Category Archives: Paranormal

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William Ritter

Well, I had the best intentions of binge-reading this series but alas. I found out that it was actually a four-book series and not a trilogy, so today’s series review will have to be for the first three books and then when the fourth one comes out, that’ll be on its own.

SERIES REVIEW: JACKABY, BEASTLY BONES, GHOSTLY ECHOES

Reviews for each book/the series are a whole are generally spoiler-free for any major occurrences or twists but may contain info about plot points so I can properly discuss the plot. 

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Jackaby (Jackaby #1) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 16, 2014 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 1, 2017

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.
Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

I wasn’t totally sure what JACKABY was all about but I was excited to start it! I actually hadn’t known that it involved paranormal elements so that was an interesting surprise when I started reading! (Yes, yes, I know that’s what the whole series is about and it’s plain as day in the book descriptions but you know me and going in totally blind.) I actually thought JACKABY was straight historical fiction, like a YA Sherlock Holmes. I was also interested to find out that Jackaby himself wasn’t a young adult, and I thought that was great to have an adult character as a main part of the book since so many YA books skip around older figures and stick with the teens. It brought an interesting dynamic and mix and also allowed Abigail to get involved in so many things that she may not normally have had access to. That’s always my thing with YA mysteries — a big question that always has to be addressed is why a teen wouldn’t go to an adult with a murder-mystery case and in JACKABY, Abigail is working for paranormal detective R.F. Jackaby.

I also figured that there would be a romance between Jackaby (this was before I knew how much older he was) and Abigail and I’m really glad that there wasn’t! It was nice to see the romance built with Abigail and more of a secondary character and that it was a side plot and not a main focus of the book. The quirky mysteries still took the spotlight and there wasn’t any mixing of work and romance. I actually didn’t really care for the romance, though. I thought it wasn’t very developed in the first book, which it didn’t have to be developed right away, but for some reason it felt fast and forced for me.

JACKABY wasn’t a perfect book but it was really enjoyable! Things kind of piled on with the paranormal but it was fun and not overwhelming as some books tend to feel when dealing with so many different para-creatures.

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 21, 2017

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, are called upon to investigate the supernatural. First, members of a particularly vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens. A day later, their owner is found murdered, with a single mysterious puncture wound to her neck. Then, in nearby Gad's Valley, dinosaur bones from a recent dig go missing, and an unidentifiable beast attacks animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Policeman Charlie Cane, exiled from New Fiddleham to the valley, calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

I started BEASTLY BONES right after I finished JACKABY because the first book was just so enjoyable and a breeze to read! I thought BEASTLY BONES stepped it up even more and that William Ritter’s writing really improved, not that I thought JACKABY was lacking, but it felt more mature and more put-together.

I loved the fantastical element in this book and I won’t give it away because it was a super fun reveal for me but it was a creature that I was so excited to see, and even that had a turn of its own. The characters handle the situation adeptly, as always, and the mystery was a hoot!

One thing I actually didn’t like was the appearance of some secondary characters that were immediately eliminated in this book. They had such a heavy focus in BEASTLY BONES and it kind of felt like a waste to get to know them for such a short time only to never see them again. There was also a bit of repetition of terms and words in this book that I started to notice a lot (I didn’t need to read “indomitable” 20 times) so that was a little frustrating but I thought the mystery was even more exciting than the first book and it took a different turn as well!

Series Review: Jackaby (#1-3) by William RitterTitle: Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 23, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 25, 2017

Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly lady of 926 Augur Lane, has enlisted the investigative services of her fellow residents to solve a decade-old murder—her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, Detective R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancé, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.
Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.

GHOSTLY ECHOES was a bit different all together with one of the main characters being involved in the mystery instead of someone from the outside. I really loved how much more personal the mystery became — to Jackaby and Abigail as well as the reader — and where the whole series went! Things really escalated in this book and I really appreciated how so many things came full circle here.

The friendships in this book were stepped up even more and I love how much tighter this group got! The different elements in this mystery were also top notch and I think this was my favorite book of the series!

SERIES THOUGHTS

 

This series is fun, easy to read, and seems to be getting better with each book! I still am missing that big “wow” factor that would shoot it up to five stars but these are all so solid and really entertaining.

I think William Ritter does a great job bringing all of the plot together, especially in GHOSTLY ECHOES, and it was also nice to have an overall plot but mysteries that were solved at the end of each book so I didn’t have to jump back into a world where I forgot everything that had happened, as with so many series. (Although I did binge read these so that wasn’t a huge issue anyway.)

I do feel like I could do without Abigail’s romance. I personally have never connected to it and it still feels forced to me. I actually feel like Abigail would be a stronger character without it, or she needs a more spirited companion. She’s so spunky and I would love to see her banter with someone instead of becoming softer and more gentle, although I guess she does have a different sort of banter with Jackaby. Still, I love that romantic banter and teasing.

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Addiction Rating
Read them!

This is a really solid series and each book seems to get better! The paranormal and fantasy aspects are so much fun and the two main characters (Jackaby and Abigail) are really solid.

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BOOKS LIKE JACKABY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

     

The Edge of Everything – Jeff Giles

The Edge of Everything – Jeff GilesTitle: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Publishing Info: January 31, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 27, 2016

It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.

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I was fortunate enough to read THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING incredibly early when Bloomsbury asked me to include a blurb for the ARC! (Eee!) it’s a weird thing to sit on a review for half a year but I knew I had to write some things down after reading, otherwise I’d never be able to form coherent thoughts when reviewing!

THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING was a really unique novel for me. If you’re looking for a feel, I’d thrown out EVERNEATH by Brodi Ashton (the Underworld aspect) meets DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor (the forbidden romance). THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING is about Zoe, the quirky yet girl-next-door type who meets a bounty hunter from hell —  literally. When Zoe meets X, her entire world is turned upside down in so many ways and it was incredibly interesting to see the ways that she and her family were affected by X’s appearance.

The book started off a little slow for me, but not in a bad way. X appears on the scene and Zoe can clearly see that he’s not quite human so after the first few chapters, the first half of the book is a lot more character development and set-up before it hits some of that world-building that I love. The delay in action really had me focused on the characters and their clear pull towards each other which was definitely important for some plot points down the road! It was also a bit slower, I think, because the concept took a bit of figuring out. This really wasn’t like many books I’ve read before so I was trying to place it into a genre (Fantasy? Paranormal? Mystery?) and figure out how everything really worked. My advice is to just let the book take you where it will and don’t try to put this one in a box! There are lots of elements at work and things came together really well in the second half of the book!

I was hoping for a bit more world-building regarding the Lowlands earlier on the book but I’m such a sucker for that kind of stuff that I was just dying to know what it was all about. It’s not quite Hell or the Underworld as we “know” it so I was so curious to explore the different rules and regulations, functionality, and why it was so important in Zoe’s story line. There was a lot to explore there and I was curious to investigate this dark side and how it maintained balance in the world. I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more in this book BUT there is still a lot to explore in upcoming novels which I’m pretty excited for!

I didn’t know this was a series when I started since I read it so early but I’m actually really glad it is! Once I really got into the book, I was so curious about really everything and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next! There’s so much more exploring that I want to do and I’m really excited to see where Jeff Giles takes his readers. I see so much potential for even more development and I can’t wait to see where this story goes!

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal concepts. This was kind of fantasy, kind of paranormal, kind of urban fantasy…? I loved the unique mix and it was such a unique read!
Left Me Wanting More: Developement. I just wanted a BIT more development of the world and romance!

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This was a really interesting and unique read and I think it’s a great selection for fans of Brodi Ashton and Laini Taylor!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE EDGE OF EVERYTHING

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE RULES FOR DISAPPEARING    DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana Mather

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana MatherTitle: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group, Listening Library
Source: ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 2, 2016

It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

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** This is a spoiler-free review EXCEPT for the last paragraph about the romance in the book. It’s a very minor spoiler (and some may not even consider it a spoiler) BUT if you don’t wish to know any details, avert your eyes at the end! ** 

I first heard of HOW TO HANG A WITCH at ALA this past January and was instantly attracted to the “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch. When I saw an audio review copy from Listening Library, I knew I wanted to read it soon and I quickly dove into the audiobook. I was surprised to find out that the author, Adriana Mather, narrates it herself! It was such a fun experience overall and I really enjoyed the entire vibe of the book.

The “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch is pretty spot on. I was actually reminded a lot of The Craft as far as the Mean Girls aspect went with Sam having several conflicts with The Descendants, a group of classmates who are actual descendants of the families involved in the Salem Witch trials and who may or may not dabble in actual witchcraft. They dress in all black and are generally surly bunch and this totally reminded me of the movie The Craft! (And I loved it.) I also totally picked up a Hocus Pocus vibe with Sam moving to Salem from the city and being the new kid in school. She meets a boy, has a crush, communicates with spirits, and gets involved with witches. Not to mention the whole thing takes place during the fall and I was just totally pining for autumn and Halloweentime! My only regret about reading this book when I did is that it wasn’t fall already! I absolutely loved the overall feel of the book — movie vibes included — and really enjoyed how it was a contemporary take on the witches without being historical fiction or total fantasy world. It had that perfect modern feel that fit so well with the book’s overall tone.

The plot kept me hooked and entertained from start to finish. There were a lot of interesting twists and like your average book, some were predictable and some totally weren’t. I liked that the past played a really strong part in the present and there are so many ways that Sam’s current situation is intertwined with the actual history of the Salem Witch trials. Some twists really surprised me and I had a long-standing theory for a couple things that were happening that turned out to be incorrect, which I actually love because I think it’s great when an author can surprise or mislead me to keep a big reveal for the ending! There were a couple spots that got a little confusing or convoluted with some extra details that didn’t end up playing a part in the book but those details also kept me on the trail of something that turned out to be a red herring and maintained the element of surprise, so I guess that was good in one way!

The really, really neat thing about HOW TO HANG A WITCH is Adriana Mather’s actual, real-life relation to the Mather family of the Salem Witch Trials. She really is a direct descendant and there’s a neat author’s note that I listened to at the end explaining a long and rather important family history in which her ancestors played big roles in some major historical events. I thought it was really neat how she used her own family connection to create this story! Obviously some historical elements were changed to tweaked to accommodate a young adult novel as well as creating into a modern work of fiction, but there are a lot of general concepts and even some specific facts relating to the Salem Witch Trials and the Mather family specifically that are totally true! With Adriana Mather’s narration of the audiobook as well, it was just really neat to see so many specific elements of involvement in the production of her book and it felt like such a personal touch and connection.

(Possible spoiler paragraph) The one thing about the book that I really had a hang-up with was the romance. I was really accepting of everything — witches, ghosts, paranormal activity, a gang of descendants — up until this romance thing took a turn. It started out sweet with Sam and neighbor boy Jaxon slowly starting to develop a little bit of a romance but then Sam’s involvement with Elijah, the ghost that follows her around, starts to become romantic. And then you lost me. I can handle fond feelings for the ghost-boy but Sam wanted to actually start like… dating him. Sweetie. You realize he’s a ghost, right? Sam has the ability to physically interact with him and it’s pretty consistent  but things get weird when you start kissing ghosts of boys who have been dead for hundreds of years. Thankfully, that resolved itself but why throw in a love triangle angle with a ghost? That was my one big turn-off.

HOW TO HANG A WITCH was an overall fun and enjoyable read! I just really dug the whole vibe of the book, from The Craft and Hocus Pocus feel to the contemporary take to the sarcasm and snark, the book really just fit with me! Some readers will probably be anticipating a little more depth because for all of its history, it did still feel on the lighter side but I personally really liked that about it. I really enjoyed the levity while still digging into actual history (with a little bit of creative licensing) and having a book that was easy to breeze through and kept me entertained! I think this is a really fun fall read and should definitely be on your reading lists this autumn if you love reading spooky or seasonal reads before/around Halloween!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Yes, I used a gif in my status update. Look at those skills! (ha) 

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Sam // Character obsessions: Her father’s health, being a loner, solving mysteries.
Sam was a fun character for me! I loved her sass and snark and with Adriana Mather’s voice narrating the audiobook, she kind of reminded me of the middle sister Mandy in Last Man Standing… Except not dumb haha. (That’s what her voice reminded me of!) I liked how she grew Elijah // Character obsessions: Protecting, watching, seriousness.
I had kind of a love-hate relationship with Elijah. I kind of liked his presence but I also got annoyed by it. I enjoyed how he interacted with Sam but I also really disliked it at times. I’m still on the fence about him but I’m glad things wrapped up the way that they did at the end of the book!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Modern History. I really liked that the history was so involved in a contemporary setting. It was fun to see witches but in a contemporary fashion and still have that Salem Witch Trials connection!
Left Me Wanting More: Platonic relationships. The romance aspects of the book felt a little forced. I think this is a book that could have done really well with little or zero romance at all! Instead there was a little too much and things got a bit carried away.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was just a really fun book from start to finish. If you’re into The Craft or Hocus Pocus, I totally recommend it because I had friends who picked up on those vibes as well! It’s a fun fall read and one I’ll be recommending come Halloweentime!

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BOOKS LIKE HOW TO HANG A WITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I remembered that I hadn’t yet written a review for THE RAVEN KING (nearly two months later) and when I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t put this book into real sentences. THE RAVEN KING was full of so many moments, so many things, and so many swoons that I just really had a hard time organizing them into long strings of perfectly formed paragraphs. Instead of struggling, I decided instead to switch over to my non-traditional review format with “10 Things I Felt About This Book” and let the feels fall where they may!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: April 26, 2016 by Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2)

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE RAVEN KING

  • TERRIFIED. Oh boy, I was just plain terrified to read this. The end of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE left me with so much anticipation AND I hyped myself up for it so I was nervous that somehow it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
  • IN LOVE. I am so head over heels for this gang. I’ve never read a friendship that was so amazing and so all-encompassing like it is for Blue and her Raven Boys. Too many times, someone starts to get jealous and it ends up fracturing a friendship and while that was still present in this series (naturally. It happens to the best of us), it was taken to a level where the characters didn’t want it to affect the friendship and they did everything they could to keep the group together instead of letting jealousy take over. I love how much these characters wanted to be together and how important they were to one another.
  • IN DENIAL. THE RAVEN BOYS starts off with the prediction of Gansey’s death so it’s no spoiler that it’s heavy in everyone’s minds during THE RAVEN KING. I was in total denial that it would even happen so I pretty much spend the entire book convincing myself otherwise even though Maggie said it was definitely happening.
  • ACTUALLY FEARFUL. There were some ACTUAL scary moments in this book! I don’t read books about ghosts when it’s taken at a horror angle. I’m way too much of a chicken. There were some very, very creepy things that happened in this book and I will not lie to you — I cried actual tears of fear. I mean briefly, but yeah, it was scary!
  • IMPRESSED. I know Maggie Stiefvater had this all sorted out before she even started but I’m always so impressed to see an author bring a series together for a great conclusion. It was really neat to see how all of the pieces fit together and see so many things from all of the previous book find an explanation in THE RAVEN KING.
  • UNPREPARED. I just really, really, REALLY was not ready for this series to end. Confession? I actually felt SUPER weird once it was over. The cliffhangers from the previous books were so intense and interesting that it was really weird to leave this book with a note of finality. I mean, obviously we needed to but it didn’t leave me with that series hangover feeling because I wasn’t ready for it to end like that.
  • SHIPPY. I won’t spoil anything but obviously in a big conclusion, we get some big ship answers and conclusions as well. I was totally feeling them.
  • ANXIOUS. The hardest thing about reading a huge series finale is that A) everyone is so in love and B) there is no ARC so everyone reads the finished copy all at the same time. In a series like this, I was especially afraid of spoilers and they were so hard to avoid!
  • HOPEFUL. The way the book ended, there was a whisper of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might get more words about this gang in the future. I’m hoping for an adult Raven Cycle book,.
  • SATISFIED. This was such a satisfying conclusion. I actually was a bit — disappointed is too strong of a word but the best I can think of at the moment — at a big moment at the end because it felt too… happy? I mean happy things happen in this book but I think I was expecting a devastating moment and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually somehow hoped for it a little bit but I guess things really did work out quite well and it just wouldn’t have been the ending that it was had the book not played out like it did. Cryptic, I know, but how do you talk about the ending of a book without spoiling it?? 

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Buy it and read it, of course!

This is still one of my all-time favorite series. I really can’t wait until it’s time to re-read the whole series again knowing how it all ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN KING

             UNDER THE NEVER SKY

A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)

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Welcome to our third annual FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT event!
October 17th – October 31st, 2015

Thanks for checking out the THIRD annual edition of FORTNIGHT OF FRIGHT where Alyssa (Books Take You Places), Amy (Tripping Over Books), and I bring you two full weeks of Halloween-related posts! We’ve invited bloggers, authors, and book lovers alike to share their favorite things about Halloween and we feature a new person and post each day. 

Today, Angela from Angela’s Library is sharing her review of THE FALL by Bethany Griffin!


A Fortnight of Fright 2015 | Book Review: The Fall by Bethany Griffin (Angela from Angela’s Library)Title: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Publishing Info: October 7, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Library
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Retelling, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 26, 2015
Related Posts: The Fall

    Madeline Usher is doomed.
    She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.
    Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.
    In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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Hi everyone! For today’s post for A Fortnight of Fright, I’m excited to share with you a review of one of my favorite Halloween reads, The Fall by Bethany Griffin. This book combines two things I absolutely love: a retold classic and a seriously creepy haunted house.

The Fall is a novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Madeline Usher, the protagonist, has always known there is something not quite right about her ancestral home. It seems to have a will of its own and a desire to impose that will upon its inhabitants. The house lives through the Ushers, feeding off of their emotions and doing everything it can to ensure the family stays on the property and under the house’s control.

This tie between the Ushers and their home takes a heavy toll on the family. It’s the fate of all Ushers to slowly go mad, and Madeline and her parents suffer from strange fits and trances. They experience fainting spells and fevers and are plagued by extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and even the touch of clothing on their skin. Time and memories slip, and reading is impossible because the words swim on the page. The family’s strange condition is so acute that they keep their own staff of live-in doctors, who are a little mad themselves and prey on the Ushers in their own way.

As Madeline grows up, she learns more about her house’s dark power and becomes more and more determined to escape it. She knows there must be a way to outsmart the house and free her family from its horrific legacy; she just has to figure out what that way is. The harder she struggles against the house, though, the harder the house fights back, finding ways to trap her and confuse her.

Each chapter is written from Madeline’s perspective, but the chapters aren’t in chronological order and jump back and forth between Madeline’s point of view at age 9, 18, 12, etc. This may sound like a strange way to tell a story, but it makes sense for the book. It lets the reader experience the story just like Madeline does – piece by piece, confused and disoriented. Like Madeline, just when you think you’ve caught the thread of the story you’re interrupted, taken off of your path and turned in a different direction. It throws you off balance, and you have to get your bearings again and figure out which Madeline you’re dealing with. Is it the Madeline who suspects the house is trapping her like a fly in a spiderweb? The Madeline who loves the house and trusts it to keep her from harm? The Madeline who is trying to escape? You don’t know what to expect from one chapter to the next.

Griffin does a fabulous job of making the house sentient and terrible, building it into as much of a character as Madeline, her family, and her physicians. The house thinks, feels, and is capable of taking action. It listens to the stories its occupants tell, redirects them when they get too close to the secrets it doesn’t want discovered, and occasionally throws tantrums, tremoring and convulsing and locking people in rooms. It can even influence people and put thoughts in their head, using them to fulfill its own purposes.

I love The Fall’s spooky gothic vibe. There’s an oppressive undercurrent of horror and dread that never completely goes away. The house corrupts everything within it: bright new dresses fade overnight, lace crumbles, and previously normal visitors slowly grow mad and twisted. Children’s swings sway eerily of their own accord, suits of armor fling axes at hapless passersby, and ghosts of long-dead Ushers lurk in the shadows. There are even old messages, presumably from the house, transcribed by Ushers of years gone by:

“The surface of the desk is covered with scraps of parchment. I read the first. I love you. […] I pick up another. I know you. […] The next one: I watch you. Dozens of scraps of parchment are scattered over the desk. I love you, I know you, I need you.”

If you want a book that will give you shivers this Halloween, The Fall will certainly do the trick. It’s creepy, atmospheric, and a worthy homage to Poe’s original. Just make sure not to read it before bed – it might just keep you up at night.


 

 

Thanks, Angela! Great review. I really enjoyed this one as well and I really loved how atmospheric it was! 
I reviewed THE FALL last year for A Fortnight of Fright too! You can see the full review here: The Fall by Bethany Griffin

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is coming out early 2016 and I’m re-reading all of The Raven Cycle on audio before it comes out. I need a refresher on details and feels before I head into the last book of the series and oh boy, are these books sure giving me a heavy dose of both!

Since I’ve already done one formal review of THE DREAM THIEVES back when I first read it, I’m switching things up a bit with a bit more feeling and a little less analyzing with “10 Things I Felt About” THE DREAM THIEVES!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Mythology, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 5, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE DREAM THIEVES

  • EMOTIONAL. Let’s be honest. My re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS stirred up all kinds of feelings and I was prepared to be emotionally wrecked again.
  • INSIGHTFUL. I actually didn’t feel as emotionally wrecked as I had thought (though some parts just killed me — looking at you, Blue & Gansey…) but I did feel like there were a lot of answers and there was a lot more set-up for BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE which was really interesting to see having read the first three books already.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Like THE RAVEN BOYS, there were sooo many more clues and little things that I was able to pick up on knowing what I know of the series. It was so much fun to see those things and how much more sense they make, as well as how something small really does make a huge difference! (I wonder what I’m missing that’ll be important in THE RAVEN KING…)
  • MORE CONFIDENT. One of the big things I took away from THE DREAM THIEVES during my first read was that the ending was a bit confusing. I think I just didn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening and I was so excited to be reading the book and finishing it that I think I rushed through the ending and ended up confused on the details and these aren’t books you can rush. Knowing it was coming, I paid much more attention and listening to audio really helps because my eyes can’t skip across the page and miss something!
  • FORGETFUL. Not gonna lie… I remembered the things that stood out to me and forgot a lot of the details that actually happened in this book. BUT it was that much more exciting to re-read it! Like the Gray Man. Totally forgot how his story even closed in this book!
  • CONFUSED. … at why Kavinsky’s voice sounded like Christopher Walken on this audio hahaha. It did not seem like an appropriate voice for him, but okay.
  • IMPATIENT. I just didn’t want to put this audiobook down! This series is just so engrossing and all-encompassing.
  • RONAN-CENTRIC.loved learning so much more about Ronan in the book… In a way, it made me feel less and more for him. It’s sort of like the more you know about something, the less mysterious it is BUT those moments of Ronan affection really make you realize exactly how important and extraordinary they are.
  • SHIPPY. With all of the fan art and non-canon things I see floating around Tumblr, it was definitely important for me to re-read and experience each and every one of these relationships again. Not that I have anything against non-canon things but it does muddy things up a bit in my head sometimes!
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. I just keep thinking about ALL the things we learn in this book, what we already know from THE RAVEN BOYS, and what readers will learn in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and omg. It’s overwhelming. HOW WILL THIS END. I also fear for Gansey. 

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Re-read it!

You MUST re-read these book if you’re a fan of the series at all. I can tell you they just get even more magical.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     THE ACCIDENT SEASON        PAPER VALENTINE

Armada – Ernest Cline

Armada – Ernest ClineTitle: Armada by Ernest Cline
Publishing Info: July 14, 2015 by Random House Publishing Group
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 21, 2015
Related Posts: Ready Player One

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.
But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.And then he sees the flying saucer.
Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.
It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?
At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

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I’m going to be very honest for a second… I didn’t really know what ARMADA was about until I started reading it! I absolutely loved Ernest Cline’s previous book, READY PLAYER ONE, and hearing that Wil Wheaton was narrating another one of his audiobooks, I immediately pre-ordered the audio. By the time the book came out months later, I had almost entirely forgotten what the book was about but since I do like to go into books blind, it wasn’t an issue with an author I trusted!

ARMADA was exactly what I expected and quite different all at the same time. I love that it’s still a video game tie-in/base (like in READY PLAYER ONE) but it’s used quite differently in this case! It really brought the same sort of feel — along with overall tone and character personalities — that READY PLAYER ONE had but didn’t feel like a repeat of the same story at all. I actually didn’t realize that the book revolved around an alien conflict (or totally forgot since I had read the synopsis so long ago) and I actually think that was a good thing! I’m very hesitant about alien stories and tend to steer clear so I’m actually glad that I didn’t really realize that was the main plot of the book  before I started!

ARMADA was really excellently written. Considering video games and aliens aren’t really my “thing” at all, I was totally hooked and interested the whole time and Ernest Cline did a great job of really making me feel like all of this could actually happen! The balance of action, plot, and character development was so consistent and dynamic and I just found myself falling further an further into the book. I’m still a newbie to sci-fi sometimes (sometimes I have issues with really technical concepts or specific references) but the book does a great job of connecting with all audiences and on many different levels.

This is definitely a more plot and action-based book but I really appreciated the attention to characters and character relationships. I really enjoyed getting to know Zack and I especially loved his relationship with his mom. She was one of my favorite characters and I really appreciated how she was portrayed! Zack also had some really great friendships and I loved that they didn’t suffer from friendship drama just to add another conflict in the story. The plot had enough going on by itself and I loved that his friends were there for him no matter what.

Whether you’re a sci-fi fan or afraid of alien books like me, I think ARMADA is enjoyable for so many audiences! If we’re comparing, READY PLAYER ONE is still my favorite of his, but ARMADA was so incredibly enjoyable as well. I think I personally connected more with the concept of READY PLAYER ONE so that gives it the extra push!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I immediately pre-ordered this audio knowing Wil Wheaton narrated! He did an excellent job with READY PLAYER ONE and I loved listening to him narrate ARMADA as well! The voicing of Zack and his friends were excellent and Wil Wheaton just really embodies characters so well. He really just goes all out on the narration and I love how authentic it makes the books feel. They really just come alive!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

armada gr updates

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Zack Lightman // Character Obsessions: Armada, video games, family, friends, the memory of his father.
Zack was a really fun character. I just love these portrayals from Ernest Cline. He just felt like such a genuine and real person and I loved how in combination with the audio, I could just see the whole thing playing out like a movie in my mind too. I really admired Zack’s courage once things started getting real and I appreciated his dedication and loyalty!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Video games & aliens. I don’t really play video games ever (do we count Mario Kart and Guitar Hero? No?) and I usually shy away from any books that mention aliens because I just don’t find them believable but somehow ARMADA had both and I just loved it!
Left Me Wanting More: Story after it’s over? I usually use this spot to say what I was missing from the book but I really couldn’t think of anything! I didn’t quite have that personal connection that I did with READY PLAYER ONE but that’s just me and my experiences connecting to a book so that’s not really anything I wished could change. I WILL say, however, that it seemed like it was left open for another book…? I’m not sure if that’s a future plan but very interesting!

Addiction Rating
Buy it! (Listen to it?)

I definitely recommend this book on audio! It’s simply fantastic and I love Wil Wheaton’s narration. I think without it, I MAY not have enjoyed the book as much just because he brings SO MUCH to the book with his voicing. I do think it’s worth the read and the buy, though, no matter what! It was so entertaining and is starting to change my pre-conceived notions about some aspects of sci-fi!

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BOOKS LIKE ARMADA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

INSIGNIA     THE 5TH WAVE