Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 2018

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. Reviewing the Unreviewed is my monthly post where I share my few thoughts on all the books I didn’t formally review.

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The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. Read May 4-6. 3.5 Stars.

I recently read All the Beautiful Lies and liked it, but everyone else seemed to think it wasn’t as good as Swanson’s previous books and The Kind Worth Killing was mentioned to me several times. I think that gave me really high expectations for this that weren’t quite met.

I liked the multiple POVs. The characters were all awful, but often fascinating. I thought the first twist was really good, but after that my guard was up and I didn’t really find anything else that surprising. Overall I thought this was good, but it didn’t really grip me like I was hoping it would.

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Operation Prom Date (Tactics in Flirting #1) by Cindi Madsen. Read May 12-13. 4 Stars.

I was in the mood for something cute and light and decided to give this one a try when I saw there was no wait for it at the library and I am so glad I did! It was so freaking cute! I loved Kate and Cooper and shipped them pretty hard. I also loved all Kate’s talk about the characters she shipped (“I used to be all about Damon and Elena, but there toward the end, I shipped her and a coffin.” Lolol). I loved how kind of nerdy Kate was and she made me laugh several times. If you’re looking for a sweet YA I definitely recommend this one.

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Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren. Read May 14-15. 4 Stars. 

I did really like this, but I also really had some issues with it. I was rooting for Macy and Elliot, but I felt the further we got into the book the less impressed I was with their relationship. When it starts out we just keep being told how they were each other’s first/best “everything” and they were so close and special and then something awful happened where they didn’t speak for eleven years. Every other chapter is told in flashback to when they first met until the big event that drove them apart. As they grew older in the flashbacks, their conversations primarily seemed to revolve around sexual topics and while they’re young and hormonal and I get that, it felt like it was at the expense of finding out real things about each other. Macy realized on several different occasions that their relationship is very insulated and she knows very little about Elliot’s outside life. While I didn’t doubt that they cared about each other, I just never really bought their relationship being as real and close as we’re told it was.

I also thought it got way too long to get to what happened. I pretty much guessed what happened within the first chapter or two and it was kind of annoying that they waited roughly 400 pages to reveal it. And while I’m sure it was a traumatic time for Macy, it also felt like a big overreaction that didn’t warrant eleven years of the silent treatment.

Ok, so I know it sounds like I didn’t like this, but I did. I liked the Present chapters a lot more than I liked the flashbacks. Even though Macy still frustrated me, I did like adult Macy and Elliot together. I liked adult Elliot a lot more than teenage Elliot. The writing was very addictive and once I started this book I only put it down for sleep and work. I did think the first half was better than the second half, though. However, it’s still a book that I think I would read again.

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The Book of M by Peng Shepherd. Read May 13-19. 3 Stars. 

The Book of M is certainly an ambitious debut. Covering multiple characters, countries, and time in painstaking detail, it explores a new dystopian world where the loss of memories results in dangerous magic. Full Review to come.

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Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering. Read May 19-20. 4 Stars. 

Tell Me Lies is an addicting tale of a toxic relationship and the dysfunctional people involved in it. Full review to come.

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A Gathering of Secrets (Kate Burkholder #10) by Linda Castillo. Read May 21-22. 4 Stars.

Sometimes when a series has been around for awhile, the characters and the stories seem to get a little stale. That is not the case with the Kate Burkholder series. We are ten books in and I still enjoy it just as much as I did the beginning of the series. Full review to come.

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Find You in the Dark by Nathan Ripley. Read May 23-26. 2.5 Stars. 

Comparisons to Dexter and to Joe made me pretty excited to read Find You in the Dark, but as with such other comparisons, I was left a little disappointed. Full review to come.

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A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas. Read May 26-27. 2.5 Stars.

Well. That was kind of pointless. You know there are groups of characters that you say you would read about them doing ANYTHING? The ACOTAR group has never been that for me, but if they are that for you, you’ll enjoy this. Like all other Maas books it was weighed down with too much pointless detail and very little plot. It was occasionally funny, though, and I will always have a certain level of love for Rhys. I’m not really feeling that inspired to continue the series, but I probably will.

********Back on the TBR********

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. I finally got this from the library, but I just was not in the mood for fantasy at the time. I will try it again some day.

********DNF********

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Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey. DNF-ed at 58%. I almost never DNF a book this far into it, but I just really couldn’t make myself care about it. The concept is interesting, but I don’t think it was executed that well. And the main character was really annoying. I put it down for a few days to read something else and was not at all interested in picking it back up again.

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Jane and Austen by Stephanie Fowers. DNF-ed at 9%. I really liked the concept of this and that it has characters based off of all of Jane Austen’s books, but I just couldn’t get into it. 

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Review: Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest . . . but what would you do if you found out that you were never really married in the first place?

In this irresistible romantic comedy from award-winning author Beth Kendrick, three wildly different women form an unlikely friendship as they try to decide whether they’d do it all again.

They’ve had the white dresses and the fancy receptions. But now that the honeymoon’s over, Stella, Casey, and Erin have each had to face some hard truths about the men they’ve married and the lives they’ve chosen. So when the news breaks that the pastor who presided over their weddings failed to file a few critical pieces of paper, none of these newlyweds are rushing down to the courthouse to legalize their vows. Instead, the brides share their hopes, disappointments, and secrets while grappling with that pivotal question: Should they stay or should they go?

I loved this book! It was made into a Hallmark movie several years ago that I liked and I’ve wanted to read the book ever since I realized it was written by Beth Kendrick, who has written several other books I’ve really enjoyed. While I don’t remember enough about the movie to say how similar it actually was to the book, I think it’s safe to say that the book was even better than the movie.

The book is told through the POVs of Stella, Casey, and Erin. These young women have all recently been married over the same weekend, but maybe they shouldn’t have been. Stella wants nothing more than to be a mom, but finds out on her wedding night to her much older husband that that isn’t going to be possible. Casey had to all but drag her groom to the wedding. And Erin’s mother-in-law just might be trying to kill her (with peanuts). When they find out that they’re not legally married, instead of rectifying the mistake immediately, they begin to wonder if they really want to be married.

The girls were all hard to like sometimes, but I was still rooting for them. At various times I wanted them each to get re-married and to remain single. There were really cute and really frustrating moments that each had with their significant others. Some of the funniest (and most frustrating) were with Erin, David, and David’s mother. David’s mother, Renee, is one of the most overbearing Mother-in-laws I’ve ever read about and it was just ridiculous to see how easily she manipulated her son. In the end, not all the women get the happily-ever-after you expect, but I really liked how each of their stories went. I would have even liked an epilogue to see how everything was going a year down the road.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nearlyweds. It was cute and addictive and I enjoyed every moment of it. This book reminded me how much I enjoy Beth Kendrick books and I’m going to look into reading more from her.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend … until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

I always look forward to new books by Kasie West. They just make me happy and Listen to Your Heart was no exception.

I liked all the characters in this. I found Kate funny and relatable. I loved her and Alana’s friendship. I liked Kate’s relationship with her family, especially her cousin Liza. Her home situation was a little unusual and I wish it would have been a little more explored than it was, though. I felt like there was a lot of potential there that wasn’t really explored, but I did like what we got to see of it. I really liked Diego and even Frank grew on me as the story went on.

I wasn’t sure what I would think of the podcast plotline, since I don’t generally care about podcasts. However, I thought it was really interesting. It wasn’t an overwhelming amount of information, but I felt like I got a good idea of how producing one would work. I wish there were cool classes like that when I was in high school. (Though, I don’t think podcasts were a thing when I was in high school. Dial-up internet was what everyone had back then – if you were lucky enough to have the internet at home at all. I know, I’m ancient.) I liked how it brought Kate out of her shell a bit and gave her more confidence.

As with every Kasie West book, I thought the romance was adorable. It was definitely a slow burn and it made the end result just that much sweeter. I wish there wasn’t so much miscommunication between the characters, but there were still a lot of cute moments, so I can forgive it.

Overall, I really enjoyed Listen to Your Heart. I liked the character and the relationships and the romance. It was a fast read that I finished in a day. I definitely recommend to fans of Kasie West and Contemporary YA.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

“Jar of Hearts grabs you by the throat! The perfect blend of riveting characters, chilling details, and gasping twists in this standout thriller will keep you frantically reading until the explosive end.” – Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You

This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .

When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.

But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.

To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.

For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.

While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.

How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?

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

Jar of Hearts will be available June 12, 2018. 

Wow. I hardly know where to even begin with this. Jar of Hearts is the kind of book that you’re almost afraid to say you enjoyed because of how dark and twisted it is. But it’s one of the best books I’ve read in awhile.

Jar of Hearts is told in 5 parts, each associated with the 5 stages of grief, and in alternate POVs of Geo and Kaiser. I really enjoyed both perspectives. The story is told both in present and flashback and I loved how things were revealed and how you’re never sure if you’re getting the whole story (spoiler alert: you usually aren’t). The writing was smart and surprising. There weren’t any gasp-worthy twists, but there were plenty of smaller ones that I definitely didn’t see coming. I love when a book can surprise me like this one did.

Despite being deeply flawed characters, I liked both Geo and Kaiser. I liked how their relationship evolved, though I did feel pretty bad for teenage Kaiser. I found Geo pretty compelling. She did whatever she had to do to survive in any situation, even when that meant doing some terrible things. I would definitely consider her an anti-hero.

I really don’t want to say too much about the plot, for fear of giving anything away. I will say that there are several scenes that were pretty uncomfortable to read. If you’re easily triggered, you should probably avoid this one. If you can handle those type of scenes, though, the writing is intense and addictive and it sucked me in right from the beginning.

Overall, I really liked Jar of Hearts. This was my first book by Hillier and while I’m a little disturbed by her, I definitely want to read more from her. The mystery was well-written with many small twists that surprised me and there were some really flawed, but compelling characters. I feel like I’ve read a lot of so-so books lately and this one really grabbed me right from the start and kept my attention the whole time. I definitely recommend it to fans of darker mysteries.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Kindle Unlimited Review

A couple of months ago I received an e-mail with a deal to try Kindle Unlimited for 2 months for $0.99. I’ve been wanting to try out KU and decided that deal was too good to pass up. I read many books that are not available at my library that I’m sure I would have never picked up otherwise and really loved a few of them. I definitely got my monies worth, but would I subscribe again? And should you? Maybe.

If you are a Romance fan – especially of the New Adult variety – than there are a TON of options. There were many books that had been on my radar from fellow bloggers that I was happy to finally be able to try. There were also many that I knew would not be for me, but if Romance is your genre of choice, then I definitely think it would be worth you to spend a little money for a month of books.

I had a harder time finding books that interested me in other genres. Most of the Mystery/Suspense titles I looked into I ended up not even reading because when I looked them up on Good Reads they had pretty bad reviews. The one book I was looking forward to the most (and the only book I’ve almost bought on multiple occasions, but never pulled the trigger) was Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine and I was so let down by the hype that I never even picked up the sequel during that two month period.

While I was able to read plenty of books, I also had library books come in off the Holds list and some ARCs that I had to get to, as well. If I were to pay for KU again I would try to make it a month where I didn’t have books I was waiting on from the library or any ARCs that are publishing during that time. I would suggest being able to devote all your reading time to it if you’re going to be paying money for it.

So what did I read? I’m glad you asked.

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine – 3 Stars

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata – 4 Stars

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata – 4 Stars

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata – 1 Star

Moonshot by Alessandra Torre – 3.5 Stars

Co-Wrecker by Meghan Quinn – 3 Stars

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

The Dreamer by E.J. Mellow – 3 Stars

The Dreamcatcher by E.J. Mellow – 3 Stars

Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman – 3.5 Stars

Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

My Sister’s Intended by Rachael Anderson – 3 Stars

Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter – 4 Stars

I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter – 3.5 Stars

Review: Just One of the Royals (The Chicago Falcons #2) by Leah & Kate Rooper

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Star hockey player Daniel Sacachelli wants only two things: 1) for the Falcons to win next season, and 2) for his secret — the fact he’s actually the prince of Eldonia — to never make its way to Chicago. But if Daniel keeps avoiding his crown, their family will lose their kingdom forever.

Madison Myong can’t believe that her will-they-or-won’t-they best friend Daniel is really a prince! He’s always seemed more rebel than royal. But now, he needs to clean up his image, fast. Posing as his long-time girlfriend, Madison accompanies him back to Eldonia, intending to give Daniel a makeover fit for a king.

Only, the more royal Daniel becomes, the more Madison misses her best friend. And if she does her job right, she’ll lose him forever…

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

Just One of the Royals will be available June 4, 2018.

Just One of the Royals is the second book in a series about members of a junior hockey team. I haven’t read the first book in the series yet (from what I gather it sounds very similar to the move She’s the Man, but with hockey instead of soccer), but found this could be read easily as a standalone.

I really liked the friendships in the book. The guys on the hockey team, plus Madison (the trainer) were all pretty close and they looked out for each other. I liked that there weren’t any frenemies or mean girls. I also enjoyed Daniel’s relationship with his half-sister and with his mother. He was super sweet with both of them and I loved it.

The fake-relationship trope is one of my favorites and was the main reason for me wanting to read this book. However, I didn’t really think that aspect of the book was very well done. The reason for them trying to fake a relationship was pretty flimsy to start with and then there were none of the fun moments where they had to try to prove to people they were together. They just like held hands a couple times? Kissed for the cameras once. No one in Eldonia really cared about their “relationship” at all and it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It felt a lot more like Friends-To-More than Fake Relationship.

Overall, Just One of the Royals, was a cute read and I liked that it was written by two sisters, but it’s probably not a book I would want to pick up again. I liked Daniel and how all the relationships were portrayed, but was disappointed in the lack of Fake Relationship drama and also that I didn’t find Madison to be very likable. If you enjoy sports romances and are trying to feed your Royal Wedding hangover, you might enjoy this one.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars