Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie

Holly Banks Full of Angst is so over the top farcically funny. Every character is exaggerated but still totally relatable. Everyone around Holly in her new village seems perfect. She tries so hard to fit in but is still a hot mess no matter what she does. The head of the PTA is kind of a bully, and maybe a little crazy, pressuring people into volunteering so they can have a much better school and town then the next town over. I laughed out loud several times while reading it. It’s just such a fun mind vacation. I recommend it to anyone who has ever dealt with “perfect” neighbors or an overbearing PTA.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 77
Pages Read in 2022: 27,870
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Murder by the Slice by Mary Maxwell

Murder by the Slice by Mary Maxwell

This book is one of the most poorly edited books I’ve ever read. It was revealed that one character was not who he presented himself to be and was using an assumed name and then the author seemed to forget that whole part and had the main character google (with no luck) the name and position as he had given it. There were many editing errors, both missing words and extra words. They were usually small ones like in and the, but it made it annoying to read.

The characters were very flat and they were pretty much all rather stupid. The main character is supposed to be really smart and a great PI, but she missed pretty much every clue and while investigating she left things to much later instead of actually trying to figure things out. For example, if I got a thumb drive from my dead boss – who inexplicably sent it to a previous address requiring the post office to forward it twice – I wouldn’t just copy the files to my computer, I’d figure out the passwords right away and open the files. Speaking of the thumb drive, why were the files password protected using passwords her dead boss used but he apparently was given the thumb drive by someone else and sent it to her the day before he died just in case? She seemed shocked that a knife used in a murder a few miles away could possibly also be planted at her home as a warning to her, though she had made the connection about that earlier (the author made sure to mention it was totally her excellent PI skills figuring that out of course). Over and over how tired she was and how little sleep she was getting was mentioned, to the point it got downright irritating.

When her fingerprints were found all over the knife – because it was HER knife someone had stolen – the police acted like that meant she killed the guy. Nevermind it was her knife that she used all the time so of course her prints would be on it.

The whole book was incredibly predictable which made it quite boring. I found myself finding every reason not to read it and ended up taking almost two weeks to read a book the length of one I’d typically read in a couple days. Usually I like cozy mysteries, but Murder by the Slice is one to skip.

1 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 76
Pages Read in 2022: 27,497
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Reason: Grim Readers

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix

The Left-Handed Booksellers of London is a very bizarre book. The story makes little sense and there doesn’t seem to be all that much of a plot. Sometimes too much description is a bad thing and with this book that is definitely the case. It could’ve been half as long. The cadence is weird, too. I read it out loud to my boys and usually within a chapter or two it’s easy to get into the rhythm of reading a book, but this one just stayed weird and was never pleasant to read. The romance was so contrived and unnecessary, almost like the author said to himself that this is a YA book therefore it must have some sort of romance (and the last paragraph, related to that romance, was totally silly and unneeded). The characters were pretty flat and while the main character got the information she wanted, there was no real growth or change to any of them. No one seemed to be shocked or even care much at having a traitor among the booksellers. It was just not a very enjoyable book so I do not recommend it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 75
Pages Read in 2022: 27,273
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Grim Readers, Reason: Literati, Young Adult

The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch

The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch

Before Evanna Lynch became Luna Lovegood, she battled anorexia. This book is mostly about that battle. It’s also about Harry Potter and her life since then, but it always comes back to anorexia. It’s a thing she battles all the time on her path to accepting her body. The writing is engaging and puts you right into what was happening and how she was feeling. This is an extremely honest memoir. I’ve read many that paint themselves in the most positive light possible. Evanna doesn’t even try to do that (and, ultimately, I think she doesn’t give herself enough credit, but such is the way when you are your own worst bully). I quite enjoyed it and recommend it to adults who are Harry Potter fans and maybe those who have battled anorexia themselves with a huge trigger warning to be sure they have completely prepared themselves before reading it.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 74
Pages Read in 2022: 26,880
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Memoir, Reason: We Be Book'N

The Do-Over by Bethany Turner

The Do-Over by Bethany Turner

The Do-Over is a really cute book that is more or less predictable, but in all the ways you want a romcom to be predictable. While I found it easy to put the book down as needed, I did look forward to picking it back up when I had more time to read. While the end was perfect, I wish there had been a little bit more and it kept going for at least a few more pages. I recommend this book to adults who enjoy clean romantic comedies.

4 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 73
Pages Read in 2022: 26,404
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Book Club, Romance

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Regretting You is an emotional roller coaster that sucks you in and squeezes your heart as the characters deal with grief and betrayal. It is predictable in all the perfectly predictable ways with the ending you hope for the whole time. It reads fast and is hard to put down. It alternates between the points of view of the mom and the teenage daughter which results in very effectively reminding people that communicating with those you love is the most important thing. I highly recommend it to adults who enjoy romances and having their hearts put into a blender.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 72
Pages Read in 2022: 26,084
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Contemporary Fiction, Reason: We Be Book'N, Romance

Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story by Phyllis Hall Haislip

Lottie’s Courage: A Contraband Slave’s Story by Phyllis Hall Haislip

During the Civil War, if slaves made it to Fortress Monroe, they were declared contraband of war and so were considered free and protected by the Union soldiers. Lottie’s Courage is a gentle story showing what life was like in Grand Contraband Camp through the eyes of a young girl. It’s a quick read, and is historical fiction done right. I very highly recommend it to children and adults who enjoy historical fiction.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 71
Pages Read in 2022: 25,719
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Middle Grades, Reason: We Be Book'N

From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

From a Distant Star is an incredibly sweet book. I was sucked totally into the story and completely invested in what happened to the characters. I couldn’t put it down telling myself “just one more chapter” repeatedly. The ending is absolutely perfect. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light scifi.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 70
Pages Read in 2022: 25,511
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo, Reason: We Be Book'N, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

I did not much enjoy reading Crown of Midnight. I wavered between giving it one star (I almost never give books one star) and two and in the end it just barely saved itself from getting one star. Parts of it were decent. Good even, on occasion. It’s just there were so many things that annoyed me.

Note: This review contains some mild spoilers.

Celaena is kind of dumb and downright annoying. So incredibly annoying. She gets irrationally mad at Chaol, insisting, after a week of sleeping with him every chance she gets, she will never trust him again for withholding information (as he should have due to his job), but she withholds information from him all the time (including the fact that the king has threatened his life if she does not assassinate each person he assigns). This just makes her come across as a spoiled brat. Also, she is way too trusting of the wrong people. If she was such a great assassin, she would be much more careful about where she places her trust. For example, even knowing the type of person Archer is, she immediately believed him (including lies) about Chaol. Now, I realize the author needed her to do that to make the plot go a certain way, but it was just another place Celaena didn’t make sense. Thinking Nehemia always only told her the truth just because Nehemia said she would doesn’t seem to make sense for an assassin, one who would generally be suspicious of everyone.

Dorian pining over Celaena while at the same time insisting he had let her go (he hadn’t) was possibly true to character, but it was so idiotic and annoying. I just wanted to smack some sense into him. I literally groaned a few times when the story returned to him.

I felt like several characters didn’t behave true to their character. I’ve heard many authors speak about how they have to let their characters go where they want to go. It seems that this author was set on what she wants her characters to do to make the story go a certain way and so quite often the thought crossed my mind that character behavior seemed forced and out of, well, character for them.

Honestly, the only characters I truly liked were Katlain and Mort. And one of them is insane and the other is a brass door knocker. The others… I just didn’t care what happened to them. When it finally showed what Celaena really is, I was like oh, whatever, just finish the book.

In general, the writing was just poor, poorer, actually, than the first book in the series. I read a whole lot of YA and the vocabulary was less sophisticated in this one than most I’ve read. One time the author decided to suddenly use a big word, it didn’t really much make sense. Celaena, in mourning, had dinner with Dorian. It said something about how it was a quiet dinner, but not lachrymose. Considering this was Celaena I wouldn’t expect her to be tearful through dinner, especially not a dinner with Dorian. A better, more fitting word would have been somber, but maybe lachrymose was the author’s word of the day that day so she really wanted to use it.

The author repeated a lot of things over and over, particularly during the first about two-thirds. Sometimes I just felt like she was trying to increase the word count. Occasionally changing time or place or what’s happening wasn’t clear, but then that just may be me because I often found my mind wandering, even during parts that were supposed to be exciting. The witch explaining Wyrdkeys was dreadfully boring. The first part of the riddle seemed totally obvious to me and took Celaena way longer to solve than I think it should have. And then the “shocker” at the end was painfully obvious well before the big reveal.

A lot of people love this series, so I’m clearly in the minority disliking it. If you loved Throne of Glass (I liked that one very much myself), give Crown of Midnight a chance. You might find it rather dreadful like I did, or you might love it like most people, so don’t just write it off based on the problems I had with it.

2 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 69
Pages Read in 2022: 25,232
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Fantasy, Reason: I Like the Series, Reason: We Be Book'N, Young Adult

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier

Things We Do in the Dark by Jennifer Hillier

After a certain point I could not put Things We Do in the Dark down! It totally sucked me in. Rarely have I cared so much about what happens to characters that I hope things for them after the end of the book as if they were actual people. I was a bit confused when I got to part two and suddenly it was talking about totally different people, but of course all the storylines eventually converged and it all made sense. There were a couple things I expected and a couple things that were a complete surprise. I gasped right out loud a time or two while reading when things happened. The way the author wrote the feelings of the young teen in foster care toward her mother was super authentic. The ending was absolutely perfect. I highly recommend this book to adults who enjoy thrillers.

5 (out of 5) Stars
Books Read in 2022: 68
Pages Read in 2022: 24,871
Graphic Novels: 1

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Filed under Reason: Book of the Month, Reason: We Be Book'N, Thriller