Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July Reading Re-Cap

It was a good month for reading/listening...of course, any month where I get to consume books is a good month.  I think I added three times as many books to my TBR this month than I finished, though.  But hey, I love to add books to my TBR.  I did have some good reads this month, though.


My Bookish Obsession Monthly Re-Cap



(Audiobook) The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg

Highlights Include:
Perfected Series Mixed With a YA-ish Westworld 
With a Dash of Dollhouse
Fantasy-Themed Amusement Park
Science Fiction/Dystopian Future
What It Means To Be Human Themes
Told In Courtroom Testimonies, Interviews
& Flashbacks To Memories
Stand-Alone

Finish Date:  07/01
MY RATING⇢ ☆4☆STARS - GRADE=B+





(Kindle eBook) Managed by Kristen Callihan

Highlights Include:

Contemporary Romance
Music Biz
Laugh Out Loud Banter
Rock, Rock Til U Drop
Stand-Alone

Finish Date:  07/04
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE=A-




(Audiobook) My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Highlights Include:

Disturbed In Suburbia = Disturbia
Unlikable Main Characters
A Twisted Mystery Thriller
With A Serial Killer(s)
Suspenseful
Thought-Provoking

Finish Date:  07/05
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE=A-






(Audiobook) Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Highlights Include:

Viking Inspired
Fantasy
(More) Young (Than) Adult
Clean Romance
A Quest
Stand-Alone

Finish Date:  07/08
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.2☆STARS - GRADE=B+






(Audiobook) The Night Before by Wendy Walker

Highlights Include:

Internet Dating
A Many-Layered Mystery
Psychological Thriller
Suspenseful
Twisted & Twisty

Finish Date:  07/11
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.7☆STARS - GRADE=A








(Audiobook) Under A Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day

Highlights Include:

Closed Circle Murder Mystery
A Dark Sky Park
Lake Michigan Setting
Dealing With Loss Of Spouse

Finish Date:  07/16
MY RATING⇢ ☆3.5☆STARS - GRADE= B-







(Audiobook) Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

Highlights Include:

A Study In Friendship
The Needs of People...
Psychological
Semi-Thrilling
Broadcast News...& Drama
Murder-ish

Finish Date:  07/20
MY RATING⇢ ☆3.2☆STARS - GRADE=C+







(Kindle eBook) What the Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

Highlights Include:

Creepy Supernatural
Mystery
Contemporary
YA/NA Kind of Feel
Stand-Alone

Finish Date:  07/24
MY RATING⇢ ☆3.7☆STARS - GRADE= B







(Audiobook) Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen

Highlights Include:

Time-Travel
Science Fiction
What It Means To Be A Parent
Love...Not Romance
Screwing Up The Space-Time Continuum

Finish Date:  07/25
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.7☆STARS - GRADE= A







(Audiobook) The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Highlights Include:
Realistic Fiction
High School
Slut-Shaming
The Truth Is Not Always What It Seems
Full-Cast Narration*

Finish Date:  07/28
MY RATING⇢ ☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE= A-






(Audiobook) Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

Highlights Include:

Mystery
Mobil App Start-Up Company
Dealing With Grief
Thriller
Secluded Island in the Caribbean
Dual POV's

Finish Date:  07/29
MY RATING⇢ ☆2.3☆STARS - GRADE= D+






(Audiobook) Appealed by Emma Chase

Highlights Include:

Contemporary Romance
Male POV
Lots of LOL Moments
Courtroom Proceedings
Second Chance Love
Very Explicit Sexual Content --Like Woow.
Possibly Too Much Sex & Not Enough Plot

Finish Date:  07/30
MY RATING⇢ ☆3.8☆STARS - GRADE= B





12 Books Total, 2 Kindle eBooks and 10 Audiobooks

For a total of 4,607 Pages (including Audio)

There were a lot of great ones this month...including The KIngdom, Warrior of the Wild and Here and Now and Then...but Best Cover for the Month of July goes to...



Appealed by Emma Chase

Legal Briefs #3


FEATURING


Contemporary Romance
Male POV
Lots of LOL Moments
Courtroom Proceedings
Second Chance Love
Very Explicit Sexual Content --Like Woow.
Possibly Too Much Sex & Not Enough Plot
Audio Performed by Deacon Lee


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)



MY RATING⇢ ☆3.8☆STARS - GRADE= B



MY THOUGHTS


This is a quick, super-cute addition to the Legal Briefs Series.  Emma Chase can get into a guys head like no one else can.  I liked Brent and Kennedy's story a lot, and Brent has some super funny thoughts and moments.  Jake & Chelsea's story is still my top fav of the series, though.

Appealed could have used some more substance to it...sadly, it relied on sex to carry most of the story...very explicit sex of all the positions and types of sex there is.  Let's just say sometimes those can be awkward on Audio with Teens hanging around, unexpectedly.  Deacon Lee, as always, was fantastic with his narration.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4.3/5
Narration Performance 5/5
Characters 4.3/5
The Feels 3.8/5
Pacing 3.5/5
Addictiveness 4.5/5
Theme or Tone 4/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4/5
Originality 3/5
Ending 4/5 Cliffhanger Nope.
_____

Book Cover Meh...
Setting New York, NY
Source Audiobook (Scribd)
Length 6 hours, 43 minutes


Until The Day I Die by Emily Carpenter

FEATURING


Mystery
Mobil App Start-Up Company
Dealing With Grief
Thriller
Secluded Island in the Caribbean
Dual POV's
Audio Performed by Jess Nahikian, Kate Orsini, & Patrick Lawlor


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)



MY RATING⇢ ☆2.3☆STARS - GRADE= D+



MY THOUGHTS


The Good:  First off that beautiful cover...it's quite splendid.  I also liked the App 'Jax' that was front and center in this, it seemed pretty cool.  A budgeting app and it even did your taxes for you.  I don't know how feasible it is...but hey. 

& The Rest:  From my featuring section above you can tell that this book has a lot going on...maybe that was part of the problem.  Too many characters to keep track of making it difficult to follow the story.  Added to that, the many elements, including the ending, that just didn't feel real or plausible to me and this was overall, a NO for me.

The narrators were decent enough...just as a personal preference, I don't think I like Kate Orsini, which is funny because when I looked her up, it turns out she narrates all of this Authors books.  I remember now, it was in Burying the Honeysuckle Girls that I decided I didn't like her.  Jess Nahikian was very pleasant...almost too pleasant.  I certainly would listen to her again, though, and Patrick Lawlor had such a small part that he didn't really matter overall.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 2.5/5
Narration Performance 3.5/5
Characters 2.8/5
The Feels 1/5
Pacing 2/5
Addictiveness 2.5/5
Theme or Tone 2.5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 2.2/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3/5
Originality 2.5/5
Ending 2/5 Cliffhanger well...
_____

Book Cover It's intriguing and beautiful...and it looks like a perfect spot to relax.
Setting Birmingham and Auburn AL.  Plus a secluded Island in the Caribbeans
Source KU Read & Listen 
Length 10 hours, 45 minutes

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

FEATURING


Realistic Fiction
High School
Slut-Shaming
The Truth Is Not Always What It Seems
Full-Cast Narration*


LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)





MY RATING⇢ ☆4.5☆STARS - GRADE= A-



MY THOUGHTS


First off...the audio for this is phenomenal, I highly recommend it being consumed this way.  Each voice is very distinct and you always know whose head you're in, even if you miss their name at the beginning.

This book does a fantastic job of getting its point across without emotionally draining you. A quick listen or read with depth about the "real life" of high schoolers, the shallowness and meanness they can possess and wield without regard to others feelings...just to protect themselves.  And, of course, how you shouldn't always believe everything you hear...because sadly, people lie.  Hopefully, if someone, especially someone in high school, reads this...they can realize that they should rise above the lies and stick it out with whoever is being emotionally beat down.  Ultimately, when High School is all over and you look back on it, you'll feel a whole lot better about yourself, if you do.


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4.5/5
Narration Performance 5/5
Characters 4.5/5
The Feels 4.5/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Addictiveness 4.3/5
Theme or Tone 5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 5/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 4.3/5 Cliffhanger Nah...
_____

Book Cover I like the OG cover better... the one above makes Alice look like she's 27 or so.

Setting Healy, Texas
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 5 hours, 10 minutes


*Full-Cast Narration Including:
Saskia Maarleveld - Alice
Graham Halstead - Kurt
Ali Ahn - Elaine
Michael Bakkensen - Josh
Elizabeth Morton - Kelsy

Monday, July 29, 2019

Here And Now And Then by Mike Chen

FEATURING


Time-Travel
Science Fiction
What It Means To Be A Parent
Love...Not Romance
Screwing Up The Space-Time Continuum
Narration Performed by Cary Hite

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ ☆4.7☆STARS - GRADE= A



MY THOUGHTS


Overall, a very satisfying story, especially the ending...it was the perfectly whipped icing on a cherry chip cake...and I love cherry chip cake.  Cary Hite was a fairly exceptional narrator, too. 

The science behind the time-travel in this story is easily believable and altogether palatable.  It's informative without being too informative.  The perfect blend of science fiction and a dollop of literary.  Evoking some very poignant emotions, dealing with the love we have for a child, and even the love we have for a significant other.  



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4.7/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 4.4/5
The Feels 4.7/5
Pacing 4.5/5
Addictiveness 4.3/5
Theme or Tone 5/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 4.5/5
Ending 5/5 Cliffhanger Nope.
_____

Book Cover Very Cool...goes with the story, perfectly...
Setting 1996, 2011 and 2142 San Francisco, CA
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 9 hours, 54 minutes


What The Woods Keep by Katya de Becerra

FEATURING


Creepy Supernatural
Mystery
Contemporary
YA/NA Kind of Feel
Stand-Alone

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ ☆3.7☆STARS - GRADE= B



MY THOUGHTS


What The Woods Keep is a YA-ish Contemporary about a just-turned 18-year-old girl who just inherited her childhood home in Promise, Co.  But Promise is not like other towns...it's wholly different and completely steeped in the supernatural, and our MC is irrecoverably tied to this town.  With a very unique premise, a heap of mystery, and characters that I found unusual, from the very start, I was loving this...

This had my full and complete attention for about the first third of the book...unfortunately, it sort of stalled-out for me, after that.   Not sure why; the best way to explain is the writing just wasn't as engaging as it was in the beginning.  Then towards the end, it picked the momentum back up and finished fairly strong.  I wish it was available on Audio...



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3.5/5
Main Characters 4.3/5
Secondary Characters3.5/5
The Feels 3.5/5
Pacing 3.5/5
Addictiveness 3.2/5
Theme or Tone 4/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3.5/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 3.7/5 Cliffhanger Not really...
_____

Book Cover It's quite striking...
Setting Promise, Colorado
Source Kindle eBook (Library)
Length 384 Pages


Friday, July 26, 2019

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak

FEATURING


A Study In Friendship
The Needs of People...
Psychological
Semi-Thrilling
Broadcast News...& Drama
Murder-ish
Narration Performed by Vanessa Johansson

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ ☆3.2☆STARS - GRADE=C+



MY THOUGHTS


This is more a study in friendship than a mystery thriller. Two girls who couldn't be more opposite of each other and the way they connect with one another--what it's like to be necessary to someone, right up until your not necessary to them anymore...

Necessary People is more the type of story to stimulate your thoughts than one to throw shock (mystery & action) and awe (twists) at you.  Despite that, some or most, readers found this to be a great read.  I want to say that I agree with them...but, the slowly developing plot left me bored most of the time, even though the writing is totally there.  This reminded me of a Megan Abbott book, (Give Me Your Hand) that I listened too...it really has a similar feel to it, so if you like that, then you might really like this. 

Lastly, the narration was excellently executed by Vanessa Johansson.  She had a way of making you forget that only one person was telling the story.
 

THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3/5
Narration Performance 5/5
Characters 3.3/5
The Feels 2.5/5
Pacing 2.8/5
Addictiveness 3.5/5
Theme or Tone 3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 3/5
Originality 3/5
Ending 2.7/5
_____

Book Cover It's different...kind of cool...I guess.
Setting New York mostly...but also Maine and London for a bit, too.
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 10 hours, 35 minutes


Sunday, July 21, 2019

Under A Dark Sky by Lori Rader-Day

FEATURING


Closed Circle Murder Mystery
A Dark Sky Park
Lake Michigan Setting
Dealing With Loss Of Spouse
Audio Performed By Tavia Gilbert

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHOR'S WEBSITE)


MY RATING⇢ ☆3.5☆STARS - GRADE= B-



MY THOUGHTS


Initially drawn in by the familiar setting of Northern Michigan, (I've not only driven but also walked across the Mackinaw Bridge...which is very cool) I sadly only found this to be an okay read, overall.  My favorite element of the story is the setting, actually.  Also, if you've read this and you're wondering if the phone service is really as bad as they make out to be in this story...it totally is.

As for the other elements...while I've never read this type of mystery, a closed circle or locked-room sort of thing...I feel like the idea is to make us believe that each person involved could be guilty of the murder.  Rader-Day did, for the most part, accomplish this, but it was done somewhat weakly or maybe, it just felt too contrived.  The story was also overly long and could've been less detailed in some areas.  I also found the MC kind of odd...with her random almost-hook-up to the very random eventual romance interest, to her fear of the dark...why was she afraid of the dark after her husband's death???  Overall, I feel the mystery did have many layers going for it, and the ending did surprise me. 

Audio by Tavia Gilbert was doable...she's not the best and she's definitely not the worse, either.  I will forever be reminded of the first series I listened to narrated by her, though.


THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 3.3/5
Narration Performance 4/5
Characters 3.2/5
The Feels 3.5/5
Pacing 3/5
Addictiveness 3.5/5
Theme or Tone 3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 3.7/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.5/5
Originality 4.5/5
Ending 3.8/5
_____

Book Cover It's pretty enough...but it doesn't really represent the story.
Setting The tip of the middle finger of Michigan...only in Michigan can you explain a geographical location with parts of your hand.  (A Dark Sky Park really does exist in this exact spot)
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 11 hours, 44 minutes

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Night Before by Wendy Walker



FEATURING⇢


 Internet Dating
A Many-Layered Mystery
Psychological Thriller
Suspenseful
Twisted & Twisty
With Audio Performed by Saskia Maarleveld & Gabra Zackman 

LINK TO SYNOPSIS (AUTHORS WEBSITE)





MY RATING⇢ ☆4.7☆STARS GRADE=A



MY THOUGHTS


I was totally wrapped up in this story.  On the outside, it's a story about internet dating...but on the inside, it's so......much......more.  I've now listened to three books by Wendy Walker and I've devoured all of them.  Her writing has a way of drawing you in.  She gives you just enough clues for you to draw some of the correct assumptions, but the solutions are never that simple, she always has a way to completely twist things and leave you reeling. 

The only thing that really brought this down for me was the audiobook narration.  I'm not sure, but I'm fairly certain it was Gabra Zackman's performance as the sister that I found fault with.  Her other voices, specifically the male ones were so nasally.  They just came off as ridiculous.  Despite that, I would still recommend the Audio for this.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 5/5
Narration Performance 4.3/5
Characters 4.7/5
The Feels 4.7/5
Pacing 5/5
Addictiveness 5/5
Theme or Tone 4.7/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.5/5
Backdrop (World Building) 5/5
Originality 5/5
Ending 5/5
_____

Book Cover Hmmm...such an innocuous cover, masking the crazy inside it.
Setting Branston, CT
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 8 hours, 43 minutes


 

Friday, July 12, 2019

Warrior Of The Wild by Tricia Levenseller


FEATURING


Viking Inspired
Fantasy
(More) Young (Than) Adult
Clean Romance
A Quest
Stand-Alone
Audio Performed By Marisa Calin

MY RATING⇢ ☆4.2☆STARS - GRADE=B+ 



MY THOUGHTS


I do believe that Tricia Levensellers books are geared more towards the younger of YA set.  They are easily the type of story you could have your preteen read.  With squeaky clean romances and courageous heartfelt characters.  The overall life lessons are inspiring and also make them perfect for teens.  That's not to say that it can't be enjoyed by an adult who is young at heart, as long as go into it expecting a book that's geared more towards the aforementioned.

While the story is predictable, and the romance wasn't always there, these issues feel small or insignificant when stacked up against the good in the story.  Rasmira is an indelible, fierce heroine, her tenacity for success is inspiring.  That and the camaraderie she has with Soren and Iric is what made this story not only memorable but enjoyable for me.

The Audio was done with skill by Marisa Calin, she was a perfect fit for Rasmira.  Her other voices were seamless, as well.



THE BREAKDOWN⇢  


Plot 4/5
Narration Performance 5/5
Characters 4.3/5
The Feels 4/5
Pacing 4.3/5
Addictiveness 4.3/5
Theme or Tone 4.3/5
Flow (Writing Style) 4.3/5
Backdrop (World Building) 4.3/5
Originality 4/5
Ending 4/5 Cliffhanger Nope.
_____

Book Cover Love it!!!
Setting The wilds outside a fantastical Viking inspired Villiage.
Source Audiobook (Library)
Length 9 hours, 11 minutes


My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing


 ๏ ๏ ๏  Highlights ๏ ๏ ๏ 


Disturbed In Suburbia = Disturbia
Unlikable Main Characters
A Twisted Mystery Thriller
With A Serial Killer(s)
Suspenseful
Thought-Provoking



With Audio Performed by David Pittu



๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 


4.5STARS - GRADE=A-


๏ ๏ ๏  My Thoughts ๏ ๏ ๏ 


What makes a serial killer into a serial killer...we've all thought this...we've all asked ourselves, why?  Why would someone do this or become this?  This is one couples twisted story of how.  Well, sort of, anyway...

Told entirely from the Husband's POV, in the beginning, you'll be thinking that this couple is just wretched horrible.  You might even feel like you don't want to finish there story.  I'm not saying that they will redeem themselves or anything like that...but stick with it because this story is fiendishly clever and seriously twisted.  A thrilling stunner...it's one that will have you thinking about it well after you finish it.  I found the narrator, David Pittu, to be exceptional, with a decent range of voices.





๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 


Plot⇝ 5/5
Narration Performance⇝ 5/5
Main Characters⇝ 5/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 4.3/5
The Feels⇝ 5/5
Pacing⇝ 4.5/5
Addictiveness⇝ 4.5/5
Theme or Tone (for this book it's how truly f*cked-up it is)⇝ 5/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 4.5/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 5/5
Originality⇝ 5/5
Ending⇝ 4.3/5
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝ It goes perfectly with the story.
Setting⇝ A Gated Community in Florida
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
Length⇝ 10 hours, 13 minutes
๏ ๏ ๏

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