Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- Fall 2018 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (September 18th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Books on my Fall 2018 TBR

  • Fall reading is looking really good!!  There are so many cool sounding books coming out & I can't wait to dive in.

1.  Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand- This book is definitely out of my comfort zone, but it has elements of things I love to read about-- like missing girls and monsters that may or may not exist.

2.  The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston- I am SO excited for this book!!!

3.  The Seven Torments of Amy and Craig by Don Zolidis- This book is set in the 90's & features a dysfunctional relationship AND is supposed to be funny!!

4.  Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer- Who doesn't want to read something gory around the Halloween season?

5.  Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith- This sounds SO weird, but it's Andrew Smith and I need weird in my life.

6.  The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody- Jessica Brody is queen.

7.  Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy- We worked with this author while touring her first book, and she is super nice.  But also, I like to read about pyros.

8.  The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke- I never read Fantasy or books with wolves on the covers-- so I'm scared, but also kind of excited??

9.  Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes- I love this cover + YA Mysteries are my jam.

10.  Broken Things by Lauren Oliver- This is kind of a cheat because I'm reading it now-- but guys!!! It's SO GOOD!!!!

What books are on your Fall TBR?

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein-- A Quick, Creepy, Friendshippy Read

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein

Elizabeth was taken in as a child by the Frankenstein family to be a companion to their troubled son Victor.  She knows she has to do everything she can to make herself indispensable or risk being sent back to abuse and neglect.

When Victor leaves for school in Ingolstadt, she fears that her place in the household is threatened.  She's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her future is secure, so she sets off to bring Victor back and be the person that he wants her to be.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book-- would it be a legit retelling??  Would it be something loosely inspired by Frankenstein?  What it ended up being was a very close retelling with a few twists, which I really really enjoyed.

I read the original Frankenstein for a class in college and while I don't think it is NEEDED to enjoy this book, I think it helps.  This book goes along with the original pretty closely, it just tells the story from a different perspective, so knowing the original story made the twists that much more shocking and effective.  I don't think it's a bad idea to at least Google a plot outline of the original book to get a feel for what story this one is following.

Elizabeth travels with her friend (and the Frankenstein's governess), Justine, to Ingolstadt to find Victor and figure out why he's been out of touch with her.  She knows that her place in the Frankenstein household is to be Victor's companion and with him gone, she feels that place is threatened.  She's not sure how long it will be before his father deems her presence unneeded.  When she gets there, she realizes that Victor left unchecked is not a good thing.  She thinks she needs to save him from himself and bring him home where she can stabilize him-- she doesn't realize that things have gone too far for that.

I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth and her dilemma of trying to be someone that she's really not in order to secure her future.  What I loved most about her was her ability to use what she has to get what she wants.  She was cunning, manipulative, and tenacious.  It was interesting to see her wrestle with being a woman in the 1700's and figuring out how to use that to her advantage.  It was also sad to see some of how women were treated back then and the fact that she was led to this really dark place because she was a woman and didn't have options beyond finding a husband.

Beyond Elizabeth, the characters in this book were really well developed.  Justine was my favorite and a bright point in this book.  I also loved Henry and Mary-- they added to the theme of friendship that ran throughout this book.  Especially because of the short length of this novel, I wasn't expecting to get to know these people so well, but I was pleasantly surprised by how attached I got to them.

I liked that this wasn't a romance-- I don't even know if Elizabeth is capable of those feelings.  I loved the darkness and the way this book SPIRALED about 3/4ths of the way into it.  I love when a book gets thrown on it's head and becomes something different than you thought.  In a retelling, that is especially cool.

OVERALL: Such a quick read!  I loved that this wasn't just "inspired by", this was a true retelling from the POV of Elizabeth, Victor's future wife.  I thought the writing created the perfect atmosphere of creepy and compelling.  The only drawback I had was that it felt very short.

Date Published: 9/25/2018
How I got this book: Thanks to Penguin Random House and ALA for providing me with an advanced copy to read and honestly review
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4/5

Character: Elizabeth Lavenza
Book: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

  • If Elizabeth was allowed to follow her own dreams, I think she would've been an awesome student of the Earth Sciences.  I'm recommending this book to her because the m/c in it has a love for education and nature.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman-- I checked my locks after reading this

The Last Good Day of the Year

Ten years ago, Sam's little sister was kidnapped right in front of her and her best friend Remy-- they ID'd the kidnapper as her older sister's boyfriend, Steven, and he's on death row now.

Now, Sam is back in her old house, slowly reconnecting with her old BFF, and wondering what really happened all those years ago.  Did they get it right??  Did they really see what they said they saw??

This book is definitely going to be on my end of year favorites list.  This is just the type of Mystery/Thriller I like, and I'm kind of mad this wasn't shoved in my face earlier!!

The first thing that jumped out at me was the setting.  This whole thing takes place in a town called Shelocta, which is a real town located about 15 miles from where I live.  I always find it fun to read books that are set in Western PA-- it gives me an instant connection to the book.  Also, this was set in the 90's!!  The references weren't enough to put my 90's nostalgia into high gear, but it was cool to go back in time a little.

Then, there's the characters.  Remy, the boy next door, was my fave.  I don't know why I like the kinds of book boys that are aloof, but you know that if the m/c breaks through their outer shell they'll be adorable, but I do.  Remy is the kind of character that is frustrating, but worth sticking with.  Sam wasn't someone I super connected with, but the mystery was enough to keep me with her.

The Mystery: I wanted to know what happened to the sister.  I wanted to know why in the hell someone would dress like Santa Clause on New Year's Eve.  If Steven was supposedly innocent, I wanted to know how/why there would be 2 people dressed like Santa Clause after Christmas.  There was so much grief and pain to wade through to get the heart of what happened, but once we got there, there were more answers than I was expecting.

Bonus: Mixed in are police interviews and excerpts from a true-crime book about the case.  I love a good epistolary element to break things up & these ones added a lot to the book.

I gotta talk about that ending!!!  I won't give any spoilers, but AHHHHH.  This ending totally messed with my head and freaked me out.  I don't usually sit around thinking someone is going to break into my house, but the night I finished this, I jumped at every creak and shadow.

OVERALL: A+ YA Mystery/Thriller!!  This is just the kind of Mystery/Thriller I like-- very character driven, deals with issues beyond the actual mystery, deep, and twisted.  I totally, 100% reccomend to anyone looking to get lost in a good mystery.

Date Published: 5/19/2015
How I got this book: I bought it
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a really cool original feature/weekly meme now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week they post a new Top Ten List that bloggers join in on answering... and today (Septmeber 11th) I'm one of them :)

Today's Topic

Top Ten Hidden Gems

  • I did this topic last year, but since allllll the books I like are usually books no one else likes, I can ALWAYS come up with a list for this!! These are my most recent Hidden Gems:

1.  Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl- I just read this and !!!!!!  It's so damn good-- it's smart, has a murder-mystery, and a Groundhog's Day scenario!!  So good, but why hadn't I even heard about it until my friend Cassi sent it my way?

2.  The Gatekeepers by Jen Lancaster- I flew through this 400+ page book because the characters and their situations were so unputdownable.

3.  The Last Good Days of the Year by Jessica Warman- I just finished this last week and it made me feel all types of creeped out in the end.  I was kind of pissed at myself for waiting so long to read it.

3.  Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade- Dude, it's COLLEGE + YA (and 90's Felicity nostalgia) Why is everyone not reading this???!!

4.  Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain- I read this early in the summer and thought it was the most adorably cute thing I've read in years!  So freaking cute!!

6.  Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda- Oh this book!!  I thought it was one thing and it freaking MORPHED before my eyes into something else.  Megan Miranda is the bomb.

7.  Grit by Gillian French- I thought this was a FANTASTIC debut.  Darcy was a fab main character & the setting was interesting too.

8.  The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes- Why is everyone not reading and loving this book?? It must be because it's too good.

9.  Be True to Me by Adele Griffin- 70's + YA + Twisty and Summery!!  I wish everyone would read this.

10.  Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten- I hate everyone.  This only has 366 reviews on Goodreads.  What are you all doing with your lives and NOT reading this book???

Have you read any of these?  What books do you love that are Hidden Gems?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sadie by Courtney Summers-- my heart is in tatters


One girl is dead and another is missing.  Sadie's whole world was Mattie-- so when Mattie is found murdered, Sadie has nothing left but finding justice.  She leaves her small town in search of Mattie's killer and a few months later her car is found abandoned.  What happened to Sadie??

West McCray is a podcast producer who starts looking into what became of Sadie.  At first, he's not sure he wants to get involved-- but once he starts digging, he finds himself unable to stop thinking about The Girls.

To preface this review: I am Courtney Summers' #1 fan (she wrote it in my book-- it's now LAW😀).  I've been eagerly awaiting this book and it was everything I've been wanting and more.

The thing about Courtney Summers' books is that you will always get a complicated girl character.  She will be angry and unforgiving.  She will not be who you want her to be.  She will always be the girl that she is-- unapologetically.  This is something I PINE for when it comes to books.  I need characters that feel like real people and make me FEEL something (even if that feeling is frustration).

This book is told in 2 ways.  Most of the book is told from Sadie's perspective as she hunts down a man she believes in involved with her sister's murder.  She buys a car and travels hundreds of miles in her quest for vengeance-- and the journey is something so much more than what I originally thought.  It's fucking SHOCKING what she discovers along the way & turns this whole book into something way more than one girl's search for a killer.

The other part of the book is told through a podcast about Sadie-- it takes place after Sadie has already finished her quest and has gone missing.  It focused more on small-town America, how Sadie and Mattie grew up, and who Sadie was to the people who loved her.  I thought it added a unique element, although I definitely did prefer Sadie's parts.

Something I wasn't expecting: Sadie had a severe stutter.  I've never read a book where the main character had a stutter.  It sometimes made finding out information harder for her (because it was harder for her to communicate & some people felt they could treat her like shit because of it), but she was just like: OH WELL.  I just loved that it was another thing that made Sadie SADIE.  She is someone I will never forget & she might even haunt me for a while.

The ending of this book was pretty freaking perfect-- by my standards anyway.  Just to warn you, it's not all tied up in a bow and explained.  I love open endings when they come in books that shouldn't have everything answered.  This book is about topics that don't have good endings, that don't get explanations and happy endings.  This ending leaves you to make your own assumptions as to what happened & I totally have my theories.

OVERALL: Do you like Mystery? True Crime? Characters that will tear your emotions to shreds?  THIS is your book!!  The mystery of what happened to Sadie is so stark, captivating, and heart-breaking.  It's about things that are SO HARD to read about, but so worth it. Not recommended to people who can't deal with topics like: graphic violence & pedophilia.

Date Published: 9/4/2018
How I got this book: Thanks to Wednesday Books and ALA for providing me with an advanced copy to read and honestly review.
Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin's Press

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 5/5

Character: West McCray
Book: Courtney Summers entire library of work

  • He seems like he's interested in society's view of violence against women-- I think reading all of Courtney Summers books would be a good place to start.