Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)Truly Devious by Maureen JohnsonMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars rounded up...

Stevie is heading to her dream location--Ellingham Academy. As a budding detective, Stevie knows that is she gets to the infamous boarding school, she will be able to solve the mystery that haunts the school--the kidnapping and death of Iris Ellingham and the kidnapping and presumed death of Alice Ellingham, the daughter of Albert Ellingham and Iris, the founder and benefactor Ellingham Academy. Once there she meets a cast of interesting people with their own interests and likes that have driven them to Ellingham. What Stevie never picture though is Truly Devious making another appearance, this time killing a current student at Ellingham. Stevie knows she can solve it if she is given the chance.

I heard many recommend this book and I am glad I heeded their advice. I found this is exactly what I needed at this point with being easily distracted by the current headlines happening in 2020. I needed a book that I could suspend disbelief and just go with the flow of the story the author has laid out for me. This one fit that criteria nicely. I truly could be padding my rating simply because I am so happy to get lost in a book now during this insane time period, but it is to the credit of Maureen Johnson that I am able to get lost in her writing. The pacing is smooth and at times it lagged but it quickly popped up and once again hooking me into the story propelling me into staying up way too late to finish the story. I like the ending (who doesn't love a cliffhanger) and I am excited to pick up the next book in this series.

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Two Mini Reviews: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

18 Tweets You'll Enjoy If You're Currently Working From HomeMarch has been a month..that's for sure. I know we are all battling through our own personal changes both at home and work as our new reality sets in. I have not been able to do too much reading since my school has transitioned to working remotely. I miss my students (I am a school librarian) and it is still weird to me. Now that the Governor (New Hampshire) has decided that we are remote learning through April, I hope my schedule will even out as I work with helping my students and teachers remotely. 

In the meantime, here are two mini reviews I did get written these past couple days as I finished up my hefty adult fantasy novel The Fifth Season and my classic for the month (another almost 20 hour audiobook) Jane Eyre. Instead letting past with writing reviews, I decided to start a new Mini Review feature here on Love.Life.Read.

Adult Fantasy Review:

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up...My goodness what did I just finishing reading? This book is a rollercoaster, granted it is one that builds slowly in some cases for this non-avid fantasy reader. The twists at the end though, I couldn't believe it. I had to go back and re-read multiple chapters because I just did not see the end coming. I think part of that is not having the experience of adult fantasy/science fiction blends before this book. Even not being an avid fan of the genre, I cannot deny the beautiful way Jemisin crafted this story, leading the readers to be surprised. What I truly appreciated about this book is the amount of diversity woven into this story--why can this not be more commonplace?

Audiobook Review:

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit I have not read this classic until now and upon reflection, I am glad I held off as I do not think I would have appreciated the intricacies in this novel. I had a hard time getting into the story as Jane had a hard childhood with abuse and neglect. I am glad I stuck it out because I grew to appreciate this novel. While it is not a favorite, I will not hesitate reading another Bronte book.

I completed this title as an audiobook, as I find I quite enjoy listening to classics, with this one narrated by Thandie Newton. While there were times I had troubles distinguishing some of the minor characters, Newton brings life to this sometimes challenging story to listen to. Jane's character arc and strength comes out Newton's performance as we watch Jane grown from a neglected young child to a strong confident young woman.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review: On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

On the Corner of Love and Hate (Hopeless Romantics, #1)

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina BocciMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Emmanuelle is the daughter of the outgoing mayor of Hope Lake, Pennsylvania and her longtime friend, Cooper, is now running to fill her dad's shoes. While she thinks Cooper is the best choice for the town to keep moving in the direction forward, Emma also recognizes he needs to change his public persona and she reluctantly gets roped into helping with his campaign forcing them to get over their reluctance to work together.

This is a friends to sort-of enemies to friends to lovers story that is a cute and sassy contemporary romance if anyone needs a mood boost. Without a doubt, this is a sweet closed door romance that allows you to get lost in the characters. I can relate to Emma being a fellow Type-A personality, with disorganized people baffling to me. Cooper feels like an almost too perfect hero at times, with the all-American good lucks and being smart, but that is an archetype character for a reason (most people are drawn and want some version of it). I have to say I am also drawn to the town, as I imagine Bocci wants to happen. It would be a town that I would want to visit and spend a long weekend there going to the brewery, hiking around the lake, and so forth. For fans of Shannon Stacey and Susan Mallery, this is romance lend itself to escaping away from reality, even with it not bringing "new" to a standby classic romance frenemies trope or small town setting.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

I Have No SecretsI Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine what it would feel like locked into your body not being able to move under your own control or communicate. For people with severe Cerebral Palsy, this might be their daily reality and for our main character, this is what Jemma experiences each day. Sarah is her home health aide and with Sarah, Jemma feels safe and cares for and Sarah treats as a smart but differently baked teenager. When Sarah goes missing, Jemma feels like she knows what happened—if only she had a way to communicate it.

This is a quick read, even for those who are more reluctant as the chapters are short. The first part of the story helps connect you to care about Jemma and Sarah and when Sarah goes missing, the plot quickens propelling you to finish the story to find out if Jemma has solved it correctly. Though some moments had me questioning the plausibility and had me reluctant to suspend disbelief, I did ultimately enjoy reading this book.

Fans of Agatha Christie will appreciate the few references to her work and those seeking a mystery thriller featuring a main character with a disability will find this a good fit.

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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Review: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

PashminaPashmina by Nidhi Chanani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pri wants to know more about her father and especially India but her single mother is reluctant to speak of her past. When Pri finds a magical pashmina, she is transported into a world to learn more about herself and her desires.

This is a sweet graphic novel about family and rising above our fears. I liked how Chanani uses different coloring techniques to visually keep the different threads of the stories united, even with being separated by each other. The twist at the end seemed a bit predictable but it is satisfying nonetheless. This is an excellent graphic novel for middle school and up, that delves into families, education, poverty, appreciating what we have, and rising above our fears.

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