Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #10

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The Woman in Black
cw: child death

At that moment I began to doubt my own reality.

This was my first Susan Hill read and I can say that I’m now very excited to explore some of her other works. I don’t read a lot of gothic horror, but this definitely worked for me and I’d like to wade a little further into the genre. The writing conveyed such a strong atmosphere and I found myself really swept up in everything. It was definitely spooky, but didn’t outright scare me, which is a nice happy medium. I thought the characters were well-done, although we only spend time with a few of them. My only complaint was that the ending felt rushed and a little abrupt.

Buddy read with Sarah!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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River of Teeth (River of Teeth #1)

I had high hopes for this one, but it just didn’t really do anything for me. The characters were good, but the story felt rushed and I didn’t get very invested in it.

Rating:⭐⭐.5

Sadie_FINAL cover image

Sadie
cw: pedophilia, CSA, abuse, drug addiction
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Every little thing about you can be a weapon, if you’re clever enough.

It seems like nearly everyone has been talking about Sadie lately. Intriguingly, pieces of it felt like they tied pretty closely to The Female of the Species, which I read directly beforehand. The formatting is what was most interesting about it. Half of the book is a podcast — where I’d imagine the audiobook version would have come in very handy — and the other half is from Sadie’s perspective directly. In this way, things that we could never necessarily know from one perspective are revealed to us through the other. While this method could be flawed in the wrong hands, Courtney Summers is able to carefully craft a chilling masterpiece, slowly (but not too slowly) revealing the full story to her readers.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

State of the ARC #2

State of the ARC is a monthly meme at Avalinah’s Books meant to motivate you to finish up all your long overdue ARCs (Advanced or Early Reader Copies).

Rules of State of the ARC:

  • Mention that you’re linking up with State of the ARC @ AvalinahsBooks, which is a fun way to share our ARC progress, challenges, wins, woes and mishaps.
  • Include the link to this post, or the current State of the ARC post. You can use my State of the ARC image too.
  • Don’t forget to visit all the other people in the link-up and comment.
  • And most importantly – have fun!

A few months ago I went on a little requesting spree on NetGalley and I am still paying the price. On the plus side: I’ve read some great new releases! Here are the next three NetGalley ARCs I intend to read.

Believe Me
In this twisty psychological thriller from the New York Timesbestselling author of The Girl Before, an actress plays both sides of a murder investigation.

A struggling actor, a Brit in America without a green card, Claire needs work and money to survive. Then she gets both. But nothing like she expected.

Claire agrees to become a decoy for a firm of divorce lawyers. Hired to entrap straying husbands, she must catch them on tape with their seductive propositions. The rules? Never hit on the mark directly. Make it clear you’re available, but he has to proposition you, not the other way around. The firm is after evidence, not coercion. The innocent have nothing to hide.

Then the game changes.

When the wife of one of Claire’s targets is violently murdered, the cops are sure the husband is to blame. Desperate to catch him before he kills again, they enlist Claire to lure him into a confession.

Claire can do this. She’s brilliant at assuming a voice and an identity. For a woman who’s mastered the art of manipulation, how difficult could it be to tempt a killer into a trap? But who is the decoy . . . and who is the prey?

Dopesick
Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America’s twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it’s a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched.

Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother’s question-why her only son died-and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families. 

The Witch of Willow Hall
Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences, but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall.

The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Female of the Species [review]

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The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 20, 2016 
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
4.24 (as of 2018-10-10)
content warnings: animal death, animal abuse, rape, pedophilia

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A contemporary YA novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives. 

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it.

Three years ago, when her older sister, Anna, was murdered and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best—the language of violence. While her own crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people. Not with Jack, the star athlete who wants to really know her but still feels guilty over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered. And not with Peekay, the preacher’s kid with a defiant streak who befriends Alex while they volunteer at an animal shelter. Not anyone.

As their senior year unfolds, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting these three teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

The Female of the Species had been on my radar for a while now, and apparently I’m going through a spell of reading YA books about sexual assault because this is one of three I’ve read in the last few weeks. Luckily they were all well-crafted in their own ways and I didn’t have to worry about killing them with comparison.

Fuzzy faces peering through bars can be unbearable for many.

Change the face to a human one and the reaction changes.

This switches between three characters’ points of view: Alex, Peekay, and Jack. At first I found these changes somewhat jarring, but either the book or I eventually settled into a rhythm where they became more natural. I ended up adoring each character for different reasons, although I struggled with Jack towards the beginning. I liked the dynamics between them, although occasionally I was confused about their motives behind certain actions.

The plot itself was interesting, and differed a lot from most contemporary YA novels. While it does follow the typical “high school kids falling in love and learning more about themselves as they contemplate their futures” path, it also deals with something a lot deeper: the subjectivity of morality. The reader finds themself siding with a vigilante murderer — or at least I did — thus showing that things aren’t quite as black-and-white as they seem.

Her eyes are on mine and it’s like there’s no such thing as casual flirting with this girl. Every word she speaks is intense as hell and thoroughly investigated before she lets it out of her mouth.

While I ended up enjoying the book a lot, there were a few things that didn’t work for me. As I noted above, the perspective switches were a bit disconcerting for me to begin with. I also didn’t know how to feel about Jack’s “secret” regarding Alex’s sister. It’s revealed pretty early on, but I won’t spoil it. All I’ll say is that I don’t really understand its purpose. Perhaps it was meant to create some sort of tension between the two at the outset, but it never gets brought up or used in any meaningful way and I truly just forgot about it several times.

But overall, this is definitely a worthwhile read. I found the moral questions it unearthed very interesting while also just enjoying it as a work of fiction. I’d definitely recommend you pick this one up if it seems like your thing.

The books didn’t help me find a word for myself; my father refused to accept the weight of it. And so I made my own.

I am vengeance.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Not Books

The Liebster Award #2

Thank you to Becky @ Strikeouts + Sprinkles for tagging me! 🙂

The Liebster Award Rules

  1. Acknowledge the blog that gave it to you and display the award
  2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger gives you
  3. Give 11 random facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 11 blogs and notify them of their nomination
  5. Give these blogs 11 questions to answer

Becky’s Questions:

  1. What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?
    • Best: My digital camera! I haven’t used it in a while, but I adore it so much.
    • Worst: Hmm, I don’t know why this is such a difficult question! I literally can’t think of one single purchase, mostly because there are so many small ones I regret that just add up so much!
  2. Who is the messiest person you know?
    • This is another difficult one. Maybe my dad, but it’s mostly because he has so many things that it makes a mess!
  3. What are your thoughts on mascots?
    • When I think about mascots, all I can think of are the Washington Nats mascots and how scary they are.
  4. What’s the most useless talent you have?
    • I am extremely good at just barely starting hobbies and then completely dropping them.
  5. What was the last photo you took?
    • One of my sister’s cat, I think! Or a selfie to send my girlfriend, haha.
  6. What song always get stuck in your head?
    • Pretty much any song can get stuck in my head as soon as I hear it. Currently it’s I Know Somebody by LOCASH
  7. What’s your cure for hiccups?
    • Hold my breath and sip water.
  8. What movie quotes do you use on a regular basis?
    • Oh gosh, I don’t know but I’m sure there are a few I don’t even realize I’m using.
  9. What’s something you’ve done that you’re proud of?
    • Graduating college!
  10. Is there a show you used to watch and stopped watching and want to start again?
    • Grey’s Anatomy!
  11. What’s your worst example of procrastination?
    • Buying present for people AFTER Christmas.

Facts About Me:

  1. I’ve broken bones 4 times and have gotten ~40 stitches. I’m accident-prone.
  2. I think 5 cats is the ideal number of cats.
  3. My favorite flowers are lilacs.
  4. I like baseball.
  5. I grew up a few hours away from Canada, but my first time leaving the country was a day trip to Mexico (from San Diego) when I was ~12.
  6. I have always lived near a large body of water.
  7. I do not refrigerate cake, and recently learned that a lot of people do.
  8. I have an undergrad degree, and have been considering graduate school.
  9. When this posts, I’ll be on a plane to Texas.
  10. I love libraries.
  11. One time I saw Stevie Wonder in an airport on my birthday, and he sang happy birthday to someone else.

My Questions:

  1. If you could control the weather, how would the seasons change for you?
  2. What are you reading right now?
  3. If you could magically acquire a new talent, what would you choose?
  4. What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
  5. What is something you’re hoping to accomplish in the next year?
  6. What is your most used emoji?
  7. What was the name of your first pet?
  8. If you didn’t have to work for money, what would you do with your time?
  9. What is your favorite mythical creature?
  10. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  11. What’s your phone background?

I Tag:

  1. Jenna @ Falling Letters
  2. Madame Writer
  3. Destiny @ Howling Libraries
  4. Callum McLaughlin
  5. Ally @ Ally Writes Things
  6. Rachel @ pace, amore, libri
  7. Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books
  8. Fran L
  9. Lilly @ Lair of Books
  10. Melanie @ Mel to the any
  11. Sam @ Sleepy Sam Reads

 

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

T10T: Longest Books I’ve Read

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Top Ten Tuesday was originally put together by The Broke and the Bookish and has been taken over by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Longest Books I’ve Read. I’m gonna sort my “read” shelf on Goodreads by number of pages and see what we get. A lot of multiple books from the same series *coughASOIAFcoughHPcough* are popping up, so I’ll only include one book from each series.

A Storm of Swords
1178 pages. This list may have been 90% GRRM if I hadn’t restricted it to one book per series.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
870 pages.

The Fireman
768 pages.

Breaking Dawn
756 pages.

Angels & Demons
736 pages.

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

TBR Lows & Highs #6

Okay, so I’d been doing Down the TBR Hole for quite some time and really loved it. BUT, it started to feel a bit like a chore, which is why I’d cut down on it. Luckily, Destiny decided to create a new similar-but-different feature that’s loads of fun called TBR Lows and Highs!

Rules:

  • Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
  • Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
  • Find 5-10 (or more, if you feel ambitious!) titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”)
  • Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation of why you removed it
  • Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
  • List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)

To Remove:

Pornography: Men Possessing Women
I actually wrote a thesis-type paper during my senior year of college assessing pornography’s impact. It was interesting because I had gone into it with a more positive-steering-neutral view of porn, but after my research the paper itself was extremely anti-porn. With that background, I think y’all can understand why I’d find books about pornography interesting, but my one friend who has read this rated it meh, the description doesn’t give you much, and I think I can find something better to read instead.

When Houses Burn
I don’t remember how I added this, but I can be picky about thrillers and the blurb for this just doesn’t… thrill me.

Missoula
Don’t get me wrong, I know Jon Krakauer is supposed to be great, but I have a pretty good idea of how the criminal justice system fails victims/survivors and I’d rather read something written by a woman on the topic.

Just Listen
I just… don’t think this sounds like my thing.

The Girl from the Well
The blurb doesn’t grab me and it has poor reviews from friends. Byeee.

Newly Added:

The Book Collector and Rebecca
Both of these were autumn book recommendations by Rachel and both sounded like great reads!

Once and Forever
This one was featured in a weekly newsletter sent out by a local bookstore. Between the cover and the description, I thought it seemed like something I’d enjoy.

What Made Maddy Run
Someone on my GR timeline added this and I thought it sounded interesting.

A Pattern Language
Gretchen Rubin recommended this on the BookRiot podcast Recommendations recently!

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(Covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Not Books, Personal

The Sunshine Blogger Award #2

I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Rachel (who also nominated me last time!).

Rachel’s questions:

What’s the worst book you had to read for school?
This is going to sound like a cop out answer, but I don’t know! I can’t remember books that I’ve disliked reading for school, although I’m sure they exist.

Within your own country, where would you most like to visit that you haven’t already been?
San Francisco! It seems like such a nice place and I actually wanted to move there for a while.

What’s the best first line of a book you’ve ever read?
I have a really bad memory for stuff like this. Again, I cannot remember.

Do you have any tattoos and do you want any?
I have four (I keep forgetting and saying I have three, though)! There are definitely more I want, but I’m still deciding. Here are my current ones:

If you watch booktube, who’s your favorite booktuber?  If you don’t watch booktube, what’s your favorite thing to watch on youtube?
I’m an ASMR fiend. I find the videos so relaxing and try to watch them most nights before bed. My favorites are Sophie Michelle and Karuna Satori.

Which classic do you think more people should read?
The Stranger! I’m not big on classics but I enjoyed it, and it’s pretty quick.

What would you consider the most overhyped and the most underhyped book you’ve read in the last year?
Overhyped: Gone GirlUnderhyped: The Pisces, 10000%.

Would you like to work in the publishing industry, or do you prefer to keep books and reading strictly a hobby?
Part of me would like to, but I do think it would have a negative impact on my love of reading.

If you’re a writer, which author’s style do you think is most similar to your own?  If you’re not a writer, which author’s style do you connect with the most as a reader?
I think I really connect with Joe Hill’s style, which is why he’s one of my favorite writers. I just find myself so immersed in his stories.

What’s your least favorite book cover?
I don’t even know how to begin to answer this. Since I recently read The Woman in Black and had to deal with the very bad movie cover, I’ll have to say most movie tie-in covers.

Who’s your favorite actor/celebrity?
My fav celebrity is Griffin McElroy, he’s an angel and he and his wife are honestly relationship goals.

My questions:

  1. Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, what are your favorites?
  2. Do you genre hop when you read or do you tend to stick to the same genres?
  3. What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?
  4. Earbuds or over-ear headphones?
  5. What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?
  6. Do you have a hobby that not a lot of people know about?
  7. Tea, coffee, or hot chocolate?
  8. What’s your favorite kind of weather?
  9. What’s your favorite mythical creature?
  10. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
  11. Are you a pumpkin person?

I’m tagging: Destiny, Anna, Jenna, Fran, and whoever else would like to participate!

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

September 2018 Wrap-Up

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Books Read:

  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang. 4.5/5 stars, review.
  • Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake. 5/5 stars, review.
  • Bad Man by Dathan Auerbach. 2.5/5 stars, review.
  • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. 3.5/5 stars, review.
  • Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. 2.5/5 stars, review.
  • Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. 4/5 stars, reread.

Books read: 6
Average Rating: 3.67 stars

Other Posts:

Notable Posts By Others:

Reading Goal Progress:

This month, I read 6 books, which puts me at a total of 62 books for the year. I’m 6 books ahead of schedule and at 83% of my reading goal for the year. 🙂

 

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

TBR Lows & Highs #5

Okay, so I’d been doing Down the TBR Hole for quite some time and really loved it. BUT, it started to feel a bit like a chore, which is why I’d cut down on it. Luckily, Destiny decided to create a new similar-but-different feature that’s loads of fun called TBR Lows and Highs!

Rules:

  • Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
  • Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
  • Find 5-10 (or more, if you feel ambitious!) titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”)
  • Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation of why you removed it
  • Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
  • List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)

To Remove:

One More Thing
I can see why this interested me at one point (I love The Office), but it just… doesn’t anymore.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Everyone seems to love this and it sounds like an important book so I feel guilty removing it, but it just doesn’t seem like something that interests me.

Prozac Nation
Feel meh re-reading the blurb.

The Paths We Choose
Okay, how about I read the first book before I read the sequel.

Heroine Worship
Same as above: first book first, second book second!

Newly Added:

Dead Girls
I saw that Mallory O’Meara was reading this and thought it sounded suuuper interesting.

The Man in the Picture and The Small Hand
I finished my first Susan Hill read recently and had to add something else of hers to my TBR.

There Is No Good Card for This
I saw a friend of mine was reading this and, having a lot of friends who have gone through trauma recently, felt like it would be a good thing to pick up.

Courtroom 302
I started the new season of Serial (the podcast) today, and apparently this book was the inspiration!

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(Covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Dangerous Girls [review]

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Published by Simon Pulse on May 6, 2014 (originally 2013)
my rating: ⭐️⭐️.5
Goodreads avg:
4.12 (as of 2018-09-26)

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Spring break. Aruba. Swimming, sunshine, and drinks. Lots of drinks.

It’s supposed to be the best time of Anna’s life. Perfect.

But then Anna’s best friend is found brutally murdered.

And as the local police begin to investigate the gruesome crime, suspicion and evidence unfathomably point to one person—Anna.

Now trapped in a country not her own, Anna must fight for her freedom and prove her innocence. But as she awaits the judge’s decision, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but dangerous.

Very dangerous.

And when the truth finally comes out, it’s more shocking than anyone could have ever imagined…

Oh, do I have some conflicted feelings about this book. Spoilers abound. I read this as the last book in the postal book club I joined last year. I honestly wasn’t expecting much going into it. It seemed like a typical YA thriller and I thought it could be a fun read. On the plus side, I was correct about the latter part. I blew through this fairly quickly, and the story is super easy to get pulled into. The dialogue was a little awkward and left something to be desired, but otherwise there wasn’t much wrong with the writing itself.

The premise of the book is pretty simple: a bunch of high school kids are on vacation and one of them is brutally murdered. There’s a lot of jumping around between timepoints, which I found to be a little confusing and not super well-done. We go between the history of the MC and the murdered girl, the vacation itself, and the aftermath. But it’s confusing because it jumps around different parts of the aftermath as well, so sometimes it’s hard to know where exactly you are.

Parts of the story really got to me. It’s implied that there’s some sort of sexual tension between the girls and it makes me feel really uncomfortable for reasons I’m having trouble fully describing. I was absolutely livid at the plot twist. This is not how you write an unreliable narrator. We are given absolutely no reason not to believe everything the MC is thinking and saying. That’s the problem. We’re inside her head and she seems completely normal and then at the end — surprise! We find out she’s a sociopath and has been lying the whole time. I hate plot twists and characterizations with no support, and this is the epitome of that. A twist just doesn’t feel satisfying if the book hasn’t actually been building up to it.

Okay, that rant may make it sound like I completely hated the book, but I didn’t. Like I said, it was a fun read and I honestly couldn’t put it down. I just really wish the ending had gone differently or had been supported by the rest of the book. I think this would be good for someone who wants a mindless YA thriller, but I wouldn’t recommend expecting a lot out of it.

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(Blurb and cover courtesy of Goodreads.)