Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review 2015: My Latest Book Reviews

I've read two books in the past week (I'm still way far behind on my yearly challenge though), so I felt it was time to do post some much needed book reviews.

**All reviews published on Randomness With Rachel are done on a five-star rating system. The reviews are solely my opinion and no one else's. Randomness With Rachel does not receive any incentives or compensations for reviews.** 

Truth or Dare Trilogy by Jacqueline Green
(Truth or Dare, Secrets and Lies, Kiss and Tell)

This was a Young Adults series I accidentally discovered at the library. I was watching a TV show called Secrets and Lies, so the title of that book caught my eye. I noticed it was book two of a trilogy, so I checked  it out along with the first book of the series. I then went back for book three after I finished the first two.

I've never seen the TV show Pretty Little Liars, but a lot of people who wrote reviews of this series compared it to that show. The novels are based around a group of girls who receive dares from an anonymous person. If they don't play along, the darer threatens to reveal a deep dark secret about them. They are on a mission to find out who is behind the dares. It's kind of a "trust no one" situation for them. Could one of the girls receiving dares actually be the darer? Is it another close friend? Could it be a teacher? Etc.

I grew up reading Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine, and this author's writing had that kind of "feel" to it (which I enjoyed, it reminded me of the books I liked when I was younger). Some of the situations in the novel were very "teen-based", seeing that it is a YA novel. So there was some teen angst and teen melodrama. But it wasn't too distracting.

In the first book the author did a good job introducing the characters and keeping the reader interested in what was going to happen next. There seemed to be a lot of "supporting" characters, and there were times I had to stop and remember who was who. The second book in the series took me a while to get into, but halfway through I couldn't put it down and stayed up late to finish it. I was afraid that the author would just take book one and rewrite it, but she did a good job continuing the story without making it the exact same plot and story as the first one. The third book was well written and did a good job of wrapping up the story without rushing the ending (I hate when I read a series and the author rushes the ending in the last few pages). She also didn't draw it out too long. There were some plot twists and surprises, and there were some things that were predictable, but they were still an enjoyable read. Not a "must read", but worth checking out if you want something easy to read.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

I just started watching the TV show Castle this past year. I was at the library recently and noticed a book by Richard Castle. I was like, how funny, that's Nathan Fillion's character on the TV show. Then I noticed the name of the book was the same book he wrote in the first season. Evidently SOMEONE (ABC won't say who) is writing books under the pen name Richard Castle and publishing them. I read online that whenever the character on the show writes a book, it is actually published (so there is a whole series of these books). The bio for the author is the one from the show, and Nathan Fillion's picture is on the book jacket. If you watch the TV show Castle at all, the book is very similar to the TV show (seeing that on the show he based the books on the detectives he worked with). If you don't watch Castle, the book reads like most TV detective shows. 

This particular story revolves around a female detective named Nikki Heat who is being "shadowed" by a writer (just like the TV show). He gets in her way and on her nerves, but she is still impressed by his witty charm and good looks (we can all see where this is going). It's not a "top-rated" mystery novel by any means, but I found that it was an entertaining read. But that might be because I like the TV show (I can't tell). I plan to check out some of the other books in the series, but they aren't at the top of my list right now. 

Trust Me, I'm Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer

I picked up another YA novel at the library (if you shy away from YA novels because you feel they are "beneath you" or "too young for you", you really should check some out, they are usually quite good). 

Julep Dupree tells a lot of lies. She and her father are both professional con-artists (despite the fact she is only in high school). She spends a lot of time running scams for her classmates (from fake IDs to pretending to be a representative from a college, just to fool parents into thinking their kid is really applying for higher education). She's also good at getting a free coffee or latte at a Starbucks-esque type coffee shop. One day she comes home to find her apartment ransacked and her father missing. She, along with her male best friend Sam, keep it a secret that her father is missing as she goes all Veronica Mars in playing detective to find her dad. She stays by herself in her ransacked apartment and gets money to live on by running more scams for her classmates. Oh, and her friend Sam has this "mad" hacker knowledge that allows him to get into the school database and even government databases. I'm not sure how realistic that is, but who knows, kids are smart these days when it comes to computers and technology. 

The plot itself was pretty good, and had a lot of potential, but there were parts of it that just made me go "oh good grief". **Somewhat spoiler coming up, but not enough to ruin the book.** Sam is the only one she has ever trusted and ever confides in but all of a sudden when the hunky Tyler starts paying attention to her (which came out of no where I might add), she loses her cool and then breaks down and spills her deepest secrets to him. Please. Get a grip girl. I think this made me take away a half star on my review, I was originally going to give it 3.5 stars. But again, it's a YA book, I should have expected the teen angst.

The ending was better than I expected, and had a plot twist or two (that I can't go into without ruining it). I think this was the author's first book. She wrote another one in this series. I'm willing to give another book of hers a chance to see how her storytelling improves. I can tell by her writing that the talent is there, she just needs to find her "groove". 

Happy reading!!

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