Audio Book Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train CoverBook: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, Narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher

Published January 2015 by Penguin Audio|11 hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Thriller

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot about The Girl On The Train, and I’m glad I got to read it!

So, it’s a really interesting mystery (although it’s one that I figured out maybe 2/3 of the way through?), and while it wasn’t surprising when it was revealed, it was still fun to get to that point. Mostly because Rachel is such an unreliable character, and you’re never sure if what she figures out is completely accurate.  So even though I was pretty convinced of what happened to Megan, I still had my doubts about whether I was right or not.

I thought the end was somewhat predictable- probably because I correctly figured out what happened, at least to some degree- but this was a case where it honestly didn’t matter.  Partly because of how unreliable Rachel is, with her alcoholism, and the fact that she drinks to the point of blacking out and not remembering a single thing later on. But there is something compelling about the book, and I just really wanted to see what would happen.

It was also pretty immersive, and I felt like I was really in the book, which I think has a lot to do with the fact that I listened to it.  It made me wish (for probably the first and only time) that I had a longer drive to work so I could keep listening.  If you haven’t read it yet, I would definitely recommend the audio, because for some reason, The Girl On The Train works really well as an audio book.

Speaking of audio books: the narrators!  The book is narrated by Rachel, the main narrator of the book (Clare Corbett), Megan, who narrates fairly frequently (Louise Brealey) and Anna, who narrates sporadically (India Fisher). I’m not the biggest fan of multiple narrators, but it worked so well for this book, particularly with how Hawkins did it.  Rachel does narrate most of the book, but you get random sections from Megan and Anna, and I have no idea why it worked, but it did.

I’m glad they went with 3 different narrators for the audio, because I can’t imagine one person narrating all three women.  And it really helped distinguish between the three.  I did have to figure out who was who (this post was really helpful, plus they have excerpts).  I really liked who they selected as narrators- Corbett, Brealey and Fisher really brought Rachel, Megan and Anna to life, and they totally sounded like how I would expect the characters to sound.  I think Corbett was my favorite (probably because we hear her the most), but I would also listen to anything Brealey narrated.  Fisher was definitely my least favorite, and Anna was the character who I hated the most.

I hated Anna so much that I was glad we didn’t see her narrate more.  Because the more we saw of her, the more I hated her.  She came across as a vindictive, whiny spoiled brat, and…as weird as this is…I found myself yelling at her whenever we saw her.  The other characters, particularly Megan and Rachel, have a bit more to them than Anna did, and overall, it’s a good look at characters and why they act the way they do.

I’ve seen the comparisons to Gone Girl, but I won’t, because I haven’t read it, and I’m not comfortably with saying anything either way.

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3 stars.  I liked it- it was really engrossing, and I wanted to keep listening, but I didn’t love it either.

Audio Book Review: City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

City Of A Thousan Dolls CoverBook: City Of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster, narrated by Shannon McManus

Published February 2013 by HarperAudio|8 hours, 54 minutes

Where I Got It: I got it from audible.com

Series: Bhinian Empire #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I’m glad I finally read City Of A Thousand Dolls!  I really liked it, and I can’t believe it took me so long to read it.

It’s a really engrossing world, and I LOVE that it’s set in a world that is so not pseudo-European.  I wish we knew more about the world, because it really is different.  It’s very vivid, and listening to it made me feel like I was really there, figuring out things alongside Nisha.  Listening really made me feel like I was there.

The idea of a place where girls could go to learn skills was really interesting.  I don’t know that it’s necessarily unique, but I really liked how Forster used the Houses and City and asars to distinguish between the houses. It’s so detailed and vivid and rich, and I really felt like there was a lot more to the world than what we saw in the book.  If there isn’t, then Forster did one heck of a job making you believe it.

There were still things that didn’t make sense.  Like, the reveal of Nisha’s family.  It felt like a really big deal in the book, and I couldn’t figure out why.  I don’t know if I missed something, or if the family history we get just wasn’t enough, but it seemed like it was a bigger deal than I thought was warranted.

I did like the cats, and how Nisha had a connection with them.  There was a point where I thought that if Jarrett wasn’t a cat, he and Nisha would totally be a couple.   Or that there would be a love triangle, since Nisha had a relationship with the courier…I kind of expected him to be human at some point, but dismissed it…only to be proven wrong.  You can’t go wrong with cats, especially ones that talk!

I thought the mystery of the murders was really well done, and I liked seeing Nisha figure it out.  I felt for Nisha, with who it turned out to be, and while I was slightly surprised at who it was (and why they did it), looking back, it’s actually not that big of a surprise.  And yet, I don’t think I ever could have predicted who it was.

I really liked Shannon McManus as the narrator, and I felt like she was Nisha.  I couldn’t figure out why she sounded so familiar, and I haven’t listened to anything else she’s narrated, and it’s really bugging me.  Maybe she just has one of those voices.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked City Of A Thousand Dolls, especially the fact that it’s set in an Asian-inspired setting.  And the story was really interesting and different.

Currently Obsessed With: Character-Inspired Outfits

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about things I’m really into.

Currently Obsessed With

I went to a Harry Potter Party a few weeks ago, and in my search for a Luna Lovegood costume I could put together with not a lot of effort, I got to thinking about character-inspired outfits.  I’m a huge fan of Disneybound, which was really helpful when I was putting together a Princess Anna costume for Halloween.  If you know of any similar blogs, I’d love to know about them.

There is something very cool about using everyday clothes to dress up as a character- and there’s a certain practicality to it that I also like.  There’s nothing wrong with buying a costume, of course, but I’m finding that in terms of costumes, I’m getting more practical as I get older.  I want to dress up for Halloween (or something other party/event) but I don’t want to get a costume that is then going to sit in my closet, not being worn.  Character-inspired outfits are an easy way to do that.

The biggest appeal is that it’s fun to create outfits based on a character.  I did it last year when I dressed up as Anna from Frozen for Halloween, and I did it when I dressed up as Luna Lovegood for the Harry Potter party.  I’m definitely doing it for Halloween this year, and I’m currently deciding between Luna (since I have the outfit, but I may add some radish earrings and a butterbeer necklace) and something Night Vale- either Cecil or a hooded figure.

I’m currently figuring out a Cecil outfit- I have a plum colored shirt I’m not sure about, so I’m trying to decide if I want to go with it, a more Night Vale purple or something white.  I’m hesitant about white, because I know I’ll end up spilling all over it, and white isn’t my favorite color to wear, but it will also be easy to find if I decide not to go with plum, or if I can’t find the shade of purple I’m looking for.  And a cardigan.  I need a cardigan.  And some fun Night Vale-ish tights.  Although I’m not too worried about the shirt now, because the fun of it is that it doesn’t have to be exact, and now that I’ve talked it out a little, I might stay with the plum-colored shirt after all.

I did get this totally awesome old-timey microphone necklace, and I would need to figure out make-up for it.  I figure the temporary tattoos from the Night Vale store might be easier, because I’m not at all confident in my ability to do make-up for a Cecil costume, but we’ll see.

I’m not completely sure what I would do for a hooded figure costume, other than wear all black (which is no problem at all, since I have black clothes).  I’d need a hooded cloak, of course, but I figure that will be easy enough to find around Halloween, and maybe I’ll print up the rules of the dog park on some card stock and hang it around my neck or something.  If I go with it, of course.

Really, for Halloween, it’s more about the accessories than the actual clothes, but it’s still a lot more fun to put something together with accessories and clothes than it is to buy it.  Plus, the idea of dressing up as, say, the Sorting Hat, or Alice In Wonderland in a non-obvious way is really fun.  I just love the idea so much, and I really need to pin more character-inspired outfits.  I’m not kidding when I say that I have an entire pinterest board dedicated to it.

I do think it’s one of those things that’s really subtle, which does fit with me personality-wise, but it’s also something that can be not-so-subtle too.  Depending on who you dress up as, it might not be obvious you’re dressed up as someone, which is the appeal of doing it year-round, but it might be problematic if you’re talking about dressing up for Halloween, or something else where you need to be costumed.  But that really is why I’m such a huge fan of it.

At risk of repeating myself, I think I shall end this post here, but it was also fun to ramble on about.  Hope you have an awesome day!

Book Review: God Help The Child

God Help The Child CoverBook: God Help The Child by Toni Morrison

Published April 2015 by Knopf|178 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child—the first novel by Toni Morrison to be set in our current moment—weaves a tale about the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult.

At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love. There is Booker, the man Bride loves, and loses to anger. Rain, the mysterious white child with whom she crosses paths. And finally, Bride’s mother herself, Sweetness, who takes a lifetime to come to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.”

A fierce and provocative novel that adds a new dimension to the matchless oeuvre of Toni Morrison.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When I heard that Toni Morrison was coming out with a new book, I was really excited, because I’ve read a couple of her other books this year, and I knew I had to read it!

It’s not my favorite Morrison novel, and of the ones I’ve read, I think it’s probably my least favorite of the ones I’ve read.  I mean, I loved the writing itself, and the way she told the story- it’s very much her, and it’s why I keep reading Morrison.

What I think I liked most was how what happened to us as children has a huge impact on who we are as adults, and you can see that with both Bride and Booker, and you can’t help but wonder how Rain’s life will impact her as an adult.  I really wish we saw more chapters with Sweetness, Bride’s mom.  There wasn’t a lot to her character (for me), and it would have been interesting to see more from her perspective.  You get it well enough, that she she was surprised by how dark her daughter’s skin was (which actually reminded me of The Bluest Eye initially) and how hard it was for her, but I really wanted more from it than what we got.

Overall, the story didn’t completely work for me, and I’m really at a loss to explain why.  For some reason, it felt like it didn’t have something that was there in the other books I’ve read by her- almost like something is missing.  I really wish I could pin-point it, but I can’t.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I don’t have a lot to say about God Help The Child, but I did like it, and Morrison’s writing is pretty awesome.

Book Review: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Who Fears Death CoverBook: Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Published June 2010 by DAW|386 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Who Fears Death #1

Genre: Adult Magical Realism/Post-Apocalyptic/Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

An award-winning literary author presents her first foray into supernatural fantasy with a novel of post-apocalyptic Africa.

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.

Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny–to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

After reading (and loving) Akata Witch a few months ago, I knew I had to read everything else that Okorakor has written, so I started off with Who Fears Death.

It’s such an interesting blend of magical realism and sci-fi.  It wasn’t overtly sci-fi, but there was something about the book that felt like it had sci-fi elements.  Which was really interesting, given the magical realism in the book.  I just love how she draws from African myth.  It really makes me realize how much we need other mythologies incorporated in books, not just Greek mythology.

It’s also a post-apocalyptic Africa, which was also really cool!  I love Post-Apocalyptic stories, and this was no exception.  It’s not clear what led to this point (but you know it’s something) and I honestly didn’t care- there’s something about the way she tells a story, and in this case, it didn’t matter that I didn’t know.  Normally, it would frustrate me, but Okorafor is so good at telling a story that I didn’t even notice that aspect.  It was a different post-apocalyptic world and story than I was expecting.  Even though the world was very changed and different than the one we know today, there were some things that had never changed.  I think I’m very used to a particular post-apocalyptic story where you see the event (or at least have it explained) and then see how the world is different.

Somehow, Who Fears Death felt different than that, and initially, while reading it (and maybe even a little bit after finishing it), I didn’t see why it was described as a post-apocalyptic story.  But after a while, it did make more sense why it was described that why.

I really came to like a lot of the characters, and Onyesonwu had quite the journey.  I don’t know that I have strong thoughts on her either way, because her story, for me, was really tied to stopping genocide, and her destiny/role in things.

She created a very vivid world, and I really want to read it again to let everything sink in.  I think it’s one of those books where you need to read at least a couple of times for everything to sink in- I really feel like you’ll see something different with each read.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

4 stars.  I really liked it, and Okorafor creates these really different, but also really awesome worlds that pull you in.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Classic YA Lit 101 Syllabus

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books On My Classic YA Lit 101 Syllabus

I love this topic!  I could focus on one genre, but where’s the fun in that?  Not so fun, though, was trying to keep the list relatively short, because there are so many books I could go with.  And I may have expanded the definition of classic to include books that I think should be YA classics…a lot of them are relatively recent, but it’s so hard to picture YA without them!

  1. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  This book is the first one I thought of, and while any book by Anderson would do well, I think if I had to pick one, it would be Speak.  Wintergirls and The Impossible Knife Of Memory would be be other two choices if I had time to do more than one Anderson book.
  2. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  This is the book that got me into YA, and it did make dystopic novels huge.
  3. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  This is a huge YA book (denying that would be weird, in my opinion) and it’s hard to deny its impact.
  4. Harry Potter.  You can’t have a class on classic YA without Harry Potter on the syllabus!
  5. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle.  Meg is such an awesome character, and there’s adventure and mystery and it’s so full of awesome, and how could you not have it on a classic YA syllabus?
  6. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  The way the story is told would make for interesting discussion, and it’s loved by a lot of people (like the rest of the list) but it’s classic YA historical fiction.
  7. The Giver by Lois Lowry.  It’s a classic YA dystopia.  It was dystopia before it was cool.  And I can’t imagine YA without this book.
  8. Between Shades Of Grey by Ruta Sepetys.  I loved Lia’s story, and even though it’s come out in the last few years, it’s a classic story of overcoming some horrible circumstances.
  9. Ash by Malinda Lo.  This is a totally awesome re-telling of Cinderella, and so deserving of being called a classic.
  10. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  It’s such a good coming-of-age story centering around a life-changing book, and I really think

Honorable Mentions: The Book Thief (couldn’t finish it, but I also had Code Name Verity & Between Shades Of Grey on my list and didn’t want a ton of WWII-era books), If I Stay and The Fault In Our Stars (there were too many other books that I’d rather have on the list), Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries are totally awesome) and Sarah Dessen (I haven’t read her, but I know a lot of have read her and love her books, which is why she’s close to being on the list, but not quite there)

Audio Book Review: Go Set A Watchman And To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Go Set A Watchman CoverGo Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, Narrated by Reese Witherspoon

Published July 2015 by HarperAudio|Length: 7 hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction/Historical Fiction

Blog Graphic-What It's About

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision – a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

My Thoughts: First off, I thought I’d talk about the two books together, because it just seems like it’s going to be was going to be a lot easier than reviewing them separately.  It’s definitely going to be all over the place, but I do plan on talking about Go Set A Watchman, then To Kill A Mockingbird, and then my final thoughts on both.  It is going to be a fairly long post.

I don’t even know what to think about Go Set A Watchman (henceforth known as Watchman).  If you haven’t read it, and you haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird (furthermore known as Mockingbird), you will be glad to know that you do not need to read Mockingbird before Watchman.  Watchman, while taking place in the same world, with the same characters as Mockingbird, is a stand-alone (to me, but that seems to be up for debate).  If it’s been a while, some of the events of Mockingbird were mentioned, but for the most part, Watchman is a completely separate story.  I actually found that this post over at Book Riot to be super-helpful. In all honesty, and after having read Mockingbird immediately after Watchman, I am glad I read Watchman first, and then Mockingbird.

The timeline didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  It takes place over the course of 2 or 3 days, but so much happened that it seemed like it took place over a longer span of time.  I think part of it is that the flashbacks of her childhood were scattered throughout the book, which made it seem like more was going on.  I think the flashbacks were fairly clunky, and it felt like they randomly appeared and disappeared.  I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I listened to Watchman, and from listening, it was slightly odd.  Maybe they didn’t translate well to audio, at least in this case.  I did like seeing how she remembered Maycomb and the people that live there, and it really is through those flashbacks that we see the story that would become Mockingbird.

Still, I was struck by how much Jean Louise idealized Maycomb and the people who live there, especially her father, and how hard it was for her when everything was challenged.  It’s amazing how things haven’t changed all that much, and how relevant some of the arguments made in the book still come up today, especially with everything going on recently.  I think we need Jean Louise to have her father and town on a pedestal, and we really need that in order to understand why it’s so hard for her to deal with it.

And the narration!  I thought Reese Witherspoon did a wonderful job narrating.  I was initially surprised (but I don’t know who else I’d pick to narrate), but she was a good choice for a narrator.

Rating: I’m not sure what to rate Watchman, but I did really like it in the sense of how stories change over time, and how we get to a final draft.  I think, if I had to give it a rating, I’d give it 4 stars.

To Kill A Mockingbird CoverTo Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, narrated by Sissy Spacek

Audio Published In 2006 by Caedmon, book originally published in 1960|11 Hours

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction/Classic

Blog Graphic-What It's About

(from the hardcover edition)

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior- to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed Mockingbird, and it was nice to listen to it again, because the last time I read it was in high school. I was really fuzzy on the details, and there was a lot I had forgotten in the years since then.  I really don’t have a lot to say about Mockingbird on it’s own, but I did really like the story and the town.  I did see hints of Watchman in it, and I did see glimmers of some of the racial tension we see in Watchman, and quite honestly, I’m not sure if it’s because it was always there and I never picked up on or if it’s because Watchman was fresh on my mind.  Mockingbird did make me appreciate Watchman a lot, even though I read it after Watchman.

I did like Sissy Spacek as a narrator, and it was actually sort of soothing listening to her.  And it was soothing in a good way, if that makes any sense.

Rating: Honestly, I’m not sure.  I originally had a 5 star rating, and part of me wants to keep it at 5, because it is a great story, and it holds up so well, but I don’t know that I love it enough to give it 5 stars.  So…maybe 4 stars, because I do really like it.

Let’s talk about both books now, since I’ve said all I have to say on them individually.

So, in some ways Watchman is a sequel, since it takes place after Mockingbird, but at the same time, I overwhelming see it as an early draft of Mockingbird, and the story that we may have had instead of Mockingbird.  I wasn’t surprised with the fact that Atticus is racist in Watchman, and I feel like he does represent a lot of people during that time.  It does make me realize how I little I know, and it makes me want to learn more.  But I do get why people are taken off guard by it, because this is a much less-idealized Atticus and not the Atticus we’ve come to love.

I think what’s most fascinating about both books, but particularly Watchman, is how far we’ve come in some ways, but how some things haven’t changed all that much, in terms of the racial issues that come up in both books.  What I think I liked most about Watchman is how it would become Mockingbird.  I would love to see other drafts, just to see how we get from Point A to Point B.  You can definitely see glimmers of Mockingbird in Watchman, and reading both definitely made me appreciate both, and how stories can evolve.  I think that’s what I took away from Watchman the most.

I think that’s all for Go Set A Watchman and To Kill A Mockingbird!  I wish it were slightly more organized and coherent, but I had a hard time getting my thought written down.

Book Review: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Maplecroft CoverBook: Maplecroft by Cherie Priest

Published September 2014 by ROC|435 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from a friend

Series: The Borden Dispatches #1

Genre: Adult Horror/Historical Fiction/Alternate History

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one…

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I read Maplecroft for book club, and I liked it!  Maplecroft is definitely an odd book, but in a good way.

What really intrigued me about this book was how Lizzie Borden’s story was re-told.  I like that it’s a supernatural version of what happened to her parents and that there was a reason why she killed them.  It also really made me want to re-visit this episode from the History Chicks podcast.  There is definitely a lot I don’t know about Lizzie Borden, and I’m curious about how much of what we see in the book about Lizzie and her sister Emma are real, and how much was fictionalized.  I also wished I remembered more from the History Chicks episode about Borden.

It was interesting that no one really talked about what happened to her parents.  It comes up, of course, but it’s not really talked about in depth.  I understand why they’d want to leave it behind, but they also seemed too willing to pretend like it never happened.  Maybe that’s because it happened several years after Lizzie’s dad and step-mom were murdered.  I’m not sure if it’s assumed you know the basic story of Lizzie Borden.  Which it might, and really, that’s all you need to know, because there is an alternate history feel to the book.

I will say that it wasn’t as creepy as I thought, and the supernatural element of the book wasn’t completely there for me.  I know that Lovecraft comes up quite a bit with this book, and I wonder if my lack of familiarity with Lovecraft’s work is the reason why it didn’t work for me.  It did feel like I was missing something in terms of the more supernatural elements- it wasn’t completely explained in the book, so either I missed it, or I really need to read Lovecraft and re-read this book.  I did like the overall, something-is-not-quite-right-here feel of the book, and I am curious about how this will work out in the books to come.  It stands up pretty well on its own, but I am curious about how the rest of the series will turn out.  I’m not sure if I want to keep reading this series, at least right now, but somewhere down the line, I might pick them up.

I liked the story well enough, and I don’t think you need to be familiar with Lovecraft’s work in order to like (or even love) the book, but at the same time, I feel like I would have appreciated and liked the book more if I knew more about his work.

I thought the relationship between Nance and Lizzie was a little weak, and I think it could have been developed a little more. And there were a couple of times where I felt like it was there just to be there, and that it could have been anyone else.  I wish we had a little more about their relationship, because I felt like it was just randomly there.

I’m not sure how I feel about the story being narrated by several people.  I can’t see the story being told any other way, but at the same time, there was a disconnect for me with the different narratives.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I liked it, and I liked how something wasn’t quite right.  I liked the more supernatural take on Lizzie Borden, and I wish that the supernatural element of the book worked more for me.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I Have On Auto-Buy

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

Blog Graphic- Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Authors I Have On Auto-Buy

This was a topic originally done back in 2013, so it’s really fun to re-visit it as a topic!  I definitely had that post up, because I didn’t want to repeat anyone on that list.  The people on that list are still totally on my auto-buy list though. And I love having authors that are so awesome I will read anything they write, and not have to think about whether I’d read it!

  1. Nnedi Okorafor.  I loved Akata Witch, to the point that I will buy her books, no matter what it is.
  2. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  I’ve only read Purple Hibiscus, but after that book, I will buy everything she’s ever written, and anything she writes in the future.
  3. I.W. Gregorio.  If her future books are anywhere near as good as None Of The Above, it won’t matter what it’s about, because I will buy it.
  4. Gail Carriger.  Her books are so much fun, and I know anything she writes will be hilariously awesome.
  5. Anne Blankman.  After reading her Prisoner Of Night And Fog books, I’m looking forward to reading her other books!
  6. Kasie West.  I loved On The Fence, and I’d totally read everything she writes, no matter what it’s about!
  7. Stephanie Perkins.  She can do no wrong.  Her books are completely awesome.
  8. Mary Roach.  She makes science so much fun.  I’m not the biggest fan of listening to non-fiction, but I really like listening to her books.
  9. Robin Talley.  I loved Lies We Tell Ourselves, which earned her place on my auto-buy list.
  10. Ruta Sepetys.  Between Shades Of Grey and Out Of The Easy were so amazing, which is why she’s an auto-buy!

Book Review: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani

The Last Ever After CoverBook: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani

Published July 2015 by HarperCollins|441 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: The School For Good & Evil #3

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy/Fairy Tale Re-telling

Blog Graphic-What It's About

In the stunning conclusion to the New York Times bestselling School for Good and Evil trilogy, everything old is new again, as Sophie and Agatha fight the past as well as the present to find the perfect end to their fairy tale.

Former best friends Sophie and Agatha thought their ending was sealed when they went their separate ways, but their storybook is about to be rewritten—and this time theirs isn’t the only one. With the girls apart, Evil has taken over and the forces of Good are in deathly peril. Will Agatha and Sophie be able to work together to save them? Will they find their way to being friends again? And will their new ending be the last Ever After they’ve been searching for?

Soman Chainani delivers action, adventure, laughter, romance, and more twists than ever before in this extraordinary end to his epic series.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

I liked The Last Ever After, and I thought it was a good way to end the series.

There is something about this one, like the previous book, that seemed really confusing, and I’m not sure if it’s because I needed to re-read the first couple of books, or if there’s just something about the story that seems more confusing than it really is.

You really see that balance is important, which is something that you saw a lot in the second book. You really see the consequences of having no balance, and how much we need to have balance. And we learn more about Sophie and Agatha’s mom, and how much that impacted Sophie and Agatha’s story.  Part of me wishes that it came up more, in the previous books, but at the same time, I don’t know that it would have worked anywhere else in the series.  I also liked seeing the friendship between the two girls, and how they both came to realize that they needed each other, and how important friendship is.  That is definitely one of the things I really liked about the series.

There was a lot to wrap up, and it did feel a little more rushed than the other two books.  There were a lot of interesting things in the book, some of which I’ve mentioned.  But I also felt like things, like how you can be your own worst enemy, weren’t explored as well as they could have been.  Maybe a fourth book would have helped with things feeling not so rushed.

It did feel like Good won again, which is slightly disappointing, because I wanted something good to happen for Evil, especially where Sophie is concerned.  But at the same time, I liked that she had to find herself and become happy with herself.  So I guess it happened, just not in a way I wanted.

I really like the League Of 13, and I really want to know more about Cinderella, because what we learned was actually really awesome.  It really added something to her story, and unlike a lot of other characters in the book, it felt like she had a much more developed backstory.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

3 stars.  I liked it, and there were some really interesting elements that came up, and I wish they were explored a little more.  Overall, though, it does wrap up things fairly well, even though they were wrapped up in a pretty predictable way.