Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Dancing After Hours [review]


Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus
Published by Knopf on February 13, 1996
234 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-67943-107-7
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: self-harm

Goodreads IndieBound

I picked up Dancing After Hours a couple years ago at a library used book sale and proceeded to forget about it entirely. I finally made a pile of the owned-yet-unread books I had clogging up my shelves and when it came time for the Make Me Read readathon, I decided to pull books exclusively from this pile. And I’m glad I threw this one into the mix.

Always in the office she felt that she was two people at once. She believed that the one who performed at the desk and chatted with other workers was the woman she would become as she matured, and the one she concealed was a girl destined to atropy, and become a memory.

Dancing After Hours is an incredibly well-written collection of short stories. The writing itself is so compelling and the characters all have rich interiors. Each story, many of which are intertwined, provides a glimpse at the reality of humanity and the motivations behind us all. I can’t remember the last time I highlighted so many phrases in a book. And!!! I counted multiple instances of women-loving women, which was a nice touch for me. I’d highly recommend this book to anyone interested.

Standing in electric light, she gazed at its beauty out there under the dark sky, and felt the old and faint dread that was always a part of her thrill when she saw falling snow, as though her flesh were born or conceived with its ancestors’ knowledge that this windblown white silence could entrap and freeze and kill.

Thanks for reading! You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging, Readathons

Make Me Read It 2017 Wrap-Up

This was my first readathon and I had a lot of fun with it! It was really great connecting with folks on Twitter who were also doing the readathon, and I participated in a couple of sprints. The books I chose were all from my owned-but-unread pile, because most of these books have been sitting on my shelves for a while and I needed some motivation to get to them!

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The first book I attempted to read was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It had been gifted to me probably a year or two ago and I’d been putting off reading it ever since. This is definitely not a book I would buy for myself, the concept is somewhat interesting (I went to college in Burlington, VT and a lot of my friends were “localvores” so I sort of know something about that), but the potential for condescension was way too high for me. And that initial perception was correct–although I adored Kingsolver’s writing from the start, it was clear that she has a very high and mighty attitude on the matter, which I didn’t appreciate. DNF.

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For my official book #1, I read Lost at Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It was honestly a breathtaking book and you can find my full review here. To summarize, let me just say that it is a beautiful graphic novel about a girl finding herself. Also, there are a lot of cats.

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For my second book, I read Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus. My full review is scheduled for Saturday, I believe, but this is a lyrical collection of short stories. To my surprise and delight, they almost all took place in the Boston area, which is where I live!

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Next I tried to read Cats & Daughters by Helen Brown. I was not really impressed with the writing or the story. I didn’t make it very far in–not even far enough to meet the cat. It’s definitely less about cats and more a memoir. Which is fine, but I was really in it for the cats! DNF.

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My next tried-to-read book was The Atlantis Gene by A.G. Riddle. It was also not very well-written and from the start the plot seemed shaky to me. Perhaps it gets better, but I didn’t want to find out. I also felt really uncomfortable about the “cure for autism” aspect, although again I didn’t really read far enough in to get a real grip on that, so I can’t really speak to it. DNF.

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Finally, book #3 of the readathon was Wicked by Gregory Maguire. This was a reread, as I read this for the first time in high school and didn’t remember essentially any of it. And I’m actually still working my way through it because it is just… not holding my interest at all. It’s kind of been dragging on and I’m not really enjoying it at all! But I’ve made it pretty far in, so I’m dedicated to finishing it.

Anyway! That’s my wrap-up for Make Me Read It. I (kind of) made it through 3 books and was able to remove 3 more from my TBR. Even though I didn’t read as much as I’d have liked to, I did enjoy the readathon and am glad I was able to pull 6 books total off my TBR list! At least I really liked 2 out of the 3 books I ended up reading through, although next time I do a readathon I should probably put on more books I expect to like instead of making it all books I don’t know much about!

Thanks for reading! Did you do the Make Me Read It readathon? Share your experiences and/or your thoughts on my reads in the comments. You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Lost at Sea [review]


Lost at Sea by Brian Lee O’Malley
Published by Oni Press on July 24, 2012 (originally 2003)
160 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-93266-416-4
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author Website

Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it — or at least that’s what she tells people — or at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it’s just what she needs — or maybe it can help her find what she needs — or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along. 


Okay, so full disclosure: this book has been sitting on my shelf for I don’t even know how long. Maybe two years? Maybe more? I believe I got it as a Christmas gift and then never got around to it. I honestly haven’t read any Bryan Lee O’Malley except for a bit of Scott Pilgrim in high school (which I’ve been meaning to read in full at some point). I put Lost at Sea on my TBR for the Make Me Read readathon since it’s a relatively short book and a graphic novel to boot. And I am so, so glad I finally got around to reading it!

I get thoughts like:
I look in the mirror and I don’t belong there. I see myself and I look all wrong. Stephanie looks bold and bouncy and fresh and normal, and I look like something else. Too long, too stringy, too pasty, too squarish,
kind of inhuman.

Oh boy, this whole thing hit me right in the heart. Rileigh isn’t flat-out labeled as having depression, but I related a lot to the ways in which she acted and the thought patterns that she had and it felt very similar to my own experiences with depression. It was incredible reading this, feeling like O’Malley reached into my brain and plucked the words right out and put them in the pages of this book.


The illustrations were just gorgeous as well. Sometimes I get distracted while reading graphic novels if I don’t enjoy the art, but I thought this was just beautiful. The style was perfect and I felt things were conveyed very well. I think I posted about a thousand pictures to my Instragram story as I was reading. I can’t wait to read this again after letting in marinate in my mind a little. I definitely highly recommend this book to all and am so glad that I have my own copy, which is something that I don’t usually consider a necessity as far as books go anymore.


Anyway, thanks for reading! Please let me know in the comments what you thought of Lost at Sea or, if you haven’t read it, whether you’ll consider adding it to your TBR. You can also find me over on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews

Emma in the Night [review]

**Note: This book was given to me by St. Martin’s Press as part of a sweepstakes. This in no way impacts my review. Review was written in May of 2017.


Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on August 8, 2017
Advance Readers’ Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14143-9

I honestly do not know where to begin with this book. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the ARC of Emma in the Night on a whim. The cover was enticing, the plot looked interesting. Hey, why not. I had not read anything else by Wendy Walker and I had not heard anything about this release yet. Boy, was that a good decision. This is an incredible read that could otherwise have slipped me by.

Emma in the Night is a story about a girl and her sister, who vanish without a trace. Three years later, the younger sister reappears. She seems willing to tell the authorities everything she knows about their disappearances. There’s a lot going on, however, that she isn’t willing to talk about. The story is told from the perspectives of Cass, one of the sisters, and Dr. Walker, an FBI agent who can see deeper than anyone else working the case.

At first, I found the disjointed storytelling to be confusing and frustrating. We were just getting bits and pieces of the story from Cass herself or secondhand from Dr. Walker’s recounted conversations with Cass. Right off the bat, the writing style made me feel really lost in the story. As things progressed, I realized how intentional (not to mention essential) this was. Cass is an unreliable narrator, and makes it clear that she only feels the need to reveal things that will help her cause: finding her sister.

The characters were fascinating, complex, and well-developed. The plot and the writing were phenomenal. I could not make myself put this book down. I loved watching the story unravel, seeing things make both more and less sense as we progressed until it all came together with an impressive flourish. I knew there were twists coming, but I truly had no idea what was in store for me.

Wendy Walker blew this out of the water. Her writing is immersive and carefully crafted. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this book–and I’m sure it will be great as a re-read as well. I’d recommend it to all who enjoy a good plot twist, but particularly to fans of thrillers and crime novels.

 

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

A Darker Shade of Magic [review]


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Published by Tor Books on February 24th, 2015
400 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-76537-645-9
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black. 

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

I’m a little late to this series, but I read A Darker Shade of Magic for the first time recently and I really enjoyed it! I’m actually planning to start in on the second book very soon (I already have it checked out of the library).

They got to their feet, neither willing to walk away just yet, and Kell looked down at Delilah Bard, a cutthroat and a thief, a valiant partner and a strange, terrifying girl.

The characters are wonderful. Kell is incredible and I kind of ended up falling in love with him. He’s a little bit of a rule-breaker, and can be a little obtuse, but he was so endearing and the love in his heart really got to me. Lila is amazing. She’s kind of your typical badass fantasy girl: a rogue, independent and stubborn to a fault, and very good with a knife. She also talks really negatively about other women, which got on my nerves. In spite of that, I really liked her.

It was nice to have a canonically lgbtqia character, Rhy, but he also felt like a negative bisexual stereotype. One of the most prevalent stereotypes about bisexual people is that they’re greedy and will sleep with anyone and that’s basically 90% of Rhy’s personality. All we really see him doing is flirting with people or talking about flirting with people and it’s heavily implied (if not outright said, I didn’t write the quote I’m thinking of down so I can’t remember) that he’ll sleep with essentially anyone. Like, that’s basically how his character is introduced. And that’s pretty much all I remember about him, except for some important plot stuff toward the end.

Overall, the plot was good. The writing was good. I definitely had a good time reading this book. I gave it four stars instead of five because it just didn’t pull me in like a five star book. I’m intrigued to see where the rest of the trilogy goes and I’m glad y’all got me to read it!

Thanks for reading, please share your thoughts in the comments. You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #2

Back at it again, kids! My TBR is currently at around 300 and I suuuper need to cut that down.

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate

The visually arresting and often misunderstood octopus has long captured popular imagination. With an alien appearance and an uncanny intellect, this exceptional sea creature has inspired fear in famous lore and legends – from the giant octopus attack in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Ursula the sea witch in The Little Mermaid. Yet its true nature is more wondrous still. After decades of research, the authors reveal a sensitive, curious, and playful animal with remarkable intelligence, an ability to defend itself with camouflage and jet propulsion, an intricate nervous system, and advanced problem-solving abilities.

In this beautifully photographed book, three leading marine biologists bring readers face to face with these amazingly complex animals that have fascinated scientists for decades. From the molluscan ancestry of today’s octopus to its ingenious anatomy, amazing mating and predatory behaviors, and other-worldly relatives, the authors take readers through the astounding life cycle, uncovering the details of distinctive octopus personalities. With personal narratives, underwater research, stunning closeup photography, and thoughtful guidance for keeping octopuses in captivity, Octopus is the first comprehensive natural history of this smart denizen of the sea.

If any of you know me, you’ll know I’m in love with cephalopods and that my apartments is plastered with octopuses. KEEP.

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The Wild Girls

It is the early 1970s. Twelve-year-old Joan is sure that she is going to be miserable when her family moves from Connecticut to California. Then she meets a most unusual girl. Sarah prefers to be called Fox and lives with her author dad in a rundown house in the middle of the woods. The two girls start writing their own stories together, and when one wins first place in a student contest, they find themselves recruited for a summer writing class taught by the equally unusual Verla Volante. The Wild Girls is about friendship, the power of story, and how coming of age means finding your own answers, rather than simply taking adults on faith.

Umm, this sounds beautiful and I absolutely still want to read it. I think I originally thought it was an lgbtqia book and it doesn’t appear to be canonically so, but I’m still moving it up on my TBR list! KEEP.

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This Is How You Lose Her

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own.

In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

I’ve heard many good things about this and am still intrigued by it! KEEP.

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The Eye of the World

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

I vividly remember a cute, drunken college student telling me how good this series was one of the first and only times I went out with the party kids during my undergrad career. I know it’s recommended to fans of ASOIAF and LOTR and I do enjoy the former, but feel like I probably won’t be committing to this series anytime soon. TOSS.

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A Guide to Being Born

A Guide to Being Born is organized around the stages of life—love, conception, gestation, birth—and the transformations that happen as people experience deeply altering life events, falling in love, becoming parents, looking toward the end of life. In each of these eleven stories Ausubel’s stunning imagination and humor are moving, entertaining, and provocative, leading readers to see the familiar world in a new way.

In “Atria” a pregnant teenager believes she will give birth to any number of strange animals rather than a human baby; in “Catch and Release” a girl discovers the ghost of a Civil War hero living in the woods behind her house; and in “Tributaries” people grow a new arm each time they fall in love. Funny, surprising, and delightfully strange—all the stories have a strong emotional core; Ausubel’s primary concern is always love, in all its manifestations.

UHHH, this cover is beautiful and these stories sound amazing!! This is moving up up up on my TBR. KEEP.

Aaaand, I only ended up removing one book, but I did move two to my TBR ASAP list! Which means they will hopefully be read and removed by the end of the year.

Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #1

The Fate of the Tearling

This is the final book in the The Queen of the Tearling trilogy and I really enjoyed it! I’d probably rate the books The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling in order of enjoyment. I didn’t like the first very much, but loved the second, and really liked the third! I thought the plot progression was interesting, although I got confused at times, and I love the characters. I thought it was really nice to see more of the background of the Tearling. I’d definitely recommend this trilogy to fans of fantasy stories.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Meursault Investigation

The three star rating is based on my personal enjoyment of the read, not an objective scale. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who has read The Stranger by Camus. It provides a fascinating contrast and goes to show that there are many sides to every story. I struggled a bit with the meandering, rambling way it was written, but it served a purpose and it was well-done overall.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Their Eyes Were Watching God

This is another instance where my rating is very subjective. This book is great–it’s just not for me. I struggle with classics and with historical fiction and that’s really why this book didn’t work for me. I also think I would have enjoyed it ten times more if I had read it in a class, as that helps me get the most out of books I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed (see: The Awakening and Austerlitz). What I’m saying is, this rating is just for me and stars mean nothing.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts? You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Bookworm Blogging, Readathons

Make Me Read It Readathon 2017

This is going to be my first readathon, and I’m super excited!! I first saw this over at Wonderless Reviews and thought it looked like a really cool idea. It’s hosted by Tea and Titles, and here’s the gist of it:

What is #MakeMeRead?

Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you’ve borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I’d pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers/bookstagrammers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there’s a tie, then it’s your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible.

When is it?

This year the read-a-thon will be running from August 6th through to August 13th. You can start reading as soon as it hits 12am in your timezone, or whenever you’d like.

Remember that the idea is to have people vote on your books, so try and get that post/Twitter poll/photo up as soon as possible in order to give your fellow participants the chance to vote!

My poll is below! They’re all books I own and have not read yet (save for one reread) and you can choose up to three. I’m super excited about this and I really hope I’m able to get a lot of books read!!

Are you participating in this readathon? Please let me know in the comments below! And link me to your polls so I can vote too. 🙂 You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Most Read Authors

So Brittany @ Beauty and the Bean Boots (is that not the cutest blog name ever??) did this post on Most Read Authors on Goodreads and I thought it looked fun! To find your most read authors on Goodreads, just go to “My Books” and click on “Most Read Authors” on the left-hand side. Without further ado, here we go!

Lemony Snicket, 14 books (A Series of Unfortunate Events & The Unauthorized Autobiography)

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Tamora Pierce, 11 books (Immortals Series, Song of the Lioness Series, Daughter of the Lioness Series, and First Test) (The cover below is probably one of my all-time favorite book covers TBH)

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Kurt Vonnegut, 9 books (The Sirens of Titan; Slaughterhouse-Five; Breakfast of Champions; A Man Without Country; Galapagos; Mother Night; If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?; Cat’s Cradle; Look at the Birdie)

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Stephen King, 8 books (Pet Semetary; Storm of the Century; Misery; Carrie; Cell; Nightmares and Dreamscapes; Gerald’s Game; The Green Mile)

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JK Rowling, 7 books (I think we all know which 7)

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And there you have it! Are any of these authors on your top lists? What do my top authors say about me? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Arrows of the Queen [review]


Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Published by DAW Books, Inc. in March 1987 
First Edition, 320 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-88677-378-6
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

I read Arrows of the Queen for the first time approximately 4 years ago and this was my second time with it. I wanted to reread it so I could continue with the series. Unfortunately, it ended up having the opposite effect. The writing needed a lot of polishing and I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much the first time around, but the plot had probably grabbed me too hard for me to notice it.

The main character, Talia, was kind of a Mary Sue (perfect in every way, essentially no faults), the other characters weren’t very well-developed, and the main romance felt really forced and completely random. I felt like it could have been done without completely and was kind of stuck in for no reason. The pacing of the story itself was jerky and weird with large swaths of time skipped over at random. There were far too many “but little did she know…” moments, which drove me nuts.

On the plus side, the world-building was good, the concept was really interesting, and there were several women loving women!!! I loved the way that the lgbtqia+ female characters were incorporated into the story. Their sexuality didn’t define them, but homophobia was still briefly discussed–it seemed similar to today, where some people had no issue with homosexuality, but others did.

Overall, the book wasn’t completely without its merits, but it just wasn’t really an enjoyable read for me.

Thanks for reading! Have you picked up any books by Mercedes Lackey? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter or Goodreads.