Review: The Bell Witch Series by Sara Clancy

So, this is a series about four families who were cursed by a witch centuries ago and now a family member is chosen every year to face the witch. The family member is chosen by receiving a music box. The members of each of the four families that are chosen then have to hike through the ancestral woods of the witch (and the families) to search for keys and to lock the music boxes. If they don’t find their keys, a demon will escape and they’ll be tormented forever.

So, the premise was good. The main characters we’re likable. The villains were villainous. This was a fun little read to prepare for spooky season. But each of the novellas ended quite abruptly. I suppose we could call them cliffhangers, but it didn’t feel cliffhangery. It felt unfinished. This was a little disappointing because there were storylines I would have liked to know a bit more about.

I would read more by this author (or more in the Scare Street series… if only because I love that they’re knock-offs of Fear Street) but I’m in a hurry to do so.

So, 6/10. Entertaining and quick but nothing that will really stick with me.

What I’m Reading Now: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I started this in 2017 and for reasons that are utterly ridiculous and not at all related to how much I was enjoying it, didn’t finish it. For some reason, I was thinking of elements of the story and happened to mention it to Beth. I asked if I could borrow her copy again. She said I could, If I could find it. I found it with my bookmark still in it. Perhaps I can finish it this time!

Updates

I feels like it’s been a month since I picked up a book. And that’s not entirely true. (It is definitely not true, as I’ve read portions of books for work as it is time to start reserving books for classes for the Fall.) But, things have been really slow going. I’m still only about a third of the way through The Right Swipe. I’m super into it. I love the characters and the story as it is shaping up, I just haven’t been able to focus on things. In the past, I’ve been able to listen to audiobooks while I cook and clean, but this year that hasn’t been the case. When I try, I end up having to re-listen to the chapter. And since I can only seem to focus on thing at a time, I’ve avoided listening to books in the car or when I’m out for a walk. I don’t want to cause an accident because I’m really into my book. So, slow progress has to be my only progress for the time being.

Review: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

I finished a book and now I’m going to tell you about it! I picked this up at a White Elephant book exchange at a book club, so I knew it was going to be good. Those folks wouldn’t steer me wrong.

This is the tale of Nina Hill, a bookseller at a cute little store in a cute little neighborhood in LA. Nina is living the single life, waking to work, running book clubs, reading tons, making vision boards and obsessively planning, and absolutely crushing it at competitive trivia. She never knew her father, she has no siblings, and her mother is a professional photographer who is always jetting off somewhere. Nina has a bit of the ol’ anxiety, but she’s got it mostly managed. She likes her quiet little life, so of course it’s going to be turned on its head. First, her trivia team can’t help but get her thinking about a rival trivia team captain. Is there a spark there? Absolutely, the rival trivia team thinks so, too. Next, that father she never knew? Well, he reappears in her life in a pretty startling way, bringing with him a raft of kids and grandkids. Can Nina roll with the punches and handle all this change? Or are things going to go catastrophically wrong and implode? It’s a romance novel so maybe a bit of both?

I found the characters to be very likable. Nina was a great protagonist. I found a lot to connect with as I read the book (as anyone who follows me on twitter knows). The narrative was light and quiet. This was a great way to get back into reading for fun. I have my next book narrowed down to four choices, so hopefully my indecision won’t get the best of me and I’ll be up and running on Book 2 of 2022 soon!

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT I SLEPT ON THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK FOR SO LONG?? HOW? How??? It’s lovely and wonderful and good and heartbreaking and uplifting in all of the right ways. 10/10. If you’ve not read it, you should go read it (or get the audiobook and then Lin Manuel Miranda will read it to you.) That’s it. That’s the review. Done.

Okay, fine, I’ll say a little more. This is the story of Aristotle, who is a weird kinda angry teenager who goes to the pool and meets a weird kinda know-it-all teenager named Dante. They have very little in common, it seems, other than they are both kind of loners and they’re both Mexican. It’s the story of their friendship. It is about how their friendship grows and how they grow and how they deal with big life stuff. No magic (except the everyday magic of friendships, love, relationships, and personal growth), no monsters (except for the very real human monsters we’ve all met), just two teens living their lives and learning truths that feel like unlocking the secrets of the universe. Maybe it is that the world feels very dark and precarious right now, but reading a novel about just normal life stuff that had a good ending felt really great.

So, I still agree with the first paragraph. 10/10, would definitely recommend.

Kate’s Top 5 of 2019

You’ll notice I am posting half the books Beth posted. She reads more than I do. She also reviews more than I do because she’s an objectively better blogger. In my defense, this year I did move to the other side of the US and start a new job. But, we all know that even without that, Beth still would have read more and reviewed more.

Thus ends the confessional/self-flagellation portion of this Top 5.

This year really feels like five years sandwiched together. So, when I went to look to see what I’d read this year, I was surprised that the books from earlier this year were read this year. Insanity. But, three of them still made the Top Five!

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller. Oh, man, this book. I loved it so much. I loved Circe’s voice, I loved her as a character, I loved the soft tone of the novel. The writing was so good. Ugh, more tales like this, please.
  2. Early Riser by Jasper Fforde. I read this this year. I can’t believe that was this year. I liked this bit of speculative fiction, even if I have some reservations about some of the biology. What if humans hibernated? Well, Jasper Fforde has a possible answer. This is a fun book.
  3. Firebug by Lish McBride. I ripped through this selection for my Pop Culture Homework Assignment. Absolutely shredded it. It is the tale of a woman that can start fires. She works for a vampire! What could go wrong? Many, many things and I loved the story woven around them.
  4. Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto. This book about sadness and loss and relationships and home and life was… *chef’s kiss*. So good! And, it’s not very long, so get out there and read it, people! I suspect that there will be more reading of Banana Yoshimoto books in my future.
  5. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Another book I read in the first half of the year. I also tore through this one. The characters were great, the central conflict was interesting and compelling. The writing was good. I’m interested in what Rogerson does next.

Wow, folks, that’s it. That’s 2019. I’m a little flabbergasted this year is over!