Tag: Delacorte Press

Book Reviews

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Review

Title: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder Book Cover
Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Young Adult Publisher: Delacorte Press Format: Hardcover Pages: 433 Source: Personal Collection

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

If there is one thing I do like, it is a good mystery. This one was definitely one of the good ones. The first thing you learn in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is that Sal Singh killed Andie Bell. At least that’s what everyone in town believes. Except Sal’s family and one other person. That person is our main character, Pippa.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – The Main Characters

Pippa is sort of an interesting character. She’s every faculty member’s dream. Her homework is done on time and very neatly. She studies all the time. Even when she chose to prove Sal Singh was innocent, she worked on that all the time. While she is an interesting character, I don’t think we got to see enough of her real personality. We got more of the workaholic than we did the actual person with Pippa. While she may be the main character in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, she isn’t the best main character I’ve ever seen.

Now we move on to Ravi Singh. Ravi is our second main character and Sal’s younger brother. He and his family have been deeply hurt by town’s belief that Sal killed Andie Bell. He would do pretty much anything to be able to have Sal’s name cleared. His personality has been shaped by the events that took place in 2014, when his brother was declared as Andie Bell’s killer. I wasn’t attached to him either. He just seemed a bit flat to me somehow. Maybe it was because I read most of the book between midnight and three AM.

The Review

I have to say that A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a great book – as far as the plot went. The plot had a lot of action in it and it was a fairly fast read once I actually sat down to read it.

One thing I found interesting about the book is that it is clearly set in the United States. However, Holly Jackson lives in the UK (London to be precise) and so some things that are unique to that part of the world are found in the book. They’re just little things, like everyone wanting tea instead of coffee. It doesn’t detract from the book in any way and I actually enjoyed it.

If there is one thing that you will find in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, it is mystery. First, the mystery of why Sal was pegged as Andie Bell’s murderer. Then we have the mystery of who doesn’t want Pippa investigating this case. Finally, we have the mystery of who really killed Andie Bell.

There are some heart-stopping moments in this book and it will definitely have you wondering what the outcome will be. I definitely never guessed it!

If you’ve read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and you liked it, you might also like There’s Someone in Your House by Stephanie Perkins.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao

Title: Blood Heir Book Cover
Title: Blood Heir Series: Blood Heir Trilogy Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings Publisher: Delacorte Press Format: Hardcover Pages: 455 Source: Personal Collection

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

In case you didn’t know, this book is basically a retelling of Anastasia with magic and fantasy built in. Let me tell you, it works.

I love the concept of the Affinites and their affinities. I love that it isn’t just your basic elements, but that Affinites could have any number of things for their affinities. We see marble affinities, flesh affinities, blood affinities, grain affinities, as well as the basic elements. So the concept of having an affinity for a particular element has been taken much further than normal, which is awesome.

Ana is a great character. She’s tough, but she loves with all her heart. She loves her empire and she loves her people. And yes, she is naive when it comes to some things because she did spend the majority of her life living behind the Salskoff Palace walls. So there are things that she doesn’t know regarding the empire she loves.

I also liked Ramson’s character. He’s no stranger to tragedy and he knows exactly what goes on with the Affinites and how they are treated. He gives Ana a rude awakening to how things really are in her empire, which helps to move the story along very well.

As for the story, again, it’s a retelling of Anastasia and it’s very well done. I found no issues with the writing style as it was easy to read and the plot made me want to keep reading the book.

Now, to address the controversy that surrounded this book. You can read an explanation of the controversy here. There are some things that I can see – such as people feeling that the author took things from other books. There’s a sentence that is the same as in a Tolkien novel, as well some “copying” from The Hunger Games. I don’t think it’s actually enough for people to accuse her of plagiarism, because let’s face it, some of these things are found in multiple books, but it gave people something to gripe about.

The other issue was that the book was seen as anti-black. Part of this is due to May, a character that started off as a slave, and ended up as Ana’s companion. May is a little girl who came to the Cyrilian Empire with her mother – both were Affinites – and her mother was contracted to a different employer than May was. Ana was trying to help May find her mother.

At one point in the book, May does something that causes her death while attempting to save Ana. This is construed as a black girl being killed to allow a white girl to live. Ok, first, descriptions of May have her as “tan” skinned and “ocean blue” or “aquamarine” eyes. I’m not sure about you, but I don’t see too many black people who are just “tan” and have “ocean blue” eyes. I also don’t get where they get that Ana is “white” because she is described multiple times as having olive colored skin – which is a trait that several Middle Eastern and Asian cultures would be described as having.

I also heard some things on social media about how insensitive she was when she portrayed slavery. Well, slavery isn’t something that you can portray sensitively, and frankly, she portrayed it in a way that was very common at one point – indentured servitude. An employer would “buy” someone and that person would have to work to pay off their employment contract and gain their freedom. It wasn’t right in real life, it isn’t right in a book. And just like in real life, people didn’t like that it was going on and wanted to change it.

The controversy surrounding the book caused the author to delay the release of the book. She considered editing the book to fix what people said was wrong and ultimately decided to release the book as originally written. I’m sure people “cancelled” her because that’s what social media does – they cancel everything and everyone they think is wrong or they don’t like. But I’m glad she didn’t change her story. Because if she had, it wouldn’t be the amazing book it is.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

Title: Gravemaidens Book Cover
Title: Gravemaidens Series: Gravemaidens Duology Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy Publisher: Delacorte Press Format: Kindle Pages: 416 Source: NetGalley

The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land’s greatest honor…and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.

In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.

When Alu’s ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.

But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.

Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.

I’ve been trying to read this book since I first downloaded it from NetGalley on May 1. The problem is, the book just doesn’t really hold my interest.

The book is considered fantasy by many readers who’ve given it the genre of YA and Fantasy on Goodreads, but so far, there’s no reason to call it fantasy. Unless you mean because of the world itself – but honestly, I’ve seen no indication of magic. Just primitive healing like you’d have found in medieval times.

I guess the biggest thing is that the book doesn’t get to the point. I mean sure, you have to give the reader something to read, but you also don’t need to take forever to do it. I made it almost 40% into the book and for the most part, the most exciting part was the selection of the Sacred Maidens.

I can’t stand Kammani. She’s whiny and annoying. She refuses to marry the boy who loves her because she wants to be a great healer. She wants to heal the Lugal for her own selfish purposes – to save her sister, even though her sister doesn’t want to be saved. She’s just a seriously annoying character that I can’t get behind. I honestly don’t care if she gets what she wants because I don’t like her.

I didn’t finish this book, which is why it has zero stars. Maybe I’ll try again later, but honestly, as much as I hate the main character, I doubt it.

I received a copy of this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Title: Wilder Girls
Author: Rory Power
Genre: YA Horror
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

When I saw the cover to this book, I was intrigued. It’s the August book for the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club and I was anxious to see what the book was about.

I can’t say the story was terrible, because it wasn’t. But there was no feeling, no emotion between the characters. Reese, Byatt, and Hetty are supposed to be such great friends, best friends, but the story doesn’t convey that. You’re told that they’re best friends, but you just don’t get that feeling from the story.

Honestly, I think the only thing that truly kept me reading was wanting to see if an explanation for anything – the Tox, why they were being kept on the island – would be forthcoming. It does, but not in a very satisfactory way.

Then there is the ending of the book. The end of the book left me feeling like the story hadn’t been finished. Like the author didn’t know what to do after the closing scene, so she just decided to leave it there and hope for the best. I sincerely hope there is supposed to be a sequel, because otherwise the end is just a huge letdown.

I gave this book 3 stars because the author definitely has room for improvement. The writing style could use some work, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships between characters and ending a book properly.