Girls with Sharp Sticks ARC Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Author: Suzanne Young

Publication: March 19th 2019 by Simon Pulse

Pages: 400

Rating: 3.5/5

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Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for the free advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

When I first began to read a few pages of this book, I will admit that I wasn’t as hooked. It was probably due to the typical YA dystopian aura I felt from earlier books that it did not grasp me. However, it was not until the 80 page mark when I noticed a more mysterious and thrilling atmosphere looming within the pages. I grew curious and that made me more invested into wanting to complete the book. It wasn’t long before I found myself flying though the pages wanting to know what happens next. If you are a fan of dystopian/thriller novels, then I think this one is the book for you!

Summary:

The Innovations Academy prioritizes in providing the studies and activities for the girl students to be the best in society. However their curriculum is quite different from those offered today. Some of which include courses such as  “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The main purpose is to ensure that the girls grow to be obedient young ladies – something that Mena and her friends realize is part of a darker scheme within the school. Together they hope to uncover the secrets of the school, their background and the purpose of their studies there no matter how ugly the truth may be. 

My Review:

Setting : Who doesn’t love a boarding school setting? Especially if it incorporates a thrilling atmosphere such as this one? While it is quite obvious from the first few pages that the Academy is not your typical High School, it still peaks your interests with the strange behaviors of the students and faculty.

“The roses. . . They’re alive, you know. All . of them. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear their shared roots. Their common purpose. They’re beautiful, but it’s not all they are.” 

Plot: I believe the main issue for me was the story line. Maybe it was because I read a lot of dystopians before but it felt a bit similar especially in the beginning. However, over time I noticed the story changing and when the elements of thrill were thrown into the mix, that was when I became invested into the story. I will admit there were moments which made my skin crawl! I didn’t expect that going into this book. And the amount of plot twists in this book too! These were the moments which the author handled very well since she cleverly weaves the threads of suspense and danger into the book where the readers would have no choice but be glued to the pages!

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Characters: We follow the perspective of Mena who in the beginning we see her venture through her school life one day at a time, but a sequence of events has her questioning the origins of the Academy and because of her experiences, she grows to be very dynamic. I really liked her as a character since she truly cares for the other girls around her and develops an intense bravery despite the odds. We also see her with her close friends, Sydney, Brynn, Marcella, Annalise, Valentine, and Lennon Rose. We also have a side character by the name of Jackson who is the romantic interest; however, it was not over bearing and it did not overshadow the main plot.

Themes: Definitely do not let the Girls Private School setting fool you! While some may expect to find a lot of toxic jealousy, I was so surprised to see the amount of female friendship in this novel and it was truly one of the aspects that made it a delightful read. The feminism in this book is worth noting and I love the spin the author took on this subject and I am sure it is something that the readers will find intriguing.

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Overall, I did find this to be a quick easy read and it is definitely something to get you out of a reading slump for sure!

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all in my next bookish post!

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Stalking Jack the Ripper Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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“Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.” 

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Publication: September 20th 2016 by Jimmy Patterson

Pages: 337

Genre: Fiction; YA; Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Summary:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth is not like many women her age – organizing tea parties, attending silk dress fittings, or jumping in on the latest gossip. Instead, she lives a secret life unbeknownst to her father as an apprentice to her Uncle, a professor of forensic medicine. Amidst her dissection studies, she stumbles upon an investigation of a notorious serial killer who rampaged the streets of London. Despite the brutality of the murders, Audrey’s curiosity and tenacity pushes her to search for answers and reclaim justice for the victims. But as she gets closer to unraveling the clues, it leads her to the most blood chilling conclusion.

Characters: 

Audrey Rose WadsworthSmart, Witty, Kind, Fearless – Its official. Audrey has fallen into my top favorite female leads of all times 🙂  She has such a great combination of strength, tenacity and intelligence which makes you want to root for her throughout the novel. Despite these esteemed qualities, she does have her weaknesses too and that showcase her to be more relatable as a character. Nevertheless, I loved her curiosity and her passion for forensic science and it was so refreshing to see her fight for women given the time period that the novel is set in.

“By my blood, I will make this right or die trying.” 

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Thomas CreswellCharming, Witty, Arrogant – Oh Lord. This guy haha A close representation of Thomas’ character would probably be Captain Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles whom I adored from the start and Thomas was no different. I swear, the amount of eye rolls and laughter I experienced whenever he would comment with a sly and witty demeanor is exponential 🙂 And when paired with a feisty heroine with sass of her own, you get the most entertaining banter ever! I loved it!

“I don’t blame you, I am rather attractive. The tall, dark hero of your dreams, swooping in to save you with my vast intellect. You should accept my hand at once.” 

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Final Thoughts: 

After finishing Truly Devious, I was in the mood for some more mystery novels and this one immediately caught my attention. Everything about the premise was so interesting and I am happy to say that the author delivered an awesome story! One aspect of the novel which I really enjoyed was the setting. The late 1800s London was very well delineated and I honestly felt as if I was walking through the streets with these characters. It was also refreshing to read about a heroine who is from a mixed background – half Indian and half British. It’s not so often I come across characters who I can relate to! And I loved the bits of Indian heritage that the author had woven into the story but I would have definitely liked to have seen more of it.

In addition, the author does a fabulous job setting the tone for the novel, creating an eerie yet mysterious atmosphere which entangles you into the story. I will say that there were certain parts of the novel which completely creeped me out! But if you are a fan of forensics and criminal investigations, then I would definitely recommend this book to you!

Have any of you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? What were your thoughts on it?

Until next time, keep reading and I will see you all with another bookish post!

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Truly Devious Book Review (Spoiler Free)

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Schools may be famous for many things: academics, graduates, sports teams. They are not supposed to be famous for murders.

Author: Maureen Johnson

Publication: January 16th 2018 by HarperCollins

Pages: 416

Rating: 5/5

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to read novels of various genres and I am so excited that I picked up this one! Truly Devious completely strays away from the typical fantasy novels I usually reach for and it definitely surprised me!

Summary:

Amidst a late April night of 1936, a business tycoon’s named Albert Ellingham found that his wife and daughter were kidnapped and the only real clue was within a mocking riddle signed as Truly Devious. And now present day, Stevie Bell, a girl who wishes nothing more to have a successful career as detective, ventures into the Ellingham Academy as a student. She has one goal in mind: to reopen and solve this cold case. In a sudden twist of events, the past returns to the Academy and the students are surrounded by a death which has them shocked and bewildered – Was it an accident or was it murder?

Characters: 

Stevie – Goal-oriented, Diligent, self-driven – Don’t we all love a smart female lead? I was really thrilled to read about character like Stevie who is able to notice quirks that maybe we as readers may sometimes miss. I definitely found her relatable since she also seems grounded with her awkwardness in social situations despite having a brilliant and intuitive mindset.

Janelle – Smart, Kind and Driven – Janelle was a such a pleasure to read about and I loved that the author included diversity within the novel. Although we did not see too much of her within this book, I definitely found her to be a character who values relationships and her friendship with Stevie.

Nate – Distant, Secluded, Writer – As with Janelle, I felt that we did not see too much of Nate in this book and he did not have much layers to his personality as we see with Stevie. However, I did find him to be a great friend to Stevie even with his grumpy personality.

Final Thoughts: 

Written in a dual past and present day perspective, this novel is surely a thrill for fans of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. I would say that the present day narrative does flow slowly; however, the author does this for a reason as she tries to enable the reader to understand the present day characters, environment and circumstances. The flashbacks were interesting to read since we get glimpses of secrets and twists to the cold case. The author did create a good balance of when and how to switch from the past and the present so we as readers understand the case well enough to follow with the present timeline.

There is also a moment in the book where a major plot event occurs and after that, I couldn’t help but fly through the pages. I just could NOT put it down. That was how addicting it was! The author kept you on the edge of your seat and offered many twists and turns that had you scrambling to figure out who the culprit could be. AND THAT ENDING!!

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Overall, I think Truly Devious is a wonderful read for anyone who loves mystery novels and the second book is definitely on my 2019 TBR!

Until next time, keep reading and I will be back with another post!

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