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: New-To-Me Favorite Authors

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015.

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1) Emma Mills – First & Then

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2) Renee Ahdieh – The Wrath & The Dawn

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3) Julia Heaberlin – Black-Eyed Susans

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4) Allison Leotta – The Anna Curtis series

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5) Rebecca Sherm – Unbecoming

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6) Nicole Baart – The Beautiful Daughters

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7) M.J. Alridge – Eeny Meeny

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8) Taylor Jenkins Reid – Maybe in Another Life

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9) Barry Lyga – I Hunt Killers

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10) Ashlee Mallory – Her Backup Boyfriend

What new authors have you discovered this year?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 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

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Every Last Breath (The Dark Elements #3) by Jennifer Armentrout. Read July 30-August 1. 3 Stars.

If I’m being completely honest, despite being from JLA, I never really fell in love with this series. If it wasn’t from this author I probably wouldn’t have continued it after the first book. That said, Every Last Breath was a pretty decent ending to the series. We find out around 20% in Layla’s choice of guys – the result of fan voting – and I’m glad it wasn’t dragged out. However, SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER* I never once thought that Zayne had any chance of “winning.” I liked the idea that fans got to vote after book 2, but I don’t think it was written in a way that it would be an actual contest. Roth was always obviously the author’s top pick and thus was written in a way to be ours, as well. *END OF SPOILER* There was one “mystery” that was brought up and then left hanging in this installment that kind of annoyed me. The answer was kind of implied, but still left open. While Layla’s story ended conclusively, I think it left enough side plot ideas open enough that there could be more from this world in the future.

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Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga. Read August 1-4. 3 stars.

The Good:
-We get more POVs, including Howie and Connie
-I love Howie even more this time around. He’s still funny, but getting his POV we get to know the serious side of him, too.
-Once all the pieces came together, the Game was pretty clever.
-The New York setting

The Bad:
-Throughout the book I steadily grew to dislike Connie more and more. Girl is STUPID. All of her decisions were poor and she kind of deserves to be where she ended up by the end of this book. Her drama queen moments with her parents were very annoying, as were her parents’ reactions.
-The plot was pretty convoluted. Like it was hard to understand at times until it was all laid out. Even then, not everything is explained.
-Bringing a minor across state lines without adult supervision/consent to consult on police business? Really?
-Jasper’s discovery at the end of the book was very, very predictable.
-Cliffhangers in every plotline!

Overall:
I know it looks like there’s more bad then good, but the good things really did outweigh the bad. This series does have a pretty unique concept and Jasper is still a great character. While I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, it was still good and I look forward to the conclusion of the series.

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Blood of my Blood (Jasper Dent #3) by Barry Lyga. Read August 4-7. 3.5 Stars

This book was a little longer than it had to be. There were several moments I hated Connie and the phrase “too stupid to live” came to mind. There was a big reveal that I think was supposed to be shocking, but I suspected it since book two. I think it ended well, though, overall. I’m glad I read this series. Maybe a more in depth review to come after I’ve thought about it a bit.

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Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot. Read August 8-9. 3.5 Stars.

This book was pretty cute. I was a big fan of the romance between Ellen and Yan. Even though it happens quickly (the book takes place over a week), it felt like a slow burn romance and not insta-love. I thought both of the characters were well-developed and they were really well suited together, despite their differences.

I thought the side-plots were a little ridiculous. Ellen’s ex-boyfriend really betrayed her and she got her revenge on him, but she spends the majority of the book waiting for it to come back to bite her. In the end, I thought it was all resolved a little too easily. Yan has a more troubled past, but other than him leaving Bulgaria and needing to make a new start, there wasn’t really any long-lasting consequences. He had a more personal problem that was skirted around for most of the book, but I thought was obvious pretty early on. However, it was still a little heartbreaking to see how it affected him so much and I was glad to see it resolved in the end.

I hated Lacey. HATED HER. She was a spoiled, selfish brat and even though she had a few nicer moments throughout the book, it wasn’t really enough to redeem her for me. In a literary sense, she worked as a nice counterpoint to Ellen’s personality, but I still hated her.

Overall, I thought this was a cute, quick, summertime read that I enjoyed. At times it seemed to drag a little, but I really enjoyed the setting and the romance. I’ll definitely be checking out more from Baggot in the future.

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Aimee and the Heartthrob by Ophelia London. Read August 9-10. 3.5 Stars.

I’m a complete sucker for boy band books because I looooved boy bands back in the day. This book was all kinds of adorable. I liked both Aimee and Miles. The romance was a little fast, but very sweet. There was some eye-rolling drama, of course. And some of the dialogue and Aimee’s internal monologues annoyed me – I think it was supposed to be “teenage slang”, but it sounded silly to me. But maybe that’s how kids talk these days? I don’t know. I didn’t like that the rest of the boy band members weren’t really well-developed characters at all. But then I found out that this is a series where each book – about a different band member – is written by a different author, so I can forgive the story for not developing the other guys too much. Overall, it was very cute and I’m sure I’ll re-read it any time I need a cute little pick-me-up.

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Mia and the Bad Boy by Lisa Burstein. August 10-11. 3 stars.

This book wasn’t as cute as the first one in the series, but there was still enough cuteness that I enjoyed it. The romance happened really fast and I didn’t buy into it as much as I would’ve liked to, but as I said, there was still cuteness. It read a little more like a less graphic NA than a YA read. I enjoyed the banter between Ryder and Mia and between Ryder and Miles. I do want to continue the series, but I’ll probably wait and see if the next one goes on sale before trying to buy it.

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The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar. Read August 17-20. 3 Stars.

This book has been on my radar for awhile, but it was never at the library. Then I won it in a giveaway! It was an enjoyable book. I think it started out good and then went downhill a bit, but overall it was still good. The main character was mostly likable and I really liked Oliver. The end is a major cliffhanger and I must now buy the second book to see what happens.

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Fiancé by Fate (Anyone but You #1) by Jennifer Shirk. Read August 22-23. 3.5 stars.

A quick, sweet read. It’s your typical Fake Relationship story, which is exactly what I was looking for and I enjoyed it.

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The Heartbreakers (The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1) by Ali Novak. Read August 23-25. 2 stars.

A couple of funny/cute moments is why I’m giving this book 2 stars instead of 1. I’ve been on a boy band book kick lately – I don’t know why. This has been my least favorite of the bunch.

Stella was such a brat and she drove me crazy almost constantly. I liked the other three band members much more than the love interest. I was rooting for Alec to become the love interest instead, but he’s too good for Stella, so I guess I’m glad it didn’t happen.

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RE-READS

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Boy Band by Jacqueline E. Smith. As I said, I’ve been on a boy band book kick. This book has the most well-behaved members of all the books I’ve read, as well as the most likable main character. I’m looking forward to the sequel of this one!

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Play On (Lewis Creek #1) by Michelle Smith. I read some good reviews on this one and was looking forward to it, but I just couldn’t get into it. I’ll probably try it again some day, though.

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DNF

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Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton. To be fair, I only gave this book a few chapters before giving up, so it might get better? I’m just not interested enough to care, though.    

 

The Emoji Book Tag

I was tagged for this by Alina @ Radiant Reads and I love emojis so I had to do it! You’re supposed to use the 5 Most Used or 5 Most Recently Used emojis. Apparently it’s up to you to interpret them however you want in relation to a book. I decided to go with my 5 Most Used.

    One Plus One

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. A book that is so good, my words of praise just don’t do it justice. A big thumbs up!

   Dissonance (Dissonance, #1)

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke. A book that I didn’t really like and don’t care enough to discuss why.

  Illusions of Fate

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White. A book with witty banter.

   Game (Jasper Dent, #2)

Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga.  A book with a character so annoying it made me want to shoot something:  Connie. She started out such a great character and the girl was just SO STUPID in this book.

  Black-Eyed Susans

Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin. A book I loved reading and want to celebrate. FYI – my review will post on Monday and will include a GIVEAWAY of this book.

Do you love Emojis? Feel free to tag yourself and  link your post in the comments!

Review: I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent #1) by Barry Lyga

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

What if the world’s worst serial killer…was your dad?

Jasper “Jazz” Dent is a likable teenager. A charmer, one might say.

But he’s also the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer, and for Dear Old Dad, Take Your Son to Work Day was year-round. Jazz has witnessed crime scenes the way cops wish they could—from the criminal’s point of view.

And now bodies are piling up in Lobo’s Nod.

In an effort to clear his name, Jazz joins the police in a hunt for a new serial killer. But Jazz has a secret—could he be more like his father than anyone knows?

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I Hunt Killers has been on my radar for a while now, but it’s not an e-book at my library and I’m super stingy about buying books from authors I’m unfamiliar with so it’s just been sitting there patiently on my TBR shelf. I recently won a giveaway for a Nook Book of my choice and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally check this out.

I’m a fan of serial killer plotlines. The psychological impact on the characters always makes for some compelling characters, which I love. I Hunt Killers is a new twist on the genre that I haven’t read before. The main character is not the cop/law enforcement officer chasing him down or the serial killer, but his son. Billy Dent is the world’s most notorious serial killer and has over 120 kills to his name. He’s used several different personas, “The Artist”, “Green Jack”, “Hand-in-Glove”, and  has taught his son, Jasper (“Jazz”) everything he knows in hope that he will carry on “the family business.” Jasper has no intention of following in his father’s footsteps, but the brainwashing he received from Billy all those years has seriously messed with his head and he is constantly on alert for the stray thoughts or incident that could easily push him over the edge to becoming his father.

The character development in this book was phenomenal. I really felt like I got into Jasper’s head throughout the story and it was not always a pleasant place to be. I’m a fan of the tv show Dexter and this book has a bit of a Dexter vibe at times. Dexter’s struggle with his “dark passenger” is similar to how Jasper struggles with Billy’s voice constantly in his head – telling him how to kill and that he should.  Jasper tries to combat the increasingly alluring inner voice by repeating a mantra of, “People matter” to remind him that they aren’t the insignificant and disposable things to be used for his own purposes, as Billy taught him. He keeps pictures of all of Billy’s victims on his bedroom wall to be reminded of what he doesn’t want to be. When a new serial killer shows up in town he’s desperate to help – not just to prove to the town that it isn’t him, but to prove to himself that he’s on the right side.

While he tries to ignore the most gruesome of Billy’s teachings, he has become a master manipulator and often utilizes those skills to get him what he wants. He usually knows that it’s wrong, but he also justifies it to himself and this peek into the possible sociopathic mindset is part of what makes his character so interesting.

I really enjoyed Jazz’s best friend, Howie, as well. He was a great side-kick, comic relief, but also got in on some of the action. His hemophilia is also an interesting addition to his character. He’s physically extremely vulnerable and thus an easy target, which makes for a surprising choice of BFF for a could-be serial killer. I also liked the sheriff, G. William, and Jazz’s girlfriend, Connie.

Overall, I enjoyed I Hunt Killers and am glad I finally got to read it. I haven’t encountered many YA books that pull off suspense and creepiness the way that this one does. It’s dark and slightly gruesome, but it’s balanced out with a bit of humor. While there were a few predictable moments, I was often in suspense. I loved the characterization of Jasper. I’m looking forward to see what happens in the rest of the series.

I struggled a bit with what to rate this, but I think because of the unique plot idea and the great characterization, I’m going to bump up my original 3.5 to 4.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

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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?

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want To Start

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is: Top New Series I Want To Start. They suggested “New” as in the last year or so, but I think I’m just going to go with series in general. There are some I’ve been meaning to start for awhile.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Yes everyone in the book blogging world has read this series except for me. I saw one of the movies…

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’ve heard great things about this series and I even own the first book, I just haven’t started it yet.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

3. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. I complained in my review of the last book of the Mortal Instruments series that characters from the Infernal Devices made appearances and I didn’t understand the full impact of it. AND everyone says this series is way, way better than TMI.

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Mostly because I like the cover!

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

5. Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga. I think this book looks really interesting! AND I just realized there’s 3 books already published in the series!

Outlander (Outlander, #1)

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t seen the tv show, but everyone seems to be watching it. I read a review of one of the episodes that compared it to the  book and the book actually sounded better (though the show sounded good, too).

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

7. Firebird by Claudia Gray. Again, the cover!

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)

8. The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. Because I love the fake relationship trope and this  book is taking forever to come off the waiting list at the  library!

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)

9. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. I’ve heard great things about this book and even hosted a guest review and a giveaway of the book and have STILL to read it!

The Return (Titan, #1)

10. Titan by Jennifer Armentrout. Despite the awful cover and my trepidation of it being NA, Seth was probably my favorite character in the Covenant series, so I need to see what happens to him!

WHAT SERIES ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO STARTING?