if you like… SPOOKY SETTINGS

If You Like... graphicWelcome to my feature, If You Like…. INSERT THING HERE. In this feature, I’ll be sharing books related to various television shows, movies, other books…. anything and everything!

The Halloween fun continues this week with a post all about spooky settings- you know, those places in books that make shivers dance up your spine, the ones that cause to you look over your shoulder in paranoia whenever you read. It takes a skilled writer to craft such a spooky setting, but fortunately there are plenty of them that I can recommend!

miss peregrine's home for peculiar children cover

 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

There’s something about Cairnholm Island that was really spooky. Perhaps it’s the gloomy weather, the isolation, or simply the eerie aura it exudes. Whatever the reason, it’s sure to give you the creeps!

clockwork angel cover

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

London in 1878? Dark alleyways, mysterious societies, and conniving vampires? Everything about the setting of this novel screams spooky!

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A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.

 That’s right: this story takes place at a Victorian boarding school. Coupled with a secret Order and supernatural elements, this setting is definitely going to make you think twice about shutting your lights off at night!

I hope these recommendations are adequately spooky! What books with spooky settings would you recommend? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

Why I Love Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are the most difficult kind of reviews for me to write. Not only do I want to avoid offending anyone (like the author, if they are to see it), but it can be hard to come up with any redeeming/positive points if I really disliked a book.

While I may not enjoy writing negative reviews for those reasons, I absolutely love reading them. Part of it is definitely the entertainment factor – the snarkier reviews, in particular, are great at making me laugh. I also love reading negative reviews because they’re incredibly informative. The parts that didn’t work for a reader are thoroughly laid out, so if certain topics that I’m uncomfortable with or tropes that I really dislike are present, I avoid giving that book a read.

Of course, negative reviews don’t always cause a book to be removed from my TBR; in fact, they often cause me to want to read a book even more since I’m curious to see if it’s that bad. If it’s a book that I was really looking forward to reading, I may lower my expectations a little bit or borrow it from the library instead of purchasing it, but I’ll likely still give it a read. After all, just because one reader didn’t enjoy a book doesn’t mean that it won’t be another reader’s favourite story. An individual’s thoughts and feelings towards a book are shaped by their experiences, and that subjectivity is part of what makes reading such a magical experience.

Your turn: how do negative reviews affect your reading choices?

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Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

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To All the Boys I Loved Before was a cute, quick, predictable read that focused equally on the importance of familial relationships and romantic ones.

The protagonist, Lara Jean, is a sweet, innocent young lady. She had a very young-sounding voice, so I kept imagining her as a twelve or thirteen year old instead of a junior in high school. While her naivety was endearing at first, I never really got the sense that she had matured over the course of the story; she stepped outside of her comfort zone a bit, but given that the book was about moving on and taking more responsibility, I suppose I had expected this to be a bit more prevalent.

The familial aspect of the story was easily my favourite part. I loved how supportive and present Lara Jean’s father was, and how much the sisters cared about one another. From protective, independent Margot who had taken over a maternal role to the adorable younger sister, Kitty, who reminded me so much of the kids that I used to babysit, it was nice to see an authentic portrayal of a close-knit family.

The romance, while sweet, never caused me to become emotionally invested in its outcome. Peter Kavinsky reminded me of a few boys that I went to high school with: endearing at times, but not so overly sweet that his portrayal bordered on wish-fulfillment. His characterization was authentic, and I loved how he was just a regular guy.

My main complaint is that Lara Jean’s best friend, Chris, seemed to only be there to provide her with a semblance of a social life and a female friendship. It was also ridiculously easy to determine who had sent out the letters, but considering the story was more about how Lara Jean dealt with the aftermath than determining who had done it, I didn’t mind too much.

The ending was very open-ended, nicely setting up the next book – and the subsequent love-triangle that I’m sure will follow. I was initially disappointed that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before wasn’t a standalone, but it was sweet enough that I’m looking forward to reading the sequel when it’s released next year.

on the benefits of assigned reading.

Last Thursday I wrote a post explaining how I feel about assigned reading. I wasn’t sure if a discussion would actually develop in the comments section, but to my delight many of you responded! You guys are the best!

A lot of people said that they agreed with my rather negative opinion on assigned reading, but some people disagreed. These readers offered several valid arguments as to why assigned reading can be a good thing, and I thought I would take the time to share a few of them with you.

It broadens your reading horizons.

Often times the books we’re assigned to read are ones we wouldn’t necessarily have picked up on our own. Whether you end up enjoying the book or not, it is always good to be exposed to new ideas, writing styles, authors, and genres.

Class discussions can be fun, engaging, and really helpful.

The only way to discuss a book with others effectively is if you’ve all read the same thing. This comes in handy when you don’t quite understand the novel because you can talk about it with your classmates and figure things out. It can also be a lot of fun!

Misery loves company.

Not that reading is misery (although it might be depending on the book, haha) but sometimes it can be rather… dull. With assigned reading, there are most likely many other people reading the same book alongside you. That’s way better than having to do it all on your own!

Thanks to all you optimistic people for helping me see the good in assigned reading! To keep this awesome conversation going, I have another question for you all today:

If you were a teacher, what types of books would you assign? (Classics? Modern literature? YA? Free choice? Others?)

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Bookish Places I’d Love To Visit

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, she posts an idea relating to books and encourages other book bloggers to respond with their own top ten lists.

This week’s topic is “top ten places books have made me want to visit.”

A Gatsby Gala – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

Cabeswater  – The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Hogwarts – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Shire – Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

Winterfell – A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Point Zero, Paris – Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Narnia – The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

London – The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray,
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson… and so, so many more

Prague – Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

San Fransisco – Lola and the Boy Next Door

Which bookish destinations would you like to visit? Leave me a list or a link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments below.

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if you like… CREEPY CREATURES

If You Like... graphicWelcome to my feature, If You Like…. INSERT THING HERE. In this feature, I’ll be sharing books related to various television shows, movies, other books…. anything and everything!

It’s time for another Halloween themed post! This week is all about those creepy creatures that lurk in the shadows, those monsters and alien life forms that keep you up at night. Watch out- they might bite!

the rook cover

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

This story revolves around a government organization that deals primarily with keeping creatures at bay. There are so many twists and turns here that you won’t even see them coming!

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The Secret Hour by Scott Westerfeld.

This trilogy is seriously underrated. The story is suspenseful, chilling, and absolutely unique. If you’re looking for dark creatures, then you’ve come to the right novel!

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I’m going to be honest here: the Grievers sneaking around in the maze at night definitely freaked me out a bit! I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know what they look like there, but the image I had in my mind while reading was frightening. Kudos to Thomas for being so brave!

I hope you enjoy these recommendations, and happy October!

Yours,

HOLLY

Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

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My True Love Gave to Me was, for the most part, as adorable as I had expected. Like most anthologies, though, the stories were quite hit or miss for me: there were some that stood out (namely the ones by Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White) while others were less convincing and would have worked better as novellas or full-length stories. Despite that, the stories all intrigued me enough to add some previously unknown authors’ works to my ever-growing to read list, and reaffirmed my love for some of my favourite authors.

My True Love Gave to Me features characters from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a nice mix of contemporary and magical stories in this collection. While the stories were all quite different, they all captured several important aspects of the holiday season, most notably hope and love.

Overall, My True Love Gave to Me is a cute, quick read that captures the magical feeling that surrounds the holidays. I can certainly see myself rereading my favourites closer to the holiday season, and can’t wait to display this gorgeous cover on my bookshelf.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.