Reread status: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

So re-read posts will be quick and relatively pointless, but hey! I read a whole book! That’s something, right?

Also, I never reviewed this book last year because, well, this blog didn’t exist. So here’s a mini review.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

  • Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
  • Publisher: Speak (paperback), Dial Books (hardcover)
  • Year: 2013
  • Shelved in: Teen Fantasy and Adventure, oddly enough
  • Genre vibe: Atmospheric horror, romance, supernatural
  • At a glance: A fantastic and mysterious liar of a boy shows up on Violet White’s doorstep to rent her guesthouse. He is very much a liar and very much in possession of a strange magical power. Scary things proceed to happen.
  • Rating: 5/5 stars and then some
  • Recommended to: Fans of thick atmosphere, dangerous romance, strange and scary happenings and delicious writing. I’d even say if you like Southern Gothic you’d probably like this, as it’s got some hints of that, too.
  • Lasting impression: Olive oil, espresso, and the dusty smell of sitting with someone you might love in the attic during a thunderstorm.

I love this book to pieces. It’s one of the only books I read last year that scared me. (that showdown, man.) Its sequel Between the Spark and the Burn is just as good. I’ll probably read it even more than twice.

I love it so much I made a playlist and really, that’s the whole point of this post.

(Listen [here])

Book Review: Jackaby

So my beautiful friend Mariesa over at 2 AM sent me this book for Christmas. What can I say? I was overjoyed. BOOKS.

I’m going to note before we start that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I really loved it. There were just things that I didn’t like and I happen to actually be able to form words about them for once. So don’t go getting the wrong impression when it comes to questions and comments.

886c66d4bea051a2df28419ddc64c973

Jackaby

 

  • Author: William Ritter
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
  • Year: 2014
  • Shelved in: Teen Fiction
  • Genre vibe: Historical fiction, alternate reality, paranormal
  • At a glance: Hmm…Jackaby is Not Sherlock, but he is, and he can see ghouls and fae folk and the other world for what it really is. Miss Rook becomes his assistant by accident. Something is killing people, and Jackaby is certain it’s not a person. Adventure ensues.

The Good Stuff

 Atmosphere! I’m not usually a huge fan of anything historical that doesn’t have to do with the 20’s, the Revolutionary period, or that has a major this-isn’t-historical-fiction-I-promise vibe, but I liked this. I think I actually ended up liking it because it felt so historical, when everything else was not. Which leads me to my favorite part:

The magic.

The magic. Basically, from the vibe I got, if it’s a magical/supernatural creature of any kind, it exists, and Jackaby can see it. A lot of times systems like this can feel kind of cluttered with an over abundance of Magical Beings from too many different places. But not this time. The main focus was on a small enough amount, and there were just enough hints about others that I got a feel for the scope of it without being overwhelmed. And that was just really cool.

Also, my favorite thing ever exists in this book. My favorite thing ever is benevolent ghosts. There is one. Her name is Jenny. She’s my favorite character and I love her to death. (ha. ha ha. ha.)

Another thing I liked was the simplicity of it. It was, basically, an eccentric detective story. Which I…don’t really like. At least, not with the nostalgic feeling a lot of people do. But it was such a prominent aspect of the story, and it was done really well, and I enjoyed it well enough.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Question: It’s a series. Why?

No, no, I get it, I do, but…I’m not sure if I’ll continue reading or not. It was a lovely ending, promising adventures to come, and I might prefer to leave it that way. I like knowing that the adventures happened without having to…go on them, sometimes.

My comments mainly have to do with the writing. I think I skipped just about every single description in the entire book, because there were just so many of them for so long every time Miss Rook saw something of note. It was distracting and those always kind of hurt my brain because I see them and think “Oh, no, I have to force myself to picture something now. For more than a paragraph, too. Oh my.”

Not generally a great thing to think while you’re supposed to be asking questions that keep you reading.

Other than it was just a little less than exciting. Which is probably my “I really like poetic surreal prose” preference talking, but still. It wasn’t anything to praise. I like being able to praise writing style.

(Though I will say the dialogue was spot on, if a little too reminiscent of Doctor Who for me)

As for concerns…Miss Rook, I don’t even remember your name. I don’t remember where you came from, or your backstory. I remember your unnecessary and quite near-sighted comments about girls being just as good as boys, and I remember some of your more clever quips…and how you never, ever got emotional over anything Mr. Jackaby said to you except for when you both thought you were dying.

I don’t. I don’t remember her name. She was the picture of a character who tried too hard. Her feminist existence made me cringe a lot, and though I know we needed someone else’s eyes to see Jackaby through, I wish they weren’t hers. She was flat as the page she was written on and I think she’s probably the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this book as much at face value as I could have without her.

I really didn’t like her. But at least, I think, it’s that I felt some emotion for her rather than not caring about her at all. If I have to ask a character “who are you?” then I have a really hard time reading. But if it’s “what are you doing here?” things are a little more bearable.

And, in the end, I felt for Jackaby. I really did.

So.

Overall

  • Rating: 3/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Fans of a good old eccentric detective story, fans of a really neat magic system
  • Lasting impression: And oh how sad his eyes must look sometimes. How much he must have to hide.

The Lost Sun

Happy 2015, readers.

This Christmas, while browsing the signed books table at my local Barnes & Noble, I discovered Tessa Gratton. Really, I have known about her for almost as long as I’ve known about Maggie Stiefvater, since they are critique partners and friends. But never had I actually read any of her work. And so I received a signed paperback of The Lost Sun and quickly fell in love. Gratton, Stiefvater and Yovanoff have all now stolen my heart. It happens.

1e925efe4c5437598f2b1aeafecda658

The Lost Sun

US of Asgard

The Lost Sun

  • Author: Tessa Gratton
  • Publisher: Ember
  • Year: 2013
  • Shelved in: Teen Fantasy and Adventure
  • Genre vibe: Mythological fantasy, Adventure, coming of age, and a good old roadtrip story, believe it or not.
  • At a glance: Soren is a berserker. He doesn’t want to be. Astrid is a seer of sorts. The A in USA stands for Asgard. Baldur has gone missing. Adventure ensues.

The Good Stuff

I’m kind of in love with this book. I admit I was worried for a little while; things seemed from the synopsis like they could get a little too political or dystopian for my taste. But I was so pleasantly surprised it’s hard to even get across how pleasant the surprise was. I got a roadtrip adventure coming of age story featuring one of my favorite character types and probably one of the best relationships I’ll read all year.

And, you know, a heartbreaking bittersweet ending and a really cool world. Just in case all that wasn’t enough.

In addition, Gratton’s prose is stunning. It carries some of the same elemental qualities of Stiefvater and Yovanoff, kind of tempered with a little bit more of a  myth-like, storytelling vibe. Which is incredible, considering that the setting kind of calls for that.

I’m just kind of in love all around. It’s such a great book and I can’t believe I didn’t pay attention to it sooner. It carries the comforting quality of a roadtrip novel, and the familiarity of a coming of age story, all packed around with adventure, romance, sword fighting, and Norse gods.

I feel like I should be able to go on forever about this book, but I’d just be saying the same things over and over again for the most part. But it really is that good. I finished it a few days ago and I find myself loving it even more as time goes on.

Questions, Comments, Concerns?

Uh. . .

Nope.

When can I get to the bookstore for the next book?

Overall

  • Rating: 5/5 stars
  • Recommended to: Most people. You like really good romance? This book. Like things inspired by mythology? This book. Like roadtrip stories? This book. Like adventure? Like duels? Like heroes and gods? This. Book.
  • Lasting impression: Steadfast bravery, shoulders straight under a heavy burden, and the kind of loyalty forged between those going through something. Together.

2014: A year in [book] review

So 2014 was one heck of a year.

I read a lot of books.

They try to take over my room now, not just my life. They defy the concept of fitting on my shelf and I can do nothing but find other places to stack them.

photo(86)

Imagine having to keep my Currently Reading on my desk, of all places, and my TBR on the windowsill…

In addition, I kept a running log of everything I read this year on a piece of paper taped to my wall. That was probably the best New Years Resolution type-thing I’ve ever done.

But aside from the slow takeover of my living quarters, I read some great stuff this year. See, look…

(if you’re not interested in all of them (there’s a decent amount) then skip to the bottom where my favorites/least favorites are. Ok?)

January

January consisted of a REALLY good sci-fi romance, a not-so-good what I thought was supposed to be a thriller, amazing re-reads, and that one incredible Christie novel.

These Broken Stars — Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

The Dream Thieves — Maggie Stiefvater (fourth re-read)

The Raven Boys — Maggie Stiefvater (eleventh re-read)

And Then There Were None — Agatha Christie

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown — Holly Black (second re-read)

The Vanishing Game — Kate Kae Myers

The Dream Thieves (fifth re-read)

February

The annual re-read-all-my-favorite-romances month. In addition, my library did the Blind Date with a Book thing and I was ridiculously pleased.

White Cat — Holly Black (third re-read)

Red Glove — Holly Black (third re-read)

Honk if you Hate Me — Deborah Halverson

The Cupcake Queen — Heather Hepler (second re-read)

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight — Jennifer E. Smith

This is What Happy Looks Like — Jennifer E. Smith

Runemarks — Joanne Harris (second re-read) (also not a romance? apparently I was in the mood for some good Norse Myths at some point.)

The Raven Boys (twelfth re-read)

March

Held many wonders, like new favorites, a bit of a let down, and a lovely re-read marathon of one of my favorite trilogies.

Endless Night — Agatha Christie

The Screaming Staircase — Jonathan Stroud

The Maze Runner — James Dashner (unfinished)

Divergent — Veronica Roth (second re-read)

Insurgent — Veronica Roth (second re-read)

Allegiant — Veronica Roth (second re-read)

Divergent (third re-read) (So maybe I pulled an all-nighter. Maybe.)

April

Was FULL OF BOOKS. So many books.

Divergent (fourth re-read, alongside my best friend)

The Splendor Falls — Rosemary Clement-moore (so gosh darn good)

Insurgent (third re-read, alongside my best friend)

Shadow and Bone — Leigh Bardugo

Allegiant (third re-read, alongside my best friend)

Dizzy in your Eyes: Poems about Love — Pat Mora (weird)

Hurricane Dancers: The First Carribean Shipwreck — Margarita Engle

Siege and Storm — Leigh Bardugo

The Screaming Staircase (second re-read)

Incarceron — Catherine Fisher (second re-read)

Sapphique — Catherine Fisher

You Are Here — Jennifer E. Smith The Dream Thieves (sixth re-read)Siege and Storm (second re-read) (yes it’s that good)

Half Bad — Sally Green

May

Was slightly less productive in numbers, but man was this stuff good.

Girl of Nightmares — Kendare Blake

Sea of Shadows — Kelley Armstrong

The Geography of You and Me — Jennifer E. Smith

Grave Mercy — Robin LaFevers

The Raven Boys (thirteenth re-read)

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown (third re-read)

June

Was…nothing spectacular.

Divergent (fifth re-read)Shadow and Bone (second re-read)

Siege and Storm (third re-read)

Ruin and Rising — Leigh Bardugo

July

However, picked up a bit.

Sinner — Maggie Stiefvater

Four: A Divergent Story Collection — Veronica Roth

Linger — Maggie Stiefvater

Forever — Maggie Stiefvater

Tithe — Holly Black

The Great Gatsby — F. Scott Fitzgerald

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea — April Geneveive Tucholke

August

Wasn’t bad either.

Sinner (second re-read)

Black Heart — Holly Black (third re-read)

The Dream Thieves (seventh re-read)

Infinite Sky — C. J. Flood

Ironside — Holly Black

She is Not Invisible — Marcus Sedgwick

If I Stay — Gayle Forman

September

Brought new releases and…old things.

The Whispering Skull — Jonathan Stroud

The Screaming Staircase (third re-read)

Between the Spark and the Burn — April Geneveive Tucholke

Animal Farm — George Orwell Ruin and Rising (second re-read)

The Secret Side of Empty — Maria E. Andreu

October

Brought me home.

Sabriel — Garth Nix The Raven Boys (fifteenth re-read)

The Vanishing Season — Jodi Lynn Anderson (NOT to be confused with Vanishing Game from way back in January. Ever.)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue — Maggie Stiefvater

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (second re-read)

November

Was…a little of everything, and the month in which this blog started.

The Scorpio Races — Maggie Stiefvater (second re-read)

Half Bad (second re-read)

War of the Worlds — H. G. Wells [x]

I am the Messenger — Markus Zusak [x]

Belzhar — Meg Wolitzer [x]

We Were Liars — E. Lockhart [x]

And a novel by a friend.

December

Was a little underwhelming, but not bad in the end.

Beware the Wild — Natalie C. Parker[x]

Fiendish — Brenna Yovanoff [x]

Keturah and Lord Death — Martine Leavitt [x]

Half Lies — Sally Green [x]

And so…there’s the year in eighty-three books.

The Best Stand-alones

Honk if you Hate Me (new favorite)

All of Jennifer E. Smith’s works

The Splendor Falls (seriously I cannot even)

Sinner (Cole St. Clair is life)

Infinite Sky (this book is a dream)

The Vanishing Season (inspired me enough to kill my writer’s block, believe it or not)

I am the Messenger (my heart. I can’t.)

Keturah and Lord Death (another new favorite)

Fiendish (!!!!!!)

Best Series

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea/Between the Spark and the Burn were the best “series” that I read this year, I think.

Biggest Letdown

Ruin and Rising, if I’m being real, here. It’s easier for me to walk away from a thing like We Were Liars and say “it could have been better” than it is for me to look at the conclusion of the Grisha Trilogy and say the same. I’m not very torn over Liars. It had lots of good points to it. So did Ruin and RIsing, but the overall conclusion just…Upsets me. I’m still upset about how that book ended.

Best Overall

Blue Lily, obviously. Though the Lockwood and Co. books run a very, very close second.

Biggest Recommendation

Either Vanishing Season or the Lockwood books, followed closely by Sinner and Keturah depending on who I’m recommending to.

Well, that’s that I suppose.

Here’s to a new year, and even more beautiful books.

-l.