Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 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. 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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Winging It (Corrigan Falls Raiders #3) by Cate Cameron. Read February 28 – March 1. 3 Stars.

This was a quick, fairly cute read. It was a little more friends-to-love trope than fake-relationship, but since I like both of those, it was ok. I didn’t really care for Natalie. I enjoyed the chapters from Toby more, but he fell a little short of being a character I could really love. Overall, it was a good palate-cleanser from all the more serious books I’ve been reading lately.

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The Rule Book (The Rule Breakers #1) by Jennifer Blackwood. Read March  9-11. 3 Stars.

I really enjoyed pretty much every interaction between Lainey and Brogan in this book. I liked the romance and even all the times Lainey just said really stupid stuff in front of him. There were a lot of humorous moments, too. However, there were a couple things that bothered me. I’m not sure if it’s ever stated how old Brogan is (I think 30 was hinted at it) and Lainey is 24. I know that’s not a huge age difference, but I felt like there was such a difference in their maturity (plus he’s her employer) that the romance almost felt uncomfortable for awhile. (I did get over that eventually, though. Like I said, I liked almost every interaction between them.) My major problem, though, is that if you cut out all of Lainey’s inner-monologues about wanting to do her boss, the book would be about half as long. It just kind of annoyed me. There was a lot of good about the book, though, and it was a cute romance, overall.

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A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab. Read March 12-25. 4 Stars.

I had a lot of issues with the previous book in this series, but I’m really glad I decided to still read this one. As always, Schwab’s writing is excellent. But in addition to that, I feel like the plot was advancing in almost every chapter. Though it did get a little slow at times and there was a great deal that I felt didn’t really have purpose and could have been cut to make the book a little shorter, I still enjoyed the story. I didn’t HATE Lila so much, either. I loved Kell and Holland and Rhy (even though he really frustrated me most of the time). I have a hard time giving this a proper review because I took a week off from reading right in the middle of it due to illness, but overall I thought it was a pretty good end to the series and probably the best book of the three.

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Till Death by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Read March 25-26. 4 Stars.

After being really disappointed in the last few JLA books I’ve read, I’m so happy in how much I enjoyed this. It veered a little more towards romance than suspense, but I was a fan of the romance, so I was ok with it. I really liked both Sasha and Cole and their relationship. I liked the mystery aspect, even though I basically figured out who the bad guy was really early in the book. ***SUPER MILD SPOILER*** There was a really random detail about one of the characters given on early in the story and then nothing was really done with it. It gave a bit of a motive and while it was nice that the killer didn’t come out of left field, it was a little disappointing that it was included so early in the story and – at least to me – done in a really obvious way. ***END OF SPOILER*** Overall, I just really enjoyed it and didn’t want to put it down. It’s restored my faith a bit in JLA.

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The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord. March 27-28. 2.5 Stars.

I have heard from people who are hesitant about this book because there is some religious content. If you are one of those people, I would say you might be slightly annoyed at times, but I don’t think it’s written in a way that will “ruin” the book for you. I have also heard from people who were very happy to see a “realistic” Christian character not be a complete psycho. To those people I would caution to not get too excited. Yes, the main character comes from a religious background and is not awful. However, this is NOT a Christian book and the overall message is not of Christian faith. There are definitely a few themes throughout that is congruent with the Christian faith, but at the end of the day the message is more one of universalism and the goodness of people. I mean, it’s still a hopeful message and is more than is in most YA, but I just want to caution my Christian friends. Full review to come.

Review: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

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This book is another perfect example of how hype can ruin something for you. I didn’t love the first book in this series like so many others did, but I liked it fine. When I read other reviews for this book (ALL glowing, ALL saying it’s even better than the first), I bought into the hype and I find myself severely disappointed in the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a perfectly fine book. But I feel like this review is going to focus much more on why all the hype is wrong than on what was good about it, just because the hype let me down.

*SPOILER*SPOILER*SPOILER*

So here’s a synopsis: Rhy is kind of mad he’s alive. Kell is kind of mad he’s trapped. Lila is learning magic from a pirate/privateer. White London is changing because Black London is helping it out, but it really wants Red London. There’s a magical dueling competition. Kell pouts and puts everyone in danger. Lila thinks she can help and she – abrupt cliffhanger. THE END.

In between is a lot of Lila being selfish and stupid.

***END OF SPOILER***

-Ok, so before we get to what was wrong, let’s focus on what was good. The writing is really top notch. It’s so good that for the first couple hundred pages it completely distracted me from the fact that NOTHING WAS HAPPENING. The writing was good enough to make up for a lot of my problems with this book and is why I’m giving it three stars instead of something lower.

-Other reviews made me think that I would absolutely fall in love with Alucard, but he fell extremely short of my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I liked him. He’s clever and sarcastic and charming and slightly tortured. But I just liked him and didn’t love him like I thought I would.

-I loved getting more of Rhy and I loved how much Rhy and Kell together we got. They were my favorite relationship from the first book and they continue to be my favorite relationship. I would have liked to have seen even more of them, though. I felt like the majority of the POVs were given to Lila…

-…And I really, really dislike Lila. I didn’t like her in the first book, though she grew on me towards the end. In this installment I didn’t mind her in the beginning, but as time went on her selfishness and recklessness just made me ANGRY. I do not find her in any way likable or relatable and by about halfway through the book I found myself wishing the author would kill her off. (That’s right, I said it.)

-For the sake of fiction and fantasy, I can read books about Greek gods and witches and magic and etc, even though I obviously don’t believe in those things. In this book the vast majority worship magic. So, ok, not cool for me, but it’s fantasy, so whatever. What really bothered me, though, were the several times the characters straight up mocked Christianity. I found it offensive and unnecessary.

Overall, this book was fine, but I think all the glowing 5 star reviews I’ve read about it kind of ruined it for me. I really enjoyed the beginning and I started to enjoy it again towards the end, but the slow pace and lack of plot development made me really have to push myself through the middle. The writing is fantastic, though, and if you loved the first book, you’ll probably feel similar about this one. Though I know it doesn’t sound like I liked this book all that much, I do plan on continuing the series in the future.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars

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