Monthly Recap: March 2016

 

16299And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie — 5 out of 5 stars.
No wonder they call this book a masterpiece.

Strong Looks Better Naked by Khloé Kardashian — 2 out of 5 stars
I love Khloé, but I don’t know why I read this. I’d be more interested in the story of her life rather than the self-help/motivational book I just finished.

The Siren by Kiera Cass — 3 out of 5 stars

Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare — 1 out of 5 stars
Liked the premise, did not care for the result. Why did he leave? Really, he really noticed her all that time? I did not believe in this scenario at all.
The return of characters from past Spindle Cove books was also distracting. You don’t need this.

The Healer by Virginia Boecker — 4 out of 5 stars
There is something about John’s narrative voice that is soothing and enticing, all at the same time. Once the end was reached I wanted more; I could have very happily gone through The Witch Hunter storyline through his eyes.
If you have not begun the series, this novella is a good way to start due to character introduction, glimpses into the magic of the world and how it figures into the sense of time and place, and the stirrings of the plot.

25817386My American Duchess by Eloisa James — 4 out of 5 stars
It was not just the extremely likable hero and heroine of this story that created the rating. It is the way it extends beyond the courtship angle, and enters a marriage between two people who are extremely attracted to one another yet do not know each other very well. This is one of my favorite Eloisa James stories to date.

Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little — 2 out of 5 stars

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young — 2.5 out of 5 stars
Remember that Disney Channel original movie, Tower of Terror? Well, Hotel Ruby kind of reminded me of that, in the sense that it is haunted by ghosts stuck after a tragedy. Learning about that tragedy was the only reason I had to keep reading. A bonus also occurred when all of Audrey’s observations came together to illuminate the truth.
Otherwise, I found this story to be rather meh. The characters were not memorable and the romance did nothing for me. I can respect Audrey’s love for her family though.

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury — 4.5 out of 5 stars.
I might come back and upgrade this to a five because I really did love the time I spent with this book. Retellings have become one of my favorite categories within the fantasy genre, and Khoury did a fantastic job telling the story of Aladdin through the eyes of a young jiForbiddenWish_BOM.inddnni girl. I think what impressed me most about this book is the way it so easily conveyed and integrated the mythology of the jinn within the story being told. Some authors take a trilogy to do what was done here in one book.
I can’t recommend The Forbidden Wish enough. Aladdin has always been bae (forgive me for saying it, you guys, but it’s so true!!) and I fell for him in this tale as well.

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Monthly Recap: January 2016

January sure did seem to fly by, did it not? I hope you all had a great month. Here comes the list of the books I read; if there is a link that means I wrote a full-length review that you will be directed to.

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman — 5 out of 5 stars

Along the Infinite Sea by Beatrice Williams — 3 out of 5 stars

7069272I Kissed An Earl by Julie Anne Long — 4 out of 5 stars.
A perfect mixture of adventure and romance. When Violet Redmond uses her powers of deduction, there is only one thing apparent: that her brother is the sought-after pirate Le Chat, and that she must do whatever it takes to bring him home and escape the noose. Thus, she wheedles her way onto the ship of the earl tasked by the king to capture Le Chat, and embarks on an adventure. This story really did have it all in terms of pirates, life upon a ship, and action. I am always in search of historical romances that do more than linger around a house party or a ballroom, and this one delivered.
The romance between Violet and Captain Flint was also good. Both engaged in a sensual game of chess with the other, pulling the tension to delicious heights. All in all, this was a good story about the lengths a person will travel for the love of another, and the ability of that love to bring out the hidden qualities within.

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin — 4 out of 5 stars

Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorato — 4 out of 5 stars

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling — 2 out of 5 stars

25365683Demelza by Winston Graham — 4 out of 5 stars
What is it about this series that is so compelling? The characters, with all of their flaws trying to exist within the same community. Even further, the in-depth look into a mining community filled with hardships as befitting the time interest me. This is great historical fiction, and while I did like Ross Poldark a little bit more there are plenty of good things about Demelza. (I listened to the audiobook)

Monthly Recap: December 2015

I’m a little late to the holiday wishes, though I hope that all of my readers have a wonderful season, and will have an even better new year ahead of them!

Here is a recap of all of the books I read in the month of December.

23437156Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – 4 out of 5 stars.
An excellent addition to the Grisha universe. I really enjoyed all of the characters and the heist they embarked on together. The twists kept me engaged and the end has me very ready for The Crooked Kingdom.

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom – 5 out of 5 stars.

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani – DNF
As someone who loves the previous work by this author, I am amazed by my reaction to her latest story. I thought this book was made for me, with my love of Old Hollywood, but I could not have been more wrong.
24723249The characters are so incredibly wooden. It’s as if since these are real people she couldn’t be bothered to give them personalities. The dialogue also went on forever; this isn’t a positive when the characters are so flat.
I hope Ms. Trigiani’s future books return to historical fiction or contemporary fiction about Italian Americans and families because that is where she excels with character, dialogue, setting, emotions, etc. I cannot recommend this story at all.

The Bronte Plot by Katherine Reay – DNF
Ironically, this story did not have much of a plot. Dull characters with a romance I was told about rather than shown did not help.

The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig – 4 out of 5 stars.
This one could have received five stars, if the espionage had been more 3701590closely related to the overall plot of the Napoleonic War. Instead it was a strange novella-like spy story thrown into the mix.
On the other hand, everything else made this book great; I enjoyed it much more on this reread than my initial run. The humor is still there. But it’s the characters! Charlotte has quiet strength, which I adore. She is a romantic daydreamer like me. Readers who identify with Cress of The Lunar Chronicles will take to her very well.


The Adventuress
by Tasha Alexander
– 2.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Monthly Recap: November 2015

Is it just me, or did November fly by with the blink of an eye? Life continues to be hectic as I attempt to juggle working two jobs; which is why my reading time has decreased so much, and in accordance with that, my time to write reviews and blog. As always I remain hopeful that things will pick up for me in the coming weeks.

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday preparations  🙂  Seasons greetings from me!

24106033Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith – 4.5 out of 5 stars
I’d honestly say that the main focus of this book is character development, as the reader learns more about the respective pasts of Strike and Robin, and how events made them into the people they are who make the decisions they do. As someone who loves character development, I appreciated that aspect of this book immensely.
As for the mystery and the killer: while reading I often equated this story with something that Lisbeth Salander would come across, in the sense that there is deep misogyny and violence against women. I did not guess correctly, though in retrospect I can see the clues were there all along.
Do I recommend this? YES. I love this series, and the writing continues to suck me into this world with ease. The ending is particularly cruel, so onwards I go, waiting for the next installment.

Princess in Waiting by Meg Cabot – 2 out of 5 stars
Mia obsesses over whether Michael loves her, or is in love with her.
At first it seems like an immature worry, but it is important to remember she is fourteen, experiencing her first relationship… and that we all probably did wonder the same when experiencing similar circumstances.
(I listened to the audiobook; Anne Hathaway’s narration was missed)

Since the Surrender by Julie Anne Long – 3 out of 5 stars
After an absence of five years, Rosalind March returns to the life of Chase Eversea with a plea for help. Her youngest sister was arrested for petty theft, and after being sighted in prison, awaiting trial, she disappeared…
Thus this historical romance took the course of a mystery! Truth be told, those guilty for the disappearance and the motivations behind why were easy to see from the get go. But Chase and Rosalind were likable enough characters to read about.
In my opinion, the real star of the book is a young street boy named Liam. He reminded me so much of two other characters from two favorite series of mine. I could have followed him around forever.

23160039A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I had to debate my rating of this one for a bit; 3.5 stars, or 4?
There are many excellent things about this book, such as Deanna Raybourn’s writing and her ability to create appealing characters. In many ways Veronica reminded me of Amelia Peabody, for their eccentricities and the ease into which I could hear their voices. But if I am to discuss Amelia, then I must also mention how Veronica’s first book mirrors my disappointment of Amelia’s: the mystery in both are weak. Murder happens, and then it takes significant time for an investigation to occur.
The real star of this story is the dynamic between Veronica and Stoker. Theirs is a slow burning relationship that I liked and want to see more of! This book could have easily been a standalone… But it is not, and I can only hope the questions left unanswered become compelling lines of continuity throughout the series and not villainy that drags on.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin – 5 out of 5 stars
Dunk and Egg short stories are EVERYTHING. I love both characters and the ability to be in the time when the Dragons ruled Westeros. Fans of the book series will happily devour this; it also goes very well with a certain section in The World of Ice and Fire book, if you have that.
These stories make me hungry for more prequel stories. Still waiting to hear about that notorious tournament at Harrenhall, George!
(Also, the illustrations in this book are stunning, with how they capture moments from the story and the expressions and body language — especially Egg’s! — of characters)

Winter by Marissa Meyer – 4 out of 5 stars

16060716Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray – 3 out of 5 stars
I might be a bit generous giving this three stars. After all, the villain was no where near as creepy as Naughty John, and there was the problem of only two characters — Henry and Ling — being directly connected to the dream plot for a majority of the book. This is an issue when there are so many characters in the story, which offer many unmoored point of views and cause the story to drag. These characters have something in common and need to band together to accomplish things.
Also, I would appreciate less Evie, because I continue to find her selfish and annoying.
On the positive side there is the emergence of the series’ Big Bad to keep me wondering along with the promise of the Diviners joining forces to confront him. The dream plot and the connection to the American Dream of the 1920s was also an interesting perspective to play with and gives me hope that the truth of Project Buffalo will be as good. Just…less Evie, please, I’m begging you.

Monthly Recap: September and October 2015

Back when I decided that I was no longer going to write reviews on every book I read, and posted an explanation on this blog as to why, I received an excellent recommendation of how to proceed forward. calliopethebookgoddess suggested that I do recap posts at the end of every month, to allow my followers to know what I had read and to include the little bit of words I have to share. This way, if you do not follow me on Goodreads you can still know what I am immersed in, and in this way the bookish conversation can continue.

Life hit me hard last month, so I was not able to make a Month in Review post for September. Therefore, this one will be incredibly long to include the books I read in September and October. Cheers!

SEPTEMBER:

23014642The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth – 3.5 out of 5 stars
The true stories collected by the Brothers Grimm have always held a dark undertone, and The Wild Girl did not shy away from that motif. The story of Dortchen Wild and her relationship with Wilhem Grimm was intriguing and beautifully written, and very difficult to read at the same time. If you are on the lookout for a historical fiction account of the Napoleonic Wars in Germany and how they reflected upon the collection of fairy tales then this is for you.

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – 3 out of 5 stars
I read the audiobook. And do you know what? This book made me hate King Henry VIII more than I thought was possible. It also made me despise Cromwell, and I do not anticipate feeling any sympathy for him when his demise eventually unfolds in this series; he set this precedence of letting a mad man murder people.
For me, the strongest emotional connection I received from this book came when Anne is arrested along with all of the gentlemen accused of being her lovers. The way the trial and compiling of evidence was done disgusted me, but I was still riveted. The last moments of Queen Anne were the most beautifully composed part of the story.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – 2 out of 5 stars

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison – 4 out of 5 stars
What a wonderful middle grade book! The world is well constructed. The retelling of fairy tales is well done. And the development of characters is perfect. Grounded entertained me and touched me with it message of love.

23587120When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare – 4 out of 5 stars
Remember when I was ridiculously charmed by a story?
“Aye, lass. I believe I do remember that.”

Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters – 3 out of 5 stars
I’ll continue to read (or should I say listen, since I used the audiobook) this series because I love Amelia’s narrative voice and the setting in Egypt.
What I did not like about this book was the lack of any true plot and mystery, and the continuous revolution around the love life of Evelyn.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler – 5 out of 5 stars

Only a Kiss by Mary Balogh – 3 out of 5 stars
Hate-to-love story with a slight smuggling mystery on the side. It was just okay.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot – 2.5 out of 5 stars

OCTOBER: 

Marrying Christopher by Michele Paige Holmes – 2 out of 5 stars

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz – 4 out of 5 stars

23453112Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – 3 out of 5 stars
I liked reading about relationships in other cultures, and the reminder to invest in relationships rather than be concerned about quantity.

Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot – 2 out of 5 stars

Princess in Love by Meg Cabot – 3 out of 5 stars

Movie Star by Lizzie Pepper: A Novel by Hilary Liftin – 2.5 out of 5 stars
This is basically a “fictional” version of the notorious marriage and divorce between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. The story is the most compelling as you are left to wonder: Is this how it really went down?
For me the most interesting aspect was learning how Lizzie/Katie worked in secret to blindside her husband with divorce papers.
I will warn that the characters are very sterile, so if you are not super into celebrity gossip then the allure of secrets being spilled (because that is the only allure to this story) will be lost on you — therefore I’d advise to read something else!

After You by Jojo Moyes – 1.5 out of 5 stars

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal – 2 out of 5 stars

25657130All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – 4 out of 5 stars
Such a powerful and timely book about police brutality against people of color in America. The first chapter shook me, as sequences unfolded to what is seen time and time again in the news. I fear that what happened to Rashad and others like him will happen to someone I love every day.