Tag Archives: books

What I Read in October & November + NEWS!

Audiobook reads:

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (reread – I actually started reading this one physically but switched to the audiobook when my library hold for it came through)

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger

Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger

Physical reads:

Remember God by Annie F. Downs

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Sekas

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

(Set aside for now – Fawkes by Nadine Brandes – I want to try again later, but despite my best efforts I could not get into this one)

Emily Climbs by L.M. Montgomery

Its amazing how combining my two months of reads in this one post, the books I read in October feel like forever ago! I’m enjoying going through the Finishing School audiobooks right now. I don’t love everything about them, but they’re definitely entertaining listens for my work day. I also really enjoyed These Vicious Masks and Escaping From Houdini.

So NEWS! In case you missed it from my Instagram, I’m pregnant! As of right now I’m at 17 weeks, baby due in May just days before my wedding anniversary. My husband and I very excited and sometimes it still feels a little surreal. I’ll find out New Year’s Eve if we’re having a boy or girl. I’ll keep y’all updated. 🙂

The Scorpio Races Reread Review

It’s the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.

The first line of The Scorpio Races has captured my attention since I first read it a few years ago. I’ve always wanted to reread it in November, and this year when I picked up the book just to read the first little bit, I found myself reading further (even though I had already started another book… and I don’t do multiple fiction books at once unless one’s on audio).

In full disclosure, I did want to reread it this year via audiobook, but while it had been readily available from the library suddenly wasn’t right before November 1 when I checked again. I put a hold on it and figured I’d probably finish reading it before it became available, but I actually had not gotten very far and switched over a couple days later.

I found my review from when I read The Scorpio Races the first time, and it was interesting to see both the similarities and differences of opinion I had this second time.

The short version: I loved it more this time.

The Sean & Puck Relationship 

The first time I read The Scorpio Races, I didn’t really feel the developing relationship between Sean and Puck was all that romantically inclined, and when they kissed for the first time (pretty late in the book), it felt sudden to me. (At the time, I was still kind of a newbie to the modern age of YA and I was floored by the lack of a define-the-relationship talk before the kissing.)

This time, the opposite was true. The romance is really subtle, but there is such a sweet, slow development between them that makes the reader really long to see something happen. When Sean grabbed Puck’s wrist and her heart was racing, I was so ready for them to kiss! But they didn’t! It happened later! It’s so funny to me now that before I thought they kissed too soon, and this time it was later than I wanted (though not later than I think it actually should have been, to be clear).

While I had remembered a decent amount of the book from before, one scene I had completely forgotten about was when Sean comes over for dinner. I super loved that scene this time around and doubt I’ll be forgetting it again.

I say, “I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.”

Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, “It’s late for that, Puck.”

Secondary Characters

In my first review, I touted my love for George Holly and I definitely stand by this after my second read. What’s interesting, however, is that the other secondary character who stood out to me in my first read was Dory Maud, but this time it was Sue Gratton instead. I’m not sure if this was due to reading the book in another format or if she’s just who I connected with more this time around, but regardless, it’s interesting to see the shift nonetheless.

“I think you’re right, Mr. Kendrick,” George Holly says, eyes closed. His face is to the wind, leaning forward slightly so that it doesn’t tip him. His slacks are no longer pristine; he’s tracked bits of mud and manure up the front of them. His ridiculous red hat has blown off behind him, but he doesn’t seem to notice. The wind has its fingers in his fair hair and the ocean sings to him. This island will take you, if you let it.

I ask, “What am I right about?”

“I can feel God out here.”

I brush my hands off on my pants. “Tell me that again,” I say, “two weeks from now when you’ve seen the dead bodies on the beach.”

Holly doesn’t open his eyes. “Let no one say that Sean Kendrick isn’t an optimist.”

Pacing

The Scorpio Races is a very slowly paced book. That was definitely harder for me the first time, but it didn’t go unnoticed the second time. I think both times I was really ready for Sean and Puck to meet, so it could feel like their story together could begin, but they do have very important individual arcs, which is part of what makes this book so rich. This slow pacing also really matches the tone of the island and helps set the atmospheric aesthetic of it. Maggie Stiefvater says she wants readers to feel like they’ve visited Thisby and weeks later still feel like they need to shake salt from the water out of their hair. I think she did a pretty good job with that.

Shhh, shhh, says the sea, but I don’t believe her.

The Audiobook

So I ended up listening to at least 3/4 of the book on audio, and it took me a moment to get used to the narrators who clearly sounded like adults instead of teenagers. But over time, I really warmed up to the narrators and thought they did a wonderful job of portraying their characters. I think Sean’s voice specifically is going to stick in my mind over time.

Author’s Writing Style

The only other book I’ve read by Maggie is her other standalone, All the Crooked Saints, and upon rereading The Scorpio Races I was surprised to find more similarities between the two stories than I would have expected. They’re most definitely two very different books in many respects, but having read them both definitely gives me a sense of Maggie’s writing style. She writes very clever and beautiful metaphors that I only dream I could one day concoct. Her main characters are often misunderstood but they feel deeply, even if they’re trying to hide those feelings from others and sometimes even themselves. There are religious references and broken-down cars and other little things that feel just distinctly Maggie to me (because in addition to reading these two books I have also heard her speak on a panel).

Rating

My original rating for The Scorpio Races was four stars, but after this reread I would bump it up to 4.5. It’s beautiful and quiet and raw, and I find very little to complain about it.

Have you read The Scorpio Races once or multiple times? Did your feelings change with rereading?

What I Read in September

Audiobook reads: 

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Two Summers by Aimee Friedman

Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure

The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Physical Reads: 

The Crimson Skew (The Mapmaker’s Trilogy #3) by S.E. Grove

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Little Women (reread – finished October 2) by Louisa May Alcott

I don’t know what it was about this month, but pretty much every book I read this month, even including my Little Women reread, I started out feeling invested in but was kind of over by the end. Two Summers and One of Us is Lying did hold my interest throughout more than the others, but they did have some story things that bothered me that left me only mildly satisfied in the end. I’m wondering if I just took too long to read everything as opposed to there being actual pacing problems with all these books.

I’m hoping October will pick back up for me… I’m almost finished with a non-fiction book I just started the other day.

What did you read in September? 

My Top 10 Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. The theme for today is top ten hidden gem books, and I’m always excited to share the word about books that I think deserve more love! This list is in no particular order.

1. Rook by Sharon Cameron 

This book almost reads like alternate history, and then you realize it’s actually set in a future in which history repeats itself. It’s a interesting retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel that I think deserves more love!

2. For Darkness Shows the Stars/Across a Star-Swept by Diane Peterfreund

I really wish there were more of these sci-fi retellings by Diana Peterfreund because I absolutely love these two! The characters, the writing, the world, all so dynamic and underrated!

3. The Fixer/The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

My only complaint about these books is that it’s a duology that seriously needs to be trilogy, because the last book leaves us hanging a little! But JLB is the Queen of plot twists and I love her for it.

4. The Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Just like the previous books by the same author, this series delivers a lot of twists and turns! I enjoyed them all, but my favorite is the third installment, All In.

5. A Dash of Dragon/A Hint of Hydra by Heidi Lang and Kat Bartkowski

Since I don’t really follow the middle grade world, these might be really popular books there and I just don’t know it, but I think more YA fans should check out these middle grade gems because they’re fantastic!

6. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

This one was published way back in 2014 and may have been more popular then, but I think it deserves more staying power as it’s one of my favorite YA contemporaries.

7. Don’t Touch by Rachel M. Wilson 

This was a contemporary I thoroughly enjoyed but seemed to fly way under the radar. It explores mental illness and features a nice guy (AKA my favorite kind of guy).

8. What Light by Jay Asher

I know we’re not all happy with Jay Asher at the moment for various reasons, but this is a very sweet and underrated book in my opinion. I liked Thirteen Reasons Why just fine, but this book is very different, so I wouldn’t let that book alone influence your decision to read What Light. It’s perfect for the Christmas season.

9. Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

It’s hard to explain this story… it has parallels with Peter Pan without really being a retelling, and explores the subjects of abuse and of the Japanese internment camps from WWII. I understand this book isn’t widespread since it’s from a small publisher, but I feel it’s beautifully written and packs a punch. I saw the sequel came out recently so I need to check it out!

10. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

While this book isn’t quite as dynamic as his Mistborn books, I loved The Rithmatist so much more than Sanderson’s other YA series, Steelheart. I love the characters, and this world in which chalk drawings come to life is so interesting! Sadly, we only have book one right now and I DEMAND A SEQUEL, BRANDON.

Have you read any of my top picks for hidden gems? What other books do you feel like are hidden gems?

What I Read in August

Audiobook reads:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld (reread)

You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Map of Fates by Maggie Hall

Grace Unplugged by Melody Carlson

Physical reads:

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

My favorite of the month: I think I’m going to go with Second Chance Summer, but Listen to Your Heart and The Thing With Feathers were two more I really enjoyed! I read a lot of YA contemporary in August and it felt like the perfect way to end the summer!

What did you read in August?