Reviewing the Unreviewed: August 2017

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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How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst. Read August 1-5. 2.5 Stars.

I really wanted to like this book. It definitely looks like it would be just my type. Unfortunately, it just didn’t really work for me. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Only You (Bachelor Brotherhood #1) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 5-6. 4 Stars. 

I loved this! Holly and Kevin were such likable characters and I absolutely loved them together. Though everything happened very fast, I really enjoyed watching their relationship progress. With a large focus on family and a few zany characters this reminded me a lot of a Kristan Higgins book, who is my favorite Romance author. I realized that I have a couple of this author’s books that I’ve never read before and I am remedying that right away.

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The Substitute (The Wedding Pact #1) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 6-8. 3 Stars. 

I really enjoyed the fake relationship aspects to this story. There were lots of humorous and slightly uncomfortable moments. I thought the book was a little too long, though, and while I liked Megan and Josh I never really fell in love with them. I didn’t like this as much as the other book I’ve read by this author, but I’m still going to try out some of her other books.

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The Player (The Wedding Pact #2) by Denise Grover Swank. Read August 8-13. 2.5 Stars.

I really enjoyed parts of this. I like the 2nd chance romance trope and thought it was done pretty well here. I liked Garrett. Blair was just so, SO unlikable, though! I hated her in the first book of the series and thought being in her head this time around would make me understand her behavior, but it didn’t. Sure, she was hurt in the past, but I don’t think that can completely excuse how bitchy she was to everyone, including her best friends who were always there for her. I was going to give this 3 stars, but the more I think about Blair, the more it brings the whole story down for me, so I’m going with 2.5.

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Blue Ridge Sunrise (Blue Ridge Romance #1) by Denise HunterRead August 13-15. 3 Stars.

This was just a little uneven for me. While I did really enjoy Zoe and Cruz’s relationship, some romance tropes that I don’t really like were employed and kind of dampened my experience. I know that some people really love those type of storylines though, so I can see many readers eating the whole thing up with a smile. I also thought that for being Christian Fiction it was really light on the Christian. Again, not something that will bother everybody. This wasn’t my favorite Denise Hunter book, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. I liked it enough that I want to continue the series. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Textrovert by Lindsey Summers. Read August 18-19. 3 Stars. 

I originally got this from NetGalley, but the ARC didn’t format well on my Nook and all the texts were missing. Since the texts are obviously an important part of the story, I didn’t end up reading it then. It finally came to my library, though, and I was excited . Keely was mostly likable, but was kind of frustrating a lot of times. There were several very cute moments between her and Talon, but I thought Talon was a little too much of a jerk to really ever love him. I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and left a several storylines kind of open-ended. Overall, it was a cute quick and easy read, but it’s not one I plan on ever picking up again.

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Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read August 20. 3.5 Stars. 

This book ended up being much different than I thought it would be. It wasn’t quite the cute read I was expecting, but I still ended up really appreciating it. I loved the style it was written in. The POV switched between Hope and her biggest rival Parker and we even got one POV chapter from Brady, the guy in the middle. It was a little jarring at first because from Hope’s POV we are to hate Parker and even though I thought Hope was way over-dramatic and too boy-crazy, I did kind of hate Parker. But then we get Parker’s POV and realize she’s nothing like Hope thinks. I thought it was a great way to show how we judge people very easily without really knowing what’s happening behind closed doors. There is one thing I really liked that I’m giving it the extra half star for and it’s a spoiler.

***SPOILER ALERT***SPOILER ALERT***

While I am a sucker for a cute romance, sometimes I think it would be nice to see the girl NOT get the guy (or vice versa) once in awhile. And that’s what happens here! Hope is hopelessly infatuated with Brady and convinces herself that he likes her too, even though he’s dating Parker. But as the book goes on we find out that Brady does care about Hope, but only as a best friend and nothing more. She realizes unrequited love is not the worst thing in the world and they remain friends. He and Parker also break up and the book ends with both of our leading ladies single and doing fine. This is definitely a rare occurrence in YA Contemporary and I loved it.

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Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg. Read August 20-22. 4 Stars. 

Super cute YA Pride and Prejudice re-telling. I really liked the main characters and all the “big moments” from Pride and Prejudice that I expect to see in a re-telling were represented. The only thing I didn’t really like was the reason behind Elizabeth being bullied at school. It was so shallow and not very realistic. If you like YA and Jane Austen re-tellings I think you will definitely enjoy this one.

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A Charmed Little Lie (Charmed in Texas #1) by Sharla Lovelace. Read August 22-24. 3 Stars. 

There were lots of cute things about this book and lots of humorous moments. I liked Laine and Nick together. There was just something missing for me, though. I thought some of the things Laine did were unrealistic – and I’m not even talking about the fake relationship part – and cringe-worthy. I liked it enough, though, that I would read more from this author.

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Walk of Shame (Love Unexpectedly #4) by Lauren Layne. Read August 24-26. 4 Stars. 

Ridiculously cute. I loved Georgie and Andrew’s relationship and their banter and how darn cute they were together. I did get frustrated with Georgie, though. This is not the first book by Lauren Layne I’ve read where the female lead acts like everything she does is perfectly justified and gives the male lead crap for acting differently. It really annoyed me that Georgie would provoke him and then get mad when he didn’t respond the way she wanted. Other than that, though, and the few slightly too graphic scenes, I really enjoyed this book.

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Everywhere that Mary Went (Rosato & Associates #1) by Lisa Scottoline. Read August 26-27. 3.5 Stars.

It started out a little slow for me and got a little slow in the middle so that’s why I couldn’t quite give it 4 stars. I did enjoy it, though. Mary frustrated me some, but I liked her. I think after hearing Lisa Scottoline speak in person, I was better able to appreciate Mary. I thought the conclusion of the mystery was pretty good. I hadn’t suspected it at all, but it made sense. I’m seriously considering spending money and buying the next book in the series because there’s a really long wait for it at the library.

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The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary #1) by Kristen Lepionka. Read August 27-29. 4 Stars. 

I really enjoyed this book. There were several clichéd things about it that I thought would kind of ruin it for me, but it didn’t. The main character is an abrasive, alcoholic detective with daddy issues. She is set apart a little from this character cliché by being a PI instead of with the police and is bisexual. The resolution of the mystery was very similar to at least two books I’ve read this year. Despite those things, I did not want to put the book down. It was pretty perfectly paced in regards to both the mystery aspect and to Roxane’s personal relationships and character development. Even though there was plenty about her I didn’t like, she still somehow ended up being a likable character. I also really liked that this was set in Ohio. I am definitely looking forward to reading more Roxane Weary books.

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Summer of Mystery (Authors)

Every booknerd loves a signed book. The only thing better than a signed book is getting the opportunity to get it signed in person. This summer I had the opportunity to do that with three incredible authors.

Linda Castillo

Linda is the author of the Kate Burkholder series and was in town for her latest book, Down a Dark Road, which I attended with my dad. The series is set in Ohio and Linda’s book tour always stops in the area. This was my fourth time getting to see her and it is always a wonderful time. I always love hearing about her inspiration for the books and her path to getting published. This particular tour stop has become my new favorite because when I went to get my book signed she remembered my name before I even said anything!

Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter was in the Cleveland area for her new book The Good Daughter and I attended it with my Book Buddy, Amanda. One of the first books I reviewed on this blog was one of Karin’s Will Trent books. I didn’t know it was part of a series when I started reading it, but once it was done I had to go back and read the rest of the series and thus discovered a new favorite author. Karin spoke of her childhood and how she started writing (stories about her sisters being mutilated lol). In regards to The Good Daughter in particular she shared that the inspiration for Gamma was one of her old English teachers. She also shared that both the Will Trent series and Cop Town has been optioned for tv series. I asked her if there would be any more books with the characters from this novel and she said no, other than the prequel novella. “The characters have been through enough, don’t you think?”

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline was in the Cleveland area for Exposed, part of her Rosato & DiNunzio series, and I attended it with Amanda. Lisa was a hoot! She had us laughing the whole event. She told a lot of stories about her family and how she got started writing. Before this event I had only read one book by her, One Perfect Lie, but afterward I read the first book in the series that preceded this series (I’ve decided I want to read them all in order, so I haven’t read Exposed yet) and really enjoyed it. Hearing Lisa’s stories and her style of humor really added something to the reading experience and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Read More From

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday (visit the Good Reads group here) is: Authors You Want to Read More From –Talk about some authors that you’ve only read one or a few books from, and you NEED to read more!

Lisa Jewell

1. Lisa Jewell. I’ve read The Girls in the Garden and I Found You and really liked both of them. I love Jewell’s writing and I really need to read more from her.

Lisa Scottoline

2. Lisa Scottoline. I recently read One Perfect Lie and I really want to go back and read some of her others.

Michelle Richmond

3. Michelle Richmond. I’ve only read The Marriage Pact by her so far and I really want to see what else she’s done.

Amy Harmon

4. Amy Harmon. I’ve read Making Faces, The Law of Moses, The Song of David, and A Different Blue. Making Faces was by far my favorite and the other ones didn’t quite live up to that one for me, but I do really enjoy her writing and need to read the rest of her books.
Sarah Addison Allen
5. Sarah Addison Allen. I’ve read Garden Spells and First Frost and they were both 4 star reads for me. I really need to get to some of her other titles.

What authors do you want to read more from?

 

Review: One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He’s applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he’s ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.

But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he’s being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin’s baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon’s wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.

At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

I received an ARC from the publisher via a Good Reads Giveaway. This does not impact my review.

This is my first Lisa Scottoline book and it definitely won’t be my last. The writing was a good mix of mystery and character development and it was really hard to put down.

In the beginning of the book we meet Chris Brennan, who is interviewing for a teaching position. We find out right away that Chris isn’t his real name and all the details of his life he’s sharing are a lie. His plans are slowly unraveled, though we only learn the “what”, not the “why” in the “Step One” section of the book, which is broken up into three steps. I really enjoyed how much Chris’s actions creeped me out. Then there is a nice twist once we get to Step Two that I was not suspecting at all. I love when books can surprise me like that. The only problem is that I don’t really feel like I can talk about it because it would be a big spoiler and I would hate to take the surprise away from other readers. I’ll just say the mystery continues, though with a slightly different focus, and I enjoyed it, though it did seem a little unbelievable at times.

We also get the POV from three mother’s of the students/baseball players Chris initially targets. Mindy is wealthy, mother to popular Evan, and wife of a surgeon who she believes is cheating on her…again. Mindy was kind of hard to like, but as we got to know her more and see what she had to put up with at home I became more forgiving towards her. Susan is a bit of a workaholic, newly widowed, and her two sons are going off the rails a bit after the death of their father. I liked Susan’s overall character arc the most of the three women, but I didn’t always feel like her POV was relevant to the story. Heather is the underemployed single mother of Jordan, a shy kid who is new to varsity baseball, and develops a bit of a crush on Chris.

I thought it was an interesting choice to go with the POV of the mothers instead of their sons, which you think would be a little more relevant to Chris’s plans. However, I really liked it. It helped keep the kids a bit of a mystery while slowly revealing reasons from their home life why they might be the one Chris is looking for.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading One Perfect Lie. It had likable characters and a good mystery. There were a couple times it got a little unbelievable and the dialogue a little cheesy, but for the most part I thought the writing was really good. It might be more of a 3.5 for me, but because there were several surprises that I did not see coming I’m bumping it up to 4. I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars