Reviewing the Unreviewed: January 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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Slow Dance in Purgatory (Purgatory #1) by Amy Harmon. Read December 29 – January 2. 3 Stars.

This was not my favorite Harmon book. I liked the characters and the premise was interesting enough, I just couldn’t really get into it. I’ll read the next book, but I’m not in a bug hurry to do so.

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Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10) by Agatha Christie. Read January 3-5. 4 Stars. 

My first Agatha Christie novel and I will definitely need to read more from her. I really enjoyed the writing style. The mystery was good, the characters were fun, and I was not expecting at all how funny it was. It did drag a little bit here and there for me, but I love how all the mundane details ended up being important as everything was revealed at the end.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Read January 6-10. 3 Stars. 

I think I am just not really a fan of these type of books anymore. I really enjoyed reading about the characters in this, but everything else was so “meh” for me. I didn’t really care that much about the magic or the Wood or the fighting or the ENDLESS description. I was going to give this a lower rating, but I’m bumping it up to three stars because I think this is mostly a case of “it’s me, not you.”

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. Read January 10-12. 4 Stars. 

Though I didn’t like this one quite as much as McManus’ previous book, I still really enjoyed it. I liked the characters and the small town setting. While the very first person I suspected did end up being the killer, I did suspect a couple other options throughout the story and there was one unrelated twist that I hadn’t suspected, so I liked that. This was definitely a fun book and I look forward to whatever this author writes next.

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A Killer’s Mind (Zoe Bentley Mystery #1) by Mike Omer. Read January 12-14. 4 Stars. 

I liked this. I thought it was well-plotted, had likable characters, and was sometimes funny. The writing was pretty good, but there were a few parts here and there where the dialogue felt a little off. However, I enjoyed it all enough to give this four stars and would definitely be interested in reading the next book in the series.

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House of Secrets by Lowell Cauffiel. Read January 14-19. 3 Stars.

This was definitely a hard book to read. I’ve heard mention of the Sexton family a lot over the years, as this all happened close to where I live, but I never really knew the details. It is a horrifying story of abuse, incest, murder, and paranoia. I just felt so awful for the poor kids of this family and everything they were subjected to. As for the book itself, it felt a little disjointed and a lot of the details, especially earlier on, didn’t seem necessary. I don’t actually read a lot of true crime, so I’m not sure if the way a lot of this just seemed like conjecture is normal of the genre.

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Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey. Read January 21-22. 4 Stars.

Despite a few too graphic scenes, I really enjoyed this book. I had kind of decided this author wasn’t for me, but since I currently have Kindle Unlimited I decided to give her another try. I started one book and took a hard pass after the first chapter and decided I would just try out this one before returning them, but then I couldn’t put it down. I really liked both the main characters and how their relationship developed. I also really loved Bailey’s sister, Josie. I thought the end was a little too rushed, but overall it was cute and addictive and really fed my Contemporary craving.

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

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On Thin Ice (Juniper Falls #3) by Julie Cross – 4 Stars

Romancing His Rival (Accidentally Yours #3) by Jennifer Shirk – 3.5 Stars

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary – 4 Stars

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

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

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1. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus. January 8, 2019.

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2. Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills. January 15, 2019.

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3. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, January 29, 2019.

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4. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. January 29, 2019.

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5. Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. February 5, 2019.

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6. Huge Deal by Lauren Layne. February 12, 2019.

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7. What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon. March 1, 2019.

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8. Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett. April 16, 2019.

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9. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. April 23, 2019.

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10. Fumbled my Alexa Martin. April 23, 2019.

What books are you looking forward to this year?

Top 5 Wednesday: 2018 Wishlist

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday, hosted by the Good Reads group, is:  2018 Wishlist – Looking forward into the new year, this is a list of the types of books you’d like to see more of in 2018! Try to avoid actual titles, and discuss themes, genres, or tropes you’d like to see more of in the new year!

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1. Books w/in books. What’s better than reading one book? Reading two! This year I’ve read a couple of books that did this really well (Lies She Told by Cate Holahan and The Weight of Lies by Emily Carpenter) and I would love to read more like them.

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2. Realistic Christian characters. Most of the time if a mainstream book includes a “Christian” character it portrays them as some kind of hypocritical psycho. And sure there are lots of people who claim to be Christians who really are hypocritical psychos, but there are many genuine people out there, as well. In 2018 I’d like to see more of the genuine people. I thought Amy Harmon did this really well with Making Faces.

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3. Well-written twists and surprises (that actually surprise me)I feel like I can almost always predict the twist in books these days and in 2017 I was pleasantly surprised by several books (such Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton,  One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus and The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – which actually publishes in 2018).

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4. Fake Relationships. This is my favorite romance trope and I am always on the look out for a good fake relationship story. This year’s favorite was When It’s Real by Erin Watt.

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5. Alternative FormattingSometimes this annoys me because I read e-books about 95% of the time and lots of alternative formatting makes things unreadable, but I do love them in physical format. Even though I wasn’t blown away by the actual story, I really loved the formatting for Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.

What type of books are on your 2018 Wishlist?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017. Here are mine, in no particular order (all links go to my review – Yes, I actually wrote proper reviews on all of these books!):

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1. Ragdoll by Daniel Cole

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2. Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton

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3. Making Faces by Amy Harmon

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4. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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5. Now You See Me by SJ Bolton (AKA: Sharon Bolton)

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6. Dating You/Hating You by Christian Lauren

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7. Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

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8. The Secret by Katerina Diamond

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9. One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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10. When It’s Real by Erin Watt

What are some of your favorite books you read this year?

Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

This is a book that I have been looking forward to for a long time and I’m so happy to report that it not only lived up to my expectations, but surpassed them.

I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts on this so I’m just going to list it all out.

-I’m really glad that we got all 4 POVs. I really felt like I got to know all the characters and connect with them. The story is really character driven and each of the Bayview Four showed tremendous growth throughout the book. I liked all of the characters, especially Cooper and Nate, (though it did take me a little while to warm up to Addy) and really appreciated how different they all were and how the situation changed them all for the better (cue Breakfast Club reference). My only complaint with it is that they are all told in 1st person and their voices are not that unique. There were a few times (when there were two or more of the characters in the same scene) that I forgot which POV I was reading.

-The mystery was clever and well plotted. I honestly was not expecting to be at all surprised, but I was. There were parts that I suspected, but the full reveal was something I hadn’t guessed and I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I didn’t figure out what was happening long before it was revealed. I also loved that there are clues all along the way so the answer doesn’t come out of left field.

-I shipped Bronwyn and Nate so hard!! I loved watching their old acquaintance turn into friendship and then turn into more. They were so cute together (even though I’m sure Nate would hate being described as cute) and I loved every scene that had the two of them in it. There were a few times where it felt like maybe the romantic storyline was taking a little more center stage than the mystery (especially in the epilogue), but I just loved them so much that I don’t really care.

-There is a part where Buffy the Vampire Slayer is referred to as a “retro vampire show” and I have never felt so old.

-Family love. I liked that each character had at least one present and supportive family member. So often in YA the families are either mostly absent or completely awful, but not here. There were still some parental awfulness, but there was a lot more positive family relationships portrayed. I especially loved Addy’s sister, Ashton, and Bronwyn’s sister, Maeve.

Overall, I loved One of Us Is Lying. It’s a very impressive debut with a well plotted mystery and amazing character development. This is definitely one that I recommend and know that I will be re-reading it in the future. I really look forward to reading whatever McManus writes next.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars