Review of ‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a fan of Maureen Johnson‘s series The Name of the Star series, that I will say I had high expectations when it came to this new series she was producing. Now, can I tell you how happy I was to find myself completely immersed in to this one?!

I think what ended up appealing to me when it came to this book, was how much I enjoyed the idea of a mystery centered on true crime. I’ll first say that I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that there once was a time when many murders went unsolved, just because science and technology were not yet able to produce results that could actually implicate the person to the crime. Persons like Jack the Ripper were able to go about their regular lives just because there wasn’t the technology to pinpoint evidence to anyone. That being said, I was very much interested in the direction this book was going, beginning with a cold case from 1936, and leading to modern-day MC – Stevie Bell – who has made it her mission to solve the crime.

I loved that Stevie really was a dimensional character. She is awkward. She is strange. She is intense. Yet, all of these “qualities” worked for her and made her all the more relatable. I think that her being so relatable definitely helped humanize her for me, thus leading to my being more invested in her thoughts and actions.

Now, can we address the fact that though I do enjoy series…I can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with them. Because the way this ended?? Ahhhhh!!! I need the next book, and I need to find out what happens next!! To be continued…? Seriously??

Yup. I really need the next book. And yup, I do recommend this.

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Review of ‘The Hundredth Queen’ by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1)The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really had a hard time determining what I thought about this book… For one, I figured I should love it, because so many people were hyping this book on Goodreads a time ago, I believed that I, too, would fall in love. And another reason, was because sometimes I do get suckered into reading about “speshul” snowflakes, and actually enjoy what I’m reading, because sometimes I am simple like that…
But unfortunately for me, The Hundredth Queen just didn’t quite cut it. I didn’t exactly find it horrible, and did enjoy one thing that I will address, but overall, I didn’t love it.

Let me first mention what I actually liked:
I appreciated the loyalty Kali had towards those she cared for. I’ll admit that I can be the type that finds it excessive if the loyalty goes beyond what I feel is necessary (in my case, it’s mostly due to my impatience), so though there were moments in which I wanted to roll my eyes because of Kali’s naivety, I appreciated the fact that she genuinely cared about people.

Okay, now for the bad…
As I was having the hardest time getting into this book (the pacing was just so uneventful), I realized how much I didn’t like the idea of these women (one hundred wives and countless courtesans) fighting in order to gain a better rank among themselves, just to please one man. I didn’t like that they might be powerful women, but it meant nothing if they couldn’t survive these battles. They scarred each other, lost limbs, or died in order to improve their ranks, or in the case of a courtesan, to hopefully become one of the wives.

Then, of course there’s instalove!!! The relationship between Kali and her love interest is so boring and dry. There’s the whole ‘falling for each other at first sight’ thing, but they’re forbidden, since Kali is intended for someone else. So, yes, this means a lot of stolen moments that are cheesy and boring.

Before I end this review, I wanted to be sure to add that the whole idea of the women being lowly in this book, is something that Kali does work to overcome. I won’t get any deeper into this because it’d be too much of a spoiler, but I can give credit to Kali for not completely bowing to submission and actually attempting to show strength when she’s up against someone more powerful than she.

I did find myself intrigued enough with how this book ended to possibly read the next book, but because I didn’t like this one all that much, I probably won’t rush it.
And as for recommending it? Can’t say that I will be doing that.

Thank you to Skyscape, courtesy of Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Random Review of ‘The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen’ by Katherine Howe

The Appearance of Annie van SinderenThe Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Started off slow, so slow that around 20 or so percent in, I wondered if I’d made a mistake picking this book up. But with Wes and Annie’s first meeting, we finally have the start of a real plot!

Wes is our modern MC, while Annie is the “time-traveling” MC from the past. They first meet because Wes is tasked with procuring her signed approval for her appearance in a film project belonging to his friend Tyler. Though Annie finds this to be a strange request–as well as being confused by the situation–she’s intrigued by this boy who speaks to her so comfortably, and indulges in him. Wes, on the other hand, is almost immediately taken with her. (He constantly talks about a mole on her upper lip, to the point where I want to take her to a doctor and have her mole checked #bettersafethansorry). Which is how he’s thrust into her search for a missing object that she had only recently received from someone very special to her. Of course, this is also how he finally realizes what she really is, a spirit–she’s very adamant about not being called a ghost, so we also won’t use the term to describer her–and yes, this is when the real fun starts!

So, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this book. The synopsis on the back cover had the story coming off as possibly a mystery, and I wasn’t sure what Annie’s role was even supposed to be, besides realizing that she was meant to inhabit the mystery being invoked. I was so glad to find out that Annie wasn’t just a weirdo that I was supposed to find ‘cool and worldly’ (or whatever a YA heroine is expected to be in order to be ‘speshul’), but that her mystery came from her not belonging in the modern world. Everything about her is still nineteenth century, so of course you can’t help but be interested in her. I was enthralled by the way she’d compare modern-day places and sites to those that perhaps didn’t exist in her day, or might have once existed, but have since been replaced by buildings or the like. It’s always been such an interesting subject to me…the idea of the 20th/21st century’s rapid growth (in everything, it would seem), so I couldn’t help but become totally submersed into this book when it came up.

Now, let’s mention something I didn’t quite like. Admittedly, the romance(s?) was a bit dry for me. I couldn’t find myself interested in this aspect of the story, and am not convinced it was even necessary. It’s likely because we’re thinking Wes might not be so inclined to help Annie if he didn’t have “feelings” for her, but he came off so…cheesy to me, that I would cringe at some of his responses when it came to others. So yeah, the romance was no bueno for me.

In conclusion, besides the cheesy romance(s?), I enjoyed this book. I can even forgive the fact that I thought this book was going nowhere in the beginning, because I ended up liking this so much in the end. Do I recommend it? Sure, if you’re interested in a ghost story that doesn’t actually say it’s a ghost story.

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Review of ‘True Born’ by L.E. Sterling

True Born (True Born Trilogy, #1)True Born by L.E. Sterling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

True Born is your typical, dystopian YA read. It has all the stereotypical elements that you’d expect, including that of a “special” girl, “insta-love”, and the world going to hell in a handbasket.

I mean, did you really expect anything less?

Let’s first start off with our “special” snowflake.
Lucy Fox and her sister Margot are identical twins who came into this world conjoined. Now, if you’re thinking that make this book all the more interesting…well, you’re kind of right, and you’re kind of wrong. They’re separated not long after birth, so conjoined they do not stay (how cool of a story would that be?!). But one thing about them, is they’re basically written to have that psychic connection that twins seem to have, and can essentially feel the pain that the other is being submitted to. Kind of cool, yes, but then things begin to go south.
This book is told from Lucy’s POV, so it’s her descriptions we’re taking in. And though these two girls are supposedly identical twins, she’s quick to say how much, basically,
more
…her sister is than her. She’s more beautiful. She’s more brave. And she’s more in that she’s their parent’s favorite. But it’s not long after the book starts that Margot goes through a traumatic experience that ends up causing her to retreat into herself and lose that more that we never really got to experience–except for maybe an early moment when she’s cutting class, big whoopty doo!–thus leading to her character turning out to be a bit on the boring side. When you read how Lucy describes herself in comparison to her sister, you don’t really expect much from her, so it’s kind of funny that she ends up being the more outspoken/brave one. Definitely contradictory to what you expect of the girls when you’re first introduced to them. Then again, I guess that’s what makes a character “special”, huh? I actually didn’t mind Lucy as the MC, but it did get annoying to hear her worrying about Margot, all. Of. The. Time. Really, I understood it the first time she mentioned her worry…and the million times after. I might seem unfeeling, cause yeah, it’s her sibling and she has a right to feel worried about her, but I’ll admit that I get annoyed pretty easily, so I didn’t really care for her obsessive worry.

Now, for the insta-love aspect.
Standard YA trope would call for there to be a love triangle, but blessedly, we’re not being subjected to one here. (This is book 1 of a trilogy, so that could change.) We are, though, subjected to love (lust?) at first sight. Lucy is drawn to Jared at their first meeting, and though she’s initially going on about how irritating he is and all that yadda, she’s pretty much smitten from the start. And yes, this continues on and on. Yay. (Please note that that is a sarcastic ‘yay’.) I’m still not sure what I think of their “romance”, really. Shrug.

Finally, the world going to hell in a handbasket.
What would a dystopian YA be without the world essentially coming to an end in some form or other? In this book, it’s the human race that is the victim here. A plague has erupted at some point in history, and that leads to people being classified into three different categories: Splicers, Lasters, and True Borns. I’m not going to go into detail describing what each of these are–because you should read the book yourself if you’re that curious–but let’s just say that each leave different marks on the world, and yes, that includes survival of the fittest.
You’ve probably already guessed, but of course Lucy–and by twinly association, Margot–is a significant piece in all these goings on, though exactly what role she plays is the biggest mystery.

In conclusion, though I found this book interesting enough to finish it (and probably will read the next one at some point), it’s definitely not one I’d care to recommend.

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Review of ‘By the Book’ by Julia Sonneborn

By the BookBy the Book by Julia Sonneborn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though it happens to be a loosely based, modern-day adaption of Jane Austen‘s Persuasion, By the Book is entertaining with its fun, comedic timing, as well as a premise that had me engaged from beginning to end!


My Synopsis:

In By the Book, Anne Corey is the contemporary version of Persuasion‘s Anne Elliot, with a bit more ambition to fit in with the modern storyline. Like the latter, she’s still single after having allowed herself to be persuaded to break off an engagement with this story’s Wentworth, Adam Martinez some years earlier. But while she’s working on retaining a position as a professor of the college she’s currently employed with – as well as writing her first, full-length novel – she’s startled by the reappearance of her ex, who also happens to end up being the school’s newly appointed president… Though Anne feels she’s moved on, what with a new romance and all the busyness in her bustling life, with Adam in her sights, she can’t help but find it hard to ignore him and wonder if maybe he feels the same way, too.


My Thoughts:

By the Book really was an easy, entertaining read, and a lot of that definitely has to do with the fact that the characters were so well-written! I loved reading about Anne’s past with Adam, as well as her current romance with the suave, Rick Chasen. Obviously, I couldn’t help comparing events and peoples to those found in Persuasion, but I feel like Julia Sonneborn did a good job with putting her own spin on things, and I can’t even begin to say how much I loved Anne’s best friend Larry!!! He was hilarious, and brought with him some new elements that helped with the modernization of Jane Austen‘s story.

Another thing I personally liked, was that this Anne’s father wasn’t so unlikable. I found myself detesting Anne Elliot’s father because of how pompous he was and his narcissism, but this Anne’s father seemed to have more reasoning behind his actions and words, even if they didn’t end up bringing the outcomes we wanted to see.

I could go on with the things I liked about this book – for instance, all the hilarity involving one Jack Lindsey – but I think I’ll leave the rest for you to discover when you read this book, because yes, I do recommend it!

Thank you to Gallery Books, via Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Fir’ by Sharon Gosling

FirFir by Sharon Gosling

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fir is either my fourth or fifth book from the Red Eye horror collection, and so far, probably my least favorite – not that I would really classify it in the ‘favorites’ category, but you get my point. For starters, this book took forever to do just that, start. A good quarter of the book was some nonsense about trees needing to be harvested, children running around, and a particularly nasty housekeeper, but I honestly can’t say I remember if there was really anything actually going on to allude to this being a horror novel in this particular section of the book (besides the housekeeper, maybe). Then again, my being unable to remember could probably just be because this book never quite pulled me in…so, there is that.

Anyway, when this book finally starts to roll along into the horror aspect, I find that I’m already pretty detached from the story and its characters. The MC was alright, but there were also a lot of moments that had me wanting to shake some sense into her. And her parents? One is mostly absent throughout the novel, while the other chooses to either ignore MC’s concerns, or shut them down completely as nonsense. The only other character to really mention is the housekeeper, but she was more so nasty than scary to me, so it was hard to get any genuine horror from her, because I was more so annoyed with how horrible she was to the ones employing her.

So, besides a dislike for characters, I didn’t really care for the “scare tactics”. This book just did not scare me, and that has to be one of the biggest disappointments for me. I kept hoping for something, but even with the potential of creepy children, this book was just not scary. Even mentions of an old Scandinavian folklore plaguing the forest around the MC’s home ended up doing nothing for me. I feel like there were so many interesting ideas introduced, but maybe there just wasn’t all that much time for them to be executed, because apparently, what we needed more was “character development”, and to see the family’s day to day life before things begin to happen.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that I didn’t like this book. The only reason it’s a two star for me is because I still find myself intrigued by the folklore, and wouldn’t mind looking into it further at some point.

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Review of ‘Strange Weather’ by Joe Hill

Strange WeatherStrange Weather by Joe Hill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve decided that I’m going to sort of break down each novel into somewhat separate reviews, and give them each their own rating, since I definitely liked certain ones more than the others.


SNAPSHOT
– 2.5 stars
This one had to be my least favorite. I was very interested in the idea of a camera that steals away memories every time a picture is taken of someone, but I was so disappointed by how the story wrapped up. I feel like it could have either gone into more details explaining the camera’s origin, or maybe not have shown what was powering the camera at all, because it ended up leaving me unfulfilled. The story in itself was interesting enough, but the ending just ruined it for me, so this one is probably the one I liked the least.


LOADED
– 4 stars
Anyone who follows the news these days (even those who don’t necessarily do so by choice) will likely hear about some sort of shooting happening. For those of us who live in the US, we’re quite familiar (sadly) with such aggression, so this novel felt like it hit close to home. Loaded starts out with an experience that is so similar to that of Stephon Clark, that I couldn’t help but feel emotional reading it. It continues on with another shooting happening at a later time, though this one involves more casualties-one of which was super hard to read about-it instead is mostly centered on the man who becomes a media sensation for stopping a mass shooter. But this man is not as heroic as people think, and his murky mind definitely gave me the chills. This novel in general is a hard read, and I can’t say that I loved the content, but it’s enlightening and well-written.


ALOFT
-3.5 stars
This one was an interesting one for me. I found it to be a pretty unique story, as well as just plain strange. The MC is a young man who happens to go sky-diving with a group of friends, only to chicken out when it’s his time to jump. He’s forced to jump anyway, thus landing on the cloud that becomes the main setting of this story. The cloud begins a strange understanding with the MC, creating things for him out of its mist, but one cannot live without the necessities to sustain one’s life, so obviously his relationship with the cloud becomes strained, and he desires to leave it. While he’s on this cloud, he happens to think back on his “relationship” with the girl he likes and it seems that he also slowly comes to understand his role in her life. I wasn’t a big fan of this novel because I really didn’t like the MC. He didn’t seem to understand boundaries, and I felt overwhelmed by his eagerness to be close to the girl he likes. I think it’s mostly because I myself would have a hard time being around such a person, that I didn’t like him.


RAIN
-5 stars
This was my favorite novel in the book. I really liked the MC, Honeysuckle, and really, the whole sequence of events! Imagine that it rains one day, but instead of the normal rain one’d expect, the rain is literally made up of thousands of needles, and is even described as “ripping people apart”, the casualties from the first rain (yes, this type of rain happens more than once) are tremendous. Honeysuckle suffers a significant loss straightaway, and she has several journeys that have her coming across all types of things and peoples, leading to such an entertaining read!

Overall, I liked this book more than I didn’t. The two novels I rated higher far outweighed the two I found to be lacking. I’ll be glad to recommend the two I’d liked, and as for the other two…they weren’t bad, they just had something that ended up bothering me personally, so I can’t say if you’d feel the same.

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