Monday, October 31, 2016

The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd

The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd. Bantam, 2013. Ebook. 368 pages.

I chose to read The Solitary House because I was looking for a compelling mystery book that would fit in with both the Halloween and fall season, as well as the impending winter season (I like to prepare, okay?). Fortunately, The Solitary House delivered on all of these fronts and provided an intriguing, dark, and in-depth story to delve into. Shepherd takes inspiration from both Charles Dickens' Bleak House and Wilkie Collins' Woman in White, which truly shines in her work.

Now, as much as this is an interesting mystery to follow, it's not exactly a lighthearted read. Indeed, there are some heavy topics and events discussed, ranging from gruesome murders to crude characters to discussion of young girls working as prostitutes. Despite these unsavory elements, this book is still written in such a way that it just captures your imagination and makes it difficult to lose interest.

This story takes place in London in 1850 with Charles Maddox, former police offer turned solo investigator, is offered a new case that appears to be fairly simple, but ends up becoming much more than Charles bargained for. Charles is an independent young man who appears to have very little fear for the more dangerous parts of London. For this reason, he's an interesting character to follow, and I enjoyed that as the story went on, we began to learn more and more about his own past and family, as well as discover his own fears. We watch him go from feeling as if he is on top of his case, to realizing that he is in way over his head and that there are real, imminent dangers present.

What I found most engaging about The Solitary House was the predominant narrator, who is an entirely unknown figure to us, the readers. The story also alternated briefly with a character named Hester, but these bits seemed quite brief in retrospect and were not my favorite points of the book. Our main narrator is long-winded and detail-oriented. What comes across as rambling on about various subject is in fact interesting and often relevant information to the story itself. What surprised me about this was that I never became irritated by this extended use of descriptions and languages, which is a testament to the writing and wit of the narrator, without whom I likely would have stopped reading this book. It is extremely Victorian novel style in this manner, and I enjoyed seeing the influence of Dickens and Collins in this writing. What I also found intriguing was that this third party narrator seemed to be telling the story from a modern perspective, which is only briefly noticed, but brought an extremely interesting element to it. I can confidently say that without these elements from the narrator, this story would have seemed exceptionally dry.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed the long, extended details and perceived rambling, if this style is something that you have a hard time enjoying, then this might not be the book for you; however, I do still encourage you to give it a read!

Overall, this is a well thought out and carefully crafted novel, dealing with both the filth and surface level violence of day-to-day life in nineteenth century London, as well as the deeper, psychological issues that plague life and the investigative work of Charles. For these reasons, I am giving The Solitary House four stars!

You might also like:
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich

Friday, October 28, 2016

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 2016. Hardcover. 704 pages.

Note: Everything in this review is spoiler free in regards to this particular book. There are potential mentions of plot points that may not have been revealed in earlier books, so if you are not caught up with the series, you may want to save this review for later. 

I finished Empire of Storms a while ago, but I have spent weeks trying to figure out how to write a review for this book. It was incredible, yet at the same time it wasn't the best thing I've ever read. It's been such a jumble trying to fit all of my thoughts into a coherent review.

One personal problem (which was no fault of this book) was that I had a hard time remembering details from the earlier books of the series while waiting for the new one. I knew this would be a problem, so I made use of Book Series Recaps' summaries of the first four books and they helped immensely, so a big shout-out and thank you to that website! And although this helped immensely, I do still think that I would have benefited a lot more from actually re-reading the books because the plot lines are getting more and more complex with an ever-expanding cast to boot, but I didn't have the time (or patience) to do so before diving into Empire of Storms.

Let's start off with characters. All of our favorite and not-so-favorite characters are present and ready to kick ass, which is exactly what they do over ~700 pages of action-packed goodness. The shifted POV chapter style of the former books is still present in the fifth installment, and yet again I actually enjoy it. I think I most enjoy the fact that it is not first person narration, so it does not get confusing or annoying figuring out who is speaking. I really enjoyed just how wide-ranging the POVs were, and I was thrilled to get some more extensive chapters from Elide, Lorcan, Lysandra, and Aedion. They were all wonderful and added such great depth to their development.

My one caveat with this, however, was that I found myself missing Aelin for a large amount of the book! We don't even get to see her until quite a few chapters in, and that was not okay with me. I loved delving into other characters' minds and events, but at the same time... I just wanted to be with the main character whose journey we've been a part of this entire time; she's the strongest part of this series. And this might be an unpopular opinion, but I was actually okay with Chaol not being present in this book, as his storyline just wouldn't have fit in with the rest of what was going on.

The plot and pacing of Empire of Storms was just right. I was easily drawn in at just about every moment, and whenever it seemed like I might start getting tired of a certain scene, Maas shifted over into a new, more intriguing setting. The only exception to this was some of the scenes in which Aelin uses her magic. Look, I get that her magic is huge, all-encompassing, and just all-around insane, but... it felt just ever so slightly overdone and over-described at various times. This could also be said about some of the sex, but I didn't find them to be quite as annoying as others seem to. I didn't think there was anything particularly wrong with them, but I felt like it was slightly too similar to ACOMAF? Maybe it's just me. But anyway, the rest of the book was incredible and I am now immensely excited for next year's release!

I particularly liked that Empire of Storms seemed to have the main goal of setting up the plot and story for the sixth book and what is sure to be an immense, epic battle. I felt like a lot of loose ends were being wrapped up in order to set up for the impending events, while also creating plenty of new points for the next book. Overall, I loved this book and can certainly say that Maas has created yet another masterpiece. I am giving Empire of Storms four-and-a-half stars!

You might also like:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
Amazon |  Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

This one doesn't come until April and it doesn't even have a cover yet, but I am so excited for it! This book has long been in the making (or it seems that way, anyway) and I can't wait to finally dive in.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top SEVENTEEN Tuesday: Books to Get You in the Mood for Halloween (That Aren't All Horror)!

Top Ten Tuesday is weekly book blog meme hosted by the lovely girls over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday was a Halloween freebie, so I decided to go with some books that would be perfect to help get you in the mood for Halloween! I'm personally not a huge horror fan, so sometimes it's hard to find Halloween reading lists that aren't just filled with creepy stuff - I'm more into the 'psychologically screwed up' genre - so I've compiled a list that contains a variety of Halloween-ish reads, hopefully with a little something for everyone.

I also, apparently, cannot limit myself to the rules of ten books, so here are seventeen titles.

The Harrowing
1. The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff
I just recently finished The Harrowing and I also just recently posted a First Chapter Tuesday post about it, but I felt the need to add it to this list as well because it is perfect for Halloween. It is completely cliche'd and stereotypical ghost story, but because of that it is perfect. Five college students make a connection with an angry spirit through a Ouija board - how much more Halloween can you get!?

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
2. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Mainly because it has monsters! These may not be your typical monsters (or they might be, I don't know your life), but they're still monsters and I think it fits perfectly with this particular holiday.

DraculaDracula: The Graphic Novel
3. Dracula by Bram Stoker
I'm not even explaining this one.

Under the Skin
4. Under the Skin by Michel Faber
This is so creepy in such a weird way that there is no way it wouldn't make a great Halloween read. I can't even go into details because you need to read this one with as little information about it going in as possible. Trust me.

5.  Security by Gina Wolhsdorf
I think this book would be perfect for Halloween because of its distinct slasher theme. It's written from the perspective of a hotel security officer as he watching events unfold through surveillance cameras, and it's pretty neat. (Review.)

Roses and Rot
6. Roses and Rot by kat Howard
While this book wasn't a huge favorite of mine, I still think it has a lot of great qualities for a Halloween story.

The White Devil
7. The White Devil by Justin Evans
Mysterious deaths and illnesses, a haunted school, a brooding poet writing a play about Byron - this makes for a wonderful spooky read.

Black Chalk
8. Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
College students come up with a high stakes game that ends up impacting their lives in immense ways. I loved it and I think it'd be great for that 'subtle unease' feeling. (Review)

This House is Haunted
9. This House is Haunted by John Boyne
If the title This House is Haunted doesn't scream 'Halloween' to you, then quite frankly I'm not sure  anything would fit your Halloween reading list. A governess takes a position watching two young children in a mansion that is haunted.

The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter, #1)
10. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
I read this around Halloween last year and it was incredible! I enjoyed this book so much and I cannot help but continue to recommend it. The Madman's Daughter is a creative reimagining of H.G. Well's famous story, The Island of Dr. Moreau. (Review)

Slade House
11. Slade House by David Mitchell
Slade House is the definition of a twisty-turny creepy house that, essentially, eats people. Sort of. It's hard to explain - go pick it up! (Review.)

The Wolves in the Walls
12. The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
Yes, this is a picture book. No, that does not take anything away from this gem of book. 

The Anatomist's Wife (Lady Darby, #1)
13. The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
This is an awesome little classic murder-mystery, but it's so cozy and interesting that I would htink it'd be perfect for a cold Halloween night.

House of Leaves
14. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
I may have already made Slade House seem like the ultimate haunted house Halloween book, but nope, it's this one. Love it or hate it, it's definitely worth the experience.

The Graveyard Book
15. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
It's a book about a little boy that grows up in a graveyard, it's perfect! (There's also a graphic novel now, too!)

16. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Another classic, which I will also not be providing an explanation for.

The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe
17. Short Stories by Edgar Allen Poe
The master himself. How can you get through the Halloween season without Poe?

What are some of your favorite Halloween reads? Do you like any of these? Share your opinions in the comments!

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick

*Blood Red Snow White will be released Tuesday, October 25th!*

Blood Red Snow White
Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick. Roaring Book Press, 2016. Ebook. 320 pages.

*I received a copy of Blood Red Snow White courtesy of NetGalley and Roaring Book Press in exchange for an honest review.*

Before I dive in, I would like to note my initial confusion over this title. I had not heard of this book when I came across it, and I assumed it was a new, unreleased upcoming book, but I soon realized that it has in fact already been published, and that this will be a re-publication. I am not sure why this is the case, but I am still glad to have had the opportunity to read it! Now, on to the review!

The first half of Blood Red Snow White was stunning and magical and I was immediately drawn into Sedwick's gorgeous fairy tale-like prose. His prose was dazzling and took me to a warm, cozy place that I looked forward to reading more of. This was the part that included the fairy tale retelling and, in my opinion, the best parts of the entire book.

However, once I hit the halfway mark when the fairy tale neared its end, the charm started to wear off and I found myself feeling lost and unsure if I was reading the same book that I was reading when I felt so charmed by it. Things got confusing, and I found myself feeling somewhat bored, almost wishing for the book to hurry up and finish. I no longer cared much for our main character - Arthur Ransome's - struggles and story. It felt like it was both stretched out and too hasty at the same time. I intended to write a bit more about Arthur's character, but I'm suddenly finding myself coming up short on things to say. That's not to say Arthur was a bad character - he had some redeeming quirks and qualities - but he wasn't exceptionally interesting, and sadly, he doesn't really stand out to me.

What I admire about Sedgwick is his courage and complete lack of fear. He seems unafraid to try out new stories and writing styles, and I admire and appreciate that about him; in fact, it is partly what drew me into this book and prompted me to continue reading it despite my occasional lack of interest. And despite my 'meh' feeling about the end of this book, I will definitely be looking into more of Sedgwick's works, as I would love to see what else he can do with his wonderful writing abilities.

Overall, I am giving Blood Red Snow White three-and-a-half stars.

You might also like:
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dragon's Trail by Joseph Malik

*Dragon's Trail is now available!*

Dragon's Trail by Joseph Malik. Oxblood Books, 2016. Ebook. 396 pages.

*I received a copy of Dragon's Trail courtesy of Joseph Malik in exchange for an honest review.*

If you're looking for some high quality fantasy (or fiction in general) by an indie author, then put your brakes on and have a seat, because you have reached your destination. Joseph Malik combines masterful prose and an intricate, exciting fantasy plot to create an incredible first book in Dragon's Trail.

Where do I even begin?

This hard fantasy, written with great attention paid to every last detail. Malik's writing is both effortless and finely written. The world-building is extremely well done and so realistic that I was able to easily fall into this world and enjoy every minute.

The story begins when Jarrod, one of the world's best fencers, is taken to another and asked to participate in their war. Before we move onto more details about the rest of this book, I'd like to take a brief moment to discuss this other world. I was fascinated by this world, which seems to be medieval-inspired, but also wholly its own. It's brilliantly gripping and fits in perfectly with other classic fantasy books that explore worlds outside of the earth.

There is quite a bit of exposition in the beginning of this book, but it is done in a way that makes you want to keep reading. We, the readers, learn about this otherworld just as Jarrod learns about it; when he wakes up confused and uncertain in an unknown place, we have those same questions, which allows us to learn at the same pace as Jarrod.

Jarrod is an endearing character, and this includes both his strengths and his faults. I loved how ready for adventure he was throughout this entire book. Of course he complained about conditions or events he wasn't thrilled about, but he just kept going. He's humorous and seems easily underestimated, but in only a moment's time he can delve into his deep knowledge and fighting skill, a duality that I truly appreciated in Malik's writing.

Action scenes are available in abundance throughout this book, so if that's something you love you you should pick this up right away. Not only is the action exciting, it is also original and carefully thought out to make it as authentic as possible. Now, I'm no expert on swordplay or any of the like, but I truly believe in Malik's knowledge and understanding of this subject, as he himself has skill in these areas. Overall, I am giving Dragon's Trail four wonderful stars!

You might also like:
Kings or Pawns by J.J. Sherwood
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
More than Monsters by J.M. Riou
A Vanishing Glow by Alexis Radcliff

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: My Last Lament by James William Brown

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

My Last Lament by James William Brown
Publication Date: March 1st, 2017
Berkley Books
Amazon |  Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

From Goodreads:

My Last Lament
A poignant and evocative novel of one Greek woman's story of her own and her nation's epic struggle in the aftermath of World War II.

Aliki is one of the last of her kind, a lamenter who mourns and celebrates the passing of life. She is part of an evolving Greece, one moving steadily away from its rural traditions. To capture the fading folk art of lamenting, an American researcher asks Aliki to record her laments, but in response, Aliki sings her own story...

It begins in a village in northeast Greece, where Aliki witnesses the occupying Nazi soldiers execute her father for stealing squash. Taken in by her friend Takis's mother, Aliki is joined by a Jewish refugee and her son, Stelios. When the village is torched and its people massacred, Aliki, Takis and Stelios are able to escape just as the war is ending.

Fleeing across the chaotic landscape of a post-war Greece, the three become a makeshift family. They are bound by friendship and grief, but torn apart by betrayal, madness and heartbreak.

Through Aliki's powerful voice, an unforgettable one that blends light and dark with wry humor, My Last Lament delivers a fitting eulogy to a way of life and provides a vivid portrait of a timeless Greek woman, whose story of love and loss is an eternal one.

I can't quite put my finger on just what it is that makes this book jump out at me, but something grabs me and needless to say I am looking forward to its release next March! I love the setting, and although I study Ancient Greece, I would love to read something about a more modern Greece. Something about the idea of wanting to hold onto importation traditions and culture also really captures my attention.

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

I decided to go with a First Chapter Tuesday today because I wanted to jump more into the Halloween spirit with a ghost story! I'm not generally a big fan of horror stories, but I've been extra excited for the fall and Halloween season this year, so I am celebrating by reading a multitude of perfect Halloween books. I started The Harrowing over the weekend, and while it isn't anything groundbreaking, it is still a classic, enjoyable ghost story about five college students who begin to have supernatural experiences.

The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff

The Harrowing

Chapter 1

"It had been raining since perhaps the beginning of time.
In the top tier of the cavernous psychology hall, Robin Stone had long since gven up on the lecture. She sat hunched in her seat, staring out arched windows at the downpour; feeling dreamily disconnected from the elemental violence outside, despite the fact that every few minutes the wind shook the building hard enough to rattle the glass of the windowpanes."

Read the Goodreads summary here!

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

*The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict will be released on Tuesday, October 18th!*

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict. Sourcebooks Landmark, 2016. Ebook. 304 pages

*I received an ARC of The other Einstein courtesy of NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark in exchange for an honest review.*

It has taken me quite some time to finally put this review into coherent words, as I have had incredibly mixed feelings about The Other Einstein. This book focuses on Mileva Maric, the often under-appreciated wife of Albert Einstein. Maric was an intelligent woman who excelled in the same area of studies as Einstein, and there is unsubstantiated claims and beliefs that she is behind some of the work commonly attributed to Einstein. These claims are not proven, and the author even makes sure to note that this book is indeed fiction and not a true account. The overall notion and basic elements of this story are all rooted in fact, of course, but there are liberties taken, as is the case in any historical fiction novel.

First, I would like to discuss the two main characters, Mileva and Einstein. I love that Benedict took the time, effort, and interest in Mileva Maric to write this book in the first place, as Mileva appears to be an interesting and captivating character that I would truly like to know more about. Where Benedict falls short, however, is her development of Maric's character. She felt very one-dimensional and lacked the amount of depth I hoped for and many possible dynamic features. I was disappointed in how she often let Einstein sort of walk over her, and although I understand that this may have been much like the true story, it left me with very little to enjoy or root for. Contrarily, this is like close to the situation that Mileva dealt with, which adds a certain ring of authenticity that is hard to swallow.

Additionally, I had another slight issue regarding the relationship between Einstein and Maric, which felt extremely unbalanced and one-sided. To begin, The Other Einstein seems rather anti-Einstein in nature, and Benedict failed to show us many of the endearing qualities that likely drew Mileva to Einstein in the first place. All I saw was an arrogant man who did not treat his wife with the respect she deserved - which is true - but unfortunately I did not understand her interest in him even before they were married.

The Other Einstein also contains many chapters that suddenly jump in time to a few months or even years later, and I often felt like I was missing out on things. This made the story itself feel a bit disjointed and thus made me feel somewhat disconnected to the story and the characters.

On a brighter note, something that I really loved throughout this book was Benedict's writing style. She writes with meaningful sentences that easily convey depth and emotion in an effortless manner. Her writing is also done in a way that I felt matched the often bleak and unhappy atmosphere and emotions that Maric was feeling, which created a wonderful overall tone. It is obvious the Benedict is a talented writer and certainly knows how to tell a story. I truly appreciated how much effort, research, and heart went into the creation of this story.

Overall, I am giving The Other Einstein three-and-a-half stars. While this book did not particularly engage me, I still appreciated Benedict's attempt to shed light on the lesser known Einstein and her own struggles and accomplishments.  I enjoyed this peak into the time period and the world in which these historical figures lived, and I have seen many other readers who have fallen in love with this book. I will certainly be recommending this one to many people!

And later this month/early November I will have a guest post written by the author, Marie Benedict, along with a giveaway for The Other Einstein, so stay tuned!

You might also like:
Wonder Women by Sam Maggs
The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen
Cleopatra's Shadows by Emily Holleman

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian by Han Kang. Hogarth, 2016. Hardcover. 192 pages.

The Vegetarian is one of those books in which the entire time you're reading it, you have no idea what you're reading, and when you finally finish and close the book, all you can think is "what did I just read?" I'm still trying to figure out this book, and I'm still coming up with own interpretation of what Kang's message is meant to be. This is a striking novel that will make you feel intrigued, repulsed, impressed, and uncomfortable all at once.  Kang's writing is deeply compelling and almost eerie at times, making this book impossible to put down. At just under 200 pages, it is one that can easily be read in one or two sittings.

The initial cause that gets the entire plot of this book rolling is so simple, yet so riveting: Yeong-hye, the main character, begins having dreams that cause her to no longer have any desire to eat meat. Her opinions on the morality of eating meat and meat products seem to take a sudden turn and she suddenly stops, which shocks her husband and the rest of her family. It is their response to her sudden vegetarianism that eventually sparks the rest of the events of this book to unfold. 

I can't quite convey what it is about this book that makes it so compelling - perhaps it is the fact that it does not follow the traditional mold of most fiction books. The Vegetarian is broken into three parts: the first is narrated by Yeong-hye's husband, the second by her brother-in-law, and the final section narrated by her sister. Each of these characters brings a unique perspective to the current situation and also plays a large role in Yeong-hye's story, whether is is easily understandable or not.  The first part of the book immediately introduces us to the fact that he is a despicable man who doesn't seem to care much for his wife, describing her as "completely unremarkable in every way." Each section is equally enthralling and provides many new issues to deal with along with the main conflict.

There is so much to think about from this book, from the actions of her abusive husband, the inability of society to understand and respect other people's choices of lifestyle, gender roles, familial issues, and even sexual motives and manifestations. The idea of isolation as a result of one's unwillingness to conform to society is also one of the largest themes found within this book, and it is one that drives the bleak, unnerving atmosphere of each page.

The ending is entirely ambiguous is up to the reader to interpret what the conclusion is - if there even is a conclusion that can be determined. I personally enjoy endings like this, despite the fact that I do sometimes feel frustrated by the lack of a firm ending, but I enjoy how it leaves so many possibilities available to dwell on. 

The Vegetarian is not an easy book to read, but I do think it is an important one. I'm curious to read more about other people's views on this book to see what they take away from this book, because I can see it meaning different things to different people, despite the constant underlying themes. 

Overall, I have decided on four stars for The Vegetarian, and I would recommend to anyone looking for something different or 'weird.' Just make sure you have plenty of time blocked out when you sit down to read - this one might prevent you from getting other things done! This book would also be great for those looking to diversify their reading choices, as Kang is a superb female South Korean author!

You might also like:
Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Slade House by David Mitchell
Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin
Publication Date: January 12th, 2017
Simon & Schuster UK
Amazon |  Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:

The Vanishing
On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of the barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When Annaleigh, a foundling who has fled her home in London, finds herself at the remote house, in service to the Twentymans, she discovers all is not as it seems behind closed doors. 
Isolated and lonely, Annaleigh is increasingly drawn to her master. And as their relationship intensifies, she soon realises that her movements are being controlled and her life is no longer her own. Slowly she is drawn into a web of intrigue and darkness, and soon she must face her fears if she is to save herself. 

Pretty much every aspect of this description grabs me, so I am definitely looking forward to its upcoming release in January! I have fears that the 'relationship' mentioned might overtake the plot... but I'm hoping it doesn't! Also, that cover is lovely!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

Alright, so I was already working on my Top Ten Tuesday blog post (hosted by The Broke and Bookish), when I realized that I was just way too excited about my current read to not do a First Chapter Tuesday post and share it. You may be seeing this book everywhere lately, but that is only because it just as amazing as everyone says! So without further ado, my First Chapter Tuesday is...

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Chapter 1

"Retvenko leaned against the bar and tucked his nose into his dirty shot glass. The whiskey had failed to warm him. Nothing could get you warm in this Saintsforsaken city. And there was no escaping the smell, the throat-choking stew of bilge, clams, and wet stone that seemed to have seeped into his pores as if he’d been steeping in the city’s essence like the world’s worst cup of tea."

(and a bonus intro excerpt from the second chapter because we love Wylan):
Chapter 2

"'What am I doing here?'"

That thought had run through Wylan’s head at least six times a day since he’d met Kaz Brekker. But on a night like this, a night when they were “working,” it rose and fell in his head like a nervous tenor practicing his scales: WhatamIdoingherewhatamIdoingherewhatamIdoinghere."

Find an excerpt of the first four chapters here.

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!) 
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

*Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood will be released Tuesday, October 11th!!*

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood. Hogarth Shakespeare, 2016. Ebook. 256 pages.

*I received an ARC of Hag-Seed courtesy of Hogarth Shakespeare and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Margaret Atwood is an incredibly intelligent, adept, and inspirational woman that has written countless incredible works and continues to do so with her newest release, Hag-Seed. Hag-Seed is part of Hogarth Shakespeare's project to have a variety of bestselling authors retell many of Shakespeare's most classic works. I am really excited about this project, and I think it is an exciting way to bring Shakespeare's work to life in new and imaginative ways.

I honestly feel like I don't even know where to start with this magnificent book. I am not overly familiar with The Tempest itself (I vaguely remember reading it years ago, maybe it's time to re-read), so I understand that I may not have understand every reference or interpretative view, but I understood the basics and the fact that this book is outstanding. I sincerely enjoyed this book and breezed right through - though that is not to say that this was a lighthearted read. Hag-Seed is filled with so many layers, all of which add a greater level of depth to the story.

I loved the entire setting. I thought the entire prison literature program that Felix was in charge of was brilliant. Having the prisoners partake in a play retelling Shakespeare plays? It doesn't get more interesting or better than that. I enjoyed seeing the different ways in which the prisoners got excited and how they manifested their eagerness for the play.

Atwood once again creates remarkably intriguing characters. He's not exactly a lovable man, but there is something about him that draws you in and makes you want to follow his story. At heart, he is a man still struggling deeply to overcome the death of his daughter and the loss of his job - his whole life. He is looking for a way to begin and for a way to enact revenge upon those who helped to ruin his life. He is careful and unassuming, the perfect role for his own personal play. The other characters were also extremely fun to dissect and learn about, and Atwood brought each one to life with a vibrant, unique personality. I particularly enjoyed Anne-Marie's character, who is the woman Felix hires to play the role of Miranda, which turns out to be an exceptionally important role to Felix.

This isn't a comedy, but there is an abundance of comic relief - both overt and subtle - that truly made this book a joy to read. Everything in this book is brilliant and only further enforces the fact that Atwood is a genius. The plot of this story centers on Felix's play, which the play itself then sets the stage and becomes a plan for revenge. Felix himself is the character he plays - both in his own life and the play. This book is so subtle in its meta qualities. Hag-Seed is a retelling, but it also retells the basic play itself. Through the prisoners we are able to truly study the characters of the play: their motivations, personalities, ideas, and so much more.

Overall, I will be giving Hag-Seed four stars!

You might also like:
The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler

Thursday, October 6, 2016

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin

*When the Sea Turned to Silver was released Tuesday, October 4th and is now available!*

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016. Paperback. 384 pages.

*I received a physical ARC of When the Sea Turned to Silver courtesy of Little, Brown in exchange for an honest review.*

When the Sea Turned to Silver is a beautiful, magical story filled with adventure and a wonderful fairy tale-like storytelling atmosphere. It was only after reading this that I discovered that it is in fact a companion novel to Lin's When the Mountain Meets the Moon, but fortunately this has no bearing on following or understanding this book.

Lin's story starts with Pinmei, granddaughter of her small village's beloved storyteller. The peace that currently inhabits her village is destroyed, however, when her grandmother is taken by the Emperor's soldiers and Pinmei takes it upon herself to embark upon a journey to save her. Pinmei herself is an extremely endearing and relatable character, and her friend Yishan brings even more color and excitement to the story.

Along the journey, the author has both Pinmei and her grandmother intersperse the story with many short tales about much of the myths and lore of their culture. I loved these stories, and they blended in well with the current action of the plot, as well as truly brought the culture of the setting alive.

I found Pinmei to be a wonderfully complex and intriguing character. She not only discovers her own gifts and strengths, but she also makes deep, lasting relationships with many of the other characters. I actually felt as though all of the characters in this book were complex and underwent a variety of dynamic changes, whether big or small.

Lin writes with a poetic, almost lyrical prose that makes it just about impossible to not to keep turning pages. When the Sea Turned to Silver is a truly a magical story, and I don't know how else to describe it. It is exciting and filled with delightful characters.

Overall, I am giving When the Sea Turned to Silver four stars!

You might also like:
The Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
Over the Underworld by Adam Shaughnessy
The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert White

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released!

This week's upcoming book spotlight is:

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas
Publication Date: February 7th, 2017
Little, Brown Books
Amazon Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

From Goodreads:

Long May She Reign
Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

I've never read any books by Rhiannon Thomas, so this seems like a great place to start! I think this sounds like it has a lot of potential and I am always interesting in some good political intrigue - and the protagonist would "rather research in her laboratory"? I'm interested!

What do you think about this upcoming release? What are your anticipated upcoming releases?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro: The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted every Tuesday by Diane over at Bibiophile by the Sea. Join the fun by making your own post and linking up over at Diane's blog, or simple check it out to find more new books to read!

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The Girl from Everywhere (The Girl from Everywhere, #1)
Greenwillow Books, February 2016. Hardcover | Kindle | 443 pages

First paragraph:

"It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer. I was in the crowded bazaar of a nearly historical version of Calcutta, where my father had abandoned me. 

He hadn't abandoned me for good - not yet. He'd only gone back to the ship to make ready for the next leg of the journey: twentieth-century New York City. It was at our final destination, however, where he hoped to unmake the mistakes of his past."

I just started this book a few days ago, so I'm not too far in, but so far I am loving this book! I'd had my eye on this one for a while and had only a basic idea of what it was about, but I was still very on the fence about it. I'm really glad I picked it up because it's so unique and I am loving the entire premise!

What do you think? Would you keep reading? (And feel free to join in and make your own post!)
If you're enticed by this chapter, be sure to check out the full synopsis on Goodreads!

*Excerpt taken from the novel itself; I do not claim to own any part of the excerpt.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake. HarperTeen, 2016. Hardcover. 416 pages.

This review is so difficult for me to write because I have so many feelings that are a mixture of both positive and negative (though overall, I feel good about this book!) A majority of me completely fell in love with this book and cannot wait for the next one. However, there is a small part of me that was somewhat confused and annoyed by various minor aspects. From an entertainment and overall plot standpoint, Three Dark Crowns is a solid winner. This is an exciting journey that is rather twisty in nature, and I loved reading it.

However, from a closer and more detailed look, there are a few areas that I had some issues. The biggest one was with the distinction (or lack of) between the sisters; I initially - and a few times throughout - had trouble distinguishing between the sisters' perspectives. Yes, I know it is obvious who is who based upon where they live and what their special gift is, but personality-wise they all seemed so... similar. They all acted fairly sweetly and seemed somewhat 'innocent,' and it wasn't until much later in the story that I felt like I could really start to tell them apart, though I felt Katharine and Mirabella shared many traits. This problem is partly what made it take me so long to become fully immersed int he story.

I was also somewhat confused about Jules' character. I could never truly figure out what her role was: why was she so prominent? Why was their an additional character that we focused on in Arsinoe's world perspective and not int he other sisters' Maybe this will be answered more in subsequent books, but I'm just not sure right now, and it just felt like this underlying question that was never fully answered. It almost made Jules seem like a more important character than Arsinoe, which certainly can't have been the intended goal? Regardless, I still enjoyed Jules' character - she was strong, entertaining, and I also loved Camden.

I loved the blend of romance, action, political-esque intrigue, and overall culture and world building that made up Three Dark Crowns. It just felt like a perfect amount and mix of every single one of these elements, and Blake did a wonderful job of incorporating them all within this story.

I've also seen some people complain about a lack of action in this book, but to be completely honest, that didn't really bother me. I felt that there was sufficient action; however, I am also not huge on action - too much action in a book often bores me, so I appreciated the more political and behind-the-scenes types of action that went on. I enjoyed the developments between characters and alliances.

Lastly, I feel as though I was slightly led astray regarding the actual plot of this book, as I assumed this book would be focused on the actual event in which the queens attempt to kill each other. Instead it was more about the preparation leading up to the 'event'. I was also unclear on how the final 'ascension year' would really work, too - is it Hunger Games-style where they are put into a ring and may the best woman win? Or do they continue living in their own lands and subtly try to murder one another? Honestly, I'm still feeling a bit fuzzy on the details, but I'm hoping the next book will straighten everything out.

I know that based upon what I have been saying in this review it might sound like I didn't enjoy Three Dark Crowns that much, which isn't true at all and why this review was so difficult to write. I had so much fun reading this book! I looked forward to picking it up everyday. Despite the many flaws, it still makes a wonderfully exciting reading and Blake's writing is extremely strong when it comes to plot and suspense. I definitely recommend this popular book, and am giving it four stars!

You might also like:
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir