Review of The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

themidnightstarThe Midnight Star
By: Marie Lu
Release Date: October 11th 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.

Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

Bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina’s story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series.

My Thoughts:
I have been such a fan of The Young Elites series. Each book has improved upon the prior to me and the characters never cease to capture my heart and interest. I was so eager to see how Lu would finish this story and what fate Adelina would have.

I didn’t have the time to reread the prior books so I had to rely on my memory and the first few chapters to help remind me of where the story left off. It didn’t take long for me to be right back into the midst of things. I will admit that at first I thought the pacing was a bit on the slower side and I was struggling just a tiny bit. I believe this was mostly due to my not rereading the prior books again but I did start to worry that this book wouldn’t be as amazing as I hoped.

Thankfully, not too far along things picked up for me and I was completely immersed. The entire plot of these books- where each of the characters has such evil inside especially the main character. I loved watching Adelina degrade into her visions and mind. Her power slowly sucked out her humanity and left a paranoid shell behind. I found her journey to be so mesmerizing and well done. Her relationships to those around her helped to allow the reader to see the difference between what the voiced in Adelina’s head were saying versus what could possibly be the real reality of her world.

Lu didn’t hesitate to really hit the reader where it hurt and put her characters through trials that were really tense and heart breaking. I loved how she never hesitated to take the story just that little bit darker. I felt that this finale was everything I had wanted in the series and the final conclusion was so well done.

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Final Thoughts:
Of course this review of The Midnight Star has got to be vague since it’s the series final. I never feel that I can give an incredibly detailed look at the book or reading journey because it’ll spoil things. Just know- if you are a fan of Lu and the series you must read this one.

Review of Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

SJtRCoverStalking Jack the Ripper
By: Kerri Maniscalco
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Format: Print ARC
Source: TLA Convention

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My Thoughts:
I was so excited to get an early copy of this book because the description was so ‘me’.  I just knew this novel would be so much fun and I was totally correct in thinking that. Maniscalco created likeable characters that exude that “Sherlock and Watson” feel. Audrey Rose and Thomas Cresswell had great dialog and chemistry. I loved their banter and I look forward to seeing where their story goes together.

Audrey Rose was a strong willed woman in an age where that was frowned upon. Her father and brother were constantly trying to tame her and keep her from her interest in anatomy. I love that her Uncle disregards this and decides to include her in his experiments and investigations. I really loved the mentor/student relationship they had and how easy it was to get a grasp of who her uncle was.

There is always something awesome about an arrogant, highly intelligent “Sherlock” type. Why am I drawn to these types? I’ll never know but Thomas filled this role perfectly. I loved that he didn’t care about convention or how things should be. He speaks inappropriately and was an actual flirt (sort of rare in these types of books). I couldn’t help but blush and smile with Audrey at his flirtations.

I didn’t feel that this book took itself too seriously though the anatomy and topic were serious and well done. I felt that research was involved and it showed in the way the descriptions were done. I also loved the touch of having period photographs sporadically in the book. I had a phase in high school where I was enthralled with the psychology of serial killers so I did some heavy reading on the topic of profiling. I never ventured too deeply into the Jack Ripper case though, like everyone, it always was a source of intrigue. I think we all wonder who exactly was behind these horrible slayings. I was very drawn to Jack the Ripper being the villain in this story and the fact that the book called on real evidence (his letters to the newspapers). I think it really added a wonderful touch to the world building and story telling.

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Final Thoughts:
I am so impressed that Maniscalco took the topic of Jack the Ripper and turned it on its head. Not only did she add in some historically relevant things she also was able to keep the book from being dry by including humor and a lightness that kept the book from being overly dark. I think this was and excellent start and I’m so happy there will be a sequel (or two) coming up.

Review of Burning by Danielle Rollins

BurningBurning
By: Danielle Rollins
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
After three years in juvie, Angela Davis is just a few months shy of release, and she’ll finally be free from the hole that is Brunesfield Correctional Facility. Then Jessica arrives. Only ten years old and under the highest security possible, this girl has to be dangerous, even if no one knows what she did to land in juvie. As strange things begin happening to Angela and her friends that can only be traced to the new girl’s arrival, it becomes clear that Brunesfield is no longer safe. They must find a way to get out, but how can they save themselves when the world has forgotten them?

My Thoughts:
I’ve never seen Orange is the New Black so that aspect of the description comparison didn’t draw me in but the summary and promise of a creepy 10 year old did. Overall I thought this book was mostly entertaining but I did feel it wasn’t nearly as creepy as I expected and there really wasn’t a definitive conclusion.

I really enjoyed the start of this book- I felt the writing was strong and I loved getting to know the main cast of characters. Each felt like they had a great amount of depth and backstory. I found Angela a great main character and I enjoyed reading the story from her point of view. I liked that she was a well rounded character.

The setting was unique since the majority of the book took place in a juvenile detention center. I felt that the author did an excellent job transporting the reader to the cold and depressing halls of Brunesfield.

Once I started getting a grasp (about 100 pages in) of where the story was headed I have to admit I was a tad disappointed. I sort of wanted more from it? I’m not sure what I expected but the way things played out wasn’t what I was necesarly hoping for. All in all though I think, if there is a sequel, things played out fairly well. Honestly though I’m not sure I’ll be rushing out to read a sequel just because I can tell the tone of the story would change drastically.

There was an unexpected romance in Burning that I wasn’t expecting. I actually liked these two together though I feel like their attraction was rushed. I’d have preferred for it to be more detailed and grow slower. I think the romance seems to imitate the book in how it progressed by it starting out wonderfully and the slow building up were great. But somewhere around 3/4ths in things started to feel rushed and it felt to me less care was given  to building depth.

I really enjoyed the care the author took with the secondary characters. I was really taken with Issie, Cara, and Jessica. I found myself worrying about their outcomes so I feel that was very successful.

Final Thoughts:
My expectations of the type of book Burning would be didn’t match completely with how this book ended up being. I found it to be far less creepy than I expected and the ending left something to be desired. I felt that some questions weren’t addressed and things didn’t feel nearly as tightly woven as they had in the beginning.

Review of The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

TheSquareRootofSummerThe Square Root of Summer
By: Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
This is what it means to love someone. This is what it means to grieve someone. It’s a little bit like a black hole. It’s a little bit like infinity.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer is losing time. Literally. When the fabric of the universe around her seaside town begins to fray, she’s hurtled through wormholes to her past:

To last summer, when her grandfather Grey died. To the afternoon she fell in love with Jason, who wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. To the day her best friend Thomas moved away and left her behind with a scar on her hand and a black hole in her memory.

Although Grey is still gone, Jason and Thomas are back, and Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and someone’s heart is about to be broken.

My Thoughts:
I was a tad nervous about The Square Root of Summer when I started it because the writing was different than I am used to. It wasn’t completely linear so there were often moments I wasn’t 100% sure I was keeping up with the book. I found myself rereading little bits trying to make sure I was absorbing everything I was reading. I’m not sure if this was a mood ‘me’ thing or the writing but if others struggle like this it might detract them from reading. But, I was able to get used to the writing and I ended up really loving it. So my advice is to keep with it.

The story centers around Gottie and her trying to cope with the loss of Grey, her grandfather. I recently lost my grandfather so I connected deeply with this aspect of the story. I felt deeply what Gottie was feeling and this became the storyline in the book I was most moved and entranced by. There are other elements like the relationship between Gottie and her brother and father as well as a romance angle. She was not only dealing with the loss of her grandfather but also her first love.

There are some science bits that I found interesting even though I wasn’t totally sure I understood them. I’ve never been one to understand time travel, physics or the like but that never stops my appreciation and attempts to understand. I felt that the author tried incorporating the information necessary to understand her story elements but I’m not sure she was 100% successful. It’s so hard to tell since I’m not really all that able to digest that sort of science in the best of times. I will say that even with my inability to understand I was still able to love the story and book. So, if it’s going over your head- skim and read on. I don’t think it’s necessary to really ‘get’ it all.

The romance was really sweet and I enjoyed watching the characters open up towards one another. I think that many readers will relate to the romance element or the immense losses Gottie had recently experienced. I will say that of all the books I’ve read about loss after my grandfather’s death this one encompassed my feelings about it the best. I was very moved and the book drove me to tears. I really don’t cry that often or easily in books so I was impressed that I was so emotionally connected to this one.

Final Thoughts:
I had a slowish start with The Square Root of Summer but it didn’t take too long for me to fall into the story, start loving Gottie and her heart-ache and really connect to the losses she was experiencing. The relationship she had with her grandfather and her coping of his death was so poignant to me and beautifully executed. I felt a deep connection to this element of the story and really this made the book for me. I felt it was therapeutic in my own sadness to read and experience this book.

 

TSRoS

I’ve been playing on Instagram lately and so wanted to share my latest photo of this book. If you like this feel free to check out my other pictures.

DNF Review: Dream On by Kerstin Gier

DreamOnDream On
By: Kerstin Gier
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

DNFed at page 70

Summary:
Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home (and her new family) in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long.

It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over–in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?

My Thoughts:
I read the first book, Dream a Little Dream, and enjoyed it. I felt that there were some things that might have been lost in translation but overall I found it to be a very interesting and entertaining read. I hoped that this sequel would build on the elements I enjoyed (the dream world) but sadly it fell flat for me.

I think my biggest issue was that the pacing was very slow. By page 70 not much at all had occurred. I didn’t have any connection to the characters so following them along and listening to Liv talk about a fancy tea party, kissing Henry in the dream world etc wasn’t enough for me. I kept hoping with each turn of the page something would grip me. There were scenes that took place in Liv’s dream and I could see that if I’d continued I’d probably have enjoyed these sections (there seemed to be some sort of mysterious thing following her in her dream) but right now I couldn’t push through it.

Have you read Dream On? Should I pick it up again and give it a second chance?