Review on “Small Spaces” by Katherine Arden

36959639Genre: middle grade horror

Format: audio book

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Published: September 25th 2018

Pages: 218

Goodreads summary:

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins. 

 

My thoughts:

“Wherever you go in this big, gorgeous, hideous world, there is a ghost story waiting for you.” 

With Halloween fast approaching, I wanted to find a spooky read to get myself in the proper mood on the last weekend of October. After reading and loving City of Ghosts earlier this month, I decided to give another middle grade horror book a try and was super intrigued by Small Spaces when I saw a fellow bookstagrammer give it a sterling review. Needless to say it was the best decision I ever made so my review will be a sterling one as well.

I’ve never been much of a middle grade reader but I absolutely loved Small Spaces. Katherine Arden’s writing was amazing and sucked me in right away, and I was very much impressed by how she managed to write a sufficiently scary story without making it utterly terrifying for young readers.  That didn’t mean of course, that there weren’t any creepy moments in the book because trust me, there were plenty! Seeing that the book was written for ages eight to twelve, I didn’t expect to be as spooked as I was while listening to it. It may have something to do with the very talented narrator who managed to make her voice sound completely different for each character (sometimes sounding downright creepy) but I can easily say Small Spaces was one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. It gave me chills so many times and felt like reading a classic Goosebumps book when I was younger which was honestly the best feeling! Besides, who doesn’t love a chilly read close to Halloween?

Ollie, the main character, was easily the best part of the book for me. Aside from the delightfully spooky moments in it, of course. At eleven years old she was one of the bravest protagonists I’ve even encountered and I got invested in her story pretty much from the first page. Not only because she managed to face the terrifying situation she found herself in without bursting into screaming every five seconds (because honestly I would have) but mostly because she had the courage of heart to make the decisions she made and especially in the end. I also loved her personality, which was strong and feisty despite the fact she mostly kept to herself, and couldn’t help but relate to her love of books. My heart warmed at every Narnia and Alice in Wonderland reference and I’m so glad the writer decided to include them.

I also want to give an ode to Katherine Arden for writing about trauma in her story and passing the massage that it can eventually be overcome one way or another. Ollie has lost her mom and that defines ever aspect of her character, as is normal. And while it’s ironic that she had to go through another traumatic experience to overcome her trauma. it goes to show that we can all come out of a dark situation as long as we find the strength inside of us.

I should probably bring this review to an end but not before I mention the two secondary characters, Coco and Brian. Ollie’s crew if you’d like to call them even though they started off as enemies (or at least not friends) in the beginning of the book. Just like Ollie, Coco and Brian were very real and very well developed and I loved getting to know each of them. Brian, the seemingly popular athletic boy who turned out to be a huge reader, won me over right away. Mostly because he beat the stereotype that says jocks can’t be readers and readers can’t be popular kids and because his character that there is more to people than what appears to be from the outside. The same applies to Coco who showed an impressive strength of personality you could never guess she had just by looking at her.

And maybe calling them secondary characters is not entirely correct because – even though they weren’t narrators in the book – they were so important to the story that I know the story wouldn’t be the same without them. I loved getting to know each of their strengths (and Ollie’s) and loved seeing how they shared these strengths with each other and how their friendship grew by the end of the book. I know Ollie wouldn’t have gotten very far without either of them and that’s another thing I have to applaud Katherine Arden on. The fact that she showed how important friendship is and how much you need your friends to help you deal with the bad situations. Even if those friends are completely different than you, appearance or personality wise.

Final rating: So five full stars for this and if you’re looking for a spooky read, this is definitely a book you should pick up. If you’re a fan of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps, Small Spaces will be a gem for you. It might not make you lose your sleep (it is intended for children after all) but it will definitely make you shudder and it will be totally worth the chills! And if you’re not afraid of scarecrows, well… you’re about to be!

 

 

 

Review on “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda”

19547856Genre: YA, contemporary

Format: paperback

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Published: April 7th, 2015

Pages: 303

Goodreads summary:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

 

My thoughts:

“And the feeling that people are like houses with vast rooms and tiny windows… He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.”

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a contemporary since I don’t normally read those so I’ll try to keep this simple. Contemporaries might not be my usual genre but there are a few that are definitely worth breaking my fantasy streak for and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was easily among those few.

Needless to say I absolutely loved it! The storyline was super easy to follow, the characters (especially Simon) were absolutely amazing and there were plenty of funny and heartwarming moments which was exactly what I needed after a super busy week. I loved the fact that the book focused on so many different themes. Sure, it was mostly about Simon’s inner struggle with himself and his relationship with Blue, but it was also a story about friendship, about family and about learning to be yourself which is something I definitely can relate to.

“Everyone should have to declare one way or another and it should be this big awkward things whether you’re straight, gay, bi or whatever.”

Simon’s relationship with Blue was probably one of my favorite parts in the book. I loved reading their email exchanges so much and I was rooting for them to be together right from the start. I also loved the fact that this was a book with a gay protagonist but that the writer went to great lengths to show how normal that gay protagonist is, in contrast to the usual stereotype that gay people can’t look or act normal. Simon is perfectly normal and perfectly unique at the same time and that’s what made me fall in love with him in the first place. It usually takes me a while to warm up to characters but let me just say that Simon was instantly likable. He is absolutely adorable, extremely smart, and all in all someone I’d love to have as my best friend so we could eat all the Oreos together and endlessly talk about Harry Potter. Yes, Simon loves Harry Potter so how could I not love him?

“The way I feel about him is like a heartbeat. Soft and persistent. Underlying everything.”

And speaking of best friends, I absolutely loved Simon’s relationship with his own best friends and how it evolved during the book. I loved that they were all so different from one another but that they were always there for each other because really, that’s what friendship is all about. And don’t even get me started about all the Harry Potter references in the book! As an undeniably obsessed Harry Potter fan, I absolutely loved reading those!

I also want to say a huge thank you to Becky for writing a super realistic and honest story that sends a wonderful message about diversity and equality. I’ve never had to struggle a lot with my identity like Simon did but I know many people are going through something like that and it is nice to see those people are represented in YA literature for once.

“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”

Final rating: Definitely five stars for this adorable and wonderful story! Like I said, I’m not big on contemporaries but it’s contemporaries like this one that make me love the genre a lot more! Would absolutely recommend this to anyone and a small piece of advice: if you’re going to read this, make sure to have Oreos close by! I’ve already devoured three packs this week and it doesn’t look like the craving will settle down any time sooner! Thanks so much for this Simon!4348708850_7767fe0d4c_o

Mid-Month Check In June 2018

Happy Saturday everyone! Welcome to another mid-month check in! I almost forgot to do it this time but luckily I remembered! Gonna keep the introduction short because I’m working on a million things today and don’t want to waste too much time. So without further ado here’s what’s going on in my bookish life lately!

Currently reading

I’m once again way too busy too focus on reading too much so I’m not having the best reading month, but I’m currently reading two books! The first one is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda which I’ve been trying to finish for at least a week. I say trying because I always end up being interrupted somehow which is a shame because I’m absolutely loving the book! Other than Simon, I’ve also started Beyond a Darkened Shore which I’m super excited about! I mean Vikings and magic! What else to ask for?

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Book Recommendations: Summer Reads

Happy June everyone! Can you believe May is already gone? I’m super excited that summer is officially here so I figured it would be fun to do some summer bookish recommendations to welcome the new season properly! These are all books I’ve read or am planning to read myself this summer and I really hope you’ll find them interesting as well!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

22456224Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school…again. And that’s the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy’s Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he’s angered a few of them. Zeus’ master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus’ stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

What book more fitting to read in summer than one that is all about the son of Poseidon? I have to admit I’ve only read the first two books in the series but I think it’s finally time for me to continue with it! I absolutely love Rick Riordan’s writing and Percy’s sarcastic humor makes these book super fun to read during any season but especially during summer! I’m planning on binge reading these in July, after my exams are over, and I can’t wait!

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Top 10 Favorite Scenes in Musicals

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today’s post is going to be a bit different! I don’t know about you but I’m one of those people who enjoy musicals immensely! I mean sure, I love super heroes, and light saber battles and adventures in magical lands as much as the next person. But I also love musicals and that is because they bring me joy and are usually an amazing spectacle to watch! Granted, I can’t always seem to get into musicals easily because sometimes the constant singing becomes tiring. But I’m also a sucker for amazing dance sequences and songs that send great messages. So today, I’m going to be counting down my top favorite scenes in musicals! Keep in mind that for those I took into consideration both the songs and scenes in general so you’re going to see some variety between them. So without further ado, let’s start the countdown!

10. West Side Story – Tonight

West Side Story is an old classic and one of my favorite musicals. It’s an amazing story about the star crossed love between Tony and Maria and features many amazing songs but my favorite is easily Tonight. The scene between Tony and Maria might not be something spectacular but it is definitely special and Natalie Wood’s amazing vocals make up for the lack of “excitement”. Plus the gentle interaction between Tony and Maria and the beautiful song lyrics make for a truly magical moment in musical history!

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Mid-Month Check In May 2018

Happy Tuesday everyone! We’re halfway through the month which means each time for another check in! I really enjoy doing them and they’re fairly easy to type which is perfect seeing as I rarely have time to blog properly! Hoping to change that soon because I have so many awesome ideas for blog posts but for now a check in it is!

Currently Reading

This month I decided to be a multi reader and am currently reading three books! Yes three! I totally blame this on the fact that I’m a mood reader and feel inspired to read random books all the time but I’ve also set a TBR for this month so I’m trying to balance both! Now to get to the actual books! I’m almost finished with Furyborn (I’m reading an ARC I got in a Fairyloot box and am determined to finish it before the book comes out on the 22nd so I can write a review for it too!), I’m halfway through Blackhearts (my pirate obsession is still going strong) and I just started Caraval like… literally an hour ago. Why? Because I figured it’s time for me to finally read it now that Legendary is almost out and because I finally watched The Greatest Showman last night and am currently obsessed with anything that has to do with the circus and men wearing top hats! So I figured Caraval is the perfect book to feed the obsession!

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Review on “The Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah

21853621Genre: adult, historical

Format: paperback

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Published: February 3rd, 2015

Pages: 440

Goodreads summary:

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can…completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real–and deadly–consequences.

My thoughts:

“My Nightingale, I’ve brought you home.”

This book. I have so many things to say about this book and I have no idea where to start. I guess I can start by saying it was a book I’d call unputdownable. Once you got into the story for good, at least. Unputdownable is not an actual word, I know, but it fits so well in this case. And speaking of getting into the story for good, that happened pretty fast! I was immediately intrigued from the very first page and got pulled into the story right away, and before I even knew it I was half way through the book and couldn’t stop reading! I even found myself holding my breath because of the suspense only forty pages in and was surprised at how quickly I got invested in the characters and story. I actually don’t think it was so much the story as it was the characters, although the story itself was pretty amazing, but the characters are what made me fall in love with the book as much as I did.

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Most Anticipated Releases of May 2018

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope you’re having a fantastic day full of sun, joy and relaxation! April is coming to the end (another month that went by way too fast!) so it’s once again time for me to share my most anticipated book releases for the month of May! I’m sure you’ve guessed some of these already, but let’s get to the actual list!

A Court of Frost and Starlight

31076583Goodreads summary:

The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we’d have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I’d now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

Expected publication: May 1st

My thoughts: It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that this book is one of my most anticipated May releases and that it’s also on the top of the list! You all know how much love I have for Rhysand, don’t you? Aside from Will Herondale (Will has always been the one) he’s probably my number one book boyfriend and I know that that’s also the case for many of you out there! I mean he’s truly swoon worthy, isn’t he? I remember my exact reaction when I found out Sarah was writing this book and my reaction to its release in only two days from now is pretty much the same! You guessed it, there was a lot of fangirling involved! But how can I say no to more Night Court adventures with all my favorite characters? Though I have a small confession to make and that confession is that I haven’t read ACOWAR yet. But it’s definitely going to happen this month, I promise you!

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Review on “To Kill A Kingdom” by Alexandra Christo

34499221Genre: YA, fantasy

Format: paperback

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Published: March 6, 2018

Pages: 358

Goodreads summary:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

My thoughts:

“But a princess must have her prince.”

This book. This book had everything I’m looking for in a dark fantasy story. Sirens, pirates, action, drama, adventure, strong characters, wicked villains and the kind of general badassery and questionable morality you can expect when the main characters are both pretty much killers. Well actually, not pretty much. They are killers. I also loved the plot, writing and world building and don’t even get me started on how much I fangirled over the relationship between Lira and Elian.

Elian. Elian was everything. I mean he’s a prince, a pirate, a siren killer and a thief. What else to ask for? But other than that (or maybe because of that) he was also a very conflicted characters and that’s one of the reasons why I loved him. Because he was struggling to find his place in the world (or rather knew what his place was and struggled to get everyone else to accept it) and that’s definitely something I can relate to.

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Mid-Month Check In April 2018

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m interrupting my daily nap schedule (just kidding, I don’t do naps, I simply procrastinate on the couch!) to bring you another monthly check in! I forgot to do this last month (apparently March turned into a black hole that swallowed any motivation I had to blog) but I was determined not to forget this time because these monthly updates are really fun to write! So without further ado, here’s how this month has been going for me!

Currently Reading

April has been a pretty relaxing month for me because of Easter holidays which means I had more days off work than usual. Because of that I also managed to do more reading than I usually do which I’m really happy about! Right now, I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and I am completely hooked! I really wanted to read more historical fiction this year and novels set during World War II have always interested me so I’m really excited to be finally reading the Nightingale! I’m only halfway through and I’m already sure it’s going to be a five star read for me! Apart from reading The Nightingale, I’m also rereading Legend by Marie Lu for the O.W.L.s readathon which I’m participating in this month (more on that later). It’s been way too long since I read this trilogy and since it has always been one of my favorites, I decided it was finally time for a reread!

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