappointment.

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Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

After completely falling in love with Brennan’s Lynburn Legacy series, I was so looking forward to reading more from her, but I found myself pretty disappointed with this book. The quick-witted humor and banter that I had come to expect from Brennan was missing. Perhaps I would have liked this better if I had read A Tale of Two Cities?

Biggest Surprise.

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Despite having this on my TBR for a long time, I wasn’t really expecting anything from it, but I really, really enjoyed it! While it does have some cheesy moments, it had excellent character development and a whole lot more emotional depth than I was expecting.

Favorite New Author.

Pierce Brown

I am completely blown away by Pierce Brown’s writing. Despite not really being a fan of sci-fi or action, his Red Rising series has become one of my favorite series of all time. I will read anything this man ever writes. And you should, too.

Newest Fictional Crush.

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Somebody Nobody (and his real life self) in Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

I won’t tell you the character’s actual name because it’s a spoiler (even though you can probably guess who it is within the first couple chapters), but I love his quick wit and his vulnerability, and that he’s always there for Jessie (even if he’s not physically there for much of it)

Newest Favorite Character.

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Cassel from the Curse Workers series.

He’s smart, funny, and so sarcastic. He’s just a fun, cool character to read about.

Book That Made You Cry.

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I don’t think the average person will cry at this, but I identified SO MUCH with the main character and so many of her struggles. I honestly think I have some undiagnosed OCD, which just makes so much more sense of my life.

Book That Made You Happy.

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Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik

This is a super cute Pride and Prejudice re-telling. Nothing spectacular, but it was fun to read.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation.

The only ones I can think of that I’ve watched this year are Mockingjay Part 2, which was my least favorite one in the series, unfortunately, and The Convenient Groom (on Hallmark) which was so different than the book that I had a hard time enjoying it.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year.

This year has not been a great blogging year for me so far, but I have managed a couple of original posts

Love Stinks: Toxic and Unbearable Relationships in Fiction

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

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year.

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Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Because I’m using the purchase of books as weight loss rewards, I’ve only bought a handful so far this year and this has been the best (both the cover and what’s on the inside)

What Books Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Among the Wicked (Kate Burkholder #8) by Linda Castillo

The Kept Woman (Will Trent #8) by Karin Slaughter

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to participate

Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Three Things:

(1) I really, really enjoyed reading this book!

(2) The format of this review is extremely unoriginal.

(3) I don’t know why, but I really love the cover of this book and am really happy that it ties into the story. Though also oddly disappointed that it’s not a bigger role.

Three More Things:

(1) I loved the banter in this book. It was so fun and witty and kept me smiling throughout so much of it. I loved the e-mail/texting/IM formatting and honestly wouldn’t have minded if the whole thing was written like that. While I think that shifting to texting/IM-ing made sense, I did miss seeing the e-mail subject lines, as they were pretty funny, too.

(2) While there was a lot of fun banter, the other half of the book was pretty heavy. While the banter did a good job of helping balance out the heavy, I don’t think it was done as effectively as it could have been. It would be all fun and texting one page and the next was a lot of introspective moments of grief. The transitions were a little jarring at times.

(3) The family aspect of this book was lacking for me. While things start to get better by the end, I really didn’t care for any of the parental figures in this book. I thought the blended family aspect would play a bigger factor in the story, but it was mostly used to give Jessie one more thing to be upset over.

Another Three Things:

(1) Jessie is dealing with a lot, though – the loss of her mother, moving away, new step-mother and step-brother, new school, new friends, mean girls, bullying, absent father. I mean, the list goes on. Plus, she’s only 16, so if she spends a good deal of the book feeling sad and lonely and a little self-indulgent, I can excuse it. There was actually a lot of Jessie that I could identify with and even though I didn’t always love how she handled something, she was a likable character and she did really grow throughout the book.

(2) I love the Anonymous E-mailer, Somebody Nobody. This could have been creepy, but I’m just going to blow right by that and go for how cute it was. Because it was cute. Though, was I supposed to be surprised by SN’s real identity? Because as soon as his character was introduced he was my guess on who it was and I just became more convinced as the story went on. Like, it couldn’t have been anyone else. And while I wouldn’t have minded if it was revealed to Jessie before the final chapter, I was ok with it. I shipped it.

(3) I don’t really feel like I can mention any of the guys/potential love interests without giving away SN’s identity. So I’ll just say, I think you will be satisfied with the romantic portion of the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed Tell Me Three Things. It was such a cute story with fun, witty banter that I couldn’t get enough of. And while I didn’t always think the heavier moments were well balanced, they did seem raw and relatable and in that regard, was well done. This is definitely a YA Contemporary I would recommend. I already want to read it again.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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