The Bitter Taste of Betrayal by CeeCee James

The Bitter Taste of Betrayal by CeeCee James

The Bitter Taste of Betrayal is a pleasant cozy mystery. The story is engaging. I’m not sure how she figured out where the (not) dead guy was being held. That was kind of sudden, but if you just go with it and don’t think too hard it’s fine. There are a lot of characters, some who are important but not mentioned for long periods of time so you have to try to remember who is meant when they pop back up. Overall, it’s a nice bit of brain candy. I recommend The Bitter Taste of Betrayal to anyone who enjoys cozy mysteries.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 6
Pages Read in 2023: 1988

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Reason: B&N Book Challenge, Reason: Flourish & Blotts Reading Challenge, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

The premise was great and it started strong, but in the end Never Ever Getting Back Together was just bad. It’s meant to be a light, brain candy sort of book with a sweet f/f romance, but there were too many things that bothered me about it to allow it to be very enjoyable.

The idea of a Bachelor-type reality TV show with all the competitors exes and the winner rekindling their romance with one lucky ex has excellent potential. Once I realized the guy was only 20 and his six exes were 18 to early twenties the whole thing just became silly. I realize the ages are to make it YA, but it’s just not something that lends itself to being a YA book precisely because of the ages. Also, he supposedly dated some of these girls for long periods of time, and these are not his only exes (in fact it’s insinuated there are MANY more) so the timeline just doesn’t work out for him to be only 20.

Maya was really mean to Skye at first (since it’s intended to be enemies to lovers, though that changeover was completely anticlimactic, just a sort of oh, it was a misunderstanding sort of thing, and happened very early on). Because of this, three of the other girls joined Skye in hating Maya. Once Skye started liking Maya the girls continued to hate Maya. This makes no sense. They would definitely not have been so loyal to someone they just met that they continue to hate the girl she only used to hate.

Jordy was really the only well-written character with his own voice, completely fleshed out. He had depth and made you really hate him and his slimy narcissism, The explanation of how he was royal adjacent was not totally explained and had some contradictions, though.

Maya and Skye may as well have been the same character. Aside from Maya liberally using four-letter words, they sounded identical. This presented a problem because the chapters switched point of view between them regularly. Sometimes it was nearly impossible to tell who was narrating until the other one’s name was written.

There are several things that were completely unrealistic, but the worst was when Skye cut off all her hair. None of the girls even commented on it. There is no way a bunch of girls would not comment on someone suddenly going from long hair to a pixie cut. Jordy barely reacted when he saw her. It was just sort of a he raised his eyebrows sort of thing. He had just told her how much he liked her long hair so him not saying anything about her cutting her hair in response to that just seems strange.

The girls tended to be incredibly immature, well beyond what I’d expect of people their ages. They acted more like 14-year-olds most of the time. Especially when Skye threw an incredible hissy fit at the end. Her behavior was out of character and rather insufferable. Maya’s obsession with getting back at Jordy for cheating on her two years before also seemed rather ridiculous, tiring, and very immature.

The formatting on the Kindle version is terrible. There are a few random scene change stars right in the middle of sentences. Conversations are written in paragraph blocks and because attributions aren’t always properly given, sometimes what seems to be one character speaking is actually two. There are also many random spaces right in the middle of paragraphs. Along with the generally poor writing, the formatting made it rather annoying to read.

I had high hopes for Never Ever Getting Back Together so it was disappointing that I ended up disliking it so much. Sure, there are good moments, but they are almost completely overshadowed. This is one book to just not bother with for sure.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 5
Pages Read in 2023: 1736

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Filed under Reason: Flourish & Blotts Reading Challenge, Reason: Grim Readers, Romance, Young Adult

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Midnight Library is very thought provoking. While I figured out rather early on what Nora’s ideal life would be, it was still an enjoyable read getting there. The story draws you in and with the very short chapters I found myself saying “just one more chapter” over and over. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever had a single regret and thought “what if.”

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 4
Pages Read in 2023: 1351

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Filed under Reason: B&N Book Challenge, Reason: Flourish & Blotts Reading Challenge, Reason: Grim Readers, Science Fiction

Pandora Gets Jealous by Carolyn Hennesy

Pandora Gets Jealous by Carolyn Hennesy

Based on the Pandora’s Box myth, young Pandora accidentally opens the box with all the ills of the world and she (along with her two friends and her dog) must go and collect them and put them back in the box. Pandora Gets Jealous is the first in the series. It’s a very cute book, and often quite funny. The main characters are well rounded and have distinct voices and personalities. I found it to be quite enjoyable, and a quick read. It’s one that can be used as a family read aloud or given to kids to read on their own with no concerns. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Greek mythology.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 3
Pages Read in 2023: 1063

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Filed under Middle Grades, Reason: B&N Book Challenge, Reason: Flourish & Blotts Reading Challenge, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N

Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas

The point in the series to read Assassin’s Blade varies based on who you ask. I went with after Heir of Fire. Having read it, I’d suggest either reading it before Heir of Fire or, even better, first, before Throne of Glass. The novellas included in Assassin’s Blade give background information that I think would have increased my enjoyment of the first three books. I enjoyed all the included stories. Calaena’s character was consistent with later on. Arobynn creeped me out. And I was super sad when the story of Sam was told. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the Throne of Glass series.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 2
Pages Read in 2023: 787

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Flourish & Blotts Reading Challenge, Reason: Grim Readers, Young Adult

Rise Up From the Embers by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

Rise Up From the Embers by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

Rise Up From the Embers picks up right where Set Fire to the Gods ends. The chapters alternate point of view between Ash and Madoc (which gets quite interesting once Anathrasa takes control of Madoc’s mind). There is one short and rather unnecessary sex scene near the beginning of the book. The epilogue is adorable. All in all, it’s an excellent conclusion to the duology. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Set First to the Gods.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2023: 1
Pages Read in 2023: 341

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: Bedtime Story for the Boys, Young Adult

2022 Annual Wrap-up

How many books did you read and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?
I read 116 books plus 4 graphic novels this year. My goal was 100 so I did beat it by a good amount. Those 116 books equaled just over 40,000 pages.

What story stayed with you a long time, left you wanting more or needing time to digest?
Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. I have recommended it to so many people. It’s interesting to think about how the journey is what matters and if you don’t do something because it might not work out or it may end, well, you are missing out. Take the risk. It’ll be worth it.

What are some quotes that made you read them a second time?
At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. (Edgar Allan Poe)

I feel like an on-call OB/GYN in a Mormon polygamist compound. (The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader by Jim Stevens)

“You could cook an egg on the sidewalk,” Tiffany argues.
“I don’t do dairy,” Doris retorts. (The Case of the Not-So-Fair Trader by Jim Stevens)

“But I don’t judge. I do not judge.” He notices Hephaestus’s gavel. “Apparently, you do, though.” (Lovely War by Julie Berry)

“Please,” he said, “if we’re going to be friends, I insist you call me ‘Your Majesty.'” (Lovely War by Julie Berry)

Cryptic in his famous Adam style that had once annoyed her to no end, but now she realized that if a girl cares enough to be constantly annoyed by a boy, then she must holds some primal interest in him. (Night Without End by DP Fitzsimons)

One cannot change one’s way of thinking as easily as one might, say, turn into a snow leopard. (The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan)

“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was bothering anyone,” said Arthur, slightly abashed and then slightly more abashed at being abashed by a talking tree. (The First Round Table by Ben Gillman)

“I fought an army single-handedly. Lost my arm. Then literally fought them single-handedly.” (The First Round Table by Ben Gillman)

The international boycott movement had its origins and greatest resonance in the United States, a nation whose professed commitment to equality of opportunity in sports was not diminished by its actual discriminatory practices. (Nazi Games by David Clay Large)

So just before I left Terry for the last time, less than a year later, I went to an afternoon ‘tea, and when the Captain’s wife asked me, in front of the other ladies, what I intended to do to keep busy while the ship was gone to Vietnam, I replied, with a level gaze, ‘Well, I’ve heard that the topless go-go dancers around here make a lot of money, and have a lot of fun. I think I’ll find a job like that. They say you don’t have to be experienced!’
The captain’s wife dropped her teacup. (A Quiet Life in Bedlam by Patricia Bjornstad)

That was the only time I thought about murdering someone. But I didn’t know how to dispose of the body. (A Quiet Life in Bedlam by Patricia Bjornstad)

“…Before we begin our banquet, I would like to say a few words. And here they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you!” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling)

“And, since they are theater people, they are all talking. All of them. Simultaneously. They do not need to be heard; they only need to be speaking.” (Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan)

“Nobody’s accusing you of anything, ma’am,” Drew says. “They’re just catching you in a lie, is all.” (Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier)

As the noted philosopher Britney Spears sang on her pop hit “Circus:” “There’s only two types of people in the world/ The ones that entertain and the ones that observe.” (The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch)

“Just because a place is fictional doesn’t mean it isn’t real.” (Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older)

Top 5 Books of the Year
Instructions for Dancing by Nichola Yoon
Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
The Perfect Family by Sholini Boland

Bottom 5 Books of the Year
Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia by Michal Viewegh
The Blackmail Club by David Bishop
The First Round Table by Ben Gillman
Murder by the Slice by Mary Maxwell
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

How many books are in your To Read pile right now?
673. For the first time in years my TBR pile went down. This is because I spent a lot of time going through my Kindle books and I discovered I’m just not the person I was when I got them a decade ago so I deleted them. Subtracting the books I read and the books I deleted and adding the many books I bought this year (211), I am down 238 books from exactly one year ago. (That’s 130 fewer than at the end of 2020, 86 fewer than 2019, 12 more than 2018, and 143 more than at the end of 2017 when I started keeping track.)

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Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett

Like a Sister is a fabulous book. There are so many twists and turns. I felt like part of the book, solving Desiree’s death right along with Lena, knowing only as much as she knew and making guesses and inferences as she did. I definitely didn’t see the end coming. There’s a lot of tension in this book, but the author has an incredible sense of humor that diffuses that tension absolutely perfectly. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers and mysteries.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 116
Pages Read in 2022: 40,152
Graphic Novels: 4

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Filed under Mystery, Reason: Book of the Month, Reason: Grim Readers, Thriller

Marriage Can Be Murder by Susan Santangelo

Marriage Can Be Murder by Susan Santangelo

Carol is back at trying to solve yet another too-close-to-home murder. There is a lot in this book that is ridiculous (such as the reasons for having basically no one at the wedding) and those things often took me out of the story while I rolled my eyes. The writing is mediocre. The formatting on the Kindle makes it very hard to enjoy reading. The big reveal pretty much came out of left field. Marriage Can Be Murder is not a book to go out of your way to read.

3 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 115
Pages Read in 2022: 39,843
Graphic Novels: 4

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

As far as useless books go, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of the better ones. It’s still pretty bad, though. The main character learns nothing from his experiences. He is kind of obnoxious and gets more so when Earl is around. The writing is bad and the premise is basically taking The Fault in Our Stars and making it terrible. It’s basically a waste of time to read. I don’t recommend reading it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 114
Pages Read in 2022: 39,606
Graphic Novels: 4

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Filed under Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: The Coven of Forbidden Books, Young Adult