Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2016

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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The Power (Titan #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read October 2-6. 2.5 Stars.

Sigh. I really wanted to enjoy this, but it was just so average. Recycled plot, recycled characters. I’ve always been a big fan of JLA, but I don’t think there was one thing in this book I haven’t already read in one of her (many) other books. I’m not giving up on her books, but the last few I’ve read from her I have been really disappointed in.

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Truly, Madly, Famously (Famous in Love #2) by Rebecca Serle. Read October 7-8. 2 Stars.

Well. I did not like this one nearly as much as the first one. I liked Paige in the first book, but she was super annoying the whole time in this one. Cheating in books always makes me angry, too. Paige and Rainer were officially together in this one so all her pining over Jordan was just not ok anymore. I didn’t like the additional characters that were introduced. The one lesson Paige learned that I did appreciate was that she finally realized she was just 18 and choosing between the two guys was not choosing the rest of her life.

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Rock Falls, Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar. Read October 8-9. 3 Stars.

I think this book had a lot of potential that it never fully lived up to. The characters, other than Aspen, were not that well developed and were easily removed from the story when their usefulness to Aspen’s development was over. I was expecting a lot more from the ending and was a little disappointed with how open-ended it was. The main thing that kept me reading this books was Aspen. When the main character is unlikable I need to LIKE not liking him and Ribar did a good job making me feel that. He was kind of an awful person and he was fine with it and I kind of enjoyed that about him. But as the story went on he started to feel bad about it and want to try to be better and I enjoyed that, too.

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RoseBlood by A.G. Howard. Read October 10-15. 3 Stars.

RoseBlood was a very interesting idea that didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. Two likable main characters (especially Thorn) and lots of references to the original Phantom of the Opera story were really well done. However, the major fantasy/supernatural elements were unexpected and hampered my enjoyment a bit. I also thought it was a little too long and too descriptive. I do think that fans of Howard’s Splintered series and those who are looking for a different type of re-telling will enjoy it. Full review to come closer to release date.

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The Thousandth Floor (The Thousandth Floor #1) by Katharine McGee. Read October 15-18. 3 Stars.

3 Stars because I’m feeling generous. I think the comparison to Gossip Girl is pretty accurate. I never read the books, but I’ve seen the show and I could totally see these characters and this world as a tv show like that. I liked the futuristic stuff. I thought there were too many perspectives, though. I only really liked Watt and I don’t think he got as many chapters as the others. I was kind of interested in Avery’s plotline because of how morally gray (like dark, dark gray) it was. I really didn’t care at all about the other 3 POVS. And the person I wanted to die, didn’t. The pace is really slow, but I think if you end up liking the characters more than I did that you wouldn’t mind it.

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. Read October 18-21. 3 Stars.

I liked Sophie and Stephen (and especially Stephen’s dry sense of humor in the first several chapters, though sadly it seemed to disappear as the book went on), but I disliked almost all the supporting characters. I thought all the “mysteries” were pretty obvious from early on and it took too long to reveal things. As in most Klassen novels, though, I enjoyed the romance and the subtle Christian themes. I wasn’t sure if I would be satisfied with either possible resolution given the circumstances, but I found I was really happy with how it all worked out.

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Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys. Read October 23. 3 Stars.

Overall, Dead Girls Society was a quick, enjoyable read. Though I thought it took a little long for the dare game to really live up to it’s potential, it did eventually get there. Hope, the likable main character, made me want to keep reading, even when the story was dragging a little and I liked how her disability was handled. I would recommend this to YA lovers who enjoy mild mystery and suspense. Full Review to come closer to release date.

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To Love and to Cherish (The Wedding Belles #3) by Lauren Layne. Read October 23-25. 3.5 Stars.

It took me just a little bit to get into this. It’s probably because I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I didn’t really feel like Alexis and Logan were really friends. She constantly referred to him as her accountant and though it was said that he was a lot more to her than that, we don’t really get to see their friendship in the beginning. It starts out with him wanting to be more than friends and she keeps shutting him down. However, once they got to Florida I really started to enjoy it. Alexis was still really wary, but they actually communicated and they were so cute together. I ended up really liking the romance and how it all turned out. I’m definitely going to go back and read the rest of the series.

Thanks again to Deanna (A Novel Glimpse) for giving me her extra copy!!! Book blogger friends are the best.

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Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk. Read October 25-27. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed Wrong Brother, Right Match. I liked the sweet romance and the Christmas setting. It reminded me so much of watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, which I love. I definitely recommend to those looking for a romantic holiday themed read. Full review to come closer to release date.

****************BACK ON THE TBR****************

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Loner by Teddy Wayne, Swarm by Scott Westerfeld & etc., The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Dating an Alien Popstar by Kendra L. Saunders. These are all books I’ve had on my TBR for awhile, but they’re just not interesting me at the moment and if I stay on track with NaNoWriMo then I won’t really have the time for them (and the first 3 are library books that will expire before I get to them). I didn’t even start Loner or Swarm, but I’m feeling book slumpy and neither sounded like something that would bring me out of it. I started The Unexpected Everything (my first Matson book) and didn’t even make it through the first chapter before I decided I wasn’t in the mood for it. Dating an Alien Popstar is a complete random pick that I saw quite awhile ago because I thought it looked kind of funny and I noticed the other day that it was free a Nook book at Barnes and Noble so I downloaded it and read the first chapter and I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever pick it back up, unfortunately. But it could get better?

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Reviewing the Unreviewed: October 2015

Stephanies Book Reviews Header

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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Date with a Rockstar by Sarah Ganon. Read October 2-3. 3 stars.

This book was a pretty cute, quick read. It’s lightly dystopian-set in the future where things are worse and different, but not crazy different and there’s no political revolution storyline. Though I don’t really like the show The Bachelor, I like the dating show concept in books so I found this pretty entertaining. I think it could’ve focused a little more on the show aspect, though. The main character was likable and only sometimes annoying. For most of the book I didn’t really care for Jeremy so I was kind of hoping Monet would end up with bodyguard Derek, instead (that really isn’t even implied at all in the book, just my wishful thinking). However, by the end I found him more likable and overall it was just a cute story.

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Storm (Paper Gods #3) by Amanda Sun. Read October 8-9. 3 stars.

A pretty good ending to the series. I thought it dragged at times and was a little repetitive and the appearance of Katie’s father I thought was a little pointless since it wasn’t more involved. However, I liked the overall arc of Tomo and Katie and liked that we got to see more of Ishikawa.

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RE-READS

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

With Carry On coming out this month, I became nostalgic for Fangirl. I enjoy this every time I re-read it. I am a little concerned, though, that after the first time I read this I’ve skipped over all the Simon Snow parts in every re-read. It does not bode well for Carry On, but I’m sure Rainbow Rowell will come though like always.

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Her Backup Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory

Reading Her Accidental Husband made me really want to go back and read the first book in the series and I enjoyed it!

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BACK ON THE TBR

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Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen

After not being blow away by the past few Julie Klassen novels I wasn’t really sure about this one. However, after just the first chapter I was pretty intrigued. Unfortunately I waited too long to start this once I got it from the library and it expired before I could get very far into it. I’ll definitely give it a go, though, some other time..

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2015

 

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.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen. Read February 8-12. 3 stars.

This book was a little unnecessarily long at times, but overall I enjoyed it. I liked the characters and thought they were well developed. The mystery was pretty well done, too. While there was one part of it I guessed basically right away, and another I guessed fairly early on, there were other parts that I didn’t and I enjoyed the surprise. Even though her previous book was not really to my liking, this book once again reinforces my opinion that Klassen is one of the best authors in this particular genre.

Arranged

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie. Read February 18-20. 3 stars.

This book had a unique premise that intrigued me, but didn’t blow me away. I found the Blythe & Company process interesting, though a bit outlandish. I thought they were going to end up being something a little more sinister than they were and was a little disappointed that they weren’t.

I liked all the references to Anne of Green Gables.

I didn’t always care for the main character. She was shallow and annoying most of the time, but as the book went on she really grew as a person and I enjoyed that.

The twist in Anne and Jack’s relationship wasn’t what I was expecting, but I thought it was good. My biggest complaint, though, is that I was hoping for the end to be a little less predictable.

The Girl Who Kissed a Lie (Otherworld #0.5)

The Girl who Kissed a Lie by Skylar Dorset. Read February 25. 2 stars.

There were some humorous moments with the aunts and Ben, but there really wasn’t anything that happened in this book. Perhaps if you read it before you read the first book in the series, you might find it more interesting, but I don’t think it will make you understand the first book any better. But it was a quick read and was good to get reacquainted with the series before I read book 2.

The Boy with the Hidden Name (Otherworld, #2)

The Boy with the Hidden Name by Skylar Dorset. Read February 25-26. 3 stars.

I debated between 2 and 3 stars for this one, but since it did ultimately entertain me, I went with 3. The story, as in the first book, is confusing. There were often times I didn’t understand what was going on. But I found most of the dialogue humorous. If you plan to read this series, I would recommend doing it all at once so it may be less confusing.

The Beautiful Daughters

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart. Read February 22-25. 4 stars.

I read this book in February, but my full review will post in April since this is an ARC and I wanted to post closer to the release date.

I’ve never read anything by Nicole Baart before, but I think I’ll definitely be giving her other books a try after reading The Beautiful Daughters. Her writing was beautiful, even when it was heartbreaking. I was drawn in, straight from the Prologue.

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BACK ON THE TBR SHELF

Breaking the Rules (Pushing the Limits, #1.5)

Breaking The Rules by Katie McGarry. I waited a long time for this to be available at the library, but once it finally came I couldn’t get into it. It seemed like just a bunch of re-hashing of their first book and I got bored pretty quickly. I may give it another go some time, though.

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DNF

Seeker (Seeker, #1)

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. I got this from NetGalley and just could not finish it. I was so confused the whole time and I didn’t really care about any of the characters.

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RE-READ

Illusions of Fate

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White. I enjoyed this just as much the second time around!

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Disappointing Reads of 2014

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the Broke and the Bookish, is a Freebie! I’ve decided to go with my Top Ten Most Disappointing Reads of 2014. Click on the links for my review (if applicable) or the Good Reads page.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

1. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas. It seems like everyone in the blogosphere is obsessed with this series. I just don’t get it. I gave this book 1 star.

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4)

2. Four: A Divergent Story Collection by Veronica Roth. I was hoping that this book would in some small way make up for Allegiant. Or make me fall for Four again. It did not.

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

3. Just One Day by Gayle Foreman. Yet another book the blogosphere loves that I did not. I just don’t get it, guys.

The Dancing Master

4. The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen. I really enjoy Klassen’s novels, but this one was pretty bad. Especially the parts where she actually plagiarizes herself from another book!

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes

5. All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant. This book had so much potential, but just didn’t live up to it. I really wish it would’ve focused more on the reality show plotline.

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)

6. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. While it started out interesting enough, it had super unlikable characters and became very confusing.

We Were Liars

7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I think this book suffered from too much hype. It had a good twist, but it did not make up for the rest of the book.

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)

8. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. Don’t get me wrong, this book was cute! But it was definitely my least favorite book of the series.

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

9. The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. I love the fake relationship trope and had been looking forward to this book for a long time and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

The Archived (The Archived, #1)

10. The Archived by Victoria Schwab. Yet another beloved book in the blogosphere that just didn’t do it for me. I found it way too slow and pretty boring until the end.

What Top Ten Tuesday topic did you choose? What are some of your most disappointing reads of 2014?

Waiting on Wednesday: The Secret of Pembrooke Park

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine that focuses on books you are eagerly anticipating.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

I’ve read a lot of Julie Klassen books and have enjoyed many of them. While her last couple of books have been a bit of a disappointment for me (especially The Dancing Master), I’m looking forward to her next book and hoping it’s as good as the first ones I’ve read.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is available December 2, 2014.

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU WAITING ON?

Review: The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

The Dancing Master

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Leaving London, dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire–but is stunned to discover that dancing is prohibited! He finds an unlikely ally in Miss Julia Midwinter, but her questions about his past are becoming harder to evade. Together, can they bring new life to this quiet village–and heal long-kept-secret scars?

I always look forward to a new Julie Klassen novel. She’s one of those authors that are on my “Automatically Read” list. However, The Dancing Master didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The story is a little Footloose meets Jane Austen. We know that there is an unofficial law that prohibits dancing, but don’t find out why until about 2/3 of the way through – and it’s wildly overdramatic and a little ridiculous. Then there’s still so much more to get through. The book was long. The book clocks in at 419 pages, which isn’t necessarily that long, but it seemed to be with such a slow pace and very little action. As in all Klassen novels, there are some secrets and scandals and twists. The initial twist I found surprising, but after that I thought everything was fairly obvious and it all was drawn out a little too long.

The story is told in 3rd person POV between Julia – the beautiful, impulsive “poor little rich girl”; Amelia Midwinter – Julia’s strict, severe, No-dancing-allowed mother; and Alec Valcourt – the young Dancing Master who has just moved to the town without knowledge of the no dancing rule. I did not find Julia likable at all. She was selfish and reckless and manipulative. Towards the end of the book she learned the error of her ways and of God’s forgiveness and grace, but I still found her insufferable for most of the book.

I mostly liked Alec. It’s mentioned a couple of times throughout the book that he’s  a “dandy” and I found that a little unlikable in our hero character –he all but refuses the opportunity to work at the clay factory because of the manual labor and dirt, despite his bleak prospects for anything else at the time. However, he was kind and sweet and funny. I never quite bought in to why he was so in love with Julia, though – other than the fact that she’s beautiful.

Amelia Valcourt was a character I wished we would’ve gotten more from. I enjoyed the few flashes of her back story and would have liked to have more of that. Like her daughter, she learned the error of her ways towards the ends of the book. There were some likable secondary characters, but they were pretty under-developed for me.

Perhaps my biggest problem with The Dancing Master was it’s unoriginality. My favorite Klassen novel is The Apothecary’s Daughter” and there were several moments that reminded me of that novel. One example is when Alec is teaching Julia some dance moves – similar to when Lilly is teaching Francis the moves to the same dance in The Apothecary’s Daughter.

From The Dancing Master
“Partners must keep a proper distance apart,” he primly intoned. “Bodies must not actually touch.”

“Pity,” she breathed, her face tipped toward his.

Oh yes, she wanted him to kiss her. His heart pounded at the thought.

From The Apothecary’s Daughter
She looked away, focusing on her hand on his arms “Partners must keep a proper distance apart,” she said, parroting the admonition of the Viennese dancing master. “Bodies must not actually touch.”

“Pity,” Francis breathed, his sweet breath warm on her temple, her ear…She knew she had but to look up and he would kiss her. Her heart pounded at the thought.

Overall, The Dancing Master was a little disappointing for me. It still had the mixture of faith, romance, and a bit of mystery that I look for in a Klassen novel, but it fell a little short on all counts. Despite that, I will still be giving Klassen another chance whenever she comes out with her next novel.

Rating (out of 5)
Plot: 2
Characters: 2
Readability: 3
Enjoyability: 2.5
Overall Average: 2.375 stars

Monday’s Minutes

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Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post where I share what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

The Dancing Master

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen. I’m a big Julie Klassen fan and I was very excited to get a copy of this from NetGalley.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse

After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris. I enjoyed most of the Sookie Stackhouse series, though the last few books really disappointed me. Since I read the whole series I feel like I need to read this final installment.

What are you reading?