Reviewing the Unreviewed: April 2020

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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Boys of Brayshaw High (Brayshaw High #1) by Meagan Brandy. Read March 30-31. 2 Stars

So this is kind of the definition of Trashy Romance and Toxic Relationship. It was quite ridiculous and over the top. It’s getting two stars instead of one just because it kept my attention enough that I actually finished it. I might even try the next book to see where this crazy story goes. 

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The Marriage Effect (Washington Wolves #3) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 1-3. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. Super cute with likable characters. I liked that we got both POVs. I loved Logan and Paige’s relationship with his sisters. I’m definitely going to read more from this author.

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Anything You Can Do by R.S. Grey. Read April 8-9. 3.5 Stars. 

I was really frustrated by how childish Daisy acted for most of this book, but I did really like how it ended. And there were some funny and cute moments. Not my favorite Grey book, but definitely enjoyable.

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Dear Ava by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 9-10. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed parts of this. I liked the romance between Ava and Knox. I loved the relationship between Knox and his twin brother, Dane. I liked how Knox’s family finally got their act together. There were some things that didn’t work for me, though. The whole secret admirer love letter portion of the book was very short. There’s one letter, then some texts and you know who it is pretty much right away, even if it takes several chapters for Ava to confirm it (she also figured it out long before then, though). I was expecting that to be a much bigger part of the plot, so I was a little disappointed. I also didn’t think the sexual assault storyline was handled very well. It was used more for a “whodunit” type of plotline and didn’t deal too much with the physical, emotional, or psychological aspects that such a serious subject deserves.

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. Read April 12-13. 3 Stars. 

This was just ok for me. Both the characters had trouble with communicating and that frustrated me. This book also utilized one of my least favorite tropes. Had a couple of cute moments, but overall a pretty average Romance.

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Boyfriend Bargain (Hawthorne University #1) by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 11-15. 2.5 Stars

This one wasn’t really my cup of tea. The angst was the only thing I really liked about it, which tells you how much I didn’t like the rest of it. But, I finished it and there were some funny or cute moments, too. 

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Fake Fiance by Ilsa Madden-Mills. Read April 15-21. 3 Stars. 

I got this for free awhile ago and finally decided to give it a try. It was just ok for me. It followed the basic formula every other book I’ve read by this author follows: Damaged protagonist falls for damaged athlete who has a complicated relationship with his father, a dead mother, and one close friend who provides comic relief.

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The Gambler (The Wedding Pact #3) by Denise Grover Swank. Read April 21-22. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this. I totally shipped Noah and Libby and I had a fun time reading about all their crazy adventures. One particular scene involving a big wedding dress and a public restroom made me laugh out loud. I did struggle with Libby a bit, though. Since it’s been so long since I read the previous books, I can’t remember if she was always so frustrating, but she really got on my nerves here. She did a ridiculous and crazy thing, after a history of doing ridiculous and crazy things, and then she got mad when her friends called her out on it. I also wish Swank wouldn’t have waited until almost the end of the book to reveal the root of Libby’s issues. I think I would have been less frustrated with her if we found out about it earlier. However, the rest of the book was so cute that these things didn’t really lessen my enjoyment at all.

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Focused by Karla Sorensen. Read April 21-23. 3.5 Stars

It took me a while to get into this, but about a third of the way in I really started to enjoy it. I was a little annoyed with Molly towards the end, but everything worked out in a cute way. I did like seeing Paige and Logan again. I’m definitely going to check out more books by this author.

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Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram. Read April 26. 4 Stars.

This was both really sad and really sweet. Ella is in a car accident that kills her mother and leaves her with scars on 70% of her body and mobility issues. She moves across the country to stay with her father who she hasn’t seen in ten years when he basically abandoned her. She has to deal with a lot of cruel people who make fun of her because of her scars, as well as new dysfunctional family dynamics. I really didn’t like her dad. I thought what he did and the reasons he did it were spineless and I think he should have been a little sorrier than he was. I also didn’t really like his new wife and I wish they would have handled the wicked stepsisters a little better than they did. Though, by the end of the book they have a lot of therapy and things do start to get better between them all and I liked that.

It took me a long time to get on board the romance. I found Brian (aka “Cinder”) really unlikable for awhile. Pretty much any time he wasn’t interacting with Ella, he was a dick. He did grow on me, though, and I shipped him and Ella. I’m a little nervous to read the next book because I feel like Ella’s already had to go through so much and I don’t want to see more bad things happen to her, which you know there has to be if a Romance/Family Drama gets a sequel. I still plan on reading it, though. I did really enjoy this, even if I had some issues with it.

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Fallen Crest Campout by Tijan. Read April 28. 3.5 Stars.

This was a quick, fun foray back into the Fallen Crest universe. There was still some immature drama, but for the most part it was a more grown up look at the Kades and I liked that. There was also the inclusion of characters from the Crew series, which spun off from Fallen Crest, and even though I haven’t read those yet, I didn’t feel too lost on the new characters. If you’re a fan of Fallen Crest, you should definitely check this one out.

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Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier. Read April 27-29. 2 Stars. 

I am so disappointed! I loved Jar of Hearts and have been waiting for Hillier’s next book ever since. I found this really underwhelming, though. It was super predictable with really unlikable characters. It read a lot more like a Women’s Fiction book than a mystery/thriller. The majority of the book revolved around a cheating plotline, which annoyed me. I kept waiting for all these great, twisty reveals and found absolutely none of them surprising. Just another hyped book that let me down.

*****Re-Read*****

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. I absolutely loved this just as much the second time around. I had forgotten how it really puts you through the emotional wringer. It was still a bit too long. I still wanted to punch Nick right in the face a few times. But I loved it so much. I loved Bex and Nick and watching their relationship unfold. I will say, though, that if Lacey meets an untimely demise in the sequel, I will not be sad.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. I still liked this a lot the second time around, but not quite as much as I was expecting. I forgot how unlikable Jasmine was about 90% of the time. For some reason I had less patience for her behavior this time around. I still loved Ivan, though, and the romance.

*****DNF*****

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Teardrop Shot by Tijan. DNF @ 10%. I just couldn’t get into this. I found the main character really off-putting and couldn’t take any more of her.

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The Best Mistake by Cookie O’Gorman. DNF @ 26%. I wanted to like this, but it’s just not for me. The dialogue made me cringe and everything the main character did just made me roll my eyes. I’ve seen some really good reviews on it, though, so it could just be me.

*****Books with Future Reviews Scheduled*****

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The Heir Affair (Royal We #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan – 4 Stars

The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda – 3.5 Stars

The Vacation by T.M. Logan – 4 Stars

The Bright Lands by John Fram – 2.5 Stars

Always A Bridesmaid by Cindi Madsen – 4 Stars

Beach Read by Emily Henry – 4 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Turned my Cold, Black Heart to Mush

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a “Love freebie”. I decided to go to with Books that Turned my Black Heart to Mush. I don’t generally consider myself a “romantic” person, but there are some books that have such shippable, cute romance that it makes my cold, black heart melt a little.

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1. Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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2. From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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4. The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

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5.  Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne

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6. On the Fence by Kasie West

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7. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

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8. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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9. Just One of the Groomsmen by Cindi Madsen

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10.  When It’s Real by Erin Watt

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: New-to-Me Authors I Read In 2018. I’m going to break this up by established authors and 2018 debut authors.

Established Authors

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1. Fredrik Backman. Read: Bear Town, Us Against You

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2. Mariana Zapata. Read: Dear Aaron, From Lukov with Love, The Wall of Winnipeg and Me, Under Locke, Luna and the Lie

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3. Peter Swanson. Read: All the Beautiful Lies 

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4. Jennifer Hillier. Read: Jar of Hearts

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5. Teagan Hunter. Read: Let’s Get Textual, I Wanna Text You Up, Can’t Text This

2018 Debut Authors

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6. Cara Hunter. Read: Close to Home

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7. Carola Lovering. Read: Tell Me Lies

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8. Joseph Knox. Read: SirensThe Smiling Man

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9. T.M. Logan. Read: Lies

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10. Oyinkan Braithwaite. Read: My Sister, the Serial Killer

The Jingle Bell Book Tag – 2018

 

Silver Sleigh Bells

I’ve seen this tag going around and thought it looked familiar. Turns out I did in 2016. But a big thanks to Alyssa at Reading, Reading, Reading for tagging me this year! I’m going to try and not repeat any of my answers.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You…” – What book do you want to see under the Christmas Tree?

So I know this sounds crazy, but I only asked for one book for Christmas. And only when it was on on sale for Black Friday and when I found out the person I asked for it didn’t buy it then, I told her don’t worry about it because in all honestly I will probably never use it. Anyways, the book was The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll.

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Elf – What book unleashes your inner child?

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Better off Friends was one of my few re-reads this year. While I’m not really sure it “unleashes my inner child”, the book starts out with the main characters in middle school (or maybe even earlier? I can’t quite remember now, even though I’ve read this twice) so relating to them is kind of inner child-esque?

“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” – Which book has most festive look to it?

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Hot Winter Nights is actually the only Christmasy book I’ve read this year.

The Holiday – Name your favourite TWO couples…

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Ruby and Aaron from Dear Aaron and Jasmine and Ivan in From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. While I do have several issues with Zapata’s books, I can’t deny that the couples in these two books melted my cold, black heart like nothing else.

What book would you like to give as a present to your followers?

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Beartown by Fredrik BackmanThis is one of my very favorite books of the year and I think everyone should read it.

Feel free to tag yourself if you’d like to participate

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.

Kindle Unlimited Review

A couple of months ago I received an e-mail with a deal to try Kindle Unlimited for 2 months for $0.99. I’ve been wanting to try out KU and decided that deal was too good to pass up. I read many books that are not available at my library that I’m sure I would have never picked up otherwise and really loved a few of them. I definitely got my monies worth, but would I subscribe again? And should you? Maybe.

If you are a Romance fan – especially of the New Adult variety – than there are a TON of options. There were many books that had been on my radar from fellow bloggers that I was happy to finally be able to try. There were also many that I knew would not be for me, but if Romance is your genre of choice, then I definitely think it would be worth you to spend a little money for a month of books.

I had a harder time finding books that interested me in other genres. Most of the Mystery/Suspense titles I looked into I ended up not even reading because when I looked them up on Good Reads they had pretty bad reviews. The one book I was looking forward to the most (and the only book I’ve almost bought on multiple occasions, but never pulled the trigger) was Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine and I was so let down by the hype that I never even picked up the sequel during that two month period.

While I was able to read plenty of books, I also had library books come in off the Holds list and some ARCs that I had to get to, as well. If I were to pay for KU again I would try to make it a month where I didn’t have books I was waiting on from the library or any ARCs that are publishing during that time. I would suggest being able to devote all your reading time to it if you’re going to be paying money for it.

So what did I read? I’m glad you asked.

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Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine – 3 Stars

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata – 4 Stars

From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata – 4 Stars

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata – 1 Star

Moonshot by Alessandra Torre – 3.5 Stars

Co-Wrecker by Meghan Quinn – 3 Stars

Infinity + One by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

The Dreamer by E.J. Mellow – 3 Stars

The Dreamcatcher by E.J. Mellow – 3 Stars

Ninja Girl by Cookie O’Gorman – 3.5 Stars

Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon – 4 Stars

My Sister’s Intended by Rachael Anderson – 3 Stars

Let’s Get Textual by Teagan Hunter – 4 Stars

I Wanna Text You Up by Teagan Hunter – 3.5 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 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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Cracked Kingdom (The Royals #5) by Erin Watt. Read March 1-3. 3 Stars. 

***BEWARE OF MILD SPOILERS***
This had all the guilty pleasure drama I expect from a Royal book. It was a decent end to the series, but I didn’t LOVE it. I wish the whole head trauma issues were written with a little more care. Though it’s never explicitly said that Sebastian has a TBI, that’s what it sounded like. TBI’s are no joke and I thought they could’ve talked a little more about it than the page or so towards the end of the book. I liked that there was resolution in regards to Steve and with Hartley’s dad and with the bomb he dropped regarding Easton at the end of the previous book – though, again, I wish there was a little more about that. As fans of the series know, the authors really rushed to get this put out by their self-imposed deadline, but I would’ve been ok with waiting just a little longer so some of the typos and few continuity issues were edited out beforehand. Overall, though, I liked Easton and Hartley together and I liked that Ella and Reed were included in the ending.

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Parting Shot (Promise Falls #4) by Linwood Barclay. Read March 1-4. 4 Stars. 

I thought The Twenty-Three was the end to the Promise Falls series, but was quite pleased to find out there was another one! After the end of this one I thought for sure there would have to be even more, but I did some research and it looks like this will be the last book set in Promise Falls (at least for a good long while). I wished we got some more of David Harwood in this book. Poor, often stupid David Harwood makes so many awful decisions, but I have always enjoyed reading about him and the previous book left his storyline kind of on a major cliffhanger. There was a cameo mention that tied things up with him, but I still feel like I wanted more. However, there was enough going on in this book without him. The book centers around Cal Weaver and Barry Duckworth and their cases. I’m always amazed by how Barclay can tie all of his many threads together and I loved how it all turned out in this one. This book reminded me why he is one of my favorite authors. The ending was more open-ended than I would’ve liked, but I still really enjoyed this book.

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Wesley James Ruined my Life by Jennifer Honeybourn. Read March 5-7. 3 Stars. 

I liked the premise of this book, but it fell a little flat for me. I expected Wesley to have done something horrific to Quinn in the past, but what he did to make her “hate” him wasn’t really that big of a deal. It reminded me a little bit of Lola and the Boy Next Door in that regard. Quinn just way overreacted. I thought she was kind of psycho when it came to her vendetta against him. And while I wanted to ship their romance, I just didn’t get it. There weren’t even really any cute moments between the two of them until the end. I didn’t feel like Quinn fell for him. It felt like she just had a childhood crush on him that never ended, but she tried to deny it for awhile. I didn’t really understand why Wesley was so interested in her, either. I did like the medieval restaurant setting, though, and there were a couple funny moments. Not one I would pick up again, though.

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The Lonely Hearts Club (The Lonely Hearts Club #1) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 7-8. 3.5 Stars.

Last year I discovered Elizabeth Eulberg and have really enjoyed several of her books. I find her writing pretty addictive. There’s lots of character development and plenty of cute moments. I did have some issues with this book, though. Penny really frustrated me sometimes. Whenever she “stood up for herself” it included tearing someone else down. She said a lot of really rude, unnecessary things to people and it was almost always praised by those around her. I also thought she and all her friends were really shallow about 95% of the time. That said, I did still like Penny at the end of the day and am going to go on to read the next book.

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We Can Work it Out (The Lonely Hearts Club #2) by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read March 9-10. 3 Stars. 

A quick, addicting read, even though it didn’t feel like a lot actually happened. I felt like all the drama Penny dealt with she brought upon herself and it wasn’t really necessary. I liked the cute moments between her and Ryan, though. I’m glad I finally got to this series, but I don’t think it’s one I’ll want to read again.

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Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake #1) by Rachel Caine. Read March 11-12. 3 Stars. 

I think this fell victim to being over-hyped. I had such high expectations for it and it did not come close to meeting them. It was sloooooow, the chapters were long (and we all know how much I hate that), and I felt about zero suspense until about the last quarter or so of the book. I guessed who the bad guy was very early on. However, the writing wasn’t that bad, if a little too repetitive and I did enjoy that last quarter of the book. I’ll still check out the sequel since I’m trying out Kindle Unlimited right now.

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From Lukov with Love by Mariana Zapata. Read March 17-18. 4 Stars. 

Just before this book I read Dear Aaron and I thought nothing could melt my cold heart like that did. I was wrong. I absolutely adored the relationship in this. It started out rough and Jasmine was VERY hard to like, but as it went on and their friendship grew and Ivan was So. Freaking. Sweet., I just fell in love with it. That’s not to say it was a perfect book because I did have a few issues with it, but I don’t even really care enough about the faults to write about them. The one thing I’ll say is that I wish we got to see more of Ruby and Aaron in this one, but I did like the little bit we got.

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Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. Reach March 18-22. 1 Star.

I’m going to preface this by saying I really should have just DNF-ed this book and moved on with my life. I feel like this type of book is for a very specific audience and I am not at all that audience. I do not really like the Alpha-Male-You-Belong-To-Me-I’ll-Kill-Anyone-Who-Looks-At-You thing. I didn’t really find the relationship between Dex and Iris romantic. I felt like most of the big “romantic” moments were #MeToo movement scenarios. I just couldn’t get behind it. No means no, not “keep going until I finally give in”.

I also just didn’t find the story that interesting. The conclusion to the situation with Iris’ father was really anti-climatic. I think this book just goes to show that liking one book by an author does not mean you will like all books by him/her.

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Wish You Were Mine by Tara Sivec. Read March 27-29. 3.5 Stars

I loved the way this started out with the past and present timelines and the dual 1st person POVs. I felt like when the past timeline ended, though, it went a little bit downhill for me. I felt like the main characters just kept repeating themselves over and over. The main issue in the story is based on a miscommunication, as well, which always kind of bugs me. I also didn’t love Cameron and her short temper all the time. However, there were lots of good moments in the book and I did like Everett and his brother, Jason (wish we would’ve seen a little more of him, though). I would probably recommend this one to Romance fans.

********Re-Reads********

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Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg. I loved this book just as much the second time around. Once again, I read it in a day. I just adore pretty much everything about this.

********Removed from the TBR********

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Meet Cute by various authors. I got this from the library, but I only ended up reading one story out of it. Most of the reviews I read said the JLA story was the best and I, unfortunately, was not really impressed by it so I decided not to read anymore.

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

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. I made it about 17% through this and just couldn’t get into it. I don’t see me finishing it before it’s due back at the library.