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

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N 

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

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N 

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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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

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N 

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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Emotionally Captivating: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick [REVIEW]

18774013Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
First published by in January 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary

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Source: Library

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Today is Leonard Peacock’s birthday. It is also the day he hides a gun in his backpack. Because today is the day he will kill his former best friend, and then himself, with his grandfather’s P-38 pistol.

But first he must say good-bye to the four people who matter most to him: his Humphrey Bogart-obsessed next-door neighbor, Walt; his classmate, Baback, a violin virtuoso; Lauren, the Christian homeschooler he has a crush on; and Herr Silverman, who teaches the high school’s class on the Holocaust. Speaking to each in turn, Leonard slowly reveals his secrets as the hours tick by and the moment of truth approaches.


In this riveting look at a day in the life of a disturbed teenage boy, acclaimed author Matthew Quick unflinchingly examines the impossible choices that must be made—and the light in us all that never goes out.

 

You ever feel like you’re sending out a light but no one sees it?

First off, the name Leonard Peacock is amazing. Second, this book is amazing. I’ve wanted to read it ever since the first time I read the synopsis, and when I found it at the library I just had to bring it home.

I inhaled it in one sitting. Wow. This is exactly the kind of book I love to read. As someone who loves to read about dark, twisted, and dangerous people, especially teens, this was perfect for me. Poor, poor Leonard. Someone give him a hug and a good psychiatrist. The way he so desperately wanted to be saved broke my heart.

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Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor [REVIEW]

22363172Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
Series: Daugher of Smoke and Bone #2
First published by in November 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
Tags:
Young Adult, Fantasy
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N

Source: Purchased

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Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.


Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.


In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed
Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For
hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Read my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone here.  

What do I say about this book? It was good. It was amazing. It was emotional and funny and just as beautifully written as Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Goddamn it, Laini Taylor. This book is poetry. Every sentence is so wonderfully crafted and nothing feels forced to me. I mention this because I’m reading Shatter Me at the moment and the metaphors are killing me, they’re so forced and cheesy and a lot of the time don’t even mean anything. Ugh. 

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil held a wishbone between them.

And its snap split the world in two.”

See, that type of writing says something. It says something about the war and its effect. It’s visual and has an impact, you can hear the snap of the wishbone and the crackle of the earth when you read this. Or maybe that’s just me. But that’s why I love this writing so much.  

Moving on from the writing style, this book is quite different from the first one. What’s changed between these two installments is that the focus is no longer on the romance, even though the core of the story is  still very much about love and hope, that hasn’t changed. The forbidden love is strong in this one, and if that is your thing then this is most definitely the series for you. However, now Karou and Akiva are separated and heartbroken, working on opposites sides of the war. And the war gets brutal. 

In fact, the way this series is built up reminded me of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking. I’ve only read the first two in both series, but they’re similar in the sense that the first book is more narrowed in on one specific problem, as well as certain characters, then second book comes around and pans out, focusing on the larger war where the two main characters have been forced apart to the opposite sides. 

This book is darker and more intense than the first. There’s more action, more plot, and more war-related horrors. And the twists in this book are still as amazing as they were in the first one, I love me some good plot twists. I absolutely loved the final section of the book. 

The only reason this one gets half a star less than the first one is because it was a little bit slow in the beginning. We get a lot of new POVs in this book and it took a while to get into it. And I wasn’t always as interested in what Akiva and his siblings were getting up to, even if what they do is super important, I’m just more invested in the other characters. My favorite parts were definitely the parts in Marrakesh. I love Zuzana and Mik, they’re such relationship goals. Zuzana is just hilarious, her comment about Thiago: “Anyone who would wear all white like that clearly had issues” made me laugh. And I’m still emotional at the fact that a certain character appeared. ;_;

All in all, this series is fantastic. If you want good world-building and unique characters I couldn’t recommend this enough. 

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Have you read this book? Did you like it more or less than Daughter of Smoke and Bone? How does the last one compare? 

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Books that mess with your head: Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas [REVIEW]

17623143Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
First published by Simon Pulse in July 2013
Pages: 388

Tags:
Young Adult, Contemporary, Crime, Thriller
Buy: Amazon | Book DepositoryB&N
 
Rating:  photo five stars_zpsr2o5iiuv.png

Elise is dead.
And someone must pay.

Anna, her boyfriend Tate, best friend Elise and a group of close friends set off on a debaucherous Spring Break trip to Aruba. But paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Elise is brutally murdered.


Soon Anna finds herself trapped in a foreign country and fighting for her freedom. As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone is questioning her innocence. To the rest of the world, Anna isn’t just guilty, but dangerous. As the court case unfolds the truth is about to come out, and it’s more shocking than you could ever imagine…

“Do you love me?”
“You know I do.”
“How much?”
“Miles and Miles.”

WHODUNIT???

This is that kind of book. And it’s so good and so deliciously twisted. The trial seems real, the characters believable, and it will keep you turning pages until you find out if Anna will be freed and who actually killed Elise. 

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