Thursday, August 10, 2017

When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

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When I Am Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

5 stars

“Tragedy is infinitely more interesting than bliss. That’s the allure of self-destruction.”

Ben Gibson has a lot to say about what happened on the trip to the mountain. His first trip out of Treyben and how it slowly became a nightmare. This is Ben’s confession about what happened on the mountain, how nine people went on a school trip and only five returned, and what he had to do for Rose. This novel is intense. It’s dark, twisty, and it doesn’t put a smile on my face. Stephanie Kuehn is gifted with writing loathsome characters who go through horrific events. This novel is unsettling and I feel unsure of myself and the characters. I question their intentions and what really happened. Was everything I just read true or was it all a lie? This is my second Kuehn novel and once again, I’m amazed at her talent. Yes, this is YA, but it doesn’t read like YA. Kuehn has the ability to write novels for a target audience that tiptoe into the adult genre. Her content is dark, barren, emotionless, and helpless. She puts you into the head of our confessor, Ben, and she shows us how hopeless a lot of these teens were when they went onto the mountain and how they remained hopeless after it.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

“Be humble,” he said to us. “That’s the only way to survive out there.”

There is a huge cast of characters for this novel. There’s Ben, our lead protagonist, who we quickly learn is behind bars for the murder of his girlfriend, Rose. There’s Rose, a character who can be cruel and is constantly looking for the worst in humanity. Dunc and Archie, two friends who seem to constantly be getting drunk or high. There’s Shelby and Clay, two characters who are there and seem to be going through a lot of personal issues. There’s Avery, a girl who has a crush on Ben. Tomas, Rose’s twin brother and Ben’s least favorite person. Mr. Howe, the teacher who is chaperoning the trip and who wants to help Ben. I don’t won’t to tell you anything about any of these characters, especially Ben. I think it’s best to go into this novel absolutely blind to the characters’ pasts and personal motivations.


Character Scale: 4.5
The Villain- There are many villains in this story, but I think it’s up to the individual reader to decide who was in the wrong and who was in the right. Everyone has their own motivations, but were their motivations justifiable? That’s the question you have to ask yourself and keep in mind while reading this novel.


Villain Scale: 5

There’s a chapter in this novel where everything that goes wrong could possibly go wrong and it was one of the most intense chapters I’ve read in a YA novel. As much as I disliked a lot of these characters and questioned their motives and actions, I really wanted to see them make it off the mountain and I was rooting for them.


I recommend this novel to fans of YA who are looking for an intense psychological thriller or suspense novel. I also recommend it for YA readers who want to read something darker, but aren’t ready for the adult genre. I think Kuehn’s novels are a great bridge between YA thriller and adult thriller because her novels touch on a lot of darker themes.


Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: It’s a creepy cover, but it’s nothing fantastic. It fits the mood and tone of the novel, but it doesn’t catch my eye.


Thank you, First to Read and Dutton Books for Young Readers, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
 
Are you fan of Stephanie Kuehn? What's your favorite book by her? What are some of your favorite thriller/suspense novels? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Suspense/Thriller & Classics Book Haul

 
Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Summer is coming to a close for me. I move into my apartment Saturday and start band camp on Sunday. The fall semester is quickly approaching. This is a continuation book haul in a series of book hauls. I accumulated these books from August 2016 to June 2017. You can watch the other genres below:

THE BOOKS:
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 I've read 2/7 and I'm currently reading The Screwtape Letters. I gave both Dolores Claiborne and Animal Farm 5 stars. I highly recommend both of them, but for every different reasons.

Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know down below in the comments.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

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Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

4.75 stars

“But I deplored silence. I deplored stillness. I hated almost everything.”

NOTE: I am not spoiling any major events in the spoiler tags, but I do hint to characters' pathology and actions without mentioning what the big finale/climax is. Click at your own risk.

Eileen recounts the reason why she left X-ville at the age of twenty-four. Eileen Dunlop lives with her alcoholic father and works at the local juvenile detention center, Moorehead. When Rebecca Saint John, arrives Eillen begins to find her place that she has been searching for, but one-night leads down a dark path. A path Eileen has a morbid fascination and obsession with. In this psychological novel, Eileen’s story is brought forth in an intense character study. This study is provided by Eileen herself as she tells the story of who she was and why she left X-ville. Since Eileen is the one providing thoughts on her own demeaner, actions, and obsessions, the story itself is incredibly unreliable. We are given no information as to if everything or anything Eileen leads us to be is real or actually happened. We also don’t know if her actions weren’t altered or if her memory of events has faded as she gets older. This character study of a disturbingly morbid woman is provided by an old woman who was an avid alcoholic and thief. Moshfegh leads Eileen down a winding road of quiet stillness, drunken stupors at home, lolling moments in her life, and ends the novel with a large bang. Not everyone is going to Eileen, the story or the narrator. In fact, I think to like this novel you have to dislike Eileen. That’s what makes this psychological thriller so brilliant. It’s unlike anything I’ve read. It stands on its own for being a slow-burn introduction that hints to what is to come and leaves off with an intense unforgettable bang that alters the pace of the story and the reader’s perception of Eileen.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.5

“I was always furious, seething, my thoughts racing, my mind like a killer’s. It was easy to hide behind the dull face I wore.”

Eileen is a disgusting character. She says questionable things, mentions a lot of orifices, and has uncomfortable obsessions. She judges her father’s harsh and heavy drinking, but partakes in drinking just as much as he does. She has an obsession that turns into stalking with a coworker at Moorehead. She obsesses over gruesome possibilities of death or murder. Eileen is an unsettling woman and as an old lady, she pities who she was and describes in great detail how pathetic the Eileen of the past was. While, Eileen is horrible she is also fascinating and is a character that could lead to countless hours of discussion. The most interesting thing about Eileen is  that she hints to obsessions with morbid and macabre acts of violence, but when faced with the ability to kill someone, she attempts to console the possible victim. It provides knowledge that Eileen is just a person who doesn’t know who she is, but when confronted with the opportunity to partake in the darkest of humanities acts, she shows kindness in multiple different ways.


Rebecca quickly becomes Eileen’s newest obsession and hope to be noticed. Eileen longs for friendship, companionship, but most of all she longs for someone to listen to her. Rebecca is a glamorous new doctor at Moorehead that offers Eileen the chance to reinvent herself. Slowly, Eileen hints that Rebecca may be more manipulative that she seems. There are subtle hints, mainly in phrasing and odd word choice. For instance, a normal conversation with Eileen has the odd phrasing of, “It’s sort of my modus vivendi, or my pathology- depending on who I’m talking to.” Rebecca immediately struck me as off and as the story progresses, it’s obvious that she is just as lost as Eileen and as morbid.Rebecca orchestrates this big set up, but in the end, she is a coward who leaves Eileen to clean up the mess she made.


The only other large character in this novel is Eileen’s father. He is an ever-looming presence, skulking in the corners of Eileen’s mind. His character is really detestable, as all the characters in this novel are. However, I won’t say too much about him because the more I say about him, the more I’d give away about Eileen’s backstory.


Character Scale: 5

Villain Scale: 5


This is a character driven story and the opening 20% relies completely upon characters. There isn’t much plot in this story, but I feel that is what makes this such a successful psychological thriller. The problem with most psychological thrillers today is that they want to be the next Gone Girl or want to have the novel with the most shocking, groundbreaking twists. However, the problem with having shocking, crazy twists is that they leave plot holes in a character study. It’s why The Girl on the Train didn’t work for me. I found it to be cheap, but Eileen works for me because all the signs pointed to where this was going to build up. The question was the ending and how everything played out.


I only recommend this novel to those who love character studies, unreliable narrators, psychology, and slow pacing. I think this is the perfect read for the winter. The story’s setting is cold, emotionless, and bone-chilling. While this story isn’t for everyone, I am so happy to have picked this up. I wouldn’t have ever picked this novel up, if I hadn’t heard about it from someone who has similar tastes in psychological thrillers as me.
“I’m not a criminal. She deserves far worse, but I’m no villain.”

Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I don’t feel like the cover is striking, but it has an audience who will be pulled to pick it up.

Thank you, Netgalley and Penguin Press, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
 
Have you read Eileen? Are you a fan of character driven novels? What is a psychological thriller that you love? Let me know down below in the comments! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Journey with Stephen King

Hi, everyone! Today I want to talk about an author who has slowly become my favorite author. I have a long history with Stephen King, but it wasn't until this year that I really became a King fan.

                                                                  The Beginning
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I originally came across Stephen King at a very young age. I was aware of and that he was a popular since probably the age of eight or nine, which is quite young to know about an author of his caliber. I really became a big reader in fourth grade when I binge read a few Goosebumps books during testing week and then accompanied my mother to a library while she did genealogy research and discovered R.L. Stine's Fear Street. I read a good majority of Fear Street novels (probably around 80) and dabbled in Christopher Pike's mysteries (about ten) and then moved onto paranormal YA (Twilight, HoN, etc.).


The Discovery 
In the summer before my sixth grade year, I discovered Stephen King's expansive section in my local used bookstore (which is now closed RIP). I have no recollection of what lead me into the adult horror section. I was a fan of horror novels from an early age and I think I wanted to try the more mature novels to see if I would like them. I quickly bought six or seven Stephen King novels that day. It became eleven-year-old Sarah's mission to read all of Stephen King's works.

                                                          The Book I Started With
644173I probably started in the most daunting place with Stephen King. I picked up IT. Yes, the whopping 1,138 page novel that for the longest time was his longest and most expansive work. I was drawn to IT because a mean prank had been played on me at a sleepover where my friend and I were lead to believe that her sister and friend were possessed by IT. I picked that novel up, I think to overcome whatever lurking fear was associated with that memory and the name. Also, that joke was as far off from the mythos of IT as you can get and those girls probably confused IT with The Exorcist. It took me two months to read IT, which is impressive for an eleven-year-old and I was mentally scarred by a lot of the scenes that IT provides. Check out my GR thoughts here. I would love to revisit IT as an adult and hopefully I can do that one day. I'm also SO EXCITED for the upcoming film. I originally gave IT two stars and I don't know if that ranking would hold up today. I feel like it will be much higher, but we shall see when I revisit it.

                                                   The Continuation of a Journey

 I didn't stop with IT. I continued to want to read and pick up Stephen King novels. I think I accumulated about 30 of his novels. The second King novel I picked up was 'Salem's Lot. This book is over 600 pages, but for some reason I took longer to read this novel than IT did. I really struggled through 'Salem's Lot and I'm not sure exactly why I couldn't fly through it, but I really didn't like this novel. I feel like today it would be a novel that I'd have a greater appreciation for when I revisit it, but as of right now, it's a King novel I'm iffy about picking back up. As of now my rating stands at 2 stars on GR.
I took a small break from King, but eventually returned and picked up his first novel, Carrie. Carrie, for the longest time, was my FAVORITE King novel. I absolutely loved and adored this book. I don't know if it's because pimply twelve-year-old Sarah identified and saw herself in Carrie, but this book really meant a lot to me for the longest time. It's one I'm really excited to revisit and I would love to reread it soon. Also the original movie and the newer movie are both films I love to watch when they come onto TV. I must have seen the Sissy Spacek one ten times by now. As of now, my rating on GR is a 5 stars.
The next King book I picked up was Night Shift. His first collection of short stories. It took me a little while to read this one and I think it's because I picked it up in the summer and didn't really make it a priority. I have a really old GR review where I broke down my thoughts on each of the stories in this collection. I originally gave this collection 3 stars. Some of my favorites were:
Quitters, Inc., The Lawnmower Man, Sometimes They Come Back, Children of the Corn, I Know What You Need, Strawberry Spring, The Graveyard Shift, The Man Who Loves Flowers, Trucks, and Jerusalem's Lot.
Immediately after picking up Night Shift, I dived into Four Past Midnight. This collection follows four novellas and I really picked this up because I wanted to see the Secret Window with Johnny Depp that the second story was based after, which by the way is one of Depp's best performances,  in my opinion. The first story in this collection is The Langoliers and it is about a group of people on a plane. Something mysterious happens that causes the majority of the passengers to disappear and this novella follows the remaining ones. I personally didn't love this story, but I really liked it, that was until the end. The ending was confusing and left much to be desired. The second story is Secret Window, Secret Garden and it follows a writer who is confronted by a man who claims that he has plagiarized one of his stories. I really enjoyed this story and it was one of my favorite stories that King had written when I was younger. The third story is The Library Policeman and it follows a boy who has overdue library books and a myth that has come true. This was so horrifying to read as a child who went to library frequently and I don't know why this monster had to rape kids with overdue fees it was horrifying. I think this is a story I'd have to revisit as an adult and contemplate on. The final story is The Sun Dog and this story follows a boy who finds a camera that shows a dog running towards the photographer with each photo. It was spooky and really cool. This collection is one that I remember very well and really want to revisit to see if I like the stories any more or less.
I took a couple of months off from King, but eventually picked up The Cycle of the Werewolf while I was sick in bed. This book has art in it and I find a lot of it to be very graphic and gruesome. Probably a little too much for my age, but I liked it.
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                                                                     A Long Hiatus
10042119After The Cycle of the Werewolf, I didn't pick up another King book for a long time. I came to the conclusion that King wasn't for me and I foolishly gave away all of my King novels, except Carrie. I was a FOOL. It was a whole five years before I picked up another King novel. In May 2015, I found myself adding all of King's works to my TBR shelf on Goodreads. I wanted to give him another shot and I went to another used bookstore in my area and picked up two King novels: Full Dark, No Stars and Dreamcatcher. I decided to read Full Dark, No Stars for Halloween that year and I was instantly enamored with King again. The first story in this collection is 1922 and it is one of my favorite King stories. It's dark, gritty, and really shows the decay and rot of a family. Also rats and it's a very psychological horror story. It was a great way to reintroduce myself to King. Big Driver and A Good Marriage where also fantastic stories and I highly recommend this collection for anyone who likes psychological thrillers and/or psychological horror. I gave this collection 4.5 stars.

                                                          Rereading King- 2016
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I was at BooksAMllion one day and randomly picked up a copy of Night Shift. I had already been buying King books again, but I decided to pick Night Shift to add to my collection. I randomly decided to pick it back up and reread it. I started it on September 29, 2016 and I was so excited because I had a creepy book to read for Halloween. Revisiting this collection was a lot of fun. I was already familiar with the stories, but I had forgotten a lot of the plot and major occurrences in a few stories. I also wanted to see if I would find certain stories scarier than I did when I was a kid. My thoughts on this collection changed a lot. I found myself loving a lot of the stories. I read when I walk to class and it was a lot of fun to be walking on cloudy days and read a scary scene. My overall rating for this entire collection is 4 stars.  Continued favorites are: Graveyard Shift (5 stars), Trucks (3.75 stars), Sometimes They Come Back (4 stars), Quitter's Inc.(4.75 stars), I Know What You Need ( 4 stars), Children of the Corn (4.5 stars), and The Man Who Loved Flowers (4 stars).
New favorites are: I Am the Doorway (5 stars)- I absolutely despised this one the first time I read it, but it's my favorite in the collection. I read it and then read it again after finishing it because I loved it that much. The Boogeyman (4.5 stars)- This story scared the crap out of me when I was little and it still does as an adult. Gray Matter (4.5 stars) ,(The Mangler (3.75 stars), One for the Road (4 stars), and The Woman in the Room (5 stars).

                                                               Reading King in 2017
I started The Bazaar of Bad Dreams at the beginning of December when I finished finals and I didn't finish it until January 5, 2017. This is Stephen King's most recent short story collection. I continued to pick up King's short story collections because I was easing myself into his different writing styles and really getting to know him as an author. With reading The Bazaar of Bad Dreams I got to know King as a writer, a person, and I got to see the difference in his writing from Night Shift (his first collection) to now. I gave this book an overall 4 stars and I have a video review for it. Some of my favorites in this collection are: Mile 81 (4.5 stars), The Dune (5 stars), Bad Little Kid (5 stars), A Death (3.75 stars), Morality (4.25 stars), Afterlife (4 stars), UR (5 stars), Under the Weather (reread 4.25 stars), Cookie Jar (5 stars), Obits (4.5 stars), and Summer Thunder (5 stars).
 I picked up The Gunslinger on January 19. I didn't take much of a break from King and I was really excited to pick it up because I was really intrigued by the massiveness of The Dark Tower series and was interested in picking it up. It's a short novel and it has its faults, but overall I like The Gunslinger and I can see the largeness of the world is setting up. I gave this book 4.5 stars overall and I'm really looking forward to picking up the next book in the series.
I took a two month break from King, but saw a post when I was sitting in my anthropology class (I know I should've been paying attention and I was... kind of). This post really caught my attention because it was a Stephen King post and it talked about a book I knew of, but didn't hear a lot about. I was so excited when I found a copy of it a couple of days later at BooksAMillion. Dolores Claiborne is one of the most evocative, intense, emotional, gripping, and well-written novels I've ever read. I knew I would like this book. I owned it a long time ago, but I had no clue back then as a kid how much this book would move me and change me as a person. I gave this book 5 stars and I know that when I will write my review, I'll be really excited and hope that someone will pick up this amazing novel. I also read this novel in eight days, which is really fast for me during a school semester.

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                                        Discovering My All-Time Favorite Novel
9813753About 14 days after finishing Dolores Claiborne, I was watching YouTube and decided to look up Stephen King videos. I watched a few of them and one of them made me really interested in picking The Stand. The Stand is not a short novel. The uncut edition I own clocks in at 1440 pages and I've owned it for a year or two. I was always intimidated my this novel, but all of a sudden it was like I was called to it. I am a religious person and I 100% believe that God sends things when you ask for them. I had recently realized when watching someone talk about their favorite book of all-time that I didn't have one. I didn't know when I picked up The Stand that it would be the novel that I needed. This novel is everything I have wanted in a novel. It's a brilliant expansive story that touches on multiple different genres and will appeal to multiple different people. This novel also really shocked me because of how religious it is. I wasn't expecting it at all and reading it alongside The Book of Revelation was a really eye-opening experience. This is a book everyone needs to read. If you are only ever going to read one Stephen King novel, it should be this one. As Tom Cullen would say, "Laws yes. This is the novel you should read. It's fantastic. M-O-O-N that spells fantastic." It took me a month and a half to read this novel, so don't be worried about it's readability. It's a very fast-paced story that tackles multiple facets of society and different people in this world. It's never a dull moment.

                                          My Most Recent and Current King Read
 A couple of days after finishing The Stand, I picked up another King novel. I gave myself a couple of days to decompress after finishing such a heavy and wonderful novel. I was in the mood for an alien book. I have no clue why, but I wanted a really good alien novel. I decided to pick up The Tommyknockers. Funnily enough, The Tommyknockers is considered to be King's worst novel by King himself. It was written at the end of his addiction with cocaine and it has a lot references to addiction with a main character being an alcoholic poet. While many dislike The Tommyknockers it was exactly what I needed and asked for in an alien novel. I was pleased and gave this novel 4.5 stars.
A couple of days before I finished The Tommyknockers, there was a Stephen King movie marathon on Sundance. I watched Stand By Me for the first time and loved it. I'm looking forward to reading the novella it's based on.  I watched Christine for the fifth time and I still haven't read the book, but I plan on getting to it one day. I also saw the Firestarter for the first time and I was really blown away by it. Towards the end of The Tommyknockers, The Shop makes an appearance and I really wanted to read more about The Shop and what their motives were. So I picked up Firestarter and so far, I'm absolutely loving it. I'm over 400 pages in and I can tell that this is going to be an amazing novel.
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                                                              What's Next?
There are a lot of Stephen King books and I haven't read half of them. I do have a good amount on my shelf that I can pick up and I would love to do an update in a couple of months on my continued progress with King's novels. Here's some books I own that I would like to read:
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Have you read any Stephen King? What are some your favorite Stephen King novels? Any that you recommend I get to sooner rather than later? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

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Fourth and Final Book for BookTubeAThon 2017 Completed!
Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Second book in the Windham Brides series

3.25 stars

Too Scot to Handle follows Anwen Windham, a red-headed firecracker who never gets to speak or mind due to her succumbing to near-death at a young age. Her over-protective sisters don’t allow her much freedom, but one place she is able to help is at the orphanage, The House of Urchins. Colin MacHugh sees through Anwen’s quiet nature and they find themselves at a constant battle of wits. When the orphanage faces closing down, the Windhams through a card party to raise funds to save the boys. However, Colin has made enemies in the London ton and everything surrounding Anwen and Colin is about to implode if they don’t move quick enough to uncover who is plotting against them. One word that comes to mind when trying to describe this novel is underwhelming. I adored the previous novel to the Windham Brides and couldn’t wait to dive into this one. Sadly, I found this novel incredibly easy to put down and this is not a winning factor for a Historical Romance novel. HRs need to be fast-paced and un-putdownable. When I pick up an HR, I’m expecting to fly through this novel. When I pick an HR novel with a Scottish leading hero, I’m expecting to be smitten and ready to move to Scotland. This novel fell in the middle of those expectations. I do still want to move to Scotland and find myself a kilted hottie, but I wasn’t smitten with Colin and I feel like he’s a pretty forgettable hero. This novel does, thankfully, become fast-paced and the “mystery” enhanced the pace.


The writing in this novel is a little… flaky. The opening has a nice allusion to OG historical romance novel, Pride & Prejudice, which is sure to make Jane Austen fangirls swoon, but the opening chapter is a drag. Colin’s opening PoV was jarring and didn’t grab me into the story. However, it quickly goes into alternating PoVs with a wide cast of characters outside of the primary focus. I don’t mind Burrowes style of random PoVs, but it does take me away from the central story and it can get a little redundant and cumbersome for such a short novel. The only outside PoVs that were central to this story were the “villain” and besides that one PoV, I don’t feel it was necessary to have PoVs from the orphanage, the Windhams, and the previous couple from book 1 who are now recently married and honeymooning. It’s too ambitious for a novel that doesn’t need to be overly ambitious.


Whimsical Writing: 3

Anwen is a sweet character. She has a good heart and wants to help those in need, probably because she herself knows what it is like to be absolutely hopeless and near death. However, I didn’t find her all that interesting. She’s a nice character, but that’s it. Nice. Sweet. Plain. She doesn’t really bring anything to the table for me and I’m sure I’ll forget about her until I pick up the next Windham Brides novel. There was also a feminist conversation with her sisters about how they were tired of men being considered gentlemen when their actions were far from polite on the ballroom floor. However, this conversation quickly turned from a promising moment of feminists putting their feet down and turned to gossiping about the all so swoony hero and Anwen’s romance with him.


Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 3

Colin is also just a nice character. He was a soldier, but I didn’t really feel like he was. I’ve read HRs where the hero is a soldier and those novels really showed different facets of what a man faces. Love in the Afternoon is a perfect example of a hero suffering with PTSD and really struggling to face or fit in with society. A recent read, The Highland Commander, had an intense battle that the navy hero participated in and this really showed the risks that men enlist to in fighting for their country. Even the previous novel in this series, The Trouble with Dukes, shows how rumors about a soldier and his actions to defend his country could brand him as undesirable by polite society. However, Colin didn’t feel like a soldier. There was constant mentioning of it and his obsessive tendencies to have a regimented schedule, but it didn’t feel real. I do like Colin, but I don’t love him. He’s go the usual dashing qualities, but nothing that really stands out.


Swoon Worthy Scale: 3

The Villain- Well, I’m not sure how to express my extreme dislike for this character without spoiling several major plot points, so this section will be a spoiler section, so skip ahead past the villain scale if you don’t want to be spoiled. The Montague drama was extremely annoying. From the start, Montague is annoying, crass, and rude. Have you ever a met person who just says things that leave a bad taste in your mouth, but you don’t want to jump to conclusions about the person’s character? That’s how Montague is in this novel. Although I instantly saw him to be the dirty, conning, manipulative snake that he is and couldn’t for the life of me fathom why Colin would even stay in presence. It was obvious that they were never friends and were only using each other for different personal gains. Montague was using Colin for his money- to buy him beer- and make him look like a nice guy who is taking the wayward Scot in and showing him polite society. Colin was using Montague to learn about society and make connections. Colin was, in my opinion, wasting his time and it all came to fruition in the end when Montague showed his true colors. The true thief was obvious from the start, but that’s okay. It was still a fun “mystery”.


Villain Scale: 3.5

I love the sisterly bond between Charlotte, Elizabeth, and Anwen. There were some wonderful scenes full of love as well as annoyance. It felt authentic and it was one of my favorite parts of this novel.


Character Scale: 4

I did really like the couple in this story. They worked well together and were interesting. They don’t stand alone on their own, but as a couple they are cute. However, these cringey sex scenes have got to stop. Please don’t call orgasms rainbows. “Make me see rainbows. Make me feel rainbows.” NO THANK YOU! This novel is sure to be a hit for fans of Grace Burrowes and I do recommend it if you are a fan of The Trouble with Dukes.


Plotastic Scale: 3

Cover Thoughts: It’s kind of cringey and I don’t know why. I think it’s the dress.


Thank you, Forever Central Publishing for sending me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.

Other Windham Brides books:
1) The Trouble with Dukes 4.25 stars 

Have you read Too Scot to Handle or The Trouble with Dukes? What are some of your favorite HR novels? Any memorable characters that you just love to gush about? I'd love to hear about them below in the comments! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dollface Vol. 1- A Mini Rant

DNF

It's 2017 and I'm tired of reading graphic novels that's only purpose is sexualizing women. If your stories only features are big boobs, short skirts, and women having no minds, then you should probably not be a publishing artist. This is not quality content. This is why people stigmatize graphic novels and miss out on great pieces like Saga, Vol. 1 and Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars. If your first ten pages consist of sexual innuendo that could be on an episode of Family Guy, then there probably isn't a good joke anywhere to be found. I will not finishing this graphic novel or supporting it. If you want to read about boobs, women who are only meant to be paper dolls on the page, and put into situations that always happen to be sexual, then this may be for you. I personally want a good story with substance, plot, and emotion. Dollface lacks that.




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Thank you, Netalley and Diamond Book Distributors, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 


Are you tired of seeing certain tropes in literature that do nothing to further discussions? Let me know what bugs you down below in the comments! 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pictures of Hollis Woods Review + Sci-fi Book Haul

Helloooooooooo, everyone! Today is day 2 of BookTubeAThon and I finished a book today (my second book completed for the read-a-thon so far). Usually I take time to contemplate and write reviews later, but I didn't take any notes on this novel because it was for children and it was so short. So, I wrote my review within hours of finishing it. I hope you enjoy my review and my Sci-fi book haul!

828084Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

3 stars

Hollis Woods has spent her whole life running. Running from the houses she's put in under the foster care system, but also running from herself. Told in alternating points of Hollis' life- the past with a family she loved and who loved her back and the present with her current caretaker, an older woman who forgets things far too easily. Hollis is faced with the consequences of running from herself and how it has affected her confidence, psyche, and self-perception. In this novel, Giff tackles tough subjects like Alzheimer's and the effect it has on our loved ones as well as what happens when we believe the things that people tell us instead of defining ourselves. Hollis' struggle to cope with her own self-loathing at the young age of twelve-years-old portrays how adults' negatives words and admonishments shape our younger years, but also gives us hope that there are adults out there who are quick to love, cherish, and nurture the good that they see in young ones. This is a very intense story for the targeted age group, but I think it's very apt to start exposing children to these kinds of topics, especially topics like self-perception, disease infecting loved ones, and the struggle that children face with defining themselves. Giff's writing is nothing special, but it's an important story and one that has moved and affected millions. I remember how jealous I was that the higher reading group was reading the book that had a Hallmark movie coming out and my mom bought me a copy of the book after we watched the film together. I found it recently in her bedroom on a bookshelf and I instantly knew that I wanted to finally pick this one up. I'm twelve years late to picking this book up, but I'm really happy that I finally picked this one up. This isn't a groundbreaking novel for adults, but it is for children and I think that's so important.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 3.25

Plotastic Scale: 3


Cover Thoughts: I don't particularly like the cover, but it's nostalgic for me because I recognize and know it so well.

 
Here are the books that I've acquired in the last couple of months in the sci-fi genre. I have two other book hauls posted so far and you can check them out by clicking the links down below.

THE BOOKS:
13259307 29939089 13259262  29236299  13450036 29430666  51019 

I've only read 1/7 of these books, which kind of sucks, but I sci-fi is a genre I have to be in the mood for, but I like to keep a lot of them on hand. I've read reviewed and made a video on Fahrenheit 451 which I gave 4 stars. 

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts on them? Let me know down below in the comments!

 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

BookTubeAThon 2017 TBR

 

Hi, everyone! BookTubeAThon is quickly approaching and is during July 24th through July 30th!

The challenges for the 2017 BookTubeAThon are:
1) Read a book with a person on the cover.
2)Read a hyped book.
3) Finish a book in one day.
4) Read about a character that is very different from you.
5) Finish a book completely outdoors.
6) Read a book you bought because of the cover.
7) Read seven books.

I'm a mood reader, so this TBR is subject to change or whatever. 

What books are you reading for the BookTubeAThon? Let me know down below in the comments!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Seven Tor Shorts Completed (Tor Short Challenge)

I don't know if there is a Tor Free Shorts Challenge, but I'm all up for dominating this fun collection of imaginative stories.  Tor Shorts have some of the most simple, but elaborate story lines spanning into a small amount of pages. I'm embarking on my journey to conquer these beautiful stories.The best thing is that these stories are free! FREE! Something so awesome being free is just an absolute treasure trove. These stories are short and can usually be read within 5-30 minutes and that's such an awesome thing!  If you are interested in taking on the Tor collection, let me know!
So far I've read these stories:
    Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski- 5 stars because this story is set in the Winner's Curse world with an excellent fairy tale story.
    The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because I love Bardugo and this story was A+.
    The Too-Clever Fox by Leigh Bardugo- 5 stars because it's beautiful. 
    Excerpts from a Film by A.C. Wise- 5 stars because it's full of ghosts, old Hollywood starlets, and beautiful writing.
     All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers- 5 stars because it's a stunning magical realism story.
    Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Glass- 4.5 stars because the story's transitions were beautifully done, but I wanted more.  
    Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo- 4.25 stars because it's beautiful, but something felt missing. I did love the ending!
    Ponies by Kij Johnson- 4 stars because it was super creepy.
    Among the Thorns by Veronica Schanoes- 3 stars because it was sick and creepy, but I wanted more.
    The Log Goblin by Brian Staveley- 3 stars because it's a simple story.
   Friedrich the Snow Man by Lewis Shiner- 2.5 stars because it was funny, but nothing special. 
   Ecdysis by Julianna Baggott- 1.5 stars because I was confused by the story line, but appreciated the author's attempt.
   Orphan Pirates of the Spanish Main by Dennis Danvers- 1.5 stars because it was weird and not in a good way.
    meat + drink by Daniel Polansky- 1.25 stars because the pacing was choppy and the story wasn't doing it for me.
    The Last Novelist (or a Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel- 1 star because I absolutely hated this story and was lost the whole time.

I have seven Tor shorts that I've devoured since April and I've come across some really interesting ones that you should check out if you love short stories.



34666078
Mental Diplopia by Julianna Baggott

4 stars

Patient Zero woke up the sound of music one day from her past. She began to experience the world in two times- the past and the present. This phenomena is known as mental diplopia, but when they tested Patient Zero's blood they didn't expect to see a virus strain. They didn't expect this to be the start of the apocalypse. This is a very beautiful story. It's quite harrowing. It left me feeling hopeful, empty, and nostalgic all at once. Baggott's writing really flows in this short story and I liked the interwoven reflections of philosophy and childhood games such as butterfly catching. The butterfly catching sequence was probably my favorite section of this story.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

The main female character is unnamed, but I still feel connected to the character. I did like how the romantic interest, Oliver, was named and we experienced the evolution and the decline of their relationship as the fear of the monsters goes on. It's a very interesting character study.


Character Scale: 3.5

I highly recommend checking this Tor Short out. It's simple, but it stays with you. There is a lot to reflect on while reading and after reading. That alone makes this story stand out.


Plotastic Scale: 4.5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover, especially since it depicts my favorite section in the story.
 
 
34845675Dark Warm Heart by Rich Larson
2 stars
This is a story that I'm not sure how to describe. It's quite unsettling. A wife's husband comes back home after surviving frostbite and he becomes obsessed with transcripts that could lead him to understanding something about himself. It's a very a strange story and I wish that there had been more expansion upon the overall explanations. I can't really digest my thoughts on this without talking about the ending, so don't click the spoiler tag unless you have read or don't care about spoilers. I did enjoy that the transformation was that of a Wendigo. I remember the creature from Supernatural and it remains to be one of my favorite episodes. I also liked the ending and the implications that it held with a pregnancy and a second transformation. I do think this story would have improved if it had expanded further and didn't end abruptly. Also seeing product placement for CUTCO a product I used to sale is a little weird.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 2

Character Scale: 1.5

Plotastic Scale: 2.25


Cover Thoughts: I love the cover. It's dark, creepy and stays true to the Tor illustration style.
 
 
35057617
Sweetlings by Lucy Taylor

4.25 stars

This is a dark story. It is an uncomfortable tale about a settlement near the East Coast after the world has ended. Humans are not the dominate species anymore and generations have passed since the end. Mir lives in a world where trilobites are bigger than before. Old Four Legs have started to evolve onto land and hunt human prey. Shocking of all is the evolution of humans. The ending of this story is bleak and shows that sometimes evolution may not be as a great for the human race as we hope it will be in the future.


I was really surprised by the content of this story. It's starts out slow and meanders, but as the story progresses it feels very unsettling. It feels as though I'm watching creatures that I shouldn't be. It's disturbing, but also fascinating. Taylor has a great writing style that alludes to where this story will go from the very beginning. It's a well-done short story that I highly recommend checking out.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 4

We have three main characters: Mir, her father, and Jersey. Mir is a character who is very unreliable because she doesn't disclose anything until it is too late and must be told in the story. It makes for a very interesting format. Her father is obsessed with evolution and it takes a dark turn. The scene at the end chilled my bones and I was waiting for her to start chomping on her like she was a trilobite. That didn't happen, but it was still a very dark scene. Jersey is the boy closest to her age on the settlement and it is understood that they will produce offspring together. I find this to be very interesting that (view spoiler)


Character Scale: 4.5

Overall, I think this a Tor short worth reading. It's very bleak and doesn't offer much to hope for humanity, but it's a good story.


Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I absolutely love this cover. Tor shorts have the best covers.
 
 
34992958
The Awakening of Insects by Bobby Sun
 
DNF
This is a short story, but the writing felt disconnected, the dialogue was forced, and I quickly lost interest in the story. I'm going to find better Tor shorts to read that won't make me feel bored while reading.

Cover Thoughts: It's pretty.
 
 
 
 
35111757
Hexagrammaton by Hanus Seiner

1.75 stars
I have no clue how to describe this story. There seems to be space, aliens, and a revolution. There's also a virus and cryptology. I have no clue what happened or what was going on. The writing was very well done and was the reason I kept reading, but the writing is also a hindrance for this story because it moves along with no cohesive flow and the plot is flying out the window- it's all over the place. Anyway, if you like scifi, you'll probably like this. It's decent, but I have no clue what happened.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 3

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1


Cover Thoughts: The cover is pretty, but it's not my favorite of the Tor shorts.
 
 
 
 
35062117
 The White-Throated Transmigrant by E. Lily Yu

1.25 stars

This story follows a woman who doesn't seem to have a place. She hits a bird while driving and brings it to the Kingston Ornithology Museum. She ends up helping a worker there and learns how to preserve birds. Of course, there is a slight fantasy twist because this a Tor short, but this is a very idle story. There isn't much plot or really any purpose to the story. I don't mind stories or novels that have no purpose or message to send, but this was dreary. Not dreary in a sorrowful, haunting story kind of way, but dreary in the sense of heavy-lidded eyes and boredom closing in. I didn't particularly care for this Tor short, but I'm sure it will appeal to many. This isn't a spoiler, but just my own thoughts on where I wish the story had gone. I got the feeling that Winona was a detached sociopath and I'm kind of disappointed that she wasn't. She seemed to enjoy skinning birds too much and the "twist" just didn't really fit with how she was caring out her life.


Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.5

Character Scale: 1

Plotastic Scale: 1.5

Cover Thoughts: This is gorgeous. I'd love to have a print of the best Tor covers because they have so many beautiful ones.
 
 
13264510
I, Cthulhu, or, What’s A Tentacle-Faced Thing Like Me Doing In A Sunken City Like This (Latitude 47° 9′ S, Longitude 126° 43′ W)? by Neil Gaiman

5 stars
"We had fun in those days, carnage and destruction, sacrifice and damnation, ichor and slime and ooze, and foul and nameless games. Food and fun. It was one long party, and everybody loved it except those who found themselves impaled on wooden stakes between a chunk of cheese and pineapple."

I can't say that I'm a fan of Lovecraft. I like him and I've read more than ten of his short stories, but my tastes range from strong dislike to really enjoy. The only story by him that I've absolutely loved and gave a full 5 star rating to was The Colour Out of Space (which is alluded to in this story). However, I do really like Lovecrafts mythos and concepts, even if when I explain them out loud I can't keep a straight because they sound ludicrous. This is good fun. It's portrays exactly how I feel about Lovecraft. I appreciate his intellect and his world-building, but you can't help but poking fun of it. Gaiman does an excellent job of sticking to the mythos that Lovecraft has created, but also making Cthulhu a slightly humanized soul who is relaying her story to Whateley. I loved it and I laughed out loud several times. I don't recommend this to people not well-versed in the Cthulhu mythos, but if you've read a story or two by Lovecraft then you should be able to understand what is going. This is a Tor Short I definitely recommend!


Whimsical Writing Scale: 5

Character Scale: 5

Plotastic Scale: 5


Cover Thoughts: LMAO at the painting above Cthulhu's fireplace.
Read for free here: http://www.tor.com/2009/12/28/i-cthul...  
 
 
Have you read any of these Tor Shorts or plan to? What are some of your favorite Tor Shorts? Let me know down below in the comments!