Monthly Archives: January 2015

Review – The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

 Title: The Name of the Star (Shades of London #1)

 Author: Maureen Johnson

 2011 – YA – Supernatural Thriller

 Rating: 4/5

The Story: When her parents take a sabbatical to England, Rory gets the opportunity of a lifetime – to enroll in a boarding school in London for her senior year. But shortly after she arrives, a woman is found viciously murdered in the style of the Jack the Ripper murders. When the murders continue, Rory is sucked into the investigation due to her brush with a mysterious man on campus late one night.

The Opening Line: The eyes of London were watching Claire Jenkins.

What I Loved: This book has a few of my favorite components – Europe, a boarding school, a budding romance, a supernatural element, and a thrilling mystery. So it’s pretty much a home run for me. I love Maureen Johnson anyway, so I pretty much read whatever she writes, but this one is especially good, as it’s dark, chilling, and a tad bit scary.

What I Didn’t Love: I’ve read this before, and I just remember liking it a bit more than I did during this read. I don’t know why. I remember it being a tad longer and more engrossing than this go-around.

Final Thoughts: I read this again in preparation for the publication of the third book in the series. It was a really quick and enjoyable read, and I’m more excited than ever to read the next installment. This isn’t my favorite book of Johnson’s (that honor goes to 13 Little Blue Envelopes), but this is close, and if you’ve never read her work, it’s a good place to start. Anyway, gotta run. Off to read more books!


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Review – Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost

Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency, #2)

 Title: Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway’s Ghost (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #2)

 Author: Iain Reading

 2013 – KidLit/YA – Mystery/Adventure

 Rating: 4/5

The Story: Before Kitty Hawk sets out on her around-the-world flight in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart, she flies down to Key West and the Dry Tortugas for a bit of vacation. Instead of rest and relaxation though, Kitty finds a near replica of Ernest Hemingway’s boat, the mysterious sounds of typewriter keys clattering in the night, and a midnight operation to recover mysterious artifacts from the seafloor. Could the ghost of Ernest Hemingway be roaming the earth in search of treasure?

The Opening Line: I was literally holding on by my fingertips in a cramped, dark little space surrounded by thick brick walls on all sides.

What I Loved: This series really reminds me of a combination of two great things – the video game series Uncharted and the old Nancy Drew mysteries. I love that first and foremost this series is fun and easy to read. It’s sure to suck in a reader and keep them hooked all the way through, at least it did for me. I also love the short chapter sizes. I can easily breeze through a couple when I have a few minutes and still have a perfect stopping place. And of course, I love the adventure, mystery, and history/science that makes up the content of each novel. I’m fascinated by what I’m learning without even realizing it.

What I Didn’t Love: In this installment, Kitty Hawk is trying to figure out what exactly the mystery group could be diving for on the seafloor each night. After swimming out and observing (stealthily, of course!) one night, she notices that the woman makes rubbings from each artifact and stores the rubbings in a binder. So during the day, Kitty breaks into their boat to take pictures of the binder’s content. She also breaks into Fort Jefferson, a national monument in a national park, one night to overhear one of the accomplices. She never gets caught, but these acts in and of themselves are illegal and dangerous, so that was my main contention with this book.

Final Thoughts: I loved the first Kitty Hawk book and I’m happy to report that this one also lived up to my expectations. It was fun and made me long for warm days by the ocean. It also makes me want to play some Uncharted and do a little virtual treasure hunting for myself. I love archaeology and shipwrecks and history and all that, so this whole series is right up my alley. I’m pretty excited to dive into the next two books as Kitty’s adventures around the world continue. Next stop, Iceland!

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Preview – I’ll Meet You There

I'll Meet You There

 Title: I’ll Meet You There

 Author: Heather Demetrios

 YA – Contemporary Fiction

 Release Date: February 3, 2015

 Source: NetGalley

So this title wasn’t even on my radar until a couple of months ago when the book blogosphere kind of exploded with positive reviews….suddenly it was the hottest title that everyone was raving about. And it sounded exactly like my kind of book, so I clicked on over to NetGalley and requested a copy. I didn’t know then what I was in store for.

The story centers on Skylar, who has just graduated high school and has three months of summer to survive before she can head off to art school and get out of Creek View. Creek View is the sort of town that fosters poverty – minimum wage jobs, teenage pregnancy, trailer parks, and drinking all mark the town, and Skylar knows her future is brighter than that. But when her mom is fired from her job and it falls on Skylar to pay bills and hold everything together, suddenly that future is jeopardized.

But this isn’t only Skylar’s story. It’s also about Josh. Josh used to be Creek View’s golden boy. Good at sports, popular with the guys, girls at his beck and call. But he also wanted to escape Creek View, and the Marines offered him an out. His tour of duty landed him in Afghanistan, where he saw his friends die and he lost his own leg. Now he’s back, contemplating his own future, trying to shake the horrors of his past, and working out his complicated feelings for Skylar.

Oh my gosh, you guys! I wasn’t expecting this book to hit me quite as hard as it did. I was reading it in bits and spurts, alongside other things, but last night I just got hooked and ended up staying up until 1:30 to finish the last half of the book! I share a room dorm-style with one of my two roomies, so I was trying to be all quiet and not let the sounds of my tears and sniffles carry across to her bed and wake her up. The waterworks started about 3/4 of the way through and I’m still trying not to cry just thinking about the book.

It wasn’t only that good, though. It was also really important. Demetrios didn’t pull punches when talking about hard topics, like Skylar’s poverty and dependence on scholarships to be able to go to school. She didn’t flinch away from sharing Josh’s memories and the way his PTSD is affecting his everyday life as he tries to adjust. On both sides, I felt a sort of bleak desperation and yearning throughout the book that I remember so distinctly marking my own life. Because I lived that life of being the first in my family to go to college, being the first to get out of my own tiny little town where I wouldn’t have had a future. I remember thinking it was too good to be true, that something would happen and it would all collapse and I would be stuck. Which is exactly how Skylar feels as she fights to hold everything together and still figure out a way to leave.

The glimpses inside Josh’s head were equally heartbreaking. He saw his best friend from the Marines die on patrol duty, and he’s carrying survivor’s guilt. And because of his PTSD, even the normal sounds of fireworks or a car backfiring transport him back to Afghanistan. He is moody, scared, and sometimes a little bit reckless. He is shuttered, and it’s sometimes hard for him to connect to reality. But he’s fighting to adjust and regain a sense of normalcy, and that just made me weep for him.

Like I said, I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting to stay up all night, sobbing into my Nook. I wasn’t expecting to see parts of my life mirrored quite so well. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with both imperfect, lovely, flawed characters in such a way that I felt desperate for them. But I did. And reader, chances are you will too. I know it’s only January, but this is one of my favorite books of the year so far, simply because ALL. THE. EMOTIONS. Now if you’ll excuse me, I should probably go wash my face and try to hide the red around my eyes before I go to work.


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