Size Doesn’t Matter (140): The Hollywood Daughter; Julia Vanishes; Chasing Truth

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (140): The Hollywood Daughter; Julia Vanishes; Chasing TruthThe Hollywood Daughter by Kate Alcott
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Length: 10 hrs, 4 mins
Published by Random House Audio on March 7, 2017
Genres: Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book Depository

Kate Alcott has become one of my go-to audiobook authors, because I really like high society historicals on audiobook. I’ve liked some more than others, and this may be my least favorite of the three I’ve read thus far. The Hollywood Daughter lacks focus, ending up a bit strange conceptually and lacking in depth.

In theory, I’m so down for this book. Using Ingrid Bergman as a frame, The Hollywood Daughter is about Jessica Malloy, daughter of Ingrid’s PR executive. Ingrid is Jessica’s idol, and she has a huge influence on Jessica’s life unfolding. It’s an interesting way to frame a story. However, the problem is that it felt like Alcott couldn’t decide whether she wanted the story to be about Ingrid or about Jessica. It’s like a biography as told by a slightly more knowledgeable than usual fan, which makes it not all that useful as a biography.

Jessica’s life doesn’t get that much attention really, because the focus is so much on the moments that she spent focusing on Ingrid. Whole years of her life get skipped entirely, though they were crucial to her development. Jessica isn’t especially compelling as a character. Her romance is sweet but isn’t given enough page time to develop.

Though interesting, The Hollywood Daughter ends up being a weird mish mash of a book, half weak autobiography and half weak fiction. Straddling that fence isn’t working here.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (140): The Hollywood Daughter; Julia Vanishes; Chasing TruthJulia Vanishes by Catherine Egan
Published by Knopf BFYR on June 7, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Julia has the unusual ability to be…unseen. Not invisible, exactly. Just beyond most people’s senses.

It’s a dangerous trait in a city that has banned all forms of magic and drowns witches in public Cleansings. But it’s a useful trait for a thief and a spy. And Julia has learned—crime pays.

Her latest job is paying very well indeed. Julia is posing as a housemaid in the grand house of Mrs. Och, where an odd assortment of characters live and work: A disgraced professor who keeps forbidden books and sends her to fetch parcels containing bullets, spiders, and poison. An aristocratic houseguest who is locked in the basement each night. And a mysterious young woman with an infant son who is clearly hiding—though from what or whom?

Worse, Julia has a creeping suspicion that there’s a connection between these people and the killer leaving a trail of bodies across the frozen city.

The more she learns, the more she wants to be done with this unnatural job. To go back to the safety of her friends and fellow thieves. But Julia is entangled in a struggle between forces more powerful than she’d ever imagined. Escape will come at a terrible price.

And even a girl who can vanish can’t walk away from her own worst deeds.

It took me a week and a half to slowly chug through Julia Vanishes, never able to read more than one or two chapters at a time. There’s a lot that I find interesting about this book conceptually, but my problem here was one of a lack of investment.

In theory, Julia’s just the sort of heroine I love to read. She resides in a moral grey area, feeling almost no guilt for her life of crime, because she’s doing what she must to survive. Julia would do anything to protect her brother Dek (short for Benedek, which why), and she actually enjoys the art of conning; she owns who she is, and I love that. Unfortunately, she never felt particularly real to me, nor did any of the rest of the cast. The characters fell a bit flat.

Julia starts the book in love with her boyfriend who is so obviously a douche, but she continues to be into him for like half the book. It’s just so narratively boring when I know he’s going to turn out to be cheating on her and, lo, he is. Yeah, it’s great that she kicks him to the curb for that, but it was waaaaaay too long in coming. There’s like one single spark between Julia and Frederick, but it wasn’t enough to invest me, and you guys know how weak I am to romance tropes.

The world is both original and strange. For example, witches in this fantasy world are born witches. They do not burn and they sink like a stone in water, which is a clever twist on witch-hunting rituals of the past. Witches do magic only by writing, which seems deeply inconvenient and honestly I could not stop giggling about that. The world building gets pretty sketchy in terms of all the other creatures that show up, and the ending was bananaballs with whipped nonsense on top.

Unless I get tempted into the audiobook, I will not be continuing the Witch’s Child series. I stuck it out through the whole book, and I still don’t care about anyone in it. I also don’t love where the plot seems to be heading.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (140): The Hollywood Daughter; Julia Vanishes; Chasing TruthChasing Truth by Julie Cross
Series: Eleanor Ames #1
Published by Entangled Teen on September 27, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Julie Cross’ books (that I’ve read) have all worked for me so far, and Chasing Truth may be my favorite of the bunch. There’s a shippy ship, and the plot’s a lot of fun. Basically, if you’re into The Fixer series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes and need something to tide you over while you anxiously await a book three, Chasing Truth will scratch that itch.

The Veronica Mars comparison is on point too, though it’s like if Veronica had been raised to be a con artist instead of a private investigator. Ellie’s out of the business, having made a deal with the FBI, but she can’t cut from her roots so easily. I love Ellie’s struggles to try to be a good person while her training makes her immediately size everyone up like a mark. She’s clever, sassy, and has massive trust issues.

From the very beginning, I shipped the hell out of her with Miles. Fair warning, though, that the first scene of the book is one of the handful of things about this book that kept me from giving it a 4.5 but it was so close because DEM SHIPPY FEELS. Miles is a by-the-book good guy, and Ellie’s the opposite, and they banter so well while trying to spy on each other and it’s awesome.

The book does run a bit long, but I was invested and entertained all the way through. Plot-wise, I had a few quibbles. The opening scene, with the topless girl, was clearly done for dramatic misunderstanding’s sake, and the explanation for it later on was ridiculous. The villain was slightly more obvious to me than to the geniuses doing the research, and Ellie very conveniently befriends a woman with just the right skill set to hack anything she needs hacked. There are a couple more spoilery things I didn’t love, but otherwise I thought this was quite the fun ride.

If you’re one of my ship-obsessed compatriots, yes, you do want this.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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