Halloween Reading Round-Up (Mini-Reviews)

I only read 3 of the 6 Halloween-ish books I set out to read in October. That makes me 50 % successful (see — glass half full thing). Part of it is being a mood reader and also this weird thing I’m going through. I really enjoyed the books I picked so I decided to round them up in one post and, at the end, talk about if I think they were good Halloween reads.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs:

What It’s About In A Sentence: Jacob’s grandfather has always told these tales about his life growing up that were filled with strange and unusual things but, when his grandfather dies, he realizes maybe they were not tall tales and embarks on a journey to find the orphanage where his grandfather grew up.

What I Thought: This book was delightfully strange & wonderful. The cover made me think it was going to be kind of scary but in fact, honestly, the bottom of my purse right now is probably scarier — this is more of a fantasy/supernatural-y kind of story. I really enjoyed this one and really marveled at the brilliant writing and storytelling and it’s a book I would hand to people who think that YA isn’t well written. Despite the fact this book wasn’t scary like I thought it would be, it still had a perfect Halloween vibe. The photographs that are scattered about the book really added to the story,  the depth of the characters and the general feel of this extraordinary adventure. There’s magic, strange happenings and this mystery that is just woven so carefully and so smoothly that you can’t help but find yourself mesmerized. I didn’t know what to expect at first and was curious about these tall tales that Jacob’s grandfather seemed to tell and then when Jacob starts questioning if they are made up stories I was just absolutely enchanted by this life he lived. I cannot wait to see what the sequel holds in this incredibly unique series.

 

RATING:

RATING-loved-it

 

 

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

What It’s About In A Sentence: Madeline’s family, The Ushers, are cursed — they are plagued with strange illnesses, are not able to leave the house that seems to haunt them and watch their every move and nobody knows how to free them from it.

What I Thought: This one was creepy but not scary! It’s inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of The House of Usher and I was a little familiar with it but not enough to really know what was going to happen. The writing was fantastic and I was drawn in immediately to this sinister house and its history though there were points that were kind of slow for me..like really slow. If I’m honest I’m still a little confused as to what happened at the end for sure and also I THINK I get what was behind everything but also maybe not? As far as atmosphere goes, this book had it. PERFECT book to curl up with on a cool Fall day and just get lost in the life of a girl who lives in this house where strange things happen and whose family has this mysterious illness that eventually kills them. The house became its own character really. I will say that sometimes, while interesting, the storytelling — the chapters alternate from Madeline at different ages — was hard to keep track of and I’d have to flip back to double check what age we were at. This book would definitely be a great movie and when I kept reading I was visualizing so many scenes and the setting of everyone room and of the exterior of the house and outside of the house. Very creepy and I’m glad I read it around this time!

 

RATING

RATING-LIKED

 

 

Rooms by  Lauren Oliver

Rooms by Lauren Oliver:

What It’s About In A Sentence: A family comes together to clean out the house of estranged patriarch and secrets and the past hurts come unearthed as the ghosts of the house, wrought with their own secrets, watch on.

I really liked this one! Lauren Oliver is such a great writer and I think her adult debut was very solid. It’s definitely different than her YA and I think those looking for exactly THAT could be disappointed as this is definitely more character driven and more of a slow paced story but it really worked for me. It was NOT scary at all if that matters to you. There are ghosts but it didn’t feel like a typical ghost story and definitely explored some emotional things. The family dynamics were fascinating — a family comes together to clean out the house of house of their ex-husband/estranged father. All 3 of them are carrying their own burden and secrets and then the other two perspectives we get are the two ghosts that inhabit the house who have their own secrets they can’t let go of.  The multi-POV’s can seem daunting at first but I really enjoyed the perspectives from the family members and also the ghosts because ALL of their threads in the story were SO fascinating to me and I got swept up in them and the ever so slightly unraveling mystery. Lauren’s writing is just so haunting and beautiful and so full of depth.

RATING

RATING-reallyliked

Overall Scare Factor Of My Halloween TBR reading:

So none of the books I read were super scary. The Fall definitely was creepy and atmospheric but not scary — definitely takes the cake for “scariest” out of these . Rooms wasn’t at all creepy or scary and the ghost element wasn’t of the scare variety. Miss Peregrine’s was delightfully strange and all the magic and supernatural elements made it a great Halloween read. They all, though The Fall & Miss Peregrine’s more strongly than Rooms, had that FEEL of a good Halloween read.

I will say next year I’m hoping to add an actual SCARY book into my reading experience (hit me with recs in the comments!!) but I’m really pleased with the books I chose for my Halloween reads! So if you want solid, non-scary books but still have that FEEL for your Halloween reading I’d check all of these out!

 

What books have you read so far in your Halloween/October reading? Any REALLY scary books to recommend to me for next year (or just good recs in general)?

Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book Review

Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard | Book ReviewSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange & Deadly #1
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- July 2012
Genres: Paranormal YA, Steampunk
Format: Hardcover
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None it was her debut. Book 2 is A Darkness Strange & Lovely and is out now!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

It’s 1876 in Philadephia and the increase in the number of Dead rising from their graves is unsettling. Eleanor has seen them firsthand while she was waiting for her brother Elijah at the train station. Elijah doesn’t show up and she receives an alarming telegraph from him that was delivered by one of the zombies in the station. She’s worried for her brother — for obvious reasons — but also because she and her mom are struggling to maintain their wealth after their father died. As she tries to find out what happened to her brother she is thrust into the world of the Spirit Hunters who are trying to save the city from the Dead and figure out who is controlling them.

OH MY GOODNESS! I had an ARC of Something Strange & Deadly and then was sent a finished copy and it just sat on my shelf. I wasn’t really sure it was my thing. Then it became our book club book and THANK GOD because I loved this book and I’m regretting just letting it sit on the shelf for so long. It was such an absorbing and addictive read that I blew through and immediately started the next book. The thing you have to understand….I NEVER go right to the next book immediately. EVER. I read things in between. So THAT should tell you something about how obsessed I am right now over this series.

From the opening scene I was HOOKED. Walking Dead? Historic Philadelphia (my city!)? Petticoats, corsets and parasols? YES PLEASE. The mystery woven in from the start with the disappearance of Elijah didn’t let up and even more mysterious elements with the increase in walking Dead were added. It was just such a compelling read for me because it contained so many elements I loved — mystery, historical fiction, smooth writing, very slow burn romance and a compelling paranormal element that doesn’t feel overdone. I quickly became obsessed as it was just so compulsively readable!

The world-building was pretty sparse but I actually enjoyed that. You immediately know that there are Dead rising in this 1876. We don’t really know WHY they are but it’s just something that as a reader you accept as part of the world. They rise sometimes. But then the real tension comes because it’s becoming WAY more frequent and there have been some gruesome deaths. We learn WHY the increase is happening and what not but we don’t ever learn how they rise in the first place. It didn’t bother me not to know because I quickly got into the world and just accepted that was a part of it. I LOVED how Susan Dennard wrote the setting for Something Strange & Deadly. Maybe it was just that I knew most of the places in Philadelphia she was talking about but I loved being immersed in this time period.

One thing I will tell you is that the zombie/Dead are not the main focus of this novel so if you are looking for a really gory zombie novel this isn’t really that. They don’t make make up as much “screen time” as, say maybe, my favorite show The Walking Dead. I personally don’t READ a ton of zombie novels, despite my intense love for The Walking Dead, so the balance was just fine for me because the story was amazing and the Dead were very much being controlled by something — they weren’t just aimlessly hungry and wandering types of zombies. There was a purpose and someone making it happen. It’s a very fresh approach to the idea of zombies or walking dead. I will say I figured out WHO was controlling the Dead but there were still some other things I didn’t connect the dots which blew my mind.

I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. Obsessed, I tell you. I couldn’t put it down because of the absorbing mystery elements, the fresh take on the idea of zombies, the Victorian Philadelphia setting, the compulsive readability, the characters and the very slow burn romance that just dangles there and filled my heart with tension. I’m not a huge paranormal reader but I WANT TO SHOUT MY LOVE FROM THE ROOFTOPS. There honestly wasn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. It was that type of read where I was so immersed in the whole of it that I couldn’t be bothered to think about anything other than what was happening in the book. I love that kind of read where I’m so absorbed in the story that I can’t even think of all the reviewer things that normal come in my head.

Something Strange & Deadly review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you’ve read it what do you think?? How did you like this approach to zombies? Do you totally ship Eleanor & Daniel? (Anyone else here kind of feel bad for Clarence?). Also, did you guess who the necromancer was?? I had a hunch!

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn | Book Review

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn | Book ReviewAnother Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher/Year: HarperTeen- June 11, 2013
Genres: Paranormal YA, YA Horror
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Don't You Forget About Me (upcoming -- 2014)
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Annaliese wakes up and finds herself covered in blood with no idea where she is or even WHO she is. As she finds help, she comes to find out who she is and is reunited with her parents. She finds out that the last time she was seen was in the woods at a party and she came screaming and soaked with blood and then was never seen again. While her memory still evades her, she has the sense that she is not the real Annaliese and she’s having strange dreams and visions that support her theory. These dreams show her other girls and some grisly things and slowly she starts to put together the pieces as these memories come more frequently. What she finds out is more frightening than she could have ever imagined.

 

My brain is one big pile of mush after this book and I’m really so confused about my thoughts. Is it possible to not know what I thought about this book? Because that’s what my brain is telling me. It’s all, “Jamie. Just give up. I can’t give you definite thoughts about this matter and it hurts to try” Seriously, a whole lot of mind WTFery going on here with this book. I can’t tell if I loved it intensely or if I was just confused in a bad way so I’ll just share my reading experience instead.

So basically, if you’ve read the synopsis, you know that the main character has no idea who she is. She’s been missing and then suddenly is found wandering in a town far away from her own with blood on her. They tell her who she is and she just suspects that she’s not that person. She can’t remember anything but something tells her she’s not. So immediately I’m like is this a Pretty Girl-13 situation? WHAT IS HAPPENING? What did she block out because it was so terrible? Is this in her head?  Is there something dark and paranormal going on? And then, as these dreams/memories start happening while she’s trying to settle into this weird life that seems to not be hers, it gets creepy and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough because it was so fascinating. I was just clamoring for some clarity as to what was going on!

I’ll be honest — you need to be a very patient kind of reader for this one because it is more madness and confusion for most of the book and it takes a while for things to come together and form a semi-clear picture as to what is happening and even then I spent a lot of time being confused and throwing out “WTF’s” like it was my job. If you like books that mess with your mind a bit and can be patient, this might be your thing. I know a LOT of people who had to put it down because the confusion wasn’t worth it which was the opposite for me. I personally was more intrigued than anything and the strangeness of it kept me reading — it wasn’t like anything I had ever read before — very macabre, disturbing and dark and not altogether what I expected. There are a lot of flashback sort of things interspersed with the present story and those flashbacks jump around a bit so that adds to the confusion in ways. It’s one of those really disjointed styles that just leaves you unsettled, disoriented and not quite with a grasp on what is happening — you feel like you are losing your mind a bit.

I don’t want to say a lot to give anything away plot-wise or to make it easier for you to guess what is going on. I’ll say the one area of certain disappointment came for me more towards the end. I had been wided eyed, furiously turning the pages and feeling upside down and inside out while reading and then when things came together more it wasn’t AS compelling (still compelling though). BUT I was still curious to know the origins of what was happening and I felt like at the end I still didn’t understand what fully happened (physician, brujas). I think if I wouldn’t have felt that way at the very end this book would have been a damn near perfect book for me.

Undoubtedly one of the strangest books I’ve ever read in my entire life. I don’t know what way is up or down with this book. Written in this terrifyingly beautiful and haunting way, it completely sucked me into Annaliese’s story of not knowing who she is and then slowly putting the pieces together to learn who she is. I spent most of the time confused — a good confused for the most part — and it was very motivating for me as a reader because I was dying to know what happened and my brain couldn’t even comprehend what was going on in this very macabre and creepy story. I’m a patient reader and I think you need to be one, as well as love wildly strange things, to enjoy this book. I can’t make a sweeping recommending for it for that reason. The only thing I’m certain that made this perfect NOT a perfect book for me was that I just still wasn’t sure at the end if I really GOT what happened. I think I did but I don’t know.

another-little-piece-review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard about it? If you’ve read this one, what did you think? I know some people either HATED it or couldn’t even finish it but then there was those that LOVED it. It was definitely daring and different. PLEASE TALK TO ME ABOUT IT! Mark your comments as spoilers please if discussing with me :)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Book Title/Author: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher/Year
: St. Martin’s Griffin – September 10th 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Eleanor & Park, Attachments
Goodreads | Twitter |Amazon

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Cath and her twin sister, Wren, are HUGE fans of the Simon Snow book series — so much so that they even wrote fanfiction that is hugely popular, were super involved in forums, & have gone to every premiere. Wren hasn’t been as into it lately and Cath feels the distance but not entirely until Wren drops the bomb that she doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath when they go off to college together in the Fall. Without her sister by her side, Cath struggles to not isolate herself in a situation that is completely out of her comfort zone. She’s not as outgoing as Wren, struggles to open up and doesn’t adjust as well to the huge life changes happening — a new roommate, cute boys that seem to always be around, difficult professors, being away from her dad who isn’t always stable and has never been alone, etc. Cath isn’t sure she can do all of this without her sister by her side but she knows she is going to have to start learning who she is — apart from the things that made her feel secure before.

If I hadn’t already fallen head over heels with Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell I’m not sure I would have picked this up just because I’ve never been part of any sort of fandom or have even read one lick of fanfiction and so the premise didn’t really speak to me. I mean, you guys know I JUST started the Harry Potter series this week so I haven’t even been super involved growing up with any sort of series. I was SO scared I wasn’t going to connect to this one because of this but Rainbow Rowell certainly proved me wrong and wrote a story that I related to in so many ways that it honestly surprised me and I found myself devouring it.

Rowell weaves the fanfiction that Cath writes along with the story. It honestly took me a little bit to get used to but Rowell wrote it in a way that I realized I could skip it or skim it if I wanted. I opted for skimming so I’d get the sense of what she was writing about but didn’t take my time reading it like I did with the rest of the story. So don’t be afraid of this aspect if you aren’t into the fanfiction aspect! While I didn’t connect with the fandom/fanfiction life of it I totally connected with this passion that Cath had and related it to our little book blogging community in ways. Cath is so wrapped up in her fanfiction world and at times I see myself so immersed in our community.

Sure, a lot of this story has to do with Cath and her fanfiction writing and how she and her sister have bonded through this but it’s about way more than that — feeling your way through that weird transition between kidhood and adulthood, seeing people for who they are and not who you WANT them to be, first loves, sisterhood, independence and so much more.

Fangirl was just one of those books that was a delight to read and so, so funny. I loved Cath’s story and her journey — even though she was a tough one for me to warm up to at first. My first I LOVE YOU CATH moment was a certain Emergency Kanye Dance Party part. She’s flawed, kind of judgmental, not exactly comfortable in her own skin, holds people to wicked high standards, doesn’t like change, etc. Even though I don’t think I immediately would say Cath and I were super alike, I could feel in my core some of these same things manifested in my own self. I related so well concerning her struggles with her sister because I definitely had tension with my sister as we both changed and stopped being best friends because of these differences. I wanted to HATE Wren but I recognized that we are ONLY see Wren through Cath’s POV so it’s not the whole picture and I KNOW when I was having issues with my sister I definitely only painted a bad one. I also learned that I couldn’t expect my sister to uphold the same things I did — so I really UNDERSTOOD Cath but also saw the error of her ways. Her flaws and her journey to grapple with some of these things made me love her. Also I can’t say enough about some of the other characters. Reagan & Levi <33

I will say that I saw a Twitter exchange ( I can’t remember who) mention that they were turned off because of how little we saw of the fandom and the WHYS of it being so important to her and I didn’t think of it while I was reading but I actually really agree as much as I loved this book. I initially felt my disconnect with the whole fandom thing as why I didn’t SEE how it was so important in her life but really I do think, looking back, it wasn’t really explored as much. We just KNEW it was important but didn’t really at all feel why.

 

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was absolutely wonderful. It’s honestly hard to pin point what I loved about it but it was just THAT FEELING you get when you read something and can’t pull yourself out of it. That CONNECTION to the story and all the FEELS. What I do know is that Fangirl was delightfully funny and a great story that I fell in love with. I’m glad I didn’t get hung up on the fact that Cath’s story was so heavily rooted in fanfiction/fandom because it was about SO MUCH MORE. Reading the premise could have turned me off had I not known Rainbow Rowell’s books are MUST READS for me no matter what. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Fangirl? Heard of it? What did you think? Did you feel similarly to me or different! I’d love to hear your thoughts! Did you connect with the fandom aspect?

Just One Year by Gayle Forman | Book Review (NO SPOILERS)

12842134Book Title/Author: Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Publisher/Year
: Dutton Juvenile – October 2013
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: It’s a duology and Just One Day is book 1!
Other Books From Author:
Goodreads | Twitter |Amazon

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Just One Year starts out with Willem in the hospital and chronicles the next year after his infamous day with Allyson as he longs for her but also spends the year trying to find himself and what he is about. Yep, that’s all I’m giving you on what this book is about. Be prepared for great character growth and some special relationships that don’t even have to do with Allyson.

Honestly…how can I ever review a Gayle Forman book? The thought of it makes my palms sweaty and my stomach a little queasy because my words just feel paltry and unable to even give a glimpse of how special her books are. There is just something about her novels that always resonate in the depths of me that only a very, very select few can do consistently. Just One Year undoubtedly raised the bar of what I come to expect from companion novels — and really just books in general.

Right off the bat I was eager to dive into Just One Year. We KNOW where Just One Day leaves off (!!!) so I was chomping at the bit to see what Willem had been up to for that year and to make our way to the point in which Just One Day ends. On one hand I found myself wanting to fly through the book to get to THE PART but on the other hand I just felt deep down that I wanted to give Willem the proper time and attention and enjoy his journey because really we don’t KNOW Willem all that well from Just One Day and we all have a million questions about what happened to him.

Just One Year was just so COMPLETE for me. I felt like Willem was just this character that I knew but I didn’t really KNOW and experiencing his story gave so much more depth to Just One Day. It complemented it so perfectly without RELYING on it if that makes sense. Willem’s story is not what we see in Just One Day — it’s larger than that. The events of Just One Day are only a sliver of his life and I was so pleased at the masterful way Willem came to life and was given even more depth.

His story is heartbreaking and also heartwarming and I found myself relating to Willem in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Willem’s growth was so perfect and I just absolutely fell in love with him. I LOVED that Gayle Forman made him SO REAL. Sure, he thinks about Lulu/Allyson but he’s not sitting there vowing celibacy or putting his life on hold until he finds her. His life moves on but he can’t stop shaking that feeling of having changed and contemplating the person who planted that seed of change and he doesn’t know what to do with that.  I loved watching him grapple with all of it but my heart simultaneously felt weighty right along with his broken self. God, Gayle, how do you DO that? As much as I wanted him to obviously emerge like a rom com hero and not stop at anything to find her, I really wanted him to find himself and I’m so grateful for Gayle staying true to her characters and giving me a story that isn’t just hinged on a romance but on a real person with a real story and a real journey.

The term “waited with bated breath” was never so apt a description until I read Just One Year. Gayle so perfectly takes us on Willem’s journey (the travel bug in you will salivate) and simultaneously has you just waiting for the moment when they will be reunited. I found myself holding my breath thinking THIS COULD BE THE MOMENT a few times. There are some parallels of things that show up in both books and I was talking to my friend Ginger about how I kind of wished I reread JOD right before so I could have them perfectly aligned in my mind but she made me think about how FUN it was to be guessing and NOT knowing.

I know I’ll get asked if I liked Just One Day or Just One Year more and that’s impossible to say because they resonated with me for different reasons and took me on special journeys that truly did impact me. I can only say that I think at the time when I read Just One Day it impacted me enough to take some action in my life — it found me when I needed it.

 

Just One Year was flawless for me — everything I could have hoped for and more. Had all the amazing characteristics of a Gayle Forman novel — superb writing, thought provoking, depth in story & character development, heart and soul — and I loved Willem’s physical journey as well as his journey to find happiness, love (read: not just romance) and ultimately himself. If you are looking for a novel that truly doesn’t hinge itself on a romance, even though we know Allyson & Willem’s one day together was special & life altering, this will be so satisfying for you as it was for me. I don’t reread often but Just One Day and Just One Year are going to be stories I need to revisit again and again. I feel like I can never show enough gratitude to Gayle Forman for Just One Day and Just One Year — a most perfect duology that truly did impact me enough to actually change things about my life.

Just One Year Gayle Forman book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this?? Are you DYING to read it??

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis | Book Review

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnisBook Title/Author: Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Publisher/Year
: Katherine Tegen Books – September 24th 2013
Genre: YA Post-Apocalyptic
Series: As of right now, no, but I’ve heard possibly?

Goodreads | Twitter |Amazon

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

In Lynn’s world water has been scarce for many years. Her whole life revolves around surviving and defending the pond in her backyard — her source for survival — at any cost. The pond seems to be getting lower and lower thanks to droughts and winters that bring barely any snow and the threat of other people to the pond seems to be incoming when Lynn and her mom see smoke on the horizon and these strangers start to show their intentions.

I LOVED this book — like head over heels, can-I-buy-you-a-drink-you-sexy-thang type love. I’ve been yearning for a really amazing survival-esque story that wasn’t driven by anything paranormal or science fiction but by something that could really, actually happen. And friends, DING DING DING…we have a winner!

Mindy McGinnis did an amazing job setting the scene in this terrifying, dangerous world You can feel all the threats looming around Lynn and her mom as they protect their pond and try to survive — coyotes, strangers who want to overtake them for their pond, purifying water, keeping warm in the winter, etc. The day to day activities that Lynn and her mom had to do EXHAUSTED me. I can’t even imagine having to do all that work all the time and always be alert and on your game to make sure nobody is coming your way. It’s just Lynn and her mom and Lynn’s been taught to kill anybody who comes near the pond. The survival aspect of this novel felt totally raw and I just loved all the detail that went into it. It was all about survival.

I really adore Lynn as a character — she’s got smarts and skills — and she’s one of the truly strongest characters I’ve encountered in a while. There’s another character, Stebbs, that emerges in the novel that I REALLY loved and, as much as I loved Lynn, I loved this character to pieces. There are few characters in this novel but they all make quite an impact.

As much as I loved the characters and the survival aspect what I loved most about Not A Drop To Drink is this exploration of the mentality and the morality between what it takes to survive in this world. We see two very different mentalities in this novel — one person is all about the survival of the fittest and taking care of yourself and your family and then we see another character emerge (my favorite!) who believes that maintaining our humanity and helping one another is how you are going to survive. It was so well done and felt so authentic to what would really happen in this type of situation and made you wonder how you would act in a world like this where not everything is black and white.

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis is a frightening and raw story of one girl’s survival in a dangerous world where water is scarce and it is her job to protect the pond that keeps her alive from those who want to take it away from her — at whatever cost. I’ve been itching for a real, bare bones survival story and Mindy McGinnis all but served it up to me on a silver platter. I loved the exploration what it takes to survive in a situation like this — the mentality behind survival and that morality that makes us remember our humanity. It reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead and how it so aptly explores that very issue with morality, survival and how we keep our humanity.

 

Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis book review

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis? Heard of it? Did you love Stebbs as much as I did?? I’m curious if you have any other recs that are really great survival type tales?

Vampire Academy #1 by Richelle Mead | Book Review

Vampire Academy booksBook Title/Author: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Publisher/Year
: Razorbill 2007
Genre: Paranormal YA
Series: Yes
Other Books From Author: the rest of the VA series, Bloodlines series, Georgina Kincaid series, Dark Swan series

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Rose is a Dhampir — half human and half vampire — and she and Lissa, the vampire princess she’s been trained to protect, left St. Vladimir’s Academy boarding school and have been on the run to keep away from the danger looming there. They have finally been caught and find themselves back at St. Vladimir’s Academy where they try to get back into the swing of training and magic classes and social life but there are quite a few obstacles — rumors, romances they know they shouldn’t be involved in and something dark that puts Lissa in danger.

*This isn’t really going to be a thorough review because everyone and there mom has read this*

So, yes, I’ve finally read Vampire Academy! I will wait for your applause, those of you who have been waiting for me to read this! It’s a HUGE series and I’ve been putting it off because of a) hype and b) if you read this blog you know I don’t read a ton of paranormal. Especially NOT vampires. But here we are…I’ve read book 1 of the series!

Vampire Academy started out VERY slow for me. I just wanted to not read it anymore but I kept going because people said the series got better after book 1. If I didn’t have that knowledge? I would have probably put it down. I just wasn’t feeling it and the pacing was sloooow. I just felt like some of the worldbuilding was dumped on me and I was waiting for a discernible plot.

Rose made me giggle a bit because of her sassy attitude but there were things that really irritated me about her and also I felt like she was a bit one dimensional in the beginning. While she isn’t altogether LIKEABLE, I appreciate a flawed character and she grew on me more and I’m certain there is more to her. The development for some of the other characters was a little bland — especially for Lissa. She was seriously a SNORE.

Despite the shaky start, it become a really addictive read. Even when I was unsure about this one, there was this draw (besides all of the praise) made me stick with it…to see it through. I definitely think I was rewarded a little more than midway through and I couldn’t put this down AT ALL. The plot surges forward and twists abound and I became thoroughly engaged in it all. I loved watching Rose’s skills get better to protect Lissa and learning more about the vampire society. I’m chomping at the bit to head over to the library and get book 2. Especially because I hear the series just gets better and better..which is a relief because I’d say I was a little disappointed not to LOVE this book like everyone else.

OH HEY. I betcha you’ve been waiting for me to talk about Dimitri. I DIDN’T FORGET. I wanted to save the panty throwing for last. So Dimitri, yah? Let’s talk about how Richelle gets a gold star for the best romantic/sexual tension ever. Like seriously. Panty melting! In the beginning I just wasn’t getting the appeal of Dimitri because all we really knew about him was that he had a ponytail, was a powerful guardian and was Russian..oh and wears a duster lol. It seemed obvious that Rose, flirt extraordinaire, was going to totally go for her older “teacher” and I was nervous there would be NO believeable connection between them. But then suddenly Richelle started writing Dimitri in a way where I was like HEYYYY. I actually really grew to love Dimitri and am excited to see what happens between the two of them. Also, I had to fan myself during a certain scene. YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. Compulsion. That.Is.All.

I wish the whole book could have been as good as the last half or so. I will still definitely be continuing on with the series because it really took a hold of me by the end and I heard the series only gets better. If I didn’t know this, I’m not sure if I would be continuing on because I’m super picky about my paranormal.

 

Vampire Academy

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Was I the only one that thought this one wasn’t amazing? Are you excited for the movie? Thoughts on casting? I have specifically NOT looked at any pictures/trailers because I want to read for a while with my own image of Dimitri.

Ashes On The Waves by Mary Lindsey | Book Review

Ashes on the Waves by Mary LindseyBook Title/Author: Ashes On The Waves by Mary Lindsey
Publisher/Year
: Penguin June 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: No
Other Books From Author: Shattered Souls

Amazon| Goodreads | Twitter |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Liam lives on the island of Dochas  where he is a complete outcast — everyone calls him a demon, his own father hates him and he seems to be cursed. When a childhood friend named Annabel Leighton, the daughter of a family who owns an estate on the island, returns to Dochas things seem to be looking up for him as they their relationship grows. The Otherworlders, the mythical beings that live in the sea, make a wager that human love can’t endure in the face of suffering and trials and put the strength of Liam & Annabel’s love to the test with these terrible obstacles.

I’m so conflicted on this one and I seem to be in the minority as I scanned all the glowing 4 & 5 star reviews of people who seemed to not feel conflicted. Ashes On The Waves was definitely unique compared to what I’ve encountered in paranormal YA with being based off of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” and infused with Celtic lore. I appreciated the fresh feeling the story had but it lacked something for me and I’m going to attempt to explain it though I’m not sure that I’ve quite put my finger on it even still so I’m listing it all out.

What I Liked:

1. The premise: I LOVE LOVE LOVED Annabel Lee when I had to read it in college and thought it was an amazing inspiration for a paranormal story. I loved the way Mary Lindsey took the bare bones of that poem to write a truly compelling story about true love and infused it with Celtic lore and these otherworldly creatures that were testing the love of Liam and Annabel. The story really got interesting when the wager was made and it was so heartbreaking to watch Liam and Annabel’s love being messed with by the Otherworld. You couldn’t help but root for them to conquer all. It was a nail-biter until the very end as we watch the bet get uglier and uglier as Liam and Annabel prevail.

2. The setting: The island of Dochas was creepy — it’s this island that isn’t up to speed with modern life. So everywhere else is much like our contemporary society and Dochas is just archaic and still clinging on to its old ways — including very old superstitions. The writing of Dochas was incredible because it was so atmospheric and haunting and I honestly almost forget this book was set in present day. Dochas definitely took on a life of its own and it was easy to picture this creepy place!

3. The lore: The celtic lore was so interesting to me and I was quickly pulled into all of the otherworldly, mystical beings. It was so refreshing and unique!

4. Liam: I really liked reading this from Liam’s point of view and I really felt for him. He was such an outcast and people were SO cruel to him and he lived with a lot of guilt, a father who hated him and, aside from his boss who I LOVED, he was just so alone. This is one character who I felt like my heart kept breaking for throughout the course of the novel. I was happy that he had Annabel (for his sake) and as soon as that wager was made I was LIKE COME ON LET HIM HAVE SOMETHING GOOD IN HIS LIFE.

What Didn’t Work So Much For Me:


1. Annabel & Liam (and my connection to them):
OK, so from the get go we know this is an epic love story that is being tested by the Otherworld. We are supposed to root for them because they are being put through the ringer and we want love to prevail. To some degree, I really did root for them but more so on principle and not because I really FELT their relationship. I really didn’t FEEL connected to their love story it just honestly didn’t do much for me maybe until the end but at that point I already felt like a fly on the wall rooting for them rather than feeling the passion they had for each other. It’s going to come down to, I think, whether or not you connect with their love story. I can’t tell if my disconnect was because I didn’t GET Liam’s intense love for Annabel after really only knowing her as a little girl but following all the news stories about her crazy, socialite life or if I just didn’t GET Annabel and if I really felt her passion for him like I did Liam’s.

2. The pacing: I understand the beginning was setting up Dochas, Liam’s life and Annabel’s return to Dochas but it CRAWLED for me. There was no pull for me to read other than knowing I was promised an awesome premise. I seriously kept sideeying the book for a bit because I was bored to tears and almost got sunburnt because I fell asleep reading. HOWEVER, I will say once the wager is made…BOOM. You won’t be able to put it down. The mystery pulls you in and you are so invested in seeing how the wager affects Liam and Annabel.

If you are looking for a fresh YA paranormal novel that is NOT part of a series, Ashes on Waves is a good one! It’s well written, the setting is one that you feel transported to easily with its creepy and haunting atmosphere and its a tale of epic love that is being challenged by Otherworldly creatures who try to break them apart because of a wager. The Celtic lore was fascinating as well and I was quickly sucked into this story. HOWEVER, being that this is a tale of epic love, my problem was that I never connected or felt ANYTHING towards their love story until maybe the very end which made me feel quite distanced from this read. However, I’d still recommend and hope that you connect to their love more than I did.

 

 

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Let’s Talk: Have you read of this one? Heard of it or is it on your TBR? If you have read it, did you enjoy it or no? Did you feel connected to the romance? Anybody know of any other Poe inspired stories?

Mini Reviews of Hallowed & Boundless by Cynthia Hand

If you haven’t read Unearthly (book 1) of this series, you can take a look at my review of Unearthly or my guest post on Epic Reads of the top ten reasons why YOU should read the Unearthly series!

Hallowed by Cynthia HandHallowed by Cynthia Hand

If I had to pick a “least” favorite book of the series, Hallowed would probably be it — but that’s not even fair because SO MUCH BIG STUFF happened in it …things that made me cry, things that made me rage and things that made me have a really hard time finishing this book off at while at the hairdressers without them kicking me out for being crazy.  I really did LOVE it.  Cynthia Hand wrote some of the most intense and gut-wrenching scenes in this one and REALLY made me Queen FlipFlopper when it comes to my Team loyalty. After reeling from the ending of Unearthly when we find out that Christian is an angel, I was so torn because suddenly Christian isn’t just the “guy she’s supposed to save.”  I commend Cynthia Hand for how she continually manages to really flesh out the characters of Tucker and Christian and make us really fall in love with them and really KNOW them — wish makes us dread Boundless for we KNOW she can only have one…unless there is a polygamist sect of angels that Cynthia is going to throw out at us.  I also really thought after the events of Unearthly, in addition to the continually building character development,  Hallowed did a good job of showing Clara’s guilt and confusion after her seemingly failing her purpose and I loved that because we really got to see her grow in this book. Girl went through some TOUGH things. So many tears were shed for MANY reasons.  Book two brought the feels and showed us a new depth to Cynthia Hand’s storytelling abilities. I fell even more hard for this series!

 

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Boundless by Cynthia Hand

OH MY GOSH. I’m just going to tell you that this was one of the BEST LAST BOOKS I’VE EVER READ and honestly the best book in the series. Was everything wrapped up the way I wanted to? Not exactly — one thing left me a sad panda and there were a few issues I had because I didn’t feel like we understood the purpose of some characters — but honestly EVERYTHING ELSE was perfect. Just perfect. You know how I said Hallowed brought the feels? Well Boundless showed up and was like “You haven’t seen anything yet. Get out your tissues, bitches!”  And sob I did during three very poignantly written parts where I was crying for very different reasons. The action and the story arc were just PERFECT oh my gosh. I was clenching that book so hard and ravenously turning the pages until the final pages because Cynthia built the suspense with the precision of an architectural genius. Not only was I DYING to see how Clara and company would tackle their purposes and her super intense vision but I was anticipating/nervous for/neurotically biting my nails over which boy Clara would choose. Because if you thought you were confused about who Clara should end up with, well your head will be spinning during this one! I honestly didn’t put ANYTHING past Cynthia the way things were going down! ALSO. SAMJEEZA. That is ALL!  Super sad to see this series end but I had a great time binge reading it!

 

 

Have you read this series? What did you think of Hallowed and Boundless? Were you happy with the series ending? What were some of YOUR most memorable moments from these two books? If you want to check out my top 5 favorite scenes of the Unearthly series (as drawn by my 6 year old niece), go here!

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

7488244Book Title/Author: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Publisher/Year
: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Yes, Unearthly is book 1.
Other Books From Author:  Hallowed (Book 2) & Boundless (book 3 — out tomorrow!)

Amazon| Goodreads | @cynthiahand |

I purchased this at a Dark Days tour!

 

 

 

 

 

As Clara’s teenage year ushered in the normal teenage issues, for her, she also learned that she’s actually an angel blood — half human, half angel — as is her mother and brother. Being half angel means that she’s fully human but she’s got some superhuman abilities and the angel blood in her can manifest certain angel characteristics such as being able to fly or having her “glory” manifest. She also learns that while she’s here on earth she’ll start to learn her purpose through a series of visions. When she finally gets a vision of a boy and a fire, the family picks up and moves to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where they believe to be the location of her visions. She starts school and comes face to face with the boy from her visions — Christian — and she starts to get to know him better and tries to figure out her purpose and what he has to do with it. She knows that Christian is her purpose but she gets distracted when cute cowboy Tucker comes into the picture as Clara is awaiting the day when the scene from her visions will come true. Will she be able to fulfill her purpose? Or will her own free will get in the way?

 

 

Ok, guys. You know me. I’m picky with paranormal and rarely read it so I was a little bit nervous about this one because ANGELS? I was skeptical to say the least AND the dreaded love triangle signals were there for me with all the TEAM TUCKER or TEAM CHRISTIAN declarations I’d see in reference to this series. And you know my feelings on love triangles. They have to be really well done for me to enjoy them! All that being said, I’m happy to report that I devoured and LOVED Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly! I’d definitely say it’s one of my favorite paranormal YA’s that I’ve read and I’m just not sure any other Angel series will ever top this one.

I will say that starting out I was really nervous because it was reading a wee bit young for me (as a 27 year old woman) and, though I was enjoying the story from the start, I was getting nervous about some of the borderline eyerolly descriptions of how a guy smelled or how someone’s hair looked or how she described the social statuses at school with things like “Haves” and “Have Nots.” I was nervous that it was just going to be a book full of these kinds of cliches but thankfully it was not like that AT ALL! The story really shook those things off early on and became this intense must-read-in-a-single-sitting kind of read that I was wholly absorbed and invested in invested in the characters and especially Clara’s purpose. The angelology was so interesting and I loved as we learned more and more about the angel world through what Clara knows and then putting the pieces together even more, right alongside Clara, through Angela and Clara’s mother. I thought Cynthia Hand’s storytelling was incredible and she really knows how to place tension, action, twists and BIG OL’ SHOCKERS while still having really great characterizations and worldbuilding. Very evenly paced sort of book and the WOW moments are of the heart thumping variety.

Let me tell you how much I loved Clara! It was so refreshing to read a book where the female was the paranormal/supernatural one rather than chasing around some OMG-SO-HOT character just because “there’s something different about him.” She was strong and independent and such a realistic teen girl with her crushes and insecurities. I loved watching her grow in both her angel abilities and as a human and I just REALLY loved her.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the ROMANCE. I know you all are just sitting here like “OMG TUCKER OR CHRISTIAN ALREADY??” The dreaded love triangle ended up one of the BEST EVER and I’ll hint towards the fact it gets even better in Hallowed. It’s so WELL DONE that I can’t stop gushing about it. Both Tucker and Christian are fully fleshed out characters — none of that cardboard crap — and they are both genuinely great catches — no douchenuggets here! The love triangle isn’t superfluous and it is so interconnected to the story. I saw an image once that said “if you took the love triangle out of THG you’d have a story about a televised fight to the death and if you took the love triangle out of Twilight you’d have a book about a girl moving to a town where it rains a lot” and this is SO SO TRUE. Cynthia Hand provides a love triangle that isn’t just THERE and is so important to the story that you really couldn’t take it out but if you did you’d still have an actual story. Both Christian and Tucker make sense. Christian’s the guy from her vision and he’s a good guy so naturally she starts crushing on him and then moves to more powerful feelings because of how interconnected her destiny is with him. And Tucker’s the guy who clearly is crushing on her despite his school boy teasings and whom she really gets to know through conversation and hanging out and then falls for him. He’s the one she falls for freely and naturally. It’s this amazing tension of this destiny and fate versus the free will and Tucker and Christian so aptly help illuminate this struggle.

So the answer to your question: I’m Team Tucker though by the end of Unearthly Cynthia throws that CURVEBALL at you that made me start wavering a bit at who would be better for her and make the most sense. I love his rugged cowboy appeal and his heart and his hardworking nature. I love the scenes where they are swimming in the river or fishing on the boat — just so sweet and carefree and lovely. AND THE BARN SCENE. OH THE BARN SCENE.

With gorgeous Wyoming as a backdrop, Cynthia Hand will mesmerize you with her irresistible story of angels, love, destiny and free will. The angel world she’s built is fascinating as we grow into Clara’s knowledge of the angel world, her powers and what her visions mean and how she will handle her purpose. Hand knows how to create tension, amongst incredible characterization, and you’ll find yourself wanting to finish this all in one gulp and she delivers jaw dropping moments at the right moment. With one of the best love triangles ever, Unearthly left me swooning, re-reading the sweet moments and ultimately, by the end, wavering with if I was Team Christian or Team Tucker. Romantic tension in the best way!

 

For Fans  Of: BETTER angel books, swoonworthy boys, kissing books, paranormal without all the dramatic and annoying cliches, a love triangle that doesn’t make you want to jump off a cliff

unearthly-cynthia-hand

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Are you Team Tucker or Team Christian?? Let it all out!!

 

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