what I’m reading: the dark days club by alison goodman.

It is 1812 and Lady Helen is concentrating on nailing her presentation to the Queen while living down rumors of her mother’s traitorous past. What she didn’t expect was to be told that she is next in line to become one of the few people that can stop the demons.

I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a new take on the paranormal. The Dark Days Club is a group of people known as Reclaimers, who get rid of Deceivers, demons who disguise themselves as humans.

The author really did her homework. This book takes place in London in 1812 and there is plenty of description about the clothing of that time period and food and dances and balls and many things that I’ve never heard of. It is so well researched and full of historical facts that it is easy to imagine yourself living in that world.

This book is not heavy on romance. In fact the romance mainly comes from the fact that Helen is expected to make a good match and marry well and she just wants to find someone to marry that she likes. There is a hint at a future love triangle but it definitely was not prominent, which I liked.

This is the first book in the series so we are just learning about the characters. Helen is not bad ass or kicking butt here. In fact, she is dealing with her life changing from what it was supposed to be to what it could be. When the book begins Helen thought she was on the path to get married and become a society wife, but she is soon dealing with choices and deciding if she will choose another path to become a Reclaimer.

Again, this book is part of a series. It doesn’t end on a cliff hanger but there were a lot of questions left unanswered. I am definitely curious and will be picking up the next book in the series.

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2016 reading in review.

I’m taking a look back at my 2016 year of reading. I didn’t have any real reading goals last year or participate in any book challenges. I pretty much read whatever caught my eye and sounded interesting.

Here’s how I did in 2016:

Number of books read: 50
This averages out to .96 books read per week.

Number of pages read: 17,506
Averages out to approximately 336 pages read a week.

Longest book:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside at 534 pages.

Shortest book:
Unexpected Gifts at 136 pages.

Average Book Length:
350 pages

According to Goodreads, my average rating was 3.3 stars.

Books by genre:
Fiction – 48
Nonfiction – 2

Books by acquisition type:
35 books were borrowed from the library.

Books by format:
Paperback – 19
Hardback – 18
Ebooks – 13

First book read in 2016:
When We Were Animals

Last book read in 2016:
Marry Me at Christmas

Another great year for books!!

book heart

what I’m reading: the rest of us just live here by patrick ness.

the-rest-of-us-just-live-hereWe all know the stories about the Chosen One, the one kid prophesized to save the world. But what about the kids who aren’t chosen, who don’t have a special destiny? This is their story.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a story about Michael, his sister Mel, and their two friends Henna and Jared. Mikey just wants to graduate from high school and get out of his small town. His OCD is escalating, his sister is recovering from an eating disorder, his mother is focused on her career, and his dad is a drunk. Not to mention, he’s in love with his friend Henna.

But their town is not normal. Every couple of years, vampires will attack, zombies will invade, and a bunch of kids will die. Mikey and his friends know it’s not normal, but they just have to get through high school.

the-rest-of-us-just-live-here-quote

Every chapter begins with a short intro that describes what is going on with the Chosen Ones, or “indie kids” as they are known to everyone else. This book pokes fun at the Chosen One/secret identity trope and I thought it was hilarious the way all the characters knew about the indie kids and how they were always the ones to die. Everyone in town knows the indie kids are connected to all the strange events.

This book is not action packed, but I really liked how the relationships were depicted. Mikey and Mel have a great sibling relationship and look out for each other and their younger sister. Jared is just about the best friend someone could have – he’s always there for Mikey and helps him deal with his OCD and anxiety.

This was a quick read; I read it in one sitting. I thought the characters were realistic and well-developed. Although the plot is fairly straight-forward, the book does a good job of highlighting every day, ordinary struggles that teenagers face while showing how everyone is special in their own way.

what I’m reading: smoke by dan vyleta.

smokeSmoke is set in an alternate universe of England, about a hundred years ago. In this universe, sins and lies can be detected by the Smoke that comes pouring out of your body. The lower classes and the poor are saturated in sin and soot, while the aristocrats and those who rule do not Smoke, proving their nobility. Thomas and Charlie are young men sent to live in a boarding school where the children of the wealthy are taught to control the Smoke. But they soon find out that everything they have learned is a lie.

The first half of this book was intriguing. A Victorian-era England where people Smoked when they lied or sinned? And the wealthy do not Smoke? How does this happen? I read eagerly to find out about this unique phenomenon.

However, about halfway through, the plot turns. Thomas and Charlie leave the boarding school and the story veers off into talk of science and scientific experiments that don’t really make sense. I felt that the pace of the book slowed downed considerably, which made it difficult to keep my attention. There’s an unnecessary (at least to me) love triangle. Additionally, there is a group of people hoping to expose some aspect about the Smoke but I never could figure out exactly what it was they wanted to expose. In fact, I’m not even sure what happened in the last third of the novel.

There was a lot I didn’t understand and I was left with many unanswered questions.

I did however, really enjoy the beginning and the setting of the boarding school. It was interesting and funny and filled with typical boarding school antics and teachers. I only wish more of the novel took place in that setting.

what I’m reading: girls on fire by robin wasserman.

girls on fireIt’s 1991 and a popular high school basketball player is found dead in the woods with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hands. Meanwhile, good girl Hannah Dexter becomes friends with Lacey Champlain, a Doc Marten-wearing, Kurt Cobain-worshipping bad girl from the wrong side of town. The two form a friendship that is obsessive and destructive and full of secrets.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I’ve heard so many good things about it and it’s on many lists of books to read this summer, but I thought it was just okay. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not a book I would see myself recommending to people.

I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters. I really didn’t like Lacey. She was manipulative and calculating and I didn’t understand the appeal she had over Hannah. Nikki was a little bit better, but really, I didn’t think either of them was especially likeable. I found myself slogging through the chapters told from Lacey’s point of view, mainly because it was difficult for me to relate to Lacey. I didn’t care for the character and couldn’t muster up the energy to care about her problems.

I got bored at times and I didn’t like the ending. I also thought it was interesting that this was promoted as Robin Wasserman’s first adult novel, yet the main characters were in high school. I felt like this book read as a young adult novel with a NC-17 rating.

One of the few redeeming qualities this book has is all the 90s references. The clothing, Doc Martens, the music, The Real World – they all took me back to the early 90s. Robin Wasserman is a talented writer, but this book just did not move me.

why I won’t be reading harry potter and the cursed child.

harry potter books

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child comes out this weekend, not surprisingly on Harry Potter’s birthday, and I think I am going to pass on it. I am going to pass on the play, the midnight parties, drinking butterbeer, and dressing in costume.

Here’s why:

1. I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books but I’m not fanatical about them.
The first Harry Potter book came out in 1997, when I was in college. I actually didn’t start reading the series until about 2005 or so, before the 6th book came out. I binge read those first 5 books in a couple of weeks. I loved the books. They were perfect for what I needed at that time and kept me entertained.

However, I read the books when I was in my 20’s. I didn’t grow up reading them or grow up with Harry and his friends like so many others; they weren’t part of my childhood. I enjoyed the books but I don’t have the devotion to them that other people have.

I still have all the books. They have a dedicated place on my bookshelf and I pull them out to re-read them when I feel the need to. But they are enough for me.

2. For me, the series is over.
One of the things that drew me to the Harry Potter series was that you knew going in, that there would be 7 books. No more, no less. You knew the books would cover all 7 years of Harry’s school and then there would be an ending.

I like knowing when something is going to end. I enjoy knowing that there will be a conclusion. I’ve quit more than one book series because they just seem to go on and on and on with no end in sight. I’ll pick up the next book in the series, with the hopes it will finally conclude, but the series just seems to drag on.

Knowing that there is an end, I don’t have to worry about falling behind. I read all 7 Harry Potter books. But then Pottermore came out. And then other supplemental books came out. And short stories to be read on Pottermore were published and other tidbits of information were published. And now the play is coming out. I just don’t have time to keep up with everything and I feel like you must Know All The Information in order to understand what’s happening.

3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play.
A play is a work for the stage. It is meant to be seen and is composed of conversation between the characters. It would be like reading a transcript of a television show. Sure, I could read the dialogue between the characters but I won’t know what’s happening around them, what’s going on in their heads, how the words are meant to be spoken, what the characters are feeling.

Not being able to actually see the play or have more context, I feel like I would only be reading half a story. Is it worth it?

I hope Harry’s birthday this weekend is great. I hope it is amazing. And I hope lots of books sell. I just won’t be buying one.

Am I the only one who thinks this? Am I alone in my non-Cursed Child worship?

what I’m reading: scarlett epstein hates it here by anna breslaw.

scarlett epstein hates it hereOn the internet, high school junior Scarlett Epstein is a big name in the Lycanthrope High TV show’s online fandom. But in real life, she’s a nobody at school and her only friends are Avery, a shy bookworm, and Ruth, her 73 year old neighbor. When Lycanthrope High is cancelled, Scarlett and her online friends are shocked and devastated. Unwilling to part from her internet friends, Scarlett begins writing a new fanfiction, set in the world of Lycanthrope High but based on events and people from her own high school. When her classmates discover her stories, not everyone is as fond of them as Scarlett and her online friends are, and Scarlett is faced with some considerable consequences.

I had so much fun reading this book! I thought the character Scarlett was hilarious and a breath of fresh air. She wasn’t a special snowflake who’s fate is to save the world, she didn’t have a horrible backstory or horrific event to happen in her childhood. She just seemed like a regular, funny high school girl who likes pop culture and has a crush on a boy.

I thought the supporting characters made the story well-rounded. I especially enjoyed Scarlett’s relationship with Ruth. I thought the family relationships were fairly truthful and they really touched on what it’s like to be a teen and be insecure and make mistakes.

I honestly didn’t expect to like Scarlett so much. She is sarcastic and snarky, and quick with the one-liners. She surprised me and I found her to be very likeable.

The book finished with a bit more serious ending than I expected but I think it shows how Scarlett grew and changed as the story went on. If you’re looking for a fun, quick read, I would urge you to read this book.