Rapid Fire Book Reviews Part I

At the start of this year I made it a goal of mine to write at least 250 words about every book I read. I think I did maybe five of those before I completely fell off the wagon and wrote zero words about every book I finished after that. I think 250 words was a bit more than I thought it would be and between work and personal life, it just became hard to keep up. So to make up for that, I’ll be reviewing every book I’m behind on (there’s 23. Buckle up.) and the rule is that I have to write at least 100 words. It can be more, but no less.

I’m calling these “rapid fire” book reviews because I’m going off of my immediate thoughts that come to mind when considering these titles.

*Obligatory disclaimer* These are just my opinions. If you disagree with something I say, that’s totally okay. We can feel differently about books!

Alright, moving on–


Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay

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My rating:★★ 2/5 stars

Finished: 1/25/2019

After reading and loving A Head Full of Ghosts, I REALLY wanted to love this one too so it breaks my heart so say I was let down. At the start of this book, Elizabeth’s teenage son Tommy goes missing. After going out to the park with his friends one night and not returning with them, police are set on the case to investigate his whereabouts and figure out what happened to him. People around the neighborhood begin seeing a shadowy figure outside their homes at night. Elizabeth swears she sees Tommy in her room one night and someone keeps leaving pages of his diary out on the living room floor.

This story sets up a lot of great stuff here: a tense family dynamic, a riveting mystery with some great Stand by Me vibes, and allusion to the satanic and paranormal. It’s slow moving suspense to be sure, but I like that. It’s just that I got to the end of the book and sat there thinking to myself, “That was it…?”

I just wanted something really climactic to happen, I wanted there to be some creepy, sinister revelation. Maybe to some the ending is scary and surprising. I did not get that feeling unfortunately.

This story just wasn’t for me. I am by no means swearing off all other Tremblay books though- quite on the contrary. I am a big fan of his writing style. A lot of it brings to mind the likes of Stephen King and Jeremy Robert Johnson, two writers that I admire immensely. I think his pacing is good too. Basically, I’m confident that I would enjoy some of his other books. This one just didn’t do it for me.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

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My rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 stars

Finished: 1/28/2019

There aren’t many books that make my heart lurch with emotion at the very mention of its title. Never Let Me Go does, Daughter of Smoke and Bone does, and The Scorpio Races does.

I rode horses for years when I was younger and there really is no bond like the one between a rider and their horse. It’s just so different and it touches your soul in a way no other person or animal could. You put your trust in this huge and powerful animal and the two of you work together through the good and bad, and you look into that animal’s eyes and you know it really sees you.

The Scorpio Races is the most loving and riveting portrayal of this bond and it would probably be a five star read for me even before all of the other stuff I adore about this book.

Stiefvater weaves together Celtic mythology about the graceful and terrifying water horses, that eat human flesh and are born out of the sea. On the island of Thisby, the culture is completely centered around the water horses or capaill uisce. Each November a race is held where riders attempt to capture and ride a capaill uisce to the finish line, but its no easy task when these horses are not really horses at all. They are monstrous and dangerous.

Thisby feels like a real place and the characters within it feel like real people. By the end of the book you feel like you know Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick on a very personal level. You root for them, cry when they’re beaten down and cheer when they are victorious.

Stiefvater has absolutely outdone herself with this story about love, family, loss, and magic. I think about this book all the time. It’s a story very near and dear to my heart and I’m already looking forward to rereading it again.

I also highly highly recommend listening to the audiobook. If The Scorpio Races needed anything at all, it would be a pair of gorgeous voices to bring its main characters to life. Fiona Hardingham and Steve West did just that and then some.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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My rating: ★★★★ 4/5 stars

Finished: 1/29/2019

I’ve been meaning to read this book for years. And now that I have, I can’t believe I waited this long! From the start, this story was enchanting. I wanted to know all about the cast of main characters, who I’ve come to love like dear friends. (Ronan and Adam are my favorites.)

I listened to this on audiobook and I think the narrator, Will Patton, did a phenomenal job bringing this story to life. It has such a unique vibe. The town of Henrietta feels alive with unruly magic, but in a very subtle way. This story sneaks up on you and casts a spell that won’t let you go, even after the final page.

Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

cake and puppets

My rating: ★★★★ 4/5 stars

Finished: 1/30/2019

I listened to this novella on audiobook and found it to be as cute and sweet as Zuzana and Mik themselves. I fell head over heels in love with Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year and it felt so nice to be able to dip my toes back into this world that I’ve come to love so much. It was especially sweet to see Karou from Zuzana’s perspective. The two of them are absolutely #friendshipgoals. Zuzana herself is such an interesting character that I enjoyed reading about in the original trilogy, and I loved seeing the world through her eyes for a little while even more.

Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

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My rating: ★★★ 3.5/5 stars

Finished: 2/01/2019

“Olivia, why the hell would you give HP 1 only 3.5 stars, what’s wrong with you?”

Hold onto your pitchforks for a second. Let me explain. I didn’t grow up with Harry Potter. My parents never read it to me, and my older brother wasn’t a reader so I never heard him or any of his friends talk about it. None of my friends at a young age were reading it either so I just wasn’t involved with it aside from watching the first three movies when they came out. What I’m getting at here is that I have no nostalgia to attach to this story. I’m 21, reading a fantastical middle grade novel and I enjoyed it. I thought it was quite good. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all likable characters although I think Hagrid is my absolute favorite.

I found parts of this story a little slow, but I really enjoyed the whole magical boarding school mystery aspect.

Did this story totally blow me away? No, I’m sorry to say that it didn’t. I STILL LIKED IT THOUGH OKAY, AND I’M GOING TO READ THE REST OF THEM, DON’T COME TO MY HOUSE AND KILL ME.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

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My rating: ★★★ 3.5/5 stars

Finished: 2/02/2019

YA contemporary is always a bit of a hard sell for me. Most of the time it just doesn’t interest me on any level. I live in the real world, I get enough of it on a day to day basis and I’d rather read about dragons or something. But there was so much hype around this series with the release of the Netflix adaptation, and the books are all pretty short so I figured I would dip my toes in and see what all the fuss was about.

I actually ended up liking this book a lot more than I thought I would. A few choice words I would use to describe it are: cute, wholesome, and easily consumable. The premise was dramatic enough to hold my attention and I really liked Lara Jean and the rest of the Song sisters. It was all very sweet.

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

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My rating: ★★★ 3/5 stars

Finished: 2/02/2019

I’ve been wanting to read Dolores Claiborne ever since I heard the famous line: “Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman’s got to hold on to.” I was like, true! And also, what’s the story behind this?

The reason I never picked it up before this is because, if you don’t already know, the entire book is the main character’s monologue to the police officers interrogating her. There are hardly any paragraph breaks at all and my ADHD brain cannot read that. So when I was able to get a hold of the audiobook on Scribd instead, I was completely on board and I wasn’t let down.

Stephen King is an amazing story teller and the story of Dolores Claiborne is a compelling one. In usual King fashion, there were some slow parts that dragged on for me and I did find the ending a little bit lacking so I had to take some points off for that. But this is a really solid book and I highly recommend listening to it on audio if you can.

Some True Adventures in the Life of Hugh Glass by Philip St. George Cooke

My rating: ★★★  3/5 stars

Finished: 2/04/2019

There isn’t much to say about this “book” because it’s really a 17 page excerpt from a much longer book that I don’t own. That out of the way though, I still found the story of Hugh Glass incredibly fascinating. After watching The Revenant (2015) I wanted to know the true story (as far as we can tell, anyway) of this resilient man and Cooke’s account offers a nice and succinct timeline of events. Sometimes the language was a bit hard to follow but I was still able to get enough meaning out of it if I took my time and read things over once or twice.

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

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My rating: ★★★ 3/5 stars

Finished: 2/07/2019

In general I didn’t enjoy this sequel as much as the first book, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before but I still thought it was cute. As usual, the sibling dynamics between Lara Jean, Margot, and Kitty were very heartwarming. I also really love the relationship their dad has with his daughters and how he takes the time to sit them down and have real, mature conversations with them. Being a single dad is really tough but this guy steps up to the plate and that was great to see.

I thought a lot of the drama in this story between Lara Jean, Peter, Gen, and Josh was a bit over the top. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and wishing people could stop being petty and just communicate with one another. And for that I took some points off.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the third book wraps everything up.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta

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My rating: ★★★ 3/5 stars

Finished: 2/10/2019

This was a very sweet LGBTQA+ romance story with an incredible art style. I read it in one sitting and had a good time with it in general.

A few things I had issues with: the ending. Something really dramatic happens pretty much out of nowhere towards the end and I kept waiting for someone to wake up from a dream. But nope, that really did happen and it shifted the tone of the story so much that I found it jarring. In addition to that, I didn’t really get a sense of closure from either of the main character’s story lines. I guess it was a good enough ending, I was just hoping for something a little… more?

Shiver by Maggie Steifvater

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My rating: ★★★ 3/5 stars

Finished: 2/15/2019

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Grace and Sam were one of the first fictional couples that I “shipped” back when I was like twelve. I remember being OBSESSED with this series then and I’ve since read and enjoyed so many of Steifvater’s books that when I saw the audiobook on Scribd I was excited to give it a go again.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t connect to these characters the way I did the first time. I found myself getting frustrated with a lot of Grace’s feelings and actions and Sam just didn’t strike me as swoon-worthy the second time around.

It’s still a good story in general. I guess I’m just more of a Sean and Puck kind of girl these days as opposed to a Sam and Grace girl.


Thank you, first of all, for your patience while I took my sweet time getting these reviews out. And thank you for taking the time to read them now. I’ll have Part II up before too long.

.✫*゚・゚。.☆.*。・゚✫*.

-Liv

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3 thoughts on “Rapid Fire Book Reviews Part I

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