Bookish Bingo: Holiday 2015 Reading Challenge – Recap

The last few months literally flew by. I definitely wasn’t able to focus as much on this challenge as I might have liked to but hey, life gets in the way. I had done another of the Bookish Bingo reading challenges during January-March 2015 and had such a blast that I wanted to do it again. Unfortunately this time around I was trying to make my already scheduled ARC’s fit into the necessary categories instead of picking books specifically for the reason that they fit into the categories, I think this is where I went wrong.

Anyways, Bookish Bingo is hosted by Pretty Deadly Reviews and there is already a Spring 2016 card up so if this interests you definitely go sign up! Its lots of fun! And here was my original post when I signed up for the Holiday 2015 bingo. Below is my filled out Bingo card and a list of all the books I read for this challenge!

Capture

RomanceA Match For Marcus Cynster by Stephanie Laurens
Multi POVTiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams
FantasyBefore the Claiming by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
2015 Realease You MissedToo Close to Home by Susan Lewis
Time TravelReturn of the Witch by Paula Brackston
Free SpaceThe Restaurant Critic’s Wife by Elizabeth LaBan
ThrillerThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
One-Word TitleNookietown by V.C. Chickering
White CoverThe Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth
RetellingMirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
2016 DebutTry Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon
Start a New SeriesDown the Wormhole by Ana Franco
Blue CoverIn Real Life by Jessica Love

 

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2016 Status Update: February

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Ugh. I can’t believe it is March already! Its tax season for me right now so I am definitely finding myself falling behind schedule a little bit. That and I am requesting WAY more than I can possibly manage to read on the various ARC sites.  Anyways, here is my status update for progress I made on reading challenges this month and some highlights of my posts for this month.

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 1,988
# books read year-to-date: 15
# pages read year-to-date: 4,793

Favorite Books I Read:

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert
Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Books I Didn’t Particularly Enjoy: 

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Slaughter House-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Was just too much weird stuff all thrown together for me

Other Posts this month:

Friday Finds (Feb 5)

Status of 2016 Reading Challenges:

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 Checklist – 5/20 books read
Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge – 1/24 books read
Penguin Random House: Challenge Your Shelf A-Z Reading Challenge – 0/26 books read
Holiday Bingo 2015 Reading Challenge – 13/25 books read – this challenge is over as of 2/29/16, look for my wrap-up post on this coming in the next couple days! My next challenge I will be doing is the Bout of Books in May

March TBR list: 

-Wedding Night with the Earl by Amelia Grey (NetGalley)
-I Kissed a Rogue by Shana Galen (rolled from Feb TBR – didn’t get to) (NetGalley)
-The Last Girl by Joe Hart (NetGalley)
-The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (rolled from Feb TBR – didn’t get to) (NetGalley)
-A Sudden Crush by Camille Isley (The Reading Room)
-Tales of My Childhood by Anna Lillian Young (author request)
-Little Bee by Chris Cleave (book club)
-Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky (NetGalley)
-Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges (NetGalley)
-Good on Paper by Rachel Cantor (Reading with Robin book discussion)
-A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams (BookBrowse)

So I have a full schedule for March and I’m sure I’ll still end up requesting more as we go through the month because (a) I’m addicted to books and (b) I love reading. I have to say though I am looking forward to my post-tax season time when I can take a few days off and hopefully get caught up! Maybe even read one of the 300 books that I own and haven’t read (a girl can dream). Specifically if I have time I think I’ll be picking up The Glass Sword (sequel to The Red Queen) since I pre-ordered it and it came during Feb but of course I couldn’t read it because of all my other books I already had scheduled. Hopefully this month!

So! That was February overview and my plan for March! Hoping to find more time for reading this month! Happy reading to all!

2016 Book #15 – In Real Life by Jessica Love

41NZ+T0vkHLTitle: In Real Life
Author: Jessica Love
Date finished: 2/24/16
Genre: Fiction, thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages in book: 224
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: The Reading Room NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.
There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.
Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Las Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.
Hannah’s surprise romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and finds out that Nick has been keeping some major secrets. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Blue Cover” square, since it has a blue cover. This book is about a girl named Hannah who decides to start breaking some of her rules. All her life she’s been the good girl and the obedient one. But now she is a senior in high school, she’s on spring break, and she decides that its high time she went to Las Vegas (only 4 hours away from her). Not to gamble but to meet the boy that she’s been talking to (pretty much non-stop) for the past four years. He’s her best friend and possibly more than her friend and she’s going to surprise him by showing up at one of his band performances.Little does she know that she’s the one who is going to be surprised (gasp).
So Hannah, her sister Grace, and her best friend Lo travel to Las Vegas and spend the night with Hannah’s best friend Nick. Along with him they also spend time with Nick’s brother Alex and friends Oscar and Jordy, as well as Frankie, Nick’s girlfriend (double gasp). What ensues is a wild night out on Las Vegas for a girl (Hannah) who is only used to following the rules. Hannah learns how to let lose and have fun and not just do exactly what she’s supposed to do.
Overall I thought this was a cute story. I connected with Hannah a little bit since I too was a goody two-shoes in high school. I have to be honest though, she and I were very different in the teen angst department and I found that piece of the book somewhat frustrating. I was never one to keep my mouth shut when I liked a boy so my angst was always of the “oh he doesn’t like me that sucks, oh wait look there’s some new shiny thing” while Hannah’s angst is more “oh I love this boy to pieces but I’m going to keep it to myself and be sad that he doesn’t know I like him.” I find that angst to be overly frustrating because how are you ever going to know if he likes you back if you don’t say anything. Other than that though the characters were cute, the story line was funny, and it was a quick read. Perfect read for this summer when you’re looking for something light to read on the beach!

The bottom line: This was a quick, light, and cute read. High on the teen angst scale but other than that it is a cute story about a girl taking chances and falling in love.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #14 – Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon

412ZKAIR+wLTitle: Try Not To Breathe
Author: Holly Seddon
Date finished: 2/24/16
Genre: Fiction, thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Some secrets never die. They’re just locked away.
Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found unconscious after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Amy Stevenson, who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.
Soon Alex’s routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter’s story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from her attempt to uncover the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she’s not just chasing a story—she’s seeking salvation.
Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.

My rating:  4.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “2016 Debut” square, since this was Seddon’s debut novel and it was released in 2016. This book is kind of jointly about Amy Stevenson and Alex Dale. Alex is a freelance journalist and professional alcoholic. Seems to me she only works about 2 hours every day, she goes for a run after she wakes up and then she has to be home by noon to lock herself away and turn off all her phones and electronics so that drunk Alex doesn’t get barely sober Alex into any trouble.
Lately she has been writing medical columns, which is how she ended up coming upon Amy Stevenson in the Bramble Ward at the hospital. Amy was abducted at fifteen and beaten almost to death and she was basically left in a vegetative state. Recent research by Dr. Haynes though, suggests that about half the “vegetables” of the world are actually fully conscious people who simply can not move, maybe due to paralysis or something else. This is the case with Amy, she has thoughts and memories and can hear what people are saying to her but she can’t figure out why she can’t talk back. Alex starts to investigate what happened to Amy that put her in this hospital, the case has been left unsolved for fifteen years. Along the way she interviews many people who knew Amy when she was fifteen and Alex can feel herself getting closer and closer to the truth.
Overall I really really liked this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat pretty much through the whole book, and I honestly just did not want to put it down. I couldn’t wait to figure out who the bad guy was and what had happened to Amy and what was Alex’s story. Alex is a severely flawed character but she is also deeply lovable not just in spite of but because of her vulnerabilities. There were a couple characters in the story that I wasn’t thrilled with overall but they each had their part to play and the plot overall was honestly just great. I thought it was well paced and interesting at all times and was just such a great debut novel, I can’t wait to see what else this author has in store!

The bottom line: Oh my gosh what a great book. Riveting, I didn’t want to put it down!! Alex was such a flawed main character but I loved her and I loved learning Amy’s story.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #13 – Nookietown by V.C. Chickering

71ChsqwxUMLTitle: Nookietown
Author: V.C. Chickering
Date finished: 2/18/16
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Recently divorced, 40-something single-mom, Lucy, is lonely, bored and craving physical connection. So, when her trusted long-time married friend, Nancy, begs Lucy to sleep with her husband to save her marriage, Lucy goes for it. It’s such a success, the two friends invent a town-wide underground barter system whereby Nancy’s married girlfriends sub-contract Lucy’s divorcee friends to sleep with their husbands so they don’t have to as often. It’s a win, win, win- for a while. Then it all goes to hell in a hand-basket.
Laugh-out-loud funny, emotionally provocative and at times racy, Nookietown is a story of risk-taking, marriage, honesty and desire, and what one woman rationalizes in order to get what she wants.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “One-Word Title” square, since the title for this book is in fact only one word. I had heard about this book from a couple of different places, one of which was Popsugar’s 23 Books You Should Read This Winter. So when I saw it available on NetGalley I’m not even sure I fully read the description before requesting it. I mean I’m sure I knew the main premise for the story, but still I found myself surprised while reading it that there was just so much sex. It was everywhere, the main character of this book (sorry I should have introduced her already, her name is Lucy Larken (ha)) was constantly having sex (in detail) with a variety of men.
So basically, the short description of what happens is that Lucy’s friend Nancy (with Lucy’s help) starts a service where married women can basically subcontract out the sex part of their life to a lonely divorcee who isn’t interested in getting married again. Takes some of the pressure off her so she isn’t being begged for sex constantly and she doesn’t have to feel guilty about always saying no to sex. Lucy meets and dates a couple of guys while she’s involved in the program, but she doesn’t divulge her “side-business” to them. Lucy is recently divorced and is having a hard time not only getting back out into the dating world but also feeling desirable. So when she starts participating in the Program and starts being so appreciated by these other womens’ husbands just for having sex with them, she starts to feel wanted again and starts to get her self-confidence back.
Overall I thought this was a really interesting premise for a book and I definitely don’t think I’ve ever read anything like it before.I did have a lot of issues with the book but most of them were more personal issues that I don’t think would necessarily affect other readers. I’ll just run through my issues with the book really quickly. Kit was a shitty friend. In the beginning-ish of the book she tells Lucy about how hard Lucy’s divorce was on her (KIT). Like Lucy’s divorce affected and upset Kit so much. As soon as she said that I was like no way get the F out of here. Another issue I had with the book was that the idea would never work. I don’t know any women who would willingly go tell their husband to sleep with another woman, never mind arrange it for them. Nuts. Another thing is that if Lucy really did get pregnant the way she meant to from Peter, that is messed up beyond reason. Just awful awful stuff. Anyways I think those were my main issues, there were a couple of other things but they were small issues. I think that the premise behind this book was just so difficult for me to comprehend and wrap my mind around that it made it harder for me to enjoy the story. That being said though, this book was interesting and had some really great points on marriage and relationships as a whole as well as the importance of being grateful for what you have in life.

The bottom line: I thought that this was an interesting book and actually had some good thoughts about marriage and forgiveness and being grateful for what you have. So yes I would recommend it. Just be warned though, there is lots of sex. I wasn’t expecting that much sex.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #7 – Down the Wormhole by Ana Franco

51goyFUe8+L._SX357_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Down the Wormhole
Author: Ana Franco
Date finished: 1/24/16
Genre: YA, mythology
Publisher: Appears to be self-published
Publication Date: September 21, 2015
Pages in book: 171
Stand alone or series: #1 in Wormhole series
Where I got the book from: Author/publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Jane “Kitty” Doe isn’t sure when her life started being so weird for the simple fact that she can’t recall much of her early life. She knows she’s an orphan and that her former tutor was obsessed with cats – hence her name – but can’t honestly fathom when having a Greek sorceress wanting her to be pregnant became part of that life.
Oh, and did she mention that the man said sorceress wanted to be the father of her child was one who, within months of his life, usurped Loki’s place as a Prince? She must have forgotten to mention that he also has fabulous legs. And a stupidly charming face. And that he actually wants to have a child with her?
Oh, right – that’s because he was under the effects of a love potion, courtesy of the witch that now stalks Kitty.
Ah, and then there’s another thing: inside her bathroom is a statue of Aphrodite, gift from her new roommate, Medusa.

My rating: 2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Start a New Series” square, since this book is the first in a series. This book is (mostly) about a girl named Kitty, who finds herself involved in the politics and old grudges of the Norse gods and goddesses, specifically Amerigin, Anubis, Medusa, Aphrodite, Eris and Set. Eris has some kind of master plan to gain revenge against Amerigin and it means that he must lose the thing he holds most dear. Which seems to be Kitty. So anyways, all of them except for Eris and Set end up at the same orphanage (somehow) and also somehow the guys didn’t even know the girls in their orphanage were goddesses. When Eris attacks though they band together to protect Kitty, who they believe to be an innocent but who is surprisingly unperturbed by the fact she has goddesses for roommates.
Overall I liked the story line of this book, it kept me interested and I stayed engaged in the story. However, there were A LOT of grammatical errors in this book (mostly verb tenses). After reading a little online, it seems that this book was the author’s first ever book in English which explained the poor grammar. Luckily I also read online that this book is currently being revised/rewritten with the help of an editor which I think will greatly improve it. This book I thought had a lot of potential story line-wise but needed a lot of help with grammar and pacing. For those who are seriously bothered by grammatical issues I would wait until the revised version comes out and hopefully that issue will have been dealt with. I have to say though I ended up getting invested in the story line and I am interested to see what happens next. Though the characters are slightly frustrating, the plot line (for me) was almost enough to overcome the issues present in this book.

The bottom line: While I thought this book had a lot of potential in the story line, the wealth of grammatical errors would deter some readers. If you think you can move past those though, the story line is fairly interesting and keeps you hooked. A little all over the place but its a shorter novel anyway so it fits the length of the book I think.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

Link to author’s website

2016 Book #5 – Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston

81J7cls7VfLTitle: The Return of the Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Date finished: 1/16/16
Genre: Historical, fiction, time travel
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Pages in book: 339
Stand alone or series: Sequel to The Witch’s Daughter
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

 

Blurb from the cover:

Paula Brackston’s debut novel, The Witch’s Daughter, was the little book that could–with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 200,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with its sequel The Return of the Witch, another bewitching tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.
After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since she the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has traveled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon’s dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemesis once and for all?
In a breathless journey that takes them through history to the 17th and 19th centuries, witch pursues warlock. Three people steeped in magic weave a new story, but not all will survive until the end.

My rating: 4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. Also, this book will count towards my “Holiday 2015 Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Time Travel” square, since much of this book deals with traveling through time. This book picks up 5 years after the end of the previous book, “The Witch’s Daughter.” I didn’t know that this book was a sequel until I started reading it so I hadn’t read the first book ahead of time. While I didn’t find that this hindered me in any way, I think that some of the back story items discussed in this book would have made more sense to me if I had read the first book before hand. I still greatly enjoyed this book though.
From what I was able to gather, Gideon was defeated at the end of the first book and banished to a prison in some kind of witch heaven. In the beginning of this book, Gideon escapes his prison and returns to Earth. Elizabeth follows him, thinking that the first thing he’ll do is go after her young student Tegan not only for Tegan’s part in Gideon’s incarceration but also as a means of getting revenge on Elizabeth. While she is correct on Gideon’s direction, she has no idea that his plans for Tegan involve something far worse than merely revenge. After Gideon manages to capture Tegan, Elizabeth follows them through time to try and retrieve Tegan back from Gideon’s dark forces.
Overall I really enjoyed this book! I have to be honest I was surprised that I enjoyed it so much since the last book I read by Brackston (The Midnight Witch) I did not really enjoy so much because it was very confusing for me. This book was much easier to follow with the story line and it was a great story/plot. I do wish that I had read the previous book to have a better understanding of some of the back story but it was easy enough to figure out the gist of what had happened for the most part. And this book was just so interesting, it was one adventure after another. We learn about Tegan’s journey through the world in search of learning different types of magic and each stop ends up being more fantastical than the last.

 

The bottom line: I thought this was a great book! I would probably recommend reading the first book, well first (which I am planning to read soon) but if you don’t have time this book can technically be read as a book on its own. Was a great adventure! I would definitely recommend!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page