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ARC August 2016 Wrap-Up

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ARC August 2016Well, I have to confess this year’s ARC August (hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. ) was not nearly as successful as last year. I only read a grand total of four (!) books this month, much less than the nine I had hoped to get through (and the 11 ARCs I read last August). But sometimes life just gets in the way and you have to roll with it. Hopefully life will slow down soon and I can get back into my reading groove!

Read in August:

August2016 Reads

Already Reviewed:

Review to Come:

  • The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry – This is a great read for anyone interested in the Salem Witch Trials. However, it won’t be published until January so I will hold my review until then.

Currently Reading:

Aug2016-CurrentReads

  • Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely – I’ll be participating in my first-ever blog tour for this novel, so stop back in next Tuesday!
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – I started this in July, but set it aside for ARC August. I’m looking forward to picking it back up now, I had liked what I read so far.
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North – I swear I will finish this book this month even if it kills me.

September Reading List:

I’m almost hesitant to even bother making a September list, since I’ve been so bad at following my reading lists the last couple months, but I like having something to strive towards, so we’ll give it a shot – although I think I’ll keep it down to five this time.

  • Open Season by Archer Mayor – I promised my boyfriend months ago I would give this series a try, so this will be up first in September once I finish my current reads.
  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty – This has been sitting on my stack since the day it came out and I’m looking forward to it.
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Frederik Backman – I loved Britt-Marie Was Here and can’t wait to read this one.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) – I’ve been wanting to read this book for a very long time.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte– I meant to read this over the summer, but never got to it. Hopefully I will now.

And there you go! I wish my ARC August had been more successful, but it is what it is. Hopefully I’ll still get around to each of those ARCs I had planned to read sooner rather than later.

CJ Reviews A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

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A Hundred Thousand WorldsTitle: A Hundred Thousand Worlds
Author: Bob Proehl
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Format: Advanced Reading Copy
Rating: 3.5 stars

Valerie Torrey took her son Alex and fled Los Angeles six years ago—leaving both her role on a cult sci-fi TV show and her costar husband after a tragedy blew their small family apart. Now Val must reunite nine-year-old Alex with his estranged father, so they set out on a road trip from New York, Val making appearances at comic book conventions along the way. 

As they travel west, encountering superheroes, monsters, time travelers, and robots, Val and Alex are drawn into the orbit of the comic-con regulars, from a hapless twentysomething illustrator to a lesbian comics writer to a group of cosplay women who provide a chorus of knowing commentary. For Alex, this world is a magical place where fiction becomes reality, but as they get closer to their destination, he begins to realize that the story his mother is telling him about their journey might have a very different ending than he imagined. (Goodreads)

I have to be honest and say I’m not really sure how I feel about this book. I was so excited to read it because it sounded like exactly my kind of book, but then I never really got into it. There were some great things about it that I liked, but I just couldn’t identify with the characters as much as I thought I would and just wasn’t as enthusiastic about it by the end.

It was interesting reading Proehl’s made-up Pop Culture universe and trying to associate the characters, tv shows, comic book publishers with their counterparts in our world. And I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at comic writing and fan conventions. I also really appreciated the over-arching theme of valuing stories and moving on. There were a lot of elements in this book that were done really well and could possibly invoke a great discussion within a book club, but for some reason I just found myself wanting to rush through it so I could get it done and move on to my next read. There wasn’t anything about this book that made me fall in love with it and want to savor the moment while reading it. Ultimately, I think I just wanted to enjoy it way more than I did, which is a shame.

I think one of my problems with the book was that most of the novel was building towards this potentially dramatic climax, that just ended up falling flat – at least for me. I also felt the novel was lacking the excitement and humor that I had expected of it – this was much more of a drama set in the world of comics and fan conventions than I was expecting. My favorite part was by far the veiled references to our own Pop Culture icons, which you had to be paying attention to pick up, as all the names and places are changed.

Overall, this book just wasn’t at all what I was expecting it to be. Perhaps if I had gone into it with fewer expectations, or had been in a different mood while reading it, I would have been able to enjoy it more.

ARC August 2016
A Hundred Thousand Worlds was read as part of ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. You can find more on the books I read during ARC August here.

ARC August Update: Week Two

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We’re already halfway through August and I am so far behind in my ARC August goals! You may have noticed that I did not have an update last week, as I hadn’t even started on my reading list. And at this point I’ve only managed to finish two of the books on my list. Life has just been crazy this month and I haven’t been able to spend as much time reading as I’d like and sadly I’m not sure it’s going to slow down. However, I’m still going to try to get through as much of my list as I can.

Read so far…

ARCAugust-read1

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – This book was very hard to put down – a great summer thriller.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – This book was almost a DNF. It was a very dark and difficult read.

Currently Reading…

ARCAugust-reading1

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl – This book sounds perfect for a fangirl like me.

The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North – This is taking me much longer to get through than I thought it would.

On Deck…

ARCAugust-Deck1

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry – I really enjoyed Barry previous novels and cannot wait to read this one, especially as it deals with the Salem history.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – Room has been on my reading list forever, but I still haven’t gotten to it. However I won’t pass up a chance to read the ARC of her new novel.

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight – All of her novels sound good, and I’ve been looking forward to getting to this for a while now.

Given how far behind I’ve fallen it seems unlikely that I’ll be able to make it through my entire reading list for ARC August, but I’m hoping to at least get as far as these three books. We’ll see where I stand next week!

ARC August 2016
ARC August is hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. You can find more on the books I’m reading during ARC August here.

CJ Reviews Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

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Behind Closed DoorsTitle: Behind Closed Doors
Author: B.A. Paris
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Format: Advanced Reading Copy
Rating: 2.5 stars

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace.

He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do. Though, you’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie. (Goodreads)

I have to admit, I did not read this novel as thoroughly as I usually do. In fact, I seriously considered dumping it in my DNF pile and moving on, but I really wanted to know how it ended so I skimmed most of the book just to see what happened. Fortunately, I think the ending was possibly the best part of the novel.

My first problem with this novel was mostly personal taste – this novel was Dark. Extremely dark. While I do tend to read a lot of psychological thrillers and books that can get pretty dark, this one really bothered me almost from the beginning. It should really come with a trigger warning. The relationship in the novel was just so dark and disturbing that it really bothered me to read it, which was the entire reason I was skimming. But I just had to know if it had a satisfying ending.

My other problem was with how weak Grace is through most of the novel. Granted, it would have been difficult to fight back in that situation and she had her sister to think about as well, but I just found myself struggling to empathize with her sometimes, which bothered me given her situation. I was bothered by what was happening to her, but I didn’t really feel for her, if that makes any sense. She just didn’t seem to have any spark or spirit, even before she met her husband.

The most interesting characters in the novel are actually the smaller characters – Grace’s sister Millie and new friend Esther. Both these women are much more interesting and well-rounded than either of the main characters. Both of these characters are also much stronger than Grace had been.

Given Grace’s weakness through much of the novel, one could argues that the ending is actually implausible, but since I thought the end was better than the rest of the book I prefer to believe it’s the rest of the book that has a problem and the ending is the part that’s done well.

So, if you’re willing to suffer through a mediocre thriller delving into the darkness and evil of a sick, twisted mind and domestic violence in order to get to a satisfying conclusion then you may want to check this book out. Meanwhile, I am going to try to reading something much more lighthearted and fun while I try to scrub this darkness from my mind.

ARC August 2016
Behind Closed Doors was read as part of ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. You can find more on the books I read during ARC August here.

CJ Reviews All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

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all-the-missing-girlsTitle: All The Missing Girls
Author: Megan Miranda
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Format: Advanced Reading Copy
Rating:4 stars

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.  (Goodreads)

Every thriller being published these days is being marketed as either the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. Probably about half of the stack of ARCs I have to read this month mention one or both of those titles in the description of the novel. While I’m trying not to get sucked in by that hype – especially given my dislike of Girl on a Train, I can’t help but be curious. I’m always looking for a really good mystery thriller that actually does capture my attention and which I cannot put down. All the Missing Girls managed to succeed where so often novels fail.

The concept of this novel is fascinating. It starts out moving in a linear fashion, then jumps ahead two weeks and continues to tell the story in reverse, slowly unfolding each day then going to the day before. This sounded like nothing more than a gimmick to me at first, but in all honesty it works. Each day reveals just enough, with just enough foreshadowing that it keeps you turning the pages to find out what really happened. And not only are you interested in what is happening the “present” but you’re also piecing together details from what happened a decade earlier.

If I had a complaint about this book, it would be the lack of female characters, as the narrator is the only main female character in the book and is rarely seen interacting with other females. And if you really wanted to look at this novel through a feminist lens, there are probably several other things that you could really tear it apart for, but as I just wanted to read a page-turner mystery, I wasn’t willing to analyze it that completely.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it if you’re interested in suspense and “psychological thrillers.” Don’t be turned off by the hype or the comparison to Girl on a Train. This really was a good read.

ARC August 2016
All the Missing Girls was read as part of ARC August hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. You can find more on the books I read during ARC August here.

It’s Time for ARC August 2016!

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ARC August 2016

Last year I participated in ARC August, hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. for the very first time and was able to make a nice dent in my ARC pile. I enjoyed it so much I decided to try again this year.

This year I’m pretty sure that pile is even larger than last year’s pile, but I’ve been reading at a slower pace so I’m not sure I’ll be nearly as successful as I was last year, but here’s hoping I get through at least some of the books on my pile!

Despite knowing I will be unlikely to make it through a large stack of ARCs, I’m still being rather ambitious in my plans for this month’s reading. Most of these are books that have now been out a while and I just haven’t found the time to read them, but a few have yet to be published. My list of ARCs include:

I know that’s a pretty long list, but I also know I can do it if I put my mind to it – I’m just worried there are so many other things going on this month that I just might not have the time. But if you follow along here each week I’ll be updating you on my progress!

Recapping Reads: June in Review

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Unfortunately I didn’t get around do writing many posts in June, but I did manage to get a lot of reading done. In fact, I even managed to stick to my summer reading goal for the month, which was pretty surprising even to me since I started the month without about 2 or 3 other books that I needed to finish before I even started on my summer reading. (Also, I rarely ever stick to a reading list this closely, so this is probably already the most successful I’ve ever been with a summer reading list).

June just seemed to fly by. I have several books I intended to review here, but somehow it’s now almost July and I still haven’t posted those reviews. I’m hoping next month I can balance my time more between reading and posting.

Books Read in June:

JuneReads

  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson – This was the May selection for Our Shared Shelf, though I didn’t finish it until June.
  • Wool by Hugh Howey– This was the June selection for Watch the Skies.
  • Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison – One that had been on my TBR for a long time, then my boyfriend insisted I finally read it. I’m glad he did.
  • Britt-Marie Was Here by Frederik Backman– Review to Come. I requested this on a whim, not having read any of his other books and thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware– I loved last summer’s In a Dark, Dark Wood and while this year’s follow up didn’t quite meet my expectations, it was still a pretty good read.
  • Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah– I loved this novel more than I expected and it had a lot more feels than I was expecting.
  • The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes– I love her style of writing and this novel sucked me in almost immediately.
  • Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews– Not my typical type of book, and it took me a while to really get into it, but it was a lot of fun once I did.

Currently Reading:

JuneCurrent

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty– I’ve been curious about her books for a long time.
  • The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin– The synopsis of this book intrigued me and it’s been sitting in my TBR for months.
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North – I feel like I’ve been reading this for months. I enjoy it, it’s just that I keep focusing on other books instead of finishing this one.

Reading List for July:

  • Summer Reading-JulyThe Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry – I loved The Lace Reader and I also have an ARC for her next book, but wanted to read this first.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – Surprisingly, I have never read this classic.
  • Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews – I picked this up because it sounded fun and went with my Summer Reading theme of lighter, fun books.
  • The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown – I’ve been wanting to read this book for years. Hopefully it doesn’t let me down.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Another classic that I’ve never read but am looking forward to finally getting to it.
  • Beach Music by Pat Conroy – I read a random comment in another review, article or comment (I can’t even remember now) about how good this book was and have been curious about it ever since.

Hopefully I’m as successful with my July reading list as I was with June! I’ve also picked up a couple ARCs in the last few weeks that I’d love to get to if I have time to squeeze them into my reading schedule.

What’s your favorite summer read so far?