Atmospheric and haunting: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson [REVIEW]

we-have-alwaysWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
First published in 1962
Tags: Adult, Classics, Gothic, Horror

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Source: Purchased

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Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

First off I just have to say how much I love this particular edition of the book. The cover is beautiful and creepy, and the edges of the pages are frayed so they look old and worn. Gorgeous. My original plan with this had been to get it on my kindle, but I was powerless to resist it when I saw it in a bookstore. RIP wallet. 

Second, this is such an atmospheric book. It’s beautiful and gothic, but don’t be mistaken, this book (probably) won’t scare you, it’s not that kind of horror book. The horror is subtle and psychological, you won’t find anything supernatural here. If you go into it expecting that then you might be disappointed. It left me with a haunting feeling. 

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I’m not crying, you’re crying: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt [ARC Review]

orbiting jupiter reviewOrbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
Published on December 31 2015
Tags: Contemporary, Middle Grade, Young Adult

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Source: ARC  (NetGalley)

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A heartbreaking story, narrated by twelve-year-old Jack, whose family is caring for fourteen-year-old Joseph. Joseph is misunderstood. He was incarcerated for trying to kill a teacher. Or so the rumours say. But Jack and his family see something others in town don’t want to.

What’s more, Joseph has a daughter he’s never seen. The two boys go on a journey through the bitter Maine winter to help Joseph find his baby – no matter the cost.

I received a free ARC ebook copy from Penguin Random House UK via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I was so happy to find this NetGalley even though it was published over a year ago, as it’s been on my TBR for quite some time now. I had wanted to read this book because I kept seeing reviews that talked about how it made them ugly cry and it intrigued me. 

I WAS STILL NOT PREPARED.

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Good, but not memorable: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab [Review]

23299512This Savage Song by Victoria (V.E.) Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
First published in June 2016 by Greenwillow Books
Tags: Young AdultFantasy

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Source: Purchased

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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.


Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

I don’t know how long this review will be, because I honestly don’t have that much to say. I have a very on-again-off-again relationship with V.E. Schwab. I gave Vicious a glowing 5 star review, it’s one of my all-time favorites and everyone should read it, but A Darker Shade of Magic bored me to tears. 

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There’s no other book like it: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater [Review]

15743650The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
First published in September 2012 by Scholastic Press
Tags: Young AdultFantasy

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Source: Purchased

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“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.


Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.


His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.


But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.


For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the
Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

I’ve gushed about this book a lot on this blog already, but it deserves a proper review as well so I’ll try to do this coherently. 

I’ve always been skeptical to this series, despite knowing how many people love it. First off, the covers look cheesy and the synopsis on the back of the book is even cheesier. The tagline needs to go. Combined, it all makes the book sound like your regular, dramatic YA romance. “Female character can’t kiss her true love or he will die.” Yawn. Well, THAT’S NOT EVEN WHAT THIS BOOK IS ABOUT. Even the synopsis from Goodreads focuses mostly on that, and it doesn’t do the book justice at all. At most, the true love’s death kiss is more on an overarching mystery that always looms in the background. Who is Blue’s true love? Is it actually Gansey? We’ve already seen he will (probably??) die, as Blue saw him as a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve, but how will he die? Why? 

Before reading the book I thought Blue was like Juliette in Shatter Me, that there was something physical about her that made her kiss lethal, but it’s not like that. Thank god. It’s not a power/curse she has. I think this is important to point out, because it’s way less cheesy this way. 

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Satire at its best: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray [REVIEW]

9464733Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
First published by in May 2011 by Scholasic Press
Tags: Young Adult, Dystopia, Satire

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Source: Purchased

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The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program–or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan–or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?


Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of
A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

I’ve said before that this book isn’t going to be easy to review without it turning into a fully fledged essay on feminism, satire, and dystopian societies. I’ve literally had this review in my drafts for months because I have no idea how to write it. I’ll just have to try to convey to you how good I think this is in a semi-eloquent manner.

If you’ve read the synopsis, it should be quite clear that this book is satire. And it’s really good satire. It looks critically at the beauty industry, sexism, racism, and overall it criticizes society’s treatment of women, young girls in particular. It also satirizes reality TV, consumer culture, and politics. For example, in the book we find out how this one key ingredient used in cosmetic products is also a powerful explosive.

Not only is the whole book spot-on, it’s hilarious and incredibly important.

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