Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 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 Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read October 2-6. 2.5 Stars.

Sigh. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it was just so average. Recycled plot, recycled characters. I’ve always been a big fan of JLA, but I don’t think there was one thing in this book I haven’t already read in one of her (many) other books. I’m not giving up on her books, but the last few I’ve read from her I have been really disappointed in.

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Truly, Madly, Famously (Famous in Love #2) by Rebecca Serle. Read October 7-8. 2 Stars.

Well. I did not like this one nearly as much as the first one. I liked Paige in the first book, but she was super annoying the whole time in this one. Cheating in books always makes me angry, too. Paige and Rainer were officially together in this one so all her pining over Jordan was just not ok anymore. I didn’t like the additional characters that were introduced. The one lesson Paige learned that I did appreciate was that she finally realized she was just 18 and choosing between the two guys was not choosing the rest of her life.

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Rock Falls, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar. Read October 8-9. 3 Stars.

I think this book had a lot of potential that it never fully lived up to. The characters, other than Aspen, were not that well developed and were easily removed from the story when their usefulness to Aspen’s development was over. I was expecting a lot more from the ending and was a little disappointed with how open-ended it was. The main thing that kept me reading this books was Aspen. When the main character is unlikable I need to LIKE not liking him and Ribar did a good job making me feel that. He was kind of an awful person and he was fine with it and I kind of enjoyed that about him. But as the story went on he started to feel bad about it and want to try to be better and I enjoyed that, too.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. Read October 10-15. 3 Stars.

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee. Read October 15-18. 3 Stars.

3 Stars because I’m feeling generous. I think the comparison to Gossip Girl is pretty accurate. I never read the books, but I’ve seen the show and I could totally see these characters and this world as a tv show like that. I liked the futuristic stuff. I thought there were too many perspectives, though. I only really liked Watt and I don’t think he got as many chapters as the others. I was kind of interested in Avery’s plotline because of how morally gray (like dark, dark gray) it was. I really didn’t care at all about the other 3 POVS. And the person I wanted to die, didn’t. The pace is really slow, but I think if you end up liking the characters more than I did that you wouldn’t mind it.

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. Read October 18-21. 3 Stars.

I liked Sophie and Stephen (and especially Stephen’s dry sense of humor in the first several chapters, though sadly it seemed to disappear as the book went on), but I disliked almost all the supporting characters. I thought all the “mysteries” were pretty obvious from early on and it took too long to reveal things. As in most Klassen novels, though, I enjoyed the romance and the subtle Christian themes. I wasn’t sure if I would be satisfied with either possible resolution given the circumstances, but I found I was really happy with how it all worked out.

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Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys. Read October 23. 3 Stars.

Overall, Dead Girls Society was a quick, enjoyable read. Though I thought it took a little long for the dare game to really live up to it’s potential, it did eventually get there. Hope, the likable main character, made me want to keep reading, even when the story was dragging a little and I liked how her disability was handled. I would recommend this to YA lovers who enjoy mild mystery and suspense. Full Review to come closer to release date.

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To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne. Read October 23-25. 3.5 Stars.

It took me just a little bit to get into this. It’s probably because I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I didn’t really feel like Alexis and Logan were really friends. She constantly referred to him as her accountant and though it was said that he was a lot more to her than that, we don’t really get to see their friendship in the beginning. It starts out with him wanting to be more than friends and she keeps shutting him down. However, once they got to Florida I really started to enjoy it. Alexis was still really wary, but they actually communicated and they were so cute together. I ended up really liking the romance and how it all turned out. I’m definitely going to go back and read the rest of the series.

Thanks again to Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) for giving me her extra copy!!! Book blogger friends are the best.

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Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk. Read October 25-27. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match. I liked the sweet romance and the Christmas setting. It reminded me so much of watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, which I love. I definitely recommend to those looking for a romantic holiday themed read. Full review to come closer to release date.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Loner by Teddy Wayne, Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & etc., The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Dating an Alien Popstar by Kendra L. Saunders. These are all books I’ve had on my TBR for awhile, but they’re just not interesting me at the moment and if I stay on track with NaNoWriMo then I won’t really have the time for them (and the first 3 are library books that will expire before I get to them). I didn’t even start Loner or Swarm, but I’m feeling book slumpy and neither sounded like something that would bring me out of it. I started The Unexpected Everything (my first Matson book) and didn’t even make it through the first chapter before I decided I wasn’t in the mood for it. Dating an Alien Popstar is a complete random pick that I saw quite awhile ago because I thought it looked kind of funny and I noticed the other day that it was free a Nook book at Barnes and Noble so I downloaded it and read the first chapter and I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever pick it back up, unfortunately. But it could get better?

Help Me Decide What to Write for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2016 Participant Banner

October was going to be my planning and plotting month for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I was going to decide which story running around in my head would get the full novel treatment, write an outline, do character surveys, make pinterest boards, etc. And I have done none of that. For the life of me I can’t even decide on what to write. So I thought I’d ask for some help. Please answer the following polls and help me decide!

I was expecting a NaNo reference in this episode the whole time I watched it!:

Also, if you would like, leave a comment with your favorite names. Naming characters is always one of the hardest parts for me and I can never do anything until that’s done. I usually end up using the same names over and over again so some new ideas would be great!

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? We should be writing buddies! My name is Stephanie1.

When people ask what your book is about: | 21 Things That Will Make Sense To Writers:

Review: Shutter by Laurie Faria Stolarz

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sixteen-year-old Day Connor views life through the lens of her camera, where perspective is everything. But photographs never tell the whole story. After Day crosses paths with Julian, the world she observes and the truths she believes—neatly captured in black and white—begin to blur.

Julian does not look like a murderer, but his story is full of holes, and his alibis don’t quite add up, either. This time, Day is determined to see the entire picture…whatever it reveals.

Did he kill his parents? Or didn’t he?

While Julian remains on the run, Day digs deeper into his case. But the more facts she uncovers, the longer her list of questions becomes. It’s also getting harder to deny the chemistry she feels with Julian.

Is it real? Or is she being manipulated?

Day is close to finding the crack in the case that will prove Julian’s innocence. She just needs time to focus before the shutter snaps shut.

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

I went into this hoping for mystery and suspense. While there was a little mystery, it was a lot more coming of age storyline than I expected (or wanted, to be honest). That doesn’t make it a bad book. It just wasn’t what I wanted.

Day is the only child of two very successful humanitarians and she’s spent her life trying to follow in their footsteps and make them proud. When she comes across Julian, a murder suspect who recently escaped from Juvie, she starts to research his case and makes it her mission to help him out and uncover the truth. It took a lot of time for her to actually start investigating other than just reading old newspaper articles and asking Julian a few questions. Even though it was a fast read due to the easy writing and short chapters, the story really dragged for me until we got closer to the end.

I liked Day well enough, though I don’t think she always made the smartest decisions. Her friends all drove me completely crazy. Julian was a little more compelling character and I enjoyed getting his perspective through his journal entries. The synopsis makes it sound like he could be manipulating Day into helping him, but I never really felt like he was. He did get caught in a few lies, but he seemed more like a scared kid than a little psychopath (and I kind of wanted him to be little psychopath, just for a good twist).

Overall, Shutter was an ok read for me. Short chapters made for a quick, easy read. I liked the overall premise of the story, but I wish it focused more on the mystery/suspense side and a little less on the growing-up-is-hard drama. Though the very end felt a little abrupt (an epilogue would have been nice), I did like the direction the conclusion went and was a little surprised by it, so I appreciated that.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

3 stars

Review: The Twenty-Three (Promise Falls Trilogy #3) by Linwood Barclay

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

From New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Linwood Barclay comes the third jaw-dropping thriller set in Promise Falls.
 
Everything has been leading to this.

It’s the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 23rd, and the small town of Promise Falls, New York, has found itself in the midst of a full-blown catastrophe. Hundreds of people are going to the hospital with similar flu-like symptoms—and dozens have died. Investigators quickly zero in on the water supply. But the question for many, including private investigator Cal Weaver, remains: Who would benefit from a mass poisoning of this town?

Meanwhile, Detective Barry Duckworth is faced with another problem. A college student has been murdered, and he’s seen the killer’s handiwork before—in the unsolved homicides of two other women in town. Suddenly, all the strange things that have happened in the last month start to add up…

Bloody mannequins found in car “23” of an abandoned Ferris wheel…a fiery, out-of-control bus with “23” on the back, that same number on the hoodie of a man accused of assault…

The motive for harming the people of Promise Falls points to the number 23—and working out why will bring Duckworth closer to death than he’s ever been before…

The Twenty-Three will be available November 1, 2016

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

The Twenty-Three is the conclusion to the Promise Falls series and I think Barclay definitely saved the best for last.

The book starts out setting the stage of a town catastrophe. A contamination in the water supply sends hundreds of people to the hospital. To make matters worse, the contamination appears to be deliberate. Barclay did such a great job setting up the atmosphere. I could really feel the panic and fear that such an event would cause. He also sets a steady pace for the rest of the novel. Shifting through several different perspectives (focusing mostly on Detective Barry Duckworth, Private Investigator Cal Weaver, and former investigative reporter David Harwood) kept the suspense high and there were just enough twists and surprises to keep me guessing right up until the very end.

In addition to the water supply mystery, Duckworth is still working on the cases of a serial killer and the odd incidents relating to the number twenty-three that have been playing out through the past couple books. I loved that we finally got to find out what twenty-three was relating to and how all the mysteries throughout the series connected.

My only real problem with this book came at the conclusion. While almost everything wrapped up nicely, I felt David’s storyline was a little open-ended. I would have liked to get one last POV of him and also from Cal. I also would have loved an epilogue. I have a feeling, though, that we haven’t seen the last of these characters and that is just fine by me.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Twenty-Three. I loved how all the mysteries came to a head and were resolved, with just enough twists thrown in to keep me on my toes. The writing, as always, was wonderful and suspenseful. I really had a hard time putting this one down and the few times I had to, I was still thinking about it. I definitely recommend this series to fans of mystery/suspense.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

A Long Time Ago, in a Land Far, Far Away Book Tag

Stephanies Book Reviews Header

I was tagged by Deanna over at A Novel Glimpse (check out her blog, she’s awesome!). Feel free to tag yourself if you would like to participate.

ONCE UPON A TIME

At least in western fairy-tales, once upon a time is the most common and well-known opening for a traditional fairytale. What book opening makes you feel nostalgic?

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I don’t think I entirely understand this question. So, I’m going with a book opening that has “once upon a time” with a twist. The Rose Society by Marie Lu.

“Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.”

IN A LAND FAR, FAR AWAY

Another common opening which speaks of far off places. What is a book set in a country completely unlike your own?

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo is set in Ketterdam. Yes, it’s fictional. But it’s kind of Russian inspired, right?

FROM MOUTH TO MOUTH

Our oldest fairy tales were told time and time again with no written record, told only in the spoken form. Everyone had their own version of the fairy tales. What is your favorite retelling?

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All of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer are really well done, but I think Cress (Rapunzel re-telling) is my favorite book of the series.

THROUGH THE GENERATIONS

Fairy tales are told to us as children and so are passed on through the years. What is a book that someone beloved passed on to you?

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I am usually the one that forces people to read books. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is one that I read and then bugged and bugged my sister to read. When she finally did she loved it,  so much she started working for one of the major HG fansites, and so then my parents and brother all decided to read it too.

A SPECIAL STORY

Fairy tales are a big part of our culture and say a lot about who we are as people. What is your favorite fairytale and what does it say about you?

My favorite Disney fairy tale movie is beauty and the beast because it's one of the rare times a prince gets saved:

Beauty and the Beast, like all good bookworms. Of course there is the relatable factor of Belle being a book lover. But I guess I also like the idea that physical attraction doesn’t play a role in them falling in love. And I never really realized it until I was searching for a picture to use and found the above one, but Belle is one of the most feminist characters which is cool.

AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Fairy tales tend to have happy endings. What is a book you’ll love forever?

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is one of my new favorites.