Halloween Reads

Happy Halloween! Did you gift someone a scary book in honor of All Hallow’s Read? I didn’t (maybe next year), but I thought I’d celebrate Halloween by recommending some scary/creepy/atmospheric Halloween reads to you! The links take you to GoodReads.

Classics

Great horror classics that rely more on atmosphere than cheap scares or disturbing imagery.
Frankenstein The Haunting of Hill House
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Children/Middle-grade

The imagery in these books will capture the imagination of children and adults alike. Yes, they are both by Gaiman, so sue me.
Coraline The Graveyard Book
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Modern horror

Kiernan’s second book, Threshold, could be argued to be more dark fantasy than horror, and the prose in it might not be for everyone, but I loved it. Heart-Shaped Box is the purest horror novel on this list – it’s more disturbing, and will scare you.
Threshold Heart-Shaped Box
Threshold by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Hope you like these recommendations, and have a creepy Halloween!

Current Reads: Divergent

How are you guys doing? I’m a bit in between books right now, can’t seem to be able to decide what I want to read…

This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All the cover images take you to GoodReads.

I am currently reading

Divergent
Divergent

(Divergent #1)
By: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA dystopian
From: My bookshelf

In a divided society where everyone must conform, sixteen-year-old Tris does not fit. She is forced to choose and devote the rest of her life to one of the five factions. Where does she belong?

So, the final book of this series, Allegiant, just came out yesterday, and I’m only starting book one. This has been sitting forever on my shelf, and I had it on my most intimidating books list back in July. The book is just so popular, and there’s so much hype around it, that I was afraid to pick it up and perhaps be disappointed.

Like I said, I have just started, and so far so good. There are things about the world that bother me, though. Like, you divide people into five factions that don’t even meet each other that much, and sometimes even disdain one another, and expect that to stop wars? Wait, wha-huh? 16-year-olds are supposed to choose their factions, but then their old factions/family feel betrayed by them if they choose something else than what they were born into. Yeah, very peaceful. Also, some of the ways the people are expected to behave within a certain faction are very stupid, or just don’t make a lot of sense. Yeah, I see that the society isn’t even supposed to be awesome and perfect, that’s why it’s a dystopia, but I fail to see how the original idea for this society even got started. Who had this awesome idea “to stop war”? This is like Harry Potter’s school houses, yo, that stuff doesn’t actually disencourage competition.

With all that said about the world, I try not to think about it, and focus on the story and the characters. I like the characters for the most part, and I find the book very easy to read. There are some whiffs of an Ender’s Game kind of situation thrown in (smallest of the bunch must learn to ruthlessly defend him/herself, and wonders if he/she can be a good person), I’m interested in how that will play out. This could be an exciting tale of adventure, if I just give it a chance and try to accept the world building… I’ll try to do that!

Last week I finished

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I visited family last week, picked this book up from my sister’s shelves and read it in a couple of nights (and I mean, in the middle of the night when everyone else was sleeping). I’d only read one book from Green before, and none from Leviathan, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. It turned out to bes just what I needed; a quick, engaging read that just swept me along.

September Wrap-Up (2013)

Last month I read a couple of hyped up YA novels, but wasn’t blown away by them. I’m also beginning to wonder if I rate too many books 3 stars, and am too stingy with my fives.

My favorite post of the month

My Most Anticipated SF&F TV Series This Fall

I use the following light grading system based on the GoodReads one:

1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories.


Classic of the Month

Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park

By: Jane Austen
First published in 1814
My copy: Project Gutenberg free e-book

The daughter of a poor family moves into the house of her rich aunt and uncle.

This turned out to be my least favorite Austen novel. While it’s not bad – the language is as good as ever, it was easy to read through – the main character does remain somewhat distant from the reader, and the theme isn’t as clear as in some of her other books. During the first 50% of Mansfield Park, the story was told from the points of view of almost all the other characters than the heroine. After that, it switched to be told more from inside the heroine’s head, and also became more interesting. I wouldn’t recommend this for a first time Austen reader, but it was worth a read. 3/5

Further thoughts can be read from my discussion posts, which do contain spoilers.
Mansfield Park Read Along – Discussion, Pt. 1
Mansfield Park Read Along – Discussion, Pt. 2
The third and final part isn’t posted yet.


Fantasy Books

The Drowning Girl
Best of the Month sticker
The Drowning Girl
By: Caitlín R. Kiernan
First published in 2012
Genre: Dark fantasy / Weird fiction / Gothic horror
My copy: From the library

A schizophrenic woman tries to uncover the truth from her memories of meetings with mythical creatures, or perhaps with something else entirely.

Kiernan’s haunting, mesmerizing prose captured me again! The prose is far smoother and polished than in the early works by her that I’ve read. While I loved reading the book, I had to take pauses ’cause the narration took a lot out of me. The protagonist, Imp, is an unreliable narrator, a schizophrenic trying to dig the truth out from her own memories. The narrative is nonlinear, as Imp tells her story in in the way that she feels able to handle, skipping over some harder parts in order to return to them again later.

Who is the drowning girl of the title? There are multiple candidates – there’s Imp herself, the siren she met by the side of the road, the girl in an old painting – or is the drowning girl someone else entirely? So combine an unreliable narrator and a non-chronological timeline, and you’re left with the feeling that you don’t quite know what is real and what is not. Slowly the plot opens up to you, and you can start to put together the pieces of what actually happened. If you liked Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, you might enjoy the haunting atmosphere of this book. I almost slapped a five star rating on this, but I think the book was hard to embrace completely due to its challenging nature. 4/5

Poison StudyPoison Study
(Study #1)
By: Maria V. Snyder
First published in 2004
Genre: YA High Fantasy
My copy: From the library

A woman facing execution is given the chance of becoming the food taster for the ruler of the realm.

Poison Study was an enjoyable, if not very original, high fantasy novel. I found the characters likable, and the relationships were fun to follow. My favorite character was the multilayered and loyal Valek, but I also enjoyed Yelena’s camaraderie with Ari and Yanco. Perhaps because the protagonist’s name was Yelena, I started to imagine the setting as a sort of fantasy Russia with the neighboring people being Mongols, but as I read on I realized that it was off the mark… The neighboring country was clearly warmer than that!

Poison Study was a good read, but I’ve just seen this all before. For young adults who haven’t read that many fantasy books before, this will undoubtedly work much better, and I understand the fascination. The writing was mostly well done, but as this was Snyder’s debut novel, there were some places where she slips up and delivers clunky or clichéd language. Enjoyable, but not amazing. I most likely won’t be continuing with the series. 3/5

Legend
Legend

(Legend #1)
By: Marie Lu
First published in 2011
Genre: YA Dystopian SF
My copy: From the library

A young prodigy working for the government faces off with the government’s most wanted young criminal.

A normal dystopian YA adventure, nothing that new under the sun. This is quite a quick read with lots of action, so I can understand how it grips people. I just don’t quite get the amount of hype this has received. At the beginning I was intrigued, but I lost interest towards the end.

There were some mistakes in the book that the editor hadn’t caught, like a part where an officer’s buttons changed from gold to silver in the span of 10 pages. It wouldn’t have bothered me so much if the readers weren’t supposed to realize it was the same character from the description of the uniform…

One thing I really don’t get: why is Les Misérables mentioned in connection with the book? It really isn’t like Les Miserables at all… I mean, I know that the author got the idea while watching the movie version of Les Mis, but people get inspiration from many places that aren’t mentioned in the covers of their books. There just wasn’t that strong a connection with the story to warrant the cover mention, in my opinion.

Now, I realize that this review might make it sound like I didn’t enjoy the book at all, but I was entertained while reading, just not that invested in it. I won’t be reading the next book, this series just isn’t for me. 2/5


Graphic novels

Chew Omnivore Vol.3Chew: The Omnivore Edition, Vol. 3
(collects issues #21-30, trade paperbacks #5-6)
By: John Layman & Rob Guillory
First published in 2013
Genre: Special agent drama-comedy
My copy: From the library

This third Chew omnibus shifts the focus a bit from the Cibopathic (gets psychic impressions from what he eats) agent Tony Chu to the other characters.

This volume of Chew suffered a bit from being “all over the place”, with more focus divided between different characters. I do love all the characters (especially enjoyed Caesar in this one, and Olive is becoming very interesting), but there just weren’t that many new insights into the main plot. I really missed Tony, who was a bit sidelined here. I’m also not quite sure what to think about what the writer did to one of the characters – I think what happens next will decide how I’ll feel about it. In a side note, while I love Poyo, the badass fighting rooster, he suffered from a bit of inflation in this volume – I think there was too much of him, which took away a bit of the shine of this oddball character.

Overall I enjoyed the volume, but it was definitely weaker than the previous installments. 2.5/5

Marceline and the Scream Queens
Adventure Time: Marceline and The Scream Queens

By: Meredith Gran
First published in 2012
My copy: My bookshelf

Princess Bubblegum joins Marceline’s band on their tour.

This fun romp through the land of Ooo was a gift from my sister. The story and art was charming! I enjoyed the focus on the female characters – Princess Bubblegum is definitely one of my favorites from the show, and I do like Marceline, too. Meredith Gran did a great job capturing the look of the series. The little side stories by guest authors were also funny. Pretty math! 3/5

September Book Haul (2013)

Last month I only bought comics, and one preorder book arrived. Other books were free Kindle classics or books from the library. I’m trying to curb my book buying, and focus on the ones on my shelves!

Bought Books/Gifts

September Book Haul 1
Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens by Meredith Gran
Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Gore – Honour and Brains by Miisa Lopperi

I visited the Helsinki Comics Festival in September, and bought two comic books. I’d been hearing very good things about Saga, and Gore was an interesting-looking self-published fantasy comic from a Finnish artist. It turned out to be well-drawn and a lot of fun, with solid characterization. I haven’t read Saga yet. My sister brought me the Adventure Time comic from her visit to London.

Borrowed Books

September Book Haul 3
Eternally Yours (Immortal Beloved #3) by Cate Tiernan
The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike #1) by Robert Galbraith
The Fractal Prince (Jean le Flambeur #2) by Hannu Rajaniemi

My friend lent me her copy of the final volume in the Immortal Beloved series. I really liked the second book, so I hope I enjoy this one, as well! The other books are from the library, a crime novel from J.K. Rowling writing under a pen name, and hard science fiction from a Finnish author.

Free E-books

September Book Haul2
Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by by Charles Dickens
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft The four books pictured above were free ebooks from Amazon. Gehrman’s book was free as a special deal, and the rest are free classics. I also downloaded The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft (all of his works are public domain) from Cthulhu Chick’s web site. She’s done so much work compiling the book by herself, it’s amazing!

 

This haul is linked at the weekly haul memes Stacking the Shelves, hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, and Showcase Sunday, hosted by Books, Biscuits, and Tea.

A Sentence from Soulless

This post is linked at “The Friday 56”, a weekly book meme hosted by Freda’s Voice.

I found this fun little meme from The Master List of Book Blogging Memes over at Tanya Patrice’s site. It sounded like a great way to promote some of my favourite books!

The rules are as follows:
Grab a book, any book, turn to page 56 (or 56% in your eReader) and post a sentence that grabs you. Add your post to the link list over at Freda’s Voice.

Soulless
From: Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger – a fun, supernatural steampunk romp set in Victorian London

La, darling,” he always said, “a vampire, like a lady, never reveals his true age.”

– Lord Akeldama, one of my favourite vampires

Current Reads: The Cuckoo’s Calling

currentreads_cuckooscalling
This post is linked at “WWW Wednesdays”, a weekly reading meme hosted by Should Be Reading. All the cover images take you to GoodReads.

Some News

Alison from Hardcovers and Heroines is having a birthday giveaway! Visit the link and comment on her birthday post in order to take part in the giveaway for a 26 dollar Amazon gift certificate, in honor of her 26th birthday! The giveaway runs until the 26th of October. Happy birthday, Alison!

I am currently reading

The Cuckoo's Calling
The Cuckoo’s calling

By: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
Genre: Crime/Mystery
From: The library

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

My reserved copy of Joanne Rowling’s (writing under a pseudonym) new crime novel arrived at the library, and I’m about 150 pages in. So far it is immensely readable. It seems like it will be a decent mystery novel, but only time will tell if I’ll fall in love with the story or the characters.

There was a little pause in my reading right after the beginning, and when I continued I realized that it had been a mistake – I had forgotten how important it is to keep the different characters and events fresh in your mind when reading a mystery! Now I’m back on the map, and have learned my lesson. I should finish the book this week.

Great Expectations
Great Expectations

By: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic literature
From: My Kindle

I have never read a Dickens novel before! For some reason I just haven’t been that interested. I recently saw the 2012 BBC movie adaptation Great Expectations, though, and liked the plot so much that I had to start reading the book immediately afterwards. I am taking it slow, and reading it on the side, as with all my classic reads.

Last week I finished

Mansfield Park Legend
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Legend by Marie Lu

What might be next

Eternally Yours The Fractal Prince The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
I just recently borrowed a copy of Eternally Yours by Cate Tiernan from a friend. I also have The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi from the library, and Holly Black’s newest novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, is staring at me from my shelf. It could be any one of these next!

What are you reading? Are you looking forward to Halloween, perhaps craving for some scary reads? Let me know, I love good ghost/vampire/gothic horror stories!