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 for ‘The Art of Hiding’ by Amanda Prowse

The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like The Art of Hiding had me engaged from the very start! In only a matter of pages, Nina McCarrick goes from being a stereotypical Stepford Wife and mother, to becoming a widow who is now all alone in raising her two children. But, things go from bad to worse when she finds out that not only is her husband’s company in debt, but she now is, as well. Forced to leave the immense and beautiful family home and move back to the small town she’d left behind, she eventually must learn what it is to take control of her life as well as make sure to raise her children to be successful and upstanding citizens. Not that she doesn’t have a lot on her plate already…
I can’t say that I was happy with Nina at first. I do know that it’s because she chose to be the perfect stay-at-home mom – she chose her role and chose to allow her husband Finn to control everything financially – that she ends up facing the repercussions of not knowing how badly things had become within the business. They were in major debt! She had no idea because she’d wanted to believe that her husband was doing what he’d promised to do, take care of her. So then she’s sitting there, not knowing what to do. She’s even unable to access bank accounts because she has no idea what the passwords and pins are, because that was Finn’s job. Ugh. I just couldn’t stand how…small, she appeared to be, and I hated that she didn’t seem to care! In a day and age when women are stronger than ever, it’s sad to see a character be the complete opposite. So, though I was initially unhappy with Nina, I kept on reading, and am glad I did, because I really ended up like this, and even Nina herself!

Moving to the small town she came from (not sure what the name of it was) with her two children, we learn from Nina’s sister that once upon a time, Nina was a dedicated worker who was able to make her own money. I feel like it’s somewhat stereotypical to have a character essentially “go home” in order to “better themselves”, but I really did enjoy reading this story. I liked seeing Nina’s growth, and seeing her finally relax and actually allow herself to make friends and appreciate that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.

When it comes to Nina’s relationship with her children, I really felt for her in those times when the two didn’t seem to appreciate her in the way they did their father. The eldest, Connor, pretty much worshipped his father in the way boys are prone to do. Connor happens to be a talented rugby player who wants to impress his father and become a successful, professional athlete one day. His father isn’t at all his matches, but though he’s disappointed, he accepts these moments. Now that his father is gone, though, he lashes out at his mother, because the other parent isn’t exactly there to pin any blame on. Nina is quite patient with the anger, and does all she can to help ease the pain, though honestly, she’s hurting, as well. Her second child, Declan, doesn’t come across as being as difficult, nor moody, as Connor, but that could be because he’s not a teenager, possibly. I don’t remember exactly when and what it was, but I do remember an instance in which Declan somehow didn’t feel that something his mother did was as good as his father, but I honestly can’t quite remember exactly what it was. It only stayed with me because I know Nina reacted with hurt, and I felt bad for her. All in all, I couldn’t help but feel sad that Nina wasn’t treated very well by her children, and feel that they took her for granted.

Thank the lord, though, that Nina’s character finally has some real growth when she gets a job and when she allows herself to meet and speak to other people. Even her children notice the change, and appreciate her hard work and attempts at making a better life for them, even with the family’s new limitations.

But not only is their growth for her, but her boys, as well. I can appreciate the changes in the boys, especially in Connor’s case, but I won’t delve into that, since some things still need to be left for you to discover.

I really did like this book in the end, and feel that it overcame the annoying stereotypes that I’d originally thought it would be, so for me, this was definitely a successful read, and I would gladly recommend it!

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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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 ‘Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)’ by Tahereh Mafi

Restore Me (Shatter Me, #4)Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What started off as a slow read for me (I was at 16%, saying how boring this book was) turned out to be surprisingly more interesting!

**Please do not continue if you haven’t already read the previous trilogy. I won’t be writing any spoilers for this book, but I do mention some things from book 2 and 3. So please, continue at your own risk.**

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That being said, in Restore Me, it’s only been a little over two weeks since the fall of Sector 45, and of Juliette crowning herself ‘Supreme Commander’ of it. For now, the fight against The Reestablishment seems to be on pause, and none of the other Supreme Commanders appear to be taking action against her, so for a good 25% of the book, NOTHING seemed to be happening. Juliette and Warner were being annoying, not really talking about the different things that were plaguing them about each other, so there was all this unnecessary back and forth between them until the real plot comes around.

We now have conflict! New characters! As well as new issues on the romantic front!

I mean, you had to have seen the latter coming, because we can’t have perfect romances in YA, can we?

But, back to the other two subjects!

Let’s first address the conflict:
As much as Juliette seemed to be enjoying her mundane days, there was always that knowledge that the other Supreme Commanders could choose to go to war with Juliette’s sector/region (North America in its entirety), so she had to be a bit on edge, wondering when something – anything – could happen, risking the safety of not only Juliette’s group of friends, but the soldiers and the families that make up Sector 45.
And then, Boom! Letters – that would eventually bring with them the senders themselves – arrive and Juliette learns that there is actually more to being a commander than just her strength. There’s politics, and all the other boring that comes with being in charge. But with arrival of an important letter, Juliette is introduced to a young man who is only the beginning of what is yet to come.

Now, for new characters:
I’m not sure how much I should still say about these new additions, so I’ll say that I’m definitely intrigued. I’m curious about their thoughts when it comes to The Reestablishment, and I look forward to seeing what roles they play – whether it’s ‘with’ or ‘against’ Juliette and her ideals. Should definitely be interesting…

Okay, so bypassing all this other stuff I began to vaguely run on about, the last quarter of this book was pretty intense! Juliette learns things about herself that she never could have imagined, and with these new discoveries comes the angst you come to expect from Juliette.
Oh well, I was starting to miss her nonsensical ramblings and the flowery descriptions of her feelings…

No, not really.

Anyway, as I’d stated earlier, this read ended up being much more interesting than I’d initially thought, and now I regrettably have to wait till next year to continue on from that cliffhanger of an ending! 😦

I’ll definitely recommend this to those who enjoyed the Shatter Me trilogy!

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