Trick or (T)Read: A Halloween Giveaway

October 30, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Giveaway1 comment

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I was preparing this post, making the graphic above, when I suddenly noticed her second eye and now I am freaking out because oh my god. Clearly, I am not the Halloween-y type. I wish I was, though. I wish I were able to watch horror movies without hiding my face behind a stack of pillows. I wish I were able to read about ghosts without needing to sleep with the night light on. I blame my lack of bravery with my background. We don’t celebrate Halloween in the Netherlands. Children don’t go trick or treating and the only ones dressing up are people going to the rare Halloween party – something that I will actually be doing for the first time ever this year. (I wish I were able to go as Celaena Sardothien but no one would even know who was. (Shaking my head at all those non-book people.)

Following this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic (which I missed), I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about scary books. But as I checked my Goodreads, I realized that there were only two books I could think of that scared me, and one of which isn’t even scary. These books are The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (and Evolution, of course) and Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. The Mara Dyer series is really excellent because I love unreliable narrators and I can’t wait to see how it all ends when I read Retribution soon. Fire With Fire is not really scary but it scared me a lot anyway, because of spoilers. But I do really want to branch out into the scary (if not too scary), so I need your help: which Halloween-y book would you recommend to a whimp like me? Let me know in the comments.

The lovely people over atth NOVL and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers have offered me a chance to allow you to win some amazing looking Halloween-y reads. You can enter to win a copy of: Blood of My Blood by Barry Liga (a series that I really want to read because it sounds nerve-wracking), Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (which is about witches and it sounds fantastic), Unmarked by Kami Garcia (a series about ghosts and demons that I haven’t read yet), and The Young World by Chris Weitz (which is about an illness whiping out most of the population). I haven’t actually read any of these books, but I really want to try especially Salt & Storm and Bary Liga’s series. They seem like the kind of scary books I could actually handle. The Young Worlds sounds really interesting, but also really scary in light of current events.

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Review: The Black Hour

October 28, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review, 1 comment

Review: The Black HourTitle: The Black Hour
Author: Lori Rader-Day
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Adult, Mystery
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 3 Stars

For Chicago sociology professor Amelia Emmet, violence was a research topic--until a student she'd never met shot her. He also shot himself. Now he's dead and she's back on campus, trying to keep up with her class schedule, a growing problem with painkillers, and a question she can't let go: Why?

All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but normal is looking hard to come by. She's thirty-eight and hobbles with a cane. Her first student interaction ends in tears (hers). Her fellow faculty members seem uncomfortable with her, and her ex--whom she may or may not still love--has moved on.

Enter Nathaniel Barber, a graduate student obsessed with Chicago's violent history. Nath is a serious scholar, but also a serious mess about his first heartbreak, his mother's death, and his father's disapproval.  Assigned as Amelia's teaching assistant, Nath also takes on the investigative legwork that Amelia can't do. And meanwhile, he's hoping she'll approve his dissertation topic, the reason he came to grad school in the first place: the student attack on Amelia Emmet.

Together and at cross-purposes, Amelia and Nathaniel stumble toward a truth that will explain the attack and take them both through the darkest hours of their lives.

my thoughts

I’ve learned something about myself recently—I struggle at rating mysteries. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because most mysteries don’t leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end, which is one of the things that I love so much about (most of) my favorite contemporary novels. Although this mystery did tie everything up in a nice little bow at the end, the tone throughout Lori Rader-Day’s debut novel is exactly what you would expect from a book titled The Black Hour. It’s dark and somewhat disturbing, with the main character being a sociology professor who is a seemingly innocent victim of an attempted murder/suicide.

Initially, I gave this book 4 stars because it’s a very well-written mystery that kept me intrigued from page 1; but then when I asked myself the all-important question– “will I ever want to reread this book?”– the answer leaned more toward “no.” The mystery is solved, and none of the characters are particularly likeable enough to revisit. For that reason, I’ve settled on a 3-star rating for Rader-Day’s The Black Hour. Don’t perceive this as a negative rating though—I definitely recommend that you give it a try, especially if you’re a fan of mysteries! 

The plot of The Black Hour revolves around the seemingly random shooting of Dr. Amelia Emmet, a sociology professor at Rothbert, which is an elite private college in Chicago. The book starts with Dr. Emmet returning to work after a 10-month hiatus, which she spent recovering from the shooting that happened right outside her office. She’s still very much crippled from the accident and must rely on a cane and pain medication just to make it through the day. For me, the most infuriating part about this book is that no one believes Dr. Emmet when she says she didn’t know the shooter; he wasn’t her student, or a sociology major, or her advisee.

However, almost everyone, including her coworkers, assumes that she must have been sleeping with him. I must admit, I got a bit ragey every time someone insinuated that. Was a crippling gunshot wound not enough for this poor woman? Anyway, I digress. Enter Nathaniel Barber, a sociology graduate student who is obsessed with researching violent crimes and comes to Rothbert in hopes of writing his dissertation on the shooting. Dr. Emmet agrees to let him be her TA for the semester, and as he gets to know her, Nath becomes even more determined to find out why this random shooter targeted Dr. Emmet.

In a lot of ways, The Black Hour reminded me of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Just like Gone Girl, there are quite a few characters in The Black Hour that gave me an uneasy feeling right away. I could tell that something was “off” about several of them from the start. As a result, I wasn’t sure who to trust so I read the majority of the novel with a very suspicious eye! By the time I was halfway finished with the book, I had a long list of people who I decided might have had something to do with the shooting. And yay! I ended up being right about a couple of them, but truthfully, it was just a lucky guess. Rader-Day makes sure that there are so many different possible scenarios and suspicious characters that you aren’t for sure what’s going on until the very end. At least, that’s how it was for me.

I really was pleasantly surprised by this mystery. Leah (from the Pretty Good Gatsby) pointed it out to me on Twitter one day, and it sounded intriguing, so I had it on my radar for a while before deciding to grab it off the shelf at work one day. Considering that mysteries are not usually a favorite genre of mine, I think that The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day proved to be positive venture into the genre for me. I look forward to more from this debut author in the future.

memorable quotes

“‘Always darkest before the dawn,’ I said. My dad, with the same words, knowing or not knowing what he’d been saying to me that morning.
‘That’s it,’ Win said.
‘What?’
‘It’s always darkest before it’s light. That’s why we call it the black hour.’
That—
–I remembered the feel of the porch planks under my back and the effort it took to press myself there, just there, until the tide pulled back again—
That was the best name for it I’d ever heard.”

Picture This: Fiction in Fiction in Fiction

October 15, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Picture This, Random6 comments

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I love books. I love photography. And I love getting to know new people. That’s why I decided to combine these three things in this little feature called Picture This, where I ask other bloggers to share five pictures with us, bookish and non-bookish. But mostly bookish. This time, we’re admiring snap shots taken by

jaz of fiction in fiction in fiction

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Literary Reflections: Football in Fiction

October 12, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Literary Reflections12 comments

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Sometimes books get to us in a personal way. Sometimes we can relate to them so much it feels like they tell us the stories of our own lives. Sometimes there is just an aspect that really speaks to us because we love that thing in real life as well. It is impossible to capture that feeling in a review, so we decided to start a series called Literary Reflections to talk about the books that feel almost private to us because of personal reasons.

After reading several books in a row with a football theme, I started thinking about how things I enjoy in my personal life often influence my reading habits, which led to today’s football post. After all, y’all get to see the reviews for these books, so I thought I’d give you a little insight into why I love them so much. I hope y’all like the post, and maybe some of you share this love for the sport with me. Football occupies most of my weekends this time of year, so I decided it was time to devote a post to my favorite sport and tell y’all why you may see a few more “football” book reviews in the future. ;)

Here in Mississippi, football is about as important as air and water. We wear our team colors proudly. Heaven forbid, if you’re unfortunate enough to have to work on game day, your favorite player’s jersey is considered acceptable “work clothing” for the day. Most of our weekends revolve around football. Want to make Friday night plans? You better make sure it doesn’t conflict with your high school’s home football game. Then on Saturdays, you are either A) tailgating from your couch and flipping the channels from one SEC game to another, or B) tailgating at your alma mater before and after—to either celebrate the victory or mourn the loss—the day’s big game. Then on Sundays, you have to hurry home from church to make sure you’re in front of the TV in time for noon NFL kickoffs. By the Sunday night game, you might be a little tired of football, but you’d never admit it! We cheer hard for the teams we love, and we harbor hatred like you wouldn’t believe for our rivals.

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Tailgating in the Grove

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Epic Recs: October 2014

October 3, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Epic Recs6 comments

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Epic Recs is hosted by Amber and myself, and it’s a feature slash book club where people challenge each other to read a certain book each month. We both like to force people to read books, so this is the best excuse to test our book pushing. Welcome and feel free to join in on the fun! Here’s what Amber and I are making each other read this month:

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