The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

I heard about The Library at Mount Char through my book club. We always do a little what-are-you-reading-besides-the-club-book round table. One of the girls talked about Mount Char a couple times. I was immediately attracted to the name. She could never really describe what the book was about, but said it was worth the read. So when I saw the audiobook pop up on hoopla, I immediately downloaded it and settled in, prepared for a certain kind of read. This book club focuses on young adult books. Even though I knew this wasn’t YA, you know, I had perceptions (that were totally made with no supporting documentation). Have I mentioned that I’m also terrible at reading book blurbs? Especially on books that are recommended to me? I typically read the first line or two and then just open and read the first paragraph of the book. I was unprepared.

What the fuck did I just read? I now understand why she couldn’t explain the book when she was recommending it. For the first 2-3 hours of the book, I wasn’t sure that I was going to keep listening. Not that I didn’t want to keep reading it, but there was so much going on and there were so many characters that I didn’t know if listening was the best way to imbibe this particular novel. But I persevered and it got easier. Kind of.

This is not an easy book. Maybe it is for people who read a lot of fantasy and are used to all that information being thrown at them, but for me – holy crap this brain made my brain hurt in the best possible way. The reader is dropped right into this world – which is finely balanced between our own world and the fantasy world – there’s no gentle submersion here. This is hard and fast.  This is not a book for the light hearted. It is full of death and destruction and people doing terrible things to each other, even their family members. Continue reading

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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff (@brennayovanoff)

There’s this weird thing that happens when you start reviewing the books you read. You start to really understand exactly what it is that you like about books and what you don’t. Things I’ve come to realize – I’m not a fan of flowery writing and metaphors and I’ve got a big o’ girly hard-on for books that don’t give me all the answers. Books that leave you hanging. Books where the mystery is simply a tool and not the goal. I fall in love with books that seem to make other people insane. I started to realize this with Tana French but Brenna Yovanoff solidified it. This is the first of her books I’ve read and holy crap, I cannot explain how much this book punched me right in the metaphorical gut (yeah, I see how that contradicts what I just said a few sentences ago). Her writing style is so straightforward. It’s just there. In your face. But there’s something under the surface that’s positively magical. Now I’m going to talk about the book. This is the part where I get cranky about having to warn that I’m going to talk about the book content while I talk about the book.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Underrated Books

Today’s TTT post is underrated books. I had a tough time making this list because a lot of the books I would normally include, I’ve already included in previous posts. I don’t want to be a repetitive slag, so I had to search. Admittedly, there are still some on here I’ve mentioned in other posts, but so be it. Nobody’s perfect. That also means that not all of these are five star books. Some of them might not even be that underrated, but they’re ones I think are worth reading and don’t know a lot of people who have read them.

I’ve included a quote from each of the books so that you can get an idea of why I think you should read it.

 

Jeanette Winterson – Written on the Body

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The language in this book is gorgeous. It’s fluid and graceful and pulls you right in. This is a love story about the pain of loss. The MC isn’t given a gender, so the perspective shifts based on who is reading it. It’s perfection in paper.

“Cheating is easy. There’s no swank to infidelity. To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that taking but when you open them there’s nothing there.”

 

Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale

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Again, we have a book with delicate and carefully thought out writing. While some people might find this book a little pretentious, lovers of books – books themselves, not just the stories they contain – will be drawn in. It’s a story within a story which hits me right in the centre of my book love.

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”

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The Secret Place by Tana French

Have you ever read a book that feels tailor made for you? Like someone hopped inside your brain, picked out exactly what you love in a book, and then actually took the time to write said book? That’s what Tana French’s The Secret Place is for me. It’s an ideal balance of crime fiction and YA drama. Never has an author so perfectly portrayed the delicate balance between uncontrolled innocence and terrifying insecurity.

I received a copy of this book through the First to Read program with the agreement that I would write a review (and it’s going to contain spoilers in case you haven’t noticed the tags and the site notice) before the release date. That meant that I had to read this book out of order in the series. I cannot explain how much this would normally bother me. I have put off books for years so that I could read the ones that come before it. But, I had no choice this time. How much I liked this book, knowing I still needed to read the ones between it, speaks to the talent of the author. She crafts this world of the Dublin Murder Squad in a way that weaves seamlessly together from book to book, but also allows a reader to pick up any book in the series and enjoy it without ruining anything from a previous book.

I’ve read In the Woods, and part of The Likeness. That means I haven’t met Stephen Moran yet, but I know he’s going to show up in one of the books, as is Holly. I know a little bit about his story, but it hasn’t been spoiled for me. I noticed the same skill in the portion of The Likeness I’ve read. The strength of this book has made me more excited to get back to the other ones. Tana French is eating my life!

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The Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (@KendareBlake)

This is one of those books that I had to read in chunks. It was due back at the library before I could finish it and I really hate keeping a book someone else has a hold on. They’re patiently waiting. It’s not their fault I couldn’t get my damn act together and read it in time. So, I marked my place on Goodreads and when it came back into my hands, I just picked up at the beginning of the chapter where I had left off. This might not have been my smartest move. I don’t really remember what happened in the first half of the book. But I’ve got a lot of stuff to read, and I figured it would come back to me. It didn’t. Not entirely. But I remembered enough to get to the end. That means my review is going to be a little spotty.

Let’s wander back to Anna Dressed in Blood for a moment. I picked up that book because I liked the title and the cover. The floaty hair won me over. Both of the covers are actually great. I’ll end up buying them because I love the way they look.

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Then I read the book and was pretty pleased with what was inside. A YA horror novel that’s actually kind of creepy. The descriptions were good. The image of Anna and her house and all the crap that happens inside it – well done, Blake. A sequel seemed like a reasonable idea and I knew I was going to read it. It gets my nod of approval. It’s equally horrory.Suicide Forest – creepy. Other moments I can’t remember because of my previously mentioned not re-reading decision. Just a general sense of things being creeptastic.

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Anna was sent into the afterlife in the last book. Cas and his mother have decided to settle in Thunder Bay until he finishes high school. Cas is trying to get on with his life, but now he’s haunted by Anna’s tortured, burning ghost. She’s trapped in some kind of hellish in between. Cas loves her – weird. He’s in love with a ghost. How does that work? I never really understood that. He did not know her when she was alive. But somehow, it’s believable enough. He doesn’t want her to suffer. And then there’s the big scary with the name I can’t pronounce. The way this guy is written in the final showdown is vivid and offputting. The extra joints. Blech. Puppets – they’re just so weird. Sometimes, I want things to be made into movies. This is one of those series. It’s so visual it deserves some screen time. And it’s got a set up that would easily allow for weekly episodes even after the Anna plot wraps itself up.

I really liked that Blake didn’t save Anna. She brought us right to the precipice and then veered the other way at the very last second. Anna was in the clear. Cas had her in his arms. He was heading back to safety. And then he let he go because it was the right thing for her. It was a good move. It was unexpected and genuine. Blake did the right thing for the story instead of the easy thing to continue the series. Will there be more books? Could be. They wouldn’t be about Anna, but neither were these books. Regardless of the titles, the stories are all about Cas. And now that we’ve met The Order and Jestine and Gideon and Thomas’s grandfather and his voodoo people, there are future stories opportunities out the ying yang. Seriously, this is good tv in the making. There’s a built in audience of people looking for something new since The Vampire Diaries shit the bed (I have no idea if that is actually true. I never got into that show, but it was mentioned by several other people in this past Tuesday’s TTT).

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I haven’t really got a lot of bad things to say about this book. It’s not super exceptional, but it’s totally enjoyable. I liked the causal nature of the writing. Cas has an internal monologue. It’s usually pretty funny. I guess Carmel is probably the character I like the least, and even then I don’t really have too many problems with her. I recommended both books to a coworker whose ten-year-old daughter loves horror and has a hard time finding age appropriate stuff. I know this is a short review, but the wrap up is that it’s worth a read if you want something fun and creepy rolled up together. You have to read the books in order though. No skipping. Otherwise, they won’t make a lick of sense. Although, if you’ve read this far, the book’s been spoiled for you and you should have stopped before you started.