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.

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?

Review: The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

In this spellbinding and suspenseful debut, a young woman haunted by the past returns home to care for her ailing mother and begins to dig deeper into her sister’s unsolved murder.

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

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

The Winter Sister will be available February 5, 2019. 

I’m sorry to say that this one did not live up to my expectations. I’ve seen some great reviews for The Winter Sister mentioning the beautiful writing and shocking secrets and both fell a little flat for me.

The story is not really anything new. Nothing at all about the mystery plot line surprised me in any way. However, where the book shined was in the interpersonal relationships. Even though Sylvie and her mother, Annie, drove me crazy, their dysfunctional relationship was kind of fascinating. Annie’s story of toxic love and the emotional and psychological impact of it to not just her, but her children was compelling and frustrating. The only character that I really liked was Ben and I mostly just felt sorry for him, too.

Overall, The Winter Sister was just not for me. I was looking for a mystery and surprising twists, but it ended up being much more domestic drama. The writing wasn’t bad, but it didn’t blow me away, either. I also found the ending a little more open-ended then I prefer. Most people have seemed to enjoy this one much more than I did, though, so it still might be worth your time to check out, especially if you are interested in more domestic driven stories.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

2018 End of Year Survey

This annual survey was developed by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner.

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**2018 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read: 147
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Thriller and Romance/Contemporary
**These are the stats as of 12/26/18, it’s likely to go up by one or two before the end of the year

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

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I can’t pick one, so here are the three that I gave 4.5 Stars in 2018: Close to Home by Cara Hunter, Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

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My Plain Jane by the Lady Janies. I absolutely adored My Lady Jane and I expected to love this one just as much, but it was probably my biggest disappointment of the year.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

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I mean come on, does Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter look like a book I would enjoy? But I totally did enjoy it. I read it in a day and laughed all the way through it.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

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So I don’t actually feel like I pushed many books on people this year. I will say that I told my mother about Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and then when I started sharing some quotes with her she said she wanted to read it so I bought it for her for Christmas.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

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Started: Beartown by Fredrik Backman, Sequel:  What You want to See (Roxane Weary #2) by Kristen Lepionka, Ender On Magnolia Lane (Blue Ridge #3) by Denise Hunter.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Cara Hunter and Fredrik Backman

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant. I don’t read a lot of horror and while I had my issues with this one, I mostly enjoyed it.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

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I can’t really think of any books that were really action-packed, so I’m going with one of my re-reads for this year, Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown.

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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Beartown

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

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The Promise (DS Imogen Grey #4) by Katerina Diamond

11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Benji from Beartown

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

I mean, not to sound like a broken record, but Beartown. 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

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There were a lot of good lessons in the The Faithful devotional.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

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Without Merit by Colleen Hoover. Brandie bought me a copy for my birthday in 2017 and it was almost a year later before I read it and I really enjoyed it.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

“When we decide that boundaries are needed, they can be hard to set – and maintain – if we doubt ourselves and our assessment of the situation. Survivors often wonder if they are overreacting or being too sensitive…Another reason setting boundaries is difficult to do? We internally worry that we are withholding forgiveness and staying resentful. Boundaries have nothing to do with forgiveness or resentment. They have everything to do with the quality of our interactions with the people in our lives.” – Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

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Shortest: My Sweet Friend by H.A. Leuschel

Longest: Oblivion by JLA (this was a re-read!)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

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The subtle twist at the end of Our House by Louise Candlish is probably my favorite shock of the year.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

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Bellarke forever!!! This is more about the show than the book, but I’m counting it.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

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The group of friends in My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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The Smallest Part by Amy Harmon

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

Have to go with Beartown again. I wouldn’t have ever picked it up if Brandie hadn’t lent it to me.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

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Chase from One Small Thing by Erin Watt.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

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Iron Gold (Red Rising #4) by Pierce Brown

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Let’s Get Textual by Tegan Hunter.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

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Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

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The Paris Wedding by Charlotte Nash.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beartown and Us Against You

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi. I was so excited for this series to continue, but the majority of this book was just the characters taking major steps back and rehashing old drama. It seemed like really lazy writing and it made me mad because I expect more from this author.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I always feel too bad to answer these questions. Add to that I always forget how long I’ve been following someone, so I’m going to skip this question. I love you all, though!

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

Favorite Mysteries and Thrillers

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

This beautiful book-themed cake my former co-worker made me for my goodbye party.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

This year I went to events for Linda Castillo, Karin Slaughter, and Linwood Barclay and they were all fun.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I hit over 1,000 blog posts and reached over 1,000 followers.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Due to real life, I ended up taking two month-long (or almost month-long) hiatuses.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

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My review of Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I mean, honestly, all of them.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I don’t really feel like I made a bookish discovery this year?

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did the Good Reads reading challenge with a goal of 105 books and I surpassed that (147 at the time of writing this, but it will probably go up before the end of the year).

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

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I don’t think it will be my number one priority, but I really wanted to read Archenemies by Marissa Meyer. I got it from the library, but my hold came in at a bad time and it expired before I got to it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

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Dark Age (Red Rising #5) by Pierce Brown

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

Review more books. It feels like I only properly review ARCS and a few select other books and I want to get back into reviewing the majority of what I read again.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

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My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing and I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella