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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

The Third Lie’s the Charm [a book review of sorts]

The Third Lie’s the Charm (The Liar Society, #3)
by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Katie Lowry knows she could’ve stopped Alistair from doing something stupid if only she’d picked up the phone. Now she has to live with the guilt. She’s sick of the lies, sick of the secret societies that rule life at Pemberly Brown Academy. But there’s only one way to take them down: from the inside… (goodreads.com)

Ok, so maybe it’s been three years since I read the first two books in this series. And maybe I spent a good chunk of that time checking to see if my local library had this third, and final book. (It never did.) And maybe, just maybe, I had zero recollection that I had BOUGHT this book on my Kobo at some point in time. And maybe, hypothetically speaking of course, I discovered I had this book on my Kobo after about a year of not even knowing where my Kobo was, or having it charged. And finally, maybe I noticed I had this book on my Kobo when I was trying to load some library books onto it before a flight out East to visit my cousin, and those library books didn’t actually work on my Kobo but I had this here Liar Society book all loaded up on there and ready to read.

And maybe (yeah, I lied about the finally part) even though I read this book at the end of September, I am still thinking about it enough to blog about it.

This is all possible. Not saying it isn’t.

I went back and re-read my blog posts about books one and two (linked below) and sure enough, I was as enthusiastic about the novels as I thought I had been. I’m rather bummed I’d forgotten about having bought the final book (allegedly). Then again, my life changed a lot a few months after I’d read the other books. I haven’t been reading much at all. And I do not like reading e-books. It bugs me so much reading on a screen. Even with e-ink. Bleh.

I’m not really going to review the book much though, even though it was awesome, and I did love it. (Check out this series if you haven’t. GREAT mysteries! Secret Societies! Woo! Scandal!) I need to talk about something else in the book that’s been sticking with me for over a month since I finished it.

Katie’s loss of her friend, and the sort of frantic, anxious, paranoid, lung-crushing emotions she has throughout the novel are so, so spot on. People tell her she’s in shock, and experiencing symptoms of a trauma (the murder of her friend, and well, others) and she’s certain she’s not crazy though everyone tells her she is. She gets sent to a therapist, and has even her closest friends question her sanity about even more conspiracies and secret societal shenanigans. And all I could think while reading this was: woah. The authors GET IT. They captured on page (er, screen?), in words, what it feels like to spiral out of control over the loss of something, someone, in a traumatic way. You don’t know if you’re up, or down. Coming, or going. You spend your time trying to focus and breathe, and you’re scared, angry, sad, confused, lost.

And Katie was all of those things as she tried to get to the bottom of the latest mystery at Pemberly Brown Academy. Her struggle was almost palatable to me. My heart raced, but not in a trigger sort of way, but in total empathy for the character. I understood. I could have been her (if I were 15+ years younger).

In reading my original blog posts about the first two books, I see that I was all about the authors’ grasp of the teenage voice, and point of view. They got it. And they still do, but they also got that out-of-control feeling that Katie was experiencing and they expressed it so well in this book. The mystery, the suspense, the sarcastic humour and quips, they were all wonderful as well, but what truly stood out to me was the way Katie’s emotional crisis was portrayed.

I love well-written, and engaging novels. I love being able to recommend a series like this to young readers because I know it will be appreciated and enjoyed. I don’t think you can lend e-books (I’m old, I don’t get the technology of the youth) but I might just toss my Kobo at my niece (and sister) and tell them to read this series. It’s not very salty or risqué, and my 10-year old niece has a pretty high reading level (if she can get through The Hunger Games this series might seem like Sesame Street to her). And I said it before, but there aren’t too many mystery novels in the YA field that aren’t paranormal in some way. At least not that I have found. That makes The Liar Society a delightfully refreshing series to devour.

The Liar Society

  1. The Liar Society
  2. The Lies That Bind
  3. Third Lie’s the Charm

All Fall Down [a mini book review of sorts]

All Fall Down
All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:

1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.

As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.

Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. (goodreads.com)

I didn’t know about this new series from Ally Carter until I saw it mentioned on a friend’s blog. I was thrilled when I discovered my library actually had it in stock. I don’t think anything else Ally Carter will write will ever compare to the Gallagher Girls series in my mind, but it’s a fun mystery. What I missed in this story, that I loved in the GG series, was the depth of the side characters. I felt like all the “friends” that Grace had in All Fall Down were sort of flat, and bland. Perhaps they will be better fleshed out in the sequel. I’d like to know more about them.

I do like stories where you can’t trust anyone though, and this was certainly one of those! Even Grace isn’t the most reliable main character. 😉  Suppose I should keep an eye out for the second book to show up at my library.

 

What I Read in January

Ok folks, I seem to have forgotten how to blog. Or, rather, I can’t seem to get my blogging mojo off the ground. In my defence I’m going through some stuff and there are too many things that are overwhelming me. Being online, blogging, social media… those are a big chunk of the GAH! feelings so I have been avoiding the internet as much as possible. It’s helping me so that’s good. On the other hand, I miss blogging and having handy reference of what I read online, so here I am with a mini update!

I managed to read 7 books in total throughout January! This was surprising to me since I didn’t think I’d actually gotten that many read! I read some great books and some not-so-great books and here’s my rundown in one post because I’m just not up to multiple blog posts right now.

Reconstructing Amelia
by Kimberly McCreight

In Reconstructing Amelia, the stunning debut novel from Kimberly McCreight, Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter–now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump. (goodreads.com)

This book was the first Featured Book from the 50 Book Pledge hosted by The Savvy Reader. It sounded pretty interesting and I was looking for less YA novels and more adult ones. I’m feeling mystery or suspensy these days and very little is holding my attention, I had hoped that this book would be a nice change of pace – I wasn’t wrong! This was a great mystery to read and I think it would be a prefect bridge-book between adult and YA fiction since the story is told in two points of view – that of Amelia and her mother. This has the added bonus of a Prep school. It’s not a boarding school, but there are still rich kids being all mysterious and secret societies! I love that stuff. Woo!

Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum, #19)
by Janet Evanovich

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is certain of three truths: People don’t just vanish into thin air. Never anger old people. And don’t do what Tiki tells you to do.
(goodreads.com)

I saw a bunch of complaints about this nineteenth book in the Stephanie Plum series, but I didn’t think it was that bad. I am seriously hoping for some sort of character progression in Stephanie’s case over time, but ultimately this book made me laugh. Laughter is something I seriously look for in one of these mystery novels. I also love me some steamy Ranger scenes and although he was in the story a lot, there wasn’t a ton of steam. I don’t know if the love triangle will ever be resolved, but Morelli is getting a tad boring for my liking. He used to be a bad boy and now he’s just feeling like an old man. Hmm. At least Stephanie seems to be slightly more competent in her bail bondsman job. She’s not always failing miserably and I will admit to a certain amount of glee every time one of her cars blows up! Hee!

The Gospel of Winter
by Brendan Kiely

As sixteen-year-old Aidan Donovan’s fractured family disintegrates around him, he searches for solace in a few bumps of Adderall, his father’s wet bar, and the attentions of his local priest, Father Greg—the only adult who actually listens to him.

When Christmas hits, Aidan’s world collapses in a crisis of trust when he recognizes the darkness of Father Greg’s affections. He turns to a crew of new friends to help make sense of his life: Josie, the girl he just might love; Sophie, who’s a little wild; and Mark, the charismatic swim team captain whose own secret agonies converge with Aidan’s. (goodreads.com)

This one was sent to be by Simon & Schuster Canada after an email exchange I had with my pub rep. Once she told me it had been one of her favourites I admitted I was extra curious about it. It’s certainly a subject that’s pretty taboo and not often written about. I didn’t see many favourable reviews on goodreads for this one so I was apprehensive as I began it but I was surprised by how much I liked it. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing (now majorly lapsed) but this story was pretty riveting and I thought, well told. I liked Aidan a lot, too. As troubling as the story itself was I found the book to be quiet and calm, sort of like a snowfall. It was sort of nice to read an “issue novel” from the point of view of a male protagonist, too. I am very happy that I was able to have included this novel in my 2014 reading.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, Book 1)
by Marie Rutkoski

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. (goodreads.com)

Release date: March 4, 2014

You might have seen photos of the epic packaging floating around the internet for the ARCs of The Winner’s Curse – they came with a dagger! I didn’t get the epic packaging, but my friend did send me an ARC and although this doesn’t come out until March, since I was so desperate to read a book that I could connect with I tried this one out. It’s an easy read and a nice fantasy but my problem with it was the constant pining between Kestrel and Arin. I wrote this on Goodreads, “I’d really like someone to write a YA fantasy novel that isn’t just a romance in disguise. I wanted to like this one more than I did but there was just too much pining between Kestrel and Arin and it overshadowed all the rest. 🙁” I KNOW Rutkoski can write an amazing fantasy novel because I adored her middle grade  Kronos Chronicles trilogy. I think the problem here is that YA novels always have to have this stupid OMG I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU UR SO PRETTY ZOMG! theme to them and I am so, so tired of that crap. Do I want to continue with the series? Probably. Mostly out of curiosity though.

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, Book 2)
by Sarah J Maas

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is bold, daring and beautiful – the perfect seductress and the greatest assassin her world has ever known. But though she won the King’s contest and became his champion, Celaena has been granted neither her liberty nor the freedom to follow her heart. The slavery of the suffocating salt mines of Endovier that scarred her past is nothing compared to a life bound to her darkest enemy, a king whose rule is so dark and evil it is near impossible to defy. Celaena faces a choice that is tearing her heart to pieces: kill in cold blood for a man she hates, or risk sentencing those she loves to death. Celaena must decide what she will fight for: survival, love or the future of a kingdom. Because an assassin cannot have it all . . . And trying to may just destroy her. (goodreads.com)

Oh, look. Another YA fantasy novel that’s 80% PINING! This sequel to The Throne of Glass might just have ended the series for me. The first half of the book is all about how Celeana and Chaol can’t be together because OMG THE LUST and OMG THE DISTRACTION! And let’s not forget about how Darion can’t even look at her because OMG SHE WANTS CHAOL! Ugh. Then (SPOILERS) there’s this entire section of the book that’s nothing but sexsexsexsexsexsex all of the time and I just wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust because it added NOTHING to the story. Nothing. Nada. The last quarter of the book things got more interesting but then we’re totally thrown for a loop with a plot twist that I am still trying to decide between it being obvious and unoriginal or a surprise. Jury is still out on that one. I didn’t even like Celaena anymore. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with this series or not. We’ll see how I’m feeling when the next book comes out.

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
by Teresa Toten

When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive  (goodreads.com)

Now THIS book was FANFREAKINGTASTIC! I picked it up for my Kobo with some gift cards I’d gotten at Christmas. I bought this one on the recommendation of my naturopath of all people. When I went to an appointment in January she mentioned having just read a great YA novel about teens with OCD and that totally piqued my interest. I am so happy that I found out about this book because it was just amazing. Yes, there is romance-ish between Adam and Robyn but it’s not the over-the-top swoony kind that you get in most novels these days. This book is so raw and real and just heartwarming you are rooting for Adam the entire time. This was a great story about mental illness that will make you laugh and cry and feel uncomfortable but also happy and hopeful. It even has a bit of a mystery within the story that kept me on my toes until the end. I know I’ve only read seven books (now 8, since I just finished one in February) so far, but this is the best one I have read so far.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
by Claire Legrand

At the Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, you will definitely learn your lesson. An atmospheric, heartfelt, and delightfully spooky novel for fans of CoralineSplendors and Glooms, andThe Mysterious Benedict Society.

Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster ;lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)

But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don’t come out at all.

If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria; even if it means getting a little messy. (goodreads.com)

To be honest, I wasn’t really going to write about this one because I don’t think I liked it much. With the way things are for me right now, I don’t feel like blogging about each and every book I read anymore. Also, I just don’t have the time to do that. And I’m not reading nearly as much as I normally do. But I was looking for something “creative” to do today that wasn’t just sitting here and surfing the internet. I’m trying to slowly back away from social media and it’s been working somewhat. Mostly due to the fact that my husband and I just watched about 2.5 seasons of Buffy in about 4 days. And I might have to go back to work next week. So, you know, time will be less.

Anyhow, things I did like about this particular middle grade mystery were: the writing, the story telling and the extreme creepiness of the plot. Bugs. Yuck. Puppets. Yuck.bThings I didn’t like about this book: Victoria. I disliked her almost instantly and she didn’t grow on me at all. I find it very difficult to read a story when I have zero connection with the protagonist. But I was determined to read this story all the way through because I had been wanting to read it for ages. And I bought it. So I was going to read the blasted thing.

I also didn’t really like how creepy it was. But that’s more of a me thing. Then again, I don’t think I’d give this book to my niece to read because it’s dark and gloomy and there’s creepy death. It’s an odd sort of middle grade book. It’s one of those “smart” type books as I call them. It’s not simple in its writing or plot and it is very well written. There’s just something about it that rubs me the wrong way. I believe that’s mostly due to my dislike of Victoria. I don’t actually feel that she was trying to find Lawrence because she was his friend, I feel like she was trying to find him because it was wrong for her to not have him around anymore to boss around and pick on. I didn’t feel as though this friendship was real – or healthy.

But you know something, the entire story felt exactly the shade of brown as on the cover. It’s a dark story, but it’s a cardboard, dirt sort of dark. Like everything was beige, brown and black in the story. The clothes. The people. The houses. The atmosphere. I didn’t sense any colours other than those. All dull, dirty colours and that makes me anxious.

I think this is a pretty good “spooky story” to read in October and around Halloween if you have kids who can handle these sorts of things. But there’s no whimsy in the spooky. It’s not quite the same as Harry Potter creepy/spooky. It’s not quite the same as other middle grade books that also have death. This one was different and I can’t put my finger on why I am feeling this way. The only thing I can think of is that I didn’t like the characters so I wasn’t as “in” the story as I normally am so I was more focused on what was happening around them than TO them and how they should be reacting?

I do like stories about houses that are alive though. Creepy or not. I like houses that change in books. I don’t want one of my own, but I like when other, fictional people have them. 🙂

Calculated in Death

Calculated in Death (In Death, #36)
by J. D. Robb

On Manhattan’s Upper East Side a woman lies dead at the bottom of the stairs, stripped of all her valuables. Most cops might call it a mugging gone wrong, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas knows better.

A well-off accountant and a beloved wife and mother, Marta Dickenson doesn’t seem the type to be on anyone’s hit list. But when Eve and her partner, Peabody, find blood inside the building, the lieutenant knows Marta’s murder was the work of a killer who’s trained, but not professional or smart enough to remove all the evidence.

But when someone steals the files out of Marta’s office, Eve must immerse herself in her billionaire husband Roarke’s world of big business to figure out who’s cruel and callous enough to hire a hit on an innocent woman. And as the killer’s violent streak begins to escalate, Eve knows she has to draw him out, even if it means using herself as bait. . .  (goodreads.com)

Because I wait for the mass market release of the In Death books I’m always slightly behind the rest of the world. I could technically get these on my eReader now, but there’s just something about reading a new J. D. Robb book in paperback that makes the entire experience much more fun for me. I didn’t rush out to pick this one up because I have been trying to not buy books these days, but since I was in the bookstore I thought, why not? Maybe a Comfort Food Book is exactly what I need right now.

Sadly, this particular Eve Dallas novel didn’t do much for me. I was gripped and creeped out by the last story, Delusion in Death but in this case, I really didn’t give a hoot about financial accounting crimes. Yawn.

Of course I loved the character interaction as I always do and there were some great scenes between Eve and Peabody that made me giggle. I love those two together. Makes me want to go back and re-read the earlier books just to relive their bonding and friendship. That also means I need to go out and BUY the earlier books since I believe I borrowed the first 15 or so when I started the series. (Must make a mental note to look for these when I happen upon a used bookstore. Never think of it!)

I don’t know if it’s because of the mood I’m in lately, but for some reason that fact that everyone loooooves Eve and she’s the best in the world and is SO PRETTY but she doesn’t know it… really bothered me in this book. I rolled my eyes a few times and then I sat back and thought, “Why does almost every one of these books always end with her having to set herself up as bait?” It seems like they all end that way now and I’m getting tired of it. She’s a great cop, I get it. But can we please stop with how she’s the Ultimate Mag Cop and every single killer in the universe has her as their ultimate goal to kill? Because I would like a story that’s just catching a serial killer that doesn’t care to go after her and try to kill her, too. And that’s how the story will end. I understand that these books are formulaic. I understand that, I LIKE that about them and I enjoy the books immensely, but we need to move on from Everyone Wanting Eve Dallas and trying to kill her. We need to move on from that. Because it’s getting boring.

And don’t forget the inevitable fight that will break out between Roarke and Dallas about how she’s putting herself out there as bait and he wants to kill the guy for her and doesn’t want her to be bait and she’s all, this is my job, yo! and he’s all, you are my woman, *growl* and she’s all, it’s who I am, yo. These are my murder victims. I speak for them now and the killer wants ME because I am just TOO GOOD at this job and I will set them up and come out alive. And he’s all, Like hell you will!  *Irish**Irish* and in the end.. she gets through it alive and they kiss and get all mushy about how they are each other’s worlds and… yawn.

Progress your relationship a little more, please. Get knocked up or something because right now it’s way too static and each book is pretty much the exact same formula with their relationship. Something’s gotta give and soon.

I won’t stop reading them because I’m not always as irritated as I feel right now. I’m just wondering if there could be a little more character development now that we’re at book 36. Part of the reason I loved this series was because of the character development. The last bunch of books… it just stopped. No one is moving forward. They need to move forward. Once Mavis had her baby….everyone seems to be a holding pattern. Something needs to happen character-wise.

Please.

Then once I was almost done the book and I was muttering to myself about Dallas setting herself up as bait again, I thought, wouldn’t be an awesome way to end the series if she was killed off in one of these stupid plots of hers? Not that I want it to end, or for her to die (because I rather like her) but I think it would be a hell of a conclusion to this series (if it ever happens) to have her killed at the end rather than have everything tied up in a perfect bow.

I’m obviously in a mood. I don’t normally fantasize about killing off characters that I like. But you have to admit, it would certainly make an interesting decision. 😉

In Death Series

  1. Naked in Death
  2. Glory in Death
  3. Immortal in Death
  4. Rapture in Death
  5. Ceremony in Death
  6. Vengeance in Death
  7. Holiday in Death
  8. Conspiracy in Death
  9. Loyalty in Death
  10. Witness in Death
  11. Judgement in Death
  12. Betrayal in Death
  13. Seduction in Death
  14. Reunion in Death
  15. Purity in Death
  16. Portrait in Death
  17. Imitation in Death  *
  18. Divided in Death
  19. Visions in Death
  20. Survivor in Death
  21. Origin in Death  *
  22. Memory in Death  *
  23. Born in Death  *
  24. Innocent in Death
  25. Creation in Death
  26. Strangers in Death *
  27. Salvation in Death *
  28. Promises in Death *
  29. Kindred in Death *
  30. Fantasy in Death*
  31. Indulgence in Death*
  32. Treachery in Death*
  33. New York to Dallas *
  34. Celebrity in Death *
  35. Delusion in Death *
  36. Calculated in Death *
  37. Thankless in Death – hard cover Sept 2013
  38. Concealed in Death – hard cover 2014

(mass market editions, unless otherwise noted)

* book I own