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Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica

Mini-Review: Don’t You Cry – Mary KubicaTitle: Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Publishing Info: May 17, 2016 by Harlequin
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 31, 2017
Related Posts: The Good Girl, Pretty Baby

In downtown Chicago, Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her roommate Quinn Collins to question how well she really knew her friend. Meanwhile, in a small town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more sinister.

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under the stranger's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us.

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I’ve recently started in on Mary Kubica’s books in the last year or two and they’ve all been interesting thrillers. DON’T YOU CRY was the next book of hers on my list and I started it around Halloween to keep up with my spooky reading vibes!

DON’T YOU CRY was probably my least favorite Kubica book so far. The ending ended up being interesting but there was far less suspense, action, and intrigue than her previous books, in my opinion. I was kind of bored with the story line for a while and without knowing where it was going, I lost a little interest. Once it finally all came full circle, I did enjoy the ending and felt like most everything was resolved. I wasn’t fully satisfied with some of the rationale and I did miss some of the more psychological aspects involved in Kubica’s previous books. This still has some mind-messing but it was in a different way.

Multiple POVs are typical for Mary Kubica books but Alex’s POV felt a little more removed than usual, like he was too much of a secondary character, not being an actual player in the story itself until the end of the book. I felt like I wasn’t as involved as I usually was and this one just didn’t seem as cohesive as her previous books, and those pieces that come together at the end seemed a little too spread apart in this one.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Psychological thrillers. I’m a sucker for a good psychological thriller and I’ll always pick them up! I enjoy Mary Kubica’s books and even though this wasn’t my favorite, it was still enjoyable.
Left Me Wanting More: Movement. This one just didn’t seemed like it moved as much as I had hoped. There were some suspenseful moments but I hit some lulls.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you enjoy Mary Kubica’s books, or books like GONE GIRL or THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, I think these books will be a hit!

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BOOKS LIKE DON’T YOU CRY

          

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: ALAAC17, Amazon, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 13, 2017
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

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Every Maggie Stiefvater read is such a unique experience and it’s something I love and wholly appreciate. It does, however, lead to some unpredictability for whether I’ll be wholly invested and re-read the book a million times (THE SCORPIO RACES, THE RAVEN CYCLE) or just really not connect with it (SHIVER). Unfortunately, ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS was not a hit for me.

This book is absolutely character driven, as are all of Maggie’s books that I’ve read, but this book was SO character-driven that I didn’t really feel like there was much of a plot. That’s okay — I don’t always need that — but I needed it with this book, especially with so much magical realism in the concept of miracles and how that affected all of the characters.

I was especially sad that I didn’t connect with really any of the characters. The potential was there but there were so many that the focus got spread out and we didn’t get to see that core development that I love so much. No wait. Strike that — because there are tons of characters in The Raven Cycle and I still love every single one of them, even the freakin’ crazy ones. So yeah… I guess it just wasn’t there for me.

The concept was interesting but ultimately didn’t take me anywhere and I didn’t feel like I got anything special from the book. I’m glad I read it because it’s Maggie and I will read whatever she writes but I’m pretty bummed with this one. At least with SHIVER I could tell it was more the concept of wolves that I wasn’t loving but this didn’t seem to really move, even for a character-driven book.

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on


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Kept Me Hooked On: Reading outside of my comfort zone. I definitely wouldn’t have picked this one up if it wasn’t Maggie Stiefvater. While The Raven Cycle and THE SCORPIO RACES are also in the realm of magical realism, this book bore a different feel of the genre and it’s not one I usually connect with.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I don’t need ACTION for a book to be enjoyable but I just kind of felt like I didn’t understand what the end goal was of this book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s Maggie, so it’s worth trying, but I think you’ll know right from the start whether you’ll enjoy it or not. I tried to see if I would enjoy it more along the way and it just didn’t come together for me.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS

          

Mini-Review: The Demon’s Lexicon (The Demon’s Lexicon #1) – Sarah Rees Brennan

Mini-Review: The Demon’s Lexicon (The Demon’s Lexicon #1) – Sarah Rees BrennanTitle: The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publishing Info: June 2, 2009 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 23, 2017
Related Posts: Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1)

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again.
Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long.

Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

This is the Demon's Lexicon. Turn the page.

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I read THE DEMON’S LEXICON on audio before Halloween (well, long before Halloween — in September) when I was in the mood for paranormal/urban fantasy/horror reads so it’s been a while since I’ve read it but I’ve also put off writing the review for a while because it wasn’t as stand-out of a book as I had expected and I didn’t quite know what to say.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book but I was expecting a fun urban fantasy feel and I wasn’t let down in that respect! It was actually a little more fun than I had expected with some nice banter, and interesting family dynamic, and some concepts that actually reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s novels in a way. I’m not exactly sure how but it just had that sort of feel.

The book had its ups and downs, full of some really interesting twists but it also hit some slow spots too. It actually felt more like the writing style rather than the actual plot/book slowing down, but still my interest starting waning once I started losing speed.

I really liked how the end played out and there were a lot of things that really surprised me! The story was really interesting and the reveals were perfect… And yet still, I don’t really feel drawn to continue the series. I found that the second book switches POVs to a character that I don’t really care about and I was invested in these two brothers which was half of the reason I was reading. I meant to start the second book right after and pushed it aside so I’m not sure that I’ll ever get to it.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Urban Fantasy. Urban fantasy is very hit-or-miss with me. Some I LOVE and others I really don’t care for. This was a fun one and it hit the mark!
Left Me Wanting More: Momentum. Things slowed down every once in a while and the pacing seemed to lose my interest. If it had kept going, it would have been even better!

Addiction Rating
Consider it

I enjoyed reading this book but I don’t feel driven to continue the series so it’s a tough one to recommend. I wasn’t disappointed with my read and  yet, if I don’t feel like continuing the series, I’m not sure if I’d tell someone to go out and pick it up!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DEMON’S LEXICON

          

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria Schwab

I’ve been very hit-or-miss with Victoria/V.E. Schwab but my friends loved this series so I wanted to give it a shot! It made it easy to read with my library having copies of the first audiobook and I ended up purchasing the second to finish it out.

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: July 5, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 17, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I wrote a pretty quick collection of thoughts on Goodreads and since it’s been quite a few months since I actually read the book, it’s interesting to read these thoughts and look back on my experience reading the book… which is that I don’t remember as much as I had hoped. THIS SAVAGE SONG was a solid read, but it didn’t really stay with me. The book kind of had a feel like THE 5TH WAVE except more of a paranormal/urban fantasy concept with monsters instead of aliens. (I mean, it’s not a direct comparison because a lot is different but that kind of post-apocalyptic feel is there.)

I was entertained the whole way though and I enjoyed the characters of August and Kate. I really liked Kate’s toughness and I appreciated August’s situation but I was always left feeling like I wanted a little more background. It’s only a two-book series so I was hoping there would be more world-building and set-up included in THIS SAVAGE SONG and there wasn’t, so I was left waiting for that in book two.

Series Review: Monsters of Verity duology by Victoria SchwabTitle: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 19, 2017
Related Posts: Vicious (Vicious #1), , A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2), A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn't afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she's good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims' inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

OUR DARK DUET was a less enjoyable read for me. I kept hearing about all of the FEELS here but since I didn’t really have them for the first book, I really didn’t keep anything moving to the second book. I felt like the author was relying on feelings to carry the book through and still, I was really lacking that development of the world and the background of the story. I wanted so many more details on how the monsters are formed, WHY they started forming in the first place. I mean, this isn’t a fantasy world — it’s our world and monsters have changed the way we live in it… so where did they come from? Why did they start forming? The concept is there of the reason that they do but what changed that this process creates monsters? There’s a difference between an urban fantasy world in which these creatures have always existed and or own world in which a change has been made that created an urban fantasy setting. It’s SUCH an important part of my reading experience and without it, I just didn’t believe the story.

SERIES THOUGHTS

I find myself disappointed again with the lack of development from Victoria Schwab. Just a bit more thought on the background of things could make any one of her books so much richer. There was plenty of space for it and ample opportunities but she doesn’t seem to go that extra step to really make her worlds that much deeper.

I did enjoy THIS SAVAGE SONG but I lost something with my read of OUR DARK DUET. I just have a really hard time when I like the conclusion of a series less than its beginning because it ends on a lower note and I have a hard time wanting to recommend the series.

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Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

SO many people seem to love this series but it wasn’t a hit for me. I had some issues with the structure that really bothered me and it affected my whole read. I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend these books but I also wouldn’t go out of my way to tell anyone not to read them. It was just very middle-of-the-road for me.

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BOOKS LIKE MONSTERS OF VERITY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) – Rick Yancey

The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) – Rick YanceyTitle: The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3) by Rick Yancey
Publishing Info: May 24, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 2, 2017
Related Posts: The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave #1), The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2)

The enemy is Other. The enemy is us.

They’re down here, they’re up there, they’re nowhere. They want the Earth, they want us to have it. They came to wipe us out, they came to save us.

But beneath these riddles lies one truth: Cassie has been betrayed. So has Ringer. Zombie. Nugget. And all 7.5 billion people who used to live on our planet. Betrayed first by the Others, and now by ourselves.

In these last days, Earth’s remaining survivors will need to decide what’s more important: saving themselves…or saving what makes us human.

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** This review will contain spoilers for the book! To view with spoiler tags and avoid any direct plot points, please see my review on Goodreads! **

My initial reaction to this book was… What did I even just read???
So to give this book the benefit, I did not look up what had happened in THE INFINITE SEA before starting it so I know I was missing a few things that had happened in book two, but I was kind of hoping it would all come pouring back once I started. (It did not.) I did finally watch THE 5TH WAVE movie a few months ago so at least I had that refresher of how it all started.

I’ve always had a hard time with Evan because I just like… really didn’t want Cassie to be in love with an alien… But the whole series it’s like, is he? Is he not? What in the world is going on?! That’s part of the appeal of the whole series — we never truly know — but I felt like I was jerked around for so long that I just didn’t believe anything anymore and I ended up feeling more numb towards the big, final answer because I wasn’t going to believe it no matter what happened. I was also Team Ben so as much as I got pushed toward Evan as a love interest the whole series, I wasn’t having it.

The book was slow and didn’t seem to move the plot forward much at all. Most of the true action and plot development happened in the last few chapters of the book, and they were also quite confusing. It felt like so much was jammed into the end of the book that I was trying to sort it all out at once instead of being given little kernels of information that I could apply to the series as it came to a close.

There were a lot of perspectives which didn’t bother me but I also think that things could have been a lot more concise and cohesive and better told through a few less. The addition of Ringer as a main perspective always felt a little off to me and I kiiiiind of wish her character had been rolled up into Cassie and allowed Cassie to stay in the spotlight with the romance and the badassery. I get why it was necessary, as far as the end of the plot went, but meh. Not a fan.

I also hated what was done to Ringer’s character. It seemed messy in so many ways, like there were so many ideas and they couldn’t be done to Cassie so let’s do them ALL to Ringer. There was a pregnancy story like which WHAT? UGH. Why was that even necessary? (It wasn’t.) It just felt so off and it didn’t do anything for the book except make me annoyed. I guess like, let’s preserve humanity and rebuild the world but ugh, that could have been accomplished with Sam and Megan. I also really just hate pregnancy story lines so I’m totally biased but I just didn’t feel like it fit at all. 

The whole book felt sloppy and confusing and like it got way too far from the first book, which I loved so much. The tone, pacing, and direction felt totally different (although I’m sure that was the master plan all along, but it didn’t feel like it) and some of the ending was so cheesy. I hate the “love is the answer” plot because it’s cheesy and overdone. It’s also STUPID in this book because if the aliens had been studying the humans for oh, thousands of years, HOW COULD THEY NOT HAVE TAKEN LOVE INTO ACCOUNT. If they’re that smart to mastermind this whole thing, even if aliens don’t understand a love emotion, it can be observed and people’s actions can be explained by it. Nope. Not buying it. I also know that I was doing other things while listening to this audio but what in the world even happened in the end? So what was the answer!? That’s a tough thing with being intentionally misled and redirected so many times — even the reader starts to wonder what’s real anymore, even if the truth is presented plainly. The characters still had doubts so that made me continue doubting. I don’t even know if I understand what the whole point was…

I’m glad I finished the series because it’s been on my shelf for so long but man, I haven’t been this confused and frustrated by a series finale in a while. I’m not even mad because I was already sort of detached (okay, I’m a little mad) but the biggest disappointment comes from loving the first book in a series and by the end, you feel like you can’t even recommend that series anymore. What a letdown.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Aliens, I guess. I enjoyed that this was an alien series that didn’t really feel so alien and far-fetched. Except for this book, where it felt totally far-fetched.
Left Me Wanting More: Conclusion. I just… I was so disappointed. This wasn’t what I expected at all and this whole series fell apart. I feel sad because I was one of those people who loved the second book where so many others didn’t and it ended up falling apart in the next book anyway.

Addiction Rating
If you’ve made it this far, might as well read it?

This isn’t a long book so if you’ve already read the first two, maybe worth finishing the series… But I’d still have a hard time recommending it and I don’t feel like I can even recommend the series now.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LAST STAR

          

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

Review in a Tweet | The Lizzy & Diesel series by Janet Evanovich

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is more Janet Evanovich! I decided to jump into the Lizzy & Diesel series because I’m in such a witchy/magical mood and Halloween/fall seemed like the perfect time to read them! (Yes, I’m already considering it Halloweentime.)

I actually binge-read the first three books in the series (the three that are currently published) but I’ll just post the one tweet and talk about the three of them together!

 

So these books are total brain candy and I love listening to Janet Evanovich books while I’m working. They’re fun, fast, and super easy listening audiobooks! I did like the magic involved here where I didn’t enjoy it when Diesel appeared in the Between the Numbers Stephanie Plum books but so many of Janet’s different series follow the same character patterns and her heroines are really all the same. It’s fun to keep reading them but it doesn’t really differentiate between series and they even use the same catch phrases sometimes.

Either way, I’ll continue to read them because they’re easy and enjoyable! I just know I’m not going to receive anything ground-breaking.

Oh, and I’m so over the monkeys in every series. Why.

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 23, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24)

In the heart of Trenton, N.J., a killer is out to make sure someone gets his just desserts.
Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an eighteen-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body—frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans.
As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. It’s going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It’s also going to be hard to explain to Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger, late nights with Lula and Randy Briggs—who are naked and afraid—and late nights keeping tabs on Grandma Mazur and her new fella. Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have “virtually no marketable skills,” these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.

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** Mini-review for TURBO TWENTY-THREE… because once you review one Stephanie Plum book, you sort of review them all! ** 

TURBO TWENTY-THREE was another quick, easy, and fun Stephanie Plum novel! I really appreciate that Janet Evanovich has taken these books a little bit back into the realm of the plausible instead of monkeys-acting-like-humans. Of course, they’re still a little wacky because that is the way of Plum but at least it’s on a believable side again!

This book was a lot of fun, actually. I enjoyed the warring ice cream factory concept and it was funny watching Stephanie try to infiltrate each one, learn the feuds behind the two, and the many different ways to get in trouble in an ice cream factory.

We sort of went backwards again with the love triangle and SIGH. I was so excited to see progress in one direction and now it’s back in the middle. It could be worse because there have been worse love triangles in cozy mysteries that still also haven’t resolved and at least I like Ranger and Morelli both… But it’s been twenty-three books! I’m ready for some resolution on the love triangle thing. I’m getting a bit tired of talking about it but such is life and being a reader of this series!

I do like that I’m really rarely guess the answer to the mysteries! I guess I probably could guess a few if I tried but I love listening to these books on audio because they’re so short and fun and easy to listen to while doing other things. I love zoning out and flowing with these books and it’s great to have a lighter audio!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ranger. I’m personally Team Morelli in terms of settling down… but darn it, I do still love Ranger. How did I get hooked in a love triangle?
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. Come onnnn, just choose already!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan, keep on going! I do like that things aren’t so silly anymore and hey, they may be all kind of the same but I still enjoy them all the time!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE TURBO TWENTY-THREE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 20, 2012 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 23, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24)

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
After a slow summer of chasing low-level skips for her cousin Vinnie’s bail bonds agency, Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Now it’s on Stephanie to track down the con man. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.
The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money—or maybe just desperate—Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory. . . .

Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 10, 2013 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Used bookstore
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 24, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24)

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.
It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.
With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: June 17, 2014 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Adult, Cozy Mystery, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 28, 2015
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24)

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.
To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.
Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

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I’m guessing if you’re this far into the Stephanie Plum series, you’re not really looking for a review of the books. I’ve sort of been lumping the last few books into a series of mini-reviews since my feelings about them tend to generally be the same!

In December, I was looking for a few quick books to read to meet my 2015 reading challenge goal and I knew the Stephanie Plum audio books were quick and also fun! I meant to start with just NINETEEN but ended up bingeing TWENTY and TWENTY-ONE as well because I was just on a roll! NINETEEN and TWENTY were my favorites out of the three. I thought they did a great job with the story line, keeping things moving, and keeping me engaged. I was actually pretty hooked on both of their plots and I also was totally hooked on the romance(s) that were developing even more! This is the one series that I’m not even mad or annoyed has a love triangle because I really feel for both guys and I really love them both in their own ways.

I don’t know if it was me rushing through TWENTY-ONE or just that it wasn’t as engaging but I found myself losing focus when listening to it. The premise didn’t appeal to me as much because I think it felt less personal and I just wasn’t as connected. I wish I had more to say but I really just ended up losing focus on this one and found it harder to concentrate on the audio, but I guess that says something in itself!

It’s weird to be almost caught up on the series now too! I’ve been reading it for about five years (I only started it a few years back when I was looking for more mysteries from the library) and this is definitely the longest series I’ve ever read… aside from like, The Baby-Sitter’s Club. It’s kind of fun to have this fun and easy series to fall back on! Except now that I’m caught up, I’ll have to find another fun, easy series while I’m waiting for new Stephanie!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Long series. I’ve really never read such a long series aside from children’s books when I was younger so it’s fun to really be so involved! It’s so easy to continue too since it’s much lighter and the plots don’t really tie together, aside from Stephanie’s personal life.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoony moments. I’m starting to really get into the romance in these books and I could totally go for a few more swoon-worthy moments!

Addiction Rating
Read them!

If you’re a Plum fan, you’re in it this far! They’re fun for quick, easy reads and they’re always a bunch of fun!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, TAKEDOWN TWENTY, TOP-SECRET TWENTY-ONE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED