Review – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

By Mark Haddon

SummaryChristopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.


Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

Source: My grandmother mailed me a paperback

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Review:

This book was on my TBR to complete a prompt for the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge for a character with a disability. I don’t know that I would have picked it up so early in the year had my grandmother, an avid reader herself, happened to mention that she read it and mailed me a copy to read so we could talk about it. 

I really enjoyed the book. It was written from the point of view of Christopher, a boy with some form of autism, who discovered a neighbor’s dead dog and proceeded to write a book for school about it because he liked solving mysteries. The premise was simple, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was all the rage at one point, which often makes me avoid a book, especially if I’m concerned it will be overly emotional or something. I’m weird in that regard, but I’m glad I finally picked it up.

The book has a lot of mixed reviews and I think that’s largely due to expectations and the strange narration. Christopher, being a unique person with quirks and very literal thinking, was a different sort of narrator. It was like being in the head of Rain Man or something similar, because he didn’t understand facial expressions or figures of speech and avoided yellow and determined good days based on seeing so many red cars in row on the way to school. Some readers will find the narration difficult to get through because it feels childish at times, but I enjoyed the effort and it felt like I was really seeing things from an autistic boy’s point of view and not like an awful attempt at being unique on the author’s part. 

I won’t give anything away because I enjoyed having no idea where the story would go, but it was well worth the read. It was rather quick to get through because the writing was so straightforward and the book itself was short. I liked the perspective, I felt for Christopher and better understood his parents as the story went on. I definitely recommend the book if you’re looking for something different. 

Star 4

Review – The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

The Problem With Forever

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryHeartbreakingly real…a remarkable novel about the power of first love and the courage it takes to face your fears.” —Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting story about friendship, survival and finding your voice.

Growing up, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Review:

The Problem with Forever was another gem from Jennifer L. Armentrout! I typically love most of her books with the exception of a few, so I grabbed this when it went on sale on Amazon. I picked it up when I was in the mood for a nice contemporary romance with a little bit of grit and it did not disappoint.

The book was similar to the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry as far as dealing with damaged youth, broken homes, and characters a little more rough around the edges. Like McGarry, Armentrout handled it well, made the characters believable, and did not rely on tropes and stereotypes to get her points across. I really felt like I knew Mallory and Rider and that they were realistic characters. It also felt original, despite McGarry having a few stories in her series involving the same kind of characters. This story felt similar in theme, but I didn’t feel like I was reading something that had “been done before” or anything. 

I loved seeing Mallory grow as a character from the meek Mouse stuck in the past to someone who could argue an entire paragraph when she felt confident or passionate enough. I loved that the love interest, while still maintaining the whole tough and brooding persona was genuinely caring. I sometimes think we don’t see the softer side of guys in YA romance without losing the whole alpha male protector aspect. Armentrout gave us a character who was both in a way that really worked. 

I flew through the book in just a matter of hours over a snowy Saturday! I highly recommend it. I don’t know that I’ve read any similar books by the same author. She writes YA and paranormal/fantasy romance under Jennifer, but also New Adult contemporary romance under J. Lynn. This book, while contemporary, felt completely different from her J. Lynn books. I don’t know how she does it, but she keeps pumping out some quality stuff!

Star 4

Review – The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

By Emma Cline

SummaryNorthern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

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Source: I purchased paperback

Review:

I feel a bit conflicted about The Girls

I was kind of drawn in, curious to see how the story would go. It seemed obvious to me that this would involve the infamous cult we all know about and the hints in the beginning seemed to indicate that. And then, I realized that the author used almost all the of the same details and just changed the name of the people. I don’t know why that bothered me so much. It’s so obviously about the Manson girls. But instead of just being about them and being a cool fictitious “maybe this is how it was” type of story, it backed off and was a “different” cult. I’m frustrated. If it was going to be about a different cult, do your own thing. Own the Manson thing or do your own, but don’t just stay in between like you are really writing about the Manson girls but not really because his name is Russell and it’s just sort of the same. I really don’t know why I’m so bothered by it, but it just seemed so.. lame.. like how commercials use a bland extremely similar logo as the competitors when we all know what brand they are really talking about. 

I think perhaps I’d feel a little less bothered if the story was at least satisfying. There was so much build up. I wanted to know what would happen to Evie, how the experience would impact her, how she felt about her part in the cult… it was an interesting portrayal from someone who seemed far removed from worshipping Manson (I mean Russell *rolls eyes*) and I wanted something to matter in the end. Instead, we got this whole intriguing set up and it just fizzled into nothing. 

I wanted this story to be so much more than it was. I almost feel cheated. Like the author couldn’t even come up with her own cult as a backdrop in the first place and then she couldnt even figure out what to do int eh aftermath so the book just sort of ended unceremoniously. If she had this brilliant idea to take this POV and run with it, why didn’t she.. really run with it? She brought nothing new to the table. In this case, the documentaries and the novels and true crime accounts of the Manson cult and/or murders have been far more compelling. In this case, truth was stranger than fiction. This book simply didn’t do anything to warrant being written and it was so close to being better had it just had more of a purpose or plot. 

Still, the writing was good. It was beautiful, actually, and compelling. Evie was a character I wanted more of the entire time. There was certainly something to the novel that made me wanted to keep reading even though nothing was happening. It wasn’t the complete waste of time I might have made it sound like it was.

Star 3

 

Top Ten Tuesday – One Sitting

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Top Ten Tuesday

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Books I Read in One Sitting/One Day

 

1. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I sobbed my eyes out.

2. White Oleander by Janet Fitch. It’s kind of big to have read in one day, but I plowed through it! I loved it.

3. Slammed by Colleen Hoover. And I don’t even LIKE slam poetry. *wipes eyes*

4. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I loved this book. The Junge Book with ghosts and a graveyard instead of animals and a jungle. It’s awesome.

5. Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes. It’s not even short, but I devoured it. I got a whole lot of nothing done that day.

 

 

6. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. A story as cute as the waffles on the cover.

7. Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot. I actually never got out of my chair until I finished. I think the second person narration really made it hard to put down. 

8. You Were Here by Cori McCarthy. I loved the book. It was one of those, like Sad Perect, that I just started to read to see if I would want to read it next, and next thing I knew I was done.

9. The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. Deliciously creepy and impossible to put down!

10. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I remember flying through book 1. It actually kind of bugs me how the series is ALL THE RAGE and everyone says the first book isn’t really that great. I mean, book two blew it out of the water, but I loved the first book on it’s own, too. And I devoured it. 

 

What books have you devoured in 1 day?

Review – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson

Summary: Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

This book was one of those last minute, omg-that-cover-is-awesome type of bookstore buys that I wasn’t planning on buying. As a horror lover, the cover hooked me and I couldn’t resist. I read the book before October one fall. I’m a little mad because I swore I typed up a review and now I can’t seem to find it, so I’m trying to write this based on memory from over 6 months ago.

The book is great and perfectly creepy, mysterious, and weird. It’s frustrating in a way because Mary Catherine was so immature, but the family dynamic totally hooked me. What was going on in that strange house? What happened to the Blackwoods? I mean, we knew, but we didn’t know why. What was going on in that house? Why would she poison her family?

I was compelled and I devoured the book quickly. It isn’t the in-your-face horror novel that I think modern horror lovers expect, so I understand why there are so many disappointed reviews, but I thought the book was brilliant and fascinating. It was completely screwed up and I think it’s important to note that it was written in the 60s. It has all the right odd feelings of an old Tim Burton movie or something and I absolutely loved it. From the judgement of outsiders to the family dynamics of the remaining Blackwoods, I was thoroughly intrigued. 

If you’re into the slow horror, the not-so-direct horror, and intrigued by the synopsis and title, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It was awesome and creepy in so many ways. 

Star 4

5 Things on Sunday – Songs

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5 Things on Sunday

Hosted by Reads and Treats

Five Favorite Songs

 

My taste in music is all over the place, so I’m going to keep this limited to music from movies based on books!

1. The Misty Mountains Cold by the cast of Dwarves from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It was exactly how I imagined it in the book!

 

 

2. Earned It by The Weeknd from the Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack. Not a huge fan of the book or the movie, but I love this song and I think it fits well. 

 

 

3. Elastic Heart by Sia from Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack. Ok, this is sort of cheating because I actually just love th song and happened to find out it is on this soundtrack. I don’t even remember hearing it in the movie or anything. But I chose it because it’s one of my favorite songs anyway. 

 

 

4. Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Ray from The Great Gatsby soundtrack. There seriously couldn’t be a more perfect song for this story. 

 

 

5. Literally every song from the Into the Wild soundtrack by Eddie Vedder. He captured the essence of the story so well. And it’s even more haunting because it’s a true story. 

 

Review – A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves #1) by Morgan Rhodes

 

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves #1)

By Morgan Rhodes

Summary: Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….
Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I purchased this book because it stood out on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I didn’t know it was a spinoff of the Falling Kingdoms series, which I had been planning on reading after hearing so much about, but I knew it was the same author, so I figured I’d give her other series a shot.

Since buying the book, I have read up the current book of the Falling Kingdoms series. I decided to pick it up after finishing Crystal Storm. I am enjoying the series, but it is a bit dramatic and ridiculous, so I was eager to see how the author would handle the present day Toronto world and that of Mytica, the setting of the Falling Kingdoms series.

I think there are aspects of A Book of Spirits and Thieves that I like much more than the Falling Kingdoms series. I read a lot of fantasy and the author’s writing is a little modern and a tad juvenile, making her Falling Kingdoms series a bit of one of those popcorn-munching guilty pleasures that I don’t pick up for the writing itself. Her writing works a lot better in the modern world where I expect characters to act a certain way and care about certain things, so I felt like I “believed” in the characters a little bit more than I do the characters of the Falling Kingdoms series. 

I liked the area of the book that was set in Mytica and I’m glad it didn’t really tie into anything with her other series at all as far as time period or characters or anything. It was just a magical plane of existence that worked in the modern world and Maddox’s struggle didn’t seem to fit in, but I knew it would tie in at some point and it did towards the ends. I know see how the two worlds are linked and I liked that whole set up.

I think I’ll likely continue the series, but I’m not rushing out for the next book because it’s still in hardcover. I feel like the author writes great YA fantasy fiction, but I feel like it’s one of those borrow instead of buy situations. I’ll wait for the library to stock the next book and go from there. This spin off series is fun and entertaining with a cast of characters you can’t help but care about. There is drama, relationships, mystery, betrayal, and secret societies. I definitely recommend reading, even if the Falling Kingdoms series isn’t for you. The setting in A Book of Spirits and Thieves changes the overall feel so that the writing fits a lot better than it does in an ancient world. 

Star 4