Book Review

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

The Sound of Stars by Alechia DowThe Sound of Stars Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 25th February 2020
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

The main selling point of The Sound of Stars was, to be honest, the illegal library that the main character is running. Janelle is a survivor of the alien invasion on Earth, and she’s running an underground library in order to help give people hope. Does that not sound like the best thing?

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The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson, the final book in the Truly Devious trilogy. This was a fun mystery trilogy to read, despite some minor gripes!

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen JohnsonThe Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson
Series: Truly Devious #3
Genre: Mystery
Release Date: 21st January 2020
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.

In the tantalizing finale to the Truly Devious trilogy, New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson expertly tangles her dual narrative threads and ignites an explosive end for all who’ve walked through Ellingham Academy.

The Truly Devious series is one that started out really strong. I was hooked by the mystery in the first book, and by Stevie’s love for true crime, and so I absolutely flew through these books.

That said, Truly Devious is still the strongest book in the series. I strongly believe that the following two books, The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall, should have been combined into one book. The Vanishing Stair turned into a filler, and The Hand on the Wall lacked the same snappy writing that I loved in Truly Devious.

That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy The Hand on the Wall, because I did. I enjoyed learning even more about Ellingham Academy, and I enjoyed reading about all the reveals and the characters putting everything together. It was a lot of fun, and I always enjoyed how Johnson flicked between the past and the present day with her storytelling.

Another thing I really enjoyed about The Hand on the Wall was the side characters and their relationships. Not David, of course (more on him later), but Stevie’s other friends are all pretty wonderful, and contributed a lot to the story. I could have read a whole book just about the friendship group, to be honest.

Now, David. I hate him. His relationship with Stevie is the most unhealthy thing, and I’m honestly annoyed and upset and offended that Maureen Johnson keeps trying to push this pairing on readers – especially since the majority of her readers are teens.

My exact problem with David is how he spent two books completely ignoring Stevie. He spoke over her, he refused to speak to her, and he flat out pretended she didn’t exist, no matter how much she tried to address him. He later claimed this was partly for her protection, which is bull. I’m so unhappy with this unhealthy relationship, and I’m really unimpressed that Johnson kept it going.

The Hand on the Wall isn’t a bad book, but it’s certainly not the strongest in the series. It was fun to get some closure and to see the friendship group again, but I couldn’t get over the unhealthy relationship or the fact that the final two books should really have been combined into one.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour of Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez! It’s a very solid fantasy debut inspired by Bolivian politics and mythology.

Woven in Moonlight by Isabel IbañezWoven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 7th January 2020
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Ximena is the decoy Condesa, a stand-in for the last remaining Illustrian royal. Her people lost everything when the usurper, Atoc, used an ancient relic to summon ghosts and drive the Illustrians from La Ciudad. Now Ximena’s motivated by her insatiable thirst for revenge, and her rare ability to spin thread from moonlight.

When Atoc demands the real Condesa’s hand in marriage, it’s Ximena’s duty to go in her stead. She relishes the chance, as Illustrian spies have reported that Atoc’s no longer carrying his deadly relic. If Ximena can find it, she can return the true aristócrata to their rightful place.

She hunts for the relic, using her weaving ability to hide messages in tapestries for the resistance. But when a masked vigilante, a warm-hearted princess, and a thoughtful healer challenge Ximena, her mission becomes more complicated. There could be a way to overthrow the usurper without starting another war, but only if Ximena turns her back on revenge—and her Condesa.

Woven in Moonlight was a really good read! It took no time at all to get into, and I found myself reading it very quickly as I was completely enamored by the world building. The author has done a fantastic job building this world that is inspired by Bolivian myths and politics, and because she was clearly quite invested in her craft, I was as well.

I think the world building was the strongest point of the book, as the main plot of Ximena being a decoy was a bit of a let down. Ximena’s character or personality may have had something to do with this, as she was far too open about everything she was talking about. Because she kept talking about herself and her background, and because she was so impulsive, the whole decoy plot point fell apart, as it didn’t really make much sense.

I wasn’t too keen on the romance, but this is YA so what can you do? I often feel very meh about YA romances nowadays, so to be honest I wasn’t expecting much.

Overall, Woven in Moonlight is a solid debut, and if you’re into YA fantasy then I would recommend picking it up!

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing WenLoveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 7th January 2020
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

In 2020 I’m going to be bringing back my Debut Showcase feature in which I showcase debut books and authors. Throughout the year there will be interviews, giveaways, reviews, and other fun things for you to take part in. Check out previous posts in this feature here, and take a look at my introduction post and my list for January’s debut books!

I think a lot of people will love Loveboat, Taipei but unfortunately it was not a good book for me. I was intrigued by it because I was promised a YA version of Crazy Rich Asians, and I’m always here for a bit of Rich People Drama, but instead the book dragged and was super boring the entire time.

I did really like the main character, Ever. She was headstrong and a very well developed character in many ways. Unfortunately, I didn’t like her relationships with the other characters. Some of them felt like fake friendships, and she was doing so much for them even though they were terrible to her, and one of the love interests was downright wrong for her.

I’m never a fan of cheating in relationships, and this book contained some lowkey emotional cheating that I was not here for. It really put me off during the first third of the book, and I couldn’t regain my enthusiasm as the book went on.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t love this one, especially as it has received so many glowing reviews!

Thank you for reading my review of Loveboat, Taipei! Let me know what you thought of the book in the comments below.