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review 2014-05-09 00:00
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London)
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) - Maureen Johnson I love it when an author takes a well-known story and makes it their own. I think it is so cool. But this one just could not keep me interested. When I read, I love to have a book that it practically kills me to put it down. I will sit there and keep waiting for a chance to pick it up again. I have spent entire nights reading, even knowing that I will have to get up at 6:20 the next day. This was not one of them. The main character, Rory, was okay. There wasn't anything extremely wrong or annoying about her, but there was not anything that I loved about her either. To me, she was just flat, no real personality or backbone. That was the thing that irritated me the most. She didn't stand up for herself or respect the decisions of others. She manipulated her friend into doing something she was not comfortable with and it didn't bug her at all. Other than that she was another Mary Sue. And the supporting characters weren't that interesting either. Usually I will try to find something I like about a book, just to force myself to finish it. I only got half way through so maybe it got better, but I couldn't force myself to finish it.
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review 2014-03-12 03:00
The Name of the Star (Shades of London)
The Name of the Star - Maureen Johnson I wasn’t expecting so much fantasy from a Maureen Johnson book but I thoroughly enjoyed all the mystery and trills. I liked that I really didn’t know where the story was going. I thought that her third roommate was going to be a bad guy and it ends up going a totally different route with her. I also hope they bring some the special characters, meaning the ones only certain people can see. I am definitely interested in where the series will be taken. It was a fun read better then I thought because I wasn’t thrilled about the Ripper character but it surprised me in the end.
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review 2014-02-18 00:00
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London)
The Name of the Star (The Shades of London) - Maureen Johnson tl;dr I generally enjoyed this story. There were so many things about it that I loved, and yet combing all of them didn't make for a book I was ecstatic about. It was good, and interesting, but I didn't fall in love with it. 

Description Rory is a Louisiana Southern girl who moves to London when her parents are headed off to Bristol. Rory arrives in the east end of London right when a string of horrific murders has been committed - those murders mimicking the killings performed by Jack the Ripper in the 1800s. Just as with the original case, the police have no leads on who is committing those crimes. Then one night Rory sees the killer, and as it turns out she is the only one who can see him, and now he wants her. WHAT will she do? BUM BUM BUM. 

So yeah. There are some things I loved about this book. Rory, for one, is hilarious. My grandma is from Florida, and boy can she talk - just like Rory. So every time Rory gets on this long story telling tangent, I am quite amused. I love that she does it on purpose just to annoy people too. I find that absolutely hilarious. 

Perfect. And I love that it is set in London, as that is one of my favorite cities in the world (that I've been to). 

And so of course that is the perfect setting for a Jack the Ripper copycat. Any other place in the world and it just wouldn't have been right. Not that I have read a story where a Ripper copycat was murdering people in like, Alabama or something. But still. I wouldn't put it past an author. 


Anyways. I liked Jazza, but I felt like we didn't get to know her very much. Which was a bit disappointing, and hopefully she'll be explored a bit more in the next book. Don't get me wrong, what we did get to know of her I loved. But its like she was a place filler until Boo showed up, and I like her much more than Boo. 

So yeah. The supernatural element of this book was interesting, but I thought it would've been much more creepy/scary had Jack the Ripper been human. I think I would've been a lot more invested in the story and the outcome had it not ended up being ghosts. I mean, it was interesting and a pretty good ending, but I was left just feeling:


I'll give the next book a go, especially since its only 290 pages (or so), but I'm not sure if it'll make me perk up about the overall story and enjoy it more. 

Long story short, if you're looking for something a little different (and haven't read ghost stories lately), give it a go. 

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review 2013-10-05 23:44
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson

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Format: Audio (cds from library)

Narrated By: Nicola Barber

Original Publication Year: 2013

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy

Series: The Shades of London, #2

Awards: None


Louisiana teen Rory can see ghosts. She almost choked to death on a piece of meat at her swanky British boarding school (Wexford) in London and soon after she starts to see people no one else can see.  Book one ends with her having developed relationships with some other young folks (odd that none of them are more mature) who have the same ability and who are part of a secret branch of the London police  and with a particularly violent ghost having tried to kill her.   Book two opens with Rory suffocated in overprotective seclusion with her parents in Brighton while she recovers from her ordeal. 


Book two has a relatively different feel than book one and I ended the book unsure whether I liked the new feel or not. The boarding school setting and her school friends are faded out throughout the course of the book and even the scenes at Wexford have lost the light and cozy atmosphere of book one.  I missed not having more Jazza and Jerome though this book sort of inadvertently highlights how shallow their characterization was in book one as their disappearance doesn’t make too much of an impact.  I found it hard to take that Rory would so completely punt her schoolwork considering she had to be a good student to get into Wexford but the events of book one were likely life changing and affected her perspective about such things.  Is getting good grades really all that important when you know there’s this whole world out there that no one else can see. Most of what Rory experiences and does in this book makes sense based on what’s happened to her and it did make me think. Thinking…I don’t like to do it often but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However there were a lot of things that happened (like some smooching out of nowhere) that I wasn’t really on board with.  Can you see how wildly I wavered back and forth?  Did I like it or not?


In the end this book comes out in the plus column for me.  Rory remains a fun (and funny) and engaging character and she’s what makes the book work.  I was frustrated with her and her decisions at times but they were all pretty well explained.  Also the book ended on a pretty crazy cliff of an ending that promises much future drama. The addition of a new and corporeal villain could work well though at the moment that person is kind of a cliché.  I’m not sure how I feel about the darker direction this series is taking but I do think it could be interesting.  I wish the secondary characters were a little more fleshed out and complex but with the drama ramped up perhaps we’ll get some more development.  So a mixed review but I did enjoy it and am looking forward to the next installment.

Anybody else reading this series?  What did you think of the different feeling or tone of this book or did you think it wasn't all that different? 



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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-08-28 00:00
The Madness Underneath - Maureen Johnson

Finally had a chance to read this book in one go. It was kind of difficult to get in to, and it felt at times that it missed the action of the first book. Luckily it soon recovers and we are throw in a whole new story and a whole new turn.

Rory, well she was nice, but I felt like she lacked a bit. Sure I can imagine having a murderous ghost after you is scary, getting killed too, but well... she just went to school and did nothing? Ok, she grabbed and tried to get through her books a few times but that is that.

We got a whole bunch of new characters, new villains, and more.

But gaaaaahhhhhh at the ending. Finally Stephen and Rory kiss, lots of times and then he just dies? And now we have to wait for the next book???????? No way!!!

But it was a good book, really looking forward to book 3 in this series. I really hope we get more development for the characters and that everything goes ok with everyone.

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