Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag: 2018

I’ve seen this tag floating around over the last month or so and I have done it the past couple of years, as well, so thought I would keep the tradition going. One thing I have noticed about my reading year so far is that I have not read a lot of books that are really that memorable. I do have several 4 star reads, but even most of them don’t really stand out in my mind. I want to try and make some better choices for the remainder of the year.

Best Book You’ve Read Yet in 2018

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I haven’t given any books above 4 stars (if you know me, you know I haven’t given out a 5 star rating yet since starting this blog, but I usually have a few 4.5 stars every year, but none so far in 2018), but Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier and The Promise by Katerina Diamond stand out to me.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2018

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What You Want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

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Tell Me No Lies (Follow Me Back #2) by A.V. Geiger. I’m still waiting for this one to come to the library.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year.

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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Biggest Disappointment

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My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. It took me forever to finish this book and the humor felt so forced.

Biggest Surprise

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Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter. I mean, come one, does this look like a book I would like? I really enjoyed it, though!

Favorite New Author

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Jar of Hearts was the first Jennifer Hillier book I’ve read and it definitely made me want to read more from her.

Newest Fictional Crush.

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Chase from One Small Thing by Erin Watt

Newest Favorite Character

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Ivan from From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

Book That Made You Cry

None!!

Book That Made You Happy

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Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West. Kasie West books always make me happy.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

I haven’t seen any.

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

What Book Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

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The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout. A lot of her books have been been hit or miss for me lately (mostly miss), but this is the spin-off to the Lux series which I had a lot of love for when I was first getting back into reading, so I’m feeling optimistic about it.

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 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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The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth. Read June 1-3. 3 Stars. 

I think maybe I’ve just read too many books like this lately. The writing was fine and I liked all the POVs we got, but I just didn’t really like the characters or their problems. I did like the twist. I had several guesses and none of them were right, so I’m giving an extra star for that twist.

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline. Read June 3-6. 3.5 Stars.

I liked the structuring of the novel. Chapters alternated between Noah and Maggie’s POVs and the timeline was played around with, too, very effectively. However, I just felt like for the most part the pace was very slow and once the conclusion to the trial was reached the timeline stayed more linear and it kind of threw me off. I absolutely hated Maggie, too. I just found her so unlikable. The end of the book picked up a little, but I thought the developments were kind of unbelievable. However, it was still an enjoyable book and it did have a nice twist that I was hoping for.

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Love Songs & Other Lies by Jessica Pennington. Read June 9-10. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was a lot more angsty and heavy at times than I was expecting, but it worked. I liked the alternating POVs and timelines and thought it was used effectively. I loved Cam. I liked Vee in the “Then”, but found her kind of hard to like in the “Now” until towards the end. I thought the romance was super cute (though angsty for awhile). I loved the reality competition show angle and would’ve liked to have seen even more of that. Overall, this was exactly the cute weekend read I wanted and I will be checking out more from Pennington in the future.

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I Think I Love You (Oxford #5) by Lauren Layne. Read June 12-14. 4 Stars. 

To be honest, the synopsis for I Think I Love You almost scared me off. Anything where the plot sounds like it’s centered around a physical relationship is not generally my thing. However, I’ve learned that when it comes to a Lauren Layne book, it’s always best to give her the benefit of the doubt and I’m once again glad I did. While there were a few of the too-graphic scenes I don’t really appreciate, there weren’t more than her other books I’ve read have had. Full Review to come next month.

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond. Read June 15-16. 4 Stars. 

Last year I read and fell in love with the DS Imogen Grey series and The Promise was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I’m so happy to report that it completely lived up to my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Other Woman by Sandie Jones. Read June 16-18. 2 Stars.

I thought the synopsis for this sounded kind of like a Lifetime movie and I was expecting a really fun, guilty-pleasure type of read. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris. Read June 20-21. 3.5 Stars. 

After all the mixed reviews I’ve seen on this, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I found it really enjoyable. The short chapters and alternating timelines or POVs gave it a steady pace and helped make it a quick read. I did have a couple of theories going for awhile before I finally settled on one which ended up being right. I was ok with it, but when it came time for the explanation of how it all happened to be revealed I found myself kind of disappointed. It just seemed a little far-fetched and I thought it could have been done in a more fun-crazy way. So even though I enjoyed reading it, I have to dock a little bit of points from my rating for the ending.

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Girls’ Night Out by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke. Read June 22-24. 2 Stars. 

Well, I really did not care for this book. Unlikable characters and an entirely predictable plot made it a struggle to complete and I wish I didn’t waste my time on it. Full review to come next month. 

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Our House by Louise Candlish. Read June 24-26. 4 Stars.

Our House is one of my most anticipated books of the summer and while it wasn’t quite what I expected, I definitely enjoyed it. Full review to come closer to release date.

********Back on the TBR********

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The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. My hold for this finally came in at the library, but I just never got to it before it expired.

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Good Reads group, is: Books You’re Thankful For. I’m going to stick with books that I’ve read this year only.

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1.  Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins. Some books you read at the perfect moment and this was one of them. This was exactly what I needed at the time I read it.

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2. Making Faces by Amy Harmon. This is the book that introduced me to Amy Harmon, so I will always be thankful for it. It’s beautiful and emotional and I loved it. It also is a mainstream book that did not portray people of faith as hypocrites or psychos.

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3. Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1) by SJ Bolton (aka: Sharon Bolton). This is the book that introduced me to Sharon Bolton who has become one of my favorite authors and the Lacey Flint series has become one of my favorite series of all time.

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4. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter. This is the book that brought Karin Slaughter to town so I could finally meet her! She is another of my favorites.

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5. The Secret (DS Imogen Grey #2) by Katerina Diamond. Another new favorite series discovered this year. This book was just so entertaining and I didn’t want to stop reading it.

What books are you thankful for?

Review: The Angel (DS Imogen Grey #3) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

THE TRUTH WON’T STAY LOCKED UP FOREVER

When a burned body is found in a disused signal box, suspicion falls on lonely teenager Gabriel Webb. There’s no doubt he was at the scene of the crime, but does he really deserve what awaits him in prison?

DS Imogen Grey is certain there’s more to the case than meets the eye. But while she struggles to convince those around her of the truth, her partner DS Adrian Miles is distracted by his own demons.

When a brutal double murder is reported, their investigation is stopped in its tracks. Is the body in the box even who they thought it was? The duo realise Gabriel might have been locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. But with enemies watching Gabriel’s every move, they may be too late.

Miles and Grey are back in the thrilling new novel from bestselling author Katerina Diamond, perfect for fans of Karin Slaughter and M.J. Arlidge.

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

In the past couple of weeks I have read all three Imogen Grey books and it’s definitely become one of my favorite series. Katerina Diamond has made her way onto my auto-buy list.

As with the first two books in the series, there is a lot going on in this story. There are several mysteries with connecting threads and Diamond really weaves them together effortlessly. I never felt confused and even though I didn’t know how things would come together, I knew that they would. Another thing I love about Diamond’s writing is that even though she has very intricate plotlines, she does not sacrifice any character development. I feel like many books focus on one or the other, but she really pulls off both. Even though it means that the books are a little longer than I usually like to read, I don’t mind the length because of how engrossed in the story I am.

In The Secret we got a lot of Imogen’s background and in The Angel we get more of Adrian’s. He’s not a perfect person by any means, but I adore him. He’s gone through a lot in his life, and in this book, and I really admire how he still manages to just keep going. I love his partnership with Imogen and how much they trust each other and are there for each other. I still like that their friendship is platonic, though I wouldn’t mind if it moves in a different direction in the future. Which brings me to Dean. I absolutely loved Dean in The Secret and I have to say he was one of the reasons I was anticipating this books so much. His relationship with Imogen is very complicated and it might very well be a circumstance where love is not enough to make it work, but I’m still shipping these two hard.

The other POV we get in this book is Gabriel, a young, slightly rebellious, guy who is really a sweet kid at heart. He gets arrested for inadvertently killing  a man from a fire he started and winds up in jail. As you may expect, a young cute guy in prison attracts the wrong kind of attention. I felt so, so bad for all that Gabriel had to go through, but I really liked getting his POV and seeing how he grew as a person because of it.

Overall, I just really loved The Angel. Katerina Diamond weaves together a complex mystery with really compelling characters. I felt like this book was a little less dark than the first two in the series and I liked that. I also like that justice is always served in her books, though there is often a bit of a moral grey area included. This series has become one of my favorites and I’m really going to miss Imogen and Adrian until their next book.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: The Secret (DS Imogen Grey #2) by Katerina Diamond

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW IS A LIE…

Can you keep a secret? Your life depends on it…

Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed… If she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement bedroom.

DS Imogen Grey is good at keeping secrets – truths she’d never reveal to her colleagues at Exeter Police. She worked hard to get where she is – she nearly died for it. Now her past is catching up with her…

As DS Grey and her partner DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a terrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder. And they realise that some secrets are better left buried…

Another fantastic book I discovered through Annie @ The MissteryThe Secret is a well-plotted, smartly written, super dark novel and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This is the second book in a series, but I felt it stood really well on it’s own since I didn’t read the first book and I didn’t feel lost at all like I was afraid of. Detectives Imogen Grey and Adrian Miles are newly re-united partners investigating a double murder and a missing person. As the case progresses it begins to tie back to one of Imogen’s past cases from two years prior, one that forced her to transfer to another department. I really loved the multiple timeline storytelling. It is told by multiple POVs in the Present, 2 Years Ago, and a POV from an anonymous boy as he grows up. I loved trying to figure out who all the characters were in the anonymous POV and how everything from the past fit into the present. I love that I didn’t figure everything out half-way in like I do with so many other books in this genre.

Imogen was kind of a hard character to like most of the time, but I did enjoy her overall. I really loved her partner, Adrian! Though he was definitely not a perfect person, he was sweet and protective and smart. I loved how his relationship with Imogen was really platonic, too. I also very much loved Dean, who is a bit of an anti-hero here. At first I was a little annoyed about Imogen’s attraction to him, but I very quickly got on board with it. Love him!

Overall, I really liked The Secret. There was so much going on in it, but I felt like it was well paced and fit together really well. It does have pretty dark subject matter – I actually gasped out loud at one part and that never happens anymore – but it was balanced well enough that it’s not one of those books that just depresses you when you’re done with it. The only thing I didn’t really like was that I felt the ending was a little too open-ended. While the case was solved, there were still some loose ends that weren’t tied up. I’m sure they will be in the next book, though, which I am very excited to read.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars