Review: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Can we all just be excited for a second at the fact that my most anticipated book of the year lived up to my own personal hype??

I’ve only read one of Leigh Bardugo’s young adult books, the first book in the Grisha trilogy, and it was right around the time when it was first released and I didn’t really love it. I’ve had no interest in reading any of her other books up until now and when I first read the synopsis for Ninth House I was immediately like “YES, I NEED TO READ THIS”

I like dark stories and oh boy, did this deliver on that. I’m going to say what everyone is saying about this book: it is an adult book and should be categorized as such. This is a very, very dark adult book and is not suitable content for younger readers.

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Before I get into my review, here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Like I had said at the beginning of the post, this was my most anticipated read of the year. I got nervous as I started to see more and more reviews of people reading this and rating it lower than anticipated and I kept stopping myself from starting it because I didn’t want to be disappointed. Luckily, in the end, I was so far from disappointed, I rated this 5 stars.

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This book was a behemoth and I read it over the course of about three days. Each chapter title gives you the time at which the events in the chapter are taking place. “Winter” and “fall/late fall” were the main ones and the perspective switched between our main character, Alex, and Darlington, Alex’s mentor in Lethe. Lethe is essentially a group that has been created to be guardians to the secret societies of Yale.

From the get go, I connected with Alex and her struggle with being a survivor. The fight for life and for survival is something I relate to deeply and it was emotional to see how strong she was in order to do anything. I also really enjoyed reading from both her and Darlington’s perspectives in order to get a more in depth view of the story. I personally felt like if we had only followed Alex, that we never would’ve learned some of the things that Darlington shared in his chapters.

I genuinely wish that I would have kept a tally of how many times I said “oh my god” or “wtf” while reading this because it was lot. Some parts of the book I totally saw coming, but others blew my mind. I think that I can say that I am a big fan of paranormal/fantasy type thrillers because unlike thrillers that take place in “real life” basically anything can happen. We can get those big twists and shocks because literally anything could happen. This whole book had me turning the next page thinking “what could possibly happen next?” It was compelling and devious and I adored it.

A lot of the reviews I’ve seen are from people who thought that this book was boring, or at least the first half was boring. I felt like this book was chock full of information but to me, it felt balanced. If it had all been jam packed with action, I think it would have been overwhelming. But with less action and more exposition, it would have been too dry. There really wasn’t any point in this that I felt like I wanted to skip sections or chapters because I genuinely wanted to see what every page had in store. If you’re looking for a simple read, this probably isn’t for you! It’s full of names and stories and is so layered that it takes a lot of brain power to really engross yourself in it. But let me tell you, it is well worth it if you like dark adult fantasy.

So when it comes to recommending this, I want to preface this with this book is really disturbing at times. One scene in particular made me physically gag and many others left me feeling drained. It was dark, definitely not quite what I expected, but in the end I was left with overwhelming hope for this group of characters that had been beaten down and broken more times than I could count. I adored the characters in this book, flaws and all and I genuinely can’t wait to get my hands on book two. But please be careful when picking up this book and if you are interested in content warnings I’ll have those at the end of the review.

I think that if you’re a fan of dark stuff, give this a try. If you like a unique cast of characters and a wild story, pick this up.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, you can find it here.

Content warnings:

Sexual assault (child rape and date rape), murder, gore, drug abuse, drowning, death, suicide, forced consumption of human waste. 

 

Halloween Song Book Tag

Y’all, I am struggling to get through anything, my concentration is absolutely shot. I have so many books piling up and homework and AHHHH it’s bad. I just want to hibernate and stop doing anything and everything and it’s taking everything in me to not drop off the face of the earth for months.

So because I still have absolutely nothing to review and all the posts that I wanted to write are definitely not getting written, I have decided to do a book tag. I saw this on Heather‘s (Bookables) Youtube channel and the original tag can be found here (it was done by a beautiful chaos of books). She also made a playlist of all the songs from the tag which I thought was awesome! Here’s that link.

My goal with this is to try and keep everything within the thriller/horror (maybe also fantasy, yeah no definitely also some fantasy) genre if I can manage it!

Thriller

A book that was an absolute page turner

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish reading this book. Couldn’t stop reading it once I started!!

Somebody’s Watching Me

A book that gave you serious creeps

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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The first time I ever read this book I was so creeped out. Possession is a no go for me. One of my biggest fears to be quite honest. I’m rereading this book this weekend to see if it still creeps me out as much as it did back in the day.

Vampire

A book you hated so much it was soul sucking (i.e. incredibly tedious to get through)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I know that everyone thought this was amazing and that I am definitely in the minority but I remember dragging myself through this book. It was not shocking or thrilling in the slightest.

And The Girl on the Train… And The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Y’all I need more thriller recommendations that aren’t boring as hell.

I Put A Spell On You

A book featuring witchcraft or magic

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

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Definitely not a spooky one, but I really enjoyed this graphic novel. It’s the perfect witchy fall read!

This Halloween

Your favorite treat/snack to eat while reading

Right now it’s cheez-its. Also coffee or tea is always great.

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Time Warp

What book or books do you like to return to at this time of year?

For many, many years I would reread Harry Potter yearly starting right around the start of the school year. I like to reread series in the winter, not sure why but maybe it’s because I wouldn’t buy books over the summer and then would get books for my birthday and holidays and I used to read a LOT of series so that’s when I’d get that series flow going.

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Hungry Like The Wolf

A book you loved so much, you devoured

Foul Is Fair by Hannah Capin

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I got an ARC from Netgalley for this book and read it in one day (almost in one sitting). It was absolutely amazing. Dark, devious, and engrossing and you guys should preorder it because it comes out in February and you all need to read it.

The Adams Family

A book featuring a dysfunctional family

Resurrection Girls by Ava Morgyn

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I just hope their dysfunction heals at some point. Very sad dysfunctional family.

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

A book genre that you are scared or intimidated to pick up

I want to say that I’m really adventurous in my reading. I’m interested in reading a wide variety of books and I don’t think that I’m scared or intimidated to pick up any one genre. I will say that I struggle the most to read classics and I also tend to steer away from high fantasy or science/historical fiction because a lot of times those are really dense and heavy and take more brain power than I have to give at the time.

The Twilight Zone

A book with a completely different and unique premise

The Skeleton Creek series by Patrick Carman

Skeleton Creek (Skeleton Creek, #1)

I guess it’s not super different? But it’s really unique because you can go to links while you read the books to watch clips of the events in these books! I’m going to talk about these on Monday after I reread them this weekend!

So that’s the Halloween Song Book Tag… It’s brand new so definitely participate if you want to answer these questions!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Give Different Titles To

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The topic for this week is books I’d give different titles to. It stumped me for a really long time until it finally dawned on me that I could try and be funny and rename books that I absolutely hated.

So I just want to add this disclaimer that I’m totally doing this in a joking manner. I know that not everyone hates these books and I just wanted to poke fun at some books that have made me mad over the years.

And with that out of the way, I’m going to start with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. A little backstory with this one, I’ve had to read it three (3) times and it just gets more and more painful every time. It was required reading in my honors English class for my freshman year in high school and then at the end of my junior year, they switched up all the curriculum and WOW Great Ex was now the required summer reading for AP Literature for seniors… So guess who had to reread Great Ex for her senior year? Yep. This person. I just despise every single character in this book so. much.

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My new title for Great Ex? Why No One Should Fall In Love or also JOE DESERVES BETTER but like who’s going to pick up a book with that title? lol. I need to move on or else I’m going to go on a rant about this book and I’m already in a heated mood so let’s just get on with it.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

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This book just gets worse every time I think about it. I’d like to rename it “Clowning for Him” because the main character (while also being a literal clown) is a damn clown for getting with the guy she got with. Also runner up title is “Travis Ford and the Handful of Little Sister Tit” (Y’all I still can’t understand why that was an actual published phrase in this novel)

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Read This if You Want to Know How Schizophrenia Doesn’t Work” I’m still considering doing a rant review about this book but also I don’t feel like I have the authority to say all my thoughts about it… But seriously go read some of the reviews by people with schizophrenia or who are actual licensed psychologists etc. Very eye opening to how bad this book was.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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Underage Sex in the Wilderness” or “We’re Only Enemies Because We Don’t Know How to Talk to Each Other.”

See How She Dies by Lisa Jackson

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Incest? Incest.” (GUYS I’M SORRY I’M DOING A GOOD JOHN GREEN TITLE DIRTY LIKE THIS BUT I THOUGHT IT WAS HILARIOUS.)

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)

Get Out While You Still Can” or “———–” because I’d like to just erase this book from existence 🙂 sometimes I forget it exists tbh.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitgerald

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Stop It, Get Some Help” Yes. The title is just a Vine. Oh, honestly this could be the new title for like 5 different books I’ve read.

I think that’s where I’m going to leave it for this weeks post.

 

Middle Grade Monday: The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia

I was super excited when I was granted access to an eARC to The Memory Keeper by Jennifer Camiccia. It follows a girl named Lulu who has a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. This is an incredibly uncommon phenomenon but it was such a fascinating concept to center the story around. If you don’t know what HSAM is, it essentially means that Lulu remembers every second of her life.

Lulu lives with her parents, little brother, and grandmother. She had a younger sister who I think passed away from SIDs but it wasn’t explicitly stated. Her parents have struggled immensely with this and on top of that her mother is dealing with postpartum depression as well. So Lulu leans on her grandmother heavily, which makes it even scarier when her grandma starts having problems with her memory. When Lulu realizes the scope of her own memory, she tries to collect her grandmother’s in order to help her in day to day life. Lulu wonders if the reason that her grandmother is losing her memory is because of a traumatic event, just as a traumatic event can trigger HSAM, she reads that it could also trigger memory loss. So Lulu goes in search of her grandmother’s past in order to save her memory and save her family.

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So I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. Was it super realistic? No, but it was emotional and heartfelt and deep while at the same time balanced with lighthearted jokes and fun friendship moments. Memory issues are a hard topic for me and I couldn’t help but get emotional a lot throughout this book. I know a few people that have dealt with or are dealing with Alzheimers and I myself have dealt with a great deal of memory loss due to mental health problems. It was painful to see how much Lulu was scared of losing her grandma if anyone found out what she was struggling with.

There was also quite a candid discussion of postpartum depression and grief and it was hard to see how Lulu struggled with her relationship with her parents but eye opening to read from the side of a child in a situation like this.

The side “quest” I guess is what I would call it that followed Lulu and her friends, Max and Olivia, in trying to also uncover Lulu’s grandma’s past was too funny. They took their roles of detectives so seriously and I really enjoyed seeing how their relationships developed and changed as the book progressed. I genuinely loved each of the characters in this book and it warmed my heart to see them heal even just a little by the time the book ended.

Another thing that I really loved about this book was that each chapter opened with a short description of some part of the brain and how it functions. Considering the book centered around a story in which the brain and memory was a central feature, I thought this was really interesting! It was educational and easy to understand and I really liked that.

This book felt reminiscent of The Ghost Collector  in that both main characters are dealing with something really difficult and are doing everything in their power to fix what they are struggling with. I highly recommend both.

 

Review: Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Do you ever read a book and then just spend forever rolling it over in your mind because you have literally no idea what you think of it? That was this book for me.

Wilder Girls by Rory power was an incredibly highly anticipated read of this year and while it didn’t sound quite up my alley (books about quarantine and disease are not usually a hit for me) I was looking forward to giving it a try.

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It follows a dual perspective of two girls at Raxter School for Girls, a boarding school that has been placed under a quarantine for the last 18 months after a mysterious disease called the Tox took over the island. They’re completely cut off from the world while the disease changes everything in strange and violent ways. Girls have grown gills, second spines, scales, and more. It’s essentially supposed to be the female version of Lord of the Flies (which I get but also it’s vastly different so…) So with that really brief description, let’s get into the review.

I think I’m just going to start right off with my star rating. It took me over an hour to decide on this but I went with three stars.

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I thought this started off incredibly slowly and up until about 150 pages in I was tempted to DNF this. There were definitely small pieces of the story that kept me wanting to continue so in the end I kept going.

The story itself was really compelling, it brought up so many questions about what could possibly be happening to this island and these girls. The plot is what kept me connected to the book and essentially nothing else. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, I definitely empathized with them and their situation but I felt like I barely knew anything about any of them. When they switched perspectives from Hetty to Byatt, it was really jarring. I mean it was over 100 pages into the book by the time that happened so it felt weird to all of a sudden read from another perspective.

I also didn’t feel like this perspective change was all that well done. Byatt had a very distinctive voice but her pieces didn’t really fill in many holes of the story, they just added more. By the end of the book I had so many questions that I was shocked that I had reached the final page. This book was marketed as a standalone and I have absolutely no idea how it could possibly have just ended the way it did. I mean talk about a cliffhanger.

I enjoyed the crazy crescendo that was the ending of this book. But again, all the unanswered questions just left me wondering why the heck I just spent two days reading this. I wanted to get to the end and find a resolution and the fact that there wasn’t one left me mulling over why I had read this book in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why some people would absolutely love this book but I also understand why there are people who wouldn’t like it. If I had known there weren’t going to be answers waiting for me at the end of this book, I don’t think I would have pushed through that beginning portion, so now I’m really stuck wondering if we’ll ever get a sequel, or maybe just some sort of epilogue.

This was marketed as a feminist Lord of the Flies and honestly, I really and truly don’t understand that. It’s a survival story at heart, I’ll give them that, but that’s as far as I’d take the comparison… Also I don’t care but I’m going to say it and say that changing the entire cast of characters to female doesn’t inherently make it feminist (because that’s essentially the only thing I could take from that comparison, idk). I’m interested to see what Rory Power writes next, her writing is quite nice and I really hope that in her next books her characters stand out as much as her story does. I think she creates a spectacular story but I just wish that everything else didn’t fall so flat.

If you’re looking for a borderline scary and a little bit gory YA survival story, I would recommend trying this. But if you’re hoping for something that hands you the plot all wrapped up in a box with a bow on top, this isn’t for you.

 

I Saw The Movie First: Jurassic Park

One huge taboo in the book community has always been watching the movie before reading the book… Or just watching only the movie. I used to be so adamant about making sure that I read the book first that there were some movies that I went years without watching solely because I hadn’t gotten around to reading the book yet.

Now I’ve become really relaxed on my “Must read the book first rule” and I also have come to find out that a ton of my favorite (or old favorite) movies were actually based off of books! So I figured, might as well use it to my advantage and write some blog posts comparing books and movies.

Does anyone else get an incredibly weird feeling when they go into a book that they’ve already watched the movie for? Like that is definitely how I felt when I reread Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton last weekend. Jurassic Park is in my top 5 favorites movies of all times. I even have a quote from the movie tattooed on my thigh!! I think the first time I ever watched the movie I was 6 or 7 and it terrified me. To the extent that I had a reoccurring nightmare about getting chased by a t-rex for over 10 years! But now, I’ve come to love the movie and have used it to allow myself to foster my obsession with all things dinosaur.

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I first read the book version of Jurassic Park in 2017 and then reread it last weekend. It’s an insanely fascinating book but one that I could see a lot of people not enjoying anywhere near as much as the movie. It leans heavily on the sciencey side of things and goes into incredible detail explaining everything. It took me a while to get through it but I thoroughly enjoyed it in the end.

Personally, I think both the book and the movie are absolute masterpieces. The main thing that differs within the book is how much more heavily they focus on the velociraptors. There’s an entire subplot about them that is taken out of the movie entirely and it’s just, wow. *chef’s kiss* And there are two t-rex’s which is fascinating getting to see how that works out.

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The way they changed the characters for the movie too is interesting. They aged up Ellie and aged down Grant, I think mainly to add in that underlying romance between the two because in the book, Ellie is engaged to someone else and Grant is almost twice her age! In the book, Tim is the older child while Lex is the younger. Oh! And IAN MALCOLM IS BALD. Y’all, the whole time I was reading this I was picturing a bald Jeff Goldblum… Oh, I laugh every time. Everyone essentially has the same personality in the movie and I think they did a great job with the cast and characterization of everyone. I have a really hard time with making my own picture of a character in my head so while I tried to come up with new pictures of the characters in the book, I mostly just put the movie actors in there instead…. Even if they don’t match the book description.

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There are definitely a lot of scenes within the book that are left out of the movie and I really enjoyed going more in depth with learning about Jurassic Park and everything inside it while reading the book. I really can’t say that I enjoyed either one more because they’re so alike but so different in really good ways. I feel like a lot of times it leans one way or the other with a book or movie being better but I’m happy to say that at least for me, this pair is spectacular all around.

Now I just want to watch all the Jurassic Park movies again…

Sunshine Blogger Award

What a pleasant surprise!! Emer nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award which absolutely made my whole week (still makes me smile even though her post was a while ago… I have just been very behind on any and all posts). She is an absolute gem and if you aren’t following her already you should definitely check out her blog! Thank you, Emer, for the nomination 🙂

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work?

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Do you own more than one copy of any book? If yes then what book/s?

I have two copies of most of the books in the Harry Potter series. My paperback ones are incredibly beat up seeing as I’ve read them many, many times since I was 6 so I’ve been trying to get secondhand hardback copies to have ones I can read without fearing they’ll fall apart.

I also have a number of books in both physical format and in ebooks (A few Sarah J. Maas books that I bought to read when I traveled abroad, and also Fangirl).

And, uh, I also have 4(?) copies of Pride and Prejudice even though I still haven’t read it…….

Describe your perfect day.

April 25th

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But really, it would have to be a gloomy fall day. Where the morning starts off foggy and the sun never really comes out of the clouds. You can almost see your breath so all the cozy clothes and accessories are warranted. The ground is covered in soggy leaves and it just rains on and off. I get to aimlessly wander a bookstore and a museum with a nice drink (probably an iced coffee or some chai) and then go home to just sit in bed and read/stream a movie or show that I love.

What attracts you to a book? The cover? Blurb? Recommendation from others?

Cover and title, even though the title really means absolutely nothing to me in the end. I’ve started to just ignore blurbs altogether because I like being surprised by what I’m reading. I’ll read the blurb once to decide if I’m really interested in it or not but then that’s it. I am a sucker for a good cover!!

You are having a dinner party and can invite three famous people (either living or dead) to the party. Who do you invite?

David Tenant, Josh Gates, and Taylor Swift. The closest I have ever gotten to any of them is that my roommate from my London study abroad trip and I stood outside the stage door for a play David Tenant was in and we SAW HIM. IN THE FLESH. He was RIGHT THERE. RIGHT THERE PEOPLE.

Who is your favourite superhero?

Spiderman, probably. Honestly, I say this because I don’t follow the superhero stuff at all. I have seen very few superhero movies (like less than 10 and uh, one of them is Iron Man 3 but I have not seen the other Iron Man movies)… But I have seen almost all of the Spiderman movies and I love Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland.

Which would you prefer to win: an Oscar or a Grammy?

An Oscar. When I was a kid I actually really wanted to be an actress. I was the lead in two or three plays back in elementary school and I feel like if I hadn’t developed such crippling anxiety that I would have continued to pursue theatre. If I could become an actress, even now, I’d take the opportunity right away. Plus I don’t even think if I was a good singer that I would feel comfortable enough to sing in front of people.

What is the first book that you ever wrote a review for?

On this blog, it was Wild by Nature which I actually won in a Goodreads giveaway forever ago!! On Goodreads, though, I guess it was for this book called Girl in the Arena and all I said was “I can’t even put into words how disappointing this was” so I guess it was really bad lol.

Coca Cola or Pepsi?

Pepsi. Unless I’m getting takeout from McDonald’s because then Coca Cola all the way.

And funny story about Pepsi, when I was living with one of my former roommates we basically lived off of Pepsi products (it was a low point for both of us, caffeine and sugar fueled all our antics). So one day we went to the grocery store and they had a crazy sale on six-packs of the pop but they had limits for how many each person could get (I’m sure you can see where this is going). So we each bought the limit and then went out and ran the rest of our errands and then went back to the grocery store hours later and bought the limit again. I want to say it was like 6 packs per person? So we had like 24 6-packs of Pepsi and Mountain Dew…. This is a lil embarrassing now typing this out lol.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Night owl! Funnily enough I literally just wrote a post about this! I could probably become almost nocturnal if my work schedule let me.

What is your all time favourite quote from a book you loved?

“Stand at the top of a cliff and jump off and build your wings on the way down.”

From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is the only classic that I read in high school that has absolutely stuck with me over the years. There were so many lines in this book that just made me think but I love this quote because it just fits with my horribly chaotic life. Still working on those wings.

What’s the last book you bought (eBook, audiobook or physical book)?

Uhhhh… So I bought 4 books while shopping with my sister the other day. Guts by Raina Telgemeier, The Alice Network by , Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, and this book about the witches in the Harry Potter series for my sister as an incredibly late birthday/general Halloween present (because I am a GREAT sister).

So with that I am tagging:

Kathryn (K-Specks)

Dana

Nicole

Amanda

Lauren

My questions for y’all if you want to participate are:

  1. What was the book that made you fall in love with reading?
  2. If you had to choose a non-natural color for your hair, what would it be?
  3. What is your favorite holiday?
  4. Do you have any special books in your collection (ex: signed books, special editions, etc)?
  5. If you could get away with one crime, what would it be?
  6. What is a scent that always brings back a good memory?
  7. What is your favorite format to read books in (e-book, audio, hardcover, paperback)?
  8. What makes you laugh until you cry?
  9. If you were a cartoon character, what would your signature outfit be?
  10. Who is a person you admire and why?
  11. What’s the weirdest fun fact that you know?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Truth be told, I really don’t care about most titles for books? I mean I’m far more invested in the cover and the blurb… But if I had to choose some books that I felt like did have great titles, these would be those:

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry  by Fredrik Backman

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

I love this one because it just hurts to read it. Like it evokes so much emotion and it’s literally just the title.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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It’s just clever because, ya know, more than one true love…

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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A book about burning books with the title that happens to be the temperature at which paper catches fire????? Extraordinary I tell you!

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee BenderThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

I haven’t read this book in years now but I remember the first time it ever caught my eye in the library. It was one of the first times I ever wandered into the adult section and this title just kind of ate away at me until I finally checked it out. According to my Goodreads I rated it 4 stars but I also read it in 2012 so I feel like this one warrants a reread sometime soon. Still love the title though.

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

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I will also give a runner up vote to Save the Date solely because the acronym for it is StD lol.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

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Don’t even have commentary on this other than I love the title.

Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick

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I absolutely love this series! It’s called The Mother-Daughter Book Club series and I am dying to reread it because I found out there’s an additional book that I never knew about! These characters are absolutely so near and dear to my heart and the fact that all of the titles are puns for classic novels makes them even better (I might be lying to you when I say this, they might now all be like this). Pies and Prejudice is my personal favorite 🙂

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

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This title always makes me think when I read it. Also wondering how many times I can end up mentioning this book this year… So far it’s a lot.

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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I just like the juxtaposition of America and England with the RWB but it’s royal blue.

I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

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This might be the only book that I have ever bought off of title alone. Also another series that I desperately need to reread. Honestly, this whole series has pretty good titles.

So basically this post just shows that I really like really long and clever titles. Pretty much sums it up.

 

 

Middle Grade Monday: Ghosts & Hauntings & Spooks Oh My

Welcome to another Middle Grade Monday! I spent the weekend reading some spooky middle grade books and I’m going to discuss three of them today.

Growing up, I was a big fan of spooky books and unlike the person I have become now, literally any spooky book scared the pants off me as a kid. I’m still scarred over a Goosebumps book that I vaguely remember in which a kitchen sponge came to life.

One of my favorite spooky middle grade writers has been Mary Downing Hahn. I’ve read a number of her books and the two that I read over the weekend were an older one, Deep and Dark and Dangerous, which was published in 2007; and The Girl in the Locked Room, which was published in 2018. (I stole… borrowed… the latter book from my youngest brother and the former was one that I had in my collection from childhood).

I think that overall Hahn is a master at crafting spooky books for young readers. My sister and I devoured so many of her books. Old Willis Place, The Doll in the Garden, and Wait Till Helen Comes were among our favorites. I’d really like to get my hands on those sometime soon to reread!

Of the two books that I read this weekend, I would recommend The Girl in the Locked Room for younger readers. It’s the story of a ghost who has been trapped in a room for over a hundred years and finally meets a girl who may be able to help her. This story was really well done, had me hooked from the beginning and was interesting enough to keep me on the edge of my seat through the end. It was low on the spooky side of things, more mysterious than outright scary which I think will be appreciated by those who don’t like to get jumpy. The ending was fascinating, though I personally would have wanted it to end slightly differently than what was written.

After rereading Deep and Dark and Dangerous, I found myself disliking the story a lot. The story follows a girl named Ali who has been brought on by her aunt to baby sit her younger cousin at the lake cottage that their family used to visit when her aunt and mother were children. There, Ali and her cousin meet a mysterious girl named Sissy and the painful story of the past begins to reveal itself. It’s definitely spooky but the characters are unlikable, absolutely horrid in cases and it just felt jaded. It actually had a lot of the aspects of the first book that I read this weekend which was Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh which I would like to recommend instead.

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Both of these stories had violent ghosts, unbelieving parents, and older kids trying to save younger ones. Spirit Hunters follows a girl who has moved with her parents and siblings to a new house. From the moment they arrive, something feels wrong and the rumor is that the house is indeed haunted.

While I didn’t personally love Spirit Hunters, I 100% understand why so many people do! I think it would definitely have scared the pants off me as a kid and if I wasn’t such a picky adult it probably would’ve spooked me a bit now too. This book has a diverse cast of characters and is #ownvoices for the Korean American rep. I don’t want to say that this felt like an adult trying to write a middle grade book for the first time, but that’s exactly what it felt like. At times it felt like it was trying way too hard to be a middle grade book and I think that’s what kept me from enjoying it as much as I could have. But if you’ve got a kid who wants to get that real haunted house story, definitely have them give this book a try! It had all those scary vibes and was a tense ride as things played out.

I’m interested to see where the Spirit Hunters series goes and will be checking out the second book whenever that is published to see if it happens to grow on me.

I think that young readers would be fans of any of the books of mentioned in this post but I highly recommend The Girl in the Locked Room for mysterious ghost story vibes and Spirit Hunters for that classic haunted house story.

Next week I’ll be discussing a new release so be sure to check back again next Monday!

Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

As is the case with so many of the books that I review, I got this at my library! I was super pumped that they had it and even more pumped that it had no wait time. 36478784._SY475_

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary takes quite the unique twist on the “there’s only one bed” romance trope.  Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

This book has been a bit hyped up and I was hesitant to start reading it as I haven’t had the best rapport with hyped up books this year. By the end of it though I was pleasantly surprised with how much I had enjoyed it! I actually rated it 5 stars!

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Tiffy and Leon were such distinctively different characters and one of my favorite things about the book was how vastly different the writing styles were between their chapters. It gave them both a unique voice and it seriously made the book for me. When there are more than one narrator in a book I will sometimes get mixed up with who is speaking and this kept them so separate that I never got them mixed up.

I think that all the branched off plot lines in this actually held weight within the story which is not often the case in romance novels. Though I would have loved to see more with Leon’s patients, Holly and Mr. Prior, just because I adored them. Each portion of the felt tied up by the end and I was left feeling satisfied overall.

The characters were unique but not overly done which I really appreciated. I feel like it’s far too easy for side characters in romance books to fall into stereotypical roles. From the beginning I was a bit worried with the introduction of Kay but she ended up being so minor that I kind of just brushed my thoughts of her to the side (I could say a lot about her but I think I’ll refrain from doing so).

One of my personal favorite parts of this book was Tiffy’s job! She works as an editor for craft books and one of her clients crochets and knits and it honestly brought me so much joy to read all those parts. DIY should be included in more books.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this. Seeing the relationship between Tiffy and Leon unfold between notes left around the flat was perfect. I’m a big fan of unconventional relationships like this! Leon has a good chance of being my new favorite love interest. He was so gentle, sweet, and caring and I quite enjoyed reading his chapters (this is definitely not always the case when it comes to dual perspectives with males and females). He was so respectful and just genuine, loved him.

Minor spoilers ahead in terms of trigger warnings and discussing those plots points:

As a warning there is a stalking abusive ex in this book and if you are at all triggered by stuff like that I would probably pass on this book. I felt that the author handled this quite well and this is coming from someone who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship similar to the one Tiffy had been in. By putting her in therapy I felt that was one good step forward but I also felt like this didn’t completely lean in to the whole “love can fix everything”. Tiffy was still uncomfortable with falling into a new relationship but still felt more secure with her new relationship. I don’t know, it just felt good to me.

This was such an unexpected joy to read. It had me feeling all warm and fuzzy by the end and I really want to get my own copy so that I can read it whenever I want to. If you’re looking for a sweet slow-burn with a very happy ending, I would definitely recommend this to you!