February Reading Wrap-Up

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This last month has been great for buying books, but not so much for actually reading them.  There were a variety of reasons why my “outbox” in February was less than January, but I’m just going to blame it on the short month.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden’s debut novel was my favorite read in February, although I read the majority of it the last week of January.  The first half was rather slow-going and I nearly DNF’d it after about 50 pages.  Arden uses the front half of the novel to introduce you to the small town outside of Moscow, Russia and the characters.  The second half picks up as the main character, Vasilisa, encounters the magical properties of the surrounding woods and the town itself.  This was my first introduction to the Russian tale of Karachun/Morozko/Frost. According to Goodreads, the author intends to make this story into a series.  It reads well as a stand-alone but I would surely read more about Vasilisa and Karachun, the winter king.

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

After finishing The Bear in the Nightingale, I searched for more contemporary stories based on Russian folklore.  Although I don’t tend to read much YA, Vassa in the Night sparked my interest with it’s description of an enchanted Brooklyn and an unfriendly shopkeeper named Babs Yagg.  First of all, Baba Yaga is a terrifying figure in Russian tales so I could not resist reading a novel with her as a prominent character.  Unfortunately, this book fell flat for me.  The story follows Vassa, a 15 (or 16?) year old girl who foolishly goes into the local supermarket “BY’s” on a dare from her sister.  BY’s is suspended in the air by chicken legs and the parking lot is surrounded by stakes with human heads on it… yup.  BY’s PR team says the store only beheads shoplifters, but Vassa is soon to find out that the store has a few tricks up its sleeve to ensure the stakes are never empty.  Basically, Vassa is forced to remain in BY’s for 3 nights (oh and the nights are abnormally long in Brooklyn…sometimes going on for what feels like days) and perform seemingly impossible tasks to stay alive.  Nearly the entire plot takes place over these three days & nights in the store.  I think it goes without saying that the story gets tedious.  On top of that, there is some unsettling gore towards the end that just seems unnecessary to the story.  All in all, this just wasn’t for me.

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

I subscribe to Powell’s Indiespensable box that comes out ever 6-8 weeks.  History of Wolves was the January pick.  Set in a small town in Northern Minnesota, the novel centers on a teenage girl and her new neighbors across the lake from her family’s small cabin.  The author briefly mentions that the girl’s family was once part of a local cult in the woods and are the only remaining members who live in the decaying settlement.  The new neighbors are very wealthy recent Chicago transplants.  They’re also Christian Scientists with a very sick son. So you can probably tell where the story goes from there.  Although I did enjoy this book, I didn’t think it dove as deep enough into the many issues it presented.  For one, the teenager’s history teacher dies in the middle of a class and is then replaced by a new teacher who is later arrested on child pornography charges (this is all in the book jacket..no spoilers).  Secondly, I wanted to know more about the family who refused to provide medical care to their incredibly ill young child.  The author kinda glazes over all of this and in my opinion, lets the reader down.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

This was my Book of the Month pick for January.  I don’t tend to read a lot of mystery/thriller novels but recently I have found I quite enjoy them (with the exception of Gillian Flynn..I just don’t like her books at all).  Behind Her Eyes was pitched as a novel with an impossible to predict ending.  Challenge accepted.  When I was reading the last 10 pages I thought “YES I figured it out!!”.  Yeah…no.  There’s a major twist here that I did not see coming, although looking back there were SO MANY CLUES.  From the discussion posts on Book of the Months’s member website, it seems nobody did see this coming… So for once the book actually lived up the hype!  If you like mystery novels with several twists, I recommend this!!  Honestly, I can’t say much without giving too much away.  Just trust me on this one. 🙂

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies was the last novel I was able to finish in February.  It took me less than 24 hours to devour all 486 pages…  Unless you’re living under a rock, you’re likely to have heard of this book over the last few years.  The cover and summary didn’t make the book seem like my kind of read.  It wasn’t until a few BookTubers highly recommended this book that I decided to give it a try. Big Little Lies is about 3 mothers who have children in the same Kindergarten class in a small, coastal Australian town (although the HBO series sets the story in Monterey, CA).  And to make things interesting, someone has been murdered at a school fundraising event.  Although the reader doesn’t know who the victim is until the end of the book.  Now I’m obsessed with the HBO series of the same name based on this book (although it’s nowhere near as good and Nicole Kidman wasn’t at all who I pictured as Celeste).

Heart and Brain Gut Instincts (Awkward Yeti) by Nick Seluk

Just a fun collection of comics centered around the Heart and Brain characters created by Nick Seluk (The Awkward Yeti).  This is great to pick up when you’re not in the mood to really read a full story.  You can also follow the Awkward Yeti on Facebook & Instagram for many of the same comics.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

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So far in 2017 I have read 12 books and met my arbitrary Goodreads goal for the year. If I’m going to be 100% honest, not all of the books I read this month were full fledged novels. I started off 2017 with a mix of graphic novels, novellas, short stories, and novels.

I was so busy reading and focusing on the headlines that I did not have a chance to write any new posts.  So here’s a little catch-up!

As I mentioned in a previous post, 2017 was my first year participating in Diverseathon, a 1 week “readathon” focusing on diverse stories and authors.  The common read was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, a story that asks the question “what if the underground railroad was literally below the ground with trains and engineers?”.   Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved this story and it ended up on my “favorites” shelf (a physical shelf I have at home meant to highlight my all-time favorite reads).   My only criticism is that the physical railroad was not the main focus of the story.  In fact, very little time was spent discussing the railroad, it’s paths, and the organization running it.  With that aside, this story was beautiful and devastating.  Whitehead gives the reader tenuous hope for the protagonist just to rip it away a few pages later.  Then, the optimistic reader foolishly allows him/herself to think everything will work out this time.  This book is an exhausting read.  The subject matter is so dark and intense and the author has a way of playing with the reader’s emotions.  I’m so glad this book was chosen as the common read as it was sitting on my shelf for months before I picked it up last week.  This story will stick with me for a long time.

Book of the Month Club was ridiculously generous in their January box and included a FREE copy of  The Grownup by Gillian Flynn.  As I have probably mentioned before, I didn’t care for Gone Girl *gasp*.  I recently picked up The Grownup only because it was short and was marketed as a ghost story.  Spoiler alert…it isn’t really a ghost story.  It’s weird.  It’s typical Gillian Flynn.  I was not a fan.  NEXT.

After reading The Underground Railroad, I was in the mood for a light fairy tale.  Enter Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley.  At just around 100 pages, this story is quick, fluffy, and just what I needed this week.  The story revolves around Domnall, an old, gruff, faerie who also happens to be their best scout.  Domnall reluctantly teams up with Micol, a younger faerie who hopes to become a scout for the dwindling faerie community.  Micol & Domnall are tasked with finding a human who is nursing to fool into feeding a sick faerie child before she “fades”.  The novella follows their adventures & misadventures over the course of just a few days.  I enjoyed everything about this book except for the ending.  If you have read it, you probably know what I’m referring to.  It just didn’t seem like a natural conclusion and was rather uncomfortable.

My most recent read was The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon.  This was my 2nd McMahon book, the first being The Winter People which I ripped right through in less than 24 hours.  The Winter People was unsettling and literally (used correctly, trust me) made my heart race.  Unfortunately I can’t say the same for The Night Sister.  It was just too predictable and not all that scary.  The plot seemed recycled and somewhat lazy, unlike The Winter People with its many twists.  The Night Sister may be a good read for someone who has not read other books by Jennifer McMahon but for me it was a disappointment.

Tonight I finally started The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  I don’t know much about it yet but I do know it involves Russian winters, forest creatures, and magic. COUNT ME IN!

Have a great week!

-KM

Diverseathon 2017 & Recommendations

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I am so excited to participate in Diverseathon for the first time this year!  My reading tends to be relatively diverse but I’m trying to focus on reading even more diversely in 2017.  One of my favorite booktubers, Joss From Squibbles Reads, is one of the hosts this year and it was from her Youtube Channel (linked above) that I learned about Diverseathon.  For the official Twitter page, click here .

Diverseathon runs from January 22-29, 2017 and is meant to celebrate diverse authors and stories of those who are often marginalized.  Sadly, publishing still favors stories written and about mainstream (typically white, straight, American characters).  Books should represent the world’s population and offer an opportunity for readers to learn more about others who may not be exactly like them.  Diverseathon can be used as an introduction to diverse perspectives.

This year, the common read is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  Luckily, I already owned a copy!  I have temporarily put aside the book I was reading in order to focus on The Underground Railroad for the next few days.  I’m hoping to finish it by Monday or Tuesday of this week.  The Underground Railroad is a historical fiction novel with a twist.  Whitehead’s story follows a young slave named Cora who takes a risk and attempts to escape a Southern plantation via the a literal underground railroad..yup with trains, engineers and all.  I just started this book tonight and am already hooked.  The Underground Railroad has won the National Book Award and was an Oprah’s Book Club 2016 selection.

Let’s be honest. I have a full-time job and will not be able to read everything pictured above.  However, I have made it a priority this year to read as many of them as I can.  My goal for Diverseathon is 2 full length books and Ms. Marvel (the small graphic novel sitting on top of the books).  If I dedicate most of Sunday to read The Underground Railroad, I think I can meet this goal.

If you’re interested in participating but don’t have any idea what to read, here are a few suggestions!  I have read all of those pictured below and strongly recommend them to anyone looking to dive into some diverse reads.

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I certainly hope you participate in Diverseathon! Let me know if you have any recommendations of if you have read any of the books listed above.

Have a great weekend!

KM

January 2017 Reads

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Oops, it has been over a week since my last post!  Unfortunately I was sick for much of last week and then this week I just wanted to focus on reading. 🙂

The Fireman by Joe Hill was my first “massive” book of 2017!  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had only read Horns by Joe Hill before buying The Fireman so I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy his other works.  THE FIREMAN DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  I have seen it compared to Harry Potter which I don’t really get… Sure there are a lot of Harry Potter references (but in that case, there are probably double the Mary Poppins/Julie Andrews references) but that doesn’t make the story “like Harry Potter”.  The majority of this book is set in a secret community (cult?) full of New Englanders infected with Dragonscale, a condition that causes its host to spontaneously combust.  If they were to be found by the police or local militias, they would be brutally murdered.  The community is nocturnal to avoid detection yet is not afraid to sing and glow (literally) in large numbers…this detail frustrated me to no end.  Overall I really enjoyed The Fireman and will recommend it to pretty much anyone.  The main character is a strong woman who is really the hero of the story.  In fact, I’m a bit annoyed that the title is The Fireman, in reference to one of the male characters, instead of The Firewoman..just saying.

The other three books I have read in the last week and a half were all from Book of the Month, my favorite subscription service!  In fact, it is one of the only 2 subscription boxes that I buy (the other is Indiespensable by Powells Books in Portland).  To prove just how amazing BOTM is, they gave all of their members a FREE copy of The Grownup by Gillian Flynn in the January box.  *UNPOPULAR OPINION ALERT* I am not a huge Gillian Flynn fan.  I read Gone Girl and was not impressed.  After that, I felt no desire to read any of her other books, but since The Grownup was free and quite short I gave it a shot.  At 62 pages, it can be a one sitting read.  It is hard to describe this book without spoilers… It starts with an unnamed young woman who unconventionally earns her money.  She meets a desperate woman with a troublesome stepson who may be possessed by their old Victorian home.  Anything more will ruin it for a potential reader.  This is one of those stories that will either leave you somewhere between riveted and annoyed.

Lucky You by Erika Carter releases in the US on March 21, 2017.  BOTM members were able to choose this book in their January boxes!  This is the second month BOTM has provided members with an opportunity to own a book a few months before the official release date. Unfortunately this book didn’t live up to the excitement.  I read it one day when I was trapped in bed with the stomach bug. It’s an accessible, quick read with larger text and quite a bit of white space on the pages.  My biggest gripe with Lucky You is the lack of connection between the reader and the 3 main characters.  I was hoping the story would grow darker with the cultlike atmosphere in the off the grid remote home the characters flee to.  Now that’s a book I would have loved! Carter glossed over this part of the story and focused more on the depression and confusion of the 20-something women.  In my opinion, there are far too many of these books lately.  As a 20-something woman, I could not relate to these characters.  Based on the Goodreads, Amazon, and BOTM ratings of this book, it appears Lucky You wasn’t very well received by many readers.

Finally, I finished reading The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan last night.  I feel like I could easily write entire post just about this book.  Somewhat of a social commentary, Mahajan tackles racism, terrorism, classism, radicalization, and activism in 1990s-mid 2003s India.  The story follows a young victim on a small bomb in a busy Dehli market, the parents of two boys were were killed in the same bombing, the terrorist who planted the bomb and his friend who produces terrorist propaganda, and an increasingly disillusioned activist.  There are several references to 9/11 that can make readers rather uncomfortable.  This is not a light read but I believe it is a timely and necessary read.

Let me know if you have read any of these books & what you thought of them in the comments!

Have a great weekend everyone, I hope you have plenty of time to read!

-KM

Massive Books for 2017

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2017 is going to be the year I tackle multiple chunky books.  It seems like winter is a typical time for readers to dive into longer reads, and this year will be no exception for me. In the winter of 2013 I read Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  This book took up almost two months but was completely worth it. I don’t remember reading an abnormally long book in 2014, but hey it could have happened!  In 2015 I read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and in 2016 the 4 Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.   This year I am losing myself in The Fireman by Joe Hill.

Disclaimer: Ok Harry Potter fans, I am sure you have noticed my HP books in the background and may be dismayed at their perfect condition.  I read HP years ago but just bought my own set last year.  So no, this set has not been read.  I fully intend to reread the series but so many other new books keep getting in my way. 

The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman is only my second Joe Hill novel (the first was Horns).  This guy can write.  Confession time… I have never read anything by Stephen King, his father.  Maybe next winter I will rectify that!   I started The Fireman last night and  have come to page 215 out of 747.  Sadly for me, tomorrow is the beginning of the workweek and I will not be able to sit on my couch and read this all day!  This has really kept me entertained while fighting off a mild stomach bug this weekend.  The Fireman is plot driven which makes for a quick read.  Set in the present tense (there are references to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Glen Beck) but with the world losing a battle against Dragonscale or Draco incendia trychophyton  which causes those infected to spontaneously combust.  The story is unsettling as it is reminiscent of recent outbreaks around the world, Ebola, Zika.. and it makes you wonder what civilization would look like if a disease (or in this case a spore) was as widespread and as unstoppable as Dragonscale. Page count: 747

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

I don’t yet know much about this book.  It caught my eye at my local bookstore a few times but it took me months to actually buy it.  One of my favorite Booktubers (Katie at Chapter Stackss) highly recommended it in one of her recent videos, plus it has a blurb from Jeffrey Eugenides right on the front cover.  Let’s hope they didn’t steer my wrong!  Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of Sleepwalking by Meg Wolitzer but I think this one will be more my style.  The novel follows a group of friends from their teenage years to middle age and focuses on character development rather than plot.  I will probably get to this sometime in the Spring or Summer of 2017. Page count:538

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

I am not one for YA books but I am a sucker for illuminated and epistolary novels.  This book does not follow a typical narrative.  Instead, it is full of various documents, emails, lab/medical records, and transcripts from classified interviews.  Illuminae is the first in a trilogy that takes place roughly 500 years from now in space.  I only bought the first book, although the second book it available.  If I don’t love this one, I won’t bother with the second installment.  Page count: 599

Arcadia by Iain Pears

I kept wavering on whether or not this book would be worth my time.  It is more on the sci-fi spectrum when I prefer fantasy (FANTASY AND SCI-FI ARE NOT THE SAME! Why are they always lumped together?!?). There are multiple “interlocking worlds”, storytellers, and a psycho-mathematician (whatever that is).  Booktuber and author, Jennifer Campbell sold me on this tome after reviewing it on her youtube channel : Jen Campbell Youtube.  I will known pretty quickly if this is a book for me.  However, I do have high hopes for it especially after reading and loving Dark Matter by Blake Crouch in 2016. Page count:510

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I CANNOT wait to read this massive novel set in 19th century London.  All I know is that it has magic, magicians, and fairies.  COUNT ME IN.  Also, I really want to watch the TV series that is currently on Netflix but I don’t dare watch it before reading the book.  Page count: 782

Have a great week everyone!

-KM

Goodreads Challenge Thoughts & This Week’s Currently Reading/TBR

Happy New Year everyone! I feel obligated to say that I’m glad 2016 is finally over and that 2017 has begun.  Great, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about reading challenges.  There are reading challenges all over the internet just asking to increase a reader’s anxiety.  This year I am saying “No Thanks” to the extra pressure that comes along with setting goals for an activity that is supposed to be relaxing… Side Note: If you are looking for one that does not require you to read a certain number of books, but does require you to go outside of your comfort zone, check out  Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017 .

Oh Goodreads, I really do love you.  Unfortunately, you have caused me undue stress over the last two years.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I read over 80 books this year (the final number was 84).  Let’s be honest, this was not 84 chunky books.  No, this was a mix of slim novellas, graphic novels, and average sized books (I define this as anywhere from 300-400 pages…ish).  The longest book I read in 2016 was A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab at a respectable 509 pages.  To my credit, I also dedicated nearly an entire month last spring to Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (which I highly recommend).

Regrettably, there were quite a few neglected tomes patiently sitting on my shelves because I was worried that picking them up would cause me to fall short of my established Goodreads challenge of 80 books.  I noticed this became even more of a problem towards the last quarter of the year.

This year I have chosen to forgo the Goodreads challenge.  Sure, I did technically set a goal on Goodreads but it is only 12 books, a whopping 1 per month.  Please.  😉

By allowing myself to ignore an arbitrary quota, I hope to find I am engaging in the stories I read to a fuller extent.  I am also ecstatic to read a few hefty books this year (a TBR post dedicated to long books is upcoming!).

Awkward switching gears, I am currently reading Roses and Rot by Kat Howard. At just over halfway through, I am entranced! The story follows two adult sisters who have been accepted to an elite and exclusive artists colony in the remote woods of New Hampshire.  Sounds boring right?  Well wait until they start seeing things that don’t seem to belong in the “real world”.  No, I’m not talking about ghosts, vampires or werewolves.  It took a lot to tear myself away from the book in order to go back to the office today after a staycation full of reading. 🙂  I hope to finish reading Roses and Rot in the next few days!

This week’s TBR:

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Have a happy reading week everyone!

-KM

 

 

 

Least Favorite Books of 2016

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It seems appropriate to end 2016 with a post filled with negativity.  I apologize in advance to anyone who enjoyed these books, I may get a bit mean.  Unfortunately I have read more “bad” books this year than the three pictured above.  Most of the flops were pawned off on other unsuspecting readers.  DISCLAIMER: If you have picked up one of my books I was getting rid of this year, there’s a good chance it isn’t terrible… Most of the books I gave away were good but I just needed the shelf space. However, there were a few awful ones in there…OOPS!

So let’s start with the one book on this list that I actually finished….

Warp by Lev Grossman 

Ok so I’m a huge fan of The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman (yes I know it has its problems which did not go unnoticed) so I was ridiculously excited when it was announced that he had a short novel coming out in 2016.  I preordered a copy of Warp and waited impatiently for it to arrive.  At under 200 pages, I expected to devour it in one sitting.  Yeah….that did not end up happening.  I trudged through this awful story over the course of a few days.  Warp was marketed as an early version of Quentin (main character of The Magicians)…oh boy was that misleading.  Readers are forced to follow a pointless story with no real ending.  The entire story takes place in just about one day (I think? There is no way I’m cracking open this book again to fact check this statement…It really was that bad) and it basically covers every boring minute in a troupe of young adults with no real direction.  Do yourself a favor, stay FAR FAR away from this book.  I have tried to give it away on multiple occasions and have so far been unsuccessful.  I gave this book 1 star on Goodreads.

The last two books were so unbearable that I had to quit them partway through.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I chose this as an add on in my December Book of the Month box after hearing all of the buzz from Everything Everything (Yoon’s debut novel).  Also, that cover…I mean come on.  I think I made it about 40ish pages into this before I just could not take it anymore.  It’s not just that I am not a huge fan of YA books (although I’m trying to incorporate more YA books in my reading).  One of the main characters, Daniel, is such a whiny narrator and is to blame for why I quit this book!  I just could not read one more reason why he does not get along with his older brother.. I’m sorry I just don’t care!  I feel like this is one of those books that is overhyped and has no hopes of ever living up to expectations.  However, I don’t think this books is objectively bad.  Unlike Warp, there is a definite audience for this book.  I just don’t fit into it.

 

Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters

This book sounded SO PROMISING!  First of all, the creepy illustrated grandfathers clock coupled with the black pages separating the sections of the book really added to the tense and haunted atmosphere.  I made it about halfway through this book and thoroughly expected to read the whole thing.  Honestly what ruined this book for me was the horrible editing!  There were so many distracting typos, repeated words, and poorly written sentences.  For example, one line had the word “music” in it THREE TIMES… That was it for me.  It also seemed ridiculously repetitive.  The main character, Alison, was involved in a horrific fire which left here with severe burns on half of her body.  On one of her nighttime walks (the only time she goes outside) she finds an album in a antique shop window.  Oddly enough, the store opened in the middle of the night when she was standing outside admiring the album.  After purchasing the album and getting it home, she noticed that she can only open it to one page, as the rest of the album is stuck together.  Then things start getting weird.  Long story short, she finds herself inside of the album multiple times.  Each time when emerges from the album, her scars from the fire are gone and her missing fingers are mysteriously back.  However after a few minutes to hours, her scars return and her fingers disappear again.  From what I can gather, this is the plot of over half of the book.  Seriously this just kept happening over and over again with no forward movement.  I do not regret quitting this book at all.

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

Until next time,

KM

Favorite Books of 2016 PT. 2

dsc_0028Happy Friday everyone!!!

Today’s post is the second in the favorite/least favorite books of 2016.  Unintentionally, the books discussed in this segment are largely part of a series and all fall into the Fantasy genre.

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

Terribly brief overview: Librarians as thieves, spies, alternate dimensions, secret library (which is MASSIVE), and dragons all in one series.

Why you should read it: See above… But seriously these books are so much fun.  You may notice the spines look like they don’t necessary belong to the same series.  The reason?  I could not wait until the second installment, The Masked City, came out in the US so I bought it from the UK.  I’ve been good and have the US edition of the  third book, The Burning Page, on preorder (It releases in January 2017).  If you love books about books, this is for you!

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.7 (The Invisible Library)  & 4 (The Masked City)

My Goodreads rating: 4 (The Invisible Library) & 5 (The Masked City)

 

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Terribly brief overview: YA book that follows a family who experiences “the accident season” every autumn.  Sometimes the accident season brings a few cuts and bruises while other years it claims a life.

Why you should read it: First off, read it around Halloween for optimal creepiness.  The author creates a compelling story that keeps you guessing until the end.  As is typical for the YA genre, there is a romantic element to The Accident Season. However, it’s not overly sweet nausea inducing  insta-love.  The story is dark and haunting and is likely to leave you with a book hangover.

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.6

My Goodreads rating: 5

 

A Darker Shade of Magic Series by V.E. Schwab

Terribly brief overview: In this universe, there are 3 inhabitable Londons: Grey London, Red London, and White London.  There once was a Black London which serves as a cautionary tale for the others.  Grey London is devoid of magic and is most familiar to the reader.  Red London is where we all wished we lived, full of magic and danger.  Ordinary citizens of the 3 Londons cannot pass between the worlds.  Only travelers, special by birth, have the ability to visit alternative Londons in order to pass messages.

Why you should read it: THE WRITING. V.E. Schwab is a master storyteller. Try to find a booktuber or book blogger who dislikes the Darker Shade of Magic series…I’ll wait. You will fall in love with the two main characters, Kell and Lila.  Also, if you start the series now, you’re in luck! The final installment of the trilogy, A Conjuring of Light, releases February 2017.

Overall Goodreads rating: 4 (A Darker Shade of Magic) 4.3 (A Gathering of Shadows)

My Goodreads rating: 4 (A Darker Shade of Magic) 5 (A Gathering of Shadows)

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below what you thought of any of these books. 🙂  I’m also open to recommendations about books similar to these!

Tomorrow’s post will cover my LEAST favorite books of 2016.

 

Until next time,

KM

Favorite Books of 2016 PT. 1

dsc_0027So far in 2016, I read 83 books.  As expected, some were great some…not so great.  This week I will post 2x about my favorite books and once about my least favorites.  Not all of the books shown were published in 2016.

Let’s get started!!!

The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac by Sharma Shields

Terribly brief overview: Boy’s mother goes missing after meeting Mr. Krantz who looks and behaves similarly to a sasquatch (BigFoot).  Boy spends years attempting to find the “monster” who took his mother away from him.

Why you should read it: This book was WEIRD. I mean it.  You probably won’t be able to find anything else like it. The author is native to the PNW and writes about the landscape in Eastern Washington, including the Palouse which extends into Western Idaho.  At 380 pages it’s an incredibly quick read and will leave you wondering what you just read..but in a good way!

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.5

My Goodreads rating: 4

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Terribly brief overview: Charlie is enrolled in a school for intellectually disabled adults.  Researchers choose Charlie for a new surgical experiment meant to increase IQ in humans.  The experiment has been successful on one mouse named Algernon.

Why you should read it:  This books will make you cry, guaranteed.  The book is told through Charlie’s journal entries which are to be used by the researchers to gauge his intellectual progress.  No spoiler here, Charlie becomes smarter as a result of the surgery and subsequent experiments.  In fact, he becomes more intelligent than the researcher who designed and conducted the experiment.  POSSIBLE SPOILER: Algernon the mouse starts to deteriorate.  The novel makes you question what intelligence means and how it affects us.  Naturally there are several ethical questions raised by the story.  Regardless of what you think of the book (Does it accurately represent those with intellectual disabilities?) it will leave you thinking about it long after finishing the final page.  Also, It’s 1000x better than the Canadian movie of the same name.

Overall Goodreads rating:4

My Goodreads rating:5

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Terribly brief overview: Teenage girl disappears after breaking up with her boyfriend only to reappear 20 years later with an explanation involving creatures of another realm *that DO NOT like to be called fairies*.

Why you should read it: As the title suggests, this story isn’t your typical fairy tale.  It deals with difficult issues including abortion. It’s set in Great Britain which is always a plus. If you like mystery, fantasy, or thrillers this is probably for you.  In my opinion, the book’s greatest strength is that it isn’t just for one type of reader.  Like all of the other books on this list, this will leave you thinking about it for weeks to come! Lastly, you should read this because Graham Joyce needs to better known in the US!

Overall Goodreads rating:3.5

My Goodreads rating:5

The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker

Terribly brief overview: Story circles around one girl in a family affected by sexual violence, poverty, and the 1960s.  Ari, the protagonist, has an imaginary friend who takes the shape of a seahorse who she turns to when reality is unbearable, which it often is for the Appleton family.

Why you should read it: GUYS..THIS BOOK.  Just go read it.  Sure, the first few chapters are slow going as you adapt to the writing style but once you get used it you will sail right along.  Really anything I say about this will be a spoiler… so just trust me on this one and READ IT.  This was easily one of my top 3 favorite books of the year.

Overall Goodreads rating: 4.5

My Goodreads rating: 5

Join by Steve Toutonghi

Terribly brief overview: Join is a new technology which allows individuals to link minds to other bodies (called “drives”) to create one new joined identity.  However, with any new technology there are glitches, hackers, and drawbacks.  You guessed it, these drawbacks are much more terrifying when you’re dealing with humans, identify, and mortality.

Why you should read it: If you love speculative fiction or science fiction (that isn’t too heavy on the science) this is for you!  NOTE: I started listening to this on audible then switched over to a physical copy after the first few chapters.  The audiobook instilled a sense of dread and darkness which got me hooked on this book almost immediately.  It’s a quick read with an ending that doesn’t tie everything up into a neat little bow.

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.5

My Goodreads rating: 4

The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

Terribly brief overview: 1980s in Midwestern America in a state that thinks it’s in the South. A teenage boy appears in a small town, claiming he is the devil himself answering a call placed in the newspaper by a local lawyer.  The boy’s appearance coincides with the hottest summer on record for the small town and leads to tension that boils over into violence.

Why you should read it:  You will be kept guessing through this entire book.  Is the boy who he says he is (the devil)? If not, why does he have scars on his back where wings would have been? Why would the devil appear as a 13 year old boy?  Why are boys going missing all across the state of Ohio? How far will a small town go when they feel threatened?  NOTE: THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS BOOK. It is not preachy and does not have religious overtones.  It’s also not a satanic book, just in case you were concerned.  This book will MESS WITH YOU.

Overall Goodreads rating: 4

My Goodreads rating: 4

Eleanor by Jason Gurley

Terribly brief overview: After the death of her sister, Eleanor loses her mother to what she believes is death.  As she grows older, Eleanor realizes she has the ability to enter another world where everything is not as it seems.

Why you should read it:  This is another book that is ridiculously hard to describe.  Again, just trust me on this and READ IT! Jason Gurley’s writing is unique and has the ability to draw you in like no other.  If you enjoy this, try his self-published book: The Man Who ended the World.

Overall Goodreads rating: 3.75

My Goodreads rating: 5

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Terribly brief overview: Wavy falls in love with a much older man, which wouldn’t raise as many eyebrows if she wasn’t just a child.  Yeah…that’s really all I have to say about this one to make you decide whether or not it is for you.

Why you should read it: Like many of the books on this list, this book will mess with you. Don’t compare it to Lolita.  In fact, this book is often compared to Beauty and the Beast…but with meth labs. Interested yet?  I’m not the only one obsessed with this book. As of 12/28/2016, it was voted as 2016 Book of the Year by Book of the Month Club (BOTM). Bonus: If you enjoy this, try The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinksi (not a religious book, you will learn that I don’t read preachy books).  The Girl Who Slept with God looks at a relationship between a child/teenager and an adult through a different lens than All the Ugly and Wonderful Things.

Overall Goodreads rating: 4

My Goodreads rating: 5

Didn’t like this format?  No worries, posts will vary in their style and length! 🙂

Interested in buying any of these books? Buy it local!  IndieBound Bookstore Locator

Thanks for reading!

Until next time,

KM

Welcome, let’s do this!

Hi, I’m Kaitlin and I’m so excited to share my reading life with you!  First things first, I’m not the world’s best writer.  I don’t remember much about the mechanics of writing and grammar from middle/high school and I’m sure that will become apparent in this blog.  Now that I’m out of grad school, and have been for about a year and a half, I don’t have many opportunities to write.  Sure, there’s business communication and reports for work but that’s not the same.  This is all just a drawn out way of saying “BEWARE ENGLISH MAJORS/AFICIONADOS“.

Anyway, the purpose for this blog is to reach out to other bookish people about our favorite thing….reading!

I thought joining BookTube on YouTube would be a great way to talk about my love of reading and books with others.  Then I realized how much I dislike being on camera…  So I’m going to give this a shot and see how it goes.

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/21590928-kate-morehouse

Instagram @katemorehouse

 

Thanks for reading and I look forward to talking books with you soon!

-KMimage