Rummanah Aasi
I thought I would do some mini-reviews of books that were a bit of a mixed bag. Please note that all of these reviews are based on an advanced reader's copy provided by the publishers via Netgalley.

Description: Laura Reid goes to Leningrad for a semester abroad as Cold War paranoia is peaking in 1982. She meets a young Russian artist named Alexei and soon, with Alexei as her guide, Laura immerses herself in the real Russia--a crazy world of wild parties, black-market books and music, and smuggled letters to dissidents. She must keep the relationship secret; associating with Americans is dangerous for Alexei, and if caught, Laura could be sent home and Alexei put under surveillance or worse. At the same time, she's been warned that Soviets often latch onto Americans in hopes of marrying them and thus escaping to the United States. But she knows Alexei loves her. Right?
  As June approaches--when Laura must return to the United States--Alexei asks Laura to marry him. She's only nineteen and doesn't think she's ready to settle down. But what if Alexei is the love of her life? How can she leave him behind? If she has a chance to change his life, to rescue him from misery, shouldn't she take it?

Review: When I read the description of this book, I had expected a similar version of Stephanie Perkin's fabulous Anna and the French Kiss except the story is set in Cold War Russia, but The Boy on the Bridge did not meet my expectation at all. The relationship between Laura and Alexei felt contrived and lacked chemistry. As a result, I thought they were really boring characters.The setting of Russia makes up for a lot of the book, however, I wanted some background to the Cold War. My history lessons of the Cold War a bit fuzzy at best so I was hoping this book would introduce teens to this time period but it does not. We do get the sense of hysteria and the lack of privacy, but we don't get the full impact on why people like Alexei want to leave Russia and immigrant to other countries. Overall The Boy on the Bridge is a very disappointing teen romance that has a lot of potential to become a stronger story.

Rating: 2 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, scenes of underage drinking, and allusions to sexual situations.

If you like this book try: Eva Underground by Dandi Daley Mackall, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Pardon My French by Cathy Hapka

Description: After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Deveaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory's brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she's become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades--the city's secret ghost-fighting police--are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it's too late.

Review: I was really disappointed with The Name of the Star, Maureen Johnson's first venture into the paranormal/mystery genre after setting up very high expectations but I enjoyed this sequel much more. In this book I got a better understanding of Rory's quirky personality and her witty internal monologues. Her voice, in my opinion, is much stronger in the book and I began to care for her much more. The plot is relatively slow, which is common for a middle book but Johnson does pick it up when she add a new mystery angle in addition to the Jack the Ripper case: Rory is much more than a girl who can see ghosts, but now she has become a human "terminus," meaning that when she touches a ghost, it disappears for good. Hailing from a Louisiana family peppered with eccentric alleged mystics, Rory was, from the beginning, aware of the spirit world. Now she hesitates when her comrades try to persuade her to put her power to civic use, even as other suspicious deaths crop up to suggest that the Ripper's destruction may have simply unleashed more mayhem. The book ends with a lot of questions in the air especially when one of Rory's Shade comrades is in serious condition. I'm definitely hanging on to this series and am really curious to see how everything ends.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, scenes of underage drinking and drug use, and mysterious deaths that may be a bit too much for younger readers. Recommended for strong Grade 7 readers and up.

If you like this book try: The Dead and Buried by Kim Harrington, Past World by Ian Beck, The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Description: They Said It Was An Accident...

Sawyer Dodd is a star athlete, a straight-A student, and the envy of every other girl who wants to date Kevin Anderson. When Kevin dies in a tragic car crash, Sawyer is stunned. Then she opens her locker to find a note: You're welcome.

Someone saw what he did to her. Someone knows that Sawyer and Kevin weren't the perfect couple they seemed to be. And that someone—a killer—is now shadowing Sawyer's every move.

Review: Truly, Madly, Deadly is a great premise that grabbed my attention right away, however, the execution of the story was a bit shaky. Jayne has a good sense of creating teasers, but I would have liked a bit more development leading up to suspense. The death of Sawyer's boyfriend isn't used to its full potential. I was confused as to why Sawyer didn't grieve enough for her boyfriend or why she didn't seem to share the same popular opinion of Kevin like her peers. There are hints of a possible abusive relationship but it is rushed and put in the story as a check mark for plot events just like a scene where a teacher takes things too far with a student. There is also a budding romance that I would have liked to see more of in the story.
  You need to suspend a lot of disbelief when reading Truly, Madly, Deadly such the delay in going to police, not sharing important information of a potential stalker with parents, but this is common for teen suspense novels. Overall Truly, Madly, Deadly is a good popcorn book that I would recommend to reluctant readers but I would suggest something more complex to my advanced teen readers.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is language, underage drinking, a scene of sexual advances from a teacher, and PG-13 violence. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Acceleration by Graham McNamee, Killing Mr. Griffin or I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
8 Responses
  1. I think the one I was most interested in was Truly, Madly, Deadly. I do think that parts of it would bother me but it still sounds like a good read.

  2. Truly, Madly, Deadly is the only one of the three I had any intention of reading, and I must admit I changed my mind just now. I find it extremely frustrating when emotional situations aren't used to their full potential, and it seems to me that the MC's behavior wouldn't sit well with me at all.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on these!

  3. Ahh thanks for already getting the Fire and Ice button up on your blog! I appreciate it! I was eager to read Boy on the Bridge but I havent' read a good review yet. I am the opposite of you, I liked In the Name of the STar but I hated Madness Underneath. I am parting ways with that series. The last book was one I was tempted to read, but the reviews came in a bit lackluster. So all in all I am glad I didn't. Hopefully your next read will be spectacular!

  4. Jess Says:

    At first I thought Boy on The Bridge was going to be a nice romance but once the Cold War setting became more apparent I found it to be more of a historical than a romance.

  5. Jenny Says:

    I agree completely on Truly, Madly, Deadly Rummanah! I thought so much more could have been done with her ex-boyfriend as well, instead the abuse was hinted at yet every flashback (save I think one) was of them happy together. It just made everything surrounding his death confusing. Still, it was a quick, entertaining read just like you said, and sometimes that's enough:)

  6. Very much agree with you on Truly Madly Deeply. I'm really excited about Boy on the Bridge. I think I'll like it even if the story is bad because I think the Russian setting is so cool.

  7. I finally found some time to leave comments; still on hiatus though :( I thought Truly, Madly, Deadly didn't live up to its potential either. The character motives just made no sense!

  8. I was really looking forward to reading The Boy on the Bridge, but the reviews so far haven't been very encouraging. It looks like it's probably better if I skip that one. I'm glad The Madness Underneath worked better for you than the first book. I haven't tried anything by Maureen Johnson before, but I'm curious now. Great reviews!

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