Reviewing the Unreviewed: June 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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Varsity Heartbreaker (Varsity #1) by Ginger Scott. Read. May 29-31 (yes, this was from May, but it was after last month’s feature posted). 3.5 Stars

This started out really slow for me, but after about the first 25%, it did pick up. I spent the first half or so of the book shipping June with Tory, even though I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I felt frustrated by how obsessed June was with Lucas when he had treated her so poorly. It is explained why he pushed her away, but I didn’t think it was necessary for him to be such a douche to her. That said, I did end up liking them together and he could be really sweet. There were a couple scenes I thought were a little too graphic for a YA book. I’m really looking forward to getting to know Tory more in the next book.

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Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally. Read May 31-June 11. 2 Stars. 

This was kind of disappointing. I thought Lulu and Alex’s relationship was toxic for half the time and a little too co-dependent the other half. They didn’t treat other people they dated in between very well, either. The execution of the concept was done kind of oddly, too. You expect the story to focus on four separate days, but it felt like it spent more time on flashbacks than on the actual days. All of the characters were also extremely immature and it made me cringe with how much sexual content there was.

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley. Read June 7-11. 3 Stars. 

This started out really well for me, but I didn’t think it ended very strong. I loved the use of multiple POVs and timelines. I thought they were well done and Foley did a good job of making me suspect multiple people. Some of the twists and connections felt just a little too convenient, though. I also didn’t love the end. I wanted more closure on what happened to the characters afterwards, especially one couple that really needs either massive couples therapy or a divorce. I also thought the pace was a little slow and even though this book wasn’t very long, it felt like it was.

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The House Guest by Mark Edwards. Read June 15-16. 4 Stars. 

This was my first book by Mark Edwards and it definitely won’t be my last. I enjoyed the characters and the mystery. There were several twists I guessed before they were revealed, but there were several others that managed to surprise me. I’m looking forward to checking out some of his other books.

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Faked by Karla Sorensen. Read June 16-18. 4 Stars. 

This was cute. It took a different direction than I thought it would, but it didn’t take me long to get on board. I thought Bauer’s feelings were a little too insta-lovey at first, but I definitely shipped him and Claire together. I thought they worked together really well. This might be my favorite book by this author so far.

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Rich Prick by Tijan. Read June 18-20. 3.5 Stars. 

This was ridiculous, but in that enjoyable Tijan sort of way. It took me awhile to get into, but I eventually became invested in Blaise and Aspen and I liked how they helped each other grow. I thought Aspen was more likable than most Tijan heroines. I liked seeing a different side of Nate in this, too. It made me excited for his forthcoming book, when I was kind of ambivalent about the prospect before.

This is marketed as a standalone, but I would consider it more of a companion novel to the Fallen Crest and Crew series. People who haven’t read those before would miss out on a lot.

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The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker. Read June 22-25. 3 Stars. 

I enjoyed this for the most part, but did have some issues with it. I didn’t like that Shane wasn’t really apologetic at all about what he did to Scarlet in the past. He kind of just excused himself for being a dumb teenager and didn’t own up to how much he hurt her. I felt like she was justified in not trusting him right away. I also thought there was way too much focus on the physical relationship. It made the relationship seem a little cheap. However, as the story went on, I did start to ship Shane and Scarlet and there were some cute and funny moments.

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Something New by Amanda Abram. Read June 25-27. 3 Stars.

This had some cute moments, but the book was far longer than it needed to be. I was pretty bored with it most of the time, but decided to push through. I did like Dylan and Cassie together, though.

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

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My Calamity Jane (The Lady Janies #3) by The Lady Janies. I was so excited when my library hold came in for this, but I found myself really bored after the first couple chapters. I read several other books and just never felt the desire to come back to this before the library hold expired. I would like to try it again some day, though.

*****DNF*****

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Drummer Girl by Ginger Scott. DNF @ 38%. I wasn’t in the right mood to read something so angsty. I also found the characters pretty unlikable. I just don’t see myself caring enough to finish this.

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

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In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – 4 Stars

Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell – 4 Stars

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – 3 Stars

WWW Wednesday: June 17, 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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In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren, Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell, and The House Guest by Mark Edwards. Three 4 star books in a row. Book slump, what?

What are you currently reading?

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Faked by Karla Sorensen. I’ve been looking forward to this one and hoping it lives up to expectations.

What do you think you’ll read next?

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My free Kindle Unlimited subscription ends after Saturday (fingers crossed I can find another deal to keep it going) and I’m going to try to squeeze in Rich Prick by Tijan and The Player Next Door by K.A. Tucker.

What are you reading?

My COVID-19 ARC TBR

How is everyone doing? I personally think the world is overreacting right now, but I’ll still stay home and follow the guidelines the government and health officials put forth. I mean, I’ve been practicing social distancing all my life, so it’s not really a big deal. I am on administrative leave / working remotely for at least the next three weeks so that means plenty of time for reading! I plan on working through my ARCs:

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Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

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Admission by Julie Buxbaum

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By the Book by Amanda Sellet

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Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson

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The Wife Who Knew Too Much by Michele Campbell

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The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

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The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Bright Lands by John Fram

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The Vacation by T.M. Logan

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Louisiana Lucky by Julie Pennell

What’s on your COVID-19 TBR?

Review: The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

In Toulouse, Louisiana finding your one true love happens sometime around high school. If you’re lucky, he might be the man you thought he was. But as four friends are about to find out, not every girl has luck on her side in this charming debut novel perfect for fans of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Desperate Housewives.

Laura Landry’s quarterback husband was her ticket out of Toulouse. But when a devastating football injury sidelines him, they’re forced to move back to the small town she was so desperate to leave. As Brian starts drinking instead of rehabbing his knee, Laura must reevaluate what her future looks like…and if it includes her husband.

For years, Madison Blanchette has been waiting for bad-boy musician Cash Romero to commit to her. When wealthy George Dubois asks her out, she figures she may as well wait in style. Life with George means weekend trips to New Orleans, gourmet meals, and expensive gifts. At first she loves how George’s affection sparks Cash’s jealousy, but when George proposes to Madison, she finds herself torn between two men…

All Claire Thibodeaux wants is to be the perfect wife and mother. If she can do everything right she won’t end up like her mom, a divorced, single parent trying to make ends meet. But when Claire’s husband Gavin, a well-respected local pastor, starts spending late nights at work and less time in their bed, she can’t help but fear that history is about to repeat itself…

Gabrielle Vaughn never thought she’d end up with someone like her fiancé. The son of a prominent congressman, Tony Ford is completely out of her league—which is why she lied to him about everything from having a college degree to the dark truth about her family. She knows she has to come clean, but how do you tell the love of your life that your entire relationship is a lie?

As these young wives come together to help each other through life, love, and heartbreak, they discover that there are no easy answers when it comes to matters of the heart.

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

The Young Wives Club will be available February 14, 2017.

I had such a hard time putting this book down! It’s a really character-driven story about friendship and relationships and learning from your mistakes. The chapters switch POV between four young women and the relationship and life troubles they face.

*While I don’t consider any of the below descriptions a spoiler, some readers might find it mildly spoiler-ish, so proceed with caution*

Gabrielle

Gabrielle was probably my favorite of the bunch. However, her problem is one of my pet peeves in books, which is when one simple conversation could solve all the problems, but that conversation doesn’t come until close to the end of the book. Gabby has had a hard life and when she meets a nice, cute guy in a bar she lies a little about her life. (I loved Tony, by the way. He was so sweet and pretty much just the perfect guy – I was just waiting for him to do something awful because no guy can be that great.) She doesn’t expect to see him again, but she does and they fall in love and the lies spin out of control. The truth about Gabby, obviously, has to come out some time, though. I still didn’t like how Gabby handled it, but I did like how it all resolved in the end.

Madison

Madison was probably the hardest of the girls for me to like. She was one of the youngest, recently graduated from high school, and had the most growing up to do. She’s in a non-committed relationship with the clichéd bad boy musician, has no real future goals, her dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer, and her family is approaching financial crisis. When her dad’s former boss, George, comes to visit and shows a bit of an interest in her, she decides to milk it. While they both know what she’s doing, it still came across as a little too manipulative to me. But on the other hand, George is in his early thirties so I can’t feel too bad for what he puts himself through by pursuing a teenaged girl.

While Madison was probably the most selfish character of the group, she did grow up a little as the story went on. I did really like her close relationship with her father. I also liked how her relationship with George ended up.

Claire

I really wanted to like Claire and I did for the most part, but I just didn’t respect her for so much of the story. She is the wife of a pastor, who is running a mega-church, even though he’s in his very early twenties. Claire is also very involved in the church. When she finds out that Gavin is doing very un-pastor-like things, she doesn’t confront him, but starts to question what she did wrong and then blames a third party, as well. When the confrontation finally comes with Gavin I still wasn’t satisfied with it. There was very little emphasis about what this meant to his job as a pastor or to their church or the members of the congregation. In fact, we never even find out if there’s any fall out, other than what it means to their marriage. I’m just disappointed that once again the Christian faith is so poorly misrepresented in mainstream fiction.

Laura

Laura dropped out of high school to marry and follow her football star boyfriend to college. She’s planned her whole life around him becoming a professional player, but all that is put in jeopardy when he gets hurt and they have to move back home with his parents. Laura is another character who had so much growing up to do and I think she made the most progress. She decided to go back to high school and get her diploma. While there she befriends a new guy who challenges her academically and makes her really start to consider having her own goals and not just following Brian’s. Though she wasn’t my favorite of the girls, her story arc was. Not everything turns out perfectly, but it seemed the most realistic and I was really proud of all she learned.

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed The Young Wives Club (and it’s gorgeous cover!). It’s a well-written, character-driven story that I could hardly put down. Though the characters weren’t always very likable, I really appreciated how much growth all of them showed throughout the book. I also really liked that things didn’t just magically work out for all of them, but they had to work at it and learn to be ok if things in their life turned out a little differently than they expected. I definitely recommend this to fans of character-driven novels.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

4 stars

Reviewing the Unreviewed: November 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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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Read November 4-6. 4 Stars.

Most of this book was around a 3 star read for me, but I’m upping it up to 4 stars for a couple reasons. The writing is very good. It was clever and I liked the style. The last third or so of the book is when it started to get trippy and I really started to enjoy it.

So what about up until then? The book, while unique, reminds me of bits and pieces of several other things (primarily the tv show, Fringe), so I wasn’t surprised by things I think I was supposed to be surprised by. The whole middle section of the book I found redundant and just wanted to get through. The science was really beyond me at times and I think it could have been a little more simplified. So overall, it was a good book, but it did not come close to living up to the hype for me. It does have great writing, though, and ended well, so I think it’s still probably worth the read.

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The Honeymoon Prize (The Honeymoon Series #3) by Melissa McClone. Read November 6-7. 3 Stars.

Nothing was holding my interest and I wanted something cute and quick and this was just what I needed. It was a good fake relationship story with likable characters and no graphic scenes. The ending got a little too cheesy, but overall I enjoyed it.

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The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell. Read November 11-12. 4 Stars.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Young Wives Club (and it’s gorgeous cover!). It’s a well-written, character-driven story that I could hardly put down. Though the characters weren’t always very likable, I really appreciated how much growth all of them showed throughout the book. I also really liked that things didn’t just magically work out for all of them, but they had to work at it and learn to be ok if things in their life turned out a little differently than they expected. I definitely recommend this to fans of character-driven novels. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Read November 13-16. 3.5 Stars.

I really enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s writing and the whimsy. I shipped the romance (even though we all know it was destined to shipwreck). I enjoyed the book, but I don’t really feel like anything HAPPENED until the last quarter or so of the book and then it happened too quickly. I wanted a little more time spent with Catherine growing into the “Off with his head!” persona. The story, for the most part, was an insta-love romance interspersed with the characters having some random fun in a Wonderland setting. Because of that, even though I enjoyed it, I just can’t quite give it a 4 star rating. I think Wonderland fans will enjoy it, as will fans of Marissa Meyer’s other work.

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For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles #2) by Lauren Layne Read November 26-27. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the banter and how Josh and Heather’s relationship progressed throughout the story. The whole commitment-phobe/player and friends with benefits plotlines are overdone and not really my cup of tea, but I could overlook it for how cute everything else was. I’m reading this series backwards and while the books do work as standalones, I do feel like I have a lot more insight into Logan and Alexis who star in the third book and may have to go back and re-read that one to better appreciate it.

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The Christmas Cottage (The Christmas Cottage #1) by Samantha Chase. Read November 27-28. 3 Stars.

I really liked Ean and Lacey. They really complemented each other well and I shipped the romance, though I did think things happened too fast. While Ava being a crazy bridezilla worked for the story, I thought it was a little too overdone and she came across as just a really unbalanced person. It makes me not want to read the next book in the series because she’s the main character in it. Overall, though, this was a cute, quick holiday-themed romance that I enjoyed.

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

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The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer. I still have this from the library for a few more days, but I don’t think that I’ll get back to it before it expires. I was really optimistic about this book, but I got two chapters into and it’s just awful! I want to give it another try, though, to see if it gets any better.

****************RE-READS****************

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Aimee and the Heartthrob and Mia and the Bad Boy. I got the complete series from NetGalley. I’ve read the first two books in the series before and decided to re-read them since it had been awhile. I feel pretty much the same about them as I did the first time, though I think I liked Mia and the bad Boy a little more than I did last time.