The Books I Read But Never Talked About Before My Hiatus: PART 1

book recommendations and books to read

 

Sooooo the last time I wrote any sort of book talk/what I’ve been reading post was *cough* November 7th. And the thing was….I was already behind on the books I had to talk about BEFORE I got pregnant and the first trimester killed me and then I forgot how to blog after all that time. So I’m going to BRIEFLY mention some of the books I read last Fall/end of 2016 because they deserve to be mentioned and then I’ll finish part 2 of them so as not to make this post reallyyyyy long and also I don’t want to lose my motivation and if it takes me too long I JUST MIGHT as I dip my toes back into this blogging water.

[Keep Reading]

Series Send Off: Something Strange & Deadly series by Susan Dennard

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

I do this weird thing where sometimes I hold off reading the last book of series I love — especially if I’ve waited the time in between rather than binge reading. It’s a weird thing. I KNOW. It’s a combo of 1) I just don’t want things to end and 2) also I get afraid because I’ve been let down in series before.   I had read the first two books a while ago and finally had the guts to finish it!

 

 Goodreads // Amazon

 

Upon finishing the series I say to all of you who haven’t started the series:

 

This would make such a good series to binge read because it’s ridiculously action-packed and you’ll want to compulsively read it. And it honestly truly feels different than a lot of series out there! It’s this great mix of magic and adventures (holy great settings to have these adventures in) and steampunk goodness. So action packed, too! The stakes get higher and higher in each book and things get even more real! Necromancers! Armies of the dead! Really intense baddies! Magic! Demons! What is going on in Book 1 is just a smaller sliver of the bigger picture of what is at work!

 

 

What The Series Is About:

It’s 1876 and the Dead are rising in Eleanor’s city of Philadelphia because of a necromancer who is hellbent on raising them. She finds out her brother’s disappearance could possibly be related to what is going on and, in her search for answers, finds herself spending time with a rag tag group called The Spirit Hunters who are also trying to track down this necromancer and stop all the madness! Together with the Spirit Hunters, Eleanor sets out to find her brother and stop the necromancer which proves to be a tough feat that sends them all over the world for answers and the chance to stop even worse things from happening.

 

 

Recommended For People Who Love:

steampunk, adventure novels, magic, zombie-lite type of books (if you are looking for like a really heavy classic zombie book this isn’t it…like the dead have risen but THEY aren’t the main focus), readers looking for action

 

 

Thoughts On Each Book

(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)

 

Something Strange & Deadly — You can read my full review of Something Strange and Deadly here but I just have to say, especially after finishing the series, this book is definitely the lighter of the 3 in terms of what is going on. Seriously the magic and things going on gets so much darker. And after thinking about this book I’m just like WOW WOW WOW look at the adventure they went on after the things they realize in book 1 and how those things were small in comparison to the scope of the rest of the series. LOVED this book…hold your butts for the adventure that goes on in the next 2. That’s all I’m saying. Also, LOVED that the setting was my stomping grounds of Philadelphia in the late 1800’s.

 

A Darkness Strange and Lovely: I personally didn’t think this book suffered from second book syndrome in the way that some other books do. It definitely did a lot of setting up for the epic and explosive book 3 but in a way that I felt natural because at the end of book 1 they are figuring out just what kind of shit Eleanor’s brother was really in and how much bigger it is. They are looking for answers and figuring things out in this book and trying to put an end to it all — without realizing just how dark it all is. Plus, we meet Ollie — a demon that changes things for Eleanor when he offers her magic and who is one of the greatest characters in this series. It creates a lot of interesting things between her and the Spirit Hunters but also I think Eleanor has a lot to grapple with as she uses it. You see her really change and test the limits of her own morals as she discovers what she can do and how she can use it. She wants to help and save her friends and put an end to the stuff going on. She has good intention but that kind of power doesn’t come with consequences. I loved the Paris setting and the action and the development of the story.

Strange and Ever After: WOW what an emotional, explosive and truly action-packed series conclusion! I loved that the stakes really and truly felt higher and more dangerous. Sometimes I feel like battles aren’t as tough in some series as I’d like them to be but this one truly made me feel how hard these characters fought. I truly felt like they were in danger as soon as they really figured out what they needed to do. That this battle they would inevitable have would cost them in ways. And I wasn’t wrong in that feeling as the gang faces Marcus in this book. Eleanor grows a lot — she isn’t always easy to like or get along with and she constantly pushes people away but she’s starting to realize her tendencies. Plus I think a lot of how she changes and grows is related to the power she possesses. It changes her and she has to figure that out — same with her friends — they don’t approve of it but also they recognize how it helps them. All these moral grounds they all have to work through.  I really loved how much we got to understand Ollie in this book. I love him so damn much. I will say the only thing that tripped me up during this book is that I felt like confused with some of the magic. Even more elements are added and even some Egyptian gods and stuff but I got so confused with some of the layers of it all.

I think the ending to the series is definitely polarizing but I found that I REALLY loved it.

View Spoiler »

 

 

 

Rating Broken Down By Books

Something Strange and Deadly

RATING-loved-it

A Darkness Strange and Lovely

RATING-reallyliked
Strange & Ever After

RATING-loved-it

 

And so I’m saying farewell to this series:

Farewell my spirit hunting, friends! Thank you for taking me on wild adventures and reminding me that, despite what you’ve gone through in life and how easy it is to push people away because of it, it’s better to embrace the people who genuinely want to love you. Thanks for allowing me to become part of your rag-tag, misfit unit of a family.

 

What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

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)?

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review

Book/Author: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Standalone/Series: I believe this to be a standalone book. HUZZAH FOR STANDALONES.
Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2011
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher during BEA in exchange for an honest review.

My feelings toward The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater are rather muddled. I feel like I can’t give a straight answer when asked if I liked this book. There are some parts of this book that made me love it and some aspects that really made me not feel like picking it up. I wasn’t really rushing to pick this one up (but I’ll be the first to admit that I was really stressed out while attempting to read this book) but when I DID pick it up I found myself utterly immersed in the story itself as it is quite magical and captivating.

The major source of contention for me was the writing:

Good: Maggie Stievater has this knack for writing in a way that makes everything seem so alive and vivid. Her descriptions of the setting in particular are breathtaking in the way that I feel I’m gazing into that same sunset or standing right next to that horse feeling tense and afraid but so alive that my blood is pumping and my chest is thumping. I can see it clearly. I can smell it. I can hear it. Maggie Stiefvater takes me there in an intense way that most writers cannot achieve. Her prose is lovely and spellbinding and takes on ethereal qualities.

Kinda Meh: That same writing that I am memorized by sometimes also hindered my love for the story. Now, this is one thing you must know about me. I am not one that always needs a fast plot that whips me around and keeps my interest. I love a good, slow story with lush prose and descriptions that can go on for pages. I do. I mean, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of my favorite authors and THAT MAN is overly verbose. A whole chapter goes by and you realize nothing freaking happened but it was lovely and wonderful all the same. For whatever reason, sometimes I just felt as though some of the descriptions weren’t doing much for me to move the story, thus not making me dying to pick it up. I think one of the issues is that I wasn’t ever feeling SUPER connected to any of the characters so even THAT couldn’t propel me forwards. It may have been my state of mind needing something fast paced but sometimes the writing, while I would get lost in the beauty of it, would also slow me down to the point of exhaustion.

I’m not sure why I never felt too much for the main characters but I just couldn’t. I wanted them to be ok and I was obviously wanting the best outcome for them but I more so wanted to learn more about these crazy horses! They were magical and mysterious and I felt the same brimming curiosity that Puck felt despite knowing they were dangerous. The story itself was so unique and intriguing and that is what ultimately kept me reading and desiring to finish it. I rather like the romantical aspect of this book. I was rooting for that for sure despite the fact it was kind of predictable, to me, what was going to happen but despite that I found myself excited for their every interaction but happy that it didn’t overtake the whole book. I mean romances are a dime a dozen but KILLER HORSES?!? Thank you, Maggie, for not doing one of those tricks where you give me an interesting premise to lure me in but instead focus on the romance.

Final Thought: This was my first encounter with Maggie Steifvater’s writing and I’ll be for sure picking up Shiver soon as I have high hopes for it. I loved so many of the qualities of her writing (despite my issues which could very well have been my frame of mind) but hopefully this time I’ll connect with the characters more and find myself feeling more compelled to pick it up. I definitely enjoyed aspects this one but I won’t say that it was unputdownable. If you get distracted by kind of flowery prose, you probably will have troubles with this one. If you like unique storylines (with a hint of something supernatural..everything was normal except the killer horses) and love the feeling of being transported into the story by means of prose that is quite descriptive and flowery (in a really beautiful way), then you’ll dig this. I’d point this one out for all my readers of the blog who only dabble in YA once in a while. Also, I could see this being a kickass movie.

three-half-stars
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