Before I Blogged I Read: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

 Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: September 2008
Genre: Literary Adult Fiction

What it’s About:

Nice year old Oskar is precocious, bright an inventor and someone who definitely sees the world with a different lens. Oskar has also just lost his father who was killed during 9/11. After his death, he finds a key that was his father’s and he is certain that finding what it goes to will solve some sort of mystery and will maybe help his mother in her grief. He sets off to find what the key belongs to and how it relates to his father and meets people all across the city. Other chapters are letters telling another story that gives a bigger picture to the members of Oskar’s family.

THOUGHTS:

1. THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS & I FELT ALL THE THINGS READING IT:  This was the book that got me back into reading in general (you should check out my reading history to get an overview) after not having read much in high school and college. It was one of those books that was the most all-consuming experiences that I hadn’t felt in a LONG time when I did read books here and there. I DEVOURED IT. I lived it. I bawled. I belly-laughed. My heart tore and twisted in ways in the way that only a special book can do to you. I’m honestly afraid to reread it for the reason I explain here. I mean, I got a lot of other people to read and love it but a close friend of mine read it and was like, “that was the most pretentious boring book I’ve ever read.” DAGGER TO THE HEART I TELL YOU. But, for me, this book was everything and more.

2. Oskar will be one of the most memorable characters ever. Oskar is just one of the best characters that always makes my heart flip flop when I think of him. Precocious and honest and funny. I just adore him and my heart broke for him as he tried to solve this puzzle. I loved the way he saw the world. I loved his phrases and made-up words. I will still always use the term “heavy boots” for how I’m feeling some days.

3. Some of my all time favorite passages and quotes come from this book:  The way that Jonathan Safran Foer conveys even the simplest of things just really resonated with me and I dog-earred so many pages. I read the funny bits out loud to Will. The emotions and the little truths just really hit me. I really loved this author’s writing style and read his other book, Everything Is Illuminated, and enjoyed that too though less than this one.

Favorite Quotes:

 

“I like to see people reunited, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can’t tell fast enough, the ears that aren’t big enough, the eyes that can’t take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.” ”

 

“We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families and our friends, and even the people who aren’t on our lists, people we’ve never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe.”

 

“Why didn’t I learn to treat everything like it was the last time. My greatest regret was how much I believed in the future.”

 “It was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn’t think about my life at all.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought!

More reading:

Before I Blogged I Read: Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Before  I Blogged I Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Before I Blogged I Read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Before I Blogged I Read- Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: September 2009

1. I love interesting non-fiction about the most random things. This definitely fit that bill. I mean, CADAVERS. Who would have thunk it would be an interesting read? IT WAS. She talked about all sorts of things related to cadavers — history type things and cultural things with dead bodies, how sometimes cadavers help solve crimes, what happens when you donate your body to science and all the interesting things that cadavers have been used for. SUPER INTERESTING STUFF.

2. It was informative, funny and never boring. Mary Roach writes in a way where you forget you are LEARNING THINGS. She’s humorous and makes you interested in every word. I think some people think..NON-FICTION = boooooring but this is the most NON-BORING thing I’ve ever read. I promise you that it’s one of the most engaging pieces of non-fiction I’ve ever read. I mean, if you are looking for something super in depth about cadavers this probably isn’t super scholarly but you will walk away with all sorts of knowledge.

3. I got so many weird looks when I read this in public (the break room when I worked at Forever 21).  I think everyone thought I was super weird for reading about dead bodies. Okay, it’s kind of morbid in ways but not really. Yeah, sometimes there were some icky descriptions (I will never forget the decomposing part) but nothing that made me want to vom.

4. I’m kind of ticked at myself that I haven’t read her other non-fiction at this point. I love feeling like I learned something but was still entertained so I really want to read her other books. She’s got books about the science of sex, the afterlife, space and alimentary canal. SO INTERESTING.

Favorite Quotes:

“The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back. The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you. ”

 

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Have you read any of her other books? Also, please recommend some interesting non-fiction for meee!

Before I Blogged I Read: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

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The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: October 2008

1. I was MEANT to read this book. So gather around, friends, for a little story. I was assigned to read this book in high school, looked at the cover, said GAG and managed to write an A+ report without reading it. So years pass between 2003 and I never think of that book again until my last semester in college in 2008 when I’m assigned this novel to do a HUUUUGE paper on. I had to laugh. Like, world, you must REALLY want me to read this book. So I did. And I EFFING LOVED IT. I am so glad this book wormed its way into my life because it was one of the best books I’ve ever read on so many levels. And I’m not going to lie, I wrote one of the best papers of my academic LIFE because of this book. I had so many thoughts and feelings. I had never been so excited about discussing the themes of book before. EVER.

2. This book was not at ALL what I judged it to be. I thought this was going to be JUST as war story or something. NOPE. I can’t even pin down what this book is. True, it involves war stories but it is SO MUCH MORE. It’s amazing, honestly. Thought-provoking, wonderfully written and has left this lasting impression on me the way it captures just the humanness of war and the intricacies of what it is to be human.  It was the type of book that I dog-eared the crap out of because there were just so many awesomely profound things. I hugged it, I laughed, I shouted at it and I cried. I actually want to do a re-read of it.

3. If you love truly amazing writing, you have to read this one. Seriously. The way this story was told. MAN. Makes me feel like the way I write is the equivalent of a 3 year old. It’s not just the particular way he strings together a sentence that is remarkable but it’s the way he makes you FEEL like you are there in the trenches or the emotion that exudes from the pages that grips you entirely and makes you want to weep for these men. It’s also the WAY he tells the story. The story truths and the happening truths and the always wondering what is real and not real. How it all is interconnected. It’s genius.

4. It is fiction but is also very based on the author’s own experience. Sometimes I forgot this book was fiction to be honest. I felt like I was reading someone’s very vivid and compelling accounts of the war and it really ties into his theme of truths and how sometimes story-truth is truer than happening truth. Through these interrelated stories from different angles of the war, we get glimpses of the happening truth and we feel that so devastatingly so, like sitting down with an old vet, but we get the story truth that helps us feel emotionally connected to it and to ache and feel raw alongside them.

Favorite Quotes:

A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.”

 

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”

 

 “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”

 

“He wished he could’ve explained some of this. How he had been braver than he ever thought possible, but how he had not been so brave as he wanted to be. The distinction was important.”

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Was this required reading for anyone else??

Before I Blogged I Read: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

the Book thief by markus zusak review

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: January 2009

1. The Book Thief is one of my all time favorite books ever. I just reread it in October with book club and it still held up for me. While there wasn’t the rawest emotion of a new read, I still felt like I was punched in the gut. This book just has everything — the writing is phenomenal, it’s unique, the characters were so important to me and it wrecked me. 5 years later and I can’t say I’ve ever read anything like this book.

2. While this book is set during a war it’s not at all a war book. I do tend to enjoy historical fiction set during WWII but this book was way more than that and it makes me sad that people might dismiss it because of that. I love that the perspective was different than so many books I’ve read before — it focused on a normal German family during this time. So often I read books where it’s the Jewish perspective and I always wonder what it was like for just your every day people who didn’t necessarily buy in to everything Hitler was about.

3. Death was a most memorable narrator. I think this is why I can’t get this book out of my head after 5 years. Personifying Death and using him as a narrator for the book? Totally risky business but it paid off for me! SO MUCH. Very unique and very effective for me.

4. It is definitely a more slow moving book but very powerful and amazing. I like slow, more quiet books personally but I’ll be real: It moves slow. It does. And it might take some people a little bit to get into it but it’s WORTH IT. The payoff is big. It’s very character driven and these characters are AMAZING. Some of my favorite characters ever and that is what makes me so nervous about seeing it translated on the big screen. WHAT IF THEY DON’T GET THESE CHARACTERS RIGHT??

Favorite Quotes:

““I am haunted by humans.”.” 

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” 

” Rudy Steiner was scared of the book thief’s kiss. He must have longed for it so much. He must have loved her so incredibly hard. So hard that he would never ask for her lips again and would go to his grave without them.”

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Are you going to see it in theaters?? Book club is going this weekend! EEEE!

Before I Blogged I Read: The Poisonwood Bible By Barbara Kingsolver

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

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The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: July 2009

1. The Poisonwood Bible is told from multiple POVs  from the daughters and the wife of a Baptist preacher who has moved them from the US to the Congo to be missionaries in the late 50’s. I loved the multiple POVs in this instance because it really showed such a complete look at the situation and everyone felt differently about the things that were going down — from the physical and emotional response to moving, to the terrible things that happened as a result of this move, the political situation in the Congo and life in the village. I could appreciate the perspective from the daughters who LOVED their new home and were fascinated by it but I could also feel the one daughter’s HATRED, as a teenager, for a land so different and far away from what she knows. I could feel how hard it would be to adjust.

2. The setting obviously was a lot different from most of the books I had read and I was definitely interested in African culture and how these white missionaries would immerse themselves in it and adjust. Right away things go wrong with them not packing some of the right things and not quite being prepared for life in the Congo. It was interesting to see it from the viewpoints of the different girls because of their different feelings about even BEING there. I loved the observations about the culture and the landscape from the daughters that really appreciated the Congo and learning about the political situation. I also felt Kingsolver did a good job presenting the beauty of the Congo with the things that make life really hard for the villagers and the Prices– food shortages, dangerous snakes and insects, illnesses, political strife, etc.

3. I remember having such strong (hate) feelings toward Mr. Price. He is one of those Baptist preachers who is definitely all fire and brimstone and he really is that way in his approach with the villagers. He puts his family in so much danger in different ways and is just so stubborn and it infuriated me especially because his family was just falling apart and he just didn’t care it felt like. There is a lot of butting heads between Nathan and the villagers in terms of religion, culture and just the way things are done. He just came into it with so little regard for their culture and he was just altogether one of those characters I just hated because he didn’t even TRY to understand these people or their culture in his approach. Didn’t understand their needs or meet them where they were at. I don’t know if he meant to be such a douchenugget but he was.

4. I read this at an interesting time for myself — I had just graduated from a Christian college where I came out more confused about where I stood than before and it was mostly because of the people. I saw so much in this novel that is what bothered me about parts of Christianity — all embodied in Nathan Price. His approach is what rubs me the wrong way and so it was interesting to read this story with all my own questions swirling around my head. There is a missionary who comes into the novel that was in this village prior to the Prices and his approach definitely contrasts all that Nathan was and showed a lot more compassion, love and understanding towards these people that motivated his work there and gained the respect of the villagers. It definitely was a thought provoking read for me.

Favorite Quotes:

“Don’t try to make life a mathematics problem with yourself in the center and everything coming out equal. When you’re good, bad things can still happen. And if you’re bad, you can still be lucky.” 

“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.” 

 

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! Have you read any other Kingsolver novels? I read The Bean Trees back in high school and remember liking it.

Before I Blogged I Read: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Publisher/Year: Scholastic- September 2002
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli review

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: June 2009

1. I thought this one was really cute but had a lot of heart with its message of kindness, compassion and non-conformity. A little gem full of wisdom! The main character, Leo, is just as intrigued by the new girl as everyone else in his school is. She’s unconventional, eccentric, lives life boldly with no fear and she’s super confident. As Leo gets to know her he starts to be smitten like the rest of the school — until the rest of the school starts to find her personality as weird and no longer intriguing and gang up against her. Leo is stuck between going against the grain with Stargirl or going with the crowd so he tries to convince Stargirl that normal isn’t so bad.

2. Stargirl is one of those most interesting and eccentric characters you’ll ever come across. I loved her wild, free spirit but there was times that I even thought she was SUPER strange. I love the compassion and love that so freely flowed out of her and it made me sad that people wanted to extinguish that light in her because they thought she was so strange. So many people are afraid to show the things that Stargirl could and I really loved Stargirl. We need more people with her spirit.

3. I remember it was the kind of book that made me want to be better — more kind, not afraid to be myself, going the extra mile to show people they are loved, still find myself awed by the little things and live with boldness.

4. It’s a pretty short book but there is  much depth and I thought it was beautifully written.

Favorite Quotes:

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew.”

“I had never realized how much I needed the attention of others to confirm my own presence.”

“She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else’s; but timid introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Tell me what you thought! I’m curious if you read the book that came after it (Love, Stargirl) ? I haven’t read it but maybe I should?

Before I Blogged I Read: Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

 

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Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: August 2009

1. It’s historical fiction set during the Holocaust that tells the story of a German mother who does WHATEVER she has to do to protect her daughter and herself during the war and the daughter’s search to find out, in the present time, about her mom’s past when she finds a picture of her mother, herself as a baby and a Nazi soldier. Love the point of view of both mother and daughter and the fact that they ARE Germans because so often we never see that side.

2. One of the most powerful and best historical fiction books I’ve read. It shocked me, made my heart just shatter into a million pieces and ultimately made me cry. Definitely an emotionally hard, harrowing read but worth it. Absolutely haunting.

3. I loved the mother/daughter element to it as it is this story of the terrible things a mother will endure because of the selfless love and need to protect. Loved that the story was told from these dual point of views.

4. If you liked The Book Thief or historical fiction set during WWII I recommend this though I think this one was quite a bit harder to read concerning things of the Holocaust than The Book Thief. Definitely more intense and dark I think.

Favorite Quotes:

“Life is so often unfair and painful and love is hard to find and you have to take it whenever and wherever you can get it, no matter how brief it is or how it ends.”

“How could she tell him that we come to love those who save us?”

“”It’s like being in a sort of club, isn’t it? A bereavement club. You don’t choose to join it; it’s thrust upon you. And the members whose lives have been changed have more knowledge than those who aren’t in it, but the price of belonging is so terribly high.”

“She should have known this would happen even with him; she should have know better than to tell him the truth. She can never tell him what she started to say: that we come to love those who save us. For although Anna does believe this is true, the word that stuck in her throat was not save but shame.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Can you recommend any other historical fiction books that take place during this time period? I seem to always gravitate to it.

Before I Blogged I Read: Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things. Check out PAST “Before I Blogged I Read” posts.

Love Is A Mix Tape

Love Is A Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads
Date I Read it: September 21, 2008

1. It’s a memoir written by Rob Sheffield who writes for Rolling Stone magazine and tells the story of his love story and his loss when his wife suddenly passed away after only 5 years of being married.

2. Music plays a huge part in this book — he talks about his discovery of music, how music brought he and his wife together, their shared love of music and how music helped him through it. Their is a mix tape at the beginning of each chapter and, as someone who appreciates the power of a mix tape and music in general, I loved this. If you know the power of a song or a good mix, you’ll really love this.

3. I cried like a baby for him and thought about my own loss in my life with my mom and how music played such a powerful role be it in memories of certain songs, words that spoke to my soul and how, in my life, music has carried me through the good and the bad.

4. It was a beautifully sad, yet hopeful, true story to read and I really connected to how he spoke of love and loss and music. There were so many lines that I remember writing down in my quote notebook.

5. I also got to meet him and we talked about our own losses and I told him how I can never listen to Meatloaf without immediately thinking of my mom and he wrote me an incredibly awesome message in my book because of that that will always be special to me. He’s honestly a fabulous person and that made me feel so much more of a connection to his story getting the chance to have talked to him after I read it.

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Favorite Quotes:

“The times you lived through, the people you shared those times with — nothing brings it all to life like an old mix tape. It does a better job of storing up memories than actual brain tissue can do. Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they can add up to the story of a life.”

 

“Tonight, I feel like my whole body is made out of memories. I’m a mix-tape, a cassette that’s been rewound so many times you can hear the fingerprints smudged on the tape.”

 

“Our lives were just beginning, our favorite moment was right now, our favorite songs were unwritten.”

 

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Can you recommend any other memoirs  or great books for music lovers?

Before I Blogged I Read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

There’s a lot of books I read before I started this blog in June of 2010 and I figured it might be fun to spotlight those! They won’t be an actual review because OMG YOU GUYS THAT WAS SO LONG AGO but I’ll just note a few things about it, if I enjoyed it and what my Goodreads rating was. So thus “Before I Blogged I Read…” was born. Because you know…I’m so original with my names for things.

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

(Amazon | Goodreads )
Rating: I gave it 3.5 stars on Goodreads

1. It’s an adult book — general fiction, I guess you would say, but definitely leans towards a mystery. The main character receives a letter from a very famous author in England. She’s a secretive recluse who always tells tall tales to journalists who want to write about her and she’s asked the main character, who owns a book store and writes amateur biographies,  to write her biography. She agrees to, after being intrigued by one of her novels she has at her shop, and spends her days with the eccentric author and learns some very dark things of her past. Very twisty and turny!

2. I remember really enjoying it and, though it started slow, the suspense started to build and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough and I had so many different ideas in my head for how it was going to end but TOTALLY not what I thought. I also recall it being rather dark!

3. It has a very Gothic feel to it and was very atmospheric in that way.  Definitely recommend for fans of Bronte and Austen!

4. Definitely one of those books about people who love books as the main character is a bibliophile.

I definitely am now in the mood to re-read it because I can’t remember specific details and it’s killing me! haha

Have any of you read this one? Did you like it/not like it? Can you recommend any other really great Gothic feeling literature that I might also like? Let me know if you like this new series or not!

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