BOOK REVIEW: The Name Of The Star – by Maureen Johnson

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Title: The Name Of The Star
(Shades Of London #1)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Genre: YA, Thriller, Paranormal
First published: September 1st 2011
Finished reading: May 2nd 2016
Pages: 372
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“Fear can’t hurt you,” she said. “When it washes over you, give it no power. It’s a snake with no venom. Remember that. That knowledge can save you.”

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This series has actually been recommended to me various times in the past, but somehow I never actually managed to actually pick it up… Until my TBR jar thought it was about time I started reading it. And I’m glad I did, because I ended up really enjoying The Name Of The Star even though I wasn’t expecting the whole paranormal/ghost angle. Maureen Johnson sure knows how to write a story and create an atmosphere! It shows that this first book of the Shades Of London series is inspired by the original Jack The Ripper murders back in the 19th century, but this is by no means a historical fiction novel. The Name Of The Star only ‘borrows’ the facts of the original murders and is actually set in present day London… The historical references made when a series of brutal murders in the city mimick the original Jack The Ripper murders right to the date and time. The story has a fast pace and I really enjoyed the prose. Rory Deveaux is an interesting character and her experiences as an American teenager staying at an English boarding school are entertaining to read about and even hilarious at points. Those ‘light’ moments form the perfect contrast to the thriller and paranormal elements and made me really enjoy this read. To be honest, the whole paranormal/ghost twist kind of came as a surprise, but it did make the story a lot more original. And the ending… I will definitely try to read the sequel soon to find out what happens next. Recommended!

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Rory Deveaux grew up in Louisiana, but her parents gave her the choice where to spend her senior year. Rory decides to try her luck at an English boarding school in London while her parents work and live up north. Her new life at the boarding school is nothing like anything she experienced before, and she struggles to fit in and keep up with her school work… But luckily at least she really seems to get along with her roommate. School is not the only thing Rory has to worry about though. A series of brutal murders mimicking the horrible Jack The Ripper murders more than a century ago seem to have been taken place ever since she arrived in the city. The police doesn’t have any solid leads and no witnesses, and meanwhile the bodies seem to be piling up… And then somehow Rory turns out to be the first and only person to spot the man that is believed to be the prime suspect. The problem? Her roommate was right there and didn’t even see him… The police doesn’t know if they can believe Rory, but the fact that she seems to be the next target feels all too real.

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The Name Of The Star is without doubt an interesting read and has quite a few Jack The Ripper references for those who are interested in the famous 19th century murderer. The best part about this story is probably that Maureen Johnson actually made what could have been a simple historical fiction novel into an entertaining and fast-paced YA paranormal thriller. It might not have been exactly what I was expecting, but that doesn’t take away that I really enjoyed it and I will be trying to continue this series soon.

WWW Wednesdays #89 – May 4th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I started reading The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld on a whim and while the prose looks really promising, I’m not so sure about the story itself so far. I’ve put it on hold as long as I’m reading The Strange And Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, which is interesting so far even though a bit strange and I’m hoping the story will end up being just as good as the gorgeous cover.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I managed to finish is The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It actually took me a lot of time to finish this book and while the story is really intriguing, I wasn’t so sure about the characters… Some of their actions and dialogues didn’t feel all that ‘natural’ (especially Vianne and Isabelle), although it did become a lot better later on in the story. That said, it is still a really good WWII historical fiction read and definitely worth reading.
* I’ve also finished The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, which was my latest TBR jar pick. Although it wasn’t what I was expecting, it’s without doubt a very entertaining paranormal thriller with a Jack The Ripper twist… I will be trying to pick up the sequel soon.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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Basically my list of books I want to read next is the same as last week. Oops! My next read is going to be Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor; I know, I have been saying this for the last few weeks but this time I’m going to pick it up for real! I also want to read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, although I should probably get a copy of the fourth book first… And I want to read See How They Run by Ally Carter as well. My newest TBR jar pick is Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira, although I’m not sure if I would actually like that one since I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about it.

WWW Wednesdays #88 – April 27th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I finally started The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah the other day and even though I didn’t have much free time to read, I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ve also finally picked up my latest TBR jar pick The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, but it’s too soon to say anything about it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first title I managed to finish since last week was The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza. The plot, plot twists and descriptions are really good, but the ‘bitchiness’ of the character did make me enjoy this mystery/thriller less than I thought I would… Still definitely worth reading though!
* I then decided to read Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, which turned out to be an entertaining enough read. I actually loved the first part (up until about 55-60% I would have given it 5 stars), but things went downhill from there… Still, I really enjoyed most of it.
* I decided to pick up the novella Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover as well since it was short and I kind of wanted to read more about Warren… And I actually liked the novella better than the last part of Maybe Someday.
* The last book I finished is A Gathering Of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, and I have a feeling it is going to take some time to get my thoughts together… Such a good series and the wait for the third book is going to be a long one!

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I really should start reading Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor next since it was the winner of the which series to read next? poll last month… I will most likely do as soon as I finish one of the titles above; I just wanted to read my last TBR jar pick first. I also want to read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, although I should probably get a copy of the fourth book first… And I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read See How They Run by Ally Carter yet, since I loved the first book last year and this sequel has been on my most anticipated 2015 releases list. Oops? My new TBR jar pick is Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira. I’ve heard mixed things about that one, so I will be keeping my fingers crossed.

WWW Wednesdays #87 – April 20th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I actually opened my copy of A Gathering Of Shadows by V.E. Schwab as soon as I finished the first book, because I simply LOVED A Darker Shade Of Magic. Since I haven’t been able to write a proper review yet though, I decided to put the sequel on hold until I do so I won’t be mixing up the plots… So I decided to start The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza instead. The plot is really intriguing so far and I like the detailed descriptions, but unfortunately I’m not really a fan of the main characters. There’s too much ‘bitching’ and too little character development or other things that might make me like the characters better… Hopefully things will improve later on.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first title I managed to finish since last week was Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford. It’s not a bad read, but the plot is not really original and most of the humor felt either forced or was even slightly offensive…
* I then decided to read Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper and that turned out to be an excellent idea. Like Wonder, this middle grade book has a strong message that people shouldn’t discriminate or judge people by what they look like; it is what is on the inside that truly counts. A really fast read and definitely recommended even though some parts of the the plot are not completely plausible.
* I then finally started with A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab, and I’m still trying to finish a somewhat coherent review without it being just me fangirling all over the place. This book was BRILLIANT! I should have known after so many raving reviews and recommendations… Without doubt one of my all time favorite fantasy series.
* The last book I finished was The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider, which turned out to be a big disappointment. Such a shame, because I loved her other novel Extraordinary Means! Unfortunately, The Beginning Of Everything is basically full of cliches and annoying characters I really couldn’t care about… More in the full review.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I really should start reading Daughter Of Smoke And Bone by Laini Taylor next since it was the winner of the which series to read next? poll last month. I have been wanting to read it for ages, but decided to pick up Shades Of Magic first. I also want to try Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover… I’m keeping my fingers crossed this one will be as good as November 9 (unlike Ugly Love). The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is also still on my list… Hopefully some time soon; I just haven’t been in the mood to read historical fiction lately. My newest TBR jar pick is still The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson.

WWW Wednesdays #86 – April 13th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I actually started the two other books first, but I needed something completely fantasy/romance free after I finished my last read. Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford sounded like it would do the job and so far it’s turning out ot be an interesting and fast read. The other two books I’m reading are A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab, with I’m loving so far and I’ve only put on hold because I’m not really in the mood for fantasy and I don’t want to spoil it… And I’ve also finally picked up Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I’ll probably finish this one first before continuing with ADSOM

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I wanted to escape the whole YA/love triangle business, so I decided to pick up this mystery/thriller kindle freebie: Blood Orchids by Toby Neal. Unfortunately not even changing genres helped me escape a love triangle and it did ruin the story slightly for me, but the story itself is still quite entertaining in general. There were quite a few things that bothered me though; more about it in my full review.
* I decided to pick up my TBR jar pick next, and boy was that the best decision I could have made! I LOVED The Conspiracy Of Us by Maggie Hall despite the hint of a love triangle… Fast pace, international setting, a conspiracy, plot twists, interesting characters: this book is almost everything I want in a series.
* I picked up the sequel Map Of Fates straight after finishing the first book, and while it was not as good as The Conspiracy Of Us and the romance scenes became more annoying (read: love triangle related), I still pretty much loved this one as well. The wait for the third book will be a long one!
* I was actually already reading All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders before I started any of the books mentioned above, but it took me a long time to finish it. Boy, this book was WEIRD! I guess this is one of those where the story either works for you or it doesn’t. I definitely belong to the second group and I wasn’t convinced by this story at all. The plot was all over the place, the pace a bit slow, I didn’t particularly like the characters and the story didn’t really make sense. Also, I thought this was an adult novel, but most of it felt more like a middle grade/YA read; up until a few sex scenes were thrown in. WTF?! I need more time to gather my thoughts…

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I have been in a weird reading mood lately so I will probably end up reading completely different titles instead, but here’s what I would like to read. First up is Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper since I have been wanting to escape from the whole fantasy/romance/love triangle theme… And I guess both The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah would probably work as well. My new TBR jar pick is The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson, which I’m really excited about since I have been wanting to start this series for a while now. Jack The Ripper twist, yes please!

Friday Finds #51 – August 28th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at A Daily Rhythm and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads.  Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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