Archives

Review – Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

By Kendare Blake

SummaryEvery generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate box.

Three_dark_crowns_Owlcrate.jpeg

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I loved getting this book when I opened up one of my previous Owlcrate boxes. I loved Anna Dressed in Blood by the same author and I knew that she would weave and dark and unforgettable tale of three would-be queens. I did not read the synopsis before jumping in, so I only knew what I could discern from the title and cover, which is how I prefer to read if I’m in the mood to not necessarily know what I’m getting.

Essentially, the island has a queen. The queen has triplets. Only one of them can be crowned queen. To take the throne, she must kill her sisters and take the throne. Every generation. Each potential queen has an ability and possesses a certain strain of magic. In Three Dark Crowns, Katharine was a poisoner queen. She could ingest poisons with no real ill effect, but her power was weak and virtually nonexistent. She was, however, adept at poisoning and poison mixing. Having been subjected to rigorous training, she was shy and had no real confidence. Arsinoe was said to be a naturalist, which meant she should be able to control plants and animals. Instead, her power was also weak and close to nonexistent, though her best friend Jules was a very powerful naturalist and controlled a wild cat. Mirabella was the only real talented would-be queen. She was an elemental and could control the elements, generating storms and controlling fire. The other two were much weaker, but as long as they could put on a show, they’d get the opportunity to be courted and could kill their other sisters and win the crown. 

The sisters were separated early in life and did not know each other aside from intelligence gathered by their supporters. Each sister was essentially trained and raised by those adept in their skills and guided each one. However, there was also a game of politics being played. No one wanted their queen to lose, even if their powers weren’t really strong.

I loved the premise of the book, especially as I got to meet the characters. None of them really wanted to be vicious and kill their siblings, it was simply what was always done and what was expected of them. Generations of poisoner queens had been in the lead, so naturally, the poisoner family of the Arron’s wanted Katharine to take the throne as the next poisoner queen to keep everyone in the lead and in the same position. Between politics and temples backing certain queens and not others, who knew what could happen to any of the queens.

As the story went on, I felt like i got to know and like all the sisters, so even I wasn’t sure who should win. Mirabella certainly had the most power, but she also had dreams, memories even, of her sisters and was less inclined to murder them. The temple attempted to take matters into their own hands. There was drama, mystery, romance, and violence in the book and I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen to each of the three possible queens.

I definitely recommend the book and I can’t wait for the sequel. It was a good choice for Owlcrate and I don’t know that I would have necessarily picked it up otherwise!

Star 4

Review – Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

 

Vassa in the Night

By Sarah Porter

Summary: In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

Source: I received a hardcover in an Owlcrate box.

Vassa_In_the_Night_Owlcrate.jpg

Add to Goodreads

Review:

What the hell did I just read?

Vassa in the Night has to be one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. I mean, I think I enjoyed it, but I don’t even really know? How can I possibly explain this correctly?

There’s magic in Vassa’s world. There’s a convenience store that spins/dances and is the only thing open at night and they behead shoplifters and place the heads in the parking lot on poles. Also the nights are longer, but they last the same length of time, it’s just the hours pass more slowly. Also Vassa’s father left and she lived with her stepmother and half sister and stepsister and her dad left to become a dog. And Vassa has a wooden doll that she feeds and it talks.

So. Yeah. The book is super weird. 

But the story was well told. It was a bit confusing, especially because even the things I mentioned above are revealed in a nonchalant type of way so your brain has no choice to be like “wait, what?” Because the rest of the story reads like a normal novel, it’s not the type of story that sweeps you away into some fantasy land. But as weird as it sounds, I kind of loved how unique it all was and how the author just threw those things in without making a big deal out of it.

The book is supposed to be a retelling of Wassalissa the Beautiful, a Russian folk tale. I do not know if it comes close or does it justice or anything like that, but the story was interesting.

If you’re easily put off by confusing books or world-building that isn’t super upfront and obvious, then this book is NOT for you. But if you have an open mind and want something a little weird, it’s definitely fun. It’s seriously perfect for those moments when you kind of get sick of so many similar plots and you just want a book to take you on an adventure you haven’t been on and can’t guess where it goes. Because there’s no way on earth you can predict what will happen next in this book. I promise. I’m giving it four stars just for being absolutely one of a kind and unlike anything else I’ve ever read. 

Side note: I believe the story is easier to understand if you’re familiar with the original tale, so if it’s super confusing, I suggest trying to read that before giving up on this book. 

Star 4

Review – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things

By Julie Buxbaum

SummaryEverything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been eyeing Tell Me Three Things for awhile, but hardcovers are expensive and I almost never fork out book money on hardcover YA contemporaries because I read them so quickly. And to be honest, I love waffles and I wasn’t quite sure if I only noticed it because of the waffles on the cover. I mean, that’s not a great a reason to pick up a book. I’ve been burned before by enticing covers. But when the kindle version went on sale over the holidays, I snatched it up. I’ve been in the mood for a nice contemporary that wasn’t totally dark or sad, so I finally picked it up and read it.

Tell Me Three Things was so good. I absolutely loved it. I flew through the book in an evening because I just couldn’t put it down without knowing who SN was. (See what I mean about how quickly I read contemporaries?)

Jessie’s life was completely upside down. Her mom died, her dad got remarried, they moved across the country, and Jessie ended up in an LA private school with a bunch of rich teenagers. And that was pretty much just the first paragraph. I hated being the new girl, so her situation was something I totally got. And while I fortunately have both my parents, I did have to deal with step parents and step siblings as a teenager, too, so I even understood that. It’s tough, and it’s even tougher when you have to also deal with grief. I knew I was settling into a book that hooked me.

After a rough first couple of days at her new school, Jessie received an email from SomebodyNoboby (SN for short) who offered to help her navigate the wilds of her high school. It was just the rope she needed to help keep her afloat. Here was a guy who really got her, but who was he? She took the help and ended up having some pretty meaningful conversations and he gave her some great pointers.

With SN’s help, Jessie was able to make some friends. She started working a project with a guy in her class and started to develop a bit of crush on him, but she was also desperately trying to figure out who SN was. She started a job and ended up working side by side with a guy dating one of the girls who was mean to Jessie, which created some drama for her. It was a complicated mess she was trying to navigate, while also trying to manage her home life. Her new home was huge, came with a flamboyant stepbrother who refused to talk to her in school, but was at least opening up a bit at home, a “helper” who made all of the food and made Jessie a bit uncomfortable, and a stepmom who was practically a stranger. The LA lifestyle was an alien world and Jessie was trying to figure it all out and still maintain her friendships back in Chicago.

I can’t really give anything away, but I loved the book so much. I loved the build up to the big reveal, the complicated boy drama, and the coming of age, figuring out who you are and how to be a better friend and forgive your parents. It was cute, but with just enough seriousness to balance it all out. 

I loved the end so much I reread it a few times just to experience the moment one more time! 

I definitely recommend Tell Me Three Things to fans of YA Contemporary. The book is every bit as delicious as the heart shaped waffles on the front. 

Star 4

An Adventure – Harry Potter Reread

After completing my 2016 challenges and setting up reviews to take me into the new year, I decided to take the time to do a full reread of the Harry Potter series. It was the first time I was rereading.. I read books 1-3 as a kid, and then later, 1-7 as an adult. I’ve never actually read the series more than once as a whole! Partly, I’m just not much of a re reader, but also, being a blogger makes it hard to take the time to reread something longer because I need to have reviews scheduled.

However, I’m really glad I took the time. The movies are great, but they miss so much.. so many details! It was nice to get back into the series and savor all of the details. Also, I never read the books from any other perspective other than just experiencing the story. It’s a lot different knowing what happens and being able to analyze it all. Also, I’m a Slytherin, which makes for an interesting reading experience.

I’ve decided to document some of my thoughts during each book.

 

Reread Thoughts:

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 

In book 1, I realized how short sighted Harry could be. At first, I felt really bad for him because of all he endured at the Dursley’s, but it was clear that Dumbledore had a point when he decided to stick Harry there. The fame could’ve easily turned him into an awful person. Even with a ton of hardship and perspective, he still had his faults. All of his actions were based on his point of view, but he never stopped to think about how he appeared to other people. He completely disregarded and offended Draco and, if you look at it from Draco’s point of view, it was a really awful slight. The famous Harry Potter just treated him like dirt.. and he didn’t even really deserve it. He did later, he really did bully Harry, but that short exchange is what started the whole thing. If Harry was nicer, he could’ve avoided an enemy. Of course, I am a little more defensive when it comes to Draco because I know that he’s ultimately not evil and neither is Snape. And in the beginning, Harry seemed to associate people who didn’t like him with evil.. and that’s kind of a problem. I’m glad he has Ron and Hermione to help balance him out.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 In book 2, I realize I totally forgot Ginny’s role in the diary from Tom Riddle. It’s been a really long time since I’ve even seen the Chamber of Secrets movie. I feel like Harry’s insistence that Snape and all of Slytherin is evil is completely over the top. So far, the only house involved in anything is Gryffindor. Obviously, we know why and we know that stuff just happens to Harry and it’s not like he wills it, but just imagine how it looks to everyone else! It’s kind of unfair. It was interesting to see Harry struggle with his fame and find things he is good at.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In book 3, I had forgotten just how much I absolutely love Professor Lupin. He was such a great teacher and person and remains one of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed the whole dementor thing and the existence of Sirius Black. I also liked that we got to know Snape a little more and realize that Harry’s father perhaps wasn’t the amazing person Harry thought he was if he bullied Snape. I’m still completely bothered by how Harry can continue to be a jerk to Malfoy, yet act like it’s so unfair that Malfoy treats him like crap. It’s a two way street and yet Harry just walks around like he’s the victim. I understand why Snape hates him. Unless you’re in Harry’s head or his friend, it’s probably really easy to assume he’s full of himself.. he certainly acts like it at times. 

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I stopped at this book as a kid. Honestly, I just didn’t know when it would end and I didn’t want to get stuck in another Harry Potter is good at everything and solves another mystery while also becoming champion of everything. It wasn’t until later, as an adult, when I discovered that Harry would struggle, lose people he cared about, and not always come out on top. To me, that’s what makes fiction interesting. So I read this one in full as an adult. I think Goblet of Fire is a bit too long, but I just wasn’t into the whole Triwizard Tournament or the Quidditch match. This is the one book where I feel like the things that attract people to the fandom differ from what attracts me. However, there are some of my favorite moments, like S.P.E.W. and Dobby and the more complicated plot involving He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. 

 

 

And here come my favorites… I love 5-7 so much!

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

 This is where the series starts to really improve in my opinion. Harry struggled a lot in this book and I think that’s what I needed him to do. His life was chaos. He spent his summer feeling isolated. He returned to school and few of his classmates believed You-Know-Who was back. The Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts butted heads throughout the entire book because of the issue of whether or not Voldemort was back. Dumbledore backed Harry, but the Minister felt threatened by Dumbledore and it turned into the worst situation. And this was the book that introduced Umbridge, perhaps the worst sort of person in the entire series. She makes me cringe in ways that Voldemort and even Bellatrix don’t do for me! She’s the evil we see everyday and I think that’s what makes her such a great evil character. We really got to see some parallels in this book about government interference. 

I love meeting all of the characters in this book. The Order of Phoenix was made up of some pretty unique characters. Harry got to see the Black home with Sirius and meet Kreacher, the disgruntled House Elf. I also loved meeting Luna Lovegood, the quirky Ravenclaw that could also see Thestrals. 

In my opinion, this book is the one that sets the series apart and gets super serious. It crosses out of fun middle grade adventure territory and becomes a serious piece of literature. I can’t wait to crack the next book open.

 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I love this one! Book 6 is intensely serious. Harry struggled with feelings for Ginny (which always seemed forced and weird to me, though I know that’s an unpopular opinion), watched Ron struggle with whatever it was that was happening between him and Hermione, and people were getting hurt at Hogwarts (but what else is new?) Harry was very suspicious of Malfoy, which was kind of annoying, even if we did figure out that he WAS indeed up to something. My one complaint is that Harry kept on being validated. His obsession with trying to catch Snape and/or Malfoy doing something dark was awful, but he wasn’t wrong. At least Dumbledore attempted to keep him on his toes. A lot about Voldemort was revealed and I enjoyed the darker side of things. This book is one of my favorites.

I love that Harry had some issues with his friends and had to make decisions alone. I love that he screws up and makes wrong decisions. And I love how the plot thickened and we got so much history of Voldemort.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This book is perhaps the darkest of them all and the one that ends it all. Harry did not return to Hogwarts, as Dumbledore gave him a mission and Ron and Hermione accompanied him. Without Dumbledore’s guidance, Harry struggled to complete the tasks, but ultimately persevered. I absolutely loved when Dudley said to Harry that he wasn’t a waste of space, which was quite touching after everything that happened while Harry lived with the Dursleys. 

I forget how much material is in the final book. The mention of horcruxes is briefly mentioned in the last book and then the final book, but it’s something I remember so clearly. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn’t much longer than the past couple of books, but I feel like it contains so much. Between the deaths, the Deathly Hallows, the epic battle, and the final understanding of some wizarding lore and quests for power, the final book really is pretty epic. 

I love this series and I love how it ends, at least until the epilogue. I still can’t help but cringe a little bit at the neat bow at the end with everyone paired off and the names of all of the children. However, I know I’m weird and most people like to have concrete where-are-they-now endings. 

Other things of note: I did not miss the way the memory of James Potter compared to Draco’s introduction to Harry in book one, the way he scoffed at Slytherin the same way Draco scoffed at Hufflepuff. Harry didn’t like Draco’s attitude and it completely set them up to be enemies the entire series, but his father had similar stuck up attitudes. I never noticed that before, perhaps because I was focused on the great revelation that Snape was not Voldemort’s wingman and hadn’t been for a long time. Harry is a humble and quite talented wizard, but his tendency to relax the rules really did make him seem like his father in a lot of ways, which explains how awful Snape was to him. (And I really don’t think Snape was very awful, just a tad stubborn and rude). 

Also, I can’t seem to get through the final movies or this book without crying. 

 

————— 

I’m really glad I decided to reread the series. It worked out perfectly, with me finishing on Christmas and ready to start reading books for 2017. I had plenty of time, having met my 2016 goals back before Thanksgiving.

I know a lot of people end up rereading the series often, even annually, but I can’t imagine reading it so often. I’m not much a re reader, so I’m happy to have experienced the series just a couple of times now. I do hope to reread other favorites because I enjoy it, perhaps even more so the second time around.

Also, the movies are fairly good, but I was amazed at how different some of the scenes were, aside from the material cut from the movies, like almost every amazingly hilarious Dobby scene. Since I’ve only read through most of the books once before, the movies kind of end up replacing my memories of events and it’s incredible how many details I’d forgotten were different. 

 

 

Review – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere

By Neil Gaiman

SummaryUnder the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: neverwhere.

Source: I purchased a paperback ages ago and finally picked it up.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Neverwhere was Gaiman’s first solo novel, an urban fantasy taking place in an alternate London, underground, called London Below. Richard was ordinary, average, and kind of doormat. Until, for some reason, he decided he had to take action and help a wounded girl on the street while being berated by his controlling fiancé. His decision led him on a wild adventure underground once his life above was stripped from him, rendering the already slightly invisible Richard, totally invisible. 

I really enjoyed Neverwhere. It was such a fun adventure, dark in all the right places, full of darkness, puzzles, and intrigue. The villains were oh-so-perfectly villainous and it was an overall awesome fantasy adventure. There were twists and turns in the plot, betrayals and deaths, and Richard discovered he was a heck of a lot braver and more capable than he’d every imagined. 

In a lot of ways, Neverwhere read like a middle grade or young adult novel, because it deals with coming into yourself and discovering who you can truly be, but it’s even better because it’s a tad dark and Richard is older and I think adults sometimes need a good kick in a butt to realize we are just living in a routine. It was simple to read, but it was complex in just the right ways. I think it’s perfect for adults who love urban fantasy and somewhat dark, Tim Burton-like stuff. There is a ton of coming of age fantasy for kids and young adults and I love that this one features an older, but just as out of place protagonist finding his own Narnia wardrobe of sorts. 

It’s safe to say I am definitely a Gaiman fan. I can’t wait to dive into more of his books. I still think American Gods is the best, but this is a great book and one that helps bridge the gap from Coraline or The Graveyard Book, which involve child protagonists, and American Gods, which is wholly adult. 

Star 4

Review – Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

 

Exit, Pursued by a Bear

By E.K. Johnston

SummaryVeronica Mars meets William Shakespeare in E.K. Johnston’s latest brave and unforgettable heroine. 

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale

Source: I purchased a hardcover

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been wanting to read Exit, Pursued by a Bear for some time and I finally bought it over the holidays and decided to read it shortly afterwards. 

The book is a YA contemporary involving rape, which I knew going in and caution anyone else about so they can decide if that’s a subject they prefer to read about. I didn’t have any real expectations, though I have to admit I did expect a somewhat dramatic novel due to the subject matter.

Surprisingly, the book was not the dark and turbulent novel I was expecting. Though Hermione did have to deal with being drugged, raped, and the aftermath, the book wasn’t focused so much on the darkness of the subject, but rather the support she received through her friends, family, and even her cheerleading team. Hermione was fortunate in many ways to have a support system and it changed how her story of survival went. Results aren’t typical for many people, but I was grateful for the unique perspective. She did not want to be a victim, a cautionary tale, or anyone’s object of pity, and she did whatever she could, with the help of her support system to maintain her normal life and recover.

There are a few negative reviews, admittedly among a sea of very positive ones, that mention how unrealistic the book is and how Hermione’s situation is an insult to real victims. I think there are hoards of rape stories from many perspectives and many, if not most, have fairly dark and awful truths, a lot of struggling and depression and blame going around. A lot of people don’t have support systems and most works of fiction involving the subject matter reflect that. They have to fight tooth and nail against legal systems, families, friends, social groups/towns, even religious groups, to be believed and heard and may not ever get any closure. It may ruin their lives in more ways than one and they remain victims of more than just the rape at that point. But one person’s experience (even MOST people’s experiences) does not negate the experiences of others. Hermione’s tale may not be typical, but it doesn’t make her story any less relevant or realistic. People with wonderful lives, friends, families, etc still get raped and have to live their lives after that. They have to deal with the situation, make tough decisions, and move on in whatever way works for them, through trial and error, with or without breakdowns. In fact, Hermione even mentioned to her therapist that she felt like something was wrong with her because she didn’t feel anything because she didn’t remember. I feel that Hermione’s determination to not be victimized by the situation was an attitude I admired, even though I realize it’s not that simple for most rape victims.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is a story about a teen girl who was drugged and raped at a cheerleading camp and the events afterwards. She had a wonderful support system. No one really doubted her, the legal system did what they could to pursue the case. But even still, she had some tough and awful moments. She faced a decision about whether she’d have to terminate a pregnancy as a result. She lost time due to being drugged and struggled with waking up in the morning because she didn’t know where she was. She couldn’t remember the event, which halted her ability to really “deal” with the events because she had nothing to relive, no emotions to work through, until pieces of her memory were recovered after being triggered by certain smells, sounds, etc. Her lack of emotion regarding her own circumstances concerned her, since it felt like it had happened to someone else. In a small town, she also had to do her best to avoid being the tragic case for everyone to remember. She wanted to remain herself and hold onto the wonderful life she knew she had. But her support system made all of these things a million times easier than they are for many people and her friendships strengthened her. 

I’d recommend this book. I recommend reading it for various reasons. As a person who has not experienced what Hermione has, it was helpful because I was able to see how much a support system matters and how not to treat victims, how to be sensitive without pitying, how to be compassionate without making the victim feel fragile, how to be a friend to someone who has had this terrible thing happen to them and be a good one. The book even talked about slut shaming, victim blaming, and the way society still places a portion of the blame on the victim by asking questions like, “what could you have done to prevent it” without even realizing how screwed up that mentality is. I don’t think all stories involving rape need to be focused on being a victim. I thought this book was refreshing because, in an ideal circumstance, despite the awfulness of the situation, Hermione could overcome the events that might have otherwise further impacted her life. It’s not always simple to decide not to be a victim, but her attitude and her support system allowed her to do so. Still, if you feel that it’s a negative thing to have a character not be defined by her situation or if you feel it’s unfair to showcase a victim’s perspective when they had it relatively easy, then this is NOT the book for you. For others, including myself, it’s a refreshing point of view.

Side note: Hermione does release a breath she did not realize she was holding. *That phrase does not bother me, but if you’re already on the fence about the book, you might not like the writing. 

Star 4

Review – NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

 

NOS4A2

By Joe Hill

SummaryNOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

Source: I purchased a paperback

Add to Goodreads

Review:

NOS4A2 was completely insane, twisted, and engrossing. 

It was the tale of Charles Manx, a man who kidnapped children in his Rolls Royce and took them to Christmasland where they would never die. It was the story of Vic, The Brat, McQueen, who had a magic bridge that took her places she needed to go. Every talent had its price. The book took place over the course of Vic’s life for the most part. She was the only child who ever escaped Manx, but when her own son was kidnapped, she knew she needed to find a way to use her talent again.

While part of me was blown away by the sheer uniqueness of the idea presented and the awesome way it was horrifying and twisted and completely messed up, part of me was a little uncomfortable because this really felt like a Stephen King approach to a novel and I’m disappointed by it. I think Hill did his own thing in Heart Shaped Box, but the span of time, the reflection on childhood, the classic car, the creepy old dude, and even the twisted Christmas theme just feels SO Stephen King! Scenes and quotes took me back to a King novel and, while I appreciate the style, I think it’s important that Hill stays in his own style. However unfair it is, he of all people has a tough act to follow when it comes to writing horror.

Despite the fact that I’m a little disappointed that the voice/writing seemed a little too close to his dad’s style, I can’t help but be impressed. I was sucked in through all 600+ pages and that counts for something. It was creepy and captivating and I’m eager to see what else Hill has up his sleeve. It’s clear he’s as imaginative and well versed as his dad, though I really do hate to compare the two. 

I loved Manx’s character and the way that nothing turned out well for people. I love that there were consequences to the talents and that the characters messed up many times. It made it all feel a little real despite the obviously out of this world plot. 

I definitely recommend NOS4A2. It was creepy. Just.. don’t read it before/during Christmas. Or you’ll be terrified of your tree. Or.. read it DURING Christmas if you’re hard to scare. Lol.

Star 4