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: Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman

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Synopsis from GoodReads:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever-encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded town. And that rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior hockey team is about to compete in the national championships, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of the town now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

A victory would send star player Kevin onto a brilliant professional future in the NHL. It would mean everything to Amat, a scrawny fifteen-year-old treated like an outcast everywhere but on the ice. And it would justify the choice that Peter, the team’s general manager, and his wife, Kira, made to return to his hometown and raise their children in this beautiful but isolated place.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semifinal match is the catalyst for a violent act that leaves a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Hers is a story no one wants to believe since the truth would mean the end of the dream. Accusations are made, and like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Have you ever read a book that’s kind of depressing and really inspiring at the same time? That’s Beartown.

To be perfectly honest, I really had no interest in this book, despite all the amazing reviews. I just didn’t think it sounded like it would be for me. But then a friend lent it to me (thanks Brandie!) and after it sat on my table for a month, I finally felt like giving it a try. And now it’s one of my favorite books of the year. Though it took me a little while to really get into the rhythm of the writing, once I did I was completely enthralled. It’s beautiful and insightful and will be sticking with me for a long time.

The story is very character driven. There is a very large cast of characters in this town and they all play a part and provide a unique perspective. I thought I would have trouble keeping them all straight, but I really didn’t. While it did make the pacing a little slow, Backman really lets us get to know all the characters. I had my favorites and I had those I hated and some characters I both loved and hated. They were real and relatable and heartbreaking and inspiring.

“…Most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.”

I thought this was going to just be a sports book and even though I knew something bad was going to happen, I wasn’t expecting it to be so heavy. I thought this was one of the most honest books I have every read and that honesty will both make you despair and and give you hope.

Overall, I really loved Beartown. I know this little review doesn’t come close to expressing how much. I was incredibly invested in the characters and their town and I know this story will be with me for a long time. The writing was beautiful and sometimes I found myself just wanting to cry without even really knowing why (and other times when I definitely knew why…). If you haven’t read this book yet, do yourself a favor and give it a try.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: My Summer TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books to Read By the Pool/At the Beach (This can also serve as your summer TBR). I’m very much a mood reader so I find it hard to stick to a set TBR list, but these are all books I’m hoping to read soon.

36301023My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies (Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows). My Lady Jane was such a surprise hit for me and has become one of my favorite books and I have been looking forward to this one ever since reading it.36347470Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor #4) by Dani Pettrey. This is the last book in this series and I’m really excited for it.35924499Our House by Louise Candlish. I got approved for this on NetGalley, but I also won a physical copy from a Goodreads Giveaway and I’m really looking forward to it.36502041Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. Slaughter is one of my favorite authors and I’m sure I will enjoy this just as much as I have her other books. I’m over 100 people on the wait list for this at the library, though, so I don’t know if I’ll even get it this summer, but fingers crossed!36620943Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins. I FINALLY got approved for a Kristan Higgins book on NetGalley, but I still haven’t read this yet. I’m really looking forward to starting it soon, though.35410511Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and I’m a little concerned it’s been over-hyped for me, but I’m still looking forward to it. It sounds super creepy – in a fun way.37793086Girl’s Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. I’ve never read anything by these authors and this one sounds really interesting. Plus, I love that cover!36461789A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay. Barclay is one of my favorite authors and I’m so excited for this one. I am also planning on seeing him when he’s in the area in July with my book buddy, Amanda!33413128Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman. I hear such amazing things about Backman, but I was never really sure of his books. However, Brandie from Running on Words and Wine recently read and loved this one and she let me borrow it, so I’m looking forward to finally giving him a try!36547961Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson. I’ve seen some really great reviews on this one and I am next in line for it at the library!

What books are on your Summer TBR? Do we have any in common?