Reviewing the Unreviewed: July 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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Hands Down by Mariana Zapata. Read July 3-5. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this! It was a terrific slow burn romance with really likable characters. I do have my usual complaint with this author that the writing was a little too repetitive and a little more editing would really help the pace, but I know to expect those things going in, so it didn’t hinder my enjoyment too much. It was a sweet story of friendship, family, and love. I liked the cameos of characters from some of the author’s other books, too. I was sad when it ended and I had to say goodbye to the characters. This is definitely one I’ll read again.

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Melt My Heart by A.R. Perry. Read July 5-6. 3 Stars. 

A cute, short read. The characters were likable and the romance was cute, if a little too cheesy there at the end.

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The Crushing Depths (Coastal Guardians #2) by Dani Pettrey. Read July 9-11. 4 Stars. 

I was really disappointed in the first book of this series, so I was a little nervous about starting this one. Fortunately, The Crushing Depths was back to the quality I have come to expect from Pettrey. I liked the main characters much more in this installment and enjoyed the mysteries. While I did like the romance between Rissi and Mason, it was another case of there being a past relationship and they were basically in love right away when they saw each other again. I wanted to see their relationship develop a little more organically. However, the B plot involved the beginnings of a romance between Noah and Brooke and I felt much more invested in them. I look forward to reading their book in the future. I also feel pretty invested in the inevitable relationship between Emmy and Landon. After the first book I didn’t really care about any of the characters and I’m really happy I got to know them better this time around.

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The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) by Emma. Scott. Read July 11-12. 4 Stars. 

Very angsty and a little too long, but enjoyable. I wish there was a little more time spent in the post-high school years and a little less in the teenage angst. However, I liked the characters and Miller and Violet’s relationship. It was a sweet, emotional story and I’m going to check out more by this author.

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One of the Guys by A.R. Perry. Read July 7-13. 3 Stars. 

This was ok. I didn’t find Rylee a very likable character. I hated the antagonistic relationship she had with her siblings and mother. I thought Spencer was sweet, though – most of the time. While this was ok, it’s probably going to be the last book I read by this author.

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The Fadeaway (Smart Jocks #2) by Rebecca Jenshak. Read June 29-July 16. 2.5 Stars

This was just ok for me. I did like Katrina and how she handled being a young, single mother. I didn’t really remember having a favorable impression of Joel in the first book and I didn’t care much for him here, either. It also took me a couple of weeks to finish this because it couldn’t hold my attention long enough to read more than a couple chapters at a time.

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Baking Me Crazy (Donner Bakery #1) by Karla Sorensen. Read July 19-25. 3 Stars. 

There were a lot of things I liked about this book. I liked the friendship between Levi and Joss. I liked the positive disability representation, the humor, and how incredibly sweet Levi was. Joss’ reactions to things really brought the book down for me, though. There are two instances where Levi has big news or a confession to share with her and she basically attacks him both times, refused to talk about it, and then disappears on him/gives him the cold shoulder while she processes. Both times she realizes she overreacts and she doesn’t really own up to it, she just shows back up and he is instantly fine with her again. It made me really dislike her at times. Especially when she thought Levi couldn’t possibly want to live with her disability – girl, he already had his family renovate their house to make it accommodating for you! That’s the reason this book is getting 3 stars instead of 4.

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Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12) by Linda Castillo. Read July  21-26. 4 Stars. 

Another enjoyable installment of the Kate Burkholder series. This one is a bit of a departure from the other books in the series, as it’s more Suspense/Thriller than Mystery. The story almost entirely takes place at a snowed in farm and we don’t get to see much of the beloved side characters as we usually do. I liked getting to know a little more about Kate’s backstory, though, and I loved new character, Adam. I hope he shows up again in future books.

I do have to say that the plot of the book centered around corruption in a police force and it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to be reading during these times. Castillo does include a note about how she embellished things for her story and that the (real) police department she uses in the book is a good one and the mischaracterizations are for the sake of the plot. It just feels like unfortunate timing for a book with this topic to be out. Or the perfect time, I suppose, depending on your political bent. However, the corrupt cops get their comeuppance and justice is served, so it is positive to see a police force taking action to reform their force.

All that said, it was still a good book and I will eagerly await the next installment.

*****DNF*****

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Rage & Ruin (The Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. DNF @ 10%. I don’t know if I’m just in a mood or if my reading tastes have changed over the years and JLA books just don’t do it for me anymore, but I can’t make myself read another page of this.

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Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins. DNF @ 25%. I really tried with this one, but I just couldn’t get into it. The main character was really frustrating, though her mental health issues were completely understandable with her upbringing. There was some anti-religious stuff I found offensive and that kind of killed most of my desire to keep reading. I also thought the mystery of what happened to Astrid all those years ago was really obvious. While I stopped reading at about the 25% mark, I did skip to the last few chapters, just to confirm my suspicion and I was right. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time with all the chapters in between.

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The Dating Dare by A.R. Perry. DNF @ 17%. I recently read another book by this author that was cute, so I thought I’d give another one of her books a try. I only got through a couple chapters of this, but I don’t like it at all. I think the kids are crass and the whole dare scenario just doesn’t work for me.

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Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan. DNF @ 24%. I really wanted to like this one, but I just couldn’t get into it. I was expecting a thriller, but it was much more Women’s Fiction. The writing wasn’t bad, I think it was just an instance of me being the wrong reader for the book.

Books I’ve Read with the Highest Average Ratings on Goodreads

Last week I took a look at the lowest average rated books on my Read shelf on Goodreads and compared them to my own reviews. This week I decided to take a look at the books from my Read shelf with the highest average rating. I usually disagree with hype, so I’m actually really surprised that I rated most of these highly, as well.

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1.  A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Goodreads Rating: 4.64 Stars
My Rating:  3.5 Stars

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2. Awaken by Priscilla Shirer
Goodreads Rating: 4.62 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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3. An Echo in the Darkness (Mark of the Lion #2) by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.62 Stars
My Rating: 3 Stars

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4. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Goodreads Rating: 4.6 Stars
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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5. Fallen Crest Forever (Fallen Crest High #7) by Tijan
Goodreads Rating: 4.58
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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6. A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.56 Stars
My Rating: 5 Stars
(*Note this is one of the few books I rated 5 stars from my pre-blogging days)

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7.  Gemina (Illuminae #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Goodreads Rating: 4.51 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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8. The Crushing Depths (Coastal Guardians #2) by Dani Pettrey
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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9. Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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10. Oblivion (Lux #1.5) by Jennifer L Armentrout
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

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11. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Goodreads Rating: 4.50 Stars
My Rating: 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: July 1, 2020

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Something New by Amanda Abram. I was looking for something cute and found this on Kindle Unlimited. It wasn’t really as cute as I was hoping. It was ok and I did end up liking the romance, but it’s not really one I would ever be interested in reading again.

What are you currently reading?

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Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout. I hate to say this, but I may be over JLA. I’m not really interested in this at all so far. Although, I will admit that I am in a bit of a book slump.

A Path to Redeeming Love: A 40 Day Devotional by Francine Rivers and Karin Stock Buursma. I loved the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and this devotional is based off of the book. I am only a couple days in so far and I’m liking it, though I wish it was a little more in depth study than what it appears to be so far.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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Behind the Red Door by Megan Collins. I’m not really sure if I’ll read this next, but it’s the next ARC on my list.

What are you reading?

Reviewing the Unreviewed: May 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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The Ex Effect (Washington Wolves #2) by Karla Sorensen. Read April 30-May 1. 3.5 Stars

This was cute, but not my favorite by this author. I thought Ava and Matthew got together a little too quickly, but I did ship them. I wish there was a little more resolution with Ava’s family, though.

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Wait For It by Mariana Zapata. Read April 27-May 2. 4 Stars.

It took me awhile to get into this (as much as I enjoy Zapata, I always think her books could be a good 200 pages shorter than they are), but once I did, I loved it. I loved the growing relationship between Diana and Dallas and I loved Josh and Louie. I put off reading this one for so long because I didn’t like Diana in The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and I don’t always like reading books when there’s kids involved. But I found Diana way more likable in this and the kids were two of the best things about the book. I think Dallas might be my new favorite Zapata man, too.

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The Bombshell Effect (Washington Wolves #1) by Karla Sorensen. Read May 3-5. 3 Stars. 

This was cute, but not my favorite book of the series. I liked Allie and Luke together and the big romantic gesture at the end had some “Never Been Kissed” vibes that I enjoyed.

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The Split by Sharon Bolton. Read May 5-8. 2.5 Stars.

I am so disappointed! I love Sharon Bolton, but I found this book so boring. It started off really interesting and the end was alright, but I just didn’t care about anything in the middle. I didn’t care about most of the characters and I guessed the twist long before it was revealed. I love so many of Bolton’s books, but this one just wasn’t for me.

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The Stranger by Harlan Coben. Read May 13-14. 3.5 Stars. 

The writing sucked me in and kept me reading, but this definitely wasn’t my favorite Coben book. I found myself super annoyed with Adam’s wife, Corrine. When he confronts her about the lie and asks for an explanation she basically says “I’m not ready to tell you right now. I’ll do it later.” And then she disappears. What annoyed me was the manipulative “I don’t feel like talking about this” response. And as the book goes on, you expect there to be some huge conspiracy she was caught up in and it would all make sense why she couldn’t tell him anything…but that’s not the case. It was just annoying. It made it kind of hard to care about what happened to her. I’m still interested in checking out the show on Netflix, though. I know they made some significant changes from the book, so maybe it will be a little better.

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Life and Death (Twilight #1.75) by Stephenie Meyer. Read May 10-20. 3 Stars. 

So with all the hype about Midnight Sun coming out soon, I decided it was time to revisit Twilight and realized I never read the gender swap book. It did take me quite a bit of time to get through, only reading a couple chapters at a time in between other books. I know that Meyer did the gender swap to show that if Bella was a guy, she still would’ve needed to be rescued because she’s human, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe I’m part of the problem in society, but there were so many times where I just wanted Beau to “act like a man.” A couple things were changed here and there, but mostly it was just pronouns and it didn’t work. I often caught myself reading it as if was regular Twilight. One thing that did surprise me was the ending! I thought it was a straight re-telling, but it’s not and I did find that interesting.

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From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read May 19-24. 2 Stars. 

*Sigh* This reminded me a lot of Armentrout’s Covenant series. Mixed in with a little Twilight and Shadow and Bone. And it was just ok for me. Actually, large parts of it were ridiculous. Poppy was so whiny, I found her really unlikable most of the time. Most of the book is her complaining about how unfair it is that she can’t sleep around like everyone else has the right to. Despite the whole cult-like religious system being pretty shady, she believes in it, which makes her choosing to ditch her Maiden status to have sex pretty selfish.

The romance between Poppy and Hawke played out very similarly to every other JLA couple, to the point where the names could’ve been switched out with any other JLA characters and you wouldn’t be able to tell which book you were reading. I though Hawke’s true identity was super obvious long before Poppy figures it out, too.

So, obviously this wasn’t my favorite JLA book, but all of her other fans seem to love it, so it’s probably just me.

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A Slice of Love (Slice #4) by Teagan Hunter. Read May 24. 3.5 Stars.

This was cute and I definitely shipped Frankie and Jonas. I thought there was a little too much focus on the physical relationship, though, and would’ve liked a little more emotional/romantic development.

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Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris. Read May 24-25. 3 Stars. 

This was pretty cute and was a lot less angsty than I anticipated, which was nice. I liked the dual POVs and shipped Lily and Stone.

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

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The Chase (Briar U #1) by Elle Kennedy and Love the One You Hate by R.S. Grey. I just couldn’t get into either one of these, but I think it was my mood, so I do plan to try them again in the future. 

*****DNF*****

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You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria. DNF @ 27%. I really wanted to like this one. I love the cover and the comparison to Jane the Virgin definitely intrigued me. There were just too many little things adding up that didn’t work for me. My biggest problem was how the scenes from the tv show were written. It starts out with just a bit of script direction to set the scene, but instead of staying in script format, it goes back to the normal narrative style. And instead of describing things from Jasmine’s POV as she acts the scene, it described them as if Carmen, the character she’s playing, was experiencing them. And we would get Carmen’s feelings and internal monologue, but then there would be some thoughts from Jasmine interspersed with those and it was just weird. I know I’m not explaining it well, but it just really threw me off. There were a few other little things, too, that just ended up making this book a chore for me to get through. While both the main characters and their families were likable enough, I just didn’t really connect with them and I don’t really care enough to keep reading this. That said, I have seen some really good reviews for this book, so I’m sure many others will love it.

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Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin. DNF @ 16%. I think it might be time to just admit that YA Fantasy just isn’t really for me anymore. I couldn’t really get into this and I set it down to read some other books. After more than a week, I still have no desire to pick this one back up and I don’t think I ever will.

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

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Head Over Heels by Hannah Orensten – 2 Stars

Cheesy on the Eyes (Slice #5) by Teagan Hunter – 4 Stars

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – 2 Stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2019

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 Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves. Read September 28-30 (yes this was September, but it was after I posted my September installment of Reviewing the Unreviewed). 3 Stars. 

I found this a pretty average mystery. It was very character driven, which is fine, but the pace seemed soooo slow. It did pick up towards the end, though. The main characters were likable enough, but not really memorable. It was a decent read, but I’m not sure if I’m interested enough to continue the series.

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Read October 4-6. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but not what I expected. I didn’t think the alternate timelines were used that well, nor did I think we really needed POVs from all four girls in the past. I thought the story was a little too long and large parts of it were too unbelievable. And the most unbelievable wasn’t even the ghost parts (which made me take the whole book way less seriously, as well)

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Reveal Me (Shatter Me #5.5) by Tahereh Mafi. Read October 13-14. 2 Stars.

Did we really need another novella full of Kenji’s feelings? Honestly, getting his POV just makes me like him a little less.

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The Bridal Party by J.G. Murray. Read October 15-16. 2 Stars. 

There was so much potential for this story, but it failed to reach it. The events weren’t very feasible and the big reveal wasn’t at all surprising. I was still holding out for a fun twist at the end, but there wasn’t one and it was just kind of depressing instead.

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The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. October 17-19. 3 Stars. 

This was ok, but I can’t really say much more for it than that. It was much too long and repetitive and I was bored for large parts of it. There were also thinly veiled political analogies between unregistered Luxens and undocumented immigrants and I found it a little annoying. There were multiple scenes of the main character yelling at protesters that just kind of felt like wish fulfillment from the author. And I’m not saying that’s bad, but I feel like everything that is wrong in the country comes down to two sides yelling names at each other instead of trying to talk and work things out. It’s so unproductive and I get enough of that in real life. I did enjoy getting more Luc, though, and I liked the romance, which is what JLA is always good at. I also liked the cameos from the Lux series. There was more of all the characters I love than the last book had, so that helped make up for some of the boredom.

*****DNF*****

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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag. DNF at 9%. I wasn’t too impressed after I started this, so I set it down to read something else. Two weeks later and I just have no interest in picking it back up again.

Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate. DNF @ 4%. Sometimes you know right away if you’re not going to click with a story and that was my experience with this book. The first chapter was enough to make me not like the main character – mainly because some of the events remind me a lot of my father. The writing style didn’t really mesh with me either. However, I will say that the reviews I’ve seen so far for this book are pretty positive, so this is probably just a case of not being the right book for me.

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

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Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter – 2.5/5 Stars

Meet Me on Love Lane (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci – 3/5 Stars

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo – 2/5 Stars

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters – 2.5/5 Stars

Reputation by Sara Shepard – 3.5/5 Stars

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher – 3/5 Stars

Yours in Scandal (Man of the Year #1) by Lauren Layne – 4/5 Stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR. My list is comprised of ARCs, anticipated fall releases, and a couple others that I’m hoping to just be able to make time for soon.

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1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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2. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L Armentrout

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3. Lake Season (Bluebell Inn Romance #1) by Denise Hunter

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4. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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5. Marriage on Madison Avenue (Central Park Pact #3) by Lauren Layne

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6. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

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7. Endgame (Fawkes and Baxter #3) by Daniel Cole

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8. The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts

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9. Crime and Poetry by Amanda Flower

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10. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

What are you reading this Fall?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019.

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1. Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo. Publishing July 16, 2019.

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2. Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown. Publishing July 30, 2019.

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3. Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristan Higgins. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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4. The Killing Tide (Coastal Guardians #1) by Dani Pettrey. Publishing August 6, 2019.

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5. The Last Widow (Will Trent #9) by Karin Slaughter. Publishing August 20, 2019.

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6. Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay. Publishing September 17, 2019.

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7. Where Do I Begin? by Elvis Duran. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Publishing October 1, 2019.

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9. The Burning Shadow (Origin #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Publishing October 8, 2019.

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10. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. Publishing November 5, 2019.

What are your most anticipated releases?

Review: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

I received copies of this title via NetGalley and via a Goodreads giveaway. It does not impact my review.

Storm and Fury will be available June 11, 2019. 

I really enjoyed this. I must confess, I was never a huge fan of the original The Dark Elements series that this series spun-off from and I thought I would feel similarly about this one. However, it definitely surpassed my expectations.

I thought Trinity was a good main character. She frustrated me a little bit with her impulsiveness and argumentativeness, but she was a pretty classic JLA heroine. One thing that really made her stand out is that she’s dealing with a vision disability – Retinitis pigmentosa. It causes tunnel vision and a host of other vision problems and will most likely end in blindness. JLA has been diagnosed with this in real life and I have to imagine including this in a character was a bit cathartic, but also difficult. There are parts here and there when Trinity says something about it that I have seen JLA say on social media, so you know this character is very personal to her and it made her that much more special to read.

I also liked seeing Zayne again. I was Team Zayne in The Dark Elements series, even though I knew it was never going to happen, so I was happy to see him really start to move on a bit. I liked his banter with Trinity and his protectiveness of her. I also thought we got just the right amount of Roth and Layla. They’re around enough to make fans of the original series happy, while also contributing to the plot in a big way, but they don’t take the focus off of Trinity and Zayne.

At over 500 pages, I did think this book was a little too long, though. There is honestly not that much going on and I think it really could’ve been cut down a bit. However, there is lots of character development and I never felt bored or anything, despite the slow moving plot. There were several reveals saved until the end that I thought were pretty obvious much earlier in the book, but there was one big one that I hadn’t seen coming and I liked that it managed to surprise me.

Other than the length, there was only really one other thing I didn’t care for. I expect a little more mature content from a JLA book, but there is one scene that I thought was a little too explicit for YA. I could see that an argument could be made for this being New Adult instead of Young Adult since Trinity is 18 and Zane is a few years older, but everything else reads very much YA, so it still felt a little inappropriate.

Overall, I really enjoyed Storm and Fury. I thought it improved upon the original series it spun off from. I liked the characters and shipped the romance. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

WWW Wednesday: May 15, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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In the Darkness (Zoe Bentley Mystery #2) by Mike Omer. I enjoyed the first book in this series and I’m hoping this will be just as good. I’m not too far in yet, but it’s promising.

What did you recently finish reading?

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Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by JLA, The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall, Those People by Louise Candlish. Reviews to come on all of these 🙂

What do you think you’ll read next?

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I am making my way through my NetGalley ARCs and One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase is up next. I started this once and couldn’t get into it, so I’m hoping it goes better this time around.

What are you reading?

WWW Wednesday: May 8, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

What are you currently reading?

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Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by JLA. Despite never really loving the original series this one is spun off from, I am really enjoying this so far. It’s classic JLA Paranormal YA, which is where I think she most excels.

What did you recently finish reading?

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The Killer Across the Table by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. You can see my review for it here!

What do you think you’ll read next?

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The Honeymoon by Rona Halsall. I recently got this from NetGalley. I have to admit that cover is what first drew me to this one.

What are you reading?