I know I've said before that I tend to avoid American historical fiction when I'm choosing my reading materials, but I had no problem with picking up The Uninvited by Cat Winters because I enjoyed her writing in her debut, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The writing in The Uninvited was just as good, if not better, because putting the book down and doing other things (like work) made me pretty angry.
The Uninvited is a very character-driven novel, as it follows Ivy Rowan adjusting to her new life away from her family in Buchanan, Illinois. Everything is in an upheaval from World War I and the flu epidemic, so nothing is easy for her. Since Ivy feels so enormously guilty about the murder her father and brother committed, she keeps going back to the Schendel furniture in hopes of making amends with Daniel. The development of that relationship was slow, but worth it in the end.
When I saw that The Uninvited was about ghosts, I expected them to be a lot more present throughout the novel. It is not at all what I would necessarily consider a ghost story. Ivy caught glances of various dead friends and relatives, and she knew that foretold some death in the coming days.
I do want to bring it up, though I cannot say much about it, but there are certain turns of the plot that I did not see coming from a mile away. I had an idea in my mind of what The Uninvited was going to be about, and it was not THAT at all. Having said that, it made the experience of reading the book so much better.
If you're a reader of historical fiction or a fan of Winters' YA, you need to go out and find you a copy of The Uninvited. Being as it was released in trade paperback, it shouldn't be too expensive. I can almost guarantee that it'll be a reread, or you'll at least be sharing it with friends.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
Haunted by Lynn Carthage is just the kind of young adult novel that I like to read. My only experience with YA as a young person was reading R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Christopher Pike, and Haunted is definitely in their league. It was a very nostalgic read.
Because I read so many paranormal, slightly horror YA novels back in the 90s, Haunted was very predictable. I called Phoebe's secret almost immediately, but that took nothing away from the novel. The point and fun of it is the creepy/chilly ghosts and other characters and trying to figure out what is really going on in that old house. (Phoebe's secret is given away at 55% in your Kindle copy if you're like me and want to peak, though I didn't this time. I mean, I didn't have to.)
Another awesome thing going for the book is that I never wanted to skip ahead. I'm really back about doing that with any sort of mystery. I don't like a lot of tension, and Haunted was at my happy medium. There were twists and turns (some that I even missed), but the tension was never palpable enough that I had to find out what was going on. I couldn't put the book down, and I was happy to read it in order. That is quite rare.
Even though I had Phoebe figured out, I liked her a lot as a character. I'm obviously not a teen since I was reading these books in the 90s, but she really brought out my motherly instincts. I think that's part of why I was able to figure her out so quickly, but my heart absolutely broke for her. She loves her family so much and felt so ostracized for what she did back home in California prior to the events of the novel, that I just wanted to hug her. I think a lot of teen readers will be able to relate to her because who doesn't feel like their parents are blowing them off if they have younger siblings? I also really dug her relationship with Tabby. I guess there was enough of an age difference between the sisters that she felt so protective of her. I think it may have been the best part of the book.
If you like stories about hauntings and a good, mild mystery, Haunted is well worth reading. Though it lacked some surprises for me, I'll definitely still continue the series. It's a fantastic debut.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through Book Junkie Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
I've never read the Ruby Red series by Gier, but I own them all because the premise was interesting. I'm a terrible person and still trying to make time to read them. Anywho, I'm really glad that I didn't put off reading Dream a Little Dream. It was a light, fun fantasy that was such a blast to read.
Olivia "Liv" Silver is main character, and I loved her dry sense of humor. She was very self-aware, and because of this, there wasn't a character that I didn't enjoy her interacting with. Being as she was a fairly normal girl, she didn't really let the paranormal aspect of the novel overwhelm her or even take it very seriously. Also, she had enough sense to not be losing herself while swooning over a boy.
The other characters in Dream a Little Dream were just as fun. Mia, her little sister, helped keep Liv grounded (not the "in trouble" kind, mind you). Lottie was the perfect nanny, and I wish that she had been mine. And the boys - Jasper, Arthur, Grayson and Henry - were a lot of fun to read because Liv kept them on their toes. But I'm not going to go through everyone, so don't worry.
Dream a Little Dream would be a great middle grade/young adult crossover novel because there is barely any drinking and just a little kissing. I think younger readers will eat the book up because it's got the aforementioned kissing, gossip, very light high school drama, and hot potential book boyfriends. It will read a little young for older YA readers, but I think they could still enjoy it for the writing and Liv's great personality. I supply a lot of books to my friend's twelve year old twins, and they will definitely be getting Dream a Little Dream from me when it comes out.
Dream a Little Dream is a book that I can't wait to have in my library system because I will be giving it my readers. I'll also be recommending it to moms to read for themselves and their littles. So basically, this is a book you need to read. It's a lot of fun, and I cannot wait until the second book in the series is translated.
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the novel from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
I love love love to read short stories (the literary ones from college are my favorites!), but I don't think that I've ever reviewed an anthology. Since I was so intrigued by the authors and the premise of Beyond the Pale, I figured that I would give it a shot.
I have to be honest and say that I skipped some of the stories for various reasons. I know that Jim Butcher is everyone else's favorite here at Bibliophilia, Please, but I am yet to read The Dresden Files. (Before you string me, I bought them on Kindle and Audible, so Storm Front will be happening soon.) I also skipped Frost Child by Gillian Philip because I wasn't in the mood for fairies at the time. Jan Yolen's A Knot of Toads and Nancy & Belle Holder's The Adventures of Lightning Merriemouse-Jones were both passed over, as I could get into them. That being said, these stories will not factor into my overall rating of the book.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela Saladin Ahmed
When I took classes on Middle Eastern history, I had to read One Thousand and One Nights because a culture's fairy tales are important to their history. (If you want an in depth conversation on this, I'm down for it later.) Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela is very like the stories that Scheherazade told.
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela was a fairy tale without a true villain, and I never felt any danger for the main character. However, I was engaged and creeped out through the end and will happily read more stories from Ahmed. 3.5/5 Stars
The Children of the Shark God Peter S. Beagle
I was a die hard fan of The Last Unicorn growing up, so I had the highest expectations of this story in regard to the rest of the collection. Thankfully, The Children of the Shark God is a story that I could walk away from and return to later because I got distracted despite the story's brevity.
The Children of the Shark God a typical "god" story where no mortal can know or understand his/her ways. What struck me as funny is that the Shark God was not the character in the story that loved unconditionally. That's not really a spoiler as gods tend to act like assholes in mythology, but it was something interesting to read.
I'm impatient, so I did get a little bored because nothing really happened except the exploration of the family dynamics between the Shark God's mortal wife, children, and himself. Of course their are supernatural/paranormal elements because, hello? God? The writing was good and I persevered. 3/5 Stars
Misery Heather Brewer
Misery was my favorite story in Beyond the Pale and resonated most strongly with me. Misery reminded me so much of depression. You can't remember life before it or how you got there, much like the characters living in the town of Misery. The eyes of the neighbors have the only colors in a world of black, white, and gray. That was pretty fucking profound. If that's not misery, nothing is. And, of course, Misery loves company.
After reading the story, I looked up the author to see what she says about the story, and I was right. I mean, there really wasn't anything else that it could've been about. 4/5 Stars
Shadow Children Heather Brewer
I was unable to sleep one night, so I pulled out the anthology and read Shadow Children
It's about the scary shadows that creep in the dark, and needless to say, there was no going back to sleep for me. 3.5/5 Stars
Red Run Kami Garcia
Red Run is the prefect example of what a short story should be like. I was on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what would happen next. Excellent ghost story! 4/5 Stars
Pale Rider Nancy Holder
Pale Rider is a bit more dystopian than paranormal at first. The world has pretty much ended, and Dana is scrambling to survive with her friends. Then Alex shows up and changes everything.
There are quite a few things that I found to be inconsistent with the story, and I was scratching my head in confusion by the end. 2.5/5 Stars
South Gillian Philip
South was a bit confusing to me at first because of the narration of the story. However, I knew exactly what the story would essentially be about as soon as I read about the water, ice, and penguins. That's how you know I read far too much urban fantasy. 3.5/5 Stars
I know my reviews were very short, but so were the stories. I did the best I could to avoid spoiling your enjoyment. That being said, I liked what I did read in Beyond the Pale, and I found some new (to me) authors that I'll be reading. If an author can successfully execute a short story, then I am very interested in seeing what they can do with a novel.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance digital copy of the book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I just don't know right now. I'm trying to sort through my feelings. I was so attached to these kids, and I kind of want to go hug my daughter. Full rI just don't know right now. I'm trying to sort through my feelings. I was so attached to these kids, and I kind of want to go hug my daughter. Full review to come....more
(Don't You) Forget About Me is a YA novel by Kate Karyus Quinn that goes heavy on the magical realism and the strange. It has been compared to Stephen King's work - and for good reason - but not for the gory horror that many expect but the exceedingly queer world-building that you may not understand until the very end - if at all. (Don't You) Forget About Me's setting of Gardnerville and main character, Skylar, will capture your interest but leave you scratching your head until the last chapters.
The world of (Don't You) Forget About Me is not for the faint of heart. You have to go in expecting that you will be entering a town that has completely different rules than our own reality, and you won't have a reliable narrator to share the facts with you. Skylar (a.k.a. "Sky") has kept herself doped up on forget-me-nots, a sort of herbal medication created by teenagers in the high school's lab, because she doesn't want to deal with the loss of Piper from her life. We learn about Gardnerville, Sky, and her relationship with Piper through a series of flashbacks that come every other chapter. There are no truly coherent present-day Sky chapters until maybe the last quarter of the novel.
Personally, I haven't decided whether or not I liked either Sky or Piper. Sky stayed way too strung out at the beginning of the book, and I get that was her way of dealing with the loss of her sister and the circumstances surrounding it. Piper is introduced through the flashbacks, and she was a very domineering older sibling. She called all the shots and herded Sky through her early years. Yes, that was probably why Sky was so lost without Piper, but still. I also have to give a special side-eye to Sky's mom and great-grandmother for not stepping in with her being incoherent from the drugs for FOUR FREAKIN' YEARS.
(Don't You) Forget About Me is also a bit of a mystery when Sky surfaces from her drug-induced hazes and tries to figure out the fate of Piper. It is hard to tell whether or not Piper was killed along with her classmates and Skylar can't let go, or if there is something stranger going on in Gardnerville. You also get to figure out Foote, Elton, and all the other weird supporting characters. (GG is the best, by the way.)
The only thing really bad I have to say about (Don't You) Forget About Me is how it wrapped up at the end. I mean, I love some weird (I did intentionally give birth to my daughter on Stephen King's birthday, after all), but the weird really needs to have some tight explanations and a tight ending. Now, I know I don't get to pick the endings of books, but there was one twist of the book (ask me about it on Twitter if you want to know which one) that really just left me scratching my head. All I could think was, "why that?"
Despite my feelings about the twists at the end and the somewhat vague ending, (Don't You) Forget About Me was an enjoyable book that I think would be a good stepping stone for readers getting ready to delve into horror. Quinn is also an author who impressed me quite a bit with her writing style, and I'll be reading Another Little Piece this summer when my reading schedule allows for it.
- 3.5/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more
Sometimes, I wish I wasn't a blogger so I would have more time to devote to books like Lauren Owen's debut, The Quick. I love books set in Victorian England, and this one was right up my alley. The book is beautifully written and the characters are well imagined, but it is also very, very long.
I started reading The Quick a few weeks ago, and I fell in love with Owen's writing. Aiskew Hall and the children, Charlotte and James, were described in such a way that I felt like I could close my eyes and see it all as it happens. Because of C.S. Lewis, I have a special fondness for children running all over large, dusty manor houses, so this part of the novel did not last nearly long enough. When the characters grew up, I found myself drifting away from the book more and more.
The Quick reminded me a lot of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell with its magical realism. As with the latter book, The Quick requires a lot of time to read it. It is not a book you can rush through because of the twists and turns and throwing you about. As Tana French says in praise of the book, it is indeed one to savor. Unfortunately, my reading schedule at present does not allow for such novels. I finally had to give up and move on to my other reading obligations.
Just because I was unable to finish The Quick, it is most certainly a book I will go back to when I have the time to just sit and enjoy Owen's writing and world-building. Giving anything less to such a book would be a great disservice.
- DNF -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the novel from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All expressed opinions are awesome, honest, and courtesy of me....more
One of the first review books that I ever received was The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (you can read my review HERE), which was a wonderful read because it is so uniquely written. The Collector of Dying Breaths has the same lovely writing style and carries on with the characters I liked so well in the previous books. (Seduction falls between The Book of Lost Fragrances and The Collector of Dying Breaths, though each can be read as standalones.)
The Collector of Dying Breaths is written in a way that is half historical fiction and half contemporary thriller, with just a smidge of paranormal for effect. Jac L'Etoile has been the main character for the past three books (I haven't read the first three in this series) and is just as strange and unique as the writing style of these books. She is both strong and independent, yet fragile and wholly reliant upon her inner circle. Her life is thrown for a loop when she loses one of those people that she depends on for so much. I don't want to spoil the other books, so I won't tell you who died, but this death also made me a bit sad because I liked that character a lot. Anywho, this death is what starts the events of the book and is central to the story.
As the series title implies, everything revolves around reincarnation and past lives. The Collector of Dying Breaths goes back and forth between René le Florentin, a perfumer from the 1500s, trying to perfect the formula of capturing eternal life through a person's final breath, and Jac in the present day getting dragged into René's work. There is a lot of tension and suspense, and it's hard to talk about them without spoilers. Let's just say there is a lot of food for thought surrounding these well-developed characters.
The Collector of Dying Breaths is a beautifully written addition to a series that I enjoy very much and plan to continue reading. It is always refreshing to read adult fiction, and anything by M.J. Rose is a special treat. If you read historical fiction, you should definitely give these books a try.
- 4/5 Stars -
To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a copy of the book for reviewing purposes through Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own....more