Reviews

Review: Nevernight ~ By Jay Kristoff

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Review: Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicles #1) ~ by Jay Kristoff

429 pages (hardcover) ~ Adult Fantasy

August 2016 ~ St. Martin’s Press

My Rating: 5/5

Click here for Nevernight’s Goodreads Description

My Thoughts:

This book came as such a surprise to me. The first 100 pages or so I kept asking myself, “do I like this?” It was so different than anything I have ever read before that I had to keep checking in with myself. But the more I read, the more I loved it, and here’s why….

  • Jay Kristoff’s writing is so unique. There is so much wit and sarcasm that I had to read certain sections twice to really appreciate all of the little nuances. The structure of the book is also so unique – certain descriptions would be repeated verbatim but applied to very different things. This was such a clever way to connect things and provide so many “light bulb” moments. I freaking loved it!
  • Because I listened to most of the book on audio, the footnotes were really bugging me at first because it was hard to tell when I switched from story to footnote. But after a while, and once I started to recognize the shift, I came to appreciate the footnotes. There was so much world building and history in them, and most of them were just plain hilarious. Some seemed to exist for nothing more than to make us laugh.
  • The Red Church was such an amazing concept. I really loved the sanctity and ritual of it all. I was raised Catholic so these types of rituals will always appeal to me. This “school” is like a bloody version of Hogwarts, where you die if you don’t pass your OWLS.
  • All of the teachers had unique gifts and personalities. I loved Mia’s interactions with each of them. Spider Killer was my favorite.
    Every character, including the minor ones, had intricate and interesting backstories. I loved all of them.
  • The ending took me completely by surprise! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was not that! The last 100 pages were completely suspenseful and packed full of action.
  • The set up for the next book was complete and tied so well to what Mia went through in book 1 and before.

I would have liked more of the backstory on each of the members of the Red Church. Though, I have a feeling I may get more of this in the next books. I would have also liked more information on the Ashkahi blood magic that Adonai uses as transport. This was such a fascinating concept to me and I just wanted more. But again, maybe in the next book. Overall, this was a perfect start to what is shaping up to be an amazing series!

You can find more information about Jay Kristoff here, on Goodreads

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And here SomewhereinPages on Goodreads

Reviews

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

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Review: The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle ~ by Stuart Turton

432 pages (Hardcover) ~ Thrilling Mystery, Suspense, Time Travel

September 18, 2018 ~ Sourcebooks Landmark

My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Description:

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath.

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My Thoughts:  

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This book! I don’t even know how to describe it because it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. My brain literally hurt when I finished it, but in a satisfying- “I just accomplished something” type of way. I had to start taking notes halfway through because there were so many characters and so much detail. The story is a constant roller coaster with twists and turns and “wait what!?” moments. You are kept guessing the entire time. There is witty banter, a dark creepy house with a sordid past, family scandal, murder (obviously), but there is also a really cool philosophical element to the story that you don’t see coming amidst all the scheming and backstabbing. I absolutely loved this book! While I don’t necessarily think this book is for everyone, I do think there are a lot of readers that will enjoy its dark twists and turns. You will most likely enjoy The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle if you like:

  • Clue – (both the game and the movie) You are basically playing clue in this book except your “character” changes daily
  • Downton Abbey – If you like the upstairs/downstairs drama and intrigue, this is definitely for you
  • Agatha Christie – this mystery is set up just like a Christie novel and Turton does a great job of paying homage to her style
  • Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the characters in this novel have to complete tasks before they are free, these “tasks” are designed to help them become better people- rehabilitation is the goal. A very Dickensian theme

Overall, I thought this was a really smart, interesting, unique, and well written novel. The only drawback for me was that the middle section did tend to lag in a few places. But the reward at the end was definitely worth it. This was an amazing first novel from Stuart Turton and I’m so excited to see what is next for him! 

For more information on Stuart Turton and his books, check him out on Goodreads

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Reviews

Review: Once Upon a River ~ by Diane Setterfield

480 pages ~ Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

2018 ~ Atria/Emily Beatles Books

My Rating: 5/5 ✰✰✰✰✰

Goodreads Description:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense, and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

“Along the borders of this world lie others. There are places you can cross. This is one such place.”

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that this book is probably not for everyone. It is a very meandering, atmospheric type of narrative that is more about mood than it is about plot. Although there is a mystery at the heart of the plot, it is not the type of suspenseful mystery that would keep someone up till 3 am trying to get to the bottom of. I would not recommend this to readers who need a fast-paced, suspenseful plot in order to stay engaged. I would recommend this to readers who, like me, enjoy rich, dreamy beautiful prose, simply for the sake of beautiful prose. Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries would definitely be into this. The plot is slow moving, but this book is more than plot. It is about storytelling in all of its various forms and what those stories provide us. Setterfield has a very distinct style that I can only describe as magical. Here were some highlights for me:

-The celebration of storytelling- As I said above, this book is really a celebration of how stories influence us, inspire us, help us cope, and help us make sense of things we can’t understand. The river, in this story, both gives and takes life, it is both salvation and destruction simultaneously. It both inspires the stories, while the stories, in turn, define the river and what it is capable of. This was really such a beautiful theme, especially for someone who spends their life between the pages of a book.

-Darwinian themes- Because so little was known about the nature of medicine and science during the Victorian era, it was really interesting to see how these characters created stories in order to make sense of things that were, to them, unimaginable.

“Once upon a time, a long time ago, an ape became human. And once upon a time, long before that, an aquatic creature came out of the water and breathed air.”

-Connection to the real Henry Taunt– I had no idea that there was an actual Victorian photographer who floated around the Thames on a boat with a darkroom. When reading Setterfield’s notes at the end of the novel, it was really fascinating to see how her own research of Taunt lead her to create this story. I spent about two hours online mesmerized by his photography. I think that it would have been really lovely if the book included a map of the river and some of Taunt’s photography.

-Setterfield does a remarkable job of making the reader feel as if they’re are part this magical transaction of storytelling. You feel as if you are sitting down at the Swan with a pint, listening to this remarkable tale.

“And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bride once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue following without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to?”

Happy Reading!!

For more information on Diane Setterfield and her books, check her out on Goodreads

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