Book Review

Book Review: Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary mystery
Length: 416 pages
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. 

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

UNFORTUNATELY. I WAS BORED.

The entire time y’all. I kept reading thinking things were going to amp up, and they never did. And I know it’s a series, but I was more annoyed that I felt like I got ZERO answers than wanting to read the second book. I even had a bookish friend who told me what happens in book two because I really didn’t want to read it (though I will say, it does seem moderately more interesting in case you want to pick it up).

It took til about 200 pages (halfway-ish) for anything to happen. I was way more interested in the flashbacks where the original murder had taken place than I was with Stevie at school. Most of the story focused on being in school and meeting other students (which were all trying way too hard).

The original story was interesting and I wanted that to play a bigger role in the present timeline. That really drove the story for me.

I hated most of the side characters other than Nate and Janelle. This group of three were building a solid friendship and I was enjoying seeing that dynamic. They were supporting each other and being kind when Stevie made some bad choices acting as a wannabe Sherlock Holmes (not on board with her going through people’s things).

I did NOT GET THE RELATIONSHIP WITH DANIEL. It came out of literally nowhere. Luckily, not in an instant-love kinda way, but just a flat-out, wait all of a sudden we’re making out kinda way. I did become a fan of Daniel towards the end of the story though. He was probably my favorite character.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a make-out
  • Violence: multiple descriptions of murder

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: September 2019

Okay okay.

Apparently I got real crazy this month. My life was a bit out of whack so I retreated to my books. That means I ended up reading twenty-five books. Hopefully October will chill out a bit and I’m planning on picking up some spooky reads (which is out of character so we’ll see what happens!).

And I would like to apologize ahead of time that none of the reviews are posted. They’ll be out in October though so please come read them then! Or ask in the comments if you have questions, I’m more than happy to discuss the books.

On a kind of sad note, I only gave TWO books a full five stars this month. Wish there had a been a few more!

  • Sword and Pen (The Great Library #5) by Rachel Caine – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers #1) by Nicki Pau-Preto – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • When the World Didn’t End: Poems by Caroline Kaufman – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • One Day in December by Josie Silver – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • A Kingdom of Exiles (Outcast #1) by S.B. Nova – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Perez – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Need by Helen Phillips – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] Tweet Cute by Emma Lord – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel – (RTC – ☆☆☆)
  • American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Onyx and Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett – (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #6: The Alloy Era #2) by Brandon Sanderon – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Well Met by Jen DeLuca – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • [ARC] The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn – (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lifel1k3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff – (I haven’t finished, but will today; probably ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Vine Witch (Vine Witch #1) by Luanne G. Smith – (I haven’t finished, but will today; probably ☆☆☆ 1/2 or ☆☆☆☆)

Favorite of the month: Serpent & Dove

Least favorite of the month: The Need

How did your month for reading go? What was your favorite book? Least favorite? Curious about any of these? Lets talk in the comments!

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fiction + Contemporary Romance
Length: 291 pages
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

A QUICK READ WITH ALL THE FEELS.

This is one of those books that came in hard and fast and left me reeling.

Annika is a brave, strong, caring and loyal woman. She is on the autism spectrum and while I can’t speak to whether this was a good depiction or not, I love how quirky, unfiltered, and sweet she was.

This was a second chance love story with Annika’s first everything love, Jonathan. I ADORED HIM. He was someone who may not have always understood Annika, but never tried to force her into something she wasn’t comfortable with or treat her poorly otherwise. I think we all want to feel that kind of respect and love in our lives. Their relationship flowed beautifully and I appreciated that this second-chance wasn’t because of some over dramatic break-up. Both Annika and Jonathan may not have handled the break-up in the best way (which they both acknowledged), they were at least finally able to discuss what needed to be said.

JANICE. What a friend y’all. I also think everyone needs a friend like her. She was absolutely wonderful and I thought her and Annika’s friendship was amazing. Their friendship grew and changed over time as well, and I love that they continually reached out to one another even when states apart.

I thought this was a great use of the back and forth timeline trope. Sometimes it can get bogged down in one area or another, but this one flipped back and forth at the perfect times. The chapters are shorter and easily flow. I literally finished this book in one day because I could NOT PUT IT DOWN.

The twist towards the end did blindside me a bit. There were definitely a few hints I am now looking back and realizing. Was it necessary to add that craziness? Maybe not, but I still panicked and flipped out nonetheless. I didn’t love how quickly it ended, but since I got my tender and sweet love story I’m okay with it. I could have definitely used an epilogue though.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction + Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few explicit love scenes (but not vulgar if that makes sense)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, miscarriage, depression, suicide ideation, plane crashes

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Last Magician (The Last Magician #1) by Lisa Maxwell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy 
Length: 512 pages
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 18th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

WHOA TO THAT LAST 100 PAGES THOUGH.

I listened to this as an audio book and thought it was really well done. At first it was a little confusing with the changing time periods each chapter, but once they stayed in the same place (a few chapters in), it was easy to follow and enjoy.

This book was trippy. I picked it up on a whim and ended up buddy-reading it with a friend and we were both wholly impressed with how much we liked it by the end. Enough to seek out the second book soon.

Esta and Harte had all the angst and I am STILL WAITING. Their slow-burn enemies to lovers is a small fire currently and I am soooo wanting more for them. I love watching them interact and each time they ran into each other it was awesome banter and had me snickering. These two stole my heart. But mostly, Harte Darrigan. He’s the heart of this story (I’m not even mad about this pun).

The mystery kept me on my toes. I honestly didn’t realize who the bad guy actually was until late in the book, practically when it was announced. I MEAN WHOA. That was amazing. I love when books keep me guessing. There was an even bigger twist that I had NO IDEA about. I don’t know how much it’ll play into the next book, but it was still crazy. Those are the best kind of reveals.

I love all of the secret societies and magic gangs that were running around New York in the 1920’s. It was an interesting world and added even more danger as they went on increasingly risky heists.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical, ritual murder

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Crystal Crowned (Air Awakens #5) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 400 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: July 12th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Long live Solaris. One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

THIS IS JUST MY FAVORITE EVER OKAY?

I waited to read this book because I didn’t want this story to end.

I waited to write this review because I didn’t want to sign-off on my love for this series.

So now I’m sitting here, a few weeks after finishing Crystal Crowned still trying to put into words how much I love this series.

It had everything that I look for when it comes to a young adult fantasy novel. I got the romance (always y’all), battles, politics, friendships, magic, world-building and so much more that combined to make a stellar series. Crystal Crowned was no exception. It was an impressive finale.

VHALLDRIK FOREVER. I love Vhalla and Aldrik and they are without a doubt, my new OTP (hello Feysand, you now have someone tied with you). Their relationship grew and changed with them as time went on. They adapted and fought to be by each other’s side every dang time and I AM HERE FOR IT.

The magic system is intense, yet easy to follow. There were some small tidbits of other characters that popped in that had me connecting a thousand dots at once. I loved how it all came together! The villain was wicked and we got some back story on him which really brought him out as a character.

FRIENDSHIPS. Vhalla and Fritz, Elecia, Jax, etc. While yes, this is heavily flavored with romance, it is also very strong in friendships. The bonds formed between all of these characters make my heart MELT.

Vhalla remained strong, intelligent and fierce. Even when faced with some crazy odds and poor choices she persevered and endured. She has got to be one of my favorite heroines. I love that Vhalla never gave up for what she was fighting for. Yes, times got tough, but she continually strove to remember the peace she was seeking.

If you’ve ever thought about reading these, you should. I can’t wait to read the rest of Kova’s books because I don’t doubt I will obsess over them just as much as these.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: A handful of love scenes that are barely detailed and fade to black
  • Violence: demonic creatures and soldiers, elemental magic, physical, torture, swords, battle scenes; fairly gory
  • Trigger warnings: miscarriage

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction
Length: 512 pages
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Philomel Books
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming guise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother’s birth through the lens of his camera. Photography–and fate–introduce him to Ana, whose family’s interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War–as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel’s photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history’s darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence–inspired by the true post-war struggles of Spain.

QUEEN OF HISTORICAL FICTION.

I had a friend gracious enough to let me borrow this book and Y’ALL. It was amazing and I loved it.

I absolutely love the way that Sepetys puts together her stories. I own all of her books, but have only read two and clearly I need to up the rest on my TBR. The chapters are written in a fast, short, rotating POV way that keeps you flipping faster and faster. It’s so easy to read this book and keep you interested at the same time.

THE ROMANCE WAS PRECIOUS. Incredibly cute. It was slow and sweet and was exactly what this book needed. I loved watching Daniel and Ana interact and grow to be each other’s confidante. I think they both helped one another see the world from another perspective. I literally SHOUTED at my book when we had a date change in the book because I needed a happy ending for Ana. NEEDED IT. (And Daniel, but really, Ana).

I didn’t love Rafa and Puri’s point of views as much as the others. That is why I took off half a star. By the end, their contributions really made sense though and I do appreciate that. It absolutely broke my heart reading about the deception of the nuns and doctors in Spain during the 1950s-80s. I can’t put into words how that must have felt to be a mother in that time.

The work that went into this novel is clearly seen and I loved having all of the tidbits from speeches and publications that were layered throughout the book. It really brought the history to life and reminded me that things like this really did happen.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, a not detailed love scene where you do know they spent the night together
  • Violence: guns, torture, imprisonment, murder, physical
  • Trigger warnings: mentions of miscarriage, kidnapping of babies and children

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: The Alloy of Law (Mistborn: The Alloy Era #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Length: 332 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: November 8th, 2011
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will. 

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

I LOVE THIS PARTNERSHIP.

Wax and Wayne ALL DAY LONG. Also, that’s a really great naming pair. And I just realized that it was probably done on purpose and I love it.

I was nervous going in because I didn’t know how it would all shake out being 300 years after the end of Mistborn (which brought all the tears, of course). Sanderson never fails though. I was completely captured by the modern and updated cities. What was the most impressive was the addition and evolution of the magic system.

The magic system now contains people who have twin powers and mixed blood of the different races that were around during the original Mistborn. I don’t want to go into too much detail for fear of spoiling, but trust me. It is amazing how Sanderson creates his worlds. I am forever in aw of how every little thing makes sense.

This was like a western movie. We had gun-slinging cops, damsels in distress, a duo who are best pals with one of them always adding humor, a gorgeous girl and much more. I LOVED IT. That’s pretty much all I have to say because I enjoyed it that much. It had everything I was looking for and even better, the audio was top notch (as usual, because it’s the same narrator he’s had for all of his books).

If you’re curious about trying this new era out, DO IT. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Romance: some mentions of becoming engaged, and liking different people, but nothing explicit
  • Language: none
  • Violence: guns, magic, swords, explosions

Instagram || Goodreads