Book Review: The Dream Thieves

|+| Warnings: Drug use, mild torture, violence |+|

“Secrets and cockroaches-that’s what will be left at the end of it all.”  ~The Dream Thieves

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Woots! Fist book review of the year! This is the sequel to The Raven Boys, and while I’ve done my best to make sure there are no spoilers for both books I might have accidentally let something slip. Please consider this your fair warning.

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre:  YA paranormal fantasy/mystery, romance

Summary: Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.

One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.

And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

Ronan is one of the raven boys-a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by there elite private school, Aglonby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan’s secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface-changing everything in its wake.

My Opinion: This book was awesome. What I loved about The Raven Boys was back in full force in the sequel. The fantastic characters and their organic development, the mythology and magic. Once again, things that seemed random fell in place. There were a couple of plot twists, and once again, they had me on the edge of my seat. My biggest issue was the ending. Unlike the first book, this ending felt a bit anti-climatic in a way. Also, I was expecting more about the school because there’s been so much buildup surrounding it. All in all, I gave this book four stars.

While the last book focused mostly on Gansey and Noah, this book focused mostly on Ronan and Adam. While the last book let me down a bit in getting to know Blue, I felt like I really got to know her character a lot better. I loved seeing more magic from Ronan and Adam, and getting more depth into their characters as well. There are new villains and some old ones, but they show their colors in a new way. At first I was a little wary at some of these changes, but they were executed so well that I was behind these changes all the way.

The world building was one of the things that got me hooked on the first books. Thanks to how the characters and the magic of the world are tied together, I got even more of that. But the school really wasn’t a big part of this book. From the summary and the last book, I was thinking that there would be more about the mystery of the school. It’s clear in the set up in The Raven Boys that Aglionby holds plenty of secrets. This book didn’t touch on them. That seemed like it would be such a huge element, yet it just was not addressed here. I get that it was summer in this book, but still…

Then there was the ending. There were two sub plots that really carried this book, and both had a rather anti-climatic endings. The first plot twist that had me on the edge of my seat was resolved in such a way that I just sort of frowned at the book and went “ok?” The second plot had a stronger resolution, but it still felt weak. Even with the well done cliff hanger ending, the whole last 20 pages just fell short for me.

The ending of The Dream Thieves certainly hasn’t stopped me from diving into Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but it did put a damper on the book for me. Despite not seeing certain things and those anti-climatic plot resolutions, this book was a great one. It built on what had been established in The Raven Boys and really moved the saga forward.

TL;DR: No second book syndrome here! While The Dream Thieves didn’t quite live up to The Raven Boys for me, it still was a wonderful read. It built on what happened in the first book, added depth to all previous elements, and really carried the overall story forward beautifully. The more I read, the more I fall in love with this series. If you read the first book and are hesitating to read the second, don’t, it’s well worth it!

 

Book Review: Cuckoo Song

|+| Warnings: Unreliable narrator |+|

“Everything on one side or the other, and nothing in between.” ~Shrike (Cuckoo Song)

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Author: Frances Hardinge

Genre: YA Horror, Historical fiction, Paranormal

Summary: When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth she must travel into the terrifying underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family—before it’s too late . . .

My Opinion: I live for atmospheric books. The stranger the better. Cuckoo Song delivered. I picked it up ages ago, almost finished it, then had to return it to the library (ah, the curse of exams). It was great to finish it this time. Everything I loved was still there and it’s a satisfying story. A historical fiction that couldn’t quite seem to get across to the reader when it was taking place, Cuckoo Song was wonderfully atmospheric, interesting, and creepy. Due to a few lacking things, but plenty of strong elements, I gave the book four stars.

What stood out to me from the start was the atmosphere of the story. It comes in many forms, from the language used to describe things, pacing, and the increasingly strange happenings. In parts it’s so bizarre it’s disturbing. Dolls were terrifying, birds were unusual and not to be trusted, and I will never look at scissors the same way again. And that’s why I think this book really does stand on its own as a horror book, especially in the YA field. While none of the scares lasted off the page, there’s a few household objects I’m still giving the side-eye to.

The characters were unique and for the most part well developed although there was little diversity. Triss was interesting and I enjoyed being in her head. I have a thing for unreliable narrators and this one showed huge growth. Violet and Pen are close seconds in favorite characters. Watching the three of them grow was wonderful. Perhaps my biggest complaint with the book is that the secondary characters don’t get any character development until about 200 pages in. We’re consistently shown that there’s potential but it’s not set into motion until half way through the book. I felt there was way too much hint dropping about what characters could be instead of getting a move on with that development. But Triss’ parents and their characterization was phenomenal. I applaud Hardinge for tackling such an overlooked issue when it comes to bad parenting. Triss’ parents are despicable.  Yet the parents are loving. They want what’s best for their daughter, they’re older and wiser and know best. But the book makes clear that they are stifling not only Triss but the whole family. Their obsession with control is causing cracks in the family and possibly putting them in danger. Sometimes reading about the parents’ choices was more frightening than screaming dolls. Screaming dolls are not real, but parents like Triss’ are. And that’s terrifying.

I also was frustrated with the setting. No doubt of it, Hardinge has a wonderful writing style that reminds me of Stiefvater. Both writers are very whimsical and metaphorical. But with Hardinge, I had no idea when this story was taking place. I knew it was after a war, but which war? It never was clearly established. Turns out that the story takes place after World War I, but with such weak timeline establishment, the book felt like it was trying for something steampunk.

Flaws aside, I really did enjoy this book. It’s perfect for October, especially if you’re going to read under the covers with a flashlight or around a bonfire. Creepy, moody, and filled with uncertainties, Cuckoo Song is a top pick for those looking for something out of the ordinary.

TL;DR: Despite little diversity, sluggish character development, and sometimes veering into formulaic territory, Cuckoo Song has promise and delivers on it. A dark and unsettling atmosphere is established from the start. Mundane items become frightening and the book tackles one of the most challenging family issues. While I wouldn’t recommend this to those who are unsettled by dolls, for those of you looking for a creepy read that puts a new spin on old things, read Cuckoo Song. It’s seriously the perfect October read.

5 Books to Get You in the Mood for School

Nerd alert! I freaking love school. I love learning and making full use of the campus library. I love seeing the geese at the pond and taking a stroll down the lane that’s lined with special plants from around the state. I love finding places to camp out and read a book before class starts and am always amazed that I manage to find new places after so long. But even I have off days and need a little help getting into the “back to school” mood. Here are five books that without fail get me in the mood for school:

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1. Harry Potter: Ok so it’s actually seven books, but just go with me here. I’m sure if everyone had to make a list like this, most people would put at least one Harry Potter book it. Personally, my favorites are books one and two. There’s just something about going back to school with Harry and friends. And say what you want about Dumbledore, but he’s not the only problematic person in the book, and he does have some genuine good in him. And I think that’s the beauty of it. Good people have dark sides, and bad people have good sides, and all sorts of people can find positions of power. It’s a challenge all of us face as students. For me, that element being in there is very comforting. I know I’m not the only one who’s had their run ins with teachers or the like who abused their power. The Harry Potter series shows that learning has its own kind of magic and that even the strangest and unexpected of challenges, in or out of the classroom, can be fixed with a trip to the library and a bit of daring, hard work, ambition, and creativity.

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2. Private: I’ll try to contain myself here but I’ve found that the Private series is underrated and few people know about it (seriously if you’ve read any of it, come talk to me about it!). But I love it and find it inspiring. Reed Brennan is tough. She has a horrible home life and yet she’s determined to reach her dreams through education-even though not all of her family is supportive of this. I think that’s such a powerful message especially with how things are going with the education system in America. When Reed lands herself a scholarship she works her tail off to keep it and the series does an excellent job of showing the challenges that scholarship students face. This 13 book series is mostly focused on the politics of schools. While there’s plenty of moments where I find myself going “Oh man, I can so relate to that,” in regards to Reed’s classes, there’s plenty of stuff I can also relate to when it comes to student/teacher and student/student interactions. Not to mention the whole morals of “do what it takes to stay on top.” It’s just a well done series in my take. While I still have to get my hands on books 9-13, from the first 8 books I know it makes the grade.

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3. Twilight: Something about the ambiance of Forks helps me get into the mood for school. It might be because I read the book for the first time in my senior year of high school and that year was one of my best. Also, as someone who’s been the new girl plenty of times it’s comforting to have a heroine that’s also the new one. I could relate to Bella a lot back in the day. Sure, there’s not much focus on school once Bella and Edward click, but the melodrama gives me life.  If I get too uptight about things, Twilight helps me take a step back, relax, and enjoy school on my off days.

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4. The Martian: Surprise! Look who showed up…again (seriously this is the third time this book has showed up on a list of mine-not even going to pretend to be sorry). I actually plan on re-reading this book soon because of the nerdery. This book makes the list because I learned so much while reading it. Not only that, it’s a super motivational book for me. It motivates me to stay strong in challenges and to keep learning. As much as I love learning, sometimes I get a professor that just doesn’t suit my learning style and can make the whole process a drag. It’s a great reminder that learning can be fun and really bloody useful.

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5. Angelology: Ok, ok hold up here. Back up. I have never actually finished this book. So how did it make it onto the list? Long story short, I kept picking up this book in the book store and reading the back and then looking at the cover and going “naked guy ok…how about no?” and putting it back. Then finally after like the fourth time (and again reading some of the writing) I decided to get it. And so for the past three years I have been trying to read this book at the start of school. And every time I have gotten sick or something major has come up and I stopped reading it. And almost every time at the exact same place. It’s like fate. So this book reminds me of school because I am just too stubborn to not try to finish it and I always try reading it during the school year. I will win. I will finish this book. Just like I will finish my classes come hell or high water.

Hopefully at least one of these books will help get you in the mood for school (or at least over the summer blues) if you’re dreading it. And if you’re as hyped as I am for it, hopefully these books will help encourage that energy. And those of you that aren’t in school anymore and just chilling…well hey, at least you have book recommendations right? I’d love to hear your take on any of these books or any of your book recs! I’m a huge fan of boarding school, and school related books so if you know of any, toss them my way!

Book Review: The Maze Runner

|+| Warnings: Violence, language |+|

“Holy crap, you’re human. You should be scared.” ~Tommy (Maze Runner)

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Author: James Dashner

Genre: Dystopian YA, Survival

Summary: “If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.”

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers–boys whose memories are also gone.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out–and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

My Opinion: My nephew fan-boys so hard over this book that I just couldn’t say no when he told me to read it. I told him that because he’s so into it, I’d read the books and then together we could read books three and four and finish out the series. Reading together as a family is a big thing for us, and I would never do anything to damper someone’s love for a book.

While I can see why my nephew (and so many others) love this book, oh boy was it a fight for me to get through. I loved the characters, but that was overshadowed by poor foreshadowing. I loved the world building and over all concept, but that was weakened by certain elements that showed the book was trying too hard to be cool. I swear I feel like I’m missing something here cause I think I’m one of the few people who’s not head over heals in love with this. Luckily, there was enough good in it for me to give this book three stars.

I’m going to get all the bad stuff out of my system first. I like to try to end things on a positive note.

First things first. Foreshadowing is not a game of “HEY KIDS! DID YOU SEE THE FORESHADOWING RIGHT HERE?” yet that’s exactly what it felt like to me. Foreshadowing should be subtle. You should barely notice it until you’re slammed in the face with the big event which makes the foreshadowing click. The foreshadowing is to keep readers guessing. And because it was shoved in my face the whole book I was just so bored by it all that when the big reveals came, I had either guessed it or I just didn’t care.

Now let’s get to that cursing.  This book tries to score cool points by saying thinks like “shuck” and variations which is so obviously code for the f-word and other swears. It’s so obvious it’s painful. I’ve been a kid and we thrived on that kind of thing. And trust me, as someone who hangs out around a lot of kids, that has not changed. Everyone picks up on it. And in this day in age, you’d be surprised how young kids are when they start using the f-word (or maybe you wouldn’t be). While cursing and strong language can certainly have its place and create a more realistic atmosphere, if overdone it’s just dull and crass. Guess what’s overdone in The Maze Runner? Yep. The fake swears. I get it, it was used to try to establish a dialect and enhance the world building. If Dashner had cut back on that, it would have worked beautifully.

Now for what I liked. Cause this book did earn its three stars from me and I feel comfortable in going ahead with the series. I loved these characters. Even the ones I didn’t like, I really enjoyed disliking them. There was genuine diversity and while some felt a little underdeveloped, all were interesting and important. Newt and Minho are hands down my fave with Chuck and Thomas coming in at a close second. The monsters were really well done too. Dashner has a great ability to help the reader visualize everything, from the maze to the people, to the monsters. I feel like the monsters were such a core element that they really did help with the world building and character development. They added flavor to the Maze. I also really liked the ending. The story promised suspense from the get go and never really delivered for me until the end. But that end was worth it.  While my nephew says he didn’t like the second book as much, I think the second book might be more of my jam and help me appreciate The Maze Runner more. I certainly want to read it thanks to the end events (although I wouldn’t call it a cliff hanger).

Ultimately The Maze Runner tries to give the grit and depth of Hunger Games but only is able to deliver on the grit aspect. The foreshadowing is done in such a way that I felt insulted as a reader, and the uniqueness of the world was hidden by the poorly disguised foul language. Despite that, there’s some unique and interesting elements as well as wonderful characters. The characters are well done and are truly the driving force of the story.  If you’re a fan of dystopian, read it, it’s got some good stuff in it. If you’re not into dystopian, pass on this one.

TL;DR: The Maze Runner is an original concept that tries too hard to be cool. Fake curse-words that are easily seen for what they’re substituting, and foreshadowing is shoved in the readers face instead of being a quiet shadow, put a damper on the story. On the up side, the characters are great and the world is unique. The end of the book is startling and amps up the suspense to what the book promised in the beginning. If you’re a fan of dystopian, read it, it’s got some strong stuff in it. If you’re not into dystopian, pass on this one.

Bookish Recap: Top 5 Faves…So Far

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So we’re about half way through the month that is the half way point through the year. My birthday is this week so to celebrate I’ve decided to share my top five favorites of the year so far. This actually wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve reviewed all of these books and included links to the reviews if you missed them and want to check out my more in depth thoughts.

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The Martian (Andy Weir): Does it surprise anyone that I listed this book first? It’s the one I talk the most about, I don’t even know why I’m pretending like this wouldn’t have been on the list. I just put it on another list too. You can tell I love this one! I loved the humor and the resilience that Mark had. The nerd in me rejoiced at the behind the scenes look at NASA and all the science not related to space. I am a die hard fan of survival stories and this one came with science. I was sobbing at the end and I think the only other book I cried so hard at was The Hobbit. You can read my review of it (The Martian, not The Hobbit) here. I promise I don’t talk about potatoes…much.

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The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater): This book came as a surprise for me. I was expecting it to be kind of meh, over-hyped, and not my cup of tea despite the lovely writing style. I was so wrong. I am so, so glad that I was so, so wrong. I deeply connected to each of the main characters and was awed by the beautifully executed plot. The world building blew me away. I set aside reading the series so that I could buy all of it. Now I just need to prepare myself for major feels. The Raven Boys is one of my most recent reviews and you can check it out here.

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We Awaken (Calista Lynne): Asexual representation? Check. Cute girls loving girls? Check. Magic? Check. Lovely world building? Check! I was stoked when I was offered the opportunity to read and review this book, but I was also anxious. As someone who has asexual friends and who is on the asexual spectrum herself, I was pretty worried about how accurate the representation would be. I didn’t have a thing to worry about and really enjoyed the organic romance that developed between the characters. I also loved Lynne’s writing style. Overall, We Awaken struck me as an incredibly elegant book.

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I Funny (James Patterson): Speaking of diversity…I Funny was a wonderful and incredibly quick read. I really loved the humor in it, and adored how Jamie defined himself outside of his disability-something that is so hard for us to do. While I couldn’t relate to the situation Jamie was in, I could relate to the bullying, the struggles of middle school and the need to define yourself outside of your disability. This is the sort of book I wish I had when I was in elementary and middle school, and I’m so glad that the I Funny series is available for today’s generation. You can read my review here.

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I am Malala (Malala Yousafzai): This was a really hard book to read at times because of the struggles Malala, her family, and her friends went through. It’s hard to believe that this stuff actually happened because America is seemingly so far removed from these issues. That was one thing I loved about this book. Through honesty and passion Malala shows that education can be improved everywhere and that it’s everyone’s business that we educate everyone in the upcoming generations. No matter their gender. This was hard to review due to the fact that it was so powerful for me and I needed time to sit on it, but I managed it!

So, have you got any favorites of the year so far? Any way you could narrow your list down to just five? I’d love to hear what books you’d put on your list as I’m always (needlessly, my TBR pile is massive) on the look out for new books to read!

5 Patriotic Book Recs (USA style)

I know that I have followers world wide, but yesterday was Fourth of July and I wanted to try to honor that in a bookish style. My family and I keep our Fourth’s pretty chill. Not going to lie, the most patriotic thing I did was eat corn dogs (it doesn’t get much more American than that)!

But lately I’ve been finding it hard to be patriotic. So many discriminatory laws have been passed and there’s been terrorist attacks on minorities. America doesn’t feel like America should feel. Thankfully there are books. The following books are books that help me remember the good stuff about my home and make me proud that I live here, despite the flaws.

Now none of these books scream “AMERICA!!!” and none of these books are even about being a patriot, but each has a distinct American element. If I had to give someone a book to introduce them to American culture, I’d point them to any one of these books.

Even if you aren’t American I hope you find a book that interests you. I’d love to hear what books make you feel patriotic for your country!

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The Martian (Andy Weir): This book is one of my favorites of the year. True, the majority of the book takes place on Mars, but NASA plays a huge role in this too. My little nerdy self delighted in all the science and history of American space exploration throughout the book. Also, Mark had some of those “ideal” American traits. Like an inability to die when he was supposed to cause he’s too stubborn. Another trait/theme was teamwork. While Mark is trying to survive on an empty planet, NASA does a ton of teamwork. Divisions that don’t typically get along work together start working flawlessly (sort of) for a common goal. One thing I love about America is despite those who want to promote fear and hate, America really does know how to pull together in a crisis. The Martian captures this and the American fighting spirit perfectly.  If you want you can read my review of it here.

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Divergent (Veronica Roth): While I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I thought I would (forever crying over that), Divergent still has some great elements. It takes place in Chicago (which according to Google is the second most popular city in the US) in a dystopian future. The reason this book is on my list is because part of the American dream is conquering your fears to reach your goals. Triss’ faction, Divergent, is all about that. The whole plot of the book revolves around one group trying to take away the freedom of the little guys, another major talking point in the US. It’s a very political book overall. Divergent does an excellent job showing how politics impact every element of life, and how the media controls it. That’s been a topic that’s been talked about a lot lately in America. Also, speaking of American dreams, the author wrote the book while she was in college and published while she was in her early twenties. Really this book indirectly embodies so much about America (the good and the bad) it’s nuts.

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The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabbot): As Americans we pride ourselves on our numerous underdog and Cinderella stories. It doesn’t get much more Cinderella than The Princess Diaries! Mia becomes reasonably upset when she discovers her parents lied to her for fifteen years and kept her princess identity from her. Then comes the grandmother (who in this case could be the sort of wicked step-mother) to give the royal makeover. Despite the fantastical scenario, Mia’s story is true to the struggles of American teens.Mia and her diverse group of friends make a plethora of pop-culture references that really highlight their Americanness (I’m sorry, but there’s certain things only someone from America would ever say about Baywatch). Not to mention that the books takes place in New York City, the most famous city in the U.S. While the first two books on the list touch on the American fight spirit and resilience, The Princess Diaries focuses on the heart, hopefulness, and determination of the upcoming American generations. It’s fluff, but it’s filled with powerful truths and an all around great time!

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Private (Kate Brian): (Why haven’t more people read this series?!?) Education is one of the most controversial issues in America. You’re right, it shouldn’t be, but there’s a lot of conflict and politics involved with our education system. I feel like the Private series perfectly captures this slice of America. If you’re into boarding schools and drama, this series is for you. Reed goes to Easton, an elite boarding school on scholarship. If she makes it here, she can get away from her agonizing life back home and make it into any college. If she makes it. Not only are the classes more challenging than anything she’s ever encountered, teachers that are supposed to help and advocate for her, just don’t do that. And what so many people don’t realize, is that on school campuses, it’s not the teachers that run the roost, it’s the students. There is so much that goes on that teachers should be aware of, but aren’t. Again, this ties into big government politics. But Reed’s adventures at Easton captures the questionable morals of just how far should one go to secure a future for themselves, and how education can play a huge role in that. It’s not all bad though. Over the course of the series Reed does what so many of us students do. We make a faulty system work for us.

Last but not least:

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Follow the Model: Miss J’s Guide to Unleashing Presence, Poise, and Power (J. Alexander): If you’re into fashion and/or are a fan of America’s Next Top Model, you’ve probably heard of the model J. Alexander. The media and American modeling industry is all about real…just so long as it’s not too real (yay photoshop!) or intimidating. Your real can never be too much. Miss J shakes that idea up and replaces it with something that’s much closer to the real heart of America. Be too much and love yourself for it. Sharing the story and teachings of his mother as well as life lessons he’s learned along the way, Miss J takes us on a journey that starts in the Bronx and goes around the world. But always, Miss J takes pride in his heritage and who he is. He talks in depth about his experiences in the perusal of his dreams, the good and the bad. Despite how often the media shoves unrealistic expectations down our throats, J. Alexander shows through real life examples that you can break free from that and live out your own American dream by being your crazy beautiful self.

 

So then, questions for you: Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? What books make you feel proud to be a part of your country and/or proud of your heritage?

Bookish Recap: March

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If I missed out on horror books last month, this month more than made up for it. Sure I took some detours like re-reading Princess Diaries (I will never get tired of that book), and falling in love with The Martian, but I finished off Insomnia, and managed to read the Asylum series.

Books Read:

  • The Princess Diaries (Meg Cabot; re-read still 5 stars)
  • Insomnia (Stephen King; four stars)
  • Asylum (Madeleine Roux; re-read still 5 stars)
  • Sanctum (Madeline Roux; 4.5 stars)
  • Catacomb (Madeline Roux; 3 stars)
  • The Asylum Novellas (Madeline Roux; 3.5 stars)
  • The Martian (Andy Weir; 5 stars; review live April 4th)

I got a lot of reading done for the Cornerfolds Horror Challenge which is great, because heaven knows I was quite behind, not having read any horror in January or February. Obviously Asylum doesn’t count as I read and reviewed it last year, so my grand total read for the challenge is 4 books. Which isn’t bad.

The Princess Diaries is an old favorite, and I re-read it pretty quickly. The book is falling apart thanks to how many times I’ve read it. It’s some of the best first person pov writing I’ve ever read, has wonderful humor and for such an outlandish plot (I mean come on, it’s a girl finding out she’s a princess in modern day NYC), it’s incredibly realistic. I totally recommend this, especially if you’re looking for something light and fun to read.

Insomnia confused me a bit at the end until I started screaming thanks to that massive Dark Tower reference. My friend read me the argument of the second book and then EVERYTHING about Insomnia clicked. It’s almost like Insomnia is a prequel to the Dark Tower series which is really cool. I knew King did that, but to see how he pulled it off was incredible. That pretty much sealed my fate. The book was fantastic for a number of reasons, even if it was lacking in diversity and some parts just moved too slow. I wouldn’t consider this book horror, although I get why many would call it that. This is weird fiction more than anything, but it’s considered a horror book and weird fiction is a small niche  The characters were lovable, and King played around with some really old concepts but did something fresh with them. It’s a tome, and my first King book, but I highly recommend it to newcomers and to die hard King fans.

Now onto the whole point of this month reading wise. The Asylum series!

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I feel like every time I try to talk about Asylum I get a little better at it, and my fan-girling becomes more coherent which is good, cause I’m about to talk about it again. Re-reading Asylum was a blast. What I loved about it, the mounting tension, the genuine moments of terror, the realistic portrayal of mental illnesses including anxiety was all there and I picked up details about all of those elements that I had missed the the first time. Asylum is a book that is meant to be re-read. Not only did I pick up on things I missed the first time, I picked up on things that are impossible to pick up on if you just read it once. They’re things that when you read the book the first time they add to the ambiance. But when you read the book the second time, you realize there was foreshadowing on page two. Little things like that just kept piling up and really added not only to the mood of the story but the mystery as well. It’s so subtle which goes to show how great of a writer Roux is.

Sanctum had high standards to meet and just about met them all. The writing was better than in Asylum but this book was almost too much for me. There were some horribly brutal (although not necessarily gory) parts in this, and I had to put the book down for a bit. This book (and the series) is not for the faint of heart by any means. But where Asylum delivered on the genuine fear, Sanctum didn’t quite make it. Sure, it got in the eerie and unsettling, but I couldn’t fully give it 5 stars because of that. Asylum made me sleep with the lights on and dart down my dark hallway in fear of the Warden. Sanctum didn’t do that for me. Sanctum did give us a brilliant ending though, and I literally looked for the rest of the book because how could you end a book like that? It wasn’t even a real cliff hanger! Either way, brilliant ending.

Catacomb….ooooh boy did I have issues with this one. I appreciate what the book was trying to do, but the strength of the series clearly lies with Brookline. Once Dan and his friends take a road trip and are away from Brookline their encounters start reading a lot less like horror and more like a legal thriller with less law and a lot of eerie but not necessarily paranormal things thrown in. I was pretty disappointed. It was good writing, the mood was strong and pretty consistent with the previous books,  but the story just didn’t fit with the rest of the series and the ending felt more like a cop out than anything. Not the ending I was expecting or looking for, for the series. I have hope though, when I go back and re-read the series (which is very likely) I’ll probably enjoy this book more on the second read. We’ll just have to see if that’s because it was brilliant writing like in Asylum or if it’s because I know to expect less.

The Asylum Novellas were a mixed bag for me. I adored The Scarlets and The Warden but I could have done without The Bone Artists. The Scarlets and The Warden both really added to the series over all and both were very well written, though I never got any real scares from them. The mood and the build up was there but there was no payout. The Bone Artists on the other hand…that one was a mess. Just ignore that one. Even after reading Catacomb I still didn’t feel like it was needed or really added anything to the series.

Finally I read The Martian. A couple of my friends on tumblr had screamed their praises about this book and I adored the movie. I was rather terrified to read it because I heard that it was very math/science based but I shouldn’t have worried. Mark does a great job explaining everything even for the most math incompetent of us (aka me). It’s funny, it’s intense, it’s an adventure and survival story all in one. This is a must read for anyone who liked the movie, science, or space. Honestly, I adore this book. Stop reading this and go read The Martian.

Over all it was a very good book month. I got to read a lot and I wound up really liking the majority of what I read. Best book month so far!