Scream All Night – Derek Milman

Scream All Night – Derek MilmanTitle: Scream All Night by Derek Milman
Publishing Info: July 24, 2018 by HarperCollins, Balzer + Bray
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: January 4, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?

bookreview1

SCREAM ALL NIGHT was an enjoyable book! I’ve been loving books with dark humor like UNDEAD GIRL GANG and KILL THE BOY BAND and SCREAM ALL NIGHT seemed like the perfect recommendation for those books so I knew I wanted to give it a shot!

The beginning of the book started off with a bang (quite literally, actually. No pun intended, but well-fitting). Instantly there was some dark comedy, a wacky family, and some laugh-out-loud moments and I knew I would love this book! Then it kind of dissipated as the book went along and those laugh-out-loud moments were fewer and fewer. It wasn’t in a bad way, but the book got a little more serious than I had anticipated and overall, I had found myself wishing for a bit more hijinks and wacky, weird comedy. Dario’s brother was just a bit too weird sometimes and it lost some of that humor for me whereas other characters could have brought more of that comedy to the scene and didn’t. I mean, these were merely my anticipations of the book so I’m not critiquing that it should have been there, just that it was what I was hoping for. I think I was just hoping for more zany weird and sarcastic weird instead of “this guy may actually be delusional” weird.

The plot was actually interesting and had a great message, really coming together nicely in the end. Dario’s family is quite complicated and abusive (both physically and psychologically) so throughout the book, there’s a constant question of whether he’ll stick with the family that he had emancipated himself from now that his father is gone or continue to venture out on his own in the world. There are a lot of different layers of these familial relationships and I really appreciated how Derek Milman handled everything! It wasn’t just a mean parent or a jealous sibling, etc etc. There were a lot of different moving pieces that caused Dario’s family to fall apart as it did, or rather, converge on him in a sort of attack.

The horror movie aspect of the book was so much fun and I love how it played into everything! It wasn’t just that the family ran a horror production company — the business and movies themselves played big parts in everyone’s lives in different ways and it truly shaped the book and the characters. I loved that it sort of played its own role in the book and was used as a way for the characters to communicate with one another. Sometimes the movies made spoke words that the characters couldn’t. Other times the movies were used to heal. Sometimes the movies were moments of reaching out. It was really neat and very well-written how everything really did tie together.

I think I was just expecting to be a little more connected and didn’t anticipate the middle of the book to be so serious — I was just anticipating a lot more of that comedy and an actual light feel for the whole book and the book just wasn’t meant to be an LOL-fest the whole time. I did enjoy my read of SCREAM ALL NIGHT and it was a good book for me. I had a hard time knowing what I wanted to start for my first book of the year and I started and stopped a couple that just weren’t feeling right. This was the first book I started and wanted to finish and I’m definitely glad I read it!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique realistic fiction stories. This wasn’t one I probably would have picked up on my own (I picked it up as a rec!) and it was really neat reading something like this!
Left Me Wanting More: Laughs. It wasn’t that the book needed more comedy, it’s just that it’s what I was expecting for some reason. I think I personally would have enjoyed it more if it was a constant riot of funny, but that was my personal expectation.

Addiction Rating
Add it to your TBR!

It’s definitely worth checking out and was a fun and also lovely read. I liked seeing this unique family and a different perspective that I don’t normally read.

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BOOKS LIKE SCREAM ALL NIGHT

             

An Unwanted Guest – Shari Lapena

An Unwanted Guest – Shari LapenaTitle: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
Publishing Info: August 7, 2018 by Penguin Random House
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 30, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

A remote lodge in upstate New York is the perfect getaway. . . until the bodies start piling up.It's winter in the Catskills and the weather outside is frightful. But Mitchell's Inn is so delightful! The cozy lodge nestled deep in the woods is perfect for a relaxing--maybe even romantic--weekend away. The Inn boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood-burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a book and someone you love. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity--and all contact with the outside world--the guests settle in for the long haul. The power's down but they've got candles, blankets, and wood--a genuine rustic experience! Soon, though, a body turns up--surely an accident. When a second body appears, they start to panic. Then they find a third body. Within the snowed-in paradise, something--or someone--is picking off the guests one by one. They can't leave, and with no cell service, there's no prospect of getting the police in until the weather loosens its icy grip. The weekend getaway has turned deadly. For some couples, it's their first time away. For others, it will be their last. And there's nothing they can do about it but huddle down and hope they can survive the storm.

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This was such an interesting read! I always love reading mysteries or thrillers where I’m not quite sure what’s going on. Shari Lapena did a great job at not revealing too much suspicion too early, and then once it started to arise, to cast it around really evenly to put a lot of doubt on the pages, never being too sure who to trust. At one point, I had no idea who was the murderer so I started to form all kinds of hair-brained ideas extending to psychological “everyone is the murderer” tropes that get played out so often. The ending was surprising and satisfying!

I also really loved this wintery setting. A snow storm was the perfect way to lock the guests of this hotel in, adding in the loss of power, unable to leave or maintain footprints because of the ice, and the antique nature of the hotel lending even less technology or modern conveniences, preventing the suspects from getting answers too easily. I also waited to read this book in the winter so it made it even more atmospheric (even though there wasn’t a lot of snow on the ground when I read it).

I feel like the narration could have been a bit smoother and it took me out of the novel just a little bit. Some of it felt forced and choppy (I sometimes have trouble when authors don’t use contractions in order to keep the narration formal when it just doesn’t seem natural) so that was really the only thing I didn’t connect with throughout the book.

It was quite a solid read with a good mystery and I really enjoyed it! I’m definitely interested in picking up more from Shari Lapena in the future and already have a few other titles from her earmarked!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Single location thrillers. I loved that this all took place in a little off-the-grid hotel. It’s fun to see the ways that authors have to eliminate technology like this in order to keep everyone in the same place and unable to phone for help. I love everyone stuck together to hash out the mystery!
Left Me Wanting More: Smoothness. There were a couple spots that felt a little forced and choppy. With a couple more smooth transitions, this would have been even better, but I still enjoyed it quite a lot!

Addiction Rating
Read it

I really liked this one! I love when I read a thriller and I’m already looking forward to more from the author.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE AN UNWANTED GUEST

             

End of Year Book Survey | 2019

One of my favorite bloggers (and people. She’s a gem!), Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, hosts a wonderful thing called the End of Year Book Survey. I had an absolute blast completing the survey for 20122013, 2014, 201520162017, and 2018 so I was excited to hop on board for the 2019 END OF YEAR BOOK SURVEY!

As usual, all links will take you to my reviews for these books so if you see something you’re curious about, check out my reviews!

2019 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 141
Number of Re-Reads: 26
Genre You Read The Most From: I actually have no idea! Goodreads used to help out with a nice pie chart and they don’t have it anymore. I’d probably say thriller or fantasy? Did I even read a lot of fantasy this year?

best-YA-books-2014

best-YA-books-2014

  1. Dark Age (Red Rising Saga, #5)Best Book You Read In 2019? Hands down, DARK AGE by Pierce Brown
  2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne. I was so excited and just didn’t connect with it at all.
  3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  Hmmm probably something like AN EMBER IN THE ASHES? I had previously DNFed it and tried it again this year and really enjoyed it! 
  4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? I tried to plug WAITING FOR TOM HANKS some! It was just so cute.
  5. Best series you started in 2019? Best Sequel of 2019? Best Series Ender of 2019? Started — KING OF SCARS. Sequel — DARK AGE. Series Ender — Probably DARKDAWN even though I didn’t love the ending.
  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2019? Christina Lauren! I may have started reading their books in 2018 but I really binge read most of them in 2019!
  7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Hmm I didn’t read outside my comfort zone a lot so I’ll get specific! I AM PILGRIM was a really great read for me and I don’t normally read political thrillers.
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? DARK AGE for sure!
  9. Lock Every DoorBook You Read In 2019 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year? CALL DOWN THE HAWK! I almost re-read it immediately and decided to hold off to re-read when I do my annual Raven Cycle re-read! 
  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2019? LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager (I don’t know why but I love that pink! I bought the book just so I could have this crazy pink cover.)
  11. Most memorable character of 2019? I don’t know! Maybe Alex Stern from NINTH HOUSE? 
  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2019? Easily THE STARLESS SEA.
  13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2019? Hmmm I feel like I don’t read many life-changing books. I’d say THE STARLESS SEA was also probably the most thought-provoking.
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2019 to finally read? PRODIGY & CHAMPION by Marie Lu! I had been meaning to finish that series for yeeeears.
  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2019? I don’t keep track of quotes but basically anything from THE STARLESS SEA. So many book lover quotes in there.
  16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2019? Shortest — BECOMING THE DARK PRINCE (Stalking Jack the Ripper novella), 64 pgs. Longest — DARK AGE by Pierce Brown, 704 pgs.
  17. Book That Shocked You The Most? DARK AGE (sorry, but it’s that good. It’s basically ever answer). Pierce Brown is NUTS.
  18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) Huh, I didn’t really ship anyone that hard this year. I liked some more quiet romances better.
  19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year? Zachary Ezra Rawlins and basically everyone in THE STARLESS SEA.
  20. Favorite Book You Read in 2019 From An Author You’ve Read Previously? …. DARK AGE. Ha.
  21. Best Book You Read In 2019 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.: A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY! I don’t think I’d have picked it up without bookstagram. Also WAITING FOR TOM HANKS.
  22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2019? Nikolai but more? haha
  23. Best 2019 debut you read? WAITING FOR TOM HANKS by Kerry Winfrey
  24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? DARK AGE, KING OF SCARS
  25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? WAITING FOR TOM HANKS was soooooo stinkin’ cute.
  26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2019? DARKDAWN, I think. I can’t remember! I know I sobbed for something but I don’t remember what it was. 
  27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN! That was a fun read and I feel like it didn’t get enough attention. 
  28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? DARK AGE, DARKDAWN. 
  29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2019? Probably THE STARLESS SEA. 
  30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? CAPTURING THE DEVIL, THE SWALLOWS

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book-blogging

  1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2019? I barely had time to keep up with my own!
  2. Favorite post you wrote in 2019? Oh gosh, I barely even wrote anything in 2019. I did write one discussion post about audiobooks! (Someone said Audiobooks weren’t books…….)
  3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2019? It wasn’t the most popular one but one of my favorites was my photo of DARK AGE and the Red Rising books in my best books of 2019 countdown! (see below)
  4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)? I was a vendor at Beaulitfulcon & Apollycon in 2019 and it was so much fun! 
  5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2019? Probably the events above! I didn’t really do anything outstanding in blogging this year like I had hoped! 
  6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? Reading time for print books (I spent a lot of my reading time working) and just finding time to blog in general! I’m really, really trying to get better on that this year! 
  7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? Hmmm probably the discussion I linked above.
  8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? Any of them? Ha! I haven’t been very involved in my blog/the community this year. 
  9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? New local indie bookstores! I need to visit a few but I’m excited for them.
  10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Just my Goodreads goal for this year! I have more goals planned for 2020 😀

 

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looking-ahead-books-2015

looking-ahead-books-2015

  1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2019 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2020? Oh, so many! Off the top of my head, I know I want to get to VENGEFUL this year.
  2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2020 (non-debut)? A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN (which I’m reading now)!
  3. 2020 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?honestly have no idea! I haven’t been looking ahead a lot but I want to! 
  4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2020? I guess A HEART SO FIERCE AND BROKEN? I feel like 2019 had so many releases and 2020 is kind of a break year? 
  5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2020? Just blog more consistently, come up with other posts besides reviews. Get back in the community and participate on Twitter and stuff. I’m trying to read more backlist/owned books, see movie/TV adaptations (or read them first if I haven’t read them yet).
  6. A 2020 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable): I haven’t read any yet! I haven’t had time to read ahead at ALL. 

Another big thanks to Jamie for organizing this survey! I always have so much fun with it every year and I am SO excited for what 2020 has in store for me!

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManus

One of Us Is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) – Karen M. McManusTitle: One of Us is Lying (One of Us is Lying #1) by Karen M. McManus
Publishing Info: May 30, 2017 by Delacourte Press
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Date Completed: December 27, 2018

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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I feel like there was a TON of hype surrounding this book was it was first coming out in 2017. I’ve been sitting on this review for a while (really just because of time, not for any special reason) and the more I look back on, the less I feel about it. I don’t really get the hype and excitement over it and it makes me sad that another young adult mystery book that felt over simplified when it came to the characters and disconnected in order to preserve the mystery of “whodunnit”. The book was still an enjoyable read in a lot of ways, but didn’t quite grab or thrill me. It was complicated because the whole time, I felt like it couldn’t be the four main narrators and yet the book made you feel like it was one of them. The conclusion was surprising and yet made sense all at the same time.

I did like the character relationships and how they came together in this time of accusation. They really started to find themselves when they were put in the spotlight, the worst of everything and everyone exposed. Not everything was pretty but I also felt like the author did a great job at portraying the relationships of high school students (including familial relationships) without it feeling overly dramatic or hyperbolic. Every relationship really did feel real and accurate for the drama of the teenage years.

I wished I had felt a little more connected somehow because looking back, I just really don’t feel connected to this book at all. My initial reactions were that it was entertaining and enjoyable albeit a bit lacking in some ways, but now I just feel like I was disappointed by it. While initial reactions are definitely important, I also think it’s critical to see how you feel about a book after time has gone by. I don’t have the desire to pick up the next book in this series after sitting on this for a while. addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Close-quarters thrillers. I liked that this was a “Breakfast Club” type feel with a lot of the kids spending time together at school or together to make things interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. When I first read it, I remembered it being pretty enjoyable. Looking back, I feel like there wasn’t a whole lot there and I wish there was a lot more depth there. The ending was surprising still but I can’t help but feel like I’m a little let down now.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you’re not a mystery/thriller reader, maybe you’ll enjoy this one more. I feel like I’ve already read so many thrillers, most of which are adult thrillers, and they just have a different feel.

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BOOKS LIKE ONE OF US IS LYING

             

2020 Bookish Resolutions

2020 BOOKISH RESOLUTIONS

I’m not usually one for New Year’s Resolutions but I do like to make some bookish goals for myself for the upcoming year! It’s a nice way to try to help myself stay on track for reading, stay organized, and stay engaged a little bit more!

  1. A Goodreads goal of 100 books | Last year I set my reading challenge goal to 100 books since I figured that would be easily attainable. I like to be able to set a goal that I know I can accomplish and see how much more I can read over that because it’s a lot more fun and way less stressful when you’re ahead on your reading goal instead of behind! In 2019, I ended up reading 141 books, which was the most I’ve ever read in a year, so I’m expecting to do about the same this year. It’s just a lot more fun when I’m 20 books ahead of my goal instead of worrying about constantly staying on track!!
  2. Read more books that I already own/backlist titles | We’re calling it “#beatthebacklist2020” on Instagram but the general goal is to read more books that we already own and/or those backlist titles on our TBRs. I made a list of all of the books I own and haven’t read yet, including old ARCs and old Netgalley/Edelweiss titles (although they wiped out my Edelweiss downloaded list once they switched to the new version…. I do have a list on Goodreads though so I’ll definitely still add those). Since I’m mostly listening to audiobooks, I’ve been trying to see what’s available through the library/Hoopla/Scribd to help me out! Unfortunately the ones without audiobook versions/versions that are easily available, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to those, but I’ll consider unhauling things either halfway through the year or at the end of the year!
  3. Curb my bookish spending | I haven’t really done a lot of book-buying recently since I have so many books that I still need to read and no time to read them. Most of my book-buying is pre-ordering from my favorite authors or buying books after I finish the audiobook and want a physical copy. I bought a few subscription boxes last year for some of my favorite fandoms and I’m glad I have some of the items but I also feel like I really could have done without them. I don’t really use merch in my book photos anymore so it’s really just sitting around otherwise and I feel like I could have saved some money instead of buying things because I was tempted. This year I’m going to try to restrain myself and remind myself that I don’t really DO anything with the merch. The thing I did spend the most money on was enamel pins but most of them were purchased in sales, so I may allow myself to still buy some things on sale!
  4. Unhaul things I don’t use/don’t need | It’s really hard for me to part with stuff sometimes but I’ve been working on unhauling a lot of stuff lately! There are so many things that I forgot about that I haven’t been missing so I’ve been selling/trading on Owlcrate’s buy/sell/trade Facebook group or selling on Mercari. Books are a little harder because most people don’t seem to want to buy old titles so I may keep some of those to bring to the used bookstore, eventually. I just don’t have one readily near me so it’s a big decision to make my way out to a good one haha.
  5. Stay more active in the bookish community | I miss being really involved in the book community!! I used to be so active with blogging and Twitter and keeping up with new releases and I spend so much time working on Novelly Yours stuff at home that I’ve really fallen away from that activity. Plus with my Enneagram 5 personality, I just tend to remove myself more completely rather than pop in here and there because it feels weird returning, like I don’t belong, and I feel fake for some reason. I mean, it’s still me and it’s still my blog so I don’t know why I feel like that, but it would be nice to get back into it, wherever I fit nowadays! I want to get back on Twitter (which was last year’s goal that didn’t happen), even if it isn’t a lot and try to stay more updated on blogging (which was also last year’s goal which also kind of didn’t happen) and interact on Instagram!

So those are my big goals for 2020! Not too huge but ones that still require effort and putting time aside to accomplish some of them. What are your bookish goals for the new year?

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea – Erin MorgensternTitle: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Penguin Random House, Doubleday Books
Source: Amazon
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy
Date Completed: September 2, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: The Night Circus, The Night Circus

Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them.

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is.

A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea.

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THE NIGHT CIRCUS is one of my favorite books and I’ve been waiting so long for a new Erin Morgenstern book that I was SO NERVOUS for THE STARLESS SEA! I also have a tendency to hype myself up and sometimes overhype myself for some of my favorite books so it was quite the effort to let myself get immersed in the book and not get ahead of myself! Thankfully, I had nothing to worry about because Morgenstern’s master prose easily wrapped me inside of the pages of this book and I was instantly swept away.

THE STARLESS SEA is basically a love story to books, reading, writing, and anything literary. There are so many amazing quotes about books and literature here that it was easy for me to love on so many different levels, but it wasn’t just about the characters being book lovers. The concept of stories made up this book on a magical level, adding fantastical elements to storytelling in the real world. It’s really kind of impossible to describe but Morgernstern once again nails that dreamy element of magical realism that lets you peek behind the curtain into the magical undercurrent of the normal world. It’s truly mesmerizing and it was such an incredible thing to read.

There’s quite an array of characters in the book, all of which were lovable, really. All of them have their flaws but I absolutely loved following the story of main character Zachary Rawlins. He sort of reminded me of a Quentin-type character (from The Magicians) except not quite as tragic and not quite as… erm… whiny, I guess (sorry, Q. It’s a common complaint). He’s a book-lover, has a studious mind, is a little more reserved, and just has something about him that reminded me of Quentin, which is funny considering I read later on that Erin Morgenstern actually kind of borrowed the concept of the bee-key-sword combination from Lev Grossman and The Magicians!

It’s kind of funny how THE STARLESS SEA seems to leave me wordless and tongue-tied when it’s so beautifully written but it’s slightly indescribable and so hard to review! I think the beauty of the book speaks for itself. I loved the stories within the story that linked back to different stories that represented things in real life which were also magical. (See? Impossible.) Everything just folded back in on itself and connected so perfectly and it was a truly wonderful read.

 

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Bookish magic. Can it really get much better than magic inspired by and revolving around books and stories? I don’t know if it can.
Left Me Wanting More: Time with the ending. There is a point in magical realism books where I have a hard time merging the fantasy and reality and that point in THE STARLESS SEA really came towards the end for me. I just wanted a biiiiit more time to spend with some of the magical elements to really feel grounded with them and know that this was real.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I know that this book isn’t for everyone BUT if you enjoy magical realism or think you might get along with this book, I do highly recommend it! The writing is definitely more etherial.

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BOOKS LIKE THE STARLESS SEA

             

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: September 10, 2019 by Hachette, Little Brown, Jimmy Patterson
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Historical Fiction
Date Completed: December 25, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1), Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2), Escaping From Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World's Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they've heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him---and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device---is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end---together and in love---or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

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It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Kerri Maniscalco and her Stalking Jack the Ripper series! Audrey Rose and Thomas were such a beautiful couple and the books were so much fun, getting me into a historical fiction perspective while having a fun mystery and a dash of romance. I actually started CAPTURING THE DEVIL around when it released back in September and just due to a busy schedule, I wasn’t able to finish until my holiday break in December. I’m really glad I was able to give it time so I could spent a good chunk reading!

I was incredibly curious about the inclusion of H.H. Holmes AND the finale of the whole series, really bringing everything full circle! I really enjoyed how there were pieces of this book that were hidden throughout the series. I did find that portion to be a little rushed, though, and I really wished we had gotten to see more of Audrey Rose’s and Thomas’ interactions with Holmes and not just a quick rough & tumble portion where things concluded in a frenzy. We barely even got to see Holmes or the “murder castle” and I just thought the characters would be spending much more time there and not just a quick, fast-paced conclusion. I feel like the other books spent a lot more time setting up and developing the mystery where this book spend a large amount of time with the romance.

While I do love Audrey Rose & Thomas, I just felt like there was way too much time spent on their romance and I wanted it to flow more naturally within the story and not take up a third of the book on its own. I feel like when it came down to it, this book was more about Audrey Rose & Thomas and their romantic drama than it was about the mystery, so that was really a bummer for me. I know that tons of people love their romance and I can imagine a lot of people being happy with it, but for me, I liked it more when it was a part of the character development that came along with the story and felt natural as the mystery investigation was going on. The beginning of the book and the wedding drama felt really forced and totally unnecessary and I really wish there had been no drama revolving around the wedding and that it would have been a shining moment to close the series. Instead it was kind of a negative thing for a long time. I guess I did like that it wasn’t an ideal situation and that Audrey Rose & Thomas were once again able to work through something that was a “scandal” or wasn’t a society norm.

Sadly, this was probably my least favorite book of the series. Series finales are always hard for me but I just really wanted so much more murder mystery and time focused on H.H. Holmes. It seemed like he and the murders were more of a thing in passing instead of being the most important thing of the book.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Murder Mysteries. It was really neat to see things taking place in Chicago and to get a glimpse of H.H. Holmes to uncover what was happening there.
Left Me Wanting More: Murder Mystery. I just wanted so much more mystery and far less romance. I just don’t like when the romance takes over a book when it’s not “supposed” to be the main plot. It was very important in this book but it just felt like a little too much of the focus.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’ve been following the series and you’ve been enjoying it up to this point, I would say definitely finish the series. I’m glad that I did! If you haven’t enjoyed the series much then I’d say maybe this book wouldn’t be for you either.

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BOOKS LIKE CAPTURING THE DEVIL

             

As Seen on Bookstagram | #12daysof2019favorites

After five years of blogging, sometimes it’s hard to come up with new ideas. So much has changed over the years, including my blogging style, many times over, and I’ve gotten so much more into taking photos and posting on Instagram as a part of my love of books and bookish merch!

In an attempt to keep things interesting and fun, I wanted to started a little something new for me where I take a post that I had originally shared on Instagram — or “bookstagram” for those in the book community — and took it a little further in a blog post. There’s a limited  number of characters that you can share on Insta and the point of those posts is more to get to the point, rather than writing a whole narrative, but sometimes each post deserves a few extra words, and “As Seen on Instagram” is a fun way for me to do that!

 

 

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I’m so excited to share my top reads again this year with the annual Top 12 countdown!

This countdown was originally started by @_livelaughread and @bookswrotemystory on Instagram and the rest of our group joined in so now the five of us (including @meganthemeganerd and @bibliotrix.lestrange) are joining in! The countdown has already begun but anyone is welcome to join in with their favorites of the year too!

My reading year was kind of a hodgepodge of genres but it’s been a lot of fun really exploring how my reading tastes have changed! I have a large amount of adult novels on my list and the YA books that I do have on my list are the ones that have really been marketed and cross-promoted to adults as well. It’s been curious seeing what were my best reads of the year and I’m really starting to move away from a lot of YA!

I can’t wait to share the rest of my favorite reads of the year! I’m looking forward to doing a full recap once the year is over too!


What are your favorite books from 2019? Do you do anything special to share them at the end of the year?

If you want to read the original post, check it out above or head to my Instagram page where you can follow for all kinds of bookish photo updates! 

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie Stiefvater

Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: November 5, 2019 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism
Date Completed: November 6, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
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), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

The dreamers walk among us . . . and so do the dreamed. Those who dream cannot stop dreaming – they can only try to control it. Those who are dreamed cannot have their own lives – they will sleep forever if their dreamers die.

And then there are those who are drawn to the dreamers. To use them. To trap them. To kill them before their dreams destroy us all.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. He can pull both curiosities and catastrophes out of his dreams and into his compromised reality.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. The closer she comes to the dream object she is after, the more inextricably she becomes tied to it.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. Her brother was a dreamer . . . and a killer. She has seen what dreaming can do to a person. And she has seen the damage that dreamers can do. But that is nothing compared to the destruction that is about to be unleashed. . . .

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I was super excited but also super nervous to read CALL DOWN THE HAWK! I knew I’d love it but I was also scared to read about new characters and have some focus away from the Gangsey. Thankfully I was able to jump in and start listening to the audiobook right away, super excited that Will Patton was back for the CALL DOWN THE HAWK audiobook too!

I’ll admit that it was a little different and maybe slightly difficult to adjust to the new character POVs in CALL DOWN THE HAWK. It wasn’t a bad thing but I’ve re-read The Raven Cycle so many times now that I got used to the different voices there, including those that weren’t the main characters. I had to re-learn how to adjust to a new character AND how to adapt to the new story line that she brought to this new series which again, wasn’t bad but different. I definitely enjoyed Hennessy and the concept of a new Dreamer with a different story very much!

What I really loved above all else was how this series continues in the same world but it’s its own series. It’s one thing I love about Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse and Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. Now Maggie has… the Dreamerverse? The Raven Cycle established this world, these characters, and this magical ability and CALL DOWN THE HAWK just expands upon this idea even more. Like many other great fantasy authors, Maggie Stiefvater continues to reveal history and backstory like it truly is history and was always there. The new things we find out about existing characters continue to astound me and fold in seamlessly to her existing canon. We get to know side characters like Declan Lynch, who become main characters and expand depths upon depths that we never knew existed. Who knew that curmudgeonly, blah, controlling Declan had so many reasons to be so and there was so much more to him than we realized? I adored getting to know more about him in this book which was quite the surprise!

Of course I loooooooved reading more about Ronan and it was even interesting to see more about Adam peripherally through his POV. I actually liked that this focused more on Ronan and the Dreamer side of the story over Adam’s POV and how he was involved in the Gangsey side of The Raven Cycle. The separation made this more of its own series too, allowing new characters to become the focus and take us into the story. Adam’s story wrapped up in THE RAVEN KING and we do see a new character arc come into play, but now that’s more to do with Adam discovering who he wants to be and what he wants to do with his life for the first time and doesn’t really have to do with the magical elements of Ronan’s life. He’s able to be there for Ronan as someone who knows and understands what he goes through but he also needs to lead his own life and write his own story. It makes it interesting to see all of that from Ronan’s perspective too.

There’s so much that happens in this book that I feel like I already forgot so much but it was so interesting. Like The Rave Cycle, I immediately just wanted to stop and re-read… but I forced myself not to. I will definitely do a re-read again next year (starting with THE RAVEN BOYS and finishing with CALL DOWN THE HAWK) and I can’t wait to read this book again knowing what I know. I feel like it’s been so long since I read a new book in this world (three years since THE RAVEN KING?!) and it’s so special to be able to read something new with super fresh eyes and I’m equally excited to read it again and pick up everything new that I missed the first time around. You know it’s a fantastic book when you already can’t wait for the subsequent re-reads.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Dreamerverse. Yeah, I made it up, but that’s what I’m gonna call it! I looooved being able to read a new book in this same world but also have it be something that felt like its very own.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection in the beginning. The thing about these books is that they’re perfectly laid out. It took me a while to adjust and connect in the beginning BUT when I re-read, I won’t have that problem. These books and series are just so perfect but for me at least, I have to be so fully immersed in the world that things are even better on the re-read than the first read. I wished I had been able to instantly connect more but I know I’ll be in so deep with the next book and the next read.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

You MUST read the original series first, in my opinion. If you want to read the series independently of one another…… I guess you COULD read CALL DOWN THE HAWK first but I really, really wouldn’t recommend that. But if you did love The Raven Cycle, you should absolutely read CALL DOWN THE HAWK and get sucked into this new series!

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BOOKS LIKE CALL DOWN THE HAWK

             

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet Evanovich

Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Twisted Twenty-Six (Stephanie Plum #26) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 12, 2019 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: November 18, 2019

Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1), Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25)

Stephanie Plum's career has taken more wrong turns than a student driver on the Jersey Turnpike, and her love life is a hopeless tangle. In order to save someone dear to her, she'll have to straighten things out in Twisted Twenty-Six the latest, novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Grandma Mazur is a widow...again. This time her marriage lasted a whole 45 minutes. The unlucky groom was one Jimmy Rosolli, local gangster, lothario (senior division) and heart attack waiting to happen...well, the waiting's over.

It's a sad day, but if she can't have Jimmy at least Grandma can have all the attention she wants as the dutiful widow. But some kinds of attention are not welcomed, particularly when Jimmy's former "business partners" are convinced that his widow is keeping the keys to their financial success for herself.

As someone who has spent an entire career finding bad guys, a set of missing keys should be no challenge for Stephanie Plum. Problem is, the facts are as twisted as a boardwalk pretzel with mustard.

bookreview1

Wow, it’s kind of crazy that I’ve read twenty-six Stephanie Plum books! There have been the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I’m really happy that we’re finally circling back around to “the good” again. For a long while there, the books were just getting too silly and over-the-top and they became really not enjoyable. TWISTED TWENTY-SIX went back to some Stephanie Plum roots, focusing more on the family with grandma hijinks and good old-fashioned Jersey mobster threats. (What weird thing to say but if you know the series, it all makes sense.)

One thing I really enjoyed about TWISTED TWENTY-SIX is that we got back to a little character development, which was great! For comedic/cozy mysteries, that’s not always a focus, especially is comedy is more of the goal, but after spending 26 books with Stephanie, it was really nice to see her trying to decide what she wants to do with her life. We’ve watched as she met Ranger, starting seeing Joe, and started working for Vinnie with the bail bonds office, all of which were pretty much supposed to be temporary. I liked that Stephanie questioned what she really wanted to do as a career because it’s been mentioned throughout the series that she doesn’t want to do bail bonds enforcement forever but she never really seriously put that question out there.

I also liked the question of what she wanted out of a romantic aspect in her life as well. We finally address the Morelli/Ranger situation a little bit more, acknowledging that Stephanie doesn’t want to get married (which is cool) but that she does kind of want to settle down and be monogamous and have a nice, happy life. I thought it was great to see a little bit more of Stephanie’s inner monologue when it comes to being an adult and making the big decisions because that really helps push the character side of the books forward, which was been stagnant and kind of boring for so long.

Plot-wise, I think I could have used a little bit more suspense or mystery. These audiobooks go quickly so the story kind of sweeps by but I wanted to be just a bit more engaged and maybe have had the mystery go a little deeper. There were a couple nice reveals at the end which I enjoyed.

These books are easy and fun and I’m so happy they’re starting to get back to their roots. I know I’d keep reading them but this one made me more excited to keep on trucking with the series as it continues!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Character development. This book really got me back into the characters! I’m so glad that we got to see a bit more personality from Stephanie again in this book and it makes me want to keep up my interest in these characters’ journeys.
Left Me Wanting More: Mystery. I could have done with just a tad more mystery to really keep me interested and engaged in this one.

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read the series and are looking for something fun and easy, they’re really light and fun! The middle of the series gets kind of wacky so bonus if you enjoy that kind of stuff and if you’re not into silly, then avoid it all together.

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BOOKS LIKE TWISTED TWENTY-SIX