Review Rendezvous: 12/1/18


The Color of Lies by C. J. Lyons
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, young adult, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 336
Publish date: November 6th, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TCoLHigh school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

First thought: love the cover! Something about the simplicity of the vibrant text on the black speaks to me. Good thing though, the simplicity stops at the cover because this is one book that I definitely enjoyed reading. There are so many good twists and turns!

The story is set in first person, as most YA usually are, but I love the concept of synesthesia thrown in, because you can never really be certain if she is “seeing” the true emotions. Ella has come to depend on the colors a lot, so when a new person who doesn’t show color appears, things are a little different than her norm. Plus this new boy is bringing in ideas about how there might be murder involved, and who’s not up for a good mystery?

Most YA books include a romance, and this is no exception, however it didn’t end up taking over the whole storyline, which I liked. There was enough in the background to still draw me in and yet I liked the investigation being front and center. Overall, definitely recommend!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 11/24/18


The Haunting at Ice Pine Peak by Wendelin Gray
Book stats:
Genre(s): Fantasy, mystery
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 546
Publish date: 2015
Purchase: Amazon

THaIPPTrouble is brewing in the province of Ling-xiu when the murder of an elderly queen sends young Princess Bingsong into exile at a forgotten mountain villa. When a series of hauntings begins and she finds her father’s old diary, Bingsong, her handsome bodyguard Azuma, the villa’s mysterious steward LimTamm, and teenage servant girls Peitho and Lysithe are drawn into a 400 year old murder mystery hinted at by a string of small nightingale paintings. Bingsong’s struggle against an arranged marriage merges with the sinister history of the villa, the site of a massacre spurred by the rivalry between two temple acolytes. As corrupt security forces led by the province’s head magician Kimon are poised to take over the capital and eliminate Bingsong’s puppet king father, Kimon awakens an ancient evil in his quest to find the ruins of the drowned palace of Zu-bai, once the home of the world’s most powerful magician. As the epic battle between the spirits on the mountain is set to span two provinces, Bingsong and her friends must delve into the ancient history of the neighboring province of Zu-dang in order to lay to rest the grudges of the past.

Not gonna lie, there was a lot going on in this book. most of it did end up flowing together very well, but at the same time maybe there was a bit too much? I’m all for action- or detail-packed storylines, I usually even prefer them over the simpler contemporary storylines, but this one had a bit more than I would’ve liked.

That is not to say that the story is bad, however. I am a big fan of Asian culture, art, and influences (my dream as a kid was to spend time in China and Japan) so I highly enjoyed those influences in this book. The writing was also beautiful, even if it did take me a while to read through everything because the print was a bit smaller than usual. But Once I adjusted to that, everything was great.

I’d say this book is great for people looking for a bit of fantasy, magic, and Asian influence all together in one. It’s not a book that everyone will love, but it is wonderfully crafted either way.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 11/17/18


Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker
Book stats:
Genre(s): Middle grade, mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 155
Publish date: March 5th, 2019

MB“I only desire your talent…”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.
When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

Raise your hand if you’re a non-dancer who’s ever thought of how cool, fun, and amazing being a ballerina/tap dancer/etc would be? That would definitely include me, many times over. Even though this book is a middle grade piece with less pages than I normally read, I still did enjoy the story as a whole.

I loved the intricacies of the sibling relationship that was included. It resonated be since I have a younger sister of my own. I do question the fact that Lindsey’s sister is able to attend college at eight years old, even if she is a musical prodigy. But, there will always need to be some suspension of disbelief in stories, so that kind of detail is not a deal breaker.

There also wasn’t much, if any, romance involved, which I thought was good since it is targeted at a younger age group. I’ve read so much YA drenched in cliched love triangles and lover’s spats that I liked following the story of just a main character without romantic interest for once.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 11/10/18


Nick Noelle, Thicker Than Blood by A. R. Baumann
Book stats:
Genre(s): Mystery, thriller
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 268
Publish date: September 10th, 2018
Purchase: Barnes & Noble

NNTTB.jpgSet in the steamy, gritty city of New Orleans in 1971 where the mob ruled, Nick Noelle, a newly retired detective from Houston, returns home to settle his affairs with his dying mother. Already bored with retirement, he stumbles upon an unfolding serial killer case darker and more sinister than any he had known. While visiting his departing mother, he finds a disturbing set of diaries that recorded her tragic life. Horrified by what he reads, he is stricken with guilt, fear, regret and despair which lure him into a pit of self-destruction. As he struggles with addictions to alcohol and gambling in a city that thrives on vices, he is in danger of losing his wife, his mind and worse, his own life.

Since 90% of the TV shows I watch are some form of police/detective procedural, this book definitely looked interesting to me. I did enjoy the twists and turns, even if I did pick up on hints about the ending before I actually finished it.

The main reason I wasn’t super in love with this book, however, had to do with the protagonist. There was just something about Nick that I couldn’t get into his perspective with. Perhaps it was the inclusion of harsher language that put me off, but either way I’d rather have read a similar plot line with a different main character. Also, do take that as a warning about foul language in the book, if that’s the kind of thing you’re not a fan of. I can’t say it was out of place, but there was quite a bit included.

Overall, not a bad book. There was some good worldbuilding and the actual storyline was interesting, but the protagonist kept me from fully enjoying it and rating the book higher.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeart


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Review Rendezvous: 10/27/18


The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo
Book stats:
Genre(s): Historical fiction, fantasy, retelling
Medium: Print
Number of pages: 416
Publish date: October 2nd, 2018
Purchase: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Book Depository

TSoKVTWhen Ichabod Crane arrives in the spooky little village of Sleepy Hollow as the new schoolmaster, Katrina Van Tassel is instantly drawn to him. Through their shared love of books and music, they form a friendship that quickly develops into romance. Ichabod knows that as an itinerant schoolteacher of little social standing, he has nothing to offer the wealthy Katrina – unlike her childhood friend-turned-enemy, Brom Van Brunt, who is the suitor Katrina’s father favors.

But when romance gives way to passion, Ichabod and Katrina embark on a secret love affair, sneaking away into the woods after dark to be together – all while praying they do not catch sight of Sleepy Hollow’s legendary Headless Horseman. That is, until All Hallows’s Eve, when Ichabod suddenly disappears, leaving Katrina alone and in a perilous position.

Enlisting the help of her friend – and rumored witch – Charlotte Jansen, Katrina seeks the truth of Ichabod Crane’s disappearance, investigating the forest around Sleepy Hollow using unconventional – often magical – means. What they find forces Katrina to question everything she once knew, and to wonder if the Headless Horseman is perhaps more than just a story after all. In Alyssa Palombo’s The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel nothing is as it seems, and love is a thing even death won’t erase.

I loved the spookiness of this book right off the bat. I also have not read a historical fiction in forever, so I enjoyed getting back into this genre. Honestly, this is the perfect book for Halloween time.

There’s a great blend of retelling and fresh, new content with the romance side. I did notice the attraction popped up pretty quickly, but it didn’t bug me too much overall. There is definitely a bit of the “I’m my own person, I’ll do what I want” attitude that may be a bit cliche for historical romance heroines. On the flip side though, it’s also nice that she’s not just a doormat that lets people walk all over her.

The beginning may have been a bit slow, but overall I think this is a really good read. It’s perfect to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket and hot drink in the fall/Halloween season 🙂

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Rating:
HeartHeartHeartHeartHeart


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