Monday, October 31, 2016

October Wrap-Up

Wow, what an amazing reading month!  

I completed 6 books this month, bringing my 2016 total to 44 books so far.  I participated in two reading challenges (R.I.P. XI and the first #Spookathon) and crossed one more Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt off my list. 


In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Completed 10/3/16
Counts toward the R.I.P. Challenge
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Click here for my spoiler-free comparison between The Woman in Cabin 10 and In a Dark, Dark Wood.

I enjoyed this book because, like The Woman in Cabin 10, it is just so readable. The writing just flows along.

That being said, it wasn't nearly as creepy as I expected. I notice that some people have it shelved as horror. Um....why? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it isn't actually horror, but I was definitely expecting something that would give me a few goosebumps.

The characters in the book were fairly well developed, particularly Clare, who reminded me a little of Amy in Gone Girl. It drove me nuts, however, that the narrator, Lee/Nora, was supposed to have the occupation of a crime fiction writer and then the author didn't do ANYTHING at all to explore that. Missed opportunity.

I feel like it was a little too predictable and there were a few too many coincidences, but overall I enjoyed it.


Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton
Completed 10/6/16
Counts toward the R.I.P. Challenge
Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #21: A book recommended by a family member
Rating: 4 out of 5

I've read a few of Beaton's Agatha Raisin cozy mystery series, so my grandma recommended that I try the Hamish MacBeth series as well.

Death of a Gossip is first in the series and was originally published in 1985. Frankly, it has a feel of being even older than that. I would have placed it in the 1970s. This isn't meant to be a criticism, just an observation.

I was really surprised how much Beaton managed to pack into such a short book - strong character development (and there were quite a few characters), good setting, some humor, and some information about fishing. I probably won't continue the series, but I enjoyed reading it. 


Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Completed 10/17/16
Counts toward the #Spookathon: A book with red on the cover
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I had heard that this graphic short story collection was seriously creepy. It was, though the stories were too short for me to really build up a major creep factor. I also didn't like the abruptness of the endings to most of them. Abrupt endings can be shocking and effective, but not if there are too many questions unanswered. I still enjoyed this book for something different, but I wish there was more to it. 


You by Caroline Kepnes
Completed 10/18/16
Counts toward the R.I.P. Challenge
Counts toward the #Spookathon: A thriller
Rating: 5 out of 5

Mind blown. 

I can honestly say I've never read a book like this. It's like you are right inside the mind of a stalker. He's at turns disturbing and disturbed, incredibly arrogant, funny (!), unreliable, and even occasionally brilliant. It's also completely unpredictable.

This isn't a book for everyone, but I appreciated it and flew through it. 


Dracula by Bram Stoker
Completed 10/22/16 (audiobook)
Counts toward the R.I.P. Challenge
Counts toward the #Spookathon: A book with a paranormal character/creature
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

I've never read Dracula before and really didn't know what to expect in terms of plot. I was surprised to discover that the story is told with multiple narrators through journal entries, letters, etc. 

My favorite part by far was the first section of the book in which Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania and stays at the home of the mysterious count. This part has the best developed atmosphere, and I enjoyed the interaction between him and Dracula. Dracula himself is absent for the most of the rest of the book.

Once the book switches to England, the creep factor drops dramatically and the story becomes fairly predictable, though I did enjoy it.

I listened to this book as an audiobook with multiple narrators (including Tim Curry as Van Helsing!) which I feel was a pretty good format. My only complaint would be that some of the male voices were difficult to differentiate. Lucy and Mina were quite well done.


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Completed 10/26/16
Counts toward the #Spookathon: A 2016 release
Rating: 2.75 out of 5
Click here for my expanded review (containing spoilers).

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly wish I could give it a better one, but I just had too many issues with it to rate it higher.  This is the first book in a new YA fantasy series about a family of brujas (witches) of Latin American descent.

Overall, the whole thing has the impression of being a "rough draft."  There are nuggets of potential here and the premise is super-interesting. I've never read anything dealing with Latin American folklore, and I would love to learn more since it seemed that most of the elements of the book were completely fictional.

What I liked:
* The quest plot through the magical land.
* The creative variety of magical beings with ambiguous intentions. 
* The idea of having a love triangle involving two girls and a guy. 
Character growth in Alex relative to embracing her power.

What I didn't like:
* Alex simply isn't fleshed out enough as a character and is a bit too bland to want to root strongly for her. Because of this, the love triangle aspect can't be developed enough either.  The other two main characters could use a little work as well.
* Super bland and/or cheesy dialogue. 
* Inconsistencies in terms of setting and events.

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