My New Obsession with Stephen King

My New Obsession with Stephen King

Hey bookworms!

I’ll be honest, I am probably one of the worst offenders when it comes to making sure I blog consistently. Sometimes I feel guilty about it, but at the same time, I do this for fun and don’t get paid, so I will just do it when I feel like it and call it a day! No harm, no pressure.

Anyway, I wanted to jump on today to write a little story about something that a lot of my followers on bookstagram (@worldswithinpages) already know: I have recently become obsessed with Stephen King. This isn’t just a slight obsession, oh no, this is a full-blown dedication to wanting to now read everything he has ever written. This is a daunting task considering he has written more than 50 books (some of which are 1,000+ pages long), but I am already 4 down, so I am almost 10% of the way there!

I am really not sure how I became suddenly obsessed with Stephen King. Something motivated me so start reading books that would scare me a little bit and King just seemed like the logical answer. I did read Gwendy’s Button Box a year or so ago (super short novella), but until I picked up Pet Semetary, I had never read a  full-length Stephen King book. Pet Semetary blew me away, so then it was onto The Shining. From there, Salem’s Lot which I literally finished just minutes before writing this post. Now to decide what is next… Hmm.

The thing about Stephen King books that hooks me the most is that he’s not afraid to “go there” with his writing. I have never in my life read books that contain themes or situations like the ones he creates with such vivid detail. You won’t get the “tiptoe” type of writing that so many authors subscribe to. If something bloody and gory happens in the book, King will give it to you in great detail so you can almost imagine you are there in the room, watching it happen. I also love that he is relentless in his willingness to get to the core of his characters. He truly creates someone new with each novel he writes and each person has a complexity that is unlike characters before/after him/her. I love that, even though I am reading the same author, I will never read the same book about the same people twice.

For the books I am thinking about reading next, I have it narrowed down to the following:

  • Needful Things
  • Doctor Sleep (the sequel to The Shining)
  • Carrie
  • The Gunslinger
  • Mr. Mercedes
  • Lisey’s Story
  • Gerald’s Game

As you can see, that is not exactly “narrowed down,” but at least it’s a start haha! I am definitely looking forward to my next King book and I will try and keep you guys updated on what that will be.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful July

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Why I Am Ditching the TBR Pile Concept This Month

Hello fellow readers and friends, how are you?! I wanted to do a quick chatty post since it has been a little bit since I last talked to you guys about what I am reading and what I am up to.

You may have noticed that I didn’t post a TBR pile this month on my bookstagram (@worldswithinpages) or here on my blog and there’s a reason for that. These past few weeks have been super weird for me when it comes to reading. I am not in a reading SLUMP per se, but I am definitely going through a weird spot in my reading habits. Let me explain…

Before April, if you would have asked me to read a thriller novel, I would have told you I was not interested. Thriller/mystery used to be my LEAST favorite genre for various reasons and I would avoid them at all costs. However, during April, I completely abandoned that notion and I read almost nothing BUT thrillers back-to-back. I have NO idea what happened, it just did.

It all started when I read The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. I picked it up randomly and after realizing that it had been on my shelf for quite some time and had not yet been read. I figured, after hearing some amazing reviews for it, that it would be a good bet. It was! I really enjoyed it and I am glad that my whims lead me to want to read it. However, it started a snowball effect of ONLY wanting to read thrillers. I didn’t want to read regular fiction, I didn’t want to read anything YA, and I didn’t want to read fantasy (my long-standing favorite genre). For some reason, all my brain wants right now is thrillers, thrillers, thrillers. Since then, I have read a total of 4 thriller/mystery/horror-type books… and I don’t see myself slowing down or changing course.

I started to fight this feeling for a little while when it first started creeping in, but I realized a few things. The first and most important thing I realized was that I read for fun! I don’t get paid to read and I don’t read for anyone else’s benefit but my own. Why pressure myself to read anything other than EXACTLY what I want to read, when I want to read it? The second thing I realized was that I have been blocked out SO many books by being exclusionary to the thriller genre. I am YEARS behind on reading what thriller fans have been loving and I have so much to catch up on! I will never run out of books to read now haha!

Another reason why I am not setting up a TBR pile this month is because I ALWAYS deviate from it. Every single time I set up a stack of 10+ books, I read maybe 3 from that pile. That’s always okay by me, but then I feel like there’s a feeling of guilt that I put on myself for not acheiving some sort of goal. I also have this weird thing that happens where, as soon as I say I am going to read a book by x date, I don’t want to read it anymore because it feels like a homework assignment (gross). Sitting and thinking about this more makes me wonder if I should never go back to a TBR pile again… time will tell!

Because of my weird reading mood I am currently in, I will not be setting up a TBR pile this month. I am going to read exactly what I want to read, when I want to read it. If that means that I divert away from thrillers to read something else, that’s fine by me! I think my brain is trying to teach me that I need to get back to reading what I love and not what I feel obligated to read and I am going to ride that wave as long as I can! Like I said, I read because I love books and I can’t wait to read more of the books that remind me of that!

I will say that I do have two hopefuls for this month that I would like to read: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and Final Girls by Riley Sagar. I have heard INCREDIBLE things about both books and I am excited to dive into both of them!

I know this was a bit of a rambly post, but I am still trying to figure out what the heck is happening to my reading mood and feelings lately. I have no explanation for it, so I am just taking it book by book haha!

How do you feel about TBRs? Are you good at adhering to them or do you always deviate like I do?

 

Book Recs for Fans of The Greatest Showman

Book Recs for Fans of The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum is taking the world by storm at the moment and it’s easy to see why! With musical numbers that will be stuck in your head for weeks on end and a glittering cast of characters and production, it’s truly a dream of a movie!

With visions of acrobats still dancing in my head, I thought I would put together a list of a few book recommendations you might like if you are someone who also enjoyed The Greatest Showman!

 

  1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
    The Night Circus
  2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
    Water for Elephants
  3. The Grace Keepers by Kirsty Logan
    The Gracekeepers.jpg
  4. Everything You Came to See by Elizabeth Schulte Martin
    Everything You Came to See
  5. The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
    The Book of Speculation

 

There you have it! Just a handful of books that will bring you back to the circus, back to the magic, and allow you to start “dreamin’ with your eyes wide open!”

Have YOU seen The Greatest Showman? What is your favorite song from the movie? Do you have any favorite circus books that I missed? Let me know! 🙂

 

*Note: All images found on Amazon.com

Review: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

Review: Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

First and foremost, I want to extend my sincere appreciation to my friends at Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Unbury Carol in exchange for an honest review. I am so appreciative of their generosity and I always love working with them!

Unbury Carol is a thrilling novel that takes place in the Wild West and encompasses everything you’d hope to find in a Western story. There are outlaws that are chasing each other, sketchy narrators, shootouts, taverns, booze, and everything in between. However, the most compulsive part of the story, and what originally drew me to wanting to read the book ASAP, was the character of Carol Evers and her unique and terrifying “condition”.

Carol, a wealthy, well-known, and largely-loved individual in her small town suffers from a terrifying condition where, to the outside world, she appears to be completely dead. However, on the inside, Carol is very much alive and existing in a state of perpetual wind and falling that she refers to as “Howltown.” Howltown is an absolutely terrifying concept to me personally. Can you imagine being totally aware of everything happening around you and yet you can’t move, speak, or interact with the people around you? Horrifying!

Carol’s husband, Dwight, is the only person who knows about her condition. The danger in this fact? He also has his eye on her money. So on an emotionally stressful day when Carol unexpectedly falls into her death-like coma, Dwight, being the slimeball he is, decides that he will finally fake her death, bury her alive, and steal her fortune. The only problem? He ISN’T truly the only person who knows about her condition. Enter: James Moxie, Carol’s former love and outlaw extraordinaire.

Upon hearing of Carol’s ill fate, James takes off on his horse into the sunset to try and rescue the woman he used to love. But there’s someone else who is hot on his trail, an evil arsonist named Smoke, who would die to get his hands on James Moxie.

Will Carol be lowered into the ground and never return? Will James Moxie make it to her in time to save her or will Smoke catch up to him before he even has a chance?

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea that it was going to be a Western so that was a bit of a surprise and not normally a genre I would dive into. I loved that I got to experience a new genre for me in a creative way!

The characters were also super rich in this book. I felt that I understood and always wanted to know more about them and I was so excited to see how their story would pan out. I do wish that we got to see more focus on the women in this story, including Carol. After chatting with my friend Audra over at @ouija.doodle.reads, we both realized that our favorite component of the book was actually the amazing cool women that were within it. We both agreed that the book would have been greatly strengthened had we been able to see more of all of their stories.

I ended up rating this book a 3/5 stars. I did enjoy it a lot, but I do feel it could have been improved. After reading Malerman’s Bird Box, I was so hoping for a book that would just grip me, keep me interested, disgust me, and scare me a bit. Maybe it was my own expectations for the book that lead to me giving it a lower star rating?

Either way, I can’t wait to see what Malerman comes up with next.

 

Again, thank you to Random House for sending this book my way! If you’re interested in reading the book, make sure you keep an eye out for it when it hits shelves on April 10, 2018.

 

 

My March TBR (For now…)

My March TBR (For now…)

As with all of my TBR lists, this is definitely subject to change. However, I have a good idea of the books I would like to read this month! Let’s get into it…

 

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone is the most recent book written by Kristin Hannah and many of my friends have been gushing about how wonderful it is. This month, I am going to be reading this one as a buddy read with a few friends on Bookstagram and I can’t wait!

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second novel to the incredible book, The Name of the Wind. I am going to be splitting my time listening to this one on Audible and reading the physical book because at 1,000 pages long, it’s a bit daunting! I am hoping the second book is as good as the first!

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is going to be an incredible read for me, I already know it. I really enjoyed reading The Song of Achilles, her first novel, in February and I am hoping that I enjoy Circe just as much! I also doing a buddy read for this one with Lauren from @lozreadsbooks!

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn is the first book in a series by Brandon Sanderson. As a lover of all things fantasy, I am really looking forward to diving into a new world and a new author that I have never read before. This month is full of buddy reads, as I am reading this one as a buddy read with my favorite fantasy book reading buddy, Hannah from @booknerdnative!

Hating You/Dating You by Christina Lauren

After reading Roomies by Christina Lauren in January, I was very excited to try something new from the duo that is Christina Lauren. This book is said to be a lot of people’s favorites from them. I am hoping it will be a nice respite from everything I am reading that will be a bit more heavy this month.

Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Shadowsong is the second book to the first YA fantasy phenomenon that is Wintersong. I really really enjoyed Wintersong so I am hoping that this one is even better and does not disappoint!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

As a part of the #HarreadPotter marathon created by @mugandnook, I am super excited to be continuing on with this series and diving into my favorite book! There is something so hopeful and beautiful about Book 3 and I am so happy that I get to read it this month.

School for Psychics by K.C. Archer

I feel very fortunate to have been able to receive an ARC of School for Psychics by K.C. Archer from Simon & Schuster. It’s giving me MAJOR X-Men vibes which is very exciting because I love X-Men very much! Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a free copy!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

As someone who adores the idea of a circus-themed novel, Station Eleven has been on my list for months now! After receiving it as a Christmas gift, I am really excited to see what it has in store.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

This book has been on a LOT of people’s radars as of late after it was released and announced as a Book of the Month Club pick for March! Touchstone was kind enough to send me a free ARC copy back in January and with cover art that is as eye-catching as this, who could say no? I can’t wait to see what’s to love about this one!

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

As another quirky romance novel for the month, I have chosen “Surprise Me” by Sophie Kinsella. My husband was kind enough to surprise me with this book and I can’t wait to read it. The thing about this book that is the most appealing to me is the fact that it follows the story of a married couple attempting to rekindle their romance, something that I think is a sorely left-out narrative in many romance novels. I’m excited to see if this one lives up to the incredible hype it’s been receiving lately!

Everything I Never Told you by Celeste Ng

After reading Little Fires Everywhere in September, I started doing some digging to see if Celeste Ng had written any other incredible books. To my delight, Everything I Never Told You popped up in my search results! I have been told that this book is even better than Little Fires, so let’s hope that ends up being the case. I LOVED Little Fires, so it’s hard for me to fathom anything better!

 

That is all I have for this month on my TBR! Like I said, this is definitely subject to change, but I am feeling pretty great about my choices!

-Alisa

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Siiiiigh.

I really wanted to like this book a lot. I really did. I have had it on my shelf since the month it was released a few years ago in 2016, silently passing it over with the hopes that I would be holding off for something amazing. Then, when Thunderhead, the second book in the series was released a few months ago, I was finally motivated to read Scythe and figure out what it was that everyone was raving about it.

Unfortunately, even after reading the book, I still do not see what the fuss is all about. Let’s dive into my review about the things that I liked about the book and the things I did not.

Things I Liked About Scythe

There were a few things I did like about this book. The plot itself was a pretty original idea (kind of… see below) and I was really intrigued by the idea of a “perfect society.” I also really liked that there were a lot of themes of compassion and doing what is right by your fellow man even when what you are doing is difficult. I also appreciated the pacing of the book. It seemed like something new was happening with every chapter and there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming!

Things I Didn’t Like About Scythe

Alright, where do I begin here? I think it might be easier if I make a bulleted list.

  • This story is a bit tired. Two talented teens (one boy, one girl, because obviously we need to stick to that heteronormativity), they train under the direction of a powerful figure, they discover the government system they are fighting for is flawed, they work hard to stick it to the man, they fall in love, but oh man it’s forbidden love uh ohhh, and THEN of course something occurs that tears a seam in the world as we know it. Sound familiar (Hunger Games, Divergent, The Host, Shadow & Bone, etc. etc. etc. etc.)
  • The characters are so so shallow. While the plot is progressing and we are learning more about the characters themselves, I never truly felt like I knew or connected to either of the main characters. I realized this was the case when something happened where one of them could potentially die and I just really did not care. I was not invested in their lives at all. I have a really hard time reading books whose characters I can’t connect with, no matter how fast the plot was moving. I will say that Rowan (the main male character) does experience some emotional changes that we get to see, but it still didn’t make me like him more or less.
  • SPOILER ALERT: The two main characters, Citra and Rowan, fall in love. But we never find out why or how. You can see throughout the novel that there may be some hints of affection, but it goes from 0-100 REAL quick. There is almost NO reason for me to want to invest in their relationship or even care that they are “in love.” It’s almost creepy?
  • The violence in this book is incredibly graphic. Normally I can handle a little gore, but when it comes to this book, I had a really hard time being okay with and processing the fact that there were innocent people being killed for the sake of “world balance.” There was even a scene where a family with a father, mother, and children were eating at the dinner table and the Scythes showed up, took him away from his family at the table and lead him into the bedroom down the hall to “glean” him. This was incredibly discomforting to me and made me really anxious to think about. Not only that, but if the person who is being “gleaned” resists in any way whatsoever, their entire family will be hunted down and disposed of. It’s horribly violent and deeply disturbing. Some of the methods of gleaning were also incredibly immoral and I really just didn’t see the point of how grotesque some of the methods were. I was really disappointed in that element.

That’s about all I have to say about this book. I think I will read the second book just to see if it makes the first book seem any better but I have my doubts.

Overall, I feel like my reading tastes have evolved when it comes to YA fantasy and I have almost impossible standards for YA fantasy to achieve 4 & 5-star ratings. For having read SO much of it in my lifetime, it’s hard for me to excuse the things that I find are lacking in certain books that I have found in others.

I give this book 3/5 stars.

Have you read this book yet? What did you think?

Thanks for reading!

-Alisa

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I am going to be honest in this review, as I try to be with all of my reviews. This book is either one that people hate or people love. Luckily for me, I LOVED it.

Wintersong follows the story of a girl named Elisabeth (Liesl) who has grown up her entire life hearing fairytale-like stories about “The Goblin King” from her superstitious grandmother. However, her grandmother’s stories turn out to be more than just stories, as a grown-up Liesl starts to remember flashbacks of her childhood and dancing and laughing with this handsome and frightening “Goblin King.” When Liesl’s sister Kathe is lured into the Underground, the Earthy domain of The Goblin King and his minions, Liesl must find a way to save her, but it may cost Liesl something more than she could have ever prepared for.

Look, I understand why so many people have a hard time liking this book. It contains everything that you would think a YA fantasy would contain: A “bland and boring” female main character who has the hots for the mysterious fantasy bad boy, a steamy encounter (or two… or three), and an eventual proclamation of love that changes everything (look, you saw this coming, don’t tell me it’s a spoiler). HOWEVER, there is a special charm in this book that I rarely find in other “typical” fantasy YA novels. The connection that the two main characters have is so much more than just romantic and physical tension and I loved that there was almost a sense of vulnerability between the two of them. They wanted each other, badly, but they were respectful of one another, they understood one another, and Liesl made her boundaries well known to him. It’s also hard to NOT be attracted to someone as flawed and tormented as The Goblin King. While so many male protagonists are “flawed bad boys”, you can’t help but feel empathy for the role that The Goblin King has to play and the weight he has on his shoulders to keep the world from absolute ruin (literally).

This book was absolutely magical for me. The descriptions of the music that Liesl holds dear, the whole world that was created by the author, and the love and connection that was shared between the main characters was enchanting. If you read it like a fairytale and go into the story thinking of it as a fairytale, I feel that it would be much more enjoyable. This book is meant to be read as a story, not as a fantastical reality if that makes sense!

There are some flaws in this book that I would like to address, but they are minimal. Liesl REALLY had some self-esteem issues in the beginning of the novel that made me feel like it was a bit overdone. The whole “plain girl trope” is not something I like to see as much as it is portrayed and written into fantasy novels and I often find myself becoming irritated by it. However, I will say that her character arc does create an opportunity for her to become a bit more confident, but it’s at the hands of The Goblin King. I would have liked to see Liesl come into her confidence on her own without needing a man to give it to her (lol pun intended) to make it happen. I also wish that her sister Kathe was not viewed as an object as much as she was in the book. She was known for being beautiful and the author put her in so many situations where she was objectified and I felt really bad for her. We get it, she is desired, but couldn’t she have been so much more than that?

Overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book and I am excited to read the second book in this series that was just released about a month or so ago. I ended up giving this book 4/5 stars and I would definitely recommend it to people who are fans of fantasy.

Thanks for reading!

-Alisa