Ronnie's Bookshelf

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Speak of the Devil

Speak of the Devil

by Allison Leotta

First, I read this in one sitting. Second, the Devil was actually quite a terrifying idea in this book. Third, please go buy it now.

Anna Curtis is a sex-crimes prosecutor. Her team is set to take down a brothel but instead confronts members of the MS-13 gang shaking down the brothel. Anna’s personal life has finally hit some happiness as she is engaged to chief homicide prosecutor Jack Bailey, but her investigation just might take away the slice of happiness she found.

An investigation into a gang that rapes, kills, and controls is always dangerous, but when Anna is greenlighted (marked for death) by the gang, her (and Jack’s) life is turned upside down. While trying to plan her wedding and keep her case strong, Anna believes that everything will work out. However, when a potential witness ends up being a blast from the past, Anna has no idea where to turn.

Leotta keeps the pace moving quickly and interweaves a few different viewpoints to move it along. I couldn’t put this down as I kept wondering what Anna or Jack would do. The danger felt real as did the emotions Anna was experiencing as her world seemed to fall apart. Definitely on the level of Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline.

Filed under mystery thriller

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Historical-ish Fiction with a Twist

Manor of Secrets

by Katherine Longshore

Lady Charlotte wants to be a writer. She doesn’t want to marry a boring lord and just be shuffled around. Janie Seward just wants to be a cook and knows her place. In the Edmonds manor, both these women exist without really interacting until one day Charlotte decides to let propriety go and have some fun.

Charlotte has never done anything fun. She goes through the day trying not to upset her mother but also secretly resenting all the things her mother wants her to be/do. Janie loves her mother and wants to learn all the secrets of cooking from her.

Charlotte is the flighty character readers should expect while Janie lives in the real world. The two cross paths one day and from there Charlotte decides she wants Janie to be her friend because no one else is really her friend. Charlotte has dreams of adventure and romance while Janie realizes those things are just dreams.

The writing was more telling than showing. It becomes painfully obvious early on how disconnected Charlotte is with how the world works, especially when she keeps saying “the world is changing” to explain away her beliefs.

What the two girls don’t know is that they are more connected than just lady of the house and kitchen maid. Although some secrets are easily uncovered, there is one bombshell of a secret revealed about 20 pages before the end of the book & it is a good one.

Fun and interesting read, especially if you’re a fan of romances.

Filed under YA historicalfiction romance

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Middle Ground on This One

Endless

By Amanda Gray

Jenny can see the past lives of anyone she touches. Thus she typically wears gloves to avoid any accidental brushes with others. She lives alone with her architect father and spends her free time painting. One morning she wakes up to find her paintings filled with a mysterious boy. Then she meets Nikolai and her whole world changes.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this title as the description is sort of vague and the cover doesn’t reveal much either. Turns out this tale encompasses time travel and lost love. The writing was a bit more juvenile than I had hoped as were Jenny’s feelings. She falls for a certain guy very quickly because it “feels” right.

My only problem with this story is how unbelievable it was (yes I realize that time travel in general is unbelievable). Jenny is a loner who doesn’t have friends because she doesn’t want to explain her “no touching” policy. However, when she meets Nikolai, it takes little time for her to become a “strong” character. It’s not that I didn’t want her to be a strong, capable character, it’s just such a personality swap.

A good read for anyone looking for something fun and mostly light-hearted.

Filed under YA book

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Didn’t Love this One Until the Second Half

The Winner’s Curse

by Marie Rutkoski

I can’t decide what to rate this book. Right up until the halfway point, I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book. The first quarter or so of the book just didn’t hook me, not the relationship between Kestrel and her father or her almost crazy actions in buying a slave.

Kestrel is a character that I liked, she was easy to understand but still a complex character. She had those don’t-treat-me-like-a-child moments quickly followed by childish or stupid actions (though thankfully not many). Arin, the slave she bought, acts more like he runs the castle/house than a slave. He seemed way too arrogant to pass for a slave with begged the question, why didn’t he ever get in trouble?

Kestrel is faced with a choice, join the military or marry. She has a suitor that she’s not really that happy about. However, she also doesn’t want to join the military. The first half of the book is a lot of wishy washy feelings from Kestrel and it just sort of turned me off to the whole book. I wanted more of the conflict.

The second half of the book was definitely 5-star material. Mysterious deaths, secret meetings, and political intrigue are just a few of the wonderful plots to submerge yourself in. The overall world building in this book was great as was most of the character development. This just moved too slowly in the first half for me to rate this higher.

Filed under ya books literary

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Prequel Novellas as Good as Series

The Assasin’s Blade

by Sarah J. Maas

So glad I finally got to read this.

These five novellas together make up some of the backstory of Celaena Sardothien, Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As should be expected, Celaena and am get themselves into a bit of trouble in each novella. These stories offer a deeper look at Celaena without revealing anything before about her sixteenth birthday.

Maas excels with these novellas, giving readers more of the assassin they love while waiting for the next book. I want to go back and read The Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight again after reading these stores. As a prequel, these novellas set up the story very nicely, running a timeline that ends right before the beginning of Throne of Glass.

Filed under ya literary books

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Christian Fiction Was a Surprise

The Queen’s Handmaid

by Tracy Higley

*I received a free ARC from NetGalley for my honest review*

I didn’t realize this was a Christian fiction book until about halfway through. I don’t typically read Christian fiction, but this wasn’t in-your-face enough to turn me away.

Readers follow Lydia, a  beautiful servant in Cleopatra’s palace. There are hints that she’s lost a lot in the past including family and friends. She doesn’t let herself get close to many people as a way to protect herself. When she stumbles on her mentor slowly dying, he gives her sacred writings to take to Jerusalem.

The description of this book is a little misleading. Lydia does not attach herself to the newly appointed king Herod as it says. She has no choice after she upsets Cleopatra but to go with Herod. Lydia becomes handmaid to Queen Mariamme. Lydia finds herself enjoying her position and friendship with the queen.

All of this is the backstory of Herod before he encounters Jesus/Messiah. There are hints of magic/spirits/etc. that could be taken as religious or not, depending on how the reader feels. Higley keeps the story moving at a fairly steady pace, throwing in some romance and intrigue to keep the reader interested. Lydia is a character that readers easily root for as the story moves along, especially during the darker/bloodier days towards the end of the book.

Filed under christian fiction books literary

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Angry Face

Very few thing really irritate me in the book world, but what Ebay is allowing to happen tops them all. I stumbled on an article on The Huffington Post that looked at the 9 steps to cope while waiting for the next book in a series. The article mentioned asking the author for an advanced reader copy (ARC). That’s not what bothered me. No, it was the comment left by one reader who said to just go search “advance reader copies” on Ebay.

Let me just say this, ARCs are unedited proofs printed by publishers to help get advanced reviews/sales for a book. Drastic changes can be made between printing the ARC and the final book. As a bookseller & reviewer, I’ve received my fair share of ARCs. There are few rules with ARCs, but the mother of all rules is to NEVER sell them. No one should profit off of a book that won’t get royalties for the author & may not even be a match to the final book.

Anyway, after reading the comment on the HuffPost article, I took a look at Ebay. This is what I found. Yes, 880 results under advance reader copies. First, why is Ebay allowing this to happen? Second, are we that focused on making an extra dollar? I wish I had the time to publicly shame each person selling these. You do realize that authors make $0 on ARCs, right people? There are other ways to get rid of ARCs: recycle them, share them with friends (help get more early reviews), share them with other reviewers/booksellers.

To end my mini rant, please STOP selling ARCs people.

Filed under literary books

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This Series Just Keeps Getting Better

Cress

By Marissa Meyer

I had to wait a few days to review Cress because I needed to process what happened. As I (think) I said in my review of Cinder, I waited to start the series because the thought of a main character who’s part Cyborg just didn’t sound in line with my usual taste in books. However, ever since I started the Lunar Chronicles, I’ve been astounded by how much I love them.

In Cress we meet another main character who has a likeness to Rapunzel. She’s been trapped in a satellite for 7 years. As a result, she’s become quite the computer wizard (what else would you do with all that free time?). She interacts with our favorite main character (Cinder) and the ball rolls from there.

It seems impossible to me that each book makes me love this series more & more, but it’s true. I’ve been borrowing the books so I can just (hopefully) buy a boxed set once Winter comes out. Cress is the first main character we meet who isn’t really as independent & kick-ass as the rest. Totally understandable, but a slight deviation.

Cress continues the story of whether or not Cinder will step up & just how far is she willing to go to save Kai from marrying She-Who-Is-Evil-Beyond-Belief. We get to dive deeper into Captain Thorne in this book which was refreshing. He’s a good character who’s done bad things, but it doesn’t really matter. Scarlet has her own story separate from the rest of the gang and (without spoiling) holy shit it’s going to be awesome in Winter.

I can’t even look at the date for Winter because it’s too far away…

Filed under cress Marissa Meyer YA literary

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Hateful Main Character

The Boleyn Bride

by Brandy Purdy

*I received a free advance copy from NetGalley for my honest review*

Over the decades since her death, much has been written about Anne Boleyn. This new books finally focuses on the mother of one of the more controversial women in English history. Readers meet Elizabeth Howard at the ripe age of sixteen. An only daughter, she envisions the perfectly romantic marriage after some time spent as a lady-in-waiting to the future queen Catherine. However, her dreams are quickly interrupted by the announcement that she must marry Thomas Boleyn.

Purdy doesn’t mince words on how much Elizabeth detests her husband. Hardly a page goes by without Elizabeth describing Thomas as hateful, detestable, unkind, or ambitious. Elizabeth faces life as any woman in that time period did, her only job to produce heirs. She has three healthy children: Mary, George, and Anne. Elizabeth quite obviously loves Mary and places her above Anne.

I’ve read some of Purdy’s other works and rate this one a solid 4. After a while, I wanted to shake Elizabeth. Her hate for her husband, love for Mary, dislike for Anne, and love of dallying became redundant. This paints a very vain picture of Elizabeth which makes me wonder where Anne’s brains and strength/stubbornness came from. A different look at the background of Anne Boleyn and a hint as to why she may have forced Henry into marriage instead of being his mistress.

Filed under literary tudors books