Book reviews

The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Kady Cross

Book description: In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

Reading Challenge category: A book with a love triangle

My review: I had to make this my love triangle book, because it’s kinda based on an awesome principle – Finley, our heroine, is suffering from a little Jekyll and Hyde syndrome, bringing the gothic classic to light in a new way with this Victorian steampunk YA. And her two different personalities fall for two different men. So great, I love this idea. I really don’t think it’s going to be pursued as fully as it could be, but I just love the idea.

I liked this book, although I always find steampunk novels to become a little nonsensical sometimes. This has all the attributes of a bodice-ripper romance, without any of the bodice ripping because it’s for a younger crowd, which is a little disappointing.

The only other thing is I borrowed this book online from the library, and it came with a “prequel” novella, introducing Finley’s character. I thought it would be a good idea to read this first. It was not a good idea at all, as it turns out. The novella was clearly not edited (or as thoroughly as the novel in full) and was not as well written. That’s never the introduction you want to have with a new author. Also, it made it so there were several discrepancies between the novella and the novel (like, Finley thinking that’s she’s never done something before, even though I had just read the novella which took place before the novel and she had done that something. So if the opportunity arises, DO NOT read the novella. Just stick with the good edited stuff.


The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith

Book description: A brilliant debut mystery in a classic vein: Detective Cormoran Strike investigates a supermodel’s suicide. After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.
Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.
You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this.

Reading Challenge category: A mystery or thriller

My review: You can’t read anything by Robert Galbraith now without being acutely aware that it is actually written by J. K. Rowling. As the most famous author on the planet (arguably, in history, at least with her contemporaries), I have to say that I really respect her decision to publish under a pseudonym, and would also be pissed if it was leaked. There’s no escaping all the people who want to tell her how things must be done – she can only write for kids, she should only write Harry Potter, how dare she write about sex.

I think that she is a good author who is only getting better with time. I loved Harry Potter, but you can see that she is more sophisticated in some of her more recent work. The Cuckoo’s Calling is a perfect example of this – taking on a murder mystery, done as a classic whodunnit. This was FUN to read. There were intelligent clues littering the pages. It is a page turner because you suspect someone more clever than you wrote this, and you want to know what they know. Totally recommend it.


Ashfall, by Mike Mullen

Book description: Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

For Alex, being left alone for the weekend means having the freedom to play computer games and hang out with his friends without hassle from his mother. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging his hometown into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence. Alex begins a harrowing trek to seach for his family and finds help in Darla, a travel partner he meets along the way. Together they must find the strength and skills to survive and outlast an epic disaster.

Reading Challenge category: A book by an author you’ve never read before

My review: Ha, that “category” is such a cop-out – it means that I’ve run out of easy categories and I’m going to have to start planning what I read a little bit better. Ashfall was okay, a YA apocalypse/survivalist story. This does make me a little nervous about supervolcanoes, because that would suck, but the concept of kids fleeing across a desolate landscape as people become wretchedly horrible to each other has been done. A lot. I would know – I write novels like that. But I guess I’ll just say that, while Ashfall was a good book, it didn’t really stand out from the others in any way for me.


The Lying Game, by Sara Shepard

Book description: The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does–an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.

Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me–to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, care-free daughter when she hugs my parents goodnight? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?

Reading Challenge category: A book set in high school

My review: Okay, most bizarre idea ever – a murdered girl’s long lost twin sister comes into town at the exact moment she could step into her twin’s life. And nobody notices it’s not the same person. How is this even possible? It reminds me a bit of that ill-fated tv show Ringer, which I watched because I love Sarah Michelle Gellar, but the principle really bothered me then, too. It isn’t possible to just take over somebody’s life, especially when you have no idea what was going on in that life. People would notice. Right? Or maybe not. Maybe nothing we do ever actually resonates that far with the people around us, and they just accept that if we look like the same person, then we must be that person, even if we have no idea what their names are or anything. Hmmm, deeper thoughts than this book warrants. A fluffy YA book, easily read in a day with absolutely no resolution because it’s a part of a series that probably goes on forever, with increasingly impossible twists (oh, hi Pretty Little Liars, also by this author). Meh.


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