Friday, August 17, 2018

Book Review: Girl at the Grave by Teri Bailey Black

Title: Girl at the Grave
Author: Teri Bailey Black
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 336
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Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother's legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.

I heard about this book through the amazing Kerri Maniscalco, as she posted about it a few times on her Instagram.  Now just thinking about it, this book would be perfect for fans of Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper series.  I was intrigued enough to request it on Netgalley, and was blessed enough to be granted the request.

One thing that really drew me to Girl at the Grave was the fact that it was a murder mystery.  If you got a chance to read my post yesterday, you'll know that I love to read mystery/thriller books during the fall time, so I knew this book was the perfect read for this time of the year.

When I first started this book, I knew it was going to be good by how fast I was going through it.  I even ended up trying to pace myself as I didn't want to finish it too quickly.  As I got further and further into this book, I knew there was no way to hold back and ended up finishing the last half on the way back home from my Ohio trip.

This book was gloriously atmospheric!  I love when a world just sucks you in, making you feel like you are sitting right there with the characters.  I could practically hear the wood crackling in the fireplace as Valentine cooked her cornbread over it.  I'm strangely fascinated with the late 1800s time period, which is possibly another reason as to why I adored it so much.

Normally I'm able to guess who did it in a mystery novel, but this one had me stumped until the last possible moment.  I never would have guessed what character was responsible.  It makes me like this book that much more for being so dang hard to crack.

I loved Valentine as a character.  Not only was she smart and strong, but she also had her flaws that didn't prevent her from being herself.  I found her very relatable because of this.

There was a little bit of a love triangle in this book as well.  I'm not the biggest fan of them, as they can be hard to pull off, but I feel like this was a good one.  There was a point to where I knew I would get mad if Valentine started to jerk them around, but was pleased that she figured everything out and let the men know how she truly felt about them.

Altogether, I really loved Girl at the Grave.  I'm definitely going to keep my eyes out for any more books that Terri Bailey Black releases, because her writing can only get better from here.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Reading with the seasons


I know that there is still a bit of summer left, but with my friends and coworkers talking about going back to school I feel like fall is right on my doorstep. Normally I am a bit mood reader, unless I have a review deadline. I like to pick up books depending on how I feel at that particular time.

Autumn has got to be my favorite season of all and I tend to get a ton of reading done during this season. In the past few years, I have noticed a bit of a change in my reading especially when this season is in full swing.

I love to read lots of quicker paced, action books during the fall for whatever reason. Books like Illuminae, Contagion, and This Is Our Story get me sitting on the edge of my seat craving more. I'm not sure if this stems from the fact that fall tends to be one of the shortest seasons and it makes me just want to read quick books because of that, or what, but either way it works for me.

I also like to dive into new fantasy worlds that I have not explored yet. A couple years ago I binged The Darkest Minds and Passenger during the fall. It was probably one of the best decisions ever!

As the seasons change again I want to see if I notice any other changes in my reading tastes. I'm not really sure how they'll change if at all as I can be a bit dense to my reading ways lol. I think it would be really interesting to be able to track my reading and see.



Does your reading change at all with the seasons?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest
Author: Holly Black
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
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Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

The Cruel Prince was my first Holly Black book. I'm not sure why I had avoided her until then, but I finally gave into the hype and, since I LOVED that book, I decided to give The Darkest Part of the Forest a try. I'd heard that all of her faerie books were in a shared universe and that this was one of her best, so I went in with high expectations.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a strange story about a brother and sister, Hazel and Ben, who live in a human town where faeries also exist. In the town is a coffin that has been there for decades and inside the coffin is a faerie prince. Hazel and Ben have been visiting the coffin for years and love the prince. Hazel and Ben were both interesting characters who I didn't feel particularly strongly for one way or the other. As I said, they're both in love with the prince and both go out of their way to help him once he's awake. I enjoyed their sibling relationship and the lengths they each went to in order to protect one another. Still, they each made selfish choices that made them seem much more relatable.

However... I did find it hard to connect with Hazel. While I could sympathize with the things she was feeling, I had a hard time understanding a lot of her actions. There's a type of female character that I really dislike - the ones who are such STRONG women that they actually just make really stupid, rash decisions to prove how strong they are. That's kind of how Hazel was. Her choices didn't make sense and a lot of them led to situations that could have easily been avoided with a little more thought.

One thing I really enjoyed in The Darkest Part of the Forest was (half of) the romance. At first it appeared that there would be multiple love triangles (yes, there is potential for two of them) but luckily that was fairly quickly sidestepped. The M/M romance was perfect. I'm not sure if I can say who the romance was between without spoilers?? Hazel's romance was a bit more lackluster.

And that's really the world to describe my feelings about this book as a whole: lackluster. The story was interesting and the atmosphere was a bit creepy, a lot like The Cruel Prince. Some of the characters were interesting and one of the two romances was really swoony, but the book overall didn't wow me like The Cruel Prince did. This book dragged to the point that the audiobook actually expired before I could finish listening to it and I had to wait until it was available again to hear the ending. Even when things did pick up, there wasn't any real urgency. It seemed as if the characters just strolled through the story.

The Darkest Part of the Forest was just an okay read for me. After The Cruel Prince I had extremely high expectations for Holly Black's other books and this one just didn't do it for me. While there were parts of it that were enjoyable, I didn't feel any excitement about it. Of course I'll be finishing the Folk of the Air series (I'm SO excited for The Wicked King!), but I'm not sure whether I'll be in any rush to read more of Holly Black's backlist.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #200: Blogging Buddies


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Book Blogging Buddies
Who've Been With Me For Years

Oh man, this kind of topic makes me feel so uncomfortable! What if I miss someone? So I'm going to apologize in advance if I've missed someone. I tried really hard not to. This is a list of the bloggers who've been with me since the beginning, or at least for a few years, through hiatus and slumps. I love all of you! 

Amber @ Du Livre
Greg @ Book Haven
Jessica @ A Great Read


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Weekly Recap: 8/5 - 8/11


TRACY'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone! This week ways pretty low key, which was nice after being so busy the week before! I ran my first 10k this week, which was crazy, but I lived through it! I also visited a local art museum for the first time. It was small, but nice! Lots of places to sit around and do nothing if you're so inclined. There was another public library sharing the art museum's parking lot and I had high hopes that it might be nicer than the others in the area, but alas... I did make a couple of amazing trades this week! I was able to get Lady's Guide and the Goldsboro edition of Spinning Silver! Speaking of Spinning Silver, I'm slowly making my way through it. I'm always surprised by how much longer it takes me to read adult vs YA fantasy, but I'm making up reading challenge progress with lots of audiobooks!


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

 


THIS WEEK I READ

  



CHELCIE'S HAPPENINGS OFF THE BLOG

Hi everyone!  This has been a really great week!  I was finally able to complete my Erin Bowman collection with the addition of the Taken and Forged ARCs!  It makes me ridiculously happy as she’s one of my favorite authors of all time. I also was able to go hang out with my family and boyfriend at the Canandaigua Steam Show(It’s a tractor show with a bunch of older steam engines all the way to newer tractors and pieces of farm equipment). And now I’m currently in Ohio having just saw some amazing drag racing cars the previous night. Those cars were so loud you could feel the vibrations in your bones!  At the track I was also able to get a pound of ice cream for a $1!!  $1!!!  I really don’t care if I just gained ten pounds. lol.


NEW BOOKS THIS WEEK

  


THIS WEEK I READ

 



IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Monday ARC review of The Glass Butterfly
The topic was books that could coexist for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday mini reviews of Long Lankin, Without Merit, & City of the Lost
On Thursday Chelcie talked about reading multiple books at once
Friday book review of Leah On the Offbeat


UPCOMING REVIEWS

 


We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Friday, August 10, 2018

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Title: Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2) 
Author: Becky Albertalli 
Publication Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 343
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Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Back about a month or so ago I had the chance to read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and really liked it.  The humor that Becky weaved into that book made me want to read absolutely everything that she has ever written.  When I heard that this book was coming out I knew I just had to get and read it!  I also got to hear her talk more about this book at Epic Reads day which made me want to read it even more!

I tried to read Leah on the Offbeat a bit slower and try to take it in, but I ended up finishing it in two days as I wanted more yet didn't get it.  Don't get me wrong, there were some fantastic bits to this book, it just didn't live up to its predecessor.

The humor was fantastic yet again!  I really need to start taking lessons from Becky so I can add some humor like hers into my writing.  I often found myself laughing out loud, in the weirdest of places, because this book had parts that were just that funny. Leah has the best sense of humor ever.  Such a typical Slytherin!

I also loved that we got to see all the characters from the first book as well.  Simon is the cutest little cinnamon roll ever!  He will forever be one of my favorite characters ever.  This book also had so much diversity, which is really nice to see now-a-days.

One of the things I really didn't care for was the fact that the plot line was everywhere.  It went from one character doing something that affected Leah, to Leah complaining about her life, and then she would hurt somebody or make somebody mad, and the cycle would start again.  It got a bit redundant and predictable.

I couldn't stand how Leah treated some of the characters in this book.  There were times that she genuinely was nice, but other times she would bite their head off for what seemed like no apparent reason.  She also could have given her mom and her new boyfriend a chance.  They really tried to be nice to her and she was downright nasty back.  On top of that, I hated that she dragged Garrett around and toyed with his feelings.  It made me want to reach through my book and beat some sense into her.

I also felt absolutely nothing when it came to this romance.  There was very little build up at all and then it's over.  It was almost nonexistent for a large majority of this book.  To me it felt like she didn't know what to write at the end and was like, crap, I didn't do the romance yet, *writes it in*.

Plus, there are so many loose ends in this book.  I have been left with so many questions that I really want answers for.  I won't get into too many details as I don't want to prevent spoiling any of y'all, but it's a bit ridiculous.  I need answers!  It frustrates the crud out of me when a book leaves me with way more questions than answers.

With that said, I still did kind of like Leah On the Offbeat, but it really just wasn't my cup of tea.  I do wish that it could have been done a bit better.  Even with my dislike of this book I won't just give up on Becky's writing just yet.