BookTube: October and November Wrap Up

I didn’t get a chance to post my October Wrap Up on my blog so I figured this would be the perfect place to insert it if you had missed it on YouTube.  Unfortunately I barely read any books in November (hangs head in shame) but I’m PUMPED for December reading because I WILL make my Goodreads goal.  If you have any suggestions of books to read that are very quick paced please let me know!

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Kristin

BookTube: Spines With Wines Book Club: Winter By Marissa Meyer

Last night, Cassie, Melissa and I reconvened for our second monthly Spines with Wines book club! This month we read Winter by Marissa Meyer which is the conclusion to the Lunar Chronicles series.  We had feelings.  You can watch the full book club below and share your feelings on this series ender!

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Kristin

Tea & Broadway Chat: Hamilton

Last week I had the pleasure of seeing Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton on Broadway and I’ve been singing and humming the music ever since.  I feel a little late to the hype train since the show opened Off-Broadway back in February of 2015 (it re-opened ON Broadway this past August) but I wanted to add my voice nonetheless in case there is some strange reason why you haven’t heard about the historical rap musical turned phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation.  The show chronicles Alexander Hamilton’s life, focusing on his time in New York and his contribution to the formation of our nation, and it’s inspired by the biography written by historian Ron Chernow which has now been added to my TBR list.  The show is really something special and while your brain’s intrigue quadrant may switch off when you hear it described as a historical rap musical (like mine had initially), I would urge you to give Hamilton a shot anyway because the show really strikes a chord.  I can’t wait to see Hamilton win every last Tony award it qualifies for come 2016.

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There really isn’t one specific element that can take all of the credit for making Hamilton everything that it is but rather it’s the harmonious combination of everything that works in its favor.  One of the most notable aspects of the show is the diverse cast.  Instead of casting the Founding Fathers as middle aged white men, Lin cast hispanic and black men in their roles and he gave a much stronger voice to the women of the time as well.  In fact, the only middle aged white man in the show is King George who’s musical contributions sound akin to The Beatles which provides a nice contrast between the old ideas of government and the progressive new views in America.  King George is a very silly character and his mannerisms lend comic relief in an otherwise stressful, tense and sad story.  The main characters in Act I are Hamilton, Burr, LaFayette, Mulligan, Laurens, Washington and the Schuyler sisters Angelica and Eliza (who becomes Hamilton’s wife).  Act II trades LaFayette and Mulligan for Jefferson and Madison, who are played by the same actors respectively.

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The first act of the show is full of hope and excitement while the Revolutionaries are plotting to win the war against England and perpetuate momentum for the United States citizens who think they’re fighting a losing battle.  My favorite song from this act is “My Shot” sung by Hamilton, Burr, Laurens, Lafayette and Mulligan.  It’s about seizing any opportunity that arises and not giving up your shot to change things no matter what the cost may be.  Another favorite line which perfectly captures the sentiment of Act I is “look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”  It first is heard in The Schuyler Sisters song and is repeated several times throughout the show.  It’s so perfect! I can’t think of anything more exciting than living in Manhattan and laying the groundwork for a new free nation.

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Once Act I comes to an end and the American’s have won the war, things seem to be in a really good place.  Then comes Act II which basically rips your heart out.  Alexander spends the majority of this act writing like he’s running out of time to create the Federal Reserve system, opposing Thomas Jefferson and everything he stands for, being unfaithful to his wife and then self sabotaging himself by writing the Reynolds Pamphlet in an effort to uphold his legacy despite it ruining his chances of ever being President, and getting into further disputes with Aaron Burr culminating in the fatal duel between the pair which ultimately causes Burr to be remembered for killing Hamilton.  My three favorite songs from Act II are “The Room Where it Happens,” a catchy number performed primarily by Burr about wanting to be involved in the most pivotal moments in history, “Hurricane,” performed by Alexander Hamilton which leads to the Reynolds Pamphlet and most of all, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story,” performed by the remaining members of the show but focuses on Eliza.  Once Hamilton has been killed, it’s up to her to tell his story and despite writing herself out of the narrative for a while after Hamilton admitted to being unfaithful, Eliza lives for an additional 50 years.  She spends that time interviewing every soldier who Hamilton worked with, reading and sifting through years of his writings, speaking out against slavery and establishing the first private orphanage in New York City.

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The stage setup for Hamilton seems rather simple at first glance.  It’s very wooden and there are minimal props throughout the show but there is a spinning turntable in the center of the stage which enhances many of the numbers.  One of the best uses of the turntable is during the duel scenes.  The characters explain the stages of a duel and they rotate around the stage in a clockwise motion until they get to the final stage.  The turntable also looks beautiful during the aforementioned “Hurricane” in which the stage is lit to look like the eye of a storm.  I also love the costumes the characters wear during the show.  The girls looks lovely in their ballgown style dresses and the men don uniforms during Act I while in Act II they switch into to ensembles more similar to what we would recognize from old history books and paintings.  I really enjoy Hamilton’s rich green satin coat and ruffle front blouse.  It’s so entertaining to witness the juxtaposition of such modern music to old fashioned clothing on the late 1700-1800’s.

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I would honestly love to see an entire play about Eliza and Angelica and their roles in the revolution so I’m thankful that Lin gave them such a strong voice in Hamilton.  It’s a great reminder that there are a ton of people who were involved that don’t always get the credit they deserve in U.S. history textbooks.  I struggled a lot with history throughout school, always finding it boring, and I wish there would have been more resources like Hamilton to have turned to because my interest level would’ve sparked.  Obviously, the founding of our nation is important and interesting but it wasn’t until Lin filled in the blanks with his take on their personal narratives that I truly felt invested in and more connected to that time.  I tweeted it the other day and it absolutely stands true, if I could somehow get in contact with high school me and tell her how obsessed I would become with a historical rap musical about Alexander Hamilton I would assume future me had gone crazy somewhere along the way.  The entire show is a musical so it’s easy to follow along with the soundtrack at home if getting to NYC is unreasonable for you.  I know I’ll be listening to this for years to come and I really hope I’ve convinced you to give Hamilton a shot.

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If you’ve seen Hamilton and have any thoughts on it or just want to gush about it together PLEASE contact me because I literally want to talk about it with EVERY ONE but sadly I don’t know that many people who have seen it.
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #3)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves which are the first and second books in the Raven Cycle quartet by Maggie Stiefvater, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first and second books if you’re not caught up on the series yet.**

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater and it’s the second to last installment we’ll have with Gansey, Ronan, Adam, Noah and Blue.  Unlike the previous books in the series, the first being The Raven Boys and the second being The Dream Thieves, I was immediately hooked on the story.  I read Blue Lily, Lily Blue at a much quicker pace than the others and I enjoyed how much occurs in each chapter instead of waiting until the end for a big payoff (although don’t worry, there is a major thing that happens that has me basically dying for book 4).

The biggest draw to the story are easily the characters that Maggie Stiefvater crafted.  Their friendship is so familiar and real that it’s easy to immerse yourself in their tale.  The world in Henrietta could very well be our own with a hint of more supernatural activity.  The relationships between the Raven Boys are so sweet and while their actions are subtle, you truly get a feel for how much of a family these boys are.  Blue has an internal monologue about mid-way through thr book where she thinks about how each person in their Glendower tomb hunter squad is obsessed with each other even though they don’t necessarily say it out loud.  I think those are some of the most meaningful relationships.  I’ve been a hardcore Gansey and Blue shipper since book one but Blue Lily, Lily Blue really sealed the deal on their relationship for me.  It’s such a well woven combination of innocence, passion and intrigue and my heart breaks a little more each time they’re near each other because of Blue’s first experience with Gansey’s spirit on the ley line.  I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself if anything happens to him.

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As I stated before, Blue Lily, Lily Blue is much more action packed than the first two books.  Now that Maggie has fully fleshed out the world in Henrietta and has conveyed how strong the relationship is between the Raven Boys and Blue, much more of this installment was able to be dedicated to events occurring.  There was constantly something keeping me on the edge of my seat and everything just seemed to move along at a much quicker pace.  There are still a ton of questions left to be answered and a cliffhanger that I’m having trouble handling.  I can definitely see myself re-reading the series before the fourth books debuts because it’s the kind of story that you’ll get something new out of every time you dive in.  Because there are such subtleties in Stiefvater’s writing, I’m looking forward to enjoying the things I’ve missed now that I have more overall knowledge of what’s happening.

Final Thoughts:  Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater is the flawless third installment of The Raven Cycle quartet.  Any reader who has been following the story will be delighted to immerse themselves back in the world of Henrietta and piece together more (but not even close to all) of the legend of Glendower.  I didn’t mention Maura, Calla, Persephone and Mr. Gray in my review because I’m just so enthralled with the Raven Boys and Blue, but their story is eventful and heartbreaking as well.  If you thought the pace of the first two books were too slow, I would definitely encourage you not to give up on the series because you’ll get constant the action and answers you’re craving in Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Rating 5

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

It’s Halloween season so today I have yet another YA horror / thriller book to review.  The second book I read this month is called The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich and it follows a girl who is mentally ill and diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder which means that she has a split personality.  During the day, she’s a quiet good girl named Carly and at night her alter-ego Kaitlin takes over.  The girls are aware of each other’s existence and they love each other very much.  They refer to one another as sisters and they often leave notes for each other about their experiences during their time in Carly’s body.  While the book had a very interesting premise and I was engaged for the majority of the story, there was an element near the end that just lost me.

Carly / Kaitlin were each a well developed personality and while the story is primarily told by diary entires from Kaitlin’s journal, we do get see some notes and entries penned by Carly.  Each sister has very different handwriting and each entry is is labeled with the amount of days to the incident or the amount of days after the incident.  A big part of why I was so interested in continuing to read is because I wanted to find out exactly what type of incident occurred.  The narrative was unique and in addition to Kaitlin’s diary entries, the story is also told via description of video footage Carly’s best friend Naidia filmed throughout their school experience as well as interviews with Doctor Lansig who was assigned to treat Carly.

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Kaitlin’s account of her experiences are filled with raw emotion and it’s up to the reader to determine whether they believe her narrative or if they believe that she is mentally ill and her story is fabricated.  Usually I’m not a fan of unrelatable narrators because I find it frustrating to not be able to trust whoever is recounting details to me but in Kaitlin’s case I really enjoyed it.  It didn’t take me long to warm up to Kaitlin but without spoiling anything, I had some issues with the direction the story went in about two-thirds of the way into the book.

Final Thoughts:  The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich is a thriller that follows a young girl named Carly / Kaitlin who suffers from DID.  The book has an intriguing style of storytelling as it is a compilation of diary entries, interviews, and descriptions of video footage.  While I had issues with the ending, I definitely enjoyed the majority of the journey to there.  I wouldn’t necessarily classify it in the horror genre but the cover is very festive for Halloween. If you’re looking for something fast-paced and you don’t mind unreliable narrators I would recommend checking this one out!

Rating 3

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . . 

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Movie Chat: Crimson Peak

Oh Crimson Peak, I really really really wanted to love you but sadly you did not deliver.  You had so many things in your favor with the top selling point being Tom Hiddleston playing the lead male character.  Before I talk about why you didn’t work, I will say that you are definitely the most aesthetically beautiful film I’ve watched this year.  The costumes are stunning, the scenery and cinematography are breathtaking and you truly captured the atmosphere of a gothic romance / horror film.  Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain were perfectly cast and they performed well with the script they were given.  Guillermo del Toro directed and co-wrote the film which I’m certain is why it is so visually satisfying.  I went into the film with healthy enthusiasm and an open heart because I was prepared to declare Crimson Peak with it’s promising trailer and appealing posters a new favorite.  Everything seemed to be going in it’s favor until about a third of the way into the film.

As Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) states early on regarding the book she’d been writing, it’s not a ghost story, it’s a story with ghosts in it which is exactly what Crimson Peak is.  The ghosts could’ve easily been removed and the story wouldn’t have had to change at all.  In the beginning, the ghost of Edith’s mother haunts the house she now shares with her father to heed a very specific warning and the effect is done really well.  As the story progresses, more and more ghosts are used and they ultimately lose any eerie effect they originally had because they become almost commonplace.  Since Edith is the only one who acknowledges them, I have to wonder if it’s a The Turn of the Screw type situation but again, that’s a plot hole that’s never explained.  There were also issues with Edith’s character who differentiates herself from the women of the time early on, but relies on Sir Thomas to “save” her once tragedy strikes.

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Overall, the plot of the film is lacking.  It’s doesn’t create a memorable tale and it’s clear that the focus of the film is heavily placed on the visuals while the other elements fall to wayside.  There were several little unexplained plot holes including the significance of Lucille’s ring and one large one being exactly why the Sir Thomas and Lucille have gotten into the cyclic situation they’re in. There’s one reason that the audience can infer but it feels like it must be more than a simple attachment considering the messy web they’ve woven.  There’s also a constant seeping of red clay coming through the walls of the house which add to the horrorific aesthetic of the story, but this and the presence of moths everywhere seem difficult to just accept and it’s odd that Edith wouldn’t inquire about them.

After Crimson Peak ended I was left feeling satisfied that I completed my goal of seeing it opening weekend but completely dissatisfied with the time I wasted on an incomplete story.  Less than halfway through the film I knew the blu-ray wasn’t something I would be budgeting for in the future.  I struggle with flat out saying that it was a bad film because of how pretty and atmospheric it is but when I think about the story I can confidentally state that I didn’t enjoy it without having any reservations for doing so.  I thought it would be impossible to fail, especially with Tom Hiddleston as eye candy but alas, it did. Le sigh.  I don’t necessarily need to have every loose end tied up to enjoy a tale but Crimson Peak spent too much time perfecting its overt visuals and came across as a rushed and unfinished in regard to the plot.

Rating 2

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds – and remembers. (via IMDB)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood #1)

The first book I completed from my horror-filled TBR pile for October is Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and it was the perfect ghost story to really get me into the spirit of Halloween.  It’s the first book in a duology (the second being Girl of Nightmares).  I loved it so much that I’m really looking forward to diving into more of the horror I have planned for this month!  The story follows Cas, a ghost hunter following in his dead father’s footsteps, who moves to a little Canadian town to hunt his latest tip about a very hostile ghost named Anna.  Cas lives with his mom who’s a witch, their black cat Tybalt and his most prized possession is his athame which he uses to slay ghosts.

As someone who is scared by just about everything, I was expecting nightmares and to feel unbearably spooked while reading but I was so interested in Cas and Anna’s stories that I was too enthralled to feel scared (except for one time when I had to mentally prepare myself to go upstairs alone).  The book has a very Supernatural feel to it and I couldn’t help picturing Sam and Dean’s car in the first chapter.  Cas is not your average teenage boy (being a ghost hunter and all) and though he’s never been open to getting attached to people he falls into developing some friendships in this new town.  Anna, the ghost he’s hunting, has an exceptional story.  She’s often thought of by Cas as a goddess of death.  She haunts the halls of a small Victorian house and she wears a long white dress that’s soaked in blood and because the fabric is oversaturated, the sound of blood dripping onto the floor is audible when anyone is in her presence.  She’s different than any other ghost he’s dealt with thus far.

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Kendare Blake’s writing gives way to imagery that is creepy and descriptive and it really romanticizes all of the elements of the story.  It made everything feel spooky but with an underlying beauty.  As I was reading, I kept going back to past paragraphs just so I could spend more time imagining the scenes and really seeing the setting.  I became so invested in finding out about Anna’s past.  The characters – main and supporting – are delightful and the plot just hooked me from the beginning.  I also really enjoyed the pacing of the novel because it felt like something was always happening.  There were never any lulls in action or story and it interwove the two elements beautifully.

Final Thoughts: If you’re looking for a scary book to get your mind into the Halloween season but you don’t want to sacrifice plot (seriously, some horror YA novels are just terrible), you should definitely consider reading Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  It’s a gorgeously written ghost story and the imagery will transport you to Cas and Anna’s worlds.  You won’t be able to put it down because Anna’s story is so engaging and it’ll keep you up way past your bedtime!
Rating 5
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Fairyland #1)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente is the first book in the Fairyland series and is quite possibly, the book with the longest title I have ever read to date.  I’m always game for a good fairytale and since the cover displays a wyvern and a little girl with a giant key, I didn’t need much convincing to start this series.  Plus Cassie raved to me about how fantastic it is and if there’s anyone I trust for book recs it’s her!  The main character is a little girl named September who is invited on an adventure by a Green Wind to Fairyland.  Fairyland seems to be in trouble and needs her help to fix things.  How could any child resist an offer like that, right?

The writing in The Girl WhoCircumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is so incredibly whimsical and clever.  It almost reads as poetry and it’s full of wordplay which for some readers can be difficult to get into but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The story is clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland and there are many paralells that can be drawn between the two works.  I love all of the imagery Valenete portrays in her descriptions of Fairyland and I found myself getting very hungry while I was reading about the landscapes of certain areas.  I will admit that the beginning of the story after September accepts the adventure proposal took a little while to hook me but once I got into it I was addicted!  And the last couple of chapters were so amazing.  This story is definitely for anyone who enjoys the journey before the payoff.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

On her journey to stop the evil Marquess and help right Fairyland, September meets my favorite character, a red wyvern who she travels around with named the Honerable Wyvern A-Through-L, or Ell for short.  He’s named as such because he spent his childhood memorizing encyclopedias A-through-L which is very helpful at times unless they run into a problem beginning with M-through-Z. Throughout the course of the story, September and Ell encounter many interesting and mythical creatures.  Some are nonsensical and others are rooted in fairytale lore but each has a unique and modern twist.  The only creature I will specifically talk about (because part of the fun of the novel is meeting everyone along with September) is Death who is individual to each person and whose size depends on the age of the person.  Death has nightmares and is unable to sleep and September befriends Death and tries to help it get peace.

Final Thoughts: The Girl WhoCircumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valenete is an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque fairytale about a child named September who emarks on a strange journey through Fairyland in an effort to stop the evil Marquess.  The book is full of flowery language and clever wordplay and you will be intrigued by Fairyland but it’s the ending that will stick with you forever.

Rating 5

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful. (via Goodreads)
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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson (Shades of London #1)

I will preface my review of The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson by saying that I am a baby who gets scared very easily.  The Name of the Star is the first book in the Shades of London series and I was initially drawn to it because of it’s plot.  The book follows a girl named Rory who heads to London for boarding school at the exact same time that a serial killer who appears to be imitating Jack the Ripper begins to carry out a series of murders.  Rory spots the suspect but somehow, she is the only person who is able to see him which lands her the top spot as his next potential victim.

Since the books takes place in a boarding school in London, I was immediately hooked.  I love reading about teens in a boarding school setting who have the freedom to explore and grow with all of the independence that goes along with their schooling.  Plus, London! It was such a pleasure to explore different places in London along with Rory and if I ever get to take a trip there I will definitely be going on a Jack the Ripper tour.  The story is beautifully crafted and the pacing is on point.  It was such a delight to try to solve the mystery and figure out the supernatural elements occurring in Rory’s seemingly normal world.  There were parts that scared me a lot (see: intro) and I’ve been told by friends that it is not in fact scary but it still got to me!

The Name of the Star

I really loved Rory as a character and it was delightful to be acclimated to English culture through her experiences.  She’s very smart and like a typical teen, she has the right amount of lovable awkwardness and the possible romance she’s embarking on is super cute.  I also loved Alistair who is a punk guy that Rory often encounters hanging out in the library.  He is adorable and I cannot wait to read the short story Maureen published about him.  Rory’s roommates Boo and Jazza were also great and I loved / was so freaked out by the Ripper character most of all.

Final Thoughts:  The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, the first book in the Shades of London series is the perfect mix of horror and contemporary.  The London boarding school setting enriches the reading experience and the mystery of the Jack the Ripper-like murders will keep you hooked well past the big reveal.  The main character Rory is relatable, intelligent and awkward but it’s her library buddy Alistair that I kept wishing for more time with.  If you like creepy stories and don’t mind having trouble sleeping at night, The Name of the Star is definitely worth a read!

Rating 5

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Magician King by Lev Grossman (The Magicians #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Magicians which is the first book in the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

The Magician King by Lev Grossman is the second installment in The Magicians trilogy.  I had been debating whether or not to continue the series after not having loved the first book (review here) but my best friend convinced me that it gets better so I decided to trust her judgment.  The second books picks up right where the story ended, with Quentin, Eliot, Julia and Janet in Fillory as it’s new Kings and Queens.  While things may seem perfect for the protagonists who survived Brakebills and were transported to the magical world Christopher Plover wrote about, they are far from it.  Unnerving things begin happening in Fillory and the main characters need to embark on a quest to figure out how to fix things.

The story in the second book is much more exciting than that of the first which I had tried to read 3 separate times before finally surpassing the initial 50 pages.  Because we’re starting in Fillory there’s action in the first chapter which continues throughout the book.  There are only momentary lulls in action which are due to chapters being dedicated to telling us Julia’s story.  The Magician KIng is full of dragons, gods and a quest aboard a ship called the Muntjac to recover 7 golden keys which sounds like all of the elements of an ideal fantasy novel.   While the story is much more exciting, there is one particular scene that I had major issues with in the latter half of the book which involves rape.  Without spoiling anything, I understand where the inspiration came from for the scene but I did not enjoy reading it and I also had a lot of issues with the after effects.  I ended up giving The Magician King 3.5 stars (4 stars on Goodreads) and if it wouldn’t have been for that once scene I would’ve given it a full 4 stars.

The Magician King

Staying consitent with the first book, I still do not like the main character Quentin.  While he was more tolerable in The Magician King than he was in The Magicians I still found him to be whiny, entitled and pompous.  There’s one line in particular that perfectly embodies the reasons I dislike him.  While sitting in Venice this is a thought that goes through his mind “It was strange to be in a place and not be King of it.”  Enough said.  Toward the beginning of the book, Julia seems like she will be taking on the role of the manic pixie dream girl now that Alice is gone but it becomes clear that this is not true.  Julia is mentally ill from her years of chasing magic and a series of chapters are dedicated to flashing back to her story before she met up with Quentin.  It gives an in depth account of the torture she went through after having been exposed to magic so briefly and then having it taken away from her.

Final Thoughts:  The Magician King by Lev Grossman is a much more enjoyable read than the first book in the series.  The characters are still completely unlikable but the story revolving around magic and the quest to find the 7 golden keys is well crafted and intriguing.  If you didn’t like the first book and are hesitant to begin the second I would definitely recommend giving it a chance.

Rating 4

The Magicians was praised as a triumph by readers and critics of both mainstream and fantasy literature. Now Grossman takes us back to Fillory, where the Brakebills graduates have fled the sorrows of the mundane world, only to face terrifying new challenges.

Quentin and his friends are now the kings and queens of Fillory, but the days and nights of royal luxury are starting to pall. After a morning hunt takes a sinister turn, Quentin and his old friend Julia charter a magical sailing ship and set out on an errand to the wild outer reaches of their kingdom. Their pleasure cruise becomes an adventure when the two are unceremoniously dumped back into the last place Quentin ever wants to see: his parent’s house in Chesterton, Massachusetts. And only the black, twisted magic that Julia learned on the streets can save them.

The Magician King is a grand voyage into the dark, glittering heart of magic, an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. It also introduces a powerful new voice, that of Julia, whose angry genius is thrilling. Once again Grossman proves that he is the cutting edge of literary fantasy. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

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