Book Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods coverThis was my first book for Bout of Books 11.

I’d seen this book floating around the book blogosphere a little bit, but when it came across the circulation desk at the library where I work, I was blown away by how freaking pretty it was! Don’t hate me, but I didn’t even let this one go out into the stacks before I checked it out.

This book is made up of five illustrated short stories, all of which were creepy, mysterious, and spine-chillingly awesome. I flew through the entire book in about 45 minutes. I just couldn’t put it down.

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

This is one of the creepiest, most terrifying, and absolutely gorgeous books I’ve read. It pulled me in from the introduction and didn’t let me go until I turned the last page.

Mini reviews of the five stories:

Our Neighbor’s House

Three girls are left home alone when their father goes hunting. But when he doesn’t return, things start to go bad. This story gave me the creeps, in a good way. I thought the ending was seriously cool, and I got me in the mood for the rest of the book.

A Lady’s Hands are Cold

Oh, man. This story is about a newly married couple. The new wife starts to hear voices and we get some seriously amazing illustrations that were just beautiful. The story and the illustrations went hand in hand to create one of my favorite stories in the book.

32-33ladieshands

His Face All Red

Two brothers go out into the woods to find and kill a monster that’s been attacking their town. It’s kind of hard to talk about this one too much without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that this story was great: terrifying and chilling with illustrations that kept me engaged.

My Friend Janna

Two friends pretend that one of them can speak to ghosts, but all their tricks come back to haunt them. This one was pretty darn good and haunting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but it was probably my least favorite of the five, even though I still liked it a lot.

The Nesting Place

Wooooo. This one was my favorite out of the five. Man, this one was so scary, a perfect horror story. A girl remembers her mother telling her ghost stories about monsters with rings of teeth. When she goes to visit her brother and his new fiancé, hoooweee, things get freaking crazy and scary and frightening. Holy crap, you guys.

So if you couldn’t tell, I really liked this one. The illustrations were incredible and they matched the tone of the stories perfectly. The stories and the words worked together to create the feel of the book, and I actually felt myself get chills a few times. I would recommend this to anyone who likes comics, anyone who likes horror, anyone who likes to get a little creeped out, and anyone who just liked a good story. Check this one out for sure.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Publication info:

Through the Woods

Written and illustrated by Emily Carroll

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books; July 2014

208 pages (paperback)

Summer Blogger Promo Tour – The YA Club

Today is the last day I will have a guest post for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour. So sad! I’ve had so much fun. Fear not, there’ll be a wrap up post next Sunday. 🙂

This Sunday, L.S. Murphy of The YA Club tells us about why her favorite book means so much to her. After you read the post, make sure you go check her out on her blog (which is made up of eight different bloggers – all of whom make up the YA Club, like the Breakfast Club. So cool). Or say hi to The YA Club on Twitter or tweet L.S. Murphy.
~

Rats Saw GodWe all have books from our youth we love. My reading varied from the Sweet Valley High books to Faulkner and Vonnegut. My love of reading may have started with The Pokey Little Puppy, but I fell in love with Young Adult literature during a college course and haven’t looked back since.

Actually, there is one book that really hit me hard: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. Yes, he who created Veronica Mars, which I LOVE. Rats Saw God is about a seventeen-year-old high school senior who has to write a one-hundred page paper in order to graduate. Steve writes about what brought him from Texas, where he lived with his father, to California to live with his mother, step-father, and sister. The story is raw and emotional, but that’s not what got to me.

I wished I had it when I was in high school. My parents divorced when I was a freshman, it wasn’t pretty. Steve’s journey from bitterness to understanding spoke to the seventeen-year-old girl who went through the same thing (without the drugs of course) over the course of four years. It was all most as if that book was written just for me.

A good book speaks to you, but a great book lives inside you and becomes a part of you. There are many books that have done that for me, but Rats Saw God burrowed into my heart and filled a space I didn’t know was empty.

Quote Quoted: The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan

The Lost Thing

I can’t say that the thing actually belonged in the place where it ended up. In fact, none of the things there really belonged. They all seemed happy enough though, so maybe that didn’t matter.

I’m not where I thought I’d be in my life right now, but it’s all about perspective, isn’t it? Be happy that you’re alive. Be happy that you have the things you need in life. Be happy that, while you’re not doing what you thought you’d be doing right now, you are doing something you love to do. Be happy you can read and that you have books. Be happy that you are surrounded by books. You can belong anywhere.

I’m going to quote from a song by my favorite band, The Neighbourhood.

They say it’s happy here, happiness is figurative, I’m happy ’cause of me, doesn’t matter where I’m living

So yeah. If you couldn’t tell, I really liked this quote. It’s from “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan, which is one of the illustrated short stories, collected in Lost and Found, which I would highly recommend. I particularly enjoyed “The Red Tree” from that book.

Waiting on Wednesday – Wild’s End

I thought it’d be kind of fun to do a comic that I’m looking forward to instead of a book this time.Wild's End

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book comic that we are eagerly anticipating!

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Written by Dan Abnett; illustrated by I.N.J. Culbard

Release date: Issue #1 out September 10, 2014

Synopsis: When a rural English community of the 1930s is the victim of an alien invasion, the residents’ lives are upended by the harsh realities of life-and-death violence. Led by the town’s outsider and retired war veteran, they will have to rally together to uncover the secret of their invaders and ultimately fight back.

Why I’m excited: First, look at that cover. Second, this comic is being described as a mix between H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds and A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Are you kidding me? I added myself to the pull list for this one at the comic book shop the day I found out about it. Seriously. How cool does that sound? And look at that fox in his little outfit with a shotgun. I need this comic in my life. Kthanksbye.

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterTitle: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: August 15, 2014

Hardback: 339 pages

Stand alone or series: Last in a trilogy of companion novels

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

What I thought:

AHHHH. *flails* *fangirls* *squeals*

Okay. *breathes* Let me try to actually put into words my feelings for the final book in this lovely, sweet, amazing trilogy.

I’m not going to lie, when my friend Georgie recommended Anna and the French Kiss to me, I was doubtful. This is not the usual type of book I read. At all. But I picked up Anna and then Lola and I fell in love. Stephanie Perkins is a wonderfully gifted author who makes you swoon, laugh, cry, and feel ALL THE THINGS.

This book was different from the other two though. It’s not like in Anna and Lola when we ship the two characters the whole entire time until they finally, beautifully fall in love with each other. Instead, Isla and Josh begin a relationship pretty quickly and fall for each other. HARD. And then the book follows them as they go through some stuff. Instead of being about the characters finding each other, this book was about them finding themselves and what that means in a relationship. A lot of their problems are self-inflicted, but this is what allowed them to learn about themselves. Yes, it was a little over-dramatic at times. I mean, just have a conversation with each other, geez!

I have loved Josh since the beginning, you guys. I couldn’t wait for him to come back. He’s wonderful: funny, charming, brooding, creative, all the things I like. Honestly, I just didn’t think there was enough of him in this book. Instead of being like the other two books and having a couple (Anna & St. Clair / Lola & Cricket), it mostly felt like this was Isla’s story, which it is, I know. But I could have used a lot more of Josh. Also, at times, the relationship between Josh and Isla was weird for me. It felt a little too instalove-ish at times, which you guys know I hate. Sometimes I honestly just wanted to ask Josh why he even liked Isla. I mean, I like her; I think she’s my favorite narrator of the three, but it was one of those “You’ve been in love with him forever and guess what? He’s always loved you too but couldn’t do anything about it.” Blah.

But then sometimes I was just like, “AH. Isla is so great.” She thinks and talks just like we do.

“You know that because you asked me out, you’re the one who has to pick the place, right?”
Throat. Dry.
Dry throat.
All of the dryness in my throat.
“Whatever you suggest.” He grins. “I’ll say yes. You’ll definitely get a yes. If that helps.” (Page 75)

On the other hand, if I could just have a mix between Cricket and Josh, that’d be great. K? Thanks!

So then there’s this thing that happens on page 313. I had to close my book for a minute or two to just savor it. I almost cried. Okay, I actually did tear up a little. This book made me so happy, you guys. This was the best way to end this little trilogy.

I had issues with this one sometimes, but overall I loved it. It was just what I wanted: a sweet, adorable ending to this wonderful story. Isla grew up and learned a lot about herself throughout the book, which I really appreciated. I think I liked her so much not only because she talks/thinks like us, but because she was flawed, insecure, and unsure of herself. She was able to realize all of this (with the help of her best friend – you guys know I like a good friendship story) and go fix it. A+ on the maturity and the friendship story, Steph!

I hope that this review is actually helpful because it kind of seems like a jumble of thoughts to me. I liked it. There you go. 🙂

Also, I’m going to a book festival in two weeks and Stephanie Perkins will be there and I CANNOT wait.

The bottom line: Cricket is still my favorite boy out of the trilogy, but Isla is my favorite narrator. She’s just like us. Yes, I had a few issues with this book, but overall, this was a wonderfully sweet ending to this trilogy. Just what the doctor ordered.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Top Ten Tuesday: Books people have been telling me I MUST read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling You That You MUST Read (whether because they think it’s a “you” book or it’s just been generally recommended so often)

**All titles linked to their Goodreads page**

Books I’ve been told to read and I’ve bought:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (recommended to me by at least six different people)

Legend by Marie Lu

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Books I’ve been told to read but haven’t bought:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (checked out from the library)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (audio book checked out from the library)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Fangirl Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

What books have you been told to read? Link me up to your TTT if you participated!

Book Review: One of Us by Tawni O’Dell

One of Us

Title: One of Us

Author: Tawni O’Dell

Genre: Crime, thriller

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: August 19, 2014

Hardback: 304 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Netgalley

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Gallery Books for letting me read this.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

Dr. Sheridan Doyle, a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist, is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny, in pursuit of a killer, comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

What I thought:

This book took me a week and a half to read. If you follow my blog, you probably know that NOTHING takes me that long to read. I wanted to like this book more than I did. I love crime fiction and it has been way to long since I’ve read any that I really loved (Okay, I read and LOVED The Black Hour, but I don’t quite count that as crime fiction). I saw this on Netgalley and read that awesome summary and immediately requested it.

I didn’t connect with this book. I’m from a somewhat small southern town so I know people like the ones in Danny’s hometown (judgmental, small-minded, etc.) but this place felt foreign to me.

I felt really detached from Danny. By the end of the book I didn’t know him any more than I did at the beginning. There wasn’t a lot of development and I didn’t really connect with him as I kept reading. I didn’t get wrapped up in this story. He has panic attacks and is haunted by his sister? These weren’t developed as much as they could have been. I read how he felt, but I didn’t actually feel it. It’s definitely a slow burning book, so it takes a while for the book to begin to reveal any of its secrets. Once that started to happen, I did enjoy it a bit more, but it still took me a week and a half to read. I would pick it up and read a few pages and then put it down because I was…well, bored.

The book is really well-written though. O’Dell is good at what she does. There was a letter that I just HAD to know what it said. However, I felt that there were way too many descriptions of what people were wearing. Danny and the daughter of the local rich dude were described as wearing fancy clothes A LOT. I felt this added anything to the story. Honestly, it irritated me. Particularly because I don’t actually know what any of the clothes described look like.

I do think that some people will like this book. It just wasn’t for me.

The bottom line: To me, the description makes this book out to be a fast-paced thriller, maybe even one that’s a little psychological (I love psychological thrillers). Unfortunately, it was rather slow and I found it hard to connect with the story or any of its characters. It wasn’t a bad read though and the writing was pretty good.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

Reading next: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Bout of Books 11: update post

Bout of Books 11
Bout of Books 11 starts today! I’m so excited to participate again. This post will be where I update my progress at the end of each day (okay, sometimes at the beginning of the next day). I’ll include what I read each day, including number of pages, links to the challenges I completed, links to any reviews I’ve posted, and a total number of pages I’ve read so far. Just in case you missed it,

Here are my goals for the week:

– Read two novels
– Read five children’s books
– Read at least three single issue comics
– Read two trade paperbacks or graphic novels
– Post reviews of at least half of what I read
– Participate in at least two Bout of Books challenges
– Participate in at least one Bout of Books Twitter chat

My TBR:

I have not yet chosen the children’s books I will read, but here are the two novels, two graphic novels, one trade paperback, and the single issue comics I will read this week.

Bout of Books 11 - TBR

Batman and Son, Chew volume 1, Through the Woods, The Girl from the Well, The Geography of You and Me, and several issues of Batman and Robin and Batman, Incorporated. (TBR is subject to change based on my mood)

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Read today: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (208 pages), Chew, Volume 1 (128 pages), four issues of Batman and Robin (roughly 30 pages each), and four issues of Batman, Incorporated (roughly 30 pages each)
Pages read today: 576
Total number of pages: 576
Notes about today: I loved the first day of Bout of Books 11! I participated in The Book Monsters Book Scavenger Hunt. You can check out  my entries on my Instagram! I also participated in the first Bout of Books Twitter chat of the week. It was so much fun though pretty overwhelming. I read roughly the same amount of pages on my first day this time as I did the last time I participated in Bout of Books. Yay!

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Read today: Started The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Pages read today: 103
Total number of pages: 679
Notes about today: Today was a little slow for me. I had a lot to do for my online job and the site that I write for (WatchPlayRead). I also went to the movies with my brother (we saw Let’s Be Cops, which was HILARIOUS), so I didn’t get to read as much as I want. I was also feeling a little stressed, so I kind of just stepped back from everything for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to read more on Wednesday. I did participate in the Book Spine Poetry challenge, and you can find my entry here. That was fun!

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 3
Read today: Finished The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Pages read today: 162
Total number of pages: 841
Notes about today: I finished The Girl from the Well today; I plan on reviewing it in the next day or so. Today was a little less stressful, but that’s mostly because I was at work today, and I love my job at the library. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the Bout of Books chat so I didn’t get to participate. Oh well. At least there is another one on Saturday. How’s everyone else doing?

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 3
Total number of books I’ve read: 6
Read today: Volume 6 and 7 of The Walking Dead comics; Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Pages read today: 304
Total number of pages: 1,145
Notes about today: I had a little change of my reading list today and I read volumes 6 and 7 of The Walking Dead comics (because they finally came in at the library). By the way, volume 6 is AWESOME. I also read my first children’s book of the week, Jumanji, which I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I also started The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith, but I only read 14 pages which is why I didn’t add it to my count. I didn’t do any challenges today because I worked most of the day, so I plan on doing at least one on Friday. Also, I need to visit some more new blogs!

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1.5
Total number of books I’ve read: 7.5
Read today: Volume 8 of The Walking Dead comics; 115 pages of The Geography of You and Me
Pages read today: 251
Total number of pages: 1,396
Notes about today: Today was a pretty good day as well. I got a HUGE haul from the library because all of my holds came in at the same time. Of course. So I had to read one more volume of The Walking Dead. Then I read some more of The Geography of You and Me, which I’m really enjoying. Again, no challenges. 😦 But I had a busy day and my aunt and uncle are in town, so I just spent time with them instead.

Saturday
Number of books I’ve read today: .5
Total number of books I’ve read: 8
Read today: Finished The Geography of You and Me
Pages read today: 222
Total number of pages: 1,618
Notes about today: Today, I participated in the Spell It Out Challenge, and you can see my entry on Instagram (I spelled out my named, STEFANI). I also finished reading The Geography of You and Me, which I thought was pretty cute (I’ll review it soon). I participated in the Bout of Books chat as well, but I was eating breakfast at Dunkin Donuts and then walking around an outlet mall with my family, so it was kind of haphazard tweeting. I can’t believe tomorrow’s the last day already. I’ve enjoyed this Bout of Books; I exceeded my expectations in page count, and I’m also going to start a new book on Sunday, which means I’ll be reading more than my goal! Yay!

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: 3.5
Total number of books I’ve read: 11.5
Read today: Read Lost and Found and Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, and half of The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Pages read today: 206
Total number of pages: 1,824
Notes about today: Today was the last day of Bout of Books 11! 😦 I am really proud of myself and how  much I read. I met my goals and more! So that’s super exciting. I had a blast and I’m glad I got to participate again. Looking forward to the next one!

SUNDAY FUNDAY: WEEK IN REVIEW [11]

The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

August 11 – 17, 2014

This week was pretty great. Definitely more fun that the week before. Highlight of the week? I had my first blogger meet up! I met Annette (aka Booknerderie) in person. She drove up to my house Friday and we saw The Hundred-Foot Journey Friday night. On Saturday, we went to B&N and bought Isla and the Happily Ever After. We spent a couple hours reading and drinking coffee, then went to the comic book store. It was so much fun! I’m looking forward to going to visit her next.

20140816_093812

I also made plans with my friend Georgie to go to the Decatur Book Festival the last weekend in August. I am SO PUMPED about this. Stephanie Perkins, Maggie Stiefvater, Jennifer E. Smith, Lauren Myracle and a bunch of other awesome authors will be there. CANNOT WAIT.

Books read: I finally finished reading One of Us by Tawni O’Dell (review tomorrow). I also read all of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins yesterday (review either tomorrow or Tuesday), which I LOVED. Obviously.

I also read the first two issues of The Wicked and the Divine, issues 19 and 20 of Saga (I’m beyond obsessed), about 15 or 20 issues of Batman and Robins, the first several issues of Batman Incorporated, and I think that’s it. I’m a little comics-obsessed. But I’d say two books and 20-30 issues of comics is a GREAT week.

IMG_20140816_145359

TBR: This week I bought Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid and The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (on Amazon; should be here this week). They’ll both be at the Decatur Book Festival in two weeks. Definitely need to read their books before then.

Non-bookish things I’m excited about:

DOCTOR WHO premieres on Saturday!! Yay!

Teen Wolf. Duh.

It’s bookish, but I believe I’m going to see The Giver this week.

Also going to see Let’s Be Cops with my brother. It looks so funny.

 

Summer Blogger Promo Tour: Ana Loves…

Oh no! It’s the second to last guest post for the Summer Blogger Promo Tour! Today I’ve got the lovely Ana from Ana Loves… This past week I had fun doing the 7 Deadly Sins tag, so I got her to do it as well. After you see which book she feels ashamed to have read (you shouldn’t feel any shame for ANYTHING you read, Ana!!) and which book boyfriend she’s totally in love with, go say hi to her on Twitter or on her blog. 🙂

~

1. Greed – What is your most inexpensive book?

I have to admit that I stared at my bookshelf for a long time trying to remember how much each book cost. I *think* that the cheapest book I have is The Secret Garden. I got it on Book Outlet a few months ago for around $4, I’m incredibly proud of that purchase 🙂

2. Wrath – What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Hmmm, I really don’t hate on any authors- but I guess the author that constantly made me heartbroken is Rick Riordan. As a middle schooler his books made me soooo upset because not everyone lived happily ever after

3. Gluttony – What book have you devoured over and over with no shame?

Harry Potter and The Last Song

The HP books aren’t really ‘shamed’ books, but whenever I tell people how many times I’ve read the books they always look at me like I’m crazy (I’ve read the entire series around 10 times, sometimes I would read the entire series back to back.)

I get ‘shamed’ whenever I talk about The Last Song, which I’ve read three times. I love this book so much, it was the first YA contemporary book I’ve read, the first book I’ve read that involves cancer, and it was the first book that made me cry. Why do I get shamed? Apparently it’s not cool to like anything that has to do with Miley Cyrus, so since she’s the MC in the movie everyone I know hates it.

4. Sloth – What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

The Night Circus; I started this book when I was about to go on a school trip to Boston. It has AMAZING reviews, so I was sure I’d like it, but when I was at Boston I didn’t have any time to read it and when I got home I was too lazy to continue. I eventually started reading other books, but never finished it.

5. Pride – What book do you most talk about in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

I don’t usually talk about books to sound intellectual- so I have no idea.

6. Lust – What attributes do you find attractive in male or female characters?

Two words: DAEMON BLACK

He’s from the Lux series and he’s mine. If you look up the word perfect in the dictionary he will magically pop out of nowhere with a smirk offering you a cookie.

7. Envy – What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

I would die if someone got me the first five books of The Mortal Instruments series in hardback. I read them all through the library and pre-ordered COHF, so I need the others