Review: Truly Devious

Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)

 

This was the mystery/thriller book I didn’t know I needed. I had a rocky start with Johnson books so I was hesitant going into this but she blew me away and I am thankful for that.

Short recap: Stevie Bell has been accepted to a very prestigious school and is secretly hell-bent on solving the murder/crime that took place there in the ’30s. She has been obsessed with the story for as long as she can remember. As she continues at school and moves forward with her investigation, she quickly finds that the person involved in the original crime may be after her as well….

Spooky, right?! This story was brilliantly written and had me hooked. I must point out that this is a duel time-line story. Part of the story is written in present day while the rest is told from the past. It is not as confusing as you would think. It gives just the right amount of detail from the original crime to keep you guessing, and still feels relevant to what happening present day. The scenes from the ’30s do not ever overtake or over shadow the the rest of the story and that was refreshing. I wish more stories could be written like this because it is a vacant genre right now.

The characters felt really well developed. The main character, Stevie (a female, btw), was very well flushed out and vetted. I liked how head strong, confident, and just a tad bit odd she was. It all made her feel more real and believable. There is a slew of characters that are with Stevie throughout her journey and most of them are just as good. Her good friend, Janelle, seemed like such a solid girl to have on your side. Nate was odd at times but he certainly managed to make me not despise him. But then there is David…. I’m still not sure about him. I never know what he is up to or what his true motives are so for now I’ll say he is on the fence… neither like nor dislike. We’ll see what he does in book 2.

The pacing of the book was spot on for me. I never once thought it was dragging or slow. I thought it was the perfect amount of suspense and story telling, both of which Johnson seems to excel at. And that ending… WHOA. I still have absolutely no idea who is behind everything! It’s killing me! Normally I’m quick to figure out who the bad guy is (the butler in the kitchen with the lead pipe) but I could not do it with this story. This is the start of a trilogy so don’t go into it expecting everything to be explained and solved by the end, that is not going to happen. But do prepare yourself for intrigue and a lot of ‘whodunit?’ questions. I don’t know about you but I need book 2 last week. I have to know what happens.
sara-signature11

Advertisements

Review: Wither (The Chemical Garden #1)

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)

 

 

This was a book that sat on my shelf for a while… no clear reason why I didn’t pick it up right away. It could have been the usual excuse from me, ‘Oh I have so many to read so it’s hard to pick!” Regardless, I am now kicking myself for not reading this sooner. I’m a dystopia freak and this was right up my alley.

Short recap: Rhine lives in a time where everyone lives for a very short amount of time: females live to the age of 20 and males live to 25. That means they have a very, very short amount of time to have a life. This genetic mutation takes place after science failed to create a superior race. Rhine, unfortunately, was kidnapped at a young age and sold as a bride to a family that wants to use her for the soul purpose of breeding. She is one of many “brides” given to a young man of power in the hopes that he can have as many children as possible to carry on his line. Rhine wants nothing more than to escape and be free to live her few remaining years as she wants.

Doesn’t that sound thrilling?! I was hooked from the start! I have read this author’s MG books and the first book in her new series, but neither stood out to me. But this story… this one stood out. This was so engaging that I could not get enough. This wasn’t a story that was full of suspense but it certainly was a story that had my full attention. I love dystopians that make me think that type of future could happen. What is to say that science today won’t do something to severely limit our expected lifespan in the future? Anything is possible, right?

Rhine was such a great character. The girl was strong, fierce, and smart. Who doesn’t love that in a protagonist? I admired her willingness to stay true to herself no matter what. Even after she was sold as a bride and given to her “husband”, she still stood her ground and would not let anyone push her into something she didn’t want to do. That sounds like double talk since she was kidnapped but she was constantly planning her escape. She was always looking for a way to flee her prison and return to her family. Rhine was also so compassionate and caring when she didn’t need to be. Very few of the other ‘brides’ were that way to her but she still chose to let her true self shine. I cannot say enough how much I adored her.

Linden was the “husband” who had taken on so many wives. While I don’t agree with that notion, a part of me cannot blame him for wanting to carry on his family name and heritage by trying to have kids before his 25th birthday. He did try to get to know all of his ‘wives’ but how can he when he has to answer to his father (the horrible man that he was) and attend to the whims and needs of so many women? I don’t mean that in a rude way… let me explain. One girl was super needy and could not wait to “serve” him, another girl was used to being “used for her body”, and Rhine was untouched and taken from her family so she was not having any of it. What was Linden to do? His father absolutely pushed him to “mate” as much as possible in hopes of siring a child. Don’t forget, the girls only live to the age of 20 so some had only a year or two to have a baby. I really did want to hate Linden but I found that I just could not. I could be repulsed at the fact that one of his brides was the very young age of 13, but that was his father’s choosing, not his. I wanted to be outraged at the idea of forced relations but had to remember that it was acceptable in this dystopian future. All of this things made me want to be upset with Linden but I found that I really could not be. Which leads me to the real villain of the story – Linden’s father. That man was evil in true form. I cannot wait to read what his story is really about although I have a really good idea. I don’t trust that scum as far as I can throw him.

The rest of the characters were just as powerful, especially Gabriel. He was the servant boy who attended to Rhine and really wanted to help her. Him along with the rest of the sister-wives (I guess that is what I should call them?) really made this story seem developed and fully-formed. Without them, this story would not have been the same. They were all so flushed out, developed, and believable.

The thing about this story that really stuck out to me was the tough topics the author covered: child brides, human trafficking, breeding merely for scientific reasons, and exploitation of women. These subjects take place every day in the world regardless so it was great to see it brought to light in this series. The horrors and uncertainty these girls went through daily was heart shattering. Lauren did a marvelous job of covering this topics without being preachy. They were talked about and not skirted around. I applaud her for that.

I won’t give away more of the story than I already have because the characters are the real backbone. The story itself is enough to tear your heart out and leave you begging for the second book. I cannot wait to read the second book because the ending of this left me screaming! Now if only my library would buy the audio so I could continue the series… I have to know what happens!

 

sara-signature1

Review: Reign of the Fallen

Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen, #1)

 

 

I am finally finding my happy place when it comes to fantasy books and therefore rather excited to read this one. The hype around it promised so much but I’m here to say that it feel short. Maybe this was a case of too much hype? Regardless, I walked away confused and disappointed.

Everything about this book screamed for me to love it: the cover (let’s be honest, it is stunning), a unique fantasy tale that includes necromancers and people raising the dead, and the chance at a bisexual protagonist. Well, kittens, those statements are true… in a way. Here is what was actually delivered after those bold promises: one-dimensional and underdeveloped characters, far too much time spent on describing things that utterly don’t matter, addiction, and an incredibly slow pace that caused me to forget what the hell this story was supposed to be about. Plus, this story was all around depressing.

The protagonist, Odessa, loses the ultimate love of her life in the very early chapters of the book. I know I’m supposed to be heartbroken but how can I when I am only given one or two chapters of her boyfriend and their undying love? That is not enough time for anyone to form a bond with these love birds. I do understand that losing her true love would cause Odessa to fall into a depression, but I didn’t realize that a huge chunk of the overall story would be dedicated to her grief. Chapters and chapters and yet more chapters about her sorrow, grief, and sadness did nothing but bring my mood down. Odessa was constantly referred to as one of the toughest necromancers in the kingdom, even being called Sparrow for her ability to fly between the land of the living and the land of the dead. However, I never saw that toughness in her. What I saw was stubbornness. Instead of asking for some kind of help, she turned to a numbing tonic that she became dangerously addicted to. Then it was chapters of her sneaking off to buy this tonic, drinking it over and over just so she could have a vision of her dead love, then constant self reflection about what she lost. If I had know loss and grief was going to take over that much of this story, I would have passed on this book.

Aside from my above rant, I wish more detail had been given about the people that were brought back from the dead. I don’t feel enough information was given on why people needed to be brought back or why it was even an option. Were these zombie-like people able to live relatively normal lives, aside from the fact they were previously dead? Did they die again? If so, how? Old age? No real info was given and it was a little maddening. I’m not the type of reader that agrees with something just because I’m told to. Call me crazy but I like to be given facts and information. The world building itself was well done but so few details were given when it came to anything outside of Odessa and her addiction.

Overall this was not a terrible story but it was not for me. The constant hype I heard about the story made me believe I was going to read something other than what I got. What I read did not deserve the hype. This needed major revisions and re-editing. This is the first book in a new series but I don’t believe I will continue reading it. I barely made it through this story without DNFing. I didn’t care what was going on, I just wanted to finish the book and read something else.

 

sara-signature1

Review: There You’ll Find Me

There You'll Find Me

 

Oh, do I have a review on this book. Sit back and stay a while because this may be a long post. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on this gem.

Short recap: Finley has just lost her brother in a tragic accident. She decides to travel to Ireland to visit that land that he loved in hopes of finding peace within herself.

Whoa… that is a pretty good recap. BUT! It is not the entire truth of what the story is about. While the premise talks about a girl who wants to find peace after the horrible death of her brother, it is actually a heavily religious book that shoves religion down your throat. You read that right. This is one of the most religious books that isn’t labeled religious that I have ever read. I’m not against religion or believing in a higher power, but I am against having that ideal or believe thrust upon me in a way that it is smothering. I don’t deal too well with that. Let me make up my own mind, thank you very much.

Let me back up for a moment… I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s discuss the characters. We’ll start with Finley, the MC…. I did not care for her at all. She was a nasty person on the inside. She judged everyone, no matter who they were. She claimed to be humble and welcoming but on the inside she was horrible. On top of being judgmental of everyone with a pulse, she was terribly self-centered and rude. She responded to everyone with clipped responses and tones that implied she was above them. She acted that way because apparently she was someone famous back in the US. Well, if you consider Paris Hilton famous then I supposed Finley is too. It was the weakest attempt at “being famous” I have seen written yet. I have zero cares of a spoiled self-proclaimed socialite who had a few drunken nights. Throughout the entire story, it is hinted that Finley had “wild nights” and “a bad reputation” but no actual evidence or backstory was given. We were simply to believe that it happened and she changed her ways to find her path back to God. *insert the biggest eye roll here*

Now let’s chat about the “love interest”, Beckett. This won’t surprise you but he was a famous child/teen actor that was not happy with the way his manager (I.E. Father) was managing his career and wanted “a normal life”. Same song and dance we have read before, nothing new there. He never came across dreamy, charming, or whatever other characteristic you want to include. He just did not stand out for me.

As for the plot… I’m almost at a loss at what the plot was supposed to be about because there were simply too many heavy topics crammed into this story YET none of them were properly discussed or resolved. The blurb talks about Finley wanting to find peace with the tragedy of her brother’s death but I’m not sure she actually did. What happened to her brother, or even the relationship with her brother, was never explained or explored. It was simply assumed. What a cop out. Then there was the OBVIOUS eating disorder Finley had but it was never truly talked about. It was yet another heavy, serious topic that could have been explored but wasn’t. Sure, it was finally mentioned at the end of the book but it felt rushed and brushed over. What a waste! Don’t throw it into the story if you aren’t going to actually discuss it!! *GRRRRR*

And now I’ll talk about the religious tone of the story. Heavy. Religious. Tone. Constantly Finley is talking to God or praying to God or cursing out God or quoting Bible scripture or talking to a Nun (she conveniently is attending a catholic school) or reading a Bible. Normally these things would not bother me in the least but it felt as if the plot and story should have focused around Finley finding her path back to God, not whatever the publisher put on the back of the book. Those were simply side stories. A good portion of the story is Finley arguing with herself on the fact that God won’t talk to her. Uh… ok?

I believe my overall frustration with the story was trying to figure out the freaking point of it. Was it for Finley to find herself? Was it for her to find her way back into religion? Was it to find a boyfriend? Was it to judge people and be nasty towards them? Was it to finally admit she had an eating disorder? Was it to finally accept what happened to her brother? Was it for her to admit that she missed and needed her parents? I DON’T KNOW. All of these topics and more were talked about in this story. It was simply too much. I am kicking myself for staying with this until the end. I should have DNFd and walked away but I didn’t for whatever reason. Do I recommend? Not a chance. I’m sure I’m alone with my outright frustration with this story but I don’t want anyone to walk away as confused as I am. This story had potential to be an adorable contemporary if the author hadn’t tried to cram every serious topic known to man into one story with no resolution to any of them.

 

sara-signature1

ARC Review: Heart of Iron

Heart of Iron

 

Y’all…. this story. HOLY SMOKES. I’m not sure the world is ready for this powerhouse. Anastasia meets Firefly but I’m telling you – Poston nailed this one. She knocked it out of the park. This will leave you screaming and yet begging for more.

Short recap: Ana and her robot, D09, know no other life than being an outlaw on a scoundrel ship. They were picked up floating through space and have no memory of where they came from or who they really are. Ana wants nothing more than to save D09 by fixing the glitching of her illegal Metal. With the help of the space pirates that saved her, Ana embarks on a very dangerous quest to find a long lost spaceship that could hold the answer to saving her beloved best friend and companion. Nobody could have predicted the events she sets in motion by going after this infamous ship.

I’m still reeling from this story and I read it months ago. This was everything I wanted in a sci-fi space pirate story and more. There was action, adventure, lies, betrayal, humor, romance, and  unforgettable characters. From the very beginning of the story, I was hooked. Ana and D09 were brilliantly written. Immediately I had a soft spot for their Anastasia-ish backstory. Ana had no memory of her life before being picked up and therefore only knew the life of being a part of a ruthless pirate ship. Her absolute devotion to D09 was heartbreaking. This girl would do absolutely everything for the metal boy she loved, and D09 had the same feelings. I never thought my heart would break so much for a metal being but it did. If that doesn’t give you an idea of how masterful Poston is with words, I don’t know what will. But rest assured that Ana and D09 are not the only characters that will steal your heart away… enter Jax and Robb. I am not going to give anything away with these two but just prepare yourself for these two. Jax is one of the last of his kind, someone that can read a person’s future by touching their skin… hence the reason he always wears gloves. Robb is royalty and quickly discovering that everything he knew about his life and the life of his family may not be what he was raised to believe it is. I cannot say enough about how much these characters found a place in my heart with their wonderful development and growth. Where they started out at is not where they ended up.

The pacing, plot, and world building blew me out of the water. It was so action packed and engaging that it was over before I wanted it to be. You want twists and turns that you never see coming? This book has it. This world Poston created was rich and diverse that I truly felt I was in the story with the characters. But that ending though… that ending had me screaming! I hope Poston is ready for people to love and hate her at the same time because it is going to happen.

This review has been a struggle for me to write because I adored this story so much. When I have such strong love for a story, I feel as if I fail at properly expressing my thoughts without giving spoilers away. What I am trying to say in my review is this: read this story. You want to read this story. It is set up perfectly for a sequel and there is no doubt Poston has to continue this story. When it is announced, I’ll be one of the first to preorder. I need more Ana and D09, Robb and Jax. I need these character like I need air.

 

sara-signature1

Review: The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily

 

 

When I borrowed this from my library, I was rather excited to start as most reviews I’d seen were glowing. How could someone not want to read a book like that? Shortly after I started I realized that this probably wasn’t going to be my cup o’ tea. ADHD books are hard for me to connect with so I found myself at arm’s length with everything.

Short recap: Lily is a brilliant young lady who has ADHD. She has chosen to take herself off of her medication and things don’t exactly go the way she hoped or planned. Along the way she runs into Abelard, a boy she had interactions with many years ago. Abelard has Asperger’s Syndrome and immediately forms a bond with Lily. These two form the most unique couple.

I know that blurb above sounds like of choppy and rough, but it was the best way I could think to describe the story. I did not connect to any part of this other than the fact that Lily was raised on classic literature. That was rather cool in my mind. Her father, who was a raging drunk, would read scholar-worthy classics to his daughters. This is were Lily obtained her love for literature and her ability to reference said text. Throughout this story, she refers to her relationship with Abelard as that found in The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, which was a published work of letters written between two star crossed lovers. Since Lily had ADHD and Abelard has Asperger’s, it is difficult for the two to communicate the way, say, you and I would communicate. They texted alot by using only quotes from this particular story. That is sweet but how many teens know this historical book? Not many, that’s for sure. The more they referenced it, the more interest I lost in the story. They constantly referred to themselves as “boyfriend and girlfriend” but I never read where they officially started dating. Should that matter? Eh, to me it did. It was simply assumed that they would become exclusive without it being said. Sorry, but I’m not the type of reader that assumes anything. There was just no build up of emotions, no budding romance, nothing! It was sort of an understated instalove by both parties and BOOM! relationship city, population Lily and Abelard. The way it was thrust into the story made me feel like I skipped some chapters. It didn’t feel….  natural.

Please don’t hate me or come at me with pitchforks but I had a harder time understanding Lily’s character. Her ADHD made furious, especially when she would talk a mile a minute about something that was said to her years ago that nobody else remembers. Plus, I was constantly confused when sentences like, “Sclur your blashes” and “Don’t come in – you haven’t inspreefed ayftey procols” were used because I had zero idea what was going on. Not at any point in time was it explained that this is how Lily’s brain understood things as a dyslexic and off of her ADHD meds. Oh, did I not mention that she was dyslexic? She is. Again, this was something that must be assumed by the reader. I’m not that smart of a person so sometimes I still need things explained to me. It took me far too long to figure out what was going on and I wasn’t a fan of that.

I think what was really missing from this story was Creedle explaining the basic knowledge of someone that suffers from ADHD. I do not have ADHD, nor do any of my friends, family, or coworkers. I know nothing of the symptoms, causes, or severity of this diagnosis. I really would have appreciated being given some type of explanation but it was not found in this story.

I’m a little unsure of what the overall plot of the story was supposed to be. I know that Lily wanted nothing more than to graduate high school and spend the summer with her father who was a farmer/goat herder. (She later finds out that he is, in fact, not doing that any more and she inherited her ADHD from him.) She ends up having brain surgery instead? I was utterly and totally confused. The ending was not what I expected, nor did it give me any resolution whatsoever. The entire story was nothing short of confusing. I was bored most of the book and found myself skimming just to get through it.

I know there are readers that loved this story and I truly wish I could have read it through their eyes. I never connected to the story nor did I understand the plot. Maybe I’m just not the right reader for ADHD stories… either way, this was not what I was expecting or hoping for.

 

sara-signature1

DNF Review: The Authentics

The Authentics

 

**CAUTION! SPOILERS AHEAD!**

 

Welcome to my first DNF review of 2018! Now please remember that I don’t like DNFing books, nor do I like writing DNF reviews. But, what I do like is the ability to express myself and voice my concerns or reasons why I felt the strong urge to stop reading a book. I did DNF at the 35% mark of the audio and I’ll explain why.

Short recap: Daria is Iranian-American and very proud of her heritage and always being real. So much so that she and her friends have started calling themselves The Authentics. Things change for Daria after she does a school project and learns some very disturbing information about her past. Maybe she isn’t as “authentic” as she thought she was. How will everyone handle the news?

Here’s the thing… I wanted to love this story, I really did. This quickly turned out to be not a story for me. I realized, accepted, and moved on. I did like Daria’s heritage and how she was always so proud of where she came from. She had a great relationship with her family, parents, and friends. But I did not like how the actual plot of the story was revealed and laid out, along with some other issues.

I did not like how immature Daria’s voice sounded. She and her friends were teenagers, yes, but the way they came across made them sound like they were 12 or 13. Every time Daria did not get her way, she whined like a spoiled entitled child. I have little to no patience for those characters. She was very well taken care of by her parents and wanted for nothing (these girls were carrying Prada bags, for Pete’s sake) so when Daria’s mom talked about her upcoming birthday, Daria threw a tantrum about how she didn’t want a party. Excuse me, missy, but some people (LIKE ME) did not have the luxury of being thrown birthday parties when they were your age – or any age – so how about you be a little grateful that your parents still want to celebrate your milestones?

I also did not enjoy reading how Daria and her group of friends gave themselves the pretentious name “The Authentics” and would only refer to themselves that way. OUT LOUD. IN PUBLIC. They were all so quick to judge other girls in their school and label them things like “Nose Jobs”. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? No need to be so petty. I was thrilled that they always “kept it real” but being so petty to others outside of their circle of friends was not so awesome to read about.

Now here is where I stopped the story: After paying a 3rd party company to genetically map her DNA, she discovers that she is adopted. That’s when Daria lost it. I can understand being upset by not being told this information by her parents but she found out – not only by having her DNA tested without talking to her parents – she illegally snooped in a lawyer’s office to find the paperwork. She found the paperwork confirming that her parents are not her parents and her culture is not really her culture. If the book had focused on that and that alone – this would have been a great story. But it didn’t. I didn’t read any of that. What I read about was this:

Daria’s real mother had a stepson, Enrique, who Daria had instalove with and started to date.

That above sentence is why I DNFd the story. I felt the forced, unnecessary instalove/romance did not need to be in this story. This should have focused on Daria, her adoption, and possibly finding out about her true culture/heritage. Did it? NOPE. It was all about how hot Daria thought Enrique was and how much she wanted to see him shirtless… or some other pointless teenage hormone related thing. I lost all connection to the story, cut my losses and moved on.

Did I like this story? Obviously not since I DNFd. I didn’t like how it was fully of women bashing and judging. (Don’t judge someone because they carry a specific brand of bag or have their nails painted. Judge not lest ye be judged. Always remember that.) I didn’t like how the overall topic was lost in a sea of teenage hormones. This had so much potential but for me fell incredibly short.

 

 

sara-signature1