Taking a Break

Books

As I’ve recently mentioned, 2018 has not gotten off to a great start for me. Lots of family stuff. Lots of work stuff. Life is just kind of hacking away at my mental health. Other than reading, there is just not really anything that I’ve felt like doing lately. I’ve been working on this little blog of mine for almost 5 years and while I have never been the most consistent of posters, I’ve never taken any planned time away. Since I have no more ARC reviews scheduled until March, I feel like now is a good time to take a hiatus from blogging.

I will probably still check my blog feed occasionally and you can connect with me on Good Reads, if you are so inclined, as I will still be tracking what I read, but I’m going to plan on taking the rest of February off from posting anything. Hopefully in March I will be feeling a little more stable and come back with some great content. Right now I have reviews for the following books scheduled:

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I hope you all have a great month. See you in March!

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Review: By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

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

By the Book will be available February 6, 2018.

Persuasion is one of my favorite Jane Austen novels and I am always ready to jump on board a re-telling. Unfortunately, By the Book did not really live up to my expectations.

One thing that I thought was really odd for a re-telling is that the main character, Anne, is a college lit professor and teaches on authors such as Jane Austen. Also, Anne’s favorite book is Persuasion. I have never seen the actual source material referenced in a re-telling. At first I thought maybe it was just going to be really meta or something, but Anne never references how her life is paralleling her favorite novel. To be fair, though, there were very few instances that really resembled it.

The Anne of this book was not nearly as likable as Anne from Persuasion. She was short tempered and kind of whiney. I did not like her best friend, Larry, at all. He was very over-dramatic and he was also having an affair with a closeted married man. Anne was friends with that man’s wife and she didn’t seem to find anything wrong with what Larry was doing and the whole storyline very greatly frustrated me. Anne dates an author and fellow visiting professor, Rick, for most of the book and he was another awful person. The only character I really liked was Adam (our Captain Wentworth). He never really did anything wrong the whole book and in my opinion was way too good for Anne.

Overall, I found By the Book really disappointing. I didn’t think there were enough recognizable parts from Persuasion that I like to see in re-tellings and just couldn’t get over how odd it was that Jane Austen and the actual book were referenced so often. I’m adding an extra half-star to my rating, though, because the writing itself wasn’t that bad and it did include a version of my favorite part of Persuasion– the letter.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

Review: Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

*This review may contain some mild spoilers from Books 1-3 of the series. No spoilers for Iron Gold.*

Other books in the series:

Red Rising

Golden Son

Morning Star

So, Stephanie, you just finished your most anticipated book of the year (of ever, really). Now how about you write a halfway coherent review? Yeah, right. I really wish I could do that, but my thoughts are everywhere on this, so I’m going the list route.

The Writing. Pierce Brown is just a beautiful writer. His style, pacing, imagery, emotion. Even the violent scenes. Even the sometimes adolescent humor among the Howlers. Even the small, seemingly insignificant moments. If Pierce Brown writes it, I want to read it.

World building. Who knew there would be so much more world building to do in the 4th book of a series!? The story begins about 10 years after the last book ends (side note: I really should’ve done my series re-read before starting this. I was thinking Darrow was late 20s when Morning Star ended, not early 20s) and it is a whole new world. There was no Happily Ever After when Darrow and company “won.” The fight was not over and the government is far from stable. While I appreciate the need for the world building, it did slow things down a bit, plot-wise, when I was itching to just get going

POVs. Unlike the original trilogy, which was told completely in Darrow’s 1st person POV, Iron Gold is told through multiple 1st person POV. Besides Darrow, there are chapters from Lysander, all grown up and as Gold-arrogant as ever, Lyria, a Red who has lost most of her family and gets the opportunity to move to Luna and cross paths with those in charge, and Ephraim, who is connected to a character that had a small, but vital, role in Darrow’s history. It pains me to say that I didn’t love all the POVs. I think the problem lies with Darrow still being a major player. If this was a true companion series then it would make sense for Darrow to have more of a cameo role while new characters take the lead. But since this is more a continuation to the series, Darrow still has a big part to play and all I wanted was him. I was disappointed every time the POV changed away from him. I could not make myself really care that much about Lyria or Ephraim. I was ok with Lysander’s POV, but mostly because he was with Cassius. I also thought what was happening in his chapters are really important to the future books, whereas Lyria or Ephraim could have had much smaller roles and still had the same impact to the overall plot. So, Darrow’s POV was by far my favorite, but including it kind of made the rest feel a little lacking.

The Characters. Sevro, my little Goblin! How I have missed you! I loved seeing him and Darrow together again so much! And they’re fathers now! They’re relationship did hit some rough spots throughout the book, but they’ve been there before and I know they will get through it. I also enjoyed seeing Victra, Mustang, the Telemanuses, Cassius, and some of the original Howlers again. As for the new characters, I liked Lorn’s grandson, Alexander, “Tongueless” a new Obsidian Darrow and Sevro befriend, and Volga, Ephraim’s partner in crime, but I could take or leave the rest. Again, I think I may have liked the new characters more if there were not so much of the original ones. But I will never be upset about getting more of the original characters. 

Darrow. I’ve read several reviews where people were pretty annoyed with Darrow in this book. While I can see their point, I don’t think it’s really a valid argument. Listening to other people’s opinions/orders and then doing whatever he bloodydamn wants is kind of his thing. To be fair, that often works out in his favor. I say let Darrow be Darrow. Plus, he has two books to grow his character. A perfect Darrow this early in the game would make for a boring continuation of the series.

Plot Development. I’m not going to rehash the whole plot, because ya’ll can read the synopsis. I feel like the plot development was very similar to the first book in the series. A lot of set up and character development. Unlike the previous books, though, there weren’t many of the small twists and surprises that I have come to expect. While it’s not super predictable, I did not find myself really surprised by anything that happened. I will say there is one death that I did not think would happen, but I am not 100% convinced that the character is really dead. *Crossing my fingers the character reappears in book 5.* From other reviews I skimmed before reading this I was expecting a big cliffhanger ending and I guess there kind of was in a couple of the POVs (it was not until writing this sentence that I even remembered there were, which tells you that I did not find them very impactful). The last chapter in Darrow’s POV did not have one. However, I absolutely loved the last sentence of the book. It made me so excited for what’s to come!

Overall, I enjoyed Iron Gold. I have been waiting for this book for so long and am so glad I finally got to read it. While it was maybe not all that I hoped it would be, it was a well written continuation of the series and I am counting down the days to Dark Age.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

January 2018 Recap

Life update: Everything is the worst. I don’t want to dwell on things, but I will mention that one of my aunts passed away very unexpectedly last Saturday. It’s been a pretty rough week for the family. Her funeral is tomorrow. 2018 is shaping up to not be a great year so far, so let’s just move on to books.

Books Read: 13

Adult: 6
NA: 1
YA: 6

Favorite Books I Read This Month:

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett and An Ex for Christmas by Lauren Layne, Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

  Books Reviewed: 5

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West – 4/5 Stars

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Marianna Zapata – 4/5 Stars

The Isaac Project by Sarah Monzon – 2.5/5 Stars

Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant – 3.5/5 Stars

Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer – 3.5/5 Stars

Books Read in 2018 Overall: 13

Funny Fridays:

Positive Quotes Nerd Girl Problems. The book y More

January 5

How perfect will this be

January 12

January 19

January 26

Other Posts:

December 2017 Recap

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I didn’t get to in 2017

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2018

How is 2018 treating you? What’s your favorite book(s) of the year so far?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 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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#Nerd (Hashtag#1) by Cambria Hebert. Read January 2-3. 3 Stars. 

I couldn’t decide what to read and decided to go with something I wouldn’t normally pick. I had just recently gotten this for free, so I decided to give it a try. For the most part, this just reminded me why I don’t read much New Adult. It was ridiculously dramatic and clichéd. I didn’t particularly like either Romeo or Rimmel. However, I liked how the story was told in alternating first person POV. I thought their voices were really distinct and I actually liked the chapter’s from Romeo’s POV a little more. Because of that, it occasionally making me chuckle, and it’s the beginning of the year and I’m feeling generous, I’m bumping my rating up to 3 stars, even though I won’t be continuing the series (I just looked and there are several books in this series and they all look increasingly overdramatic and I just don’t have the patience for that).

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. Read January 6-7. 4 Stars. 

This is my second book by Jenn Bennett and I found it just as addicting as I did Alex, Approximately. It was a quick, easy read that kept me glued to the pages. Full review to come closer to release date.

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry. Read January 7-9. 3.5 Stars. 

If you ask me what this book is about, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell you. There were a number of things I liked – the characters, the banter, the romance. I loved the first half of this book and couldn’t put it down. But, it’s weird. It’s really weird and I didn’t entirely understand what happened towards the end. That’s the reason I can’t quite give it 4 stars. It was still a good read, though.

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An Ex for Christmas (Unexpectedly Yours #5) by Lauren Layne. Read January 14-15. 4 Stars. 

This book was so fricking cute! Likable characters and a cute dog. I loved the friendship between Mark and Kelly. This story was incredibly predictable, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed pretty much every moment of this (though, as always, there were a few scenes a little more graphic than I like). Lauren Layne has really become one of my favorites of this genre.

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Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Read January 15-17. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about this book was still the non-traditional formatting, but I must say I enjoyed the actual story more than I did the first book. I found both main characters to be likable. The plot wasn’t quite as clichéd. However, I still think the surveillance video summaries take away from the non-traditional style and were used too often. And I still really dislike having Aidan narrate anything (thankfully it didn’t appear until later in the book). This is probably closer to a 3.5 for me, but since that’s what I rated Illuminae and I thought this was better, I’m bumping my rating up to 4. I’m looking forward to see how it all plays out in Obsidio!

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Tarnished Crown (The Royals #3.5) by Erin Watt. Read January 16-18. 3 Stars. 

I don’t think I really had an opinion about Gideon one way or the other before, but I liked him after this. The story was fine, addictive writing like Erin Watt books are known to be. I’m just a little disappointed that I don’t feel like I really got the full story on Gideon and Savannah. I would’ve liked more flashback scenes to the beginning and then the end of their relationship. I felt like things were just kind of referenced and not explored and felt a little lacking. I did enjoy the “Present” timeline, though and I am looking forward to Cracked Kingdom!

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More Than We Can Tell (Letters to the Lost #2) by Brigid Kemmerer. Read January 19-20. 4 Stars. 

My favorite thing about Letters to the Lost was the friendship between Declan and Rev and I was very excited to hear that Rev was going to get his own book. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed More Than We Can Tell even more than I did Letters to the Lost. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The New Neighbors by Simon Lelic. Read January 21-24. 2.5 Stars.

I found The New Neighbors to be a pretty standard psychological thriller (and I’m using the word “thriller” loosely). The writing wasn’t bad, but I just found myself pretty underwhelmed with the plot and the characters. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Off the Ice (Juniper Falls #1) by Julie Cross. Read January 24-26. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I thought it handled a lot of the heavier topics pretty well. I really liked the characters – not just Tate and Claire, but their friends and most of their families, too. I especially loved Tate’s stepfather, Roger. While I did think the heavier topics were handled well, I thought things were a little too rushed at the end and would’ve liked to have seen a little more resolution – especially with Tate’s anger issues. I also thought there were a couple scenes that were a little too graphic for YA. Overall, though, I enjoyed this.

Review: Match Made in Manhattan by Amanda Stauffer

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

After two intense, dead-end relationships, serial monogamist Alison finds herself confused, lonely, and drastically out of touch with the world of modern dating. Refusing to wallow, she signs up for a popular dating app and resolves to remain open-minded and optimistic as she explores the New York City singles’ scene. With the click of a button, her adventures begin: On one date, she’s dumped before the first kiss; on another, she dons full HAZMAT gear; she meets a tattooed folk singer turned investment banker, an undercover agent who tracks illegal exotic animals, and dozens of other colorful, captivating personalities.

Giving them each her signature “pants speech”–her pants aren’t coming off unless she has a real connection with someone–she desperately wants to push past the awkward small-talk phase to find true love, but finding “the one” is starting to feel impossible. That is, until she meets Luke, who is sophisticated, funny, and not to mention, hot. Alison finds herself falling for Luke harder than any guy she’s dated and finally letting her walls down, but will he stick around or move on to his next match?

Match Made in Manhattan is a fast-paced, contemporary story about the struggles of dating in the digital age. Replete with online profiles, witty dialogue, and a super-supportive group of female friends, this all-too-real and relatable debut novel will have readers laughing, crying, and rooting for Alison all the way to the end.

I received a copy of this title via the author/publisher. This does not impact my review.

Match Made in Manhattan will be available January 23, 2018. 

A fun and quirky story full of the ups and downs of online dating. Match Made in Manhattan was an entertaining and often addicting read.

The story follows Allison, a newly single twenty-something New Yorker, over the course of a year as she gives online dating a try. Though I thought she sometimes came across a little shallow, I did find her to be a likable character. She was really open to new things and treated everyone kindly. I also liked her “pants speech.” The plot of the book could have easily transitioned into erotica, but Allison’s belief that physical intimacy should be saved for committed relationships was one I appreciated, even though it was a deal breaker for some of the guys she met on Match.

The book almost read as an anthology. The chapters were divided by who Allison’s date was. Depending on the length of the relationship some chapters were very short and some were very long (and some of the men got more than one chapter). I did have a bit of trouble keeping some of the guys straight if Allison referenced them later, but for the most part I thought this format worked.

There are a few reasons why I can’t quite give this book 4 stars, though. As I mentioned above, it often read more of an anthology than a standard Contemporary and I felt there was just something missing to tie everything together. But Stephanie, THE DATING ties everything together! Well, yes, but other than an on-going storyline with Allison’s job that lasted the length of the novel, almost everything else in the chapters felt pretty self-contained. It felt just a little bit choppy to me at times and I would’ve liked to have seen another side plot or two to run throughout the story. Also, one of my pet peeves is when things mentioned in the synopsis are not included in the book (though I know this is not the author’s fault) and I do not recall there every being a date in a HAZMAT suit.

Overall, I did really enjoy reading Match Made in Manhattan. The writing was humorous and I found myself laughing often. I also found the writing to often be addictive and there were many parts where I did not want to put it down. Though I’ve never online dated myself, I think this is definitely a must read for anyone who has. I’m looking forward to reading more from Stauffer in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars