Book Review: Totem

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Author: Jennifer Maruno
Pages: 136
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Adventure, Sci/Fi (Time Travel)
Published: (Expected August 12, 2014)
Rating: 4/5

I enjoyed this book. It was a short but entertaining read on a subject that I really haven’t read much about before.

Jonny is an orphaned child living at the Redemption Residential School. He realized very quickly that he was different from the other children there as he was the only white child while the rest were Native students of the islands.

The Catholic school is very strict and each boy is given a job to do. Jonny has some upsetting encounters with Father Gregory who continually makes inappropriate advances. One day a Native boy named Ernie is brought to the school and Jonny befriends him right away. Ernie’s father was arrested and his family is known for being disruptive.

Ernie tells Jonny about a cave that they could escape to until his father is released from jail in six months. Father Gregory takes Jonny and Ernie with him to bring chickens back to the school to add to the new chicken house and Jonny and Ernie plan their getaway accordingly.

They reach the cave right before a giant thunderstorm hits and are then transported back in time to a native village. Jonny is trained on totem pole carving and becomes very close with the chief of the village.

There are some more big plot points but I don’t want to give everything away. I really struggled to get into this book at the beginning. The scenes with Father Gregory were uncomfortable and honestly made me not want to continue reading it. However, aside from that part of the story line, I really enjoyed reading about Jonny and how his character progressed in this short historical fiction book.

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Book Review: The Fever

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Author: Megan Abbott
Pages: 320
Published: (Expected June 17, 2014)
Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5

I had so many mixed emotions throughout the course of reading this book. And in the end the only thing I could think was holy crap that was intense.

The Fever tells the story of the Nash family as they cope with the sudden unexplained outbreak of illnesses among teenage girls at the local high school. Deenie Nash’s best friend, Lise, drops from her chair one day in a terrifying seizure. She is then hospitalized after a seizure induced cardiac event where she remains for the rest of the story.

Deenie and her family (her older brother Eli and her father who is a teacher at her school) attempt to discover the cause of Lise’s sudden illness as more girls begin to become ill.

Mass hysteria breaks out among the parents of the students and many possible causes for the illness are presented including a botched HPV vaccine and exposure to a local lake that has toxic chemicals in it.

As the story unravels more secrets about Deenie’s best friends are brought to the surface ultimately leading to a completely unexpected plot twist that is revealed to be the cause of Lise’s illness.

I was very excited to have a chance to review this book and absolutely loved it! I can’t wait to get a physical copy to add to my shelf!

One of the best horror novels that I’ve had the chance to read in a while.

Book Review: Amity

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Author: Micol Ostow
Pages: 368
Published: (Expected August 26, 2014)
Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy (Paranormal)
Rating: 4/5

I saw that this book had a rating of 3.23 on Goodreads and was honestly not sure what to expect. When I initially saw the summary of the book I was really excited to read it. So I decided to give it a shot.

This is the story of two separate families that both lived in the Amity home. 10 years before Gwen and Luke moved into the home, Connor and Julianne’s family lived there first. Their stories rotate so that Gwen and Luke’s story is told for about one chapter and then it flashes to 10 years ago and the story of Connor and Jules emerges.

Connor’s character is quickly defined as a sociopath. Connor and Jules are twins to very dysfunctional parents. Their mother is extremely timid and submissive, most likely a result of abuse at the hands of their father. While their father has always been abusive toward their mother and then toward their younger brother, he has never laid a hand on either of them. Connor believes this is because his father knows that Connor has major problems.

Gwen was hospitalized for hysteria prior to moving into the Amity home due to a few events where she attacked another girl and caused a rainstorm of stones. At one point she is diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. Shortly after moving into the Amity home, Gwen begins to have hallucinations of a young girl.

As both stories progress, the evil within the Amity home begins to overtake both Luke and Connor. It is also explained that the home has a very negative history as the land it was built on was once used as a place for dark magic, then used as an underground railroad for witches during the Salem trials, and prior to becoming a house, was also used as an asylum where patients were tortured.

While this book had some extremely predictable elements, I would have to say that I really enjoyed it. I read the book in basically one sitting and knew that I was enjoying it when I started to feel on edge while reading. I can’t give it a full 5/5 because I don’t think it was anything groundbreaking for a horror novel, but I did enjoy it and would recommend it for any horror buff looking for a new read this summer.

Book Review: The Bully Goat Grim: A Maynard Moose Tale

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Author: Willy Claflin (Illustrated by James Stinson; Music by Brian Claflin)
Pages: 32
Published: August 16, 2012
Genre: Childrens, Fantasy (Fairy Tale), Animals, Humor
Rating: 5/5

The best way for me to tell if I enjoyed a kids book is whether or not I had a smile on my face while reading it. And this was the case for The Bully Goat Grim. I was smiling and laughing the entire time while I was reading this smartly written and beautifully illustrated book.

Maynard the Moose likes to tell stories to the other forest animals in the Northern Piney Woods every full moon. This particular story is about the Bully Goat Grim, a “dubnoxious” billy goat that enjoyed giving the other animals a hard time due to his Random Hostility Syndrome.

One day he decides that he wants to go to the Upland Pasture where there are delicious grasses for him to eat, but in order to get there he has to cross the troll bridge. Each time he crosses the troll bridge, he warns the trolls not to mess with him until one day the baby troll realizes that the Bully Goat Grim had been using double negatives when issuing his warning thereby asking for the trolls to mess with him.

A very quick read that I really enjoyed and will most likely read again and again.

**This book also comes with an audio CD that I do not have but am eager to listen to!

 

Books, Books, & More Books!

So, if you couldn’t tell from the amount of reviews that I’ve posted in the last 8 hours, I’ve been on a reading-binge lately. I know that once the semester starts up in the fall that I won’t be able to read nearly as much as I would like to just from the amount of work and school-reading that I’ll be doing. So, in the meantime I am going to read & review everything that I can get my hands on.

Mostly what I’m reading right now is a butt-load of Kindle books. I requested a ton of books to review and have been lucky enough to be allowed to get some books for review that haven’t been released yet. So those are the books that I will be posting about the most during the summer.

I am also in the middle of reading a couple books that I have that are separate from review copies, but that I am just super excited to read. So those books will randomly be interspersed within the rest of my reviews as those are the ones that I read while on the road or when I need a break from my Kindle.

Even though my TBR is gigantic at this point, if there is a book that you’d like me to review, please feel free to let me know and I will gladly do it! Feel free to look me up on the other sites that I am a part of as well including twitter (@ABiblioJrny) and YouTube (ABibliophilesJourney).

Have a great rest of the week!!

-Keeley

Book Review: Northwood

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Author: Brian Falkner (Illustrated by Donovan Bixley)
Pages: 282
Published: August 1, 2011
Genre: Childrens (Middle Grade), Fantasy, Adventure
Rating: 5/5

A kids book with enough adventure and tension to make anyone enjoy it.

Cecilia Undergarment grew up in a balloon house. Not an actual balloon, but a house shaped like a balloon. She also had a secret; she can talk to animals. (Very Eliza Thornberry, I know). One day she was playing in the attic when she heard a dog barking wildly. She couldn’t tell what the dog was saying (she has to be able to look at the face of the animals she talks to in order to understand them), but she could tell this dog was upset. The dog belonged to Mr. Procter her next door neighbor. Mr. Procter used to be super nice, but then he opened up Proctermart and become a mean selfish man. The dog, Rocky, was telling Cecilia that he hadn’t been fed properly. See, Rocky belong to Mr. Procter’s wife but she had disappeared along with their daughter a while ago. Mr. Procter never really cared for the dog, so he wasn’t taking the time to feed him.

Cecilia was very upset by this and came up with a plan to save Rocky which only angered Mr. Procter into attacking her house with a bulldozer. Cecilia had taken Rocky and the two of them were playing in the attic while this was going on. The attic was built to mimic a balloon and had special compartments both on the inside and the outside that would inflate to save the attic from crumbling into the house if the house was ever damaged. Only, the designer of the house had assumed that if anyone were in the attic when this occurred, they would be the size of adults and not a small girl and an emaciated dog.

So Cecilia and Rocky were swept away by the wind while trapped in the attic/balloon. The wind continued to blow them all across the neighborhood until finally setting them down in the most feared area nearby. The Northwood forest.

The book tells the story of Cecilia and Rocky as they navigate the Northwood forest and discover its secrets.

A quick read that I really enjoyed and highly recommend!

Book Review: American Gods

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Author: Neil Gaiman
Pages: 656
Published: March 4, 2005 (originally published 2001)
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5

American Gods tells the story of a man named Shadow that is released from prison early after being informed that his wife has passed away. While it is never explicitly stated why Shadow was in jail, it appears that he was mixed up in some sort of robbery for his wife that went wrong.

Shadow gets on a plane after being released from jail, unsure of where he is going to go next. He meets an older gentleman that knows a strange amount of information about Shadow and this older guy tells Shadow that he will hire him.

Shadow tries to ignore the older man and eventually gets of the plane at an earlier stop to avoid him. However, the old man has followed Shadow and will not leave him alone. Eventually Shadow agrees to work for the old man and embarks on a journey he never thought he would be on.

Shadow travels with the older man as they prepare for a war against the old gods and the new.

This was a really strange idea for a book that I freakin’ love. Neil Gaiman is a master at making weird ideas come to life in a way that is relatable and enjoyable. This was the first Neil Gaiman book that I ever read and will definitely not be the last!

Book Review: Outlander

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Author: Diana Gabaldon
Pages: 870
Published: July 26, 2005 (originally published January 1, 1991)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Adult
Rating: 5/5

Outlander is the first book in the Outlander series by one of the best female fantasy writers of all time. Outlander tells the story of Claire Randall, a former combat nurse living in the 1940s with her husband. One day while exploring the British Isles, Claire discovers a rock formation that unexpectedly sends her back to the 1700s in the Scottish highlands. Claire must now try to survive during a time of war and unease among the MacKenzie clan.

Claire befriends Jamie Fraser, a Scottish warrior, and quickly realizes that there is more to him than meets the eye. The longer she is with Jamie, the more she realizes how in love with him she really is.

Claire must deal with being in love with a man in the 1700s while also being married to a man that lived in the 1940s.

I didn’t expect to be as in love with this book as I was. I was recommended it by my sister and am so happy that she told me about it! I can’t wait to continue the series to see what happens to Jamie and Claire.

Also, they are making a tv series out of this soon!

Book Review: The Little Stranger

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Author: Sarah Waters
Pages: 466
Published: April 30, 2009
Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Gothic
Rating: 4/5

The Little Stranger follows Dr. Faraday as he re-discovers the Hundreds Hall mansion that he visited as a child. He is called out to the home on night to check on one of the maids that has suddenly taken ill. Dr. Faraday is excited to be inside the home again, but never expected to become as enthralled with the Ayers family as he is. The more time he spends in the home, the more he begins to realize that it is no accident when other members of the household begin to get severely ill or die. There seems to be an ever present force inside the home that has complete control over everyone that resides there.

I had to give this book a 4/5 because I wasn’t 100% in love with the story. I did enjoy it a lot, and there were some points where I felt thoroughly creeped out. But honestly, it took about 10 chapters for that to happen. I enjoyed the story of Dr. Faraday and the Ayers family, but felt this book left a little to be desired.

Book Review: Gone Girl

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Author: Gillian Flynn
Pages: 419
Published: June 5, 2012
Genre: Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 5/5

So I wasn’t sure what this book was about when I first bought it, but I have heard of this author for a while now and decided to check it out. 

Basically this book was fantastic! I absolutely loved the story and could not read it fast enough. 

The book is an excellent “murder” mystery that keeps you guessing for almost 2/3 of the book. When, at the end, everything wraps up, I was left with my mouth hanging open and a general feeling of “wtf did I just read and why did I wait so long to read this book?”

I enjoyed the crap out of this and highly recommend it

This tells the story of Amy and Nick’s utterly screwed up marriage. The story begins with Nick realizing that Amy is missing. For the rest of the novel you are told both Nick and Amy’s innermost secrets regarding their marriage and everything that has gone wrong with it. Nick goes to extreme measures to get Amy back, only to find out that her disappearance is no accident.

I was blown away by this book. It’s been a long time since a book has been able to make me feel so confused and excited at the same time. There were so many plot points that I didn’t see coming and I loved every second of it!

They are also making a movie out of this book!