Book Reviews: August 2015

daughter of smoke & bone series review, eight hundred grapes review, where they found her review, the vacationers review, 2 am at the cat's pajamas review

Harry-Potter-7 At the beginning of August, I finally finished my read-through of the Harry Potter series. I started this project last summer and it felt great to finish this month. The final book in the series did not disappoint me and I couldn’t put it down for the last two hundred pages. Now that I’m done, I’m ready for all of the Harry Potter references in pop culture- I’ll finally know what they mean! I’ve been watching the movies as I finish each book and the only one I have left is Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

I put off reading the series for so long because I thought I’d missed my window. People have been in love with Harry Potter for decades and I thought it was too late for me to join the club. You know what? That kind of thinking was so off base. It’s never too late to pick up a good book. I completely understand why Harry Potter is special to so many people around the world and now it’s special for me too. This was the first time I’ve read through the series, but it won’t be the last.

Daughter-of

Days-of

Dreams-of This series. It’s been out for a few years now, but I recently picked it up because one of my booktube friends had mentioned it. I ended up getting totally sucked in and I thoroughly enjoyed this YA fantasy series. The main character, Karou, is an art student in Prague. She has a strange and mysterious background that she doesn’t fully understand. She’s torn between two lives- being a normal teenager and being a part of her family of “monsters.” As Karou begins to learn the truth of who she is, she gets caught up in a war between two species.

That’s a very general outline, but with this series it’s better to discover the secrets as you’re reading along. My favorite part of this series is definitely the world that the author created. She’s reinterpreted the story of angels versus devils and explores interesting themes, including how war affects people.

There is some romance throughout the series and sometimes it’s a bit heavy-handed, but it didn’t bother me too much. Karou is an awesome character, from her appearance (she has blue hair!) to her sarcastic quips. She’s used to taking care of herself and she’s fiercely protective of the people she loves.

The first book is very much a set-up book and introduces us to some important characters, including Karou and Akiva, the person who reveals the past to Karou. The second book is all war and heartbreak, but I thought the conflicts and internal struggles made this book even better than the first one. I felt that the final book brought the trilogy to a fairly satisfying conclusion, and honestly, I could read many more books set in this world. The author really paid attention to detail when dreaming up this world and I think there’s more left to uncover. These books were fun to read, hard to put down, and the perfect thing to allow me to journey to another universe for a bit.

The-Vacationers I’ve wanted to read this book since I first heard about it last summer, and I decided I was going to make it happen this summer. It follows a family from NYC as they take a two-week vacation in Mallorca, Spain. It turns out that everyone in this family has secrets and as the days progress, the secrets slowly come to light. It’s about a family that’s a bit broken at the moment and is trying to mend itself back together.

This book was ok. For a book that mainly about the characters, I didn’t find many of them compelling. The few characters that were more interesting weren’t really explored. The writing was at least good, which is what kept me reading. Yep, not too much to say on this one. It’s a perfectly fine beach read.

Where-They I read Reconstructing Amelia by McCreight last year and enjoyed it, so I thought I’d pick up her next book. Molly is a developing journalist who recently lost a child. By accident she’s assigned to cover the story of a murder, the murder of a baby girl. No one knows who killed this baby girl, or why. As Molly investigates, she realizes that this story is a lot more tangled than anyone had previously suspected.

This was another solid thriller from McCreight. She definitely kept me guessing throughout the novel and when the conclusion came, I definitely hadn’t pieced together the full story. This book is set in a small town in New Jersey and I feel like small towns make an interesting setting for stories like this. Everyone knows everyone and everyone is quick to pass judgment. This novel jumps around in perspective and incorporates a few different mediums, including journal entries, therapy transcripts, and articles written by Molly. I can imagine that might be confusing if you were listening to the audiobook, but I found that I was able to follow along.

There is a lot going on in this book and the author mostly pulls it off. I feel like she wanted to include a lot of characters and details in there to throw people of the real scent. You do have to pay attention a bit because everything is connected.

2-am Madeleine is not quite ten years old and all she wants she wants to do is sing at The Cat’s Pajamas, a jazz club. The entire book takes place over the span of one day and follows Madeleine as she does her best to achieve her goal.

This book wasn’t what I expected. It was kooky, but I liked it! The writing was a bit experimental and playful and Madeline is not your typical little girl. She’s plucky, she curses, and she won’t let adults stand in the way of what she wants. I felt for Madeline because she’s having a difficult childhood. Her mother passed away recently and she lives with her father, but he’s not really there. This novel surprised me with its quirkiness, and that was a good thing.

Eight-Hundred I was 100% influenced by the cover to pick this one up. One week before her wedding, Georgia gets in her car, leaves everyone behind, and drives to her family’s vineyard. She’s reeling from a secret about her fianc√© she’s just discovered and she goes home hoping to find some comfort in the familiar. Well, home is not quite the safe haven that she hoped it would be because everyone in her family is dealing with their own issues.

This book is set in wine country, which is fun. It definitely made me want to go on some wine tastings. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about the writing bothered me. Also, the book was totally predictable. I thought the family dynamics were a bit strange and I would have liked further development of all of the characters. This book is about the different paths in life that we take, but that theme is only lightly explored. It was a quick and light beach read, but I wouldn’t go into it looking for much more than that.

  • I love reading your book reviews. I can always count on you to give honest reviews and I always end up adding books to my reading list because of them : )

    • Thank you- I’m so happy to hear that! I’m excited for you to read Harry Potter!

  • I didn’t finish Harry Potter until much after either, but I was equally glad when I did. Of course the last books are just so sad, but still it was an amazing series.

    I love a good fantasy YA, so I might have to check those out.

    Chic on the Cheap