Two Minute Reviews: Spring Round Up Part 1

Sunday, April 17, 2016
I don't force myself to review my "me" books, but I've been in a bit of a writing slump and this worked out so well last summer when that happened, I decided to bring back....two minute (or less) reviews of the books I read when I wasn't here! Covering February, March, and April reads that left enough of an impact to write about them. (Sorry Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever.)

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Genre: Thriller
Series: n/a
Pages: 400
Published: June 9th, 2015
Source: Borrowed - Library
Rating: 5 out of 5

OK, so when Jess told me I had to read a contemporary, prison/cult retelling of The Girl With the Silver Hands, I looked at her pretty funny. Like, how?

This book is so good. The way the information on The Prophet and the cult is doled out is perfect, tense and intriguing. Minnow's absolutely inspiring, as she adjusts to the outside world at the same time as she adjusts to a world without her hands. The relationship that develops between her and her cell mate, Angel might be my favorite part.

My only teeny, tiny quibble is Jude, Minnow's boyfriend, and his ultimate fate. There were parts of it that were just too convenient and pulled me out of the tense, realistic thriller.

Oh, the Twelve Dancing Princesses reference! Authors, don't bother trying to reinvent that story anymore. Stephanie Oakes has crushed it.

Title: The Rose Society
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Young Elites #2
Pages: 418
Published: October 13, 2015
Source: Borrowed - Library
Rating: 4 out of 5

I liked the concept of The Young Elites more than I liked the execution. The series tells the story of the birth of a super villain, from the villain's POV. That is absolutely an amazing idea, but in the first book, all I felt for Adelina was pity.

TRS picks up where TYE left off, with Adelina and Violetta cast out of the Daggers and searching for Elites of their own, to overthrow the throne. Meanwhile, Raffaele is ingratiating himself to Queen Giulietta as part of The Dagger's own plan for the kingdom.

This book is dark. Super dark. But in a way that makes total sense. You're in Adelina's head, rooting for her, right up until the last chapter when she sits down and you finally realize, "oh god, what have we done?" I'm not sure how the trilogy can wrap up, because the final scene is so masterful.

Title: Strong Signal
Author: Megan Erickson , Santino Hassell
Genre: Romance
Series: Cyberlove #1
Pages: 235
Published: February 15, 2016
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 out of 5

Can I just put the blushing emoji for this review?

I don't read a ton of contemporary romances, but when Dahlia turned me onto this one, I knew I had to have it. This book is so steamy, so unbelievably hot, just the promo pictures had me overset.

Told in dual POVs between Garrett, a tough, closed-off Staff Sergeant stationed in Afghanistan, and Kai, an agoraphobic Twitch streamer, the first half of the novel details a long distance video game rivalry turned love affair. And I LOVED IT. The way the sexual tension builds into the masturbation and videos is extreme and heady.

Once Garrett returns from his deployment, the tone of the book changes into something more tender as both men work on their mental health and explore a LTR neither of them expected. I especially liked how it touched on the difficulties for servicemen returning to the workforce once their terms end and how Kai's agoraphobia couldn't just be cured with a hug and a handhold. It's work and therapy and medication and dedication, just like in real life. But, and I think this is super important, especially in M/M, the book lets both guys show a lot of vulnerability and silliness and Garrett and Kai get their HEA. Totally recommended.

Title: Illuminae
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Pages: 599
Published:October 20, 2015
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 out of 5

First and foremost, this is the most beautiful book I've seen since Six of Crows. The plastic cover hiding the redacted reports. The ads, handwritten notes, and personal touches. The collage of faces. And this fucking page:

A photo posted by @mscewsh on

No wonder I couldn't get into this one when I first read my eARC. It's absolutely imperative you experience it in dead tree format.

The romance plot is a little meh for me, but once Kady starts investigating the plague, holy hell the main plot is bonkers awesome. Without giving anything away, I'm going to burst into tears every time someone says "don't look at me" for the rest of my life. It hasn't even been two months and I'm already rereading. Don't sleep on this.

Title: Gotham Academy, Vol. 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy
Author: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl (Illustrations)
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Series: Gotham Academy #1-6
Pages: 160
Published: June 17, 2015
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 out of 5

Gotham Academy reminds me a lot of award winning webcomic, Gunnerkrigg Court. Both stories are about girls who've just lost their mothers going to haunted boarding schools, of course, but I also see stylistic similarities in the blending of gothic mystery with fantasy.

Olivia Silverlock's returned from summer break with selective amnesia, an ex-boyfriend, and a whole new attitude. Obviously the question of what happened last summer hangs over the volume, along with the aforementioned ghost story. It's compelling and spooky and surprisingly fits well with the larger Bat-universe, which prefers sci-fi to explain its characters' powers. Between an interesting mystery, a humanizing of old villains, and jaw dropping art work, this graphic novel series is my new obsession.

Title: The Joker: Death of the Family
Author: Scott Snyder
Genre: Horror
Series: n/a
Pages: 456
Published: October 22, 2013
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 out of 5

I reviewed a good portion of Death of the Family back in 2014 with Batgirl Vol. 3, but for such a huge storyline spanning so many monthly titles, I was really excited to see a full standalone graphic novel.

Stand alone it does. It's an interesting choice to only include the first and last Batman issues, skipping over four volumes of Bats and Joker recreating famous face-offs through their history. It's a choice I actually support though, as so much of the storyline revolves around removing Batman from the Batfamily. The only thing that could be confusing is since the meeting where the Family learns Batman knew Joker might know their identities is missing, their anger at the end seems disproportional.

The book is divided into chapters for each member of the Family and friends, starting with Catwoman and Joker's return to Gotham, then Harley Quinn, Batgirl, Red Hood and Red Robin combined, Nightwing, and Damien, before ending with Batman's last volume and the Joker's...defeat. The stories maintain a rough chronological order that keeps the through-line moving, though Barbara does show up for the Teen Titans, after she should already be captured. A minor quibble in a series where the Robins' ages make literally no sense.

Death of the Family is probably never going to be as essential as Killing Joke or even Death in the Family, partly because of it's door stopper size, but I'm glad they put the whole thing out.

That does it for this installment, folks. Stay tuned next time for the meanest review I've ever written. It was ten words.


  1. I love you a little more because you gave The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly 5 stars. That book is one of my top favorites, forever.

    I'm going to have to give it up and read The Young Elites for fun one day, aren't I?

    1. Yayyyy who else is joining me and you and Dani in our Minnow love? More people need to read this.


    2. I think most people liked TYE more than I did, but TRS is definitely a fun read. If by fun we also mean emotionally devastating and bloody.

  2. I am pretty excited for this 10-word review, ngl. I must know!

    1. It's still 10 words on GR, but I did add a paragraph for Thursdays post about why it's so terrible.


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