Review: The Name of the Star (Spoiler Free)

The-Name-of-the-Star-UK Goodreads description
Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next…

Louisiana teenager, Rory Deveaux, arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders, mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago, has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target… unless she can tap into her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Review
Though the book has a slow start, it eventually picked up and I began to feel the increasing presence and tension surrounding the killings from the Jack the Ripper-like character. Using London as the backdrop and Jack the Ripper as a central problem, this book had the makings of a favorite to me but didn’t quite hit top mark in the end. Some of the characters felt very flat and one-dimensional with the exception of Rory and Stephen. I didn’t expect to like Stephen as much as I did but there was something about him I identified with, and I hope Johnson expands on his character, and definitely the others, in the next two books of this trilogy.

Because I currently live in London, my favorite city in the whole wide world, I knew the places and areas that Rory and her friends visited, and it felt a little bit like I was there and was part of the team. Another thing Johnson used to get me hooked was Jack the Ripper and yes, I have an interest in him and serial killers in general but I promise I’m not weird – just curious.

Do I Recommend
Yes. London feels real and vibrant, Jack the Ripper creates mystery, and the supernatural element makes the book thrilling. If that sounds like something up your alley, go for it. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the problems I had with it.

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Currently Reading: Dorothy Must Die

dmd coverGoodreads description
I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still the yellow brick road, though—but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, and I’ve been given a mission:

REMOVE
The Tin Woodman’s heart,

STEAL
The Scarecrow’s brain,

TAKE
The Lion’s courage,

And then—

DOROTHY MUST DIE.

Thoughts so far
Until a few weeks ago, I knew absolutely nothing about the Wizard of Oz. I’d never read the books or seen the movie but simply knew about it because, well, unless you’ve been living under a rock since 1939, it’s kind of hard not to. I knew the classic phrases such as “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” and about the Cowardly Lion but other than that? Nothing. Then a few weeks ago a friend of mine asked if I wanted to come see Wicked with her, the musical currently on its tenth year (I think) at the Apollo Victoria in London. I jumped at the chance. So I watched the movie, saw the musical, and loved both – I couldn’t get enough of Oz and its characters which is why my interest in this book was re-ignited.

I’m only about ten chapters in so I’m still a little uncertain about it but so far I’m not that impressed to be perfectly honest. It’s a little slow, and I’m kind of waiting for something to happen other than the main character walking around, and it simply hasn’t yet though. My favorite character so far is definitely Indigo – tiny, angry, and swears a lot? That’s pretty fucking relatable. I’m hoping the story will pick up soon because I really don’t want to DNF this – the premise seems really good so it’d be a shame if that happens. Will let you know how I get on.

Question:
Have you read Dorothy Must Die? If so, what did you think?

Review: Far From You (Spoiler Free)

far from you

Goodreads description
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

Review
When I initially finished Far From You all the way back in June, I didn’t know how to put together a coherent sentence. This book touched me in ways I did not expect and the testament to that is the fact that I still think about it to this day – safe to say, it made an impact.

Despite the heavy subject matter of this book, I felt comforted by it. I understood the main character, Sophie, in a way that perhaps not a lot of people would – I understood a great deal of the things she went through and how terrifying, complicated, and thrilling those things can be. I particularly applaud the way this story handled addiction and the way it made me want to cry and laugh and scream because while addicts’ experiences are wildly different, some things are universal and I think Sharpe captured that in this contemporary murder mystery.

This story was heartbreaking and triumphant all at the same time, and in a time where I struggle to stay clean despite having just over four years on my back, this was the perfect reminder that keeping at it is the only way forward.

Do I Recommend
Absolutely. This ticks a lot of diversity boxes including disability and LGBTQ+ representation and that alone is reason enough to pick this book up. I hope you do.

Helena’s Universe: Missing in Action

modern poets wo sharpen

I have been gone for several months now without warning or explanation. While my blog is still in its early stages and my commitment to it has been limited, I still think I should talk a bit about my absence which was not a conscious decision to begin with but eventually became a very active choice.

There are plenty of reasons I have not written or posted on this blog since late July. This has been an incredibly tumultuous year for me beginning with my grandfather passing away in early April after a short battle with cancer. The time between diagnosis and passing away quietly in his hospital bed surrounded by most of his family was brief and it gave me little time to prepare for my first big loss. He was only 72 at the time and left his wife, three children, and six grandchildren behind. From the moment he passed and onwards it seems that everything was going against me or just plain wrong. My mental health rapidly declined, I lacked enjoyment in my studies, and wasn’t accepted into the new course I applied to. In late August I made the difficult decision to drop out of University to look for a job hoping I wouldn’t have to move back in with my parents but being unqualified does not make it easy to obtain even the simplest of jobs. Then in early September, my grandmother’s husband who has always been part of my life passed away and I had to come to terms with another bound of endless grief. Things were not exactly going my way.

In the end, I managed to find a job but in Denmark. After giving up my apartment and moving back in with my parents, I moved across the ocean to London, England where I am currently working as an au pair for a lovely family of four. I have been in London two months now and absolutely love it here. I previously au paired for a family outside the city in my gap year and fell in love with the buzz of London – if it wasn’t so damn expensive, I could see myself moving here. Trying to settle in hasn’t left much time for reading or writing blog posts but I am trying to get back into the swing of things and I am slowly but surely bouncing back from all the grief and frustration of this past year. Another positive thing is that I have found out exactly what I want to do with my life and it isn’t an academic education but something different – I want to study to become a veterinary nurse and thereby getting to work with animals as well as some more administrative work and while the program is hard to get in to, I know I can do it.

I will be posting my long time coming review of Far From You by Tess Sharpe soon and will do a little book haul of the books I’ve bought since moving to the UK. If you want to follow me a bit more closely, you can find me on instagram where I update more frequently.

Thanks for reading.

Where Have I Been? An Update

5 star 2

Greetings, nerds.

The photograph above has absolutely nothing to do with this post. At all. I snapped that over a year ago while I was still living in the UK but I wanted something visual for this lengthy life update post. I hope you’ll stick around.

If anyone’s even consistently following my blog, you might have noticed that I have been kind of MIA recently. I have several posts planned including one about the book blogger event I went to earlier this month, a review of Far From You by Tess Sharpe which I finished and loved, a currently reading post, and others but a combination of things have prevented me from doing so one of them being laziness.

When summer comes around, I get particularly lazy. Since I don’t have anywhere I need to be every day, I hardly ever have the energy to do anything, let alone take pictures and update my blog. That laziness combined with my continuing struggles with depression and anxiety, can make just getting out of bed as exhausting as running a marathon (I imagine. You’ll never see me run voluntarily). Another reason is school related stress regarding reapplying to Uni (I did not get in) and looking into what my options are now because I would be very miserable if I had to keep studying Comparative Literature – even thinking about it makes me want to cry.

My life and struggles are complicated and perhaps hard to understand but I promise, I’m trying my very best to get some book related posts written and published. I update my bookstagram more frequently than my blog so if you still want to follow my bookish adventures, please check it out. If you have any questions regarding anything I’ve said/written in this post, please don’t hesitate to ask – I’m more than happy to answer whether your question is book related or personal.

Thank you.

Quiet Morning

breakfast 2

I woke up at around 7:30 this morning after a night of tossing and turning. Grey storm clouds were looming outside so I stayed in bed another half hour before I got up to prepare breakfast. Usually I eat oats with milk and honey but I decided to try something different today. I mixed some greek yogurt with plenty of honey as a sweetener, added some fresh chopped orange and a little dark chocolate as an extra treat – I enjoyed it in bed with a cup of coffee and the June issue of Eurowoman. It got me in the mood for summer and dreaming about tropical islands even in this gloomy weather.

I know this is not strictly book-related but I wanted to share anyway because sometimes we have to enjoy those quiet moments when we’re at peace, and for just one heartbeat everything seems to okay in the world.

Currently Reading: Far From You

farfromyouGoodreads description
Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

Thoughts so far
This is the first book I’ve read for pleasure in a long time. I decided to pick up Far From You by Tess Sharpe, and I’m really glad I did. The book fits into some of my favorite genres and deal with some important themes: YA, murder mystery, disability, LGBTQ+ and so on. I’m just over a hundred pages in but I have a distinct sense that this book will go on my list of favorites of 2017. I relate to the main character and her struggles in many ways: Sophie, the MC, struggles with addiction which I also do, albeit not drugs, but also how Sophie has to deal with the aftermath of her mistakes and how to mend the relationship with her parents in particular – something I found myself having to do after I got clean (3.5 years now!).

I really enjoy the book so far, and hope it won’t let me down and that the ending won’t be too predictable but so far, I have no clue who the killer is.