Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books I Loved but Never Reviewed.

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1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. This is a pre-blogging favorite and one of a handful of books I marked as 5 stars on Goodreads.

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2. A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers. Another pre-blogging/5 Star Goodreads book.

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3.  Defending Jacob by William Landay. I just remember being really surprised by the direction this story took. This has been made into a tv show, but I don’t have the whatever platform it’s on. If someone has watched it, I’d love to hear what you think of it!

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4. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. What stands out about this series for me is how everyone in my family read it – and loved it.

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5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I think this is Austen’s most underrated book. I absolutely love it.

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6. Us Against You (Beartown #2) by Fredrik Backman. I rated this one just as highly as Beartown, but didn’t do a full, formal review of it.

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7. In the Dark (DI Adam Fawley #2) by Cara Hunter. I reviewed the book before and after this one, but never did this one for some reason, even though I liked it just as much.

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8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Like everyone else, I was obsessed with this book. It was from my pre-blogging days, though.

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9. On the Fence by Kasie West. One of my favorite West books and I only wrote one sentence about it on Goodreads.

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10.  Wild at Heart (The Simple Wild #2) by K.A. Tucker. I seemed to be in the minority that enjoyed this more than the first one, but never did a review to explain why.

What books have you liked that you never reviewed?

Love Stinks: Toxic and Unbearable Relationships in Fiction

12 Hilarious Anti-Valentine's Day Cards For People You Hate. Sending these to EVERYONE I know:

For some, today is to celebrate Valentine’s Day. For others, it’s Singles Awareness Day (SAD). (For me, it’s the day The Walking Dead comes back!) So to combine the themes of love and bitterness, I’ve come up with a list of some of the most Toxic or Unbearably Annoying relationships in fiction.

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

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Nick and Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

They are probably the most toxic couple on this list. On their own, they can both be horrible people, together they’re a disaster. 

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Joe and Beck from You by Caroline Kepnes

These two are both sociopaths as far as I’m concerned. The stalking, the lying, the manipulation, the cage…

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Chloe and Oliver from Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Chloe was a seemingly nice girl until Oliver came to town. He leads her down a dark path and they ruin lives (even their own).

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UNBEARABLE RELATIONSHIPS

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Cole and Ali from The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

I started out shipping these two, but by the third book their romantic interludes were so cringe-worthy to me that I couldn’t even finish the book. There was so much back and forth and will-they-won’t-they and when they finally got together it was a constant how-far-will-we-go-and-when rhetoric. I found it boring and annoying.

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Hayley and Bryce from Blackmail Boyfriend by Chris Cannon

This could also probably go under the toxic category since Hayley is kind of a psycho. Hayley and Bryce agree to a public fake relationship, but she believes that still means he should do boyfriendy things when no one else is around. She’s insufferable, but along the way Bryce begins to fall for her and this book just made me want to through my Nook at a wall.

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Sang and ALL the Boys from the Ghost Bird series by C.L. Stone

Sang is young and naïve and unbearably annoying and she is befriended by a group of seven guys, all of whom have a thing for her. All of whom, at one point early on in the series, agree to share her, which is when I had to stop reading this series, even though it was an oddly addicting read.

This list could go on and on, but I decided to stop at three each. What are some fictional relationships that you find toxic or unbearable?

HAPPY VALENTIE’S DAY / SINGLES AWARENESS DAY / THE WALKING DEAD IS BACK!

Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 2016

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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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Cold Shot (Chesapeake Valor #1) by Dani Pettrey. Read December 30-January 1. 4 stars.

I think this is Pettrey’s best book yet. Review to come closer to release date.

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Jesse’s Girl (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally. Read January 2. 3 stars.

I liked the first half of this book that focused on Maya’s and Jesse’s first day together more than I did the rest of the book. There were several cute moments and I did like their relationship overall, but I have the same issues I have with pretty much every other book I’ve read in this series. I think the casual view on sex is irresponsible for the YA demographic and I don’t like the way Christians are portrayed. They are always hypocritical clichés and nothing more and it’s kind of offensive.

Overall, though, the book was a fast easy read and since I’m trying to be more generous with ratings, it gets 3 stars.

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Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. Read January 2-3. 3 stars.

This was pretty interesting. Scientology has always kind of interested me (not in a “hey, I want to join” way, but in a “Tom Cruise is kind of weird” way). One thing that I really wanted was a big section on Remini’s role on Saved by the Bell (she will ALWAYS be Stacy Carosi to me), but it was only briefly mentioned in like two sentences. I also wish there was more of her time on The King of Queens, which was a show I enjoyed. Overall, though, interesting and informative on Scientology. I’m glad she found her way out from under it.

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The Widow by Fiona Barton. Read January 5-9. 3.5 Stars

The Widow is not really what I expected it to be. That’s always the problem when a book is compared to Gone Girl. I expected gleefully crazy psychopaths and shocking twists, but there is none of that to be found in this book. That’s not a bad thing, of course, on it’s own. But since my expectations were not met, I feel just a bit let down by it. So let my reading experience inform yours. This book is not like Gone Girl. But it is an intriguing, thoughtful, character-driven mystery that’s worth the read. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. Read January 9. 4 stars.

This short story was a quick, easy read and was pretty much everything I expect from Flynn. Part of me wishes she would’ve made this into a full-length novel, but I think the slightly unsatisfying ending would have been much harder to swallow if it were a full length book (like Gone Girl). It creeped me out a bit and left my head spinning and just made me want MORE from Flynn. Seriously, I’m ready for the next book!

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Hired Bride (Beaufort Brides #1) by Noelle Adams. Read January 10-11. 3 Stars.

This wasn’t quite as cute as I wanted it to be. I love a good fake-relationship story, but I thought this focused too much on them trying to fool themselves instead of other people. And it skipped over a lot of the getting-to-know-you parts and focused a lot more on the, ahem, intimate moments, which were kind of graphic. Still, though, it was an overall cute book.

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Alice in Zombieland (White Rabbit Chronicles #1) by Gena Showalter. Read January 14-15. 3 stars.

A little Twilight, a little The Mortal Instruments, a touch of Mean Girls. I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would after I read a few of really great reviews on it. I thought the pace was a little too slow and it was a lot more high school drama than I thought it would be. There were a few cute moments between Cole and Ali, though.
In the dedication in the beginning, the author talks about how when she was writing this she was sick and she started seeking the Lord so I was kind of expecting this to be a little more Christian fiction and it wasn’t. There was definitely way more teenage sex than I expected.
I got this from the library in a bundle, so I’ll probably read the next books to see if they pick up a little more.

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Anything for You (Blue Heron #5) by Kristan Higgins. Read January 15-17. 3.5 Stars

Another cute story by Kristan Higgins. I liked the inclusion of a character with developmental disabilities. I liked Connor and Jess grew on me. I wish there was a little more of some of the characters from the other books. Some of the themes were a little reminiscent of some of Higgan’s other books – most notably The Next Best Thing, but since that’s one of my favorites, I was ok with it.

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Through the Zombie Glass (White Rabbit Chronicles #2) by Gena Showalter. Read January 17. 3 stars.

This book could have been about 100 pages shorter. There wasn’t much happening until about the last quarter or so of the book. There were love triangles (squares?) hinted at in the beginning, but I’m thankful that they didn’t become a main plot point. I still have one more book in the bundle from the library, so I’m going to continue with the series.

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Flirting with Fame by Samantha Joyce. Read January 18-19. 3.5 stars.

Pretty cute with a great concept, but the characters were often hard to like. Full review to come closer to release date.

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RE-READS

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All I Ever Wanted and The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins. Higgins can always help me get through book slumps.

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DNF

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The Queen of Zombie Hearts (White Rabbit Chronicles #3) by Gena Showalter. I tried. Really I did. When they’re fighting zombies or trying to figure out what Anima is up to, I was interested, but every time it focused on Cole and Ali’s relationship or Ali’s friends (who got on my very last nerve) I just couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. I’ve read enough reviews that I can kind of piece together the big events of how the story resolves so I think it’s time to give this series up.

Top Ten Tuesday: Author Duos I’d LOVE To See Write A Book Together

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Author Duos You’d LOVE To See Write A Book Together.

Attachments   Broken Promise (Promise Falls, #1)

1 & 2. Rainbow Rowell and Linwood Barclay.

Two of my very favorite authors from two different genres. Pretty much everything they do is amazing and putting them together would probably be the best book of all time.

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3 & 4. Maggie Stiefvater and Leigh Bardugo

They both write really intricate worlds with complex characters.

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5 & 6. Linda Castillo and Allison Leotta

Two of my favorite mystery/crime authors. Kate Burkholder and Anna Curtis could team up and it would be amazing.

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7 & 8. Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriarty

They both can break your heart and put it back together again.

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9 & 10. Gillian Flynn and Abigail Haas

Their book would have the potential to be the biggest MindF*** you ever read.

What author duos do you wish would pair up?

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I REALLY Want To Meet

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Ten Authors I REALLY Want To Meet

How Rainbow Rowell Turned A Bomb Into A Best-Selling Novel

1. It should be no surprise that I want Rainbow Rowell to be my best friend.

HBO Adapting British Thriller Drama Series ‘Utopia’ With David Fincher & Gillian Flynn

2. Though she kind of terrifies me, I’d love to meet Gillian Flynn.

Maggie Stiefvater

3. Maggie Stiefvater

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4. JLA

Karin Slaughter

5. Karin Slaughter

Linwood Barclay

6. Linwood Barclay

Allison Leotta

7. Allison Leotta. She’s also a former federal prosecutor from DC. Man would she have some stories!

Jojo Moyes

8. Jojo Moyes

Tahereh Mafi

9. Tahereh Mafi

Erin Morgenstern

10. Erin Morgenstern

What authors would you like to meet? Have you made me super jealous and met any of the above?

Top Ten Tuesday: ALL TIME Favorite Authors

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Authors.

Rainbow Rowell

1. Rainbow Rowell. Her writing is beautiful, her characters are amazing. Everything she writes is pure magic.
Favorite book: Attachments

Linwood Barclay

2. Linwood Barclay. My Go-To author for great mysteries.
Favorite book: No Time for Goodbye

Maggie Stiefvater

3. Maggie Stiefvater. She writes some of the most amazing characters I’ve ever read.
Favorite book: The Raven Boys

Jojo Moyes

4. Jojo Moyes. Another writer with beautiful writing and amazing characters.
Favorite book: One Plus One

Kasie West

5. Kasie West. She writes really adorable YA that’s always fun to read.
Favorite Book: On the Fence

Jennifer L. Armentrout

6. Jennifer Armentrout. She writes characters with funny, snarky dialogue that I love. Plus, Daemon Black.
Favorite Book: Obsidian

Marissa Meyer

7. Marissa Myer. Every book she writes just gets better!
Favorite Book: Cress

Gillian Flynn

8. Gillian Flynn. She writes really compulsive reads with amazingly psychopathic characters. Now can she please write a new book!?
Favorite Book: Gone Girl

Erin Morgenstern

9. Erin Morgenstern. She wrote one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Can she write a new book already, too?!
Favorite Book: The Night Circus

Kristan Higgins

10. Kristan Higgins. My favorite of all romance writers. Her books are full of fun and family and love.
Favorite Book: The Best Man

What are some of your favorite authors? Have you read any of mine?

Stephanie's Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Characters I’d Like To Check In With

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Characters You’d Like To Check In With (meaning, the book or series is over and you so just wish you could peek in on the “life” you imagine they are leading years down the line after the story ends).

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

1. Katness, Peeta, Haymitch, Gale. I needed more from the ending of the Hunger Games series.

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)

2. Kami and Jared from the Lynburn Legacy. I want to see them living their happily ever after.

Illusions of Fate

3. Jessamin and Finn from Illusions of Fate.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)

4. The Raven Boys and Blue. I know this series isn’t over yet, but I already miss them! I want to read about them forever.

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss, #1)

5. Anna and St. Claire. I want to see them  married.

Sacrifice (Elemental, #5)

6. The Merrick brothers from the Elemental series. The last book left things so open!

Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)

7. Juliette and Warner! I want to see them ruling the world.

The Night Circus

8. Everyone from The Night Circus

Gone Girl

9. Nick & Amy Dunne and their grown-up child. I would love to see what became of this hostile couple and if their child ended up as crazy as Amy.

Attachments

10. Lincoln & Beth because we didn’t get enough of their Happily Ever After.

Top Ten Tuesday: ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Books You Would Classify As ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS from the past 3 years. In no particular order, they are:

The Night Circus

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

2. Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Illusions of Fate

3. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

One Plus One

4. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The Passing Bells (Passing Bells, #1)

5. The Passing Bells by Phillip Rock

Obsidian (Lux, #1)

6. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

I've Got Your Number

7. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophia Kinsella

Defending Jacob

8. Defending Jacob by William Landay

Gone Girl

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

10. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Stephanie's Book Reviews

Review: Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm

Unbecoming: A Novel

Synopsis from Good Reads:

A major debut novel of psychological suspense about a daring art heist, a cat-and-mouse waiting game, and a small-town girl’s mesmerizing transformation.

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels—and she becomes another young woman entirely.

Unbecoming is an intricately plotted and psychologically nuanced heist novel that turns on suspense and slippery identity. With echoes of Alfred Hitchcock and Patricia Highsmith, Rebecca Scherm’s mesmerizing debut is sure to entrance fans of Gillian Flynn, Marisha Pessl, and Donna Tartt.

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

I’ve read some good book so far this year, but nothing that has really stood out. Unbecoming, while not what I was expecting, is easily my favorite book of the year so far.

I love a good character-driven novel and this definitely fits the bill. I didn’t find this quite as suspenseful as the synopsis makes it sound, nor is it an exciting heist story. If you’re looking for those elements, Unbecoming may be lacking for you, but for me the character study completely made up for it. Grace is a young woman hiding from her old life. She is the root of the reason that her secret husband and his best friend has been in jail for three years and lives in fear of them coming back for revenge. This is the overall plot, but the real story is just Grace herself.

It is not an easy thing for such an unlikable character to be compelling, even sympathetic, but Scherm really pulls it off. While there were a few times in the book where I completely loathed Grace, overall I really did like disliking her. She is not the psychopath you might find in a Gillian Flynn novel, but a quieter kind of pathological. She’s selfish, a liar, and a thief, but you would never know it until you really get to know her. And she’s smart enough to never let that happen. Told in alternate timelines, we meet Grace as Julie the amateur art-restorer in Paris. Interwoven with her present life in Paris, we travel back to Grace growing up in Tennessee, to her college semester in New York, and to her return to Tennessee as she tries to desperately live the life she’s always wanted.

While the synopsis makes it sound that the robbery is the focal point of the novel, it’s more of the midpoint. There is Grace Before it happened and Grace After it happened. The real psychological suspense aspect for me didn’t come until the final part of the book when one of Grace’s biggest fears come to fruition. There is no dramatic climax or fight scene or narrow get away. The story continues at it’s methodical pace and I really had no idea what was going to happen next, how it was all going to turn out.

Overall, I really enjoyed Unbecoming. One of my few complaints of the novel is the information overload of antiques/art and the restoration process. There were many times where less information would have gone a long way and one of those instances where it felt like the author had done a lot of research and wanted to make sure it was all useful. Other than that, I loved the style, the alternating timelines, the character development, and even how truly unlikable the characters were. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of character-driven novels and I look forward to reading whatever Scherm comes up with next.

Rating (out of 5):

4 stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October + Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday! I have nothing book related to say about that, but I just wanted to share it 🙂  Yesterday at work my coworkers made me a candy bouquet!

candy 1  candy 2

Before I get to my reviews, I want to say that you probably won’t see a lot from me in November, as I am attempting to participate in NaNoWriMo. If I’m successful at this, it means way less time for reading, so we’ll see how it goes. Now, onto the book stuff…

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.

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4)

In Your Dreams (Blue Heron #4) by Kristan Higgins. Read September 30 – October 2. 3 stars.

Another adorable book by Kristan Higgins. I liked that there was a pretty decent presence of the whole Holland clan in this one.        

Always On My Mind (Lucky Harbor, #8)           

Always on My Mind (Lucky Harbor #8) by Jill Shalvis. Read October 13-14. 3 stars.

I’ve read one other book by Shalvis and didn’t love it, but was encouraged to give her another shot, so I picked this one because of my love for the Fake Relationship trope. However, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. There weren’t really any cute moments where they were a fake couple out and about. It was just kind of announced they were couple to the town and the only times they were together really were in private where some slightly-more-graphic-than-I-would-like things happened. I felt like their background could have been expanded on and the side-plot was a little too predictable. But overall, it was an ok read.

Catching Jordan

Catching Jordan (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 20-21. 3 stars.

While the premise of this book was interesting and had some unique aspects, I had a lot of issues with this book. Mostly in the relationships between the characters and how the guys viewed it. One example, a girl really liked one of the guys and slept with him and when Jordan asks him about how he feels about the girl his answer is that “she’s a good lay” and it’s a nice stress reliever. The whole book highlights all the reasons why these characters are too immature to be having sex, yet it is never addressed as being emotionally harmful, but completely normal and casual.

There were times that I was ready to give this book 1 star, but because of it’s interesting premise and the fact that I liked how it ended, I’m giving it three. I’m going to try the next book in the series only because I got the 3 book bundle from the library.

Stealing Parker

Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 21-21. 3.5 stars.

3.5 stars. I liked this book better than the previous one in the series. While it had it’s own set of issues, it made up for all the issues I had with the previous book (which was not showing any of the possible emotional effects all the casual sex could bring). I also thought it was interesting that it involved God and a relationship with Him and church, without being preachy. It had the full spectrum of “church people” which is unusual to see in a non-Christian-fiction book.

Perhaps my biggest problem was that Parker’s mom’s big life lesson to her daughter was to do whatever makes you happy and to forget everyone else. That may work sometimes for a seventeen-year-old, but as a mother of 2, it kind of makes you horrible.

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2) by Jennifer Armentrout. Read October 22-24. 2 stars.

This book didn’t really keep my attention. I think it was a bit longer than it had to be. An interesting twist in this series is that readers get the chance to vote for which guy in the love triangle we want Layla to end up with in the next book. However, I didn’t feel like it was written in a way for there to be any real contest. I think it’s obvious who it’s supposed to be, even though I’m totally voting for the other guy!     

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

The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. Read October 24-25. 3 stars.

I’ve been looking forward to this book for awhile and ended up being a little underwhelmed. While it was overall cute, it didn’t have a lot of the things I love about the fake relationship trope.

Racing Savannah

Racing Savannah (Hundred Oaks #4) by Miranda Kenneally. Read October 25-26. 3 stars.

When book 3 in this series didn’t keep my attention, I skipped to this one. It was ok, but I think it’s the last in this series that I’ll read.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)  The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)  Visions (Cainsville, #2)

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Visions (Cainsville #2) by Kelley Armstrong. These are all books I barely started and  just couldn’t get into. I was in a pretty big reading slump, so I put them back on the TBR shelf.

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RE-READS

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I wanted to read this again before I watched the movie. While I prefer the book to the movie, I thought the movie was very well done. And I forgot just how much I loved the book!