Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery

Goodreads Score: 3.42

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Plot could be confusing at times.

Things I Liked: Voice, voice, voice.

Review in a sentence: Watch as poor, sweet Midnight tries to find out what the fuck is going on.

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From Goodreads

“Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain.  Every story needs a secret. 

Wink. Poppy. Midnight.

Two girls. One boy. One summer. 

One bad thing. 

What really happened?

Someone knows. Someone is lying.” 

(From book flap)

I’m interning at two different jobs this summer. One is for a small publishing press, and the other is a book scouting position. Because of this, I am constantly submerged in all things books (living the dream!), and as a result, my TBR list has grown to be about a million miles long.

However, while WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT wasn’t actually on my list, the cover (a colorful mix of icons against a black background) and title intrigued me enough that I read the first page. I bought it immediately.

April Genevieve Tucholke writes with such a distinctive voice–clear and eloquent, not overly verbose, but somehow melodic. The book is first person narration told from the alternating viewpoints of the three title characters (yes, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight are the names of the characters, not some strange code) and each character is written with a strong, clear, very Them style that you can immediately recognize. I was hooked from chapter one, and continued to be hooked.

That was the highlight of the book.

The plot itself was strange. Which doesn’t mean bad. Just…interesting. Essentially, we have a total mean girl named Poppy who likes to play people just for kicks. Poor Midnight, so sweet and clueless, has been in love with Poppy for a long time, and she alternates between mocking him and sleeping with him. Towards the beginning of the book, Midnight moves from Poppy’s neighborhood to a house next to Wink, who is the local oddball. Midnight starts to shake off Poppy’s nefarious clutches as he becomes closer to Wink, but Poppy does not approve. The not-so-love triangle comes to its peak one night in the forest, in an abandoned house rumored to be haunted. There, something happens…but nobody knows quite what.

From the cover, we know that there’s a hero, a villain, and a liar in the book, and as the book is told in first person, it’s clear we have a classic case of the Unreliable Narrator. This provides tension as we wonder who has the nerve to be lying to us in their own thoughts–or, if not lying, at least deflecting the truth.

But when truths start to be revealed, I was left doing the whole ‘wuuuuuuuh’ thing. Not in an ‘oh my God, wait WHAT, WHAT, WHAAAAT. AMAZING PLOT TWIST’ sense. More like in an ‘I’m so confused, but ok, cool. That’s fine. I’m fine’ way.

In a sense, the blurry surrealism of the plot mimics the eccentricities of the characters, and after the book I was left feeling thoughtful, torn, and ready to find another one of Tucholke’s works.

Have you read WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT? If so, what’d you think? What books are on your TBR lists? What are you favorite books with unreliable narrators? Let me know in the comments below! 

Currently Reading: STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi and COURT OF MIST AND FURY by Sarah J. Maas 

Recently Finished: NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman 

 

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Bookstore Love

A home is where the heart is.

Well, my heart is wherever the books are, and that has always meant that I’ve counted bookstores and libraries among my homes. I grew up camped out in the cafe of Barnes and Nobles, and navigating through the shelves of my local library (weighed down by towering stacks of hardcovers). My friends have always known to keep a firm grip on me whenever I spot a bookstore, because if they loosen they’re hold, I’ll dart inside. And once I’m inside, I can’t stay for mere minutes. Impossible!

 

This weekend, I was up in Sag Harbor, Long Island with a few friends. We were passing to the grocery store for Smores ingredients (because we planned to tell scary stories that night, and you can’t tell scary stories without marshmallows roasting in the background) but when I passed by an adorable bookstore, Harbor Books, I carefully backed away from my friends and darted through the entrance, leaving them, mystified, on the streets. I had to!

And once inside, I couldn’t even feel guilty. This independent bookstore was small but charming. Two cats (pictured above) lolled around lazily, and my attention flitted from the two of them back to the books, back to the cats, back to the books…you get the point. Meanwhile, a large, blocky tollbooth represented the Phantom Tollbooth, and gave me such a rush of nostalgia that I was tempted to buy The Phantom Tollbooth right there, even though I have a copy back home.

Large plush chairs ensured that I would have stayed for hours if not for my impatient friends, already tracking me down.

Even though I didn’t stay long, this bookstore reminded me how much I love exploring independent bookstores, as well as B&N. Amazon may be cheap, but it’s nothing compared to actually browsing in a physical bookstore. Be still, my heart! Be still, and take my money! You deserve it.

That said, what’s your favorite bookstore?! Let me know the name, and why you love it! (Wouldn’t it be great to compile them altogether and take a massive road trip to all of them??!!!)

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Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Score: 4.3

My Score: 4

Things I Disliked: Pacing could be a little uneven at times.

Things I Liked: Loved the Fae world, romance had me like ahhhhhhh.

Review in a sentence: YA Fantasy inspired by the tales of Beauty and the Beast and Tam Lin with great worldbuilding and plenty of romance, but uneven pacing at times.

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“When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.
As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.” 

(Goodreads)

As I write this review, I’m also in the middle of another of Sarah J. Maas’ series–the Throne of Glass books. Which are awesome and witty and great and evidently in high demand right now, as the third book was disappointingly missing from my local B&N. But then I stumbled onto A Court of Thorns and Roses and I didn’t feel so disappointed anymore.

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first in a new series by Maas, and the first book is inspired by both Beauty and the Beast and the story of Tam Lin. I’ve always had a fondness for Beauty and the Beast retellings–Stockholm syndrome aside–and so was already excited even before the first page.

As always, Maas’s writing is captivating; it’s hard to set her books down. I finished A Court of Thorns and Roses in one day, staying up past four in the morning because how could I not?! The book set off at a good pace, but once the protagonist, Feyre, made it to Tamlin’s estate, the action lulled, with most of the intrigue-factor in the middle of the book stemming from the romantic tension between the two leads. Speaking of romance, it was an edgier notch up from Throne of Glass…especially when it came to certain faerie rituals (you’ll definitely know what I’m talking about once you read it). I loved reading about the different species of faeries and just delving deeper and deeper into the beautiful world that Maas created. I think it’s a testament to her great writing that after I finished the book I immediately wanted to read everything I could find about the fair folk.

The main character, Feyre, was neither annoying nor a favorite of mine. Protagonist + tragedy + heavy responsibilities + stubbornness + skilled with a particular weapon. It’s a popular formula…but then, there’s a reason for that. Tragic pasts lend depth, stubborn characters tend to be more interesting than those who take orders blindly, etc. Perhaps my lack of passion for Feyre wasn’t from any particular quality she had, but the lack of anything that truly made me want to cheer her on. On the other hand, two of my favorite characters were Feyre’s sister, Nesta, and Lucien, another faerie, mostly because their personalities both intrigued me. I really wanted to know more about their pasts–so here’s hoping we’ll find out more in the sequel.

One gripe I had with the book was the overall pacing. Like I said earlier, sometimes the middle felt too languid. But then it was non-stop action for the last hundred pages. Literally non-stop. But I do like that Maas spent so much time in the evolution of Tamlin’s and Feyre’s relationship, so I guess either way would have been a trade-off.

All in all, I would definitely recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses if you’re into romance and fantasy. When I first finished it, I was wriggling with feelings and all ‘ohmygosh I love this, must tell friends’. I think a lot of that was because the passion was palpable and gorgeous, smoldering faeries and whatnot. Now that I’ve had a week or two of distance, I still really like it and will probably re-read it at some point, but I’ve also gained enough objectivity to realize that I prefer Throne of Glass, which has the same signature Maas-style romance, but also more of a witty edge…and, of course, an assassin.

Have you read A Court of Thorns and Roses? Do you agree or disagree with my review? What books have you been loving/hating? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Summer Reading List (You Tell Me)

Well, helllooooooo there.

I know it’s been a while. Like, a long, long while. Alas, college will do that to a girl. But now that summer is here, I’m excited to get back to blogging! And reviewing!

But what to read, what to read? During the semester, I have so little time to read (besides 7oo pounds of pre-1900s literature, of course), and so it’s easy to get really behind the current trends. That’s why I’m asking for help.

Tell me what books I should have on my summer reading list! What’s your favorite book of the year? What new releases are you most excited about? What books should I be pumped for? Let me know; I’ll love you forever!

Thanks, and hopefully I’ll be back with an actual blog post soon enough!

Book Review: Geek Girl

I wasn’t supposed to buy any books this week. I told myself this. My logical overseer had a very civil talk with the mischievous imp that sometimes lives inside of me.

LO: Erin. Listen. You are a broke college kid who routinely goes over budget. No books.

MI: But–

LO: No. No arguments. No books.

MI: No books?

LO: Yes. No books.

MI: Yes books?

LO: No. No books. You are not to buy any books.

MI: I see. I see…buy books.

LO: NO. LISTEN, you will not buy ANY books until at least after your essays are turned in, is that clear? And while you’re at it, start writing those essays. And clear your desk off. And stop eating dessert for breakfast.

MI: *sigh*

With that important conversation over, a very chastened me had to go to the bookshop just to, you know, cheer myself up, and then I just  happened to see the Night Circus which was buy one get one half off, and I got so excited that I lost all monetary reasoning, and clearly this is not my fault, and I FEEL NO REMORSE, alright?!

Where was I? Oh, yes. So anyways, I bought Night Circus and because Geek Girl was also buy one get one half off I bought that too. In this case, two wrongs might just make a right

Book: Geek Girl 

Author: Holly Smale

Goodreads Score: 3.88 

My Score: 4.0 

Genre: YA contemporary 

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Harriet Manners knows that a cat has 32 muscles in each ear, a “jiffy” lasts 1/100th of a second, and the average person laughs 15 times per day. She knows that bats always turn left when exiting a cave and that peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite. 

But she doesn’t know why nobody at school seems to like her.

So when Harriet is spotted by a top model agent, she grabs the chance to reinvent herself. Even if it means stealing her best friend’s dream, incurring the wrath of her arch enemy Alexa, and repeatedly humiliating herself in front of impossibly handsome model Nick. Even if it means lying to the people she loves.

Veering from one couture disaster to the next with the help of her overly enthusiastic father and her uber-geeky stalker, Toby, Harriet begins to realise that the world of fashion doesn’t seem to like her any more than the real world did.

As her old life starts to fall apart, will Harriet be able to transform herself before she ruins everything?

(Taken from Amazon)

I really don’t know what’s been up with me, but for some reason I’ve been on a row with YA contemporary lately, even though I usually find myself gravitating toward the YA science-fiction and fantasy and all that stuff. I’m loving it, too, even if I do sometimes expect daring sword fights to break out in the next chapter… Geek Girl, however, differs from my recent YA picks because it’s neither sad, soul-searching, or emotionally wrenching. Instead, Geek Girl is a fun, fast read from page one–the kind of book you read with chocolate and a blanket when you’re feeling sad. Yes, it deals with some weightier issues such as bullying (what is Alexa’s problem anyways? Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie-pop, the world may never know), family drama, and the like, but it’s the kind of book where you know that everything’ll turn out right in the end.

As for plot? Well, the modeling world as portrayed in literature can make for a fascinating and fun read, but what really enticed me into buying the book was simply the author, Holly Smale’s, voice. Harriet Manner may be clueless at times, but she’s endearing throughout and I loved reading all the quirky fun facts she intersperses throughout the book (like the true origin of the word ‘geek’…but I’ll leave that for you to find out).

That said, while Geek Girl was fun and fluffy, the basic premise of the book (nerdy girl transforms herself inside and out) has been done many times before, and Holly Smale didn’t deviate much from the standard, ensuing that most plot lines were resolved as soon as they popped up. The characters themselves often fell into categories that felt constrictive. Arch enemy Alexa is mean girl bully because she is mean girl bully. I also found Harriet, no matter how endearing, frustrating at times–especially since she seems to dramatize things just so that the book can have a plot.

Finally, the romance?

Well, the first meeting between Nick and Harriet was great:

“Do you often hide under furniture?”

“I don’t make a habit of it. Do you?”

“All the time.”

But it felt rushed towards the end and fourth-of-july corny. (Cuz of all the corn on the cob? Get it? No? Well, it’s late.) I’m also nervous to see how the romance will progress in the next couple of books, as, honestly, the two didn’t spend all that much time together in the first.

Of course, maybe some of the corniness and other gripes will be lost on the age group that this book is aimed at. Although I certainly enjoyed it and am planning on reading the sequel, I’d say that Geek Girl is probably marketed at middle grade. To sum up my feelings on the book, at its best, Geek Girl is a novel brimming with laughs, excitement, and fun. At its worst, it’s stereotypical and cliche. However, as quick of a read as it is, the latter two are minimum risks for you to take on the book, especially when you’re feeling down.

Have you read Geek Girl? What did you think about it? Have any books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below! 

PSA: Harper Lee is Publishing a Second Book

Exactly what it sounds like.

Since this is a book blog, I feel that I can’t NOT make a post about this. Just a short one. As most everybody who has graduated from high school knows, Harper Lee is the author of the famous To Kill a Mockingbird. Until now, that has been her only book released.

<Side note: Surprisingly, I never was asked to read To Kill a Mockingbird in my school. I don’t know why, because other students in other classes did. So, actually, until very recently I had never even opened To Kill a Mockingbird. I’m in the middle of reading it now, though, so at least I’m finally getting around to it.>

Apparently the new book is called Go Set a Watchman and features Scout Finch as an adult. The book was written in the 1950s, and To Kill a Mockingbird actually came out of the flashbacks from Go Set a Watchman. Probably this all would be a lot more cool and astounding to me if I had finished To Kill a Mockingbird or if it was an old classic to me, but it’s still shocking news. I mean, to publish a book so long after the original publishing date is one thing, but to publish a book so long after the original publishing date when that book is as famous and widely read as To Kill a Mockingbird…well, let’s just say there’ll be some high expectations! I can’t wait to see whether this book fulfills them. I truly hope it does.

Anyways, since I know that most everybody but me has read the novel, I just thought I’d let you know! (Even though I’m usually so behind on trending topics that this is probably not news to most of you, haha).

Anyways, got to get back to reading so that I can be up to date with everything when this book comes out 🙂

*source of information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-31118355

A Party in the Pages

It’s New Year’s Day! That means new resolutions, new starts, and new opportunities. And New Year’s Eve means champagne and watching the huge ball drop in NY, and maybe a little partying. So, if you’re looking for the fun from last night to continue in the comfort of your own bed, then there’s plenty of books out there that will keep the festivities rolling. Here’s my top five choices (in no particular order).

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

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What party list would be legitimate without The Great Gatsby? It reminds me of that T-shirt: “Ain’t no party like a Gatsby party because a Gatsby party don’t stop until at least two people are dead and everyone is disillusioned with the Jazz Age as a whole.” The truth. But in the meantime, a glass of gin, a thick blanket, and this book can’t hurt…can it?

2. Party Princess (The Princess Diaries VII) by Meg Cabot

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Otherwise known as one of the most awkward party scenes that I’ve had the good fortune of reading, because Mia’s nerves are just so painfully tangible, and you sympathize with her so much, and gah. But still–a party!

3. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen 

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This is one of my favorite Austen novels because it’s so fun, quirky, and charming. The protagonist, Catherine, is naive and gullible enough to create chaos, but sweet and innocent enough so that you can’t really blame her, can you? Anyways, like most of Austen’s novels, there’s always a ball or two involved, with lush descriptions of ball gowns and dances that will make you wish you lived in the 18th century (well, until you realize that things back then really sucked for anyone who wasn’t a white, land-owning male.)

4. Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison

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Each and every one of these books is as fun and lively as a proper party should be, but ignoring that there’s also plenty of actual gigs and concerts and dancing in the books–and in a couple of the books Georgia and her crew will actually teach you some moves. (HOOOORRRRRRNNNN)

5. Dollface by Renee Rosen

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Another novel set in the 1920s, Dollface is a indulgent historical novel that features lots of jazz, and lots of bourbon. Follow in the footsteps of Vera Abramowitz as she enjoys the new, exciting life that she’s wedged herself into. Exciting, and dangerous. Because both of the men hooked on her are mobsters. Rival ones, too, and with the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre looming on the horizon, nobody is safe.

It’s raining in my city right now, and even though it’s mid-afternoon I’m feeling very lazy and lethargic, so I think the best plan of action will be to make myself some hot chocolate, sneak a cookie upstairs and get reading one of these. A good start to the new year? Heck, yeah!

What are your favorite ‘party’ books? What do you think of my choices? What are your New Year’s goals? Let me know in the comments!