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)?

Book Talk: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Book Talk: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin TalleyLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Publisher/Year: Harlequin Teen- September 2014
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
Other Books From Author: None -- debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1

It’s 1959 and a high school in Virginia is integrating. It’s told from the perspective of two teenage girls — one white and one black — who are in this middle of this fight for integration/segregation. Sarah is a senior and should be enjoying her last year of high school in choir and with her friends but she’s now part of the small group of students that are the first to integrate into the white high school where it’s clear she’s not welcome by all the protests, the assaults and the nasty words being thrown. Linda is also senior and her dad is one of the biggest voices against the integration. The two get paired together for a school project everything they have ever known about themselves and the world feels uncertain.
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a2My heart. And also, MAN I love historical fiction and want to see even more of it in YA.

a4

1. When I studied history in high school I always wondered what the teens were doing & this book explored that for me: You always are talking mostly about adults in history class but I would always wonder things like, “I wonder what the teens were doing during civil rights or what was it like for them during these wars.” Lies We Tell Ourselves gives me exactly that. Yes, they were being teens and worrying about the dance and relationships and school but they also were very affected and influenced by the current events of the day. We got to see the prejudices they learned from their parents and the media and just how the decisions made by the adults affected them so intensely. I mean, the decision to integrate schools was something that affected the kids more than it did anyone else. They were at the epicenter of that and I loved that we saw just how quizzical teens were and how they explored their own opinions — just as teens do about anything.

2. It broke my heart in a lot of ways and was so hard to read because I knew, while this was fiction, this was a reality: Reading what the black teens who integrated into the white school had to endure just made my stomach hurt and also made me want to hug them all and tell them how brave they were. It’s always hard for me to read about any sort of oppression or injustices in fiction but to read about that 1) REALLY DID HAPPEN and 2) was in recent-ish history and not like hundreds of years ago just killed me. You realize how far we’ve come but also, when I see current events of today, how far we still have to go. Reading the scenes of being mobbed in the halls, having things thrown at them and knowing people wanted you to die shook me up physically. Robin Talley wrote it in such a way where it just reverberated off the pages — the hatred boiling, the fear, the yells echoing. SO real.

3. I really loved watching both characters interact with each other because it felt pretty realistic: You can’t hate Linda — even when she does the wrong thing over and over again and is cruel and obviously racist. At least I couldn’t. So much of coming of age is also figuring out stuff for yourself vs. what you’ve always been told. When your parents believe certain things, they are easily rubbed off on you and that’s what we see with Linda. I loved watching her and Sarah interact and the curiosity that was there in both girls and started crumbling the walls that had been erected by society. Truthfully I thought this was just going to be a novel about two girls navigating a friendship when they weren’t supposed to so I was a little thrown for a loop when I realized it was more of a romantic thing. I think it was a lot to explore in one book considering both prejudices but Robin Talley did it well.

 

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ story, writing, FEELINGS
- No real criticism just maybe didn’t feel as head over heels as others despite really liking it.

Re-readability: Probably wouldn’t.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Maybe not for myself because I wouldn’t re-read/it wasn’t a favorite but I want this to be on the shelves of every high school and YA section in the library.

a5fans of historical YA fiction, people looking for fiction dealing with civil rights, readers looking for LGBTQ stories, anyone looking for a powerful story

a8Lies We Tell Ourselves is a powerful story that really reminded me how brave people are and that’s how change happens — standing up for what is right, figuring out WHAT you think is right for yourself and not being afraid to have a voice. Sarah and Linda were two brave characters navigating this battle of civil rights and it really made me wonder about all the real, unknown acts of bravery during this time that helped change happen. I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!

review-on-post-it

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
Have you read any books set in this time period you could recommend me?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

Book Talk: Words & Their Meanings by Kate BassettWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett
Publisher/Year: Flux- September 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None, debut novel!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning”

a2MAN, I wanted to connect more so I could have really FELT this emotional story.

a4I’m conflicted about this one because I can’t say I was SUPER drawn into it and it was a bit slow for the first half but it was a beautiful book in so many ways.  I loved the piercing story of grief it told. Anna’s grief is real and alive and she wears it in a way that everyone knows. She’s so inside herself and tormented by her grief that she can’t really let herself live after the loss of her “bruncle” Joe (technically an uncle but more like her brother). She’s the kind of character where you FEEL for her but she frustrates you in the way she does her family members and friends. I FELT THAT.

The “mystery” aspect that comes into play when she finds a note, that suggests she didn’t quite know Joe as well as she thought, didn’t really pick up until the second half and that part REALLY drew me when it finally got somewhere.   I think setting up Anna’s grief and family situation, while important, just dawdled a little bit too much for me and I was just holding on until I got to that element that would drive the plot and Anna forward. I love character driven books but I was struggling with her so I needed that plot to engage me a little more.

As a reader I could just FEEL the holes in the fractured family and I thought the people in Anna’s world were VERY fleshed out which I LOVED. I did GUESS the mystery’s outcome but not in a way that made it a dud for me. This book is quiet in the way it reads but OH THE ACHE IS LOUD AND PULSING and her journey back into LIVING her life was hard yet beautiful to watch. Also, I dogeared a lot because the writing is fantastic. Like really fantastic. I WISH I would have connected a little bit more considering how emotional this novel WAS but this was a good book that I WOULD recommend to people who don’t mind a bit of a slower, quiet novel.

a6
RATING-LIKED
factors+ writing, aching portrayal of grief, the plot
- I didn’t FEEL as much as I should have, some boredom in the first half

Re-readability: Probably not.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Because it wasn’t a favorite or a reread, unfortunately no.

a5people who like quiet & slower books, readers of stories that deal with grief, fans of a little mystery, people who want beautifully written books, people who like stories about writers

a8I think that what would have made my rating on this one SOAR to the higher scale would have been having some sort of emotional response. I can recognize the emotional nature of the story with Anna’s grief and discovering new pieces to her uncle and SEE that it is written in a way that, at times, did make my heart ache but I never felt that “in my bones” emotional response. The first half was REALLY slow for me too but when it finally picked up for me it was worth it. I loved the exploration of grief and this idea that we only have our own pieces to the existence of someone we love even though it might seem we have seen the whole of them.

review-on-post-itWords & Their Meanings by Kate Bassett

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book Talk: Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher/Year: Knopf- September 2014
Genres: Adult Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Other Books From Author: Last Night In Montreal, The Lola Quartet, The Singer's Gun
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

 

 

A1

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time-from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains-this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.
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a2Truthfully it made me scared of some super flu (ALSO NOT FUN READING THIS WHEN PEOPLE ARE FREAKING ABOUT EBOLA). But, aside from THAT, I was also like BRAVO BRAVO, BOOK.

a4Have you ever read a book that you truly just wanted to give it a standing ovation after reading it because it was such a masterpiece that it seems like the only appropriate response? That was this book! It was just all around an amazing story that was flawlessly written and I honestly don’t even know where to begin with it.

I love me a good post apocalyptic story and this is a lot different from most I read which are more fast paced, action-y post-apocalyptic books. It really explored that “what next?” question when 99% of the population dies quickly. It’s that bare bones survival but it’s also about rebuilding and figuring what the new normal IS, in light of the past and what happened,  because just surviving becomes not enough — it’s not a life. It’s about how resilient the human spirit is. I loved how the Symphony and the Museum of Civilization were so perfect to show that about humanity. It was just so reflective and I felt it deep in my bones.

I think what was so scary and unsettling about this story for me was how EASILY this could happen. How some superflu can just spread and spread and suddenly 99% of the population is dead. The “after” seemed so realistic. There were just so many moments for me in this book where I realized how thin that line is between TODAY and a future like that. It also was super thought-provoking in that way. You see how useless the things that are attached to us (phones, tablets, computers) can be rendered so quickly.

I loved how we got to see glimpses of the moments the epidemic was unfolding and also 20+ years out from when it all happened. I loved seeing how one moment life was normal and then THIS happened and how people survived. But I also loved seeing what it was like 20+ years out. Where there was a whole generation who has never even seen the old world. And then the contrast with the past memories and the story playing out in the BEFORE was just so PERFECT and startling compared to what people were facing in the now. How different people become. What becomes important. What remains the same in the human spirit.

I grew really attached to the characters and loved how they were all connected by the same actor, Arthur, who died on stage the night when everything went to hell. I loved the perspectives and the reflections they all had in the face of all this and it just came together so marvelously.

 

a6RATING-loved-it

factors+ Story, writing, characters, uniqueness, thought-provoking qualities
- Took a teeny bit to figure out what was going on with shifting perspectives.

Re-readability: Potentially!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I really kind of want to get it.

a5EVERYONE?

People who want a more reflective & less action-y post-apocalyptic, people who like more character driven stories

a8Station Eleven is a book I want to recommend to everyone! There’s something so deeply unsettling about it — more than any crazy post-apocalyptic tale I’ve ever experienced. I think it lies in how REALISTIC it is. It paints a world that is terrifying to the bone but there’s also budding hope. I loved the way the story kind of centers a character and his story in the past but is so finely connected to the other characters who show us the scary bits of WHEN the world as we know it ended and then 20+ years in the future. It was brutal, thought-provoking and just a real masterpiece.

review-on-post-it

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
* If you’ve read it, did you figure out some of the connections as the story went on?
*Any recommendations for post-apocalyptic books in this vein?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Talk: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Book Talk: The Last Lecture by Randy PauschThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Publisher/Year: Hyperion- 2008
Genres: Memoir, Non-fiction
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Other Books From Author: None aside from some textbook kind of books.
AmazonGoodreads

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
.Simply put, The Last Lecture is the last lecture from Randy Pausch — a computer science professor. He is diagnosed with cancer and comes to a place where he finds out it is terminal. He offers up his final lecture to a room full of students and colleagues and talks about achieving your childhood dreams, helping others to dream and achieve and thoughts on what it means to live.

a2I NEED TO LIVE BETTER.

a4I’ve been in a not so good place and honestly I kind of needed such a sobering read to make me think about life and the current status of things. Randy’s story touched my heart immensely and I sobbed quite a few times. Though sometimes it seems a little all over the place, I loved the wisdom of this man who was facing certain death and loved learning about him as person. I loved learning how he achieved his childhood dreams, the lessons he’s learned about LIVING in the face of death, what he wants for his family when he’s gone, etc.  He’s a stranger to me yet he bared so much of himself in this short little book. I wept for him, for his wife and for his kids. It wasn’t at all about dying but really about living. It was inspiring to be honest and just full of so much truth!

I dogearred so many pages because certain bits of his lesson resonated more where I’m at right now than others. And I think that everyone who reads this book will have lessons that will shake them up more than others. So much wisdom poured out of this one and I smiled a lot, too. I really want to take to heart some of the things that hit me.

I couldn’t help but think of my mom when I read this. Randy is a father and his children are very young and only one will probably ever have real memories of him. My heart broke because the fears that Randy had of dying were more about his children growing up without him…not about the actual dying part. It hit me really hard seeing it from the perspective of the person who knows they are going to die. It was actually really a gift to me and maybe kind of let me see my mom in a different light.

Some quotes I loved (so hard to pick from ALLL my dog-ears):

1. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

2. “Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth of the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.” Then later on in that section: “Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

3. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

4. “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”

 5. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”

a6RATING-reallyliked

factors+ honestly it’s mostly just HOW IT HIT ME kind of thing. Wise, wise man.
- Nothing really. Sometimes it was all over the place but it was worth it for what I did get out of it.

Re-readability: Maybe not in its entirety but definitely the dogears.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have a copy that I had bought and it will stay on my shelf!

a5fans of memoirs, people who feel like they are in a rut and want to be inspired, readers looking for short non-fiction

a8The Last Lecture is a short little book packed with so much stripped down wisdom and lessons from a man who doesn’t have much time left because he has terminal cancer. I wish I could photocopy it into my brain to have it there every day to remember these lessons when I’m letting the unimportant things of life get in the way and distract me from what it really is to live. Honest, made me sob and one of those books that has something everybody needs to hear.

review-on-post-it

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?
*

 


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6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie Lu

6 Reasons Why I Freaking Loved The Young Elites by Marie LuThe Young Elites by Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites #2
Publisher/Year: Putnam Juvenile- October 7, 2014
Genres: YA Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: The Legend series (LOVED IT)
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

1.  Adelina. THAT GIRL: Adelina is one of the most compelling characters I’ve come across in a long time. If you read the interview with Marie Lu you’ll know that Adelina was originally a side character and was a villain of sorts. When Marie switched her focus to Adelina, The Young Elites really became the origin story of a villain. She’s so intriguing because she does things that you are like WHAT WHAT WHAT NO but also there is whole level of sympathy you have for her. She’s had a rough past where people have been so cruel to her and you GET where that hardness is from. But then you see these moments of greatness and a softer side to her. She’s so compelling and my heart ached for her in all her brokenness but her strength was just so heartstoppingly so — scary almost!

2. The setting is to die for: I LOVED THE SETTING. It’s a fantasy world but you can tell that Marie’s inspirations were Renaissance Venice/Italy. It feels historic but it so wholly a fantasy world. I just couldn’t get enough of it because I could see it so beautifully.

3. The magic: So after this illness ravaged the land, some children had strange markings and such happening and they were labelled as malfettos and were looked at as an abomination. The other thing that some of these children had? These new found, strange powers. They are seen as dangerous and there is a group of them called The Young Elites that everyone is SO afraid of and blame for all these bad things happening which is why queen and king are trying to murder them all. As Adelina comes in contact with The Young Elites I LOVED learning what all their powers were and I loved seeing Adelina develop hers as she is a bit of a loose cannon because she has no idea how to control it and work it.

4. How dark this novel was: In Legend, even though the world was dark in ways, it just doesn’t even come close to the sort of darkness that this story touches. Part of it is, as I said before, Adelina is more of a villain and not as easy to root for as June and Day but there’s just underlying darkness in this world. Sinister characters. The things that these characters have to do to live. The things that they are happening in the leadership. How layered and not black and white the issues of morality are. It was just PERFECT.

5. How Marie was constantly able to surprise me: It takes a lot to surprise me. I’ll be honest. But Marie WENT THERE. Things happened that I never thought in a million years would and certain revelations had me frantically turning the pages. It never once went down the path of predictability for me and THAT my friends is a damn good reading experience that leaves you on the edge of your seat.

6. The exciting possibilities for book 2: HOLY CRAP. It was one of those experiences where I was just bouncing up and down with excitement for how everything is setting up for book 2….and then I realize I HAVE NO BOOK 2. I think book 2 is going to be so exciting with how everything ended and there’s promise of new characters to be excited about from lands we haven’t seen yet. This is going to be a damn good series! I can feel it in my bones.

a6
RATING-beyondloved
factors+ plot, characters, surprises, set up for book 2, writing
- NADA

Re-readability: I would probably actually reread this one before book 2.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I’ll probably wait until book 2 to see if this is a series to invest in but I have good feels about that.

a5fantasy lovers, people who love complex characters who aren’t morally easy to pin down, people who love strong female main characters, people looking for a new series to be addicted to, fans of Marie Lu, people who find villain-y type characters very compelling

a8The Young Elites was everything and MORE than I was hoping for this novel. It was a lightning quick, intense read for me because everyone was so compelling and complex, the plot lingered and surged forward at all the right moments and it absolutely surprised me. It’s dark, unpredictable  and I have a good feeling about where this series is going.

review-on-post-it

The Young Elites Marie Lu review

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this series feel like something you’d be into?
* Did you sympathize with Adelina?

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Carla’s Corner: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (NO SPOILERS)

So so back when I was a wee newbie blogger in 2010 there was this blog I fell in love with immediately. It was called The Crooked Shelf and it was run by a sassy Brit who had fantastic taste in books and wrote some of the best reviews ever. We became friends and even got to hang out at BEA 2011…and had the best time ever. Seriously.

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And then she stopped blogging…which was the saddest thing ever for so many of us because her voice was one of the best and early on I aspired to BE like Carla in the way that I just wanted to have my own distinct voice — whatever that was. It was definitely a hit to the blogosphere for many of us oldies when she left.

And now, through a Twitter conversation about missing her as a blogger, I introduce you to Carla’s Corner where Carla will take over my blog sporadically whenever she feels like it and talk about what’s she’s reading and HAS to talk about! I’m excited to have her voice back in the blogosphere and for people who didn’t get to know her back in the day to get the chance to!!

So first up?? It is only fitting that Carla reviews a Maggie Stiefvater book. Fun story: The one and only time I saw Carla lose her shit and become a 12 year old little girl was when she met Maggie Stiefvater at BEA. It was the cutest moment EVER and her and Maggie hugging and talking made me all teary because it was one of Carla’s all time FAVORITE authors!!

So take it away Carla…

 Blue Lily, Blue Lily review no spoilersBlue Lily, Blue Lily by Maggie Stiefvater
Book #3 of The Raven Cycle series (I’ve read, loved and reviewed book 1)
Release Date: October 21st – Scholastic Press
* This book was downloaded from Netgalley for review consideration.

 Carla’s Thoughts:

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is simultaneously the best book I have ever read and also the worst.

Let’s start with the best.

Trying to explain or describe how much I love Stiefvater’s writing is like trying to count all of the stars in the sky; impossible, incredibly brain aching and needing calculations and equations that my mind just isn’t capable of fathoming. I’ve never really been that good at math.

Her words are a dream come to life, like Ronan himself has plucked them out of his dreams and handed them over. The characters, they come to life, never once drifting off into slumber like those cows in the barns.  The words don’t sleep like dream things do when they’re not dream things anymore, they roar like the pigs engine. They pull handbrakes turns and skid right into your heart, then come to a juddering stop and stay there.

The character development is soft and sure and strong.  Ronan is still as sharp, shiny and cutting as the edge of a knife but everyone knows that sharp things don’t always stay so sharp. Gansy is still full of wonder and hope and light but everyone knows lights eventually dim until they sputter out completely. Blue is still small and full of yoghurt and truth. Adam is still rustling leaves and springy moss. And Noah is as still as grey and smudgy as a charcoal drawing dropped into a puddle. And yet they are so completely different, as wondrous as the legend of Glendower himself. We’ll never really know them, this little quartet of strange teenagers and I’m glad of it because things that hold that much magic should never really be knowable.

I won’t say anything about the plot because I don’t want to spoil but know this; you can dream of welsh kings and girls with spiky hair and boys with peppermint leaves in their mouths but you can’t ever dream a story so full of magic and suspense and heart guttering mind numbing terror.  It’s a dream that only Stiefvater can create for us and I can’t wait stop slip into what’s bound to be a momentous conclusion to the story of blue and her boys and their sleeping welsh king.

You will be so full of dreadful glee that you’ll laugh as manically as Ronan. You’ll worry and fret just like Adam and you will stride forward towards the end just like Gansey (walking ~is~ only for normal people after all). But most of all you hope beyond hope that their story doesn’t end how it started; with a young boy in his Aglionby uniform, his shoulders soaked with rain and the words “that’s all there is” just like Blue.

And the reason why it was the worst? Because it ended and I wasn’t quite ready to let go.
Have you guys read this one? Started this series?? Let us know what you think! Also, say hi to Carla!! :)

3 Books I Read & Enjoyed In September

I’ve been having a bit of a restless spirit recently and no motivation to write some longer reviews. Also? I’ve been a reading machine lately (for ME) and the books to talk about have been piling up. So (non-spoilery) mini book talk time!! YAYS?

 

Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

Genre: Contemporary YA, Date Published: September 2, 2014
Goodreads// Amazon
* I received for review consideration from the publisher.

Girl Defective Simmone Howell
I LOVED this novel. There was just something so magical about it even though it was an “ordinary life” kind of story…if that makes sense? Another win for the Aussie YA authors for me! SO MUCH HEART in this book and I loved the quirkiness of the characters and just how CHARMING it was. My heart ached for Skylark’s broken little family and seriously loved that storyline so much — her dad who is a functioning alcoholic, her mom who abandoned them and her little brother who I’m pretty sure is supposed to have Asperger’s (I say this as someone who used to work with kids with it). And Skylark…her voice is endearing and I loved her so much. I loved her growth in the span of this novel! One thing I really loved is how ALIVE everything in this book felt — the record shop that her dad owned even when it was always half deserted, the music, the adventures Skylark and Gully had through the streets of her town as they chased their mystery they wanted to uncover. Girl Defective was a quiet gem about a girl trying to find her place in the world that tugged at my heart and made me smile right until the moment I closed its pages.

RATING: RATING-loved-it

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Genre: Adult Fiction Thriller Release Date: 2012
Goodreads // Amazon

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

So I FINALLY read this one! FINALLY. I got scared of the hype, man! But I had been lucky enough to stay spoiler free so THAT was great. I only knew that it was twisted and crazy and lots of opinions of love AND hate for the end. And WELL it was definitely as twisty and messed up as everyone said. It took me a little bit to get completely absorbed in this crazy story but once I was it was just this maddening, furious reading experience. I loved how it all unraveled. I’ll say I completely guessed the big THING but it didn’t put a damper on the reading experience at ALL because I never knew what kind of shenanigans were going to be thrown out after that. I hated almost every character (except Go and the one police officer)…and I’m certain that was intended. I did NOT expect the ending. I’ll say that. I totally pictured it ending different but I will say I thought the ending was very fitting and I liked it. *shivers* MAN, this book was all sorts of messed up but I enjoyed this thrilling ride. Time to read or watch super happy and uncomplicated things next!!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Genre: YA Fantasy Release Date: September 9, 2014
Goodreads // Amazon
* I received this for review consideration.

Illusions of Fate Kierstan White

 

I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. It hadn’t stood out to me when I got it for review but Stephanie Perkins recommended it at her event that was near me so I picked it up. It’s a standalone fantasy novel and, even though I am SO series weary, I was honestly wishing it was a series because I genuinely enjoyed the characters and would love to see more of this world because the magic element and the royal blood line is something I’m sure could be explored more. The world-building was sparse but well set up– it’s a fictional land but it’s very much like our world and honestly the setting reminded me of London in a way and there is magic amongst the “real” world. I loved Jessamin — she’s so smart, sassy and easy to root for as she’s away from the underprivileged island she grew up on and is trying to go to school here where she’s an outcast basically. The romance between Jessamin and Finn is so cute and I LOVED their banter. Their predicament and taking down the baddie made me tear through this book!  If you are looking for a standalone YA fantasy that isn’t too terribly long, I absolutely recommend!

RATING: RATING-reallyliked

 

 Have you read any of these books? Whatta think if you have? I’d love to hear your perspective! If you haven’t, do they look like something you would be into?

Book Talk: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien

Book Talk: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’BrienThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien
Publisher/Year: Roaring Brook Press- September 16, 2014
Genres: YA Science Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Birthmarked series
AmazonGoodreadsTwitter

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

 

 

 

Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”

 

A1
Rosie’s whole life has been photography and when she gets the chance to attend the prestigious Forge School there’s no way she’ll turn that down — even if that means being part of the Big Brother-esque reality show based on the school called The Forge Show. Part of the curriculum is that the students sleep for 12 hours to enhance their creativity by way of a sleeping pill. Rosie, feeling overwhelmed by the reality show and the fact she’s at the bottom of the popularity charts that could send her home, decides to skip out on her sleeping pill and discovers things aren’t as they seem behind the cameras — things that seem sinister and just really off.
.

a2WHAT.THE.FUQ.

a4The Vault of Dreamers was one I almost put down because I was feeling impatient even though the premise was KICKASS, became glad that I kept reading in the middle but the ending kind of made me twitchy and the jury will still be out on whether I’m glad I persevered until the sequel (YEA..I thought it was a standalone).  So let’s break it down because it was up and down.

The beginning: I was SO confused because I felt like I was just dropped into this story because it started a couple days into the reality show rather than day 1 or before she arrived at this school. Also we were never told if this was the future or present (but a randomly dropped sentence later on clears that up). I just felt SO confused and really struggled to care about Rosie or really what was going on. I need to care about SOMETHING and the allure of this kickass premise and general intrigue was fading with all the trying to catch up via flashbacks to why Rosie was there and what the deal with the Forge School was.

The middle until the end: HOLY CRAP. HOLY CRAP. I was racing through it. The suspense and mystery, the whole Big Brother element (I am a BIG fan of that show), the craziness of the Forge School, the way it SO COMPLETELY MESSES WITH YOUR MIND. I seriously was like OMGOMGOMG I need to know what is happening at this creepy ass school. I was tense every time Rosie was sleuthing around and audible gasps could be heard. As we get closer to the end I DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. Was Rosie dreaming? Is she going crazy? Is there something sinister? WHO CAN SHE TRUST? WHAT IS GOING ONNNNN? The way that the author was able to make ME so unbelievably unsure of what was going on and the whole elaborate THING happening at the Forge School was so incredibly fascinating.

The ending: I just don’t even know what happened. I just don’t.  It was a confusing blur to me in a way but at least we got a pretty big nod to the WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE question.  My brain was spinning. I’m not sure I even quite understand the ending (CAN SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THE ENDING TO ME TO MAKE SURE I AM ON THE SAME PAGE??). I THOUGHT it was a standalone so it was puzzling and then I was like IT HAS TO BE A SERIES because WHAT EVEN. So then I found out it IS a series or at least a duology. It’s weird because it actually totally COULD be an ending and no need for a sequel but then the other part of me is like WHAT?!?

 

a6RATING-LIKED

factors+ Plot, how I flew through it and couldn’t put it down after the slow beginning
- beginning struggles, the ending, some confusing bits, a little bit of indifference to characters

Re-readability: Probably not but I might need a little refresher before the sequel.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Probably not honestly. Most of the books staying on my shelf I have a really deep connection with.

a5people who like interesting science fiction concepts that mix with a psychological thriller type read.

a8The Vault of Dreamers was quite the ride — honestly a bit like a rollercoaster. The beginning was that slow and painful ascent to where THE GOOD STUFF HAPPENS (aka the adrenaline and the stomach dropping panicky-glee thing) and then from there was this exhilarating ride that seemed to be over before I knew it — complete with that neck-breaking stop at the end of the ride. Such an interesting concept complete with psychological chaos. Was definitely a plot driven read for me because once it got good it was GOOD.

 

review-on-post-itThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien

 

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this series feel like something you’d be into?
* What did you think about the ending?? (pls mark spoilers!)

 


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

That Time I Almost Didn’t Read A Book Because Of The Ratings

Back in May I talked a bit about how social media/the internet can affect me as a reader & one of those things was how seeing ratings and opinions can affect the books I’m considering picking up or starting to read. It’s a struggle for me to pick up books without consulting the internet to check what ratings say. On one hand it’s helpful in weeding out books that probably wouldn’t work for me and finding the books that probably WILL work better for me. But on the other hand? Sometimes I’m not picking up books SOLELY because of poor ratings. I’ve had a book in my hand at the bookstore before and then saw it ONLY had like a 3.4 average rating on Goodreads and put it back. Books that SOUNDED good but I’m like NOPE look at those ratings, look at all the hate.

And that was the case for this book – 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

 

I had gotten it for review and was excited about it. And then the reviews started coming in….super negative and the average rating was much lower than it is now (it was like a 3.4 or something I think at one point). Some of the reviews made the book sound AWFUL and ridiculous and I was like NOPE and took it off my shelf and put it into a box to deal with later with my other castoffs. I was so sad about it. But then it caught my attention later because a few people I really trust LOVED it and gave it 4 & 5 star reviews so I was like WHAT EVEN I NEED TO KNOW. So I decided to read it. AND I REALLY LIKED IT.

In this case the SUPER jarring difference in ratings really intrigued me to pick it up. And the things that people who were loving it were saying about it made me realize OH MAN…these are things I WOULD LOVE ABOUT IT and not things that would bother me.

What 17 First Kisses Is About:

So it’s about a girl who has kissed quite a few guys but nothing STICKS really into boyfriend material and guys that she is interested in ALWAYS seem to end up liking her bff. And then in walks Luke. And both girls have their eyes set on him but Claire feels so much differently about him than the other guys…like there’s something real there. So the story goes back through Claire & Megan’s history as friends, all of Claire’s kisses & Claire’s family life but also is at the present where Claire has to choose what to do with her feelings for Luke and her friendship with Megan.

While I felt like sometimes it was a BIT dramatic and the high school hierarchy was exaggerated a bit IMO, I really REALLY liked this book. And the things that made so many people give it 1 stars? Those were things that didn’t bother me personally.

Things That Made Me Enjoy This Book:

+ It was actually a lot “deeper” & emotional than I thought it would be — the summary makes it seem a little more frivolous and fun than it is. Claire’s family is going through some tough stuff and I just thought this book really opened up some interesting dialogue about serious and emotional topics.

+ Family & friendship focuses: Okay so there’s the whole Luke thing but really at the heart of this book is about family and friendships. The friendships painted could have easily been the cliche popular mean girls story but I actually really thought they were well done and the girls were very real to me. I loved watching the friendship between Claire and Megan start and evolve and learn all the inner-workings of the group and those two. There were some not cool things they did to each other but it was realistic struggle and I loved watching them try to sort it out because their friendship really DID matter.

+ the storytelling: It just really worked how everything was revealed and how we learned more and more about Claire.

+ the slut-shaming dialogue: This is where a lot of people HATED this book — all the slut-shaming. BUT MAN did I find it super realistic and reminiscent of myself as a high schooler back in the day. I learned how unhealthy and wrong it was but it took me becoming an adult to realize that. For me, just because I HATE things that are happening in a book does not mean I hate the book. It was hard to read but the thing is IT HAPPENS A LOT and the slut shaming in this book had a point. There are a lot of reasons why I think people slut shame (I think a lot of it is a defense mechanism & insecurity — at least it was for me) and I think that this book really explored those in such an authentic and honest way.

+ the flawed, round characters: Yeah, you aren’t going to like all the things they do and say. The girl hate. The slut-shaming. The mean girl antics at time. The friendship no-nos. But if we laid out the book of MY teenage life (especially my inner monologue)….I guarantee none of you would like ME on paper when you focus on my flaws and ignore the growth (however miniscule) and the GOOD things. I totally dated a boy my sister liked, I backstabbed, I slut-shamed and I did things that 28 year old Jamie is NOT proud of. Sometimes I knew they were wrong and sometimes I didn’t. These characters reminded me of the beauty of this age because of how much you are finding yourself through mistakes and experience (lots of firsts) and how there is SO much room for growing and learning. So that was an aspect that, while I get why others didn’t like these characters, I totally did.

*I had to edit this post, because after I scheduled it, Hannah wrote this AMAZING post and a Twitter convo between myself, Hannah and Rachel prompted another paragraph*

Hannah’s whole point of her post is being true to yourself and reading the books YOU want to read. Obviously we rely on recommendations and blogs  to help us but we shouldn’t forget why WE want to read something despite what ratings and reviews say. One of the things I mentioned while talking to these ladies is how I’ve gone back and looked at ratings for books I LOVED but read before blogging and before I checked ratings obsessively and some of them, if it were NOW, I probably wouldn’t have picked up due to ratings or GR friend’s reviews. I’ve started dipping my toes in the waters of NOT CHECKING GOODREADS when I’m browsing at the library and it’s freeing. And I mean, so what if I read it and the ratings/reviews were right? It was FREE.

I think my experience with 17 First Kisses is one of those things where I learned exactly what Hannah is talking about…to trust my gut because in my heart I knew I didn’t always get bugged about the things that the people giving this 1 stars were bugged about. This experience made me realize I rely too heavily on opinions. I’m not saying I’m not going to stop reading reviews/looking at ratings because it so SO helpful to me but I need to let myself pick up a book I want to even if everyone else says it sucks and not give into all the opinions that are out there.

What about you guys? Have you ever almost not read a book because of ratings/reviews but then read it and were so glad you did? How do you balance reviews/ratings with what YOU want to read? Also, did you read 17 First Kisses….what did you think?

 

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