Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I Read In 2015

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Best Books I Read In 2015.

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1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I loved pretty much everything about this book. The relationships, the humor, the drama.

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2. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo. I looooved this book! The characters are amazing. Kaz Brekker FOREVER.

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3. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. Probably the best suspense I’ve read all year – or ever, really. Read this book!

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4. The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. This was probably my biggest surprise of the year. I really didn’t expect much from it and ended up really loving it!

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5. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West. West continues to be my favorite YA Contemporary author. Her books are always so adorable and this was no exception.

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6. A Good Killing (Anna Curtis #4) by Allison Leotta. Though this is the 4th book in the series, it introduced me to the wonderful writing of Allison Leotta and this series has quickly become one of my all time favorites.

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7. First & Then by Emma Mills. Another book that surprised me by how much I enjoyed it. It was one of those books that I just wanted to keep reading forever.

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8. I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga. Jasper Dent is such an interesting, compelling character and he really made this book.

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9. Oblivion (Lux 1.5) by Jennifer Armentrout. I love the Lux series and I love Daemon Black and this is a wonderful addition to the series that I never expected, but always wanted.

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10. Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer. This was a fantastic end to the series and I just loved it so much!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Recently Acquired Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Recently Acquired Books.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – From the library (finally!) – Haven’t read yet

The First Wife

2. The First Wife by Erica Spindler – From the library – Haven’t read yet.

My One and Only

3. My One and Only by Kristan Higgins – From the library – Haven’t read yet (this time – it will be a re-read)

Emmy & Oliver

4. Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway – From the library – Read and Reviewed

The Fill-In Boyfriend

5.. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West – Won from Giveaway – Read and Reviewed

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

6. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – Won from Giveaway – 2 Chapters in

Law of Attraction

7. Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta – Won from Giveaway – Read and Reviewed

Discretion

8. Discretion by Allison Leotta – Won from Giveaway – Read.

Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis, #3)

9. Speak of the Devil by Allison Leotta – Won from Giveaway – Read and Reviewed

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

10. A Good Killing by Allison Leotta – Won from Giveaway – Read and Reviewed

What are some recent books you recently acquired?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 2015

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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

Introductions (The Ghost Bird, #1)

Introductions (The Ghost Bird #1) by C. L. Stone. Read May 31-June 1. 3 stars.

This is probably more like 2.5 stars, but I’m rounding it up to 3 because I’m looking forward to the next book. I’ve read a lot of reviews that list this series as a “guilty pleasure” and I think it will be the same for me.

The book does just what it says, it introduces all the main characters – which include SEVEN guys. And one girl. The guys are super protective of Sang (yes, stupid name) right away – like Edward Cullen level protective. Like made me a little uncomfortable level protective/possessive. But still…I’m intrigued.

Sang kind of got on my nerves. She kind of fell for every single guy she met and goes on and on about the tingly feelings she gets whenever one of them touches her in any way – which is often. I feel bad for the abuse she faces at home (and her mother isn’t just agoraphobic as the synopsis states – she’s a pill addicted, paranoid, crazy person), but it almost feels like her relationship with the boys is a little abusive in that they tell her what to do, what not to do, insist on following her around, etc.

Overall, though, I’m interested to find out what exactly this Academy is about. While the writing wasn’t exactly great, it was still fast and kind of addictive.

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First Days (The Ghost Bird #2) by C. L. Stone. Read June 1-3. 2 stars.

Oh dear. This series is driving me crazy, but I still plan on reading the next book. It’s like a train wreck you can’t look away from.

Sang still drives me crazy. The majority of the book continued to focus on how she feels whenever one of the guys touches her. She’s also verrrry immature. There was a random student who “proposed” to her and she actually wondered whether or not he was serious.

The boys continue to be protective/possessive of her in an unhealthy way. She now asks them for permission to speak and apologizes for trivial things. Bella Swan looks like a feminist hero compared to Sang.

All this said, and I still want to know what happens next. That’s the only reason it’s getting 2 stars from me instead of 1. The final chapter finally gave some answers, though I’m still a little confused.

Maybe in Another Life

Maybe in  Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Read June 6-7. 3.5 stars.

A full review of this will be posted closer to it’s release date (July 7). For now I’ll just say that it’s an interesting twist on alternate universes that I found enjoyable.

Her Backup Boyfriend (Entangled Bliss)

Her Backup Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory. Read June 7-8. 3.5 Stars.

I was looking for a good fake relationship story and this definitely fit the bill. It was cute and the characters were likable.

Magnolia

Magnolia by Kristi Cook. Read June 9-10. 3 stars.

Cute story with likable characters. At times it felt a little rushed and there was a lot of subjects that could have been more explored, but instead it only scratched the surface. Overall, though, a quick read that works for my contemporary kick.

Friends vs. Family (The Ghost Bird, #3)

Friends vs. Family (The Ghost Bird #3) by C. L. Stone. Read June 4-13. 2 stars.

So there was some good which is why it’s getting 2 stars instead of 1. Finally some stuff happened towards the end of this book. Some answers about Sang’s family are finally revealed. Her crazy mom is finally getting some help (for now). Sang finally realized that “normal friends” don’t act like how the boys act like her.

However, then there was the ridiculous. They play truth and dare and Sang’s dares are to sit on one boy’s lap and give another hug and get her teeth brushed by another…Then in the end they *SPOILER* vote on SHARING her.

This series is weird, guys. But it’s kind of an addicting read. I’m going to have to take a break for awhile, though to see if I still want to continue it.

Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. Read June 13-15. 4 stars.

A full review of this will come out closer to it’s release date (August 11), but for now I’ll say, Heaberlin effortlessly weaves together past and present into one suspenseful tale of a woman trying to outrun her monster. Ignore the Gillian Flynn comparison. Julia Heaberlin’s Black-Eyed Susans is so good it doesn’t need it.

Discretion

Discretion (Anna Curtis #2) by Allison Leotta. Read June 20-21. 4 stars.

I am so loving this series! Discretion is everything a DC based crime/mystery should be. The city’s top escort is found murdered outside of a powerful Congressman’s office. Anna and her (secret) boyfriend Jack investigate, filled with surprising twists. Added to the team is FBI Agent Samantha.

I loved both the progression of the case and Anna and Jack’s relationship. I had a lot of issues with Jack being condescending to Anna and I’m glad some of those came to light. I’m really looking forward to the next book!

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RE-READS

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis #4) by Allison Leotta. Since I read this book before reading the beginning of the series, I wanted to re-read it to see what I thought once I read books 1-3. I still love it and knowing the background added some more emotional depth for me.

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Do not ask me what possessed me to pick this book up again. I do credit it for getting me back into reading several years ago, but the last time I tried to re-read the series I just couldn’t make it through. I feel like enough time has gone by that I can look at it more objectively. I don’t think it deserves all the hate it gets. Sure it’s ridiculous and not brilliantly written and we can all talk about the damaging relationship Edward and Bella have, but this book is really no more ridiculous than most YA books out there today, it’s just been much more hyped and has terrible movies.

The Fill-In Boyfriend

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West. I won this in a giveaway and it came right after I finished reading a series and seemed just the ticket to help me transition out of my book hangover. So cute.

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan. No other books were sounding good to me, so I decided to start re-reading this series. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read the first two books in this series, but I only read the third book once and never reviewed it, so I think I’m going to try and review it after it’s re-read.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

The Other Typist

The Other Typist by Susanne Rindell. This was recommended to me and I thought it looked interesting, but I just could not get into it. There’s supposed to be a good twisty ending, though, so I don’t want to write it off completely in case I feel like trying it again later.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Well we are half way through the year and in accordance this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015. (In converse, I posted my most disappointing booksnof 2015 so far yesterday.) In no particular order, my favorite books I’ve read so far are:

Big Little Lies

1. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Ok, so this one is in particular order, as I gave this book 4.5 stars and it’s probably my favorite book of the year so far.

The Singles

2. The Singles by Meredith Goldstein. This has been on my TBR forever and I was so excited when I found it for $1 at a library sale.

Eeny Meeny (Helen Grace, #1)

3. Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge. A great thriller/mystery.

Missing You

4. Missing You by Harlan Coben. My first Harlan Coben and it won’t be my last!

The Fill-In Boyfriend

5. The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West. Another adorable book that reminds me why Kasie West is my favorite YA Contemporary author.

First Frost (Waverley Family, #2)

6. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells was one of my favorite books last year and it’s sequel did not disappoint.

The Start of Me and You

7. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. Another cute contemporary.

Unbecoming

8. Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm. A very well done character-driven novel.

The Beautiful Daughters

9. The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart. Beautifully written, another character-driven piece.

Black-Eyed Susans

10. Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. This one isn’t out yet, but is easily one of my favorites. A great suspense story.

Law of Attraction  Discretion  Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis, #3)  A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

11. Ok, so I’m adding another one and making it a series because these books are amazing and is my favorite new series of the year – The Anna Curtis series by Allison Leotta – Law of Attraction, Discretion, Speak of the Devil, A Good Killing

What are your favorite books so far this year? Do you agree with any of my choices?

Review: Speak of the Devil (Anna Curtis #3) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On the very night she gets engaged to the man she loves, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis’s professional life takes a shocking turn that threatens everything she holds dear. A few miles away from where she’s enjoying her romantic dinner, two separate groups are gearing up to raid a brothel. A vicious killer known as Diablo—the Devil—leads one group. A few minutes later, Anna’s own investigative team heads in to search the brothel, as part of an ongoing fight against human trafficking in DC. Both groups are caught off guard, with deadly results.

As Anna investigates the bloody face-off, the boundaries between her work and home life begin to blur when she discovers a web of long-buried secrets and official lies that lead straight to her doorstep. And everything Anna counted on—the happiness she seemed so close to securing—comes into question as Diablo moves in for yet another kill.

Allison Leotta draws on her experience as a DC sex-crimes prosecutor to take you into the back rooms of the US Attorney’s Office, the hidden world of the Witness Protection Program, and the secret rituals of one of America’s most dangerous gangs.

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After finishing this book I am now caught up on the Anna Curtis series (since the first book I read was #4). I think it’s safe to say that Allison Leotta has gotten better with each book. I enjoyed Law of Attraction, I devoured Discretion and thought it was basically everything a DC-based crime novel should be, and Speak of the Devil keeps up with the crime/mystery aspect I expect while also really delivering on the emotional front.

Any book in this genre includes some scenes that are hard to read and when one features a gang who’s mottos is “Kill, Rape, Control”, you know you’re in for some heart wrenching situations. Not only do we get the violent POV of some of the gang members, we get the POV of one of those gang members who wants out. His character development was very strong and really conveyed the intensity of his emotions. I was really rooting for him throughout the book.

There are also big things happening in Anna’s personal life. Now, I’ve read A Good Killing (book 4), and know what the outcome of these personal developments would be, but I was not expecting how emotionally invested in it I would be. I’ve always been a little ambivalent towards Jack, but in this book we find things out about him that made me start to dislike him. And he handles things pretty poorly. But still. Anna really loves him and wants to marry him and I found myself hoping things would go her way.

In addition to the personal storylines, the actual crime/mystery part of the book was very well done. Leotta continues to impress me with her writing of the legal specifics, never going overboard on the details, but making it realistic and easy to understand. There are also several very suspenseful chapters that made me curse my 1/2 hour lunch break. The crime story itself had several layers that all came together well in the end, including a twist involving the murder of Jack’s wife, Nina.

Overall, I really enjoyed Speak of the Devil. It was an incredibly well-written, well-paced story that really tugs on the heartstrings. I’m looking forward to re-reading A Good Killing, to see if I feel any differently now that I know more of Anna’s background. I recommend this series to fans of crime/mystery/suspense. If you’re not reading this series yet, you should be!

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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*There’s still a couple days left to enter my 2 Year Blogaversary Giveaway-Ending 6/26*

Review: Law of Attraction (Anna Curtis #1) by Allison Leotta

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Synopsis from B&N:

As a newly minted Assistant US Attorney in Washington, DC, Anna Curtis has already developed a thick skin to help her deal with the unsettling brutality she encounters daily in her overflowing stack of domestic violence cases. Yet when Laprea Johnson—battered to death by her boyfriend on the morning after Valentine’s Day—crosses Anna’s desk, there’s something about this particular case that Anna can’t quite shake, something that reminds the prosecutor of her own troubled past.

It’s also the biggest case of Anna’s career—and the most personal. If she wins it, she could lose everything. The victim she tried to protect is dead. Her lover—no, her ex-lover—is defending the accused killer. Caught between seeking justice for Laprea and saving her personal life, Anna makes a series of choices that jeopardize her career, her relationships, and her very life as she uncovers the shocking truth behind the murder.

Weaving expert knowledge with deft storytelling, Law of Attraction provides a fascinating glimpse into the most emotional cases of DC’s criminal justice system.

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I recently read A Good Killing, which is the 4th book in the Anna Curtis series, and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to start the series from the beginning and not too long after that I won a giveaway from Allison Leotta where I won signed copies of the entire series! I finally finished the first book and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it!

In Law of Attraction Anna Curtis is a relatively new prosecutor in Washington DC. A domestic violence case comes across her desk and she takes a very personal interest in it. Things get complicated when her old law school classmate and current crush, Nick Wagner, is the public defender of the abuser, D’Marco. After the case is finished – and D’Marco is set free, Anna and Nick’s relationship heats up, only to come to a crashing halt when Laprea is found dead and Anna and Nick find themselves on opposing sides of the court. Anna joins Homicide chief Jack Bailey to put D’Marco away for good. However, the twists and turns that come up along the way may lead to an outcome Anna could never expect.

The story is told in 3rd person POV and we get the perspectives of pretty much all the major players – Mostly Anna, but also Nick, Jack, D’Marco, Laprea, and a couple of other minor characters. Most of the books I read tend to be 1st Person POV, which I love, but I think the 3rd person POV really worked well here. I loved getting everyone’s perspectives and felt it helped move the story along at a good pace.

I thought Anna was a well developed character and I liked to see her starting out in the profession. I also liked meeting the characters that popped up in A Good Killing – Jack, Anna’s sister Jody, and her friend Grace. It was pretty easy for me to be completely Team Cooper in A Good Killing, but now seeing Anna’s earlier romance I’m feeling conflicted about what’s to come.

Leotta did a good job of weaving information of legal processes into the story. Sometimes I think books like this go overboard with explanations, but I here I think we got just enough information of how things worked and I really found those tidbits interesting. My brother’s a cop and often has to go to court so I liked hearing another perspective of those same type of court proceedings.

The only thing I didn’t really like in this book is that there were a couple chapters where it stopped feeling like a crime/suspense book and felt like a straight up romance-including an overly graphic love scene. I understand that it was important to build up the relationship between Anna and Nick, but it was maybe a little bit much.

Overall, I really enjoyed Law of Attraction. I liked the writing style, the characters, and the case. While some of the plot played out predictably, the final twists were ones I didn’t see coming. This is a series I’m definitely glad I started from the beginning and I look forward to reading the next installment.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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Review: A Good Killing (Anna Curtis #4) by Allison Leotta

A Good Killing (Anna Curtis, #4)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Former federal prosecutor and critically acclaimed author Allison Leotta’s spellbinding thriller follows prosecutor Anna Curtis as she heads home to Michigan to defend her sister in a case that will bring her to her knees.

Newly single after calling off her wedding, sex-crimes prosecutor Anna Curtis is summoned home to Michigan when her old high school coach—a hometown hero—is killed in a fiery car crash. But Anna isn’t there to prosecute a crime, she’s home to support her innocent sister, Jody, who has been wrongfully accused of the coach’s murder.

But maybe Jody isn’t so innocent after all? The police are convinced that Jody was having an affair with the married coach and killed him out of jealousy. As Anna investigates with the help of her childhood friend Cooper Bolden—an Afghan War veteran with a secret of his own—she slowly peels back the facade of her all-American hometown and discovers that no one is telling the truth about the coach, not even the people she thought she knew best.

When the town rallies against them, threatening not just Jody’s liberty but both sisters’ lives, Anna resolves to do everything she can to save her sister and defend the only family she has left.

In her best book yet, Leotta, “a highly entertaining storyteller” (George Pelecanos), explores the limits of vigilante justice, the bonds of sisterhood, and the value of the truth.

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

A Good Killing will be available May 12, 2015.

Where has this series been all my life!? When I requested this book from NetGalley, I was not aware that it was #4 in a series. That always kind of bums me out when I realize it after the fact because I hate jumping into an established series without reading the preceding books. However, this felt like it could have been a first in a series. While there were mentions of events from previous books, the prior characters were minor ones in this installment and I didn’t feel lost at all. That said, I’m still definitely going back to read the first three books in this series.

Anna is a DC prosecutor who goes to her small hometown in Michigan when she gets a call that her sister, Jody, may be in trouble. She’s happy to go since she has just called off her engagement. When she returns home she finds that the well-loved high school football coach has died in what appears to be a car crash. However, the police believe the crash was staged and that it was done by Jody, who was the last person he was seen with. Anna decides to stay in Michigan and defend her sister, with the help of her old friend Cooper. While Anna whole-heartedly believes her sister is innocent, Jody’s evasiveness to all of Anna’s questions, as well as the mounting evidence against her, begins to make Anna doubt.

I really enjoyed A Good Killing. The story was told in 3rd Person POV with alternating chapters giving Jody’s 1st person account to Anna of the past events leading up to Owen’s murder. I’m a sucker for alternate timelines and multiple POVs so I really loved the writing. I thought the characters were well developed and mostly very likable. I was very invested in the possible relationship between Anna and Cooper and enjoyed seeing their friendship develop throughout the book. The synopsis suggests that Cooper has a secret and I really don’t have any idea what it’s referring to. He was so completely wonderful that there were times that I thought he might be too wonderful and became suspicious of him. I would suggest ignoring that little phrase referring to him having a secret before reading.

Overall, A Good Killing was a very well-written, well paced, and well done mystery. The plot had a lot of layers and I enjoyed seeing them getting fleshed out, even as some of it horrified me. The characters were well-developed and likable and I look forward to finding out what happens to them next. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of mystery/crime books and I’m going to begin the series from the start.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

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UPDATE – 6/25/15

So I have now read the first three books in the series and re-read this book. I enjoyed this just as much the second time around and it did add some emotional depth to the story knowing Anna’s background with both her sister and Jack. I can also appreciate how this book is a bit of a departure for Leotta. The previous books were all in 3rd person POV from multiple perspectives and set in DC with Anna as prosecutor. In A Good Killing, we change settings, Anna is working for the defense, and the POV is switched between only 2 people, one of those told in 1st person. While I liked the first three books, I like how this one shakes things up, as well. While I can’t see Anna staying in Michigan, I am still 100% Team Cooper! I was kind of at a loss why Anna would still be hung up on Jack when I read this the first time – he’s in love with another woman – sleeping with that other woman – but still telling Anna how much he misses her etc. Understanding their history lets me understand a little bit about how she still loves him, but I am even more disgusted by Jack now. He definitely doesn’t deserve Anna and Cooper is fricking wonderful! Overall, this is probably my favorite new series I’ve read this year and I’m really looking forward to more of it.