Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 305
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 18+
Series: Mary Handley Mystery

When Mary Handley gets her next case, it seems to be a simple open and shut case of extramarital affair. But the discovery of her best friend's husband involved in the affair, a man following her, and a line of Jack-the-Ripper-like murders turns the case into something much more.

This book was pleasant enough to read, without being predictable. Because this was the third book in a series, it was hard to get into at first since I hadn't read the other books, but throughout the book I was given enough information to understand how Mary became a detective and other things that I had to know. However, as good as the story and mystery were, there was more that kept me from fully enjoying the novel.

My biggest critique is that the story seemed anachronistic in parts. This was mostly in word choice, but it could have easily been set in the present day with very little changes. Every time something occurred that seemed wrong for the late 19th century, it pushed me out of the story. The chronology also was hard to keep track of. I felt like Labor Day happened at least three times, because I had felt that we had already passed that point in the story before changing characters and then learning it was still Labor Day weekend. The characters were hard to keep track of too--there were so many of them and sometimes we'd go several chapters between them appearing or being mentioned so I would forget who they were. And then in a middle of the scene, the point of view would change from Mary to one of the other characters. I felt that the POV was set up to be the third person limited for Mary, and it was for most of the book, but several times it became omniscient. It was jarring.

There was liberal use of the f-word and sexual situations, including prostitution.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 552
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 15+

Before the Age of Anarchy, prodigies (those people with special powers) were persecuted and forced to hide. Now ten years after the renegades, the "super heroes" killed off Ace Anarchy and started a new age and government, Nova and the remaining renegades are forced to stay underground and submit to the Council's rule. Nova isn't having this--the Council isn't as great as everyone thinks and it's time that their rule end. The only way to do that is to discover their secrets, which means becoming a renegade herself.

Meyer's writing is solid, just as it was in the Lunar Chronicles, but I found myself taking a long time to get into this book. The characters were interesting, the world well built, but there was something I just felt was missing. But I can't quite put my finger on it, because by all accounts, it was a well-written book.

The characters were hard to keep straight, since they all have a super hero name and a regular name. And then I couldn't keep track of their powers either. There is a guide in the front of the book that I could have referenced, but I don't like having to flip back and forth while I'm reading.

I think that what is really interesting is that we get both sides of the story. It's not that one side is bad and one side is good, but that both sides are working toward what they believe is right and both sides make mistakes but also do good things. And Nova kind of realizes it. So while we do see the renegade side through Aiden, Nova is seeing both sides. She's able to come to terms with what both are trying to do and what can be done.

This does have a sequel coming out this year and so it ends a little bit on a cliff hanger, which I'm not a fan of. But I guess I'll just have to wait until the fall to see what happens.

No language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 384
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 15+
Series: DC Icons

Diana, though princess of the Amazons, has tried to prove her place an Themyscira her entire life. When she rescues a human from a shipwreck, she has the choice to either let her die or to save her. Alia has been overprotected her entire life and just wanted to experience some freedom. What she doesn't realize is that, as a warbringer (a descendant of Helen of Troy), she creates a spirit of discord wherever she goes. It's up to Diana to try to break the warbringer line and bring peace to the world, even if it means sacrificing her place as an Amazon.

There is something I learned from reading this book, and that is that you can't try to fit these new superhero books into what you know about the character and their story line. If you'll remember, I had a problem with that before. It's important to keep this in mind because it doesn't follow the time line of the old TV series, or the new movie. Instead, Warbringer takes place in the present day, though Diana is still a teenager.

I felt like it was slow to get into, with the middle being interesting and intriguing, and the end again slowing down. The twist was unexpected, though I'm not sure how well I liked it, even if it did go against cliches and tropes.

I was also a little disappointed when my copy came and the cover had been printed incorrectly.

There wasn't any language that stood out to me, and very little mention of sex.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 464
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 16+

The death of a teenage boy in Salem on Halloween brings up memories of a 25 year old murder of three women that is still unsolved. The people of Salem are calling for the arrest of a homeless woman, while the chief of police has to decide whether or not to reopen the case. The only living witness to the murders was five at the time and is trying to discover what happened the night her mother and the others where killed.

I think that this book is part of a series of books about Salem, because there were some things that were referenced, but never explained. That isn't to say that it doesn't stand on its own, just that I was confused in some parts.

I felt that the beginning was really good and interesting, with the introduction of the murders 25 years before and how they connected to the modern day. But near the end I felt that the pacing was just too fast, gliding over other parts to get to the end of the discovery of the murderer.

There was at least one instance of the f-word and some sex.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, October 23, 2017

There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 287
My rating: 3 stars
Ages: 16+

When teenagers in small town Nebraska start being brutally murdered, Makani and the rest of the high school students are horrified, feeling that any of them could be next. What's the link between the victims and who in their town could do such terrible things?

 This is about as scary as I get for Halloween. More than the descriptions of the murders themselves, what I found more chilling was the games the murderer played with his victims before hand. Moving things in their house, opening doors, stealing things—someone hiding in your house and doing things. That's what scares me.

I liked the beginning, which made me believe the story was about someone else before turning that around. (I obviously hadn't read the summary before starting to read it.) The mystery was intriguing, though I feel like we were told too early who the murderer was. And I think I would have liked more of an explanation or understanding of why he did what he did to his victims.

The descriptions of the murders got more and more gruesome and graphic with each one, until it got to the point where I was thinking that I didn't need to know that much information.

There were some f-words and sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 304
My rating: 3.5 stars
Ages: 16+

Aza Holmes finds herself on an ever tightening spiral of thoughts and compulsions, unsure why her friends stay with her and how to be better. When the father of an old acquaintance goes missing, Aza finds herself in the middle of Davis's life and worries.

This isn't so much a mystery story as it is about a girl trying to live with her mental illness. What I appreciate about this is that Aza's illness isn't shown as some quirky thing that helps her solve the Case of the Missing Father. It isn't something that is easily overcome or only happens when it's convenient. But at the same time, it doesn't mean that she also isn't just a teenager at times. It is neither consuming of her every moment nor only in some moments.  It's a spiral, which sometime is tight and unmanageable and sometimes wide and maintainable. If these descriptions seem to contradict themselves, it's because that is what mental illness is—a conundrum of inconsistencies.

I found Aza somewhat relatable, as I did her friend Daisy and her mom and Davis. People are more than just one trait and I think that Green showed that. Compared to The Fault in Our Stars, this wasn't as emotionally wrenching (I didn't find myself sobbing), but more true to life.

There was some hard language and talk about sex (not explicit).

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

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Publication date: 2017
Publisher: Point
Pages: 352
My rating: 2.5 stars
Ages: 13+

Maddie spends most of her time studying, when she isn't at her job at the zoo. With the money problems her family has, she needs to get a scholarship for college and earn money to help out. So it's on a whim when she buys a lottery ticket on her eighteenth birthday. Her life changes over night when she realizes she won the 50 million prize.

This is the second book I've read this year about a teenager winning the lottery. I'll admit that Windfall was a better story, but Lucky had a simpler plot with more likable characters. Of West's books that I've read, I think this is probably the weakest. I just couldn't believe that Maddie, who we know is really smart with a GPA above 4.0, would be so dumb after she wins the lottery. Every time she mentioned that she should meet with a financial adviser, I'd yell at her in my head "Yes! Go! Now!" But who knows, maybe I would have been the same if I had won the lottery when I was 18.

The book does put forth the problem of not knowing if people are your friends because you have a lot of money or not. I think that I might have been more suspicious earlier than Maddie was, but seeing her trust and positive outlook on life crash down was a little heartbreaking. I'm glad that she had Seth, who was the one person who treated her the same after she won.

There is no language or sex.

*I do not receive compensation from Amazon.