Reviewing the Unreviewed: September 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.

*I’ve traditionally included every book I’ve read in a month that hasn’t been reviewed, but I have decided that I am no longer going to include books that will have full reviews posted at a future date.*

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Us Against You (Beartown #2) by FredrikBackman. Read September 3-8. 4.5 Stars.

Beautifully written. I was just as invested in all these characters as I was during the first book. I was really expecting this book to be more uplifting and focus on the recovery from the events that took place in the first book. And it still has those elements of hope and inspiration, but this story was probably even heavier than the first one. Backman portrays really well how much hate there is in the world today. I liked how he showed it’s easy to blame one person or one side, but it’s really everyone’s fault. 

I love the characters. Benji will always be my favorite, though. There were a few that played bigger roles in the first book that I would’ve liked to have seen more from in this one (David, Amat), but I liked getting to know others (Teemu, Richard Theo – who is either a genius or a sociopath (probably both)). While we do hear about a few far in the future endings, things were still left a little too open for me. This book was probably more of a 4 than a 4.5 for me, but I’m giving it that extra half star for all the emotion Backman managed to wrench out of me.

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The Engagement Plot by Krista Phillips. Read September 9-11. 3.5 Stars.

This was pretty cute and humorous at times. I thought it was going to focus more on the Bachelor-like reality show, but it’s more about what happened after. I thought the big conflict was kind of unrealistic, though. Hanna was nicknamed Holy Hanna because of her Christian values, but then Will insinuated that they slept together (when they hadn’t) and it completely ruined her life. While I do believe that the internet likes nothing more than someone’s supposed fall from grace, I don’t think the extensive tabloid coverage and all the hate mail would really be as extreme as it was. And while I liked that it portrayed a Christian going through a phase of questioning God and her faith, I thought the “come-to-Jesus” moments could’ve been a little better written. I thought the book was a little too long, but I was looking for something fun and light that I didn’t have to think too much about and this definitely entertained me. Would recommend to Christian Contemporary/Romance fans.

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Just One of the Boys (The Chicago Falcons #1) by Leah & Kate Rooper. Read September 11-12. 3 Stars. 

This was a little uneven for me. Both the lead characters were really unlikable for long stretches at a time. But then there would be chapters here and there where I really enjoyed them. The story is pretty much the hockey version of the She’s the Man movie. I don’t really have too much to say about this one. I read the second book before this book. I might give the third one a shot whenever it comes out.

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Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg. This was just as cute as I remembered it.

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Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I just read The Darkest Star (the first book in the spin-off series) and it made me feel so nostalgic for this book that I decided I should re-read this series. I love Daemon and Katy so much. I love the banter and the humor. It’s not going to win any great literary awards or anything, but it’s definitely a fun read.

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Oblivion (Lux) by Jennifer L Armentrout. I decided to re-read this whole series and decided I would read Oblivion after each of the first three books. So I read Obsidian and then I read Daemon’s POV of Obsidian and then I was going to read Onyx, but I decided just to stick with Daemon’s POV for books 2 and 3. I enjoyed this just as much as I did the first time. It really reminded me that Daemon is one of my favorite characters. The only thing that kind of bothered me was the bonus chapter with Luc. After reading the spin-off book, I feel like this scene doesn’t make sense with the book. Maybe I still need to read the remaining books in this series to remember the timeline exactly, but I’m thinking this scene contradicts how things played out in The Darkest Star.

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Fight or Flight by Samantha Young. DNF @ 11%. I just can not get into this book and I am really not in the mood to make myself try. I really dislike both the lead characters so far and the male lead’s Scottish accent is driving me insane. A couple of main words (like “to” and “didn’t”) are spelled out differently to show the accent and I’m just not feeling it. I think you need to do most of the dialogue like that or none at all.

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Review: Hot Winter Nights (Heartbreaker Bay #6) by Jill Shalvis

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Who needs mistletoe?

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

I received a copy via the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

I’ve really been in the mood for cute romances lately and Hot Winter Nights definitely fit the bill.

I liked both Molly and Lucas. I thought they really complemented each other well and made a good team. I thought they got together, physically at least, a little more quickly than I would’ve liked, but I did definitely ship them together. I enjoyed their banter and how they had each other’s backs. I also liked how Molly’s physical disability was portrayed. Though she had some struggles, she didn’t let it keep her from doing the things she wanted.

There were a couple of things I found a little odd. One thing I’ve noticed about this series is that all the chapters are titled with hashtags and for the life of me I can’t understand why. Social media is not really a part of the story at all and I just don’t get the hashtags. Speaking of social media, though, I also recognized a lot of the funny one-liners from Molly’s friends or the elderly elves were actually from memes I’ve seen on Pinterest. Other than those small things, the only thing I didn’t really like about the book were that there were a few more sexual scenes than I care to read, but from reading other Shalvis books I kind of expected it so it didn’t really hinder my enjoyment that much.

Overall, I enjoyed Hot Winter Nights. I thought it was a cute romance with likable lead characters. I liked that the investigation plotline brought a little bit of action and suspense, as well. I definitely recommend this one to Romance fans, especially fans of Jill Shalvis.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars

Review: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Sharon Bolton returns with her creepiest standalone yet, following a young cop trying to trace the disappearances of a small town’s teenagers.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago in a small village in Lancashire. Like something out of a nightmare, the victims were buried alive. Florence was able to solve the mystery and get a confession out of Larry before more children were murdered., and he spent the rest of his life in prison.

But now, decades later, he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Is someone copying the original murders? Or did she get it wrong all those years ago? When her own son goes missing under similar circumstances, the case not only gets reopened… it gets personal.

In master of suspense Sharon Bolton’s latest thriller, readers will find a page-turner to confirm their deepest fears and the only protagonist who can face them.

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

The Craftsman will be available October 16, 2018. 

Sharon Bolton has written some of my favorite books and I have been eagerly anticipating The Craftsman for quite awhile. Like I have come to expect from Bolton’s books, it was a well done, suspenseful mystery. It was even a little creepy at times. But it definitely took a departure into the supernatural that I was not expecting.

I have to say I was not a fan of the whole witch angle. It would have been one thing to have groups that fancy themselves witches, but Bolton makes the characters credible witches who perform magic. Now, I’ve read a good deal of paranormal books that included witches and been fine with it because there were also things like vampires and werewolves and what-not, and those books were always solidly in the fantasy column. I don’t feel this book is supposed to be considered paranormal at all, though, and that kind of made the conclusions a little hard to take seriously. However, I don’t feel this theme was made really prevalent until the last part of the book, so it didn’t ruin the rest of the book for me, it just made me a little more dissatisfied than I hoped.

The book is broken up into three parts. It starts in 1999 with Florence at the funeral of the serial killer she helped put away thirty years ago. The bulk of the book is the second part, which flashes back 30 years to the investigation. I really have to hand it to Bolton for keeping the suspense high during this time. We already know how the case ended, what atrocities Florence faced, and how her romantic life turned out. But none of that kept me from turning the pages as fast as I could to see what happened next and kind of loving the guy that I knew I shouldn’t be shipping her with. The third part goes back to the “present” (1999) where I felt the events of the synopsis finally kicked in. I thought it was a little bit rushed at the ending, but everything was tied up well enough.

Overall, I enjoyed The Craftsman, but it’s not my favorite of Bolton’s books. I appreciate that she took a chance to write something a little different than normal, but the whole witch thing isn’t really my cup of tea. There were some small twists and turns that surprised me, but most of the reveals I guessed well before they were revealed and one made me super sad (but would be too spoilery to expand upon).  However, I do love Bolton’s writing style, the alternating timeline, and the characters. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from Bolton in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Intercepted (Playbook #1) by Alexa Martin

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team’s wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee’s return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season.

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

Guys, I loved this book! When I read Deanna’s review on it I knew I had to read it, but I still wasn’t quite prepared for how fun and addicting it would be. I never wanted to stop reading it. I read it in about 24 hours and that included having to take breaks for sleep and work.

I really enjoyed Marlee. She was quirky and funny and very likable. She did frustrate me every now and again, but for the most part I thought she was relatable and I loved being in her head. I also really liked her dad, her boss/friend Brynn, and her best friend Naomi. I even enjoyed the “Wicked Wives” and all the catty, mean girl drama they created. I also think it’s a fun tidbit that the author’s husband used to play football so she spent several years as a Football Wife and I have no doubt some of that over-the-top behavior is inspired by real life events.

And can we talk about Gavin for a moment? He was pretty darn perfect. He was so sweet and protective and I just adored him. I spent the whole book waiting for him to do something awful because no guy can be that perfect, right? Well, he never does anything awful, but he does do some stupid things towards the end of the book. While part of what he did kind of made sense to me (not that I thought it was ok, but I understood his thought process), his total obliviousness to how much he hurt Marlee was not at all consistent with his character and I didn’t like that he had to basically become a different person for a few chapters to create the necessary drama to move the plot forward. However, he does redeem himself and I’ll love him forever. (And that’s not a spoiler, because this is a Romance and we all know how it’s going to end.)

While I did very much enjoy the relationship between Marlee and Gavin, there was one aspect I was really missing. They had a one-night stand several years before when Marlee was on a break from her relationship with longtime boyfriend, Chris. We’re told a lot about how great all the physical parts of that night were (yes, I know this is a Romance, but I would’ve liked a little less graphic content), but I would’ve loved a flashback to what brought them to that. How did they meet? What was their initial connection like? When they meet again and Gavin starts pursuing her pretty hard once she breaks up with Chris it made it feel like it was just based off of physical attraction. Which didn’t make sense either because Gavin kept talking about how amazing Marlee was, so obviously he knew more about her from their one night together and I just would’ve liked to have seen that.

Overall, I just really enjoyed Intercepted. It’s been awhile since I had so much fun reading a Romance. I liked Martin’s writing style and even all the hashtags. Not all of them were golden, but for the most part I thought they added a good bit of humor. I also liked Marlee’s journey to becoming her own person and being able to recognize that being in a relationship can’t “fix” you. It was refreshing to have a Romance portray being in love as a good part of your life and not being your whole life. I recommend this one to Romance fans and I will definitely be reading more from Martin in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars