What I Read Recently #1

I’ve been up for almost an hour and, as I begin to write this post, I’m already worrying about the amount of homework I need to complete today. I have to rationalize it that writing this post is getting my brain warmed up to write two papers I have due in the next couple of weeks. That is how much graduate school is taking over my life right now.

But I miss my blog and writing for fun. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much for pleasure in the last two months. I want to read, I just don’t have much time or energy for it lately. I have to remind myself to make sure I take breaks when I can, to let my batteries recharge. So, that’s what I’m doing right now.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, I have read a total of four books. Those are:


The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

4.75 stars


I finished this the week before I started graduate school. And I realized later it is the worst book to pause at in the middle of the Heroes of Olympus series. If you have read this book, you know the ending is a cliffhanger that makes you want to drop everything to read The House of Hades. But I had to stop myself from doing that and favor books that were not likely to be so life consuming.

Besides that, I did enjoy The Mark of Athena very much, although I think The Son of Neptune is still my favorite. The Mark of Athena had some of the best Leo moments as well as adorable relationship moments between Annabeth and Percy. The plot was stronger in this one, we got to see places like Rome, and encounter familiar characters from mythology, like Hercules (who, by the way, is not like the guy from the Disney movie).

As of right now, my plan is to get back into the Heroes of Olympus series around Thanksgiving break…hopefully.


Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3.5 stars


It took me almost a month to finish Mansfield Park. Not because I didn’t like it—because of graduate school. Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s least popular works, and I can guess why. Compared to a character like Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price stays on the sidelines most of the time. The drama doesn’t involve her until near the second half of the book and most of the plot are people hanging out being teenagers. And, of course, there is the fact that Fanny’s only obvious love interest is her cousin, Edmund.

But I personally saw a lot more of myself in Fanny than I have in most other Jane Austen heroines. She’s quiet and shy, but very observant. She comes off as naïve, but she sees right through Henry Crawford when he starts toying around with Julia and Maria. And she does try to be nice to everyone, even the Crawfords. I found the drama of this novel to be extremely entertaining, especially since it was so tame compared to what you see now in most contemporary young adult novels. In terms of the romance, I don’t think it was unusual for that time period, given cousins married often. So, I took it with a grain of salt. Overall, I enjoyed Mansfield Park very much.


The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones (library book)

4 stars


At the beginning of October, I felt compelled to check out a bunch of library books. The Opposite of Innocent was one of them. It was the first that I read and as soon as I finished it, I brought it back to the library because it disturbed me so much.

Told in verse, The Opposite of Innocent follows fourteen-year-old Lily, who is madly in love with Luke, her father’s best friend. After travelling for two years, Luke returns and stays with Lily’s family. They soon begin a physical relationship that turns sexual and then abusive very quickly.

The Opposite of Innocent was one of those books I had to be careful when and where I read it. Because once I picked it up, I wouldn’t want to put it back down. While there were many parts I was uncomfortable—which I think was the author’s intention—the story is an important one. When I become a librarian, this is definitely a book I will encourage young girls, as well as boys, to read, so they can be wary of grooming and know that Luke’s behavior towards Lily, even though he says he loves her, is unacceptable. I wanted to give The Opposite of Innocent five stars, for the honest portrayal of pedophilia and Lily coming into her own. But I took off a star for the anticlimactic ending and I wish it were slightly longer.


The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass (library book)

2 stars


Ever had that experience with a book where you are left feeling why did I read this? That’s what happened with me with The Life and Death Parade.

The novel follows Kitty, whose boyfriend, Nikki Bramley, died unexpectedly after a psychic told him he had no future. Grief has torn her away from the Bramley family, and she makes it her mission to track down the psychic that gave Nikki his fortune. Instead, she finds Roan, a master con artist she brings to the surviving Bramleys in hopes his tricks will give them comfort, as well as give her clues to the Life and Death Parade, a group of charlatans that mess with the balance between the living and the dead. But Kitty, like the Bramleys, soon falls under Roan’s dark spell.

I had read Eliza Wass’s novel, The Cresswell Plot, two years ago and I was terribly disappointed by it. But I wanted to give her a second chance, since it was her debut novel. Unfortunately, The Life and Death Parade was a let down, too.

Her writing was still good; she created a spooky atmosphere that was perfect for Halloween. The portrayal of Kitty’s grief felt realistic in that she wasn’t thinking clearly most of the time and she was beating herself up for not always being the most loving girlfriend (she was the daughter of the family’s maid, so their class difference bothered her, among other things). Since Eliza Wass lost her own husband, I can imagine she was reliving her own experiences. But that’s about it.

The characters were one-dimensional and not much happened in terms of their development, including Kitty. Roan is probably the only one I would call interesting, except barely. Though he was only seen at the beginning of the novel and in flashbacks, I found Nikki to be utterly annoying. As far as plots go, this one was weak. Nothing made sense. Lastly, the ending wrapped up too quickly. It happened so fast the book ended before I could process it. If she had allowed herself to write a few more pages, I think Eliza Wass could have done much better with The Life and Death Parade.


What books have you read recently?



Library Book Haul: October 2018

Hi everyone!

School is going good so far and I really like the place I work in, but I unfortunately haven’t done a lot of reading for fun lately.

As you would expect, there is a lot of reading involved being a library science student, so it takes away from my TBR pile. I actually enjoy myself when I do read, but by the time I finish my school assignments for the day, all I want to do is watch YouTube videos. Which is why I’m wondering if it was smart to check out so many library books.

I learned in undergraduate that you must give yourself 24 hours off at least once a week to let your brain’s batteries recharge, otherwise you will just burn out too soon. Reading is a form of self-care for me and I’m wondering if falling asleep next to my laptop regularly is unhealthy. I thought checking out library books would give me motivation to read since they have a deadline. We will see how that works out.

Here are the library books I checked out:


The Witches by Stacy Schiff


I have lived in Massachusetts my whole life and been to Salem twice. I only know what I was taught in school about the Salem Witch Trials. The Witches is a nonfiction book taking a new perspective on the girls who started it all. Stacy Schiff discusses the life of a Puritan teenager and how certain pressures of society could have led to the girls behaving the way they did. She will also look into the role of religion; how the colonies were trying to form their own identity while still remaining loyal to the mother land England. I plan to pick this up the closer we get to Halloween.


The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones


I found The Opposite of Innocent on Riley Marie’s channel on YouTube when she read it during the Contemporary-A-Thon. It is a young adult novel told in verse, following Lily, who is sexually abused by someone she’s loved for years. After being away for several years, family friend Luke comes to live in Lily’s house when she is fourteen years old. Eventually, they begin a sexual relationship, becoming even more abusive as time goes on. I’ve only read one book that heavily features pedophilia, so we will see how I fare with this one.


With Malice by Eileen Cook


For this Halloween season, I was more attracted to mystery/thrillers than I was to horror novels. With Malice follows Jill Charron, who wakes up in a hospital bed with no memory of the last six weeks, including her trip to Italy and the accident that killed her best friend Simone. Jill is certain she would never hurt Simone, only the evidence is saying otherwise. As she tries to put the pieces together, she has no idea who she can trust. And Jill is starting to fear what she is truly capable of.


Tangled Webs by Lee Bross


Another mystery novel, this one historical set in 1725 London, Tangled Webs follows Arista, otherwise known as Lady A. Serving her abusive master, Bones, Arista is an expert blackmailer whose currency is in secrets. When Bones attempts to be rid of her for good, Jonathon Wild, rescues her. Arista agrees to his offer for a partnership, if only to get away from Bones. But when she meets Grae Sinclair, a wealthy young man that loves her for who she is, she thinks she finally has a chance to escape this life of thievery as Lady A. But can you really escape your past? Not quite sure which direction Tangled Webs is heading in, but it is a book I have wanted to read for a while now.


The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass


Two years ago, I read Eliza Wass’s debut novel, The Cresswell Plot, and was deeply disappointed. While I enjoyed her writing style and the sassy main character, the book had a weak plot and, looking back on it, not much research was done into religious cults other than the information you can find on TV shows. When I saw on the library stacks she came out with another book, I didn’t pay too close attention, until the cover drew me in.

Kitty’s boyfriend, Nikki, went to a psychic who told him he had no future and now he’s dead. Torn from the family as they all grieve, she hunts down the psychic Nikki talked to and meets Roan, a boy her age with connection to the Life and Death Parade, a group that exploits the thin veil between the land of the living and the dead. Among them is the psychic. Now, Kitty is hell-bent on getting answers. Roan promises to help her get them. Only he’s not telling her everything there is to know about the Life and Death Parade.


The Lies They Tell by Gillian French


On Goodreads, The Lies They Tell is compared to We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and I Was Here by Gayle Forman, both of which I enjoyed. But what actually drew me in was the book trailer on Facebook when the book was released earlier this year. The Lies They Tell centers around a tragedy in a small Maine town where four of the five members of the wealthy Garrison family were killed in a fire. Everyone blames the property’s caretaker, the town drunk; only his daughter Pearl doesn’t believe it. While working as a waitress in a country club, Pearl sees Tristan, the last surviving Garrison, who is sad and quiet compared to his arrogant friends. To clear her father’s name as well as hopefully give Tristan closure, she gets closer to the group to find the truth. But in doing so could trap her in a web of dangerous secrets.


The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender


Katie Alender is an author whose books I’m interested in, yet I keep forgetting she exists. I read one of her novels, Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer, years ago. I think I enjoyed it, though I don’t remember anything about it. Anyway, The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall seemed like an ideal Halloween read, set in a haunted house that used to be an asylum for “troubled” girls who were actually just strong-willed. The protagonist, Delia, also a strong young woman, gets trapped inside the house along with its previous victims. To free herself, she must uncover the dark truths hidden inside the walls of “Hysteria Hall.”


These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly


Jennifer Donnelly is an author I’ve heard of for years. I’m drawn to so many of her work, but These Shallow Graves is the first one I picked. Jo Montfort is beautiful, rich, and, like the other girls in her graduating class from finishing school, is about to be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Only that is the last thing she wants. Jo would much rather be a reporter and work at her father Charles Montfort’s newspaper. Then, her father accidentally shoots himself while cleaning his gun, but only Jo seems to think he was too smart to clean a loaded revolver. She takes it upon herself to find answers, except too many secrets are buried in plain sight. With the help of a reporter, Jo puts her own future on the line to seek the truth.


The Leaving by Tara Altebrando


Whenever I saw this book in stores or online, it was usually put under the “mystery” section of young adult. Reading the synopsis, though, I’m wondering if there might be some kind of horror or supernatural element at play. In The Leaving, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. Eleven years later, five out of the six return, now sixteen and apparently fine with no memory of where they came from or what happened to them. Except Avery, the sister of the boy who is still missing, is not buying it.

How does someone abduct six little kids and then all of them come home brainwashed? I’m going to find out, I guess.


The Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer


Another young adult mystery/thriller, The Blood Between Us follows Adrien, the adoptive son of two scientists who is separated from his sister, Grace, the biological child, after their parents are killed in a fire. The competition between them continues when they are reunited at the elite boarding school where their parents taught. Adrien wants to move on with his life and avoid Grace, only someone is not letting that happen. And when he begins to wonder if his sister knows more about their parents’ deaths than she is letting on, the old wounds he thought he healed from are reopening worse than before.


Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik


Spinning Silver has taken BookTube by storm since it came out. While everyone that has read it seems to enjoy it and the story is a loose retelling of Rumplestilskin, I am still cautious entering this novel. The last book I read by Naomi Novik, Uprooted, was a bit of a let down for me. I liked her writing style and the strong female friendship element, but beyond that, I found it quite boring.

In case you are unaware, Spinning Silver follows Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender that is reluctant to collect debts. With her own family on the brink of poverty, Miryem has no problem hardening her heart and making the villagers pay back what they owe. But after turning a pouch of silver to gold, she catches the attention of fae-like creatures that want to make use of her gift.


Part of Your World by Liz Braswell


The newest release in the Twisted Tales series by Disney, Part of Your World is a reimagining of the movie The Little Mermaid. In this novel, Ariel never defeats Ursula and her father, King Triton, is killed. Five years later, Ariel is the voiceless queen of Atlantica and Ursula rules Prince Eric’s kingdom on land. When she finds evidence her father could still be alive, she goes back on land, reunited with the prince she thought she would never see again.


The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater


Probably one of the most well-known and beloved young adult series to come out in the last ten years, The Raven Cycle follows wannabe-psychic Blue and her friends the Raven Boys in their quest for a sleeping Welsh queen in modern-day Virginia. This series has been on my radar for a long time. I went back and forth on buying it but listening to reviews about the storyline over the years, there was a 50/50 chance I was not going to love this series like so many others. The Raven Cycle kept getting forgotten in the wake of other series and books. Now, though, autumn seems like a good as any time to read it.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds


Jason Reynolds is an author that’s been around for a few years, I think, but it’s only just this past year I’ve heard of him. Long Way Down is supposedly one of his best works. Told in verse, it follows a sixteen-year-old boy on his way to kill the man that murdered his brother. In the elevator, on his way up to his destination, it stops at every floor and he meets people that have already passed who try to talk him out of his mission. Long Way Down is a book I hope I will enjoy.


Notes from My Captivity by Kathy Parks


Something I occasionally like to do when I go to my local library is check out random books I come across. Notes from My Captivity is about an ambitious teenaged girl who goes on vacation with her family to Siberia. At first, she dismisses her stepfather’s belief that there is a family of hermits living within the wild winter of the Siberian countryside. But when she is separated from her family and actually abducted by said hermits, she must rely on her wits to get out—even if it means seducing their youngest son.


The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube


There’s something wrong with Marianne, only it is not because she quit dancing, or due to her parents splitting up, or her mother checking herself into a hospital. Marianne is losing time and blacking out. Objects are breaking whenever she gets close to them. And she is doing things she would never do on purpose. Believing she is haunted, she gets a new friend to help her perform an exorcism, only it makes the entity even angrier. It demands Marianne return what she stole, but what was it? She will have to figure that out before the thing drags her to the other side.


What books have you checked out of the library recently?