Mini Reviews: Mary Poppins, Dreaming Anastasia

I’m beginning to really like doing these mini-reviews. Though am thinking about reformatting the images that come along with the minis. Maybe when I find myself with time in my hands, I suppose!

I never actually read any of the Mary Poppins books when I was a kid, so I was weened off of the Disney movie that the author deplored. That said, I mean, it takes a special kind of person to dislike the casting of Dame Julie Andrews…buuuut I can see where she was going with things, I suppose. (I still love Julie Andrews so whatever.)

Dreaming Anastasia was something that landed on my lap for Fableulous Retellings so this was definitely something I needed to read. I mean, I wasn’t expecting much from it, but I do love Anastasia and the Baba Yaga folk tales, so I thought this would have been a classic love-hate relationship? It totally was.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

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Murder Most High || The Dazzling Heights Review

Initial Thoughts:

Okay. OKAY. This was actually much better than the last book even with all the random ass drama going around. I will admit I was ready to chuck my speakers out (yes I had this as an audiobook) during all the teacher drama but I calmed down when I realized Rylin had a decent head on her shoulders. The girl death was kind of lackluster though, and could have benefited from more narrative on her part. But more on that later.
SPOILER WARNING: The Dazzling Heights is the second book of the The Thousandth Floor trilogy, so expect spoilers from the first book and possibly some spoilers in this next one.


THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2017
YA science fiction
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

New York City, 2118. Manhattan is home to a thousand-story supertower, a breathtaking marvel that touches the sky. But amid high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, five teenagers are keeping dangerous secrets…

Leda is haunted by memories of what happened on the worst night of her life. She’ll do anything to make sure the truth stays hidden—even if it means trusting her enemy.

Watt just wants to put everything behind him…until Leda forces him to start hacking again. Will he do what it takes to be free of her for good?

When Rylin wins a scholarship to an upper-floor school, her life transforms overnight. But being there also means seeing the boy whose heart she broke, and who broke hers in return.

Avery is tormented by her love for the one person in the world she can never have. She’s desperate to be with him…no matter the cost.

And then there’s Calliope, the mysterious, bohemian beauty who arrives in New York determined to cause a stir. And she knows exactly where to begin.

But unbeknownst to them all, someone is watching their every move, someone with revenge in mind. After all, in a world of such dazzling heights, just one wrong step can mean a devastating fall.

I’ll have to hand it to McGee, she knows how to put attention-grabbing passages to good use. I really wanted to know what would happen after the death in the first book, and then another one in this one? Oh yeah, definitely curious. There is a morbid fascination I have to this book and it has drama written all over it.

I did like this book a lot more than the previous one, even though some people *coughAVERYcough* still annoyed the hell out of me. I still have major issues with the whole more-than-brother-sister relationship Avery and Atlas harbor throughout this book. BUT. At least one of them has a modicum of sense by the end of the book. Hint: It’s not Avery, that’s for sure. And honestly, that story was the least interesting. I wonder if there’ll ever be an Atlas POV, though. The fact that he’s such a babe magnet is beyond me, because as Bryce put it, he’s kinda vanilla other than the whole “in-love-with-my-sister” issue. I’d love to see more flavor injected in him, and maybe a POV would fix that.

In other news, things heat up with Leda and Watt, and while I faced this mostly with great amusement (because YES, WATT, let’s make nice with the girl who practically rufied you in the first book…THIS IS TOTALLY NOT OKAY BTW), I am kind of feeling this relationship. It’s almost as toxic as the beginnings of the Blair-Chuck relationship until even that blossomed to something amazing. I’m hoping for something along those lines, because I really liked the interaction they had, especially with Watt being amusing and all. Also, Nadia. I want Nadia in my head, too, if she’s gonna be the voice of sass and sometimes reason.

Dammit, every. Single. Time. It’s a vicious cycle of wanting to watch this show when I bring it up!

I worried over Rylin a lot once she started going to school with the Highliers, and I was definitely sent into a bit of a panic when the whole teacher drama thing started. I’ve been watching Pretty Little Liars recently, and lawdiedee, I was going to flip out if the whole “sexy teacher sleeps with a student” thing was going to go down again. I’m so over this sickening trope, and honestly, the minute my audiobook got to the bit where that skivvy over-confident douchenozzle lip-locked with Rylin, I was prepared to chuck my speakers out the classroom door. (The irony is that I was listening to this AS I WAS CLEANING UP MY CLASSROOM AND OH GOD THE IMAGES ARE DISGUSTING.) All that said, I am hopeful that she’ll make the right choices. I am also a lot hopeful that Cord will snap out of it and do his thing before Rylin well and truly gets snatched up by someone more appropriate.

JUST DO IT CORD.

An addition to the bunch of conniving drama-addled characters is Calliope, whose name isn’t actually Calliope, because she’s a con-woman along with her mother. Frankly, I’m not exactly sure what she adds to the story, because the revelation she finds at the end of the book wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking. Honestly, Watt and Leda had that covered by the end of The Thousandth Floor, and Calliope was, in all respects, a superfluous character. To be honest, we could have gleaned a bit more out of Mariel’s character if they had more of her POV littered in the book. Especially since it was kind of silly to have her show up in the beginning, and then nothing for the longest time until the very end. While I did like Calliope’s narrative tone–she kind of reminded me of a British-speaking Georgina Sparks (from GG of course), all there to make trouble but easily able to disappear from the plot without making any major ripples.

I’ve come to love Georgina after a while…but again, she wasn’t really all important in the grand scheme of things.

So yeah, the drama level is still high up there, and while some were cringe-worthy and overly-dramatic, others actually pick up to become riveting. I would definitely like to finish this trilogy.
3.5 out of 5 cookies!


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Vassa in the Night, Death Comes to Pemberley

I’m kind of amused at how eclectic my reading has been these past few weeks. On the one hand, there’s your general fantasy reads, and then BAM, somehow I went through several versions of Pride and Prejudice, both in readings and in the media. Ah well. Fantasy girl I may be, but I think I can stand to read much more anyway!

Vassa in the Night could actually stand to be reviewed fully, and I had much more to say about it, but I’ll wait to do that on the Fableulous Retellings Podcast.

Death Comes to Pemberley is probably on the lower end of 3 stars because honestly, I’ve read more emotionally interesting fanfiction on this time period, especially regarding my favorite Austen couple. That being said, I just had to see what this was all about, because the BBC mini-series based on this book has my second favorite Darcy (Matthew Rhys) and the ever-lovely Anna Maxwell Martin as Lizzie.

Have you read either of these? What did you think?

What Goes Up Must Come Down || The Thousandth Floor Review

Initial Thoughts: 

This world is pretty damn cool and definitely Gossip Girl of the future. But ohgod the drama I could. Not. Deal. The best POVs were from the peasants below floor 500 and I just REALLY WANTED THE ONE COUPLE TO GO RIGHT.

But let’s be honest, if this had been turned into a TV show I’d so watch the eff out of this dramatic trash. Pity I ended up listening to the book instead.


THE THOUSANDTH FLOOR

by Katharine McGee
HarperCollins, August 2016
YA science fiction
Rated: 2.5 / 5 cookies

WELCOME TO MANHATTAN, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. Everyone there wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

LEDA COLE’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

ERIS DODD-RADSON’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

RYLIN MYERS’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

WATT BAKRADI is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is AVERY FULLER, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world. But when you’re this high up, there’s nowhere to go but down….

Futuristic Gossip Girl

Every single description of this book that I’ve seen so far describes it as being the futuristic Gossip Girl, and I’m definitely in agreement with that. If you ask me, it’s what brought me to wanting to read the book in the first place, because I frigging loved Gossip Girl. Chair ship ftw!

But as much as I loved GG, I couldn’t honestly rate this as high as I would have liked, because much of the drama drove me nuts.

How is this drama different from GG, you ask?

There isn’t much difference, honestly. There’s a ton of underage drinking, there’s sex scandals right, left, and center, there are drugs and drug addicts, there are perfect teenage specimens littered throughout the pages, and there’s conspiracy like you wouldn’t believe.

The added bonus is that this takes place in 2118, well into the future, where cities fit into one entire building, all the way onto the thousandth floor.

So what’s not to like?

Honestly, I rolled my eyes every single time Avery’s POV showed up. The way she’s been characterized is that she’s “practically perfect in every way,” and honestly, the ONLY problem she seems to have is that she is in love with her adopted brother. This in itself is cringe-worthy in all ways (it’s just wrong, so wrong, and nothing in the world will make this OKAY–AND GOD WHY THE HELL DO THEY NOT STOP). A lot of the girls want Avery to like them, because at the end of the day, she’s Queen Bee, and I don’t know, but most queen bees are not characterized as being “nice.” Avery is NOT nice. She’s as P-E-T-T-Y as everyone else clamoring up near the thousandth floor, and she’s quite honestly my least favorite character ever because every single time her POV shows up, all she’s doing is whining and pining over Atlas–when she’s not heavily drinking and hosting pity parties for Eris, that is.

Which brings me up to the love-hate relationship I have with Leda, Avery’s best friend. Leda’s obsession is definitely creepy, and things escalate to a point where she does really unforgivable things. But ya know, I love batshit crazy when it comes to story, and Leda is as batshit crazy as you’re going to get, drugs included.

On the bright side, I do want to highlight some really good things I found about the book that will eventually lead me to reading the rest of the trilogy (please just let this be a trilogy, because I really don’t want to keep reading this if it’s a series…).

Rylin and Cord – Of all the pairings that get introduced in this story, I’m really hoping this is one that eventually pans out at the end. The ending in the first book frustrated me to no end, but let’s face it, the two still have feelings for each other, and I’m always a sucker for poor girl and rich boy stories (I’m also currently watching Meteor Garden and I absolutely loved Hana Yori Dango and Ouran High School Host Club…if that says anything about my mentality). I MEAN, HE TOOK HER TO PARIS COME ON.

Watt – I’m still not sure how I feel about Watt entirely, but his storyline does bring a bit of technology back into the book. Watt and his quant Nadia get embroiled in the story because of Leda and Avery, and while Watt lives well below floor 500, like Rylin he eventually manages to drag himself into the dramatic lives of the upper floor miscreants.

The futuristic environment is probably the most intriguing part of the book. If there’s anything more appealing about this world, it’s the fact that hierarchy quite literally means the higher you are, the more powerful your family is. In this case, the Fullers–with their massive property ownership–are the richest of the rich, even going so far as to genetically create their daughter Avery to perfection. I also liked the idea that the upper floors seem spacious enough that they look more like the outside world than what we eventually see as apartment floors.

I guess I want to defend the rating by saying that had this been a TV show, I would have watched the crap out of it. It’s just the right amount of YA angst that would entertain me. It’s definitely the right amount of teen drama that could get super addicting really quickly (hell, I binged GG at some point…), and heck, the first few pages hooked me because the book started with the death of a girl (which, of course, made everyone ask “Which girl died?!”). It has every formula for being fantastic. And yet I found myself cringing a lot and skipping a few chapters just to get to ones I wanted to read about.

2.5 out of 5 cookies! As much as I would love to rant about this book, I’d probably continue reading it if only to see how many of these hooligans die off and whether or not my ship actually makes it through.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Breakfast Club Murders || One of Us is Lying Review

Initial Thoughts: 

I pretty much ripped through this story like nobody’s business, and while I had some problems along the way concerning the big reveal and how stereotypical and cliche the book was for the most part, honestly I still stayed for the characters. I would definitely recommend the audiobook because the cast was stellar in their portrayal. And that ending effing deserves a Breakfast Club fist pump.


ONE OF US IS LYING

by Karen M. McManus
Delacorte Press, May 2017
YA contemporary, mystery
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.


When this book was described as The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, I didn’t actually think it was going to be so close to the comparisons. Normally I take books being compared to other things with a grain of salt.

But seriously, One of Us is Lying is The Breakfast Club. With murder. So I suppose that’s where Pretty Little Liars comes in as well. I haven’t seen the latter, so I’m going with a Gossip Girl feel here, too, what with Simon Kelleher’s app being so similar to the format of Gossip Girl.

If this were a television show, I’d watch the eff out of this, hands down. There’s just something about high school teen drama that looks so deliciously petty and addicting on screen. That said, this book was just as great on the page–granted I didn’t read this on the page.

I read One of Us is Lying as an audiobook, which I highly recommend as well as reading the book itself. Like the book itself, the audiobook narration is divided up into its four main characters: Bronwyn Rojas (Kim Mai Guest), Nate Maccauley (Robbie Daymond), Addy Prentiss (Shannon McManus), and Cooper Clay (Macleod Andrews). Now, I’ve listened to a good number of audiobooks at this point, and I am normally wary of multiple-cast dramatizations. Sometimes, there’s a voice in the narration that pisses me off that it ruins the entire audiobook. But in this case, I’d have to say the narration worked wonders. You could definitely get a sense of each character and his/her perspective just by listening to how the narrators read their sections. Robbie Daymond’s Nate was particularly awesome, because he also managed to get the southern twang that Cooper reverts to when he’s nervous.

Anyway, now that I’ve tooted the audiobook horn a bit, time to get into the nitty gritty of the book itself with the help of Gossip Girl and The Breakfast Club gifs, of course!

WARNING: This blog post is a little graphics heavy. #sorrynotsorry

The book pretty much opens up straight into the heart of the action itself: detention.

And a roll call of your stereotypical high school students, five of the school’s mismatched kids a representation for a clique within the student body: a homecoming queen (Addy), a popular jock with his own Facebook fanpage (Cooper), the chic geek (Bronwyn), the rebel drug dealer (Nate), and the gossipmonger (Simon).

Cough. FORESHADOWING.

Unlike TBC, though, one of the five don’t make it out, and by the end of detention, Simon chokes on it. Honestly, I’d feel a little bad about this, but he was kind of a douche-canoe with a bloated sense of self. I mean, he has an app that takes investigative journalism to a whole new level of ugly. Like, to a Gossip Girl level ugly.

And that’s the problem, you see. Because with Simon dead in extremely suspicious circumstances, police investigations start shedding light on the motives of the four students who were in the room with Simon. And check this out, all four stand to gain from Simon’s death. In some level, Bronwyn, Nate, Cooper, and Addy have one thing in common: a secret that could ruin each of their reputations.

Naturally, one of them has to be involved with Simon’s death, right?

This makes many things awkward for the four detention survivors, because now their lives have been upturned, from police investigations, reporters, and buried secrets that inevitably come to light in the most heartbreaking manners ever.

That’s really where the character development comes in, because the story is told within the four perspectives of Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, and Cooper. And honestly, as cookie cutter stereotypical as the characters were, there were dimensions to them that added to the flavor of each suspect.

I grew to adore Cooper especially after showing that he’s not altogether just a “jock.”

CC and “K” ftw! *coughtheotherKthat’snotKeelycough*

I absolutely loved Addy’s growth throughout the story. She went from a Princess Blondie to someone who’s gotten a more independent spine. Her makeover was not just skin-deep, though I also appreciated the fact that she went all out and went purple, hair-wise.

Yaaaas AP yaaaaas.

And Bronwyn and Nate? I definitely ship it. But then of course the geek girl falls for the bad boy. Not that I’d blame her. To be honest, Nate’s POV was my favorite to listen to.

I guess BR can be considered princess and geek girl in one. Regardless, she falls for NM all the same.

Now, it wasn’t all fun and games, of course, and unfortunately there was no dancing on tabletops or heart-to-heart camaraderie moments on a regular basis. It is a high school murder mystery, after all, and a killer must be brought to justice!

Only, I totally called the culprit, and it was kind of underwhelming. A lot of the plot and drama could have been highly prevented if SOMEONE had the right mind to report their friend’s behavior going the deep end (honestly, a sociopathic behavior like that really needed to be reported, for everyone’s general safety). With the mounting increase of school-related violence, you’d think the message of “see something, say something” would be more important. I’m kind of bummed that it was mostly glazed over. And unfortunately a lot of the stereotypes here included a large amount of bullies, control freaks, and slut-shamers. Barely anyone outside of the Murder Club had minds of their own, which was a shame.

Also, how the hell are the police so terribly incompetent? I did feel like a lot of the drama depended on the fact that the police had absolutely no regard to privacy during their investigations. Absolutely EVERYTHING was revealed to the whole school within a day of private investigation. It was kind of unnatural at how the “culprit” knew almost everything that happened in each interview.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I cannot wait to read McManus’ next standalone; it’s bound to be just as juicy!

4.5 out of 5 cookies! Other than the blips mentioned above, I would read and listen to this again given the chance.


Have you read this book? What did you think?