Review of ‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ by Stephanie Perkins

There's Someone Inside Your HouseThere’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Synopsis provided by publisher:

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.
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Okay, so though I’m a fan of horror, it tends to be more along the lines of supernatural. I love me a good, ghostly thrill! But when it comes to slashers, I’m not really the biggest fan. Most of my experience obviously comes from films involving teens being murdered by either the undead, out for revenge, or by other teens, who also may be out for revenge. If I were to pick one slasher film series I’d enjoyed, it’d have to be Scream, and that’s likely showing how inexperienced I am when it comes to slashers.

So, knowing this about me, I’m not sure I’m the best judge when it comes to this book, but I’ll go ahead and give the reasons as to why I didn’t really care for this one.

1. The Main Character:
Makani has to be the one of the most boring/annoying MCs I’ve had the (dis)pleasure to read about, ever. She’s brought forth as a biracial girl from Hawaii (check out her name! It’s Hawaiian! *please note the sarcasm) with a dark past, who ends up in cornfield-ridden Nebraska. While I appreciate that Perkins introduced an ethnic girl as the MC of this novel, I just didn’t really end up caring about her all that much. I didn’t feel like enough was given in regards to character-growth (and that could have been intentional on Perkins’ part, due to wanting to give the story a sense of right now in terms of the plot), but this ultimately led to my not really feeling compassionate for her, in her tumultuous times.

2. The “dark past”:
Seriously, when I find out the reason Makani moved to Nebraska, I couldn’t help but feel like it just didn’t really make sense. Sure, what happened was wrong on many levels, but I was sort of expecting something…different. I can’t really say more without giving anything away, but I will say that what happened just feels disappointing, and not really menacing enough for a slasher.

3. The reveal of the serial killer:
I’d made it maybe 70% of the way through the book – and the killer is revealed.
I’ll admit I had no idea who the killer would turn out to be, but I feel like it could have possibly been more suspenseful if the reveal had been put off till the end. Then again, I’m not sure that would have really made a big difference, since I wasn’t impressed with the reveal in the first place…

4. The murders:
Okay, so yes, we have the stereotypical stabby deaths, but the way the serial killer menaced the victims was really cheesy. Like, for example, the first victim, who is unsettled by an egg-timer (yes, an egg-timer), because not only is she finding it in strange places, but it’s described as ‘smooth, white, and innocuous’…obviously I find this description to be so terrifying! (Insert eye roll here.)

And finally:

5. The stupid romance:
I didn’t really care for Ollie, and didn’t find him to be all that interesting, though the way he’s described, I feel like we’re supposed to feel that he’s interesting. Because yeah, dyeing your hair pink and having a lip ring is really all it takes to be edgy these days.

I think it’s safe to say at this point that I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. It wasn’t the worst I’d read, thus the generous rating of 2 stars, but it was just not what I’d hoped for when it comes to a slasher/thriller. Besides the descriptions of each of the murders – and the moments leading to each death – there really aren’t any true, horrifying moments in this book. And honestly? I’m not sure the murders were all that scary, either.

I will not be recommending this one.

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Review for ‘House of Ash’ by Hope Cook

House of AshHouse of Ash by Hope Cook

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary provided by the publisher:
After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.
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For whatever reason, I hate the word ‘copse’. There’s no real reason why I should hate word, but I do, so that didn’t help when reading a book that keeps identifying a ‘copse’ of trees as the place where strange things begin to happen to one of our MCs, Curtis. The word just kept being used, and I kept cringing whenever it’d pop up on the page. I really do not like the word copse.

Why don’t I move on from that…

House of Ash is one of those books that you can’t help but feel like you’ve heard the story before, maybe not in this exact sense, but in some form or other. For instance, the idea of a boy and girl, both on opposite sides of time, who happen to see each other in some way (a mirror, in this book), fall for each other, and feel the need to save one or the other. Then, there’s the very real potential that one may be actually suffering from a mental illness, imagining things, because a parent of said one may be suffering themselves. Oh, and did I mention that there’s an evil house? A house that listens, and must be stopped at all costs?
Yup, same ol’, same ol’.

Even though the author’s bio says she has drawn from her personal experience with mental illness, I don’t feel like this book was meant to really address what mental illness really does to people. If it was, then I didn’t quite get that from this book. Curtis’ father is mentally ill, and his illness seems to only exist to explain why Curtis might be suddenly hearing things like voices, and to possibly explain why his home life is so rough, leading to his having some extreme behavior in a variety of circumstances in this book. Yeah, so if you’re looking to really read up on mental illness, this is not the book for that.

Moving on from the very real problems that mental illness can invoke, we should now talk about the supernatural aspect of this book. The girl in the mirror. Is she real, or is she a figment of Curtis’ imagination? This is where the supernatural part comes into play. Curtis is seeing the image of a girl who was very real, but how? Especially since we know that the girl, Mila, perished in 1894 in a fire that descimated a very large estate to the ground, along with anyone else who may have been in the home. So we have a ghosty mirror, along with a ghosty girl, and therefore we have ghosty-ness, though it all plays out to be on the bland side. I mean, Mila’s step-father is supposed to be a large reason behind why things ended up the way they did when it comes to her death and the fire, but honestly, he is such an absent villain. It’s like he appears at times, goes BOO!, then heads off to wait till the next time he’ll come around again to instill some sort of fear into Mila. His villainy is pretty boring, and the explanation for why he does the things he does is also pretty boring.

I feel like I should also mention the characters in regards to what I thought of them in general. Starting with Curtis, I’ll say that he is a very angry person, as well as someone who’s very torn as to address issues with others. He doesn’t want to confide in his best friend, and being that there’s no one else for him to do so to, he’s pretty much screwed. So, yeah, this just leads to him being angry all the time. He finds some drive in his research of Mila and the burned down estate of Gravenhearst, but even then, he’s mediocre at research, so his best friend has to help him, but still, he’d rather not confide in the guy, humph. Now that I’ve given you a sort of condensed description of him, I’ll say that I find Curtis to be boring/annoying. Seriously, one day he happens to come across a clearing of strange trees, hears weird voices, and that’s how this book comes about. Not sure if there was absolutely no chance that he wouldn’t have come upon said clearing anytime before in his life, but now is the time for everything to happen, it would seem. Okay, so even if I were to accept that and move on, I still can’t stand Curtis’ personality in general. He just seemed kind of douchey to me, and I’m not a fan of such people.

Now for Mila. Mila’s account begins with her journey/arrival to Gravenhearst, originally with her mother and sister, as well. Yadda, yadda, her mom disappears, then her sister, and now Mila is left to figure out what her step-father, and the evil house, wants from her. Mila isn’t awful, and I found her to be more tolerable than her male counterpart, but that doesn’t really mean anything if you dislike the guy so much, so I’ll leave it at that.

Finally, when it comes to the way this book ended?? It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t really that entertaining. There are no cliffhangers, so the end is the end, but maybe this book could have benefited from a horror movie-style ending? Shrug, we’ll never know.

I gave this book two stars because as much as I didn’t really care for it, I felt it was readable, and it didn’t take me too long to read, so that’s definitely a plus in my book. Being that I didn’t really care for this book, I won’t be personally recommending it.

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

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Review of ‘The Boyfriend Swap’ by Meredith Schorr

The Boyfriend SwapThe Boyfriend Swap by Meredith Schorr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary provided by publisher:
Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? New Yorkers Robyn Lane and Sidney Bellows aren’t so sure.

Robyn has always dated struggling creative types. For once, her parents would love her to bring someone with health insurance and a 401(k) to their Chrismukkah celebration. Her actor boyfriend doesn’t qualify. While across town, Sidney’s professional life already belongs to her parents. She’s an attorney at her father’s law firm and she works tirelessly to keep her love life private. If she brings her lawyer boyfriend to their annual Christmas extravaganza, her parents will have the wedding planned by New Year’s Eve.

A mutual friend playfully suggests they trade boyfriends for the holidays. The women share a laugh, but after copious amounts of wine, decide The Boyfriend Swap could be the perfect solution. This way, Robyn can show off her stable attorney boyfriend and Sidney’s high-society family will take no interest in her flakey actor beau.

It’s a brilliant plan—in theory. In practice—not so much. When Will turns out to be the boy-next-door Robyn crushed on hard throughout her teenage years, and Sidney’s family fawns all over Perry like he’s an Oscar-winner rather than a D-list wannabe, one thing is certain: The Boyfriend Swap might just change their lives forever.
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When I had first stumbled onto this read, I was intrigued by the idea of two women swapping boyfriends, and honestly, how it was that they could even get to such a point. You’d assume that at least one person in this quartet would object—because they’re normal—but no, not in The Boyfriend Swap. In fact, the one who initially objects is surprisingly easy to convince, and soon enough, the two women are off on their holiday trips home, fake boyfriend in tow. Which seems ridiculously easy, right? But I’m happy to say that I don’t care, because I really ended up liking this book, and happily accepted anything Meredith Schorr threw at me.

Like, for example, the fact that Robin’s boyfriend would happen to be Lucy’s childhood crush?? I live for coincidences like these that throw people together! It makes it all the better when Lucy brings Will back to her childhood home, and she’s having to pretend she’s in a relationship with him, all while having to pretend that she doesn’t have actual feelings for him… Yes, I just couldn’t help but love the easy way Lucy and Will got along with each other, and the plain fact that it was just easy.

Robin and Perry (Lucy’s boyfriend) were interesting in a different way. Perry was supposed to be someone her parents would easily forget so that when Robin “broke up with him”, it wouldn’t matter. But Perry doesn’t do forgettable, so instead, the whole family ends up falling for him when they meet him, and that leads to Robin trying to find ways to sabotage this growing relationship Perry seems to be having with her family, though things don’t go quite how she expects them to.

I did find the characters to be endearing, and enjoyed their interactions with each other. I especially liked Perry’s character. He was surprisingly kind and thoughtful when you least expected it, and though I won’t go too deep into his role due to spoilers, I will say that he was definitely a big part in helping Robin figure some important things out.

In conclusion, I really did like this book (though I had to knock off a star because of how long it took me to finish this book because I’d had a hard time wanting to get back to it when I’d put it aside for the day) and the whole rom/com aspect of it. I really feel like this book would be the perfect screenplay for a chick flick, and being that I’m a sucker for chick lit and chick flicks, I’d totally watch it.

I would definitely recommend this to you if you’d enjoyed the movie The Holiday, since it invokes similar feels.

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

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Review of ‘Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)’ by Cinda Williams Chima

Flamecaster (Shattered Realms, #1)Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To start off, I have to admit that I hadn’t read the Seven Realms series that proceeded this one, but from what I’ve gathered, it’s still readable without prior knowledge from the former–though I’m sure you’d probably have more ‘A-ha’ moments if you had…
Anyway, even without having read the former series, I have to say that I really enjoyed this book and will likely be delving into the Seven Realms books in the near future.

Flamecaster was everything I could have wanted in a fantasy novel (not that I’ve actually read very many), and I’ll go ahead and list a few reasons why:

1. With my first reason, I’ll say that I can be pretty simple at times, and I think one of those moments came into play with the fact that I could actually read a majority of the characters’ names!! I tend to be a bit put off by so many authors and their inherent need for characters to have the most ridiculous names you can think up, so it was refreshing to read a book where Ash (Adrian) and Jenna were the names of the MCs! Sure, there are names like Taliesin, and Ash’s last name is sul’Han, but they’re still considerably easier to pronounce than some of the names I’ve come across before… Now that I’ve gone off on a tangent about names, let’s move on!

2. This being my first read from Cinda Williams Chima, I have to say that I really loved reading about this world she’d created. It was easy to navigate through, and you end up learning bits and pieces about the different kingdoms as you’re reading, leaving you both curious and excited to learn more as the series continues on. I’m not going to go into detail about what I found to be interesting, because of spoilers, but I will say that it concerns a certain geographic area called the Northern Islands… All in all, I just loved this magical world, and really look forward to learning more about the different realms.

3. MCs that I actually liked! Ash is awesome in his role as an ‘assassin hiding in plain view‘. He’s bent on revenge, but the revenge is extremely hard to follow through with when it’s against a king who is very well-guarded. So of course he must take on a role that can earn the king’s trust–that of a royal healer. He’s very skilled, but it’s his magic that first draws the attention of the king, and though I won’t go into that, I will say that the way he does so is very interesting and I can’t wait to see more from him.
Then we have Jenna. I loved Jenna’s intelligence, and I loved the fact that she knew all sorts of things when it comes to blowing things up! She ends up being imprisoned in the aforementioned king’s castle, and that’s when a lot of the exciting things really start happening!!

*The one thing that I didn’t quite care for:

4. The romance was a little meh. It’s a bit too ‘insta-lovey‘ to me, but since it doesn’t happen till later in the book, it didn’t overwhelm, so I’m able to forgive and move past it. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t end up becoming cringe-worthy in the next book!

In conclusion, besides the meh romance, I really liked this book and would recommend it if you’re looking for a well-written fantasy starring characters with beautifully normal names.

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Mini Review of ‘Julia Vanishes’ by Catherine Egan

Julia Vanishes (Witch's Child, #1)Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mini Review Time.

I really hate to say this, but this book really wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be. I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe something along the lines of Witch Hunter, because of the whole ‘magic being outlawed, witches will be killed’ theme they both shared, but unfortunately, Julia Vanishes just didn’t interest me as much as the former had.

Because the character of Julia has the ability to go “unseen” by those around her, I was kind of assuming there’d be some life or death situations that would really highlight that ability. Sure, there were some instances when she had to go “unseen”, they just weren’t really all that exciting to me. I’m personally a sucker for characters with cool abilities, and seeing them use these abilities in really cool, epic ways, but Julia just fell flat for me, and just plain annoyed me. She also annoyed me because of her infatuation with a boy (whose name I can’t even remember right now) who never seemed to give 100% to their relationship–or even 50%. The guy was just lousy when you have so many better guys to compare him to in YA books.

Moving on from Señor Douche-face
(Okay, so he wasn’t that bad, I just happen to use the term ‘douche’ pretty freely when it comes to people (or characters) I do not care for.)

I feel like there was an attempt to make the world in Julia Vanishes unique, which was good on the author, but I feel like there was just too much info dumping going on. The information given just bored me, and when it went into the history of some magical beings and their crazy, fantastical names–I was ready to toss this book aside. The only reason I finished it is because I’d come too far to back out, and kept secretly hoping it’d get better for me. Nope. It didn’t.

I think at this point it’s safe to say I’m not personally going to recommend this one.

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Review of ‘Invictus’ by Ryan Gaudin

InvictusInvictus by Ryan Graudin
(Release date: September 26, 2017)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary provided by publisher:
Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.
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I had never read a Ryan Graudin book before (though I do have Wolf by Wolf, courtesy of my Uppercase box subscription), but I can now say that I am definitely a fan!

In Invictus, we get the joys of time travel, but without so much of the clichĂ©d time paradoxes the blah that comes with being constantly told to not re-write history. No, instead we have four teenagers time traveling in order to acquire treasures from different time periods for their boss who happens to run a very successful black market business. So when it comes to venturing into the past, it’s all business until they are allowed free time to travel to pretty much any point they’d like.

Anyway, before I go off and end up summarizing more of this book, I’ll move on with my actual line of thought.

So, back to time travel without all the fun of paradoxes looming over everything. I really loved how time travel wasn’t all that we had to concentrate on in this book. Sure, it was really cool to see them travel to the Titanic in 1912, but the focus was set on our merry band of travelers first meeting Eliot, who pretty much crashes into their lives and blackmails her way onto the Invictus ship. I’ll be honest and say that at first I really disliked Eliot, because she always went completely against everything that Far (captain and boy wonder – for reasons that are explained in the book summary, and the book itself) ordered. I’m not saying I’m against a strong female character, I just happen to be a fan of order, and admittedly, I am known to outwardly cringe when things go off track in epic proportions…which is what happens when the team go to Pompeii on the day of eruption. Honestly, you’re going to have to read this book if you want to find out what exactly happened, but I’ll say that it was a huge plot twist, and really becomes a focal point in this book.

I already mentioned Eliot and Far, so now I’ll mention the other three characters who play a big role in this book. There’s Far’s cousin, Imogen, who’s job as a historian is very important when it comes to their clothing being as authentic to each time period they visit, and how can I not mention the fact that she’s chalking her hair different colors everyday? Oh the joys of being blonde, right? (I am so not blonde, so I do not have this joy.) I just loved her easygoing manner, and the dedication she had to her friends.
Next, we have Priya, Far’s girlfriend, and the ship’s medic, who brews a fantastic chai tea, and is the levelheaded one when Far needs rational opinion.
Finally, we have Engineer Gram, who happens to be extremely intelligent, and without his calculations, the ship wouldn’t land where it’s supposed to. He also possesses a love for Tetris, and for Rubik’s Cubes (both understandable, since I also love both, though I have never successfully completed a Rubik’s Cube…sigh). What he does not possess, is the realization that Imogen really, really likes him…sigh again.
Yeah, the characters each are fun in their own ways, and I enjoyed them immensely.

Now that I’ve mentioned my love of the plot and the characters, I will conclude by saying that the ending really lived up to my expectations, and I just really loved this book overall. Sure, it did start off a bit slow, or it could have just been that I was distracted, but once I picked this back up, I really couldn’t stop! The story was that entertaining for me! It’s probably pretty obvious at this point that I will gladly recommend it.

Thank you to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers via Netgalley for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Mini Review of ‘The Dark Tower I : The Gunslinger’ by Stephen King

The Dark Tower I (MTI): The GunslingerThe Dark Tower I (MTI): The Gunslinger by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mini Review Time:

Considering that most of the books I’d read from King has been more or less categorized as horror, this book was completely different from what I’d expected.

There were creepy moments, like Nort the man who ate weed and died with nothing, only to be resurrected by the man in black, resuming his familiar presence in a small-town bar. Or maybe even the Slow Mutants that terrorize the gunslinger and Jake, deep within the dark tunnels that will lead them to the man in black? Yep, just a bit of the creepiness you’d expect from a renowned writer of horror.

But really, though the ideas and the world-building were super interesting, I couldn’t help but feel like this book took a little too long getting anywhere. For example, the gunslinger spent a ridiculous amount of time in the small town of Tull, where he shacks up with a barmaid named Allie, and observes the weird behaviors of the townspeople. Tull is literally the epitome of a redneck town, and even has its own eccentric preacher-woman, who believes herself to be the Bride of God. Craziness abounds, and eventually he does leave the town, though it does involve emptying his guns on the way out.

There’s more world-building, like us learning a bit about the gunslinger’s past, though not much, and we see him eventually meeting the child, Jake, but again, slow-progression, and when the story seems to maybe be getting somewhere, it’s the end of book 1. Yep.

Well, though it took me a bit longer to read this book because of boredom at times, I still found the story interesting enough to read the next in the series, and from what I’ve heard, the series only gets better, so I’m looking forward to that, at least.

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