MALLORY’S OCTOBER WRAP UP + NOVEMBER TBR

Is it seriously November already? Where has this year gone? It’s so hard to believe our blog has already been up and running for four months now. It seriously does not feel like it has been that long at all.

In the month of October I ended up reading quite a few books. I’m really happy with how much I got done considering the busy month that I had.

So on to the books I finished this month. In total I read 14 books.

1. Soppy: A Love Story by Philippa Rice ★★★★★
Probably one of the cutest graphic novels I have ever read. Loved every little bit of this. Mine and Maria’s review  of this one will be up tomorrow.

2. The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer ★★★★★
My review has already been done and you can find that here: https://readsbymandm.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/book-review-the-enchantress-returns-by-chris-colfer/

3. When War Calls by Zy J. Rykoa ★★★
Both me and Maria have reviewed this and it can be found here: https://readsbymandm.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/book-review-when-war-calls-by-zy-j-rykoa/

4. The Husbands Secret by Liane Moriarty ★★★
I read this for book club and I already forget most of what happened. The story was interesting but not delivered as well as it could have been. I think the multiple perspectives threw me off a little too much.

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ★★★★★
Both me and Maria have review this and it can be found here: https://readsbymandm.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/book-review-the-graveyard-book-by-neil-gaiman/

6. The Merciless by Danielle Vega ★★★
Both me and Maria have review this and it can be found here: https://readsbymandm.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/book-review-the-merciless-by-danielle-vega/

7. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami ★★★★
This was my second Murakami novel and I am working on completing a full review. Hope to have it up in a couple weeks.

8. Chosen at Nightfall by C.C. Hunter ★★★
Maria and I finally finished this series and we might do a full series review, so be on the look out for that in the next couple weeks.

9. Storm Siren by Mary Weber ★★★
We received this book from Netgalley. Maria is going to try and read it this month and once she does we will have our full review up then.

10. Killers of the Dawn by Darren Shan ★★★★★
Still continues to be one of my favorite series. As soon as I finish the series I will do a complete series review.

11. The Death Cure by James Dashner ★★★★
I can’t believe this series has ended. Why oh why couldn’t it have been more than three books? Absolutely love this series and I think everyone should read it! I was scared that this last book wouldn’t live up to my expectations but I was happy with the outcome.

12. Frozen by Melissa De La Cruz & Michael Johnston ★★★★
Another book from Netgalley. I really enjoyed this one and I can’t wait for Maria to finish so we can put our review up!

13. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan ★★★
Nothing at all like I thought it was going to be. I felt very confused at times and the story was a little weird. Still a very interesting concept though.

14. Where She Went by Gayle Forman ★★★★★
I may have liked this better than If I Stay. Absolutely fantastic. Gayle Forman is definitely in my top favorite authors. She certainly has a way with words.

Now on to the books I plan to read in November. I made a very long list again.. oops. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish quite a few of these.

1. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. This is my book clubs choice of the month.
2. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. Time to see what all the fuss is about with this series.
3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. This has been on my TBR so many times, I just want to read it already!
4. Stargazer by Claudia Gray. I read the first book so long ago, it’s finally time I get to more of the series.
5. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. This is something I am just craving right now.
6. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. I am currently reading this one.
7. Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris. The fourth in the series, just wanting something fun.
8. Redwall by Brian Jacques. I own so many in this series it is time to finally start it.
9. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Bought this while I was on vacation in Victoria and I can’t wait to dive into this one!
10. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. I have sort of started this one before but am going to restart it.
11. Enchanted by Alethea Kontis.
12. Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead.
13. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Reading this with Maria.
14. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Reading this with Maria, Marissa and Mackenzie.
15. The Swallow by Charis Cotter.

I think there are a few more that I am missing, but I can’t seem to think of them right now.

So I’ve got a lot of reading I want to do this month. Better finish up this post and get to it!

Let me know if you’ve read any of these books or what you are planning on reading this month!
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BOOK REVIEW : THE MERCILESS BY DANIELLE VEGA

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Title: The Merciless
Author: Danielle Vega
Published: June 12th 2014 by Razorbill
279 pages
Source: Purchased

Maria’s thoughts:
Sofia moves to a new town and becomes the new girl all over again. A lot like the movie “Mean Girls”, she befriends both the popular and the unpopular crowd.
Popular croud: Riley, Alexis and Grace
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Unpopular croud: Brooklyn
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Riley and her posse are your not your typical mean girls. They take their religion very seriously, and honestly believe that Brooklyn is evil and has to be “saved”. Sofia agrees to spy on Brooklyn for Riley, but secretly becomes friends with her. Brooklyn is the bad-ass character. She does what she wants, when she wants, and believes that Sofia is a lot more like her than she thinks. Sofia never really was the religious type, but follows Riley in order to fit in. Wanting to help Brooklynn, and not upset Riley, Sofia agrees to help “save her”. Sofia never expected it to result in an exorcism

One word to describe the Merciless: CREEPY

I really enjoyed this book. It is definitely something you need to save for an evening that you will have a few hours to spend reading – because you will want to finish this in one sitting. Like a scary movie, you can’t look away, no matter how gruesome it gets. And it does get pretty gruesome at times. Danielle Vega does an incredible job at pulling her readers in.

 It was hard to rate the Merciless, but after finishing it and needing to get out of bed and try to think of ANYTHING but what I had just read, I realized that I really loved this reading experience. At first, I was leaning towards three or four stars. It started out just like any high-school/mean-girls scenario. Nevertheless, as the novel progressed, I become enthralled with this YA horror story, and in the end I couldn’t give it less than 5 out of 5 stars.

It truly did creep me out.It might not come off as scary to you, it might not frighten you enough to keep you awake at night, but if you have read The Merciless, you have to admit that some of the descriptions are down right creepy and that those girls are seriously messed up.

Think you can handle it? Maybe not. Before going into this book, ask yourself if you are okay with reading very detailed descriptions of torture and blood. Does the thought of ripping someones nails off make you cringe? Maybe you should pick up an other book… There are still images haunting me since finishing The Merciless. However, if you are willing to dive into this fast-paced thrilling read and you are looking to be creeped out, I highly recommend it. It is Halloween, after all.

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Mallory’s thoughts:
I purposely avoided reviews for this book as I did not want to be spoiled in any way. I didn’t even let myself read the synopsis of the book because I did not want to know a single thing. I wish I would have so I could have mentally prepared myself a little bit. Total surprise.

I never expected this to be so brutally gory.

Sofia is the new girl in school. She finds a dead, skinned cat inside of a pentagram under the bleachers and when popular girl Riley tells her it was done by Brooklyn, Sofia believes her and befriends Brooklyn to spy on her for her new group of popular friends. Little does she know Riley, Grace and Alexis are extremely religious and plan to take things to the extreme to expel the “demon” inside of Brooklyn. Locked in a house, Sofia, Riley, Grace and Alexis perform an exorcism. One that turns torturous.

Sofia has no choice but to take part.

Let me just start out by saying I do not do well with gore, torture and blood whatsoever. I am the worlds biggest chicken with a very weak stomach, and I would say about 75% of this book was torture. At one point I had to throw away the broccoli and carrots that I was eating, I just couldn’t handle it. The writing is so descriptive it feels as though you are sitting in the basement watching these horrific events unfold right before your own eyes.

I give major props to Vega. The story was so enthralling that no matter how grossed out or freaked out I was, I still needed to know what happened next. I read this in two sittings.

It was a great book to read for the Halloween season and I definitely recommend it to all you horror fanatics.

3/5 stars from me.

BOOK REVIEW: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK BY NEIL GAIMAN

2213661Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 2008 by HarperCollins
312 pages
Source: Purchased
Click here to find it on Goodreads

Maria’s thoughts:
Bod Owens didn’t have the same upbringing as most children. The story begins with a retelling of the night of his parents murder. Bod had awaken to unsettling sounds coming from outside of his bedroom. Luckily, the boy had managed to climb out of his crib and escape his house before whoever it was had reached his bedroom. The killer, known as “the man Jack” throughout the novel, continues his search for the missing boy, for he is determined to finish his bloody job. That same night, Bod’s journey brings him inside of a graveyard, and there he meets a few very interesting ghosts. When Bod’s mother’s spirit appears, she asks the ghosts of the graveyard to take care of her son. They accept her offer and decide to raise him as their own. Bod receives “freedom of the graveyard” to protect him from the man Jack, whom will not rest until the child is dead.

I loved reading about Bod and watching him grow as a character. Always curious about both the real world and the ghost world, Bod was constantly asking questions and learning from his ghostly elders (and his mistakes). His adoptive parents were both caring and supportive, while his godfather was a good role model and friend. To be honest, I appreciated every single one of the characters that were brought to life in this story. Even the ghosts had felt very real, very alive, to me. The characters in The Graveyard Book were extremely well done. Each of them had a distinct personality and played an important part in the story. Gaimans characters blew me away, as they felt like they were going to step out of the pages at any given time.

Every chapter felt like a new adventure and each began with an illustration. I enjoyed that I was always learning about new characters, as well as learning more about the main characters, Bod and Jack. The pictures really added a certain oomph to the story and made it all the more original and fun to read.

I adored the descriptive writing style. Neil Gaiman painted a very detailed picture of The Graveyard Book in my mind. My reading experience was a lot like watching a movie. The story telling aspect was very memorable, appropriate for all ages and PERFECT for Halloween.

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars and I definitely would recommend it! It really got me into the Halloween mood this year and i’m sure that I will be picking it up again in the future.

Mallory’s thoughts:
There is something about Neil Gaiman’s writing that brings me back to being a little girl, greedily devouring spooky stories about witches and monsters in the dark corners of my parents house. His writing and story telling ability is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before, but that I want to keep experiencing over and over again.

Bod Owens was just a tiny baby when his family was murdered. Luckily, Bod was able to escape his crib and made it out of the house before the killers got to him. He crawled his way down to the graveyard, where the ghosts there decided to raise and take care of him, and giving him the name Nobody Owens, or Bod for short. He is raised well with lots of love and protection from the killer who is still out there and wants to return to kill Bod and finish the job. He also gets constant education. They teach him how to do ghostly things like dream walking and fading, as well as educating him about the living world.

And in a world of only ghosts and roaming around a graveyard, what will Bod do when he meets Scarlett, a young girl visiting the graveyard? And what will happen when he finally comes face to face with the man that wants to end his life?

As I said before Neil Gaiman’s story telling is so extremely satisfying and perfect, and the artwork that accompanies the novel is absolutely brilliant and fits the theme so well. At times it felt like I myself was sitting in that graveyard with Bod, listening to the conversations between him and the ghosts. I get so drawn in to his stories that sometimes I forget his characters are not real people.

Bod was a great character to read about as we watch him grow not only in age but also through his developing personality. He was very curious and always wanting to learn more. For a young boy I found him so passionate. All around just a top notch protagonist to read about and follow through the story.

I’m sad that this isn’t a series. I would absolutely love to read more about Bod as he gets older.

This was my fourth Gaiman novel and it’s safe to say I now consider him one of my top favorite authors and I can’t wait to devour the rest of his work. I want to binge read the rest of them, but I am going to try and take them slow as I will be very sad the day I run out of his books to read.

An easy 5/5 star rating for me. This was perfect to read in the fall/Halloween time. A highly recommended novel that is suitable for all ages!

BOOK REVIEW: THE HOUSE OF LEAVES BY MARK Z. DANIELEWSKI

The house of leaves may intimidate you. It isn’t small and the fact that it is classified as a horror novel may frighten you. If you are willing to take the plunge, I assure you that this book will not disappoint.

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Title: The House of Leaves
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Published: March 7th 2000 by Random House
709 pages
Rating: ★★★★

The story itself isn’t very easy to explain. As a reader, you are following a few different perspectives, mainly Zampano’s manuscript and Johnny Truants thoughts. Both of which were equally as important and interesting throughout this book.

Johnny Truant is a young man who works in a tattoo shop and who’s biggest concern is getting a pretty girls attention. That is, until he discovers this book.

His best friend, Lude, lives in the same apartment building as Zampano. When Lude learns about the passing of his neighbour, he brings Johnny inside of Zampano’s home. There, Johnny is questioning the man who had once lived within those walls and comes across a mysterious trunk full of documents written by Zampano himself. Curious, Johnny takes this with him. When Johnny begins sorting through the strange pile of papers (leaves), he discovers that Zampano was writing a manuscript about a very strange short film: The Navidson Record. This horrifying documentary is about a family that had lived in a house unlike any other. The house on Ash Tree Lane was in fact bigger on the inside than on the outside. Don’t laugh. Hallways would appear unexpectedly and disappear just as fast. The depth and what lies within the hallways were also always changing without the slightest explanation. In The Navidson Record, Navidson and his team explore the hallways, with high hopes of finding answers.

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It is safe to say that the house had a mind of it’s own and could somehow read into the paranoid minds of the people who dared to explore it. The more you read, the more it becomes clear that the houses changes reflected the psychology of those inside.

Johnny soon becomes obsessed with the fascinating manuscript written by Zampano, and adds his own notes as he reads and analyses, desperately wanting to finish what Zampano had started. Through his notes, we can see how Johnny’s mental state changes because of the horror that is The Navidson Record.

But was there really ever a film titled, The Navidson Record? This still puzzles me.

The book is a maze. While reading it, you will be turning it every which way. Sometimes starting from the bottom, sometimes from the side. You will even go as far as flipping your book upside down to grasp and comprehend as much as you possibly can. The format makes for a very original, unforgettable read. The style really impacts the storytelling and makes The House of Leaves realistic and frightening. It is like having the original manuscript by Zampano in your very own hands.

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It will mess with your mind.

Reading about the manuscript and how it had affected Johnny, and feeling as if you are holding that terrifying manuscript, is more than enough to take over your thoughts. Even after finishing, you will have questions. Questions that may never get answered. Questions that may always haunt you. There really isn’t an end to The House of Leaves.

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It’s complicated.

I find it impossible to read The House of Leaves one single time and feel as if you know everything. There is so much information, that it is easy to miss out on small details that may answer your future questions. The book is packed with references, poems, pictures, side notes, symbols and clues. I tried my best to apprehend as much as i could, although it really is difficult to analyse this story as you read it for the first time. Therefore, I plan on reading this monstrous book for a second time someday in the future.

It’s not so much a horror novel. Yes it scared me. It took over my life until I had finished the entire 709 pages. I couldn’t think of anything else as I sat alone in my quiet apartment, let alone sleep. However, it is much more than just horror. It has romance. It has suspense. It has mystery. It has psychology. It has almost everything and it brings readers to really participate in this story more than I believe any other book can.

Feel free to search through the forums on The House of Leaves official website if you have already read this book. I, however, had tried to do so and ended up with an even bigger headache than when I had first finished this book. I am going to give myself some time before re-reading and trying to decode this mind-blowing piece of literature.

All in all, I really enjoyed The House of Leaves, perhaps more than I ever thought that I would. It is still just so frigging fascinating to me. What is real? What is fiction? What if my hallway turns into this? What if I end up like Johnny? I have developed a great appreciation for the complex work of Mark Z. Danielewski and I highly highly highly recommend giving The House of Leaves a try.
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MARIA’S WONDERFULLY WICKED READ-A-THON WRAP-UP

readathonAs you may know, Mallory and I had participated in the Wonderfully Wicked Read-A-Thon hosted by Bex at Kindle Fever and April at My Shelf Confessions. It had started on October 17th and finished on October 27th. It has been a busy week, but I am happy with the books that I had managed to finish. Below are the books that I had completed, my rating and mini review.

Total of books finished: 4

Page count: 808 pages

Favorite book: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

1. Soppy : A Love Story by Phillipa Rice (provided by Netgalley) ★★★★★

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Soppy is an adorable collection of illustrations based on Philippa Rice’s relationship with her boyfriend. I loved this so much because it was so realistic. You can relate to the characters. The comics make you realize that in a relationship, it is really important to appreciate the little things. I recommend this to those who enjoy a cute romance – give this graphic novel a try! Well worth the read!

2. The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski ★★★★

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This was the biggest and most intimidating book on my October TBR. I had started it before the read-a-thon began, but I am so proud to have finished it. This book is told in two main parts. The first tells the story of Johnny Truant, a young man working in a tattoo shop. The second part is the manuscript that Johnny had found. A manuscript that has the power to mess with your mind. I will review this book in more detail in an upcoming blogpost. For now, all I will say is that I had become almost as obsessed as Johnny had with the House of Leaves. While reading this book, it was extremely hard to think of anything else. Unlike anything I have ever read (or even heard of), I really enjoyed this complex piece of literature and plan on re-reading it someday in the future.

3. Ed Undead: The Chronicles of a Teenage Zombie by Edward Kent (provided by Netgalley) ★★★

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Ed is on his own. When the zombies took over, he had lost everything: his parents, his schoolmates, the girl he loved… And he too had caught the disease. But why wasn’t he turning into a full fledged zombie? This book follows Ed’s journey, as he does his best to survive in such a messed up world and meets up with people along the way. I really did enjoy this book. It was a light, fun, halloween read. If you like to read about zombies, you should give this one a try!

4. The Merciless by Danielle Vega ★★★★★

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This is the story of some very messed up girls. Don’t take that lightly. When Sofia moves to a new town and starts a new school, she becomes friends with the “popular girls” (yes, just like our beloved movie “mean girls”) but she also becomes friends with the “weird girl”, Brooklyn. I don’t want to give too much away. It really is better not knowing. Just know that when you start this, you will not want to put it down – no matter how scary or gross it gets. I couldn’t sleep after finishing!

Comment below to let me know what you accomplished during this read-a-thon and your thoughts on these wonderful books 🙂

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MARIA’S WONDERFULLY WICKED READ-A-THON UPDATE 1

BOOKS I HAVE FINISHED SO FAR:

1. Soppy : A Love Story by Phillippa Rice (provided by Netgalley)
2. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
3. Ed Undead: The Chronicles of a Teenage Zombie by Edward Kent (provided by Netgalley)

LETS TALK ABOUT THE BOOKS:

Soppy was the cutest thing in life. It was very short and sweet. The illustrations were awesome and I loved that it was based on real events!

The House of Leaves messed with my head so much, but at the same time I felt so addicted to it. I was soooo intrigued by this story within a story. Really glad that I picked it up because it is so different and nothing like any of books that I have read.

Ed Undead reminded me a lot of Warm Bodies, but in a good way. I really enjoyed it! (love me some zombies)

I will most definitely be talking about these books in more detail at the end of this read-a-thon (stay tuned.)

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LETS TALK ABOUT ME:

I suck at updating this week. I also suck at reading this week. As much as I am happy about finishing the three of those books, I don’t feel very accomplished. I think that all of my studying has gotten to me because i’m feeling too brain dead to read lately (and blog). BUT today I finished my last midterm, so it is TIME to get BACK INTO READING! 

If anyone has a little extra reading motivation, feel free to share 😉

maria

BOOK REVIEW: THE ENCHANTRESS RETURNS BY CHRIS COLFER

Chris Colfer's THE LAND OF STORIESTitle: The Enchantress Returns
Author: Chris Colfer
Published: August 2013 by Little Brown Books
517 pages
Second in The Land of Stories series
Click here to find it on Goodreads

Colfer is the king of making me smile. In this sequel to The Wishing Spell, thirteen year old twins Alex and Conner Bailey return to the land of stories after their mother has been kidnapped by the evil enchantress. They once again meet their old friends along the way as they try to rescue their mom. There is no lack of adventure in this book as the twins try to fulfill their quest.

Colfer has created an amazing world that you can get lost in for hours. While reading this it felt like all my troubles had gone away and I was simply a young girl again wandering through the land of stories. I love the development and personality that goes into his characters. I’ve never had so many characters that actually make me laugh out loud.

In only two books I have grown so attached to each character and the whole land of stories world. I honestly wish this series would continue forever. I will be so sad when it ends.

My favorite quotes:
“I bet he would say that anyone can have a once-upon-a-time or a happily-ever-after, but it’s the journey between that makes the story worth telling,” Alex said. “And how characters face the challenges at hand is what makes them heroes.”

“Or maybe this is about my report on Animal Farm?” Conner said. “I know I said, ‘I wish George Orwell had used something to represent politics that didn’t give me a major craving for a bacon cheeseburger,’ but that’s really how I felt; I wasn’t trying to be funny.”

“Intelligence is not a competition,” she said. “There is plenty to go around, and there are many ways it can be demonstrated.”

“Let me think,” Mother Goose said. “We had the Dragon Age, the Age of Magic, and we’re currently in the Golden Age. Well, it used to be the Golden Age until all this drama happened.”
“The Dragon Age?” Conner asked excitedly. “You mean there were dragons in the fairy-tale world?”
“Tons of them,” Mother Goose said. “It was a mess! Disasters and barbecues left and right! They’re extinct now, kind of like your dinosaurs.”

The twins both hopped out of the carriage and crouched on the ground. Red was next to hop out and landed directly in the middle of them. Her gown exploded out of the carriage and securely covered the twins below her. It was perfect!
“So far so good,” Alex whispered under Red’s dress.
“Nice bloomers, Red,” Conner said, chuckling about the knee-length undershorts she had strategically put on.
Red grunted and kneed Alex in the head.
“Ouch! That was me, Red!” Alex said.
“Apologies,” Red said and then kneed Conner in the head.

“You’re not like any other woman I’ve ever met,” Alex told her.
“Why is that?” Goldilocks asked.
“You’re just so confident and self-sufficient,” Alex said. “So many girls-especially in our world-are so insecure and jealous. We rely so much on one another, but we’re so mean to each other at the same time. We could use more women like you to look up to.”

——

I promise you this book is worth the read. If you are turned off because it is targeted towards a younger audience, I am telling you to give it a try anyway. It is too cute and fluffy to pass up!

Another easy 5 star rating and I can’t wait to get to the next book in the series!

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