Small Spaces, DCeased, & Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Review Quickies #2

Review Quickies

Between working massive amounts of overtime and dealing with the normal ups and downs of life, I haven’t had a lot of time to write reviews. In order to catch up, here are a few quick reviews of books I’ve read lately.



Small Spaces Katherine Arden

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Middle Grade | Horror | Fantasy
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Released September 25th, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

I don’t often read middle-grade books, but I wanted an audiobook that would be easy to listen to and found Small Spaces on Scribd.

The story follows eleven-year-old Ollie who joins her class on a trip to a local farm. There’s quite a bit more going on, though, as Ollie discovers a bizarre scene with a crazed woman attempting to dispose of a mysterious book. Ollie starts reading the book and notices strange parallels between the story in the book and what’s happening on the farm. Ollie, along with two of her classmates, has to work together to save the rest of their class as the night takes a supernatural turn.

Small Spaces was super adorable and fun. I know this is the type of book I would have loved had I read it in middle school. The story touches on difficult topics such as grief, yet it is also a rich tale of friendship. It’s a short novel but packs a lot of punch. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Dead Voices.


DCeased Tom Taylor.jpg

DCeased by Tom Taylor
Art by Trevor Hairsine & Stefano Gaudiano
Horror | Graphic Novels/Comics | DC Universe
Published by DC Comics
Released November 26th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Tom Taylor is my favorite comic book writer. He has a unique ability to combine humor with darkness, and I absolutely love it. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the DC Universe (I much prefer Marvel), I’ll read anything that he writes.

DCeased is an apocalyptic story involving a disease spreading across Earth, turning victims into zombies (essentially), and even superheroes aren’t spared.

What really struck me about DCeased is how dark it is. One of the reasons that I don’t read many DC comics is that the stories and characters often seem a little cartoony for me, but DCeased is dark and serious. I’m not going to spoil the story and say how it ends, but let’s just say that I wasn’t expecting it to end like it did, and I thought that it was great.

The only downside to this collection is that, for many of the characters, I had no real idea of who they were. Obviously, the big names like Batman and Wonder Woman are obvious, but to someone unfamiliar with the DC Universe, there were a lot of less well-known characters who I didn’t care about. If you’re a DC fan though, you won’t have that problem.


Quiet Girl in a Noisy World Debbie Tun.jpg

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung
Graphic Novel | Memoir
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Released November 7th, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Last year I had the pleasure of reading Debbie Tung’s newer graphic novel release,  Book Love. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is a collection of black-and-white comics about life as an introvert. I felt as though I was reading about my own life. All of Debbie Tung’s work is adorable and perfectly captures introversion. This would make a perfect gift for your bookworm friends.



Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!




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City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab – A Review

Note: This is a repost of a review published last year. The sequel to City of Ghosts, Tunnel of Bones, is now available.


“Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.”

The Book

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Amazon | Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Publisher: Scholastic, 2018


What It Is

Cassidy Blake is a young girl who can see ghosts, and Jacob is her best friend, who happens to be a ghost.

Due to an accident in which Cassidy almost drowned, she gained the ability to cross “The Veil,” allowing her to see ghosts and observe them reliving their deaths. While she doesn’t exactly have a normal life, things start to get a little crazier when her parents begin working on their new television show, discussing the most haunted places in the world.

See, although Cass can interact with real ghosts, her parents, world-renowned ghost experts, don’t know this. They’ve written loads of books about ghosts and hauntings, without having actually ever seen a ghost. If only they knew about their daughter’s secret…

The family (and Jacob) travels to Edinburgh, Scotland, an ancient city of castles, cobblestone streets, and lots and lots (and lots) of ghosts. Not all of these ghosts are harmless – the Raven in Red, a spirit that snatches children away on cold nights, sets her sights on Cassidy.

Cassidy and Jacob, with the help of their new friends Lara and Findley, go on a daunting adventure to stop the Raven from stealing Cassidy’s very life force. This novel has some truly spooky moments and haunting scenery.

This is an exciting middle-grade novel from the author of Vicious, Vengeful, A Darker Shade of Magic, and more.


My Thoughts

This was such a delightful book to read. It gave me strong vibes of one of my all-time favorite books, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which I definitely recommend if you enjoy City of Ghosts.

It’s a lovely book that focuses on friendship and facing your fears. Cass puts herself at risk to save her best friend, and Jacob does the same for her. Their unusual friendship is so sweet and endearing.

I wish we had seen more of Lara’s character, who starts off pretty cold, but who you quickly warm up to. I found myself wanting to know more about her history, and that of her ghost-obsessed grandfather. I can only hope that the sequel that Victoria Schwab is currently writing includes some more of their story.

Please don’t be put off by the fact that this is a middle-grade book – it truly reads like something that people of all ages can enjoy, much like Cassidy’s beloved Harry Potter. I already know that this is a book I’m going to go back to over and over again. I had quite the book hangover when I finished it, but then this happened:

Capture.PNG

I can’t wait to read the next book. I’m aching to know more about Cass’s story, and I still want to know how Jacob died!

The only (slight) problems I had with this novel is that I wish it was a little bit longer and that there was a bit more character development. While many of the characters did have personalities and backstory, more would have been nice.


Verdict (Buy, Borrow, Read)

Buy. This is such a wonderful book, especially to read in October as we near Halloween. Plus, you’re going to want to reread it when the sequel comes out!

Have you read City of Ghosts? What were your thoughts?




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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – A Review

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Middle Grade | Fantasy | Classic Literature
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Scholastic
Released June 26, 1997
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I was eleven years old when the first Harry Potter book came out in the United States. I grew up with the series, eagerly awaiting each next book. When the 800+ page fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released, I read the entire book in a single day because I refused to do anything else. The series will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope that if I have children one day, I can pass that love onto them.

I’ve been wanting to reread this series for so long. I reread it once in my early twenties, and now that I’m in my early thirties, I thought it would be a good time to do so again. My house burned down when I was 19, so I lost all of my original copies, but I found this set on Amazon of the hardcovers that came in a cute trunk and purchased it.

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When I started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone this time around,I was worried that I might have outgrown it. These are middle-grade books from twenty years ago, after all. I needn’t have worried, however. By the end of the first chapter, I was hooked all over again and felt as intrigued and excited as I did when I was eleven and reading it for the first time.

I’m assuming you know what the plot of Harry Potter is, so I’ll jump straight into the review.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first and shortest book of the collection. It follows Harry and his new friends during their first year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

One of the first things I noticed on this reread was my absolute fury towards the Dursleys for the child abuse they constantly throw Harry’s way. When I read the book at eleven years old, I know this wasn’t something that I would have paid much attention to, as I was more focused on the magic and the creatures and wanting my own wand. As an adult, however, the level of abuse shook me. As a result, when Harry gets to leave and go to Hogwarts, despite the protests of his adopted family, I felt a wonderful sense of relief for him.

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The Harry Potter novels are the only books I’ve read by J. K. Rowling, but I’ve always loved the pacing of these books and her writing style in them. Nothing in the books is unnecessary or pointless fluff – every word matters. There’s also a great deal of foreshadowing that you might not pick up on during your first read through. That’s always a trait I love in books and it made the story move at a steady and fast pace.

The story is sad, funny, infuriating, and endearing all at once. Each character has their own distinct motivations and personalities that bring them to life. They’re courageous and imperfect, making plenty of mistakes along the way, but do the right thing in the end. I was reminded in this reread that Hagrid is one of my favorite characters, at least in this first book. His loyalty to Hogwarts and to Harry is wonderful and he’s so full of life.

I knew before reading this that I would be sticking with my rating of five stars. Its status as a modern classic is well-deserved.

This month I’m going to be picking up the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsI can’t wait to continue this journey!




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The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A Review

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Middle-Grade | Magical Realism | Supernatural | Fantasy
Published by HarperCollins
Released September 30, 2008
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thrift Books

Synopsis

An infant accidentally escapes the murder of his entire family and finds shelter in a nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard adopt the child and name him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.

Bod is raised by the ghosts, along with his guardian, Silas, who’s not quite dead and not quite living. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard and learns many tricks, including how to fade into the background and visit dreams.

Bod is kept from leaving the graveyard because dangers lurk outside of the gates. Namely, Jack, the man who murdered Bod’s original family, is still out to get him.

Growing up in a graveyard certainly isn’t boring though. Bod has a ton of adventures with both the living and dead. Ultimately, he must confront the man who is responsible for his family’s demise.

Review

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and that The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but it’s a pretty high number. I’ve also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, a couple of times.

There are so many reasons I adore this novel as much as I do. First, it’s a fun adventure story that deals with complicated subjects, such as murder. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that Gaiman writes in a concise, casual way, which is striking against the backdrop of violence. The best place to see this is in the opening chapter when Jack is murdering the family.

Bod is a very well-written character who learns to live despite being surrounded by the dead. He wants to see the world and meet people. Growing up in a graveyard only makes him want to live more, and I love that about Bod. He’s also an immensely likable character.

So many of the side characters in the book are just as enjoyable as Bod; we’ve got Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian; Liza, who was drowned for witchcraft; Miss Lupescu, Bod’s teacher that has more to her than meets the eye; and a trio of nasty ghouls: the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Another reason I enjoy this book so much is that I’ve always been the sort of person who hangs around in graveyards. In fact, when I lived in Asheville, NC, much of my free time was spent at Riverside Cemetary, where I would go to get away from people, read, meditate, have picnics. Graveyards are very peaceful places, and I loved reading a book set in one that wasn’t your standard horror story.

This book will make you smile and you will like Bod so much that you really want him to succeed in life. It’s well-written and just lovely. This book would be a great place to start if you’re new to Neil Gaiman.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This story is perfect. I have zero complaints, and I know I’m going to continue to reread this book frequently.

Grimenna by N.K. Blazevic – A Review

The Book

38473459.jpgGrimenna by N.K. Blazevic
Goodreads
Published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Released March 5, 2018
Obtained through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

It was in the great forest Grimenna that the first spirits were born, created from the beliefs of men and nourished by thoughts both good and evil. As time unfolded men began to shun these spirits, he turned away from their guidance and plundered the forest for his own means without giving thanks. It was then dark creatures rose from the earth, conjured from the depths of nightmares, and began to drive him out. He found refuge across the great river that divided the land and it was there he settled. No one dared cross the river again; only the wicked, the unclean and criminal were thrown back across to be punished.

Paiva Ibbie is a simple farm girl, the daughter of a shepherd in the farthest village in the kingdom. One night she encounters one of the evil spirits of the forest, Varloga, and fears for her life. Fortunately, a group of Wildermen (aka, criminals thrown into the woods), including a young man named Renn, rescue her from him. Despite being rescued, however, her life is completely uprooted. She’s sent off to the city for safety, but things continue to go wrong for her.

Her father is brought before the ruler of the kingdom for harboring the Wildermen, which is a serious crime. He’s branded and thrown into Grimenna, and Paiva becomes determined to save him. She escapes into the woods with the help of Renn and bands up with other Wildmen to chase after her father. Along the way, she discovers the true nature of who she is and where she comes from while attempting to bring the good spirits back into the world.

Review

When I read the synopsis of Grimenna on NetGalley, I was intrigued by the fairy tale plot. I’ve always loved dark fairy tales, and this is certainly that. However, by the time I reached the fifth chapter I was quite bored. I found myself being annoyed by how childish Paiva seemed, and her obsession with the “hot guy” of her town. Even throughout the rest of the story, I felt absolutely nothing for the characters – there was a major disconnect between myself and each character the whole time.

Another aspect of the book that I found challenging is that it tended to have a slow pace when nothing was happening in the story and then sped through the interesting and more exciting parts.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and wish there had been more of them. After I finished reading Grimenna I looked the author up online, and her own sister was the inspiration for Paiva, which I thought was sweet. The author is also an artist, and I believe she did the art herself for the book.

Overall, I fell as though many people would really enjoy this book. However, I was not able to get fully invested in the story.

Verdict

5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Although I had my issues with this book, again, I feel that a lot of others may find this story enjoyable. The illustrations were delightful, and it was a very easy read.

Book Review: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

“Every time I get nervous or scared, I remind myself that every good story needs twists and turns. Every heroine needs an adventure.”

The Book

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Amazon | Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr
Publisher: Scholastic, 2018


What It Is

Cassidy Blake is a young girl who can see ghosts, and Jacob is her best friend, who happens to be a ghost.

Due to an accident in which Cassidy almost drowned, she gained the ability to cross “The Veil,” allowing her to see ghosts and observe them reliving their deaths. While she doesn’t exactly have a normal life, things start to get a little crazier when her parents begin working on their new television show, discussing the most haunted places in the world.

See, although Cass can interact with real ghosts, her parents, world-renowned ghost experts, don’t know this. They’ve written loads of books about ghosts and hauntings, without having actually ever seen a ghost. If only they knew about their daughter’s secret…

The family (and Jacob) travels to Edinburgh, Scotland, an ancient city of castles, cobblestone streets, and lots and lots (and lots) of ghosts. Not all of these ghosts are harmless – the Raven in Red, a spirit that snatches children away on cold nights, sets her sights on Cassidy.

Cassidy and Jacob, with the help of their new friends Lara and Findley, go on a daunting adventure to stop the Raven from stealing Cassidy’s very life force. This novel has some truly spooky moments and haunting scenery.

This is an exciting middle-grade novel from the author of Vicious, Vengeful, A Darker Shade of Magic, and more.


My Thoughts

This was such a delightful book to read. It gave me strong vibes of one of my all-time favorite books, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which I definitely recommend if you enjoy City of Ghosts.

It’s a lovely book that focuses on friendship and facing your fears. Cass puts herself at risk to save her best friend, and Jacob does the same for her. Their unusual friendship is so sweet and endearing.

I wish we had seen more of Lara’s character, who starts off pretty cold, but who you quickly warm up to. I found myself wanting to know more about her history, and that of her ghost-obsessed grandfather. I can only hope that the sequel that Victoria Schwab is currently writing includes some more of their story.

Please don’t be put off by the fact that this is a middle-grade book – it truly reads like something that people of all ages can enjoy, much like Cassidy’s beloved Harry Potter. I already know that this is a book I’m going to go back to over and over again. I had quite the book hangover when I finished it, but then this happened:

Capture.PNG

I can’t wait to read the next book. I’m aching to know more about Cass’s story, and I still want to know how Jacob died!

The only (slight) problems I had with this novel is that I wish it was a little bit longer and that there was a bit more character development. While many of the characters did have personalities and backstory, more would have been nice.


Verdict (Buy, Borrow, Read)

Buy. This is such a wonderful book, especially to read in October as we near Halloween. Plus, you’re going to want to reread it when the sequel comes out!

Have you read City of Ghosts? What were your thoughts?




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If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!