I haven’t been on much recently more or less because I’ve been reading so much. Every summer I have a goal to read a lot of books (the number fluctuates year to year), which usually leads into fall and winter, where I’m still on this roll and I’m still reading books in one sitting. Honestly, it’s kind of bad. Not only that, but because I have a job now, I actually am buying books left and right. Please stop me.
I thought I would do a post on the books I’ve read recently and am really into because there’s quite a few. And by quite a few, I really mean a lot. I won’t get into a review of the books because if I plan on reviewing the books, it will be a longer, more in-depth post. That and I just don’t have any time these days. I will however try to give you a summary and my rating of the book/ quick thoughts.
- Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman:
The first book in a series about a girl, Gretchen, who grows up in post WWI Germany, right before Hitler comes into power. Gretchen’s father was friends with Hitler, until he sacrifices his life for Hitlers. She grows up close to Hitler and even refers to him as her Uncle Dolf. This means that Gretchen has been taught to hate the Jewish/anyone who is not “pure”. That is, until she meets a reporter who tells her that everything she knows about her fathers death is wrong. This leads Gretchen down a path of mystery and adventure as she learns that her friends are not really her friends and that she is living a lie.
While that is probably a really crappy summary (you can find better on the amazon or goodreads pages for it), you can see where my interest in this book comes into play. It’s historical fiction (with some truth), that involves a mystery. Gretchen is also relatable since she has her flaws and grows as a character. There were other made up characters, too, that I enjoyed reading about. In addition to the fictional characters being well-written, it’s also an amazing character study of Hitler. Because it’s historical fiction, you have to take the “accurate” parts with a grain of salt. That sounds like the author got everything wrong, and I’m not trying to say that at all. I’m just saying that while everything about Hitler and the events surrounding him and this time seem well researched, you still can’t just use it as an actual history book, so while it’s an interesting character-study, one would be better off using J-Store for any research on Hitler. That being said, it’s still an interesting read, and halfway through, I was so enthralled, I bought book two of the series, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.
- The Diviners by Libba Bray:
The Diviners is about Evie O’Niell, a teenager in 1920’s America, who has landed herself in hot water in her hometown, while at a party. This trouble is only because she was drunk enough to tell everyone about her hidden talent. Evie is special because she can touch an object and tell you a whole bunch of things about the person who owns it. She lets some secrets about someone slip, which leads to big consequences. Her parents send her off to live with her eccentric uncle in New York City, which is supposed to be a punishment, but Evie thinks it’s awesome. Her uncle owns a museum on the paranormal, and because he’s considered an expert on the occult, the town asks for his help in solving a murder involving occult symbols. Evie realizes that her power can be of use in this case and helps out.
You may know Libba Bray from her book A Great and Terrible Beauty. While I haven’t read that one, yet, that is where I recognized her name from when I first heard of The Diviners, since I’ve heard a lot about her other book series from a lot of book reviewers on Youtube and Tumblr. Bray’s prestige was not the reason I decided to read this book. It was mostly because it was historical fiction involving ghosts and murders. Two of my favorite topics. Not only that, but I had heard some really good things about it and was dying for more flappers. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and found myself buying the second book in the series (Lair of Dreams) like the previous book.
- The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James:
Similar to The Diviners, The Other Side of Midnight is a story involving the paranormal. This one involves a psychic named Ellie, who is hired by the brother of her enemy/former best friend, Gloria, to solve Gloria’s murder. Throughout the story, we meet several interesting characters with powers (and no powers), and we spend most of it wondering whodunnit.
And, once again, like The Divners, St. James’ novel takes place in the 30’s, however, this one is set London, England. I own all of St. James’ books, and before reading this one, Silence For the Dead was my favorite. She writes really awesome ghost stories, ones that do give me shivers, which I’ve stated before, can be hard. While The Other Side of Midnight isn’t as creepy as her other books, it has it’s moments. In my opinion, this is St. James’ strongest book. I’m currently reading her most recent, Lost Among the Living. It’s a good book (so far), but I’m a bit let down by it. I suppose I should have read it before I read The Other Side of Midnight because I enjoyed it so much. However, Lost does provide more ghost moments than Midnight does. Both are worth the read, but I really recommend Midnight.
- The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas:
This book is a classic, and it is for a good reason. It’s about a young man named d’Artagnan, who has set off to become a Musketeer. While he doesn’t become one until well into the story (not really a spoiler when the book is over 100 years old), he finds himself in many misadventures, especially once he meets the three men who are the name sake of the book, Musketeers, Athos, Aramis and Porthos. The three were already best friends, but they take the young man in, and become a loyal (to the death!) group of friends. The main plot of this story is the kidnapping of d’Artagnan’s love, Constance. This leads the men into an interesting mystery involving corruption and politics (because those two seem to go hand and hand). And while almost all of the characters (especially the Musketeers, looking at you d’art!) are disagreeable, Dumas was so good at writing witty stories, you can’t help but cheer the “good” guys on. Even though it was written so long ago, it’s a book that is relatable at some points, even now in 2016. For instance, there is a part where the Musketeers are poor (one of many), and d’Artagnan’s servant complains that there is no food to eat. D’Art just tells him to take a nap. I can’t tell you how many times I took a nap in college because I was hungry and didn’t have food. I’ve even brought this up to several people and they all have said that they too have had instances like this.
The Three Musketeers is a book I started a while ago and only just finished this summer. And by a while, I mean, I was a junior in college when I started it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book, it was more that I wasn’t able to pay attention in good old Sara-like fashion. Sometimes I get in these periods of reading blocks where I just cannot read anything. However, from the first chapter onward, I fell in love with this book. It’s strange that it took so long, because I now call it my favorite and I actually intend on getting a Musketeer themed tattoo at some point this year.
Oh, and if you are looking for a good adaption of this book, the 2011 version is NOT the one.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
I’d be a bit surprised if you didn’t know the basics of the plot by now, but here they are: a really rich guy buys a manor in the countryside near Elizabeth Bennet’s house, and her mother immediately sets out to get one of her daughters betrothed to this rich guy since the Bennet’s are not rich. Bingley (said rich guy), falls fast for Elizabeths oldest sister, Jane. Bingley also has a friend named Darcy who is really grumpy and immediately clashes with Elizabeth, however, he kind of falls for her right away and so during most of the book you read a lot about his confusion for his feelings towards someone with so little of a fortune. Elizabeth maintains her hatred for him throughout the novel, and doesn’t change her opinion until very late in the story. We all know they end up together, so don’t yell at me for saying that. Also, some things get in the way of Bingley and Jane’s relationship, so a lot of the book is trying to get them to get engaged. There’s also a really obnoxious cousin named Mr. Collins who wants to marry Elizabeth at one point, but gets turned down by her because she seems to be the only lady in the book with sense. Wow. I’m really glad this isn’t a book report for school or something, because that was probably the worst description of Pride and Prejudice to ever be written.
This summer, I finally got around to reading this book. I’d seen many adaptions of it, so I knew how the story went (almost by heart), so it was nice to finally get myself to read the actual novel. I’d just finished Sense and Sensibility, so I was in an Austen mood when I started the book, and while it did take a little over a month for me to read, I really enjoyed the book. It was probably one of the best romances I’ve ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into classics, mostly because it’s not a hard read, and while it’s long, it’s not that long (look at the Musketeers if you want long, or even War and Peace by Tolstoy because that is LONG). It’s a sweet story, and I find that Austen was really witty. Her characters are all interesting in their own way, and it’s not hard to fall in love with Elizabeth and Darcy, who are both deeply flawed, but very lovable.
- Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen:
While not her least known work, Sense and Sensibility is not as well know and as often adapted as Pride and Prejudice. It’s about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who have lost their fortune after their father’s death and have to live in a cottage with their mother and little sister in the countryside It basically deals with how they find love. Both sisters are the complete opposite, Elinor the Sense and Marianne the Sensibility.
I’m not sure what about this book makes me prefer it over Pride and Prejudice, but I do. While I love Elizabeth Bennet very dearly, I love the Dashwood sisters even more. I think it’s because Austen wrote it in such a way that you feel as though your apart of the Dashwood family, more so than how you feel about the Bennet family. In addition to that, there are more characters to love. I found it funnier than Pride and Prejudice too. But, because I read Sense and Sensibility before Pride and Prejudice, therefore, it was 4 months ago, I can’t really explain my preference of this book as well.
I do want to point out that all of Austen’s books are available for free in many places, including Project Gutenberg. But you can also read her books here.
- Cloak and Dagger by Nenia Campbell:
This is a book I recently re-read in order to read the third of the series (the IMA series). The book centers around two main characters: Christina and Michael. Michael is a mercenary in a group called the IMA who is tasked with kidnapping Christina. Christina is the daughter of a man who hacked the IMA’s system, hence why they want her kidnapped: for leverage. Some things go wrong, and eventually the IMA turns on Michael. Soon, both Michael and Christina are on the run from the IMA who wants both of them dead.
Cloak and Dagger is a really good thriller. I first got it for really cheap off of amazon for my kindle. I had my doubts because it was so cheap, but found that I did really enjoy it. It’s a little raunchy compared to the other books on this list, but it wasn’t over-the-top raunchy. In fact, the romance in this book is an interesting topic because it isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill romance. It differs in many ways, especially because it’s something like a reverse Stockholm Syndrome. In addition to that, we’re given deeply flawed characters, none of which are all good and all bad. Each of them are in the grey area, and I find that enjoyable. While Christina is portrayed as a bit of a damsel-in-distress, it isn’t over the top. In fact, it’s an interesting thing to compare to the next books in the series because we get to see her grow up. I do recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good thriller with romance. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for only a thriller.
- Armed and Dangerous by Nenia Campbell:
Armed and Dangerous is the second book in the IMA series. Because it’s the second book of the series, and I just recommended the first book, I’m going to only give a very brief summary of the book. Basically, it picks up a few months after the first book. Christina is going away to college, but is suffering PTSD and is trying to live a quiet life. Of course, this doesn’t happen because Michael is quite literally forced onto her doorstep, and then the two are on the run again. I won’t give you details, since it would be kind of spoilery for both books.
What I like about Armed and Dangerous is that we get to see Christina grow more. She isn’t a damsel-in-distress anymore. At least, not as much as before. She’s grown, and while it may not be for the best in some cases (she’s a lot colder), it’s still helpful for her in certain situations. Michael, on the other hand, seems to have regressed in this book. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. If anything, it’s really interesting that this has happened. Their relationship is really frustrating, as it was in the first book, but I think that just adds to how interesting the book is, because we get to see the relationship grow both close and further apart. I do think you should read this book, obviously after you read the first book, but both are really cheap. You can buy the whole series for really cheap. They aren’t necessarily quick reads, but they’re definitely quicker than the classics listed above.
I also want to point out that I wrote reviews of both books 1 & 2 of the IMA series a few years ago. They are not good reviews, but they may give a clearer picture of the books. I can’t say they’re spoiler free, but I think they’re kind of fun. Crappy, but fun.
Wow, that sure was a long post. Sorry about that! I do want to apologize for the lack of posts/regularity. I’ve been so tired and busy with work, that even sitting down and writing a short blog post has been daunting. I did start a review post of Prisoner of Night and Fog, however, reviews seem to be really hard for me. Another thing I’m going to try and post is another Wonderful Web Wednesday. It will either be a belated one for this week, or for next week. I have some youtubers I want to talk about (which means I have a new crush. oops.), and I still have to post about the Twenty One Pilots concert from July, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to get the videos on here without getting a paid account on here.
So, anyway, I hope you find my book recs helpful and you read at least one thing on the list. If you do, please let it be The Three Musketeers because IT WILL CHANGE YOU.