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review 2018-09-24 02:59
Thoughts: The Name of the Star
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star

by Maureen Johnson
Book 1 of Shades of London

 

 

The Day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion.  For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school.  But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city--gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific work of Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888.

Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses.  Except one.  Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect.  But she is the only one who saw him.  Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man.  So why can only Rory see him?  And more urgently, what is he planning to do about her?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.



I haven't read a lot of YA in a long time, at least a couple years, maybe, or four.  Honestly, I don't remember, because I just kind of drifted away from it.  I might have read one YA book here and there, but I think I eventually gave up picking up anything YA unless by an author I know I love.

But all of that isn't really the point of this review.

I'm glad that I randomly chose The Name of the Star as my read for his year's Halloween Bingo, for the Baker Street Irregulars square (see end of post).  And I'm glad that it turned out much more interesting and fun than I had initially anticipated.  Mind you, I didn't expect it to be bad or anything, I just wasn't really expecting anything at all.

But I found myself quickly loving Rory's tone and her dry snark, and her random tendencies to get excited about the strangest things--like no hockey today!--and loved that she was extremely honest.  And I loved that she wasn't the typical mopey, outcast, and misunderstood YA heroine who is hated on by all the girls, but whom every male has a secret lusting attraction towards.

Rory was just an ordinary girl who traveled to England for high school, who became just another student at Wexford, who made friends and went to class and stressed about homework, like any other normal high school girl.  She had friends, both boys and girls, and there were no mean girls or overly broody alpha boys.

And then she picked up a fancy new gift after a near death experience, and ended up being the sole witness of a Ripper murder.

The truth is, I normally would have hated how dragged out a lot of this book ended up being in the beginning, and even some parts in the middle.  There was a very mundane, everyday feel to each chapter, like a boring "A Day in the Life of Aurora Deveaux."  But Rory's voice and her telling was actually kind of fun, and while a lot of detail was probably excessive, I found I enjoyed the short tangents into her family and her life back in Louisana.  Call me contradictory, because I probably would have condemned another book for being so banal.

But Rory made it interesting.

It took a while for the actual story to start up, truth be told, and meanwhile, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head wondering if we were ever going to get Rory involved in these Ripper copycat murders.  And the moment she starts seeing the ghosts, it wasn't hard to figure out how things would go from there--aside from the continuation of mundane, everyday activities, because I hadn't expected the book to keep that up.

I suppose for many others, this book might come off boring, as there is very little action, and a lot more focus on Rory's school life and her interactions with her fellow Wexford classmates.  I would have liked to have seen more scenes with her and the squad of youths known as the Shades, really, but I'm guessing that will take place more in later books.

Meanwhile, I will admit, I truly enjoyed The Name of the Star a lot, much more than I had thought I would, and that makes me extremely happy.  I will also admit that there was a point that I stopped reading this book at night because I was afraid of seeing the ghostly Ripper at my bedroom door...


***

Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery that involves children/teens in crime solving)


Other Possible Squares:

  • Genre: Suspense
  • Ghost stories
  • Supernatural
  • Darkest London
  • Amateur Sleuth
  • Terrifying Women
  • Murder Most Foul

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/09/thoughts-name-of-star.html
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text 2018-09-17 23:14
It's Monday! Plus a Halloween Bingo Update, Just Because... | 09/17/2018
It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself.  It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile!  So welcome in everyone.  This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey.  Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.  And here we are!

 

 


 


I've been pretty out of touch over the weekend, because of a lot of family things.  My big brother just got engaged and had a party for it.  There was food involved and lots of the happy!

There was partying and fun had by all, and also an appetizer called Bacon Crack that involved maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Unfortunately there is no photo to speak of because I pretty much demolished said appetizer before I thought to take a picture.  We'll compensate another time when I can figure out how to make this appetizer and show it off.  All we need to know is: Yummy!

Meanwhile, this meant that I didn't really have a whole lot of time to read... although to be fair, I DID spend a good amount of free time NOT DOING A DARN THING AT ALL!  During that time, I tried to read one of my Halloween Bingo books, but kept getting distracted by the four month old Bichon Frise my brother brought up with him while he was in town.

Everyone, meet Bear:

 


And just because I can, here's a double whammy of cute.  Here's a pic of the only few seconds that Bear and Baby weren't getting on each other's nerves.

 


You're all welcome!  =D

 

 

What I Read Last Week

 


My 'books read' for last week looked pretty pathetic.  But that's mainly because I found myself starting a million books instead of finishing anything.  And also, life happens.

 

 

What I'm Currently Reading

 

 

 

What I'm Planning to Read Next

 

 

 

Other Plans On the Blog

 

As far as Halloween Bingo goes, I'd been wanting to update every week, maybe on Fridays or Saturdays.  But with the weekend being so busy, that didn't happen this past weekend, so everyone get's the all-purpose 'It's Monday!' update post instead.  And also, it wasn't like I had a lot of update to make, being as how I'm still only at two books read despite all the many squares on my card that have been called.

My plans have pretty much been a bit mussed up.  But never fear, I'm not really going hardcore reading challenge go-getter this year, so I'm going to just aim to finish all the books I'm planning to read for Halloween Bingo, whether or not I finish them all within the allotted Halloween Bingo time.

I will probably have two new reviews ready to post sometime this week: for The Liar's Club series, and for The Name of the Star.  Meanwhile, I'm hoping to finish up Dance of the Gods at least by tomorrow, then work on Get Well Soon.  I'll be reading The Color of Magic on and off, though I'm hearing great things about it, so it might suck me in.  I need to find time for The Big Over Easy, and more importantly, I also need to get start on Valley of Silence as soon as I finish Dance of the Gods, if only because I need to get it read before it auto-returns to the e-book library next week.

Then I'm going to see about my next Halloween Bingo update, probably to be posted this coming Saturday, on 9/22.

Not... too much... right?


And just for kicks, here's my table/card visual aid if anyone's interested.

 

Called:
Read:  
Called:
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Called:
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Called: 09/09/18
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Called:
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~*~*~*~
Called: 09/05/18
Read:  
Called: 09/03/18
Read:  
Called:
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Called: 09/17/18
Read:  
Called:
Read: 09/03/18
~*~*~*~
Called: 09/01/18
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
~*~*~*~
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called: 09/13/18
Read:  
~*~*~*~
Called:
Read:  
Called: 09/11/18
Read:  
Called:
Read:  
Called:
Read: 09/06/18
Called: 09/07/18
Read:  
Halloween Bingo 2018
Ani's Book Abyss

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/09/its-monday-plus-halloween-bingo-update.html
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review 2018-09-17 22:28
Killer Librarian / Mary Lou Kirwin
Killer Librarian (Thorndike Press Large Print Mystery Series) - Mary Lou Kirwin

Champion of the mystery section at a small-town Minnesota library, Karen Nash is about to embark on a dream trip to London, a literary tour inspired by every murderous intrigue, wily suspect, and ingenious crime found in the pages of the British mysteries that she devours. But she's clueless why the love of her mid-life, Dave, would dump her hours before takeoff, until she spies him at the airport with a young honey on his arm! She decides the best revenge (for now) is to get on that plane anyway . . . and entertain schemes for Dave's untimely demise while crossing the pond.
After touching ground in the hallowed homeland of Christie, Sayers, and Peters, she checks into a cozy B & B run by charming bibliophile Caldwell Perkins. Soon she's spilling tears in her pint at the corner pub, sharing her heartbreak saga with a stranger. That night, a B & B guest drops out of circulation permanently. And when Dave and his cutie turn up in London, Karen realizes they are an assassin's target. With the meticulous attention to detail that makes her a killer librarian, Karen sleuths her way through her own real-life mystery in which library science meets the art of murder.

 

I read this book for the Cozy Mystery square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I’m not usually a tremendous fan of the cozy mystery genre—I tend to like things a bit darker and more threatening--but I was charmed by this librarian-reluctantly-turned-sleuth tale that also incorporated a gentle romance.

Karen Nash is a successful librarian who has always dreamed of visiting England, the land of all of her favourite authors. She has carefully planned her upcoming vacation, trying to indulge her passion for literature while not boring her plumber boyfriend Dave. But the course of true love never did run smooth and Dave dumps Karen just days before they are to embark on this adventure. What’s a girl to do? Karen buys her own plane ticket and goes anyway, finding at the airport that Dave has replaced her with a younger woman. Understandably angry, Karen conceals herself as best she can on the flight, then follows the couple upon landing in London.

Who hasn’t been dumped and fantasized about taking revenge on the former object of our affection? Karen books into her B&B and is pleased to find that the owner loves books as much as she does. When she goes looking for some juice in the middle of her first night, she stumbles over the body of a fellow customer, complicating her situation.

The remainder of the book deals with meeting the other denizens of the B&B, being touristy in London, causing trouble for the disloyal Dave, pursuing the new man in her life, plus solving the murder mystery. A very full schedule. Karen is a woman after my own heart, a planner, a reader, and a very competent woman.

Perfect if you want a warm, fuzzy reading experience with a very gentle mystery attached to it. Truly, the story is much more about Karen and how she sorts out her life after it’s been shaken up. Very enjoyable.

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review 2018-09-17 21:55
Jaws / Peter Benchley
Jaws - Peter Benchley

It was just another day in the life of a small Atlantic resort until the terror from the deep came to prey on unwary holiday makers. The first sign of trouble a warning of what was to come took the form of a young woman's body, or what was left of it, washed up on the long, white stretch of beach. A summer of terror has begun.

 

I read this book for the Fear the Drowning Deep square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This is purportedly a book about a monster shark. I would beg to differ—the shark is just a catalyst for the very human drama that became the main thing for me. Police chief Martin Brody is a conscientious policeman—he isn’t perfect and he knows it, but he is striving to do the right thing. He’s not up against the shark really, he’s up against those with money who want to make more money. Shutting down the town beach during the July 4th weekend is going to hurt the community economically, but powerful people seem to value money over human life.

We get a good look at “the old boys club” in action in Jaws. Their indifference to potential deaths is far scarier than the enormous Great White that is cruising the shore. They are as indifferent as the beast itself. We also get a glimpse back in time to society in the 1970s—women are still mostly housewives, maybe with a side job to help with family finances. Only the elderly woman who runs the post office seems to be able to speak her mind without reservation, as she has no husband to police her behaviour.

The icthyologist who admires the shark, but has a sexual liaison with Ellen Brody, ends up self-destructing—it’s unclear which issue he’s being punished for, siding with nature against humanity or breaking societal expectations with another man’s wife.

I’m pretty sure that I read this back in junior high school (at the time it was originally published), but the only familiar thing was that cover! I’m pretty sure that my teenage self was reading entirely for the sharky bits, not so much for the human stuff.

 

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review 2018-09-17 19:47
Parable of the Sower / Octavia Butler
Parable of the Sower - Octavia E. Butler

In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

 

What a powerful view of a dystopian near future! Just like Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler was able to scan the news of the time (early 1990s) and extrapolate from those stories to produce this tale exploring where North America might be headed. Her version of a United States that has been reduced to third world status is striking for how possible it feels. Although Canada features as a desired destination for the economic refugees, Butler tells us nothing of what is really happening north of the border, content to show us the plight of regular Americans.

The trends that she was working with? Effects of drug use (made me think of our current fentanyl crisis), the growing rich/poor gap, the precarious nature of employment, the willingness to build & fill prisons, the unwillingness to build & repair schools & libraries, the tendency to value the economy over the environment, and climate-driven weather change (and the resulting change in what crops will grow and food price inflation). Butler could foresee this twenty years ago—how much closer are we today to this exact situation? Oh, this makes me think so much of Atwood’s The Handmaid's Tale, where you can really feel like the whole book scenario could easily come true.

Of course this wouldn’t be Octavia Butler if there wasn’t some exploration of the power dynamic between people and groups of people as well. The main character, Lauren, progresses from childhood, governed by her Baptist father, to leader of people migrating north and founding her own religion. We get to see Lauren and her brother Keith struggle with their father’s authority in different ways and the outcome of those struggles. Butler certainly makes the reader see the value of having a community—a chosen circle of people who both give & receive support.

My only complaint might be that it is so United States focused, rather like Stephen King’s The Stand. It could have been even better, in my opinion, had she widened the scope to include other parts of the world, rather like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

This is book number 295 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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