Currently Reading

Tegan Mae's bookshelf: currently-reading

Witch Finder
0 of 5 stars
tagged: currently-reading, a-little-witchy, advanced-copy, first-reads, net...
0 of 5 stars
tagged: currently-reading, historical, queens-and-kings, ya, the-tudors, an...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rhymes with Witches by Lauren Myracle

Title: Rhymes with Witches
Author: Lauren Myracle
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Tea: Spice of Life. Sweet in appearance, but spicy and dark undertones.
Rating: 4 out of 5

*Warning! Here be spoilers!*

This is the second time I've read Rhymes with Witches. I read it a few years ago and rated it at a 3, but couldn't really remember it. I think I got more out of it this time and it went up a star.

Reading Ms. Myracle's prequel, Bliss, to Rhymes with Witches helped this reading experience a lot. Instead of being confused and wondering where specific aspects (such as Lurl the Pearl and the feral cats) came from, I knew the back story and it made the book that much creepier.

The Bitches, the popular group in school made up of four girls, one from each grade level; seem like they have everything. They are worshiped. But how do you get to be a Bitch?

This is Jane's life at the beginning of the novel, always seeing the Bitches from the outside. But one day sophomore Bitch, Mary Bryan, asks her to hang out and everything changes.

The book is a whirlwind of fitting in, harassment, stealing, lies and dark magic. The difference between this novel and Bliss is the stage of the magic. In Bliss we watched Sandy, A.K.A. Lurl the Pearl spiral out of control in her search for power. It was terrifying to see what she would do to attain it.

In RwW we see how Lurl has harnessed this power, what she does with it, how she grants it to others and what she requires in return. Essentially we see the magic at work.

The Bitches are the eternal legacy of the four snow princesses in Bliss. One of them had to die to create Lurl; Lurl in turn changes the snow princesses to her bidding, calling them ice maidens, and from then on ensures there is always a female of power in each grade.

It was scary seeing how Bitsy, the junior Bitch, used her power to make Camilla's life a living hell. But what was even scarier was seeing Camilla turn against Jane, who helped her, and used that power against her, no matter that it was the same thing that was done to her. Just the thought of someone controlling your life like that is terrifying.

Bliss was bloodier and more ghostly while Rhymes with Witches was more psychological and witchcrafty. I'm really glad I re-read this after reading Bliss as it made it a more enjoyable experience. I would recommend reading these two books to anyone.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Title: Bliss
Author: Lauren Myracle
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Horror
Tea: Swiss Vervaine Melange, has many components, but all are required for the overall effect
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

*Warning! Here be spoilers!*

What to say about this novel. Well first off I read the book Rhymes with Witches, also by Lauren Myracle, to which Bliss is a prequel, which I didn't know, but thank you Goodreads members for informing me! So now onto Bliss.

Bliss is the story of Bliss in the Morning Dew (yes, that's her name and yes, her parents are hippies). Bliss is unceremoniously deposited at her grandmother's doorstep in the South (Atlanta, to be exact) while her parents flee to Canada away from Nixon and his policies. I like the idea that Ms. Myracle has of bringing in an outsider into this world of prep, money and...blood magic.

Bliss, even though she was not raised in typical society, notices things quickly. But she is also guided by the mysterious vision her friend, Flying V, had for her transition to private school. The first part of the book is your fairly typical new girl scenario, meeting new people, deciding who she wants to be friends with, should I be nice to the weird girl? But tossed in there is a creepy voice talking to her about blood. Frankly if I heard that at my school I'd hightail it out of there or find myself an exorcist.

Bliss makes a group of three friends: DeeDee, Jolene and Thelma. She also befriends the weird, loner girl, Sandy, despite everyone's warnings. There is also Sarah Lynn, always around, the perfect, popular girl.

So weird stuff starts happening at Crestview (the school). It used to be a convent, where a girl supposedly killed herself. Bliss is drawn to the mysterious third floor of one of the school buildings where she finds a blocked off corridor with creepy, old, shut up rooms. One has a dove and a key in the door, which attempts to posses her to open it. She manages to tear herself away and tries to forget about it. But the strange isn't over with yet.

Safe to say everyone's warnings about Sandy were not unfounded. Yes, she's a little off. But it's much more than that. She has all the markings of a young serial killer. She's possessive, creepily so. She hears voices telling her what to do and how to gain ultimate power. She's mean and angry and often lashes out. She also tortures animals.

Sandy and Bliss's relationship eventually culminates to the creepiest sleepover ever, where everything finally registers in Bliss's head. She sees Sandy slowly unraveling and decides to have nothing to do with her anymore. After this time she befriends Sarah Lynn, who we learn isn't the mean girl she's made out to be, she was actually afraid of Sandy and had to do what she did to be free of her.

The book reaches is climax with a deranged Sandy looking for a blood sacrifice, Bliss refusing her and Sarah Lynn, unwittingly, becoming the sacrifice. Many people were upset with the ending as it seems to just end and life goes on. I think that was the point. It was her way of showing how power shifts and can change people. It shows how the power Sandy has now gained and all the attention she gets overshadows even the most popular of people and the loss of them.

Placed throughout the novel are quotes from Andy Griffith, the only show Bliss's grandmother allows her to watch; quotes from the Charles Manson trial, the disturbing backdrop to Sandy's disturbing downward spiral; and racial discrimination. Ms. Myracle brings all of these together very well and makes it cohesive.

Now that I've read this I'm going to read Rhymes with Witches again so I can see how this one relates.

If you're looking for a creepy book with some pretty decent twists and turns, check Bliss out!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dark and Hollow Places
Author: Carrie Ryan
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Tea: A cold cup of English Breakfast.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5

*Warning! Spoilers Ahead!*

I started this novel off with a little apprehension, if I didn't enjoy the second book in the series, The Dead-Tossed Waves, what would I think of The Dark and Hollow Places?

I was right in my feeling of uncertainty. This review is for a Did Not Finish book, so I won't be able to go past about the first 100 pages.

We start with Annah in the Dark City, which is a pretty effed up place. She pretty much just walks around feeling sorry for herself. Yes, I get it, your life sucks. You abandoned your sister on a path in the middle of the woods surrounded by zombies. You got injured being stupid crawling around in dark, abandoned tunnels. Your best friend, almost brother, had to leave you and hasn't come back. All of that is horrible, I get it, but what do you do? You just sit there and wallow. Finally when this book starts after countless years she decides, maybe now is the time I get my ass in gear. And what prompts this? The thousandth person she's seen turn into an Unconsecrated.

So yay! Maybe we get to see her in the Forest again. But what's this? Oh it's Catcher again, ugh. Wait, there's Gabry too. Crap, now she's gonna stay in this city. How thrilling. It's the typical dystopian society and nothing new to me. Just has some zombies thrown in.

So then Catcher saves her and they wind up in the tunnels that she hurt herself in when she was younger and even though she's only known him for point two seconds she's falling in love with him. Whoa, way too fast. They talk some about Elias and Gabry/Abigail and try to go find her and save her. I had to stop there, I honestly couldn't make myself pick up the book and read it, which is sad, since I even finished the second one in a day. I don't know how this series ended, maybe someone will tell me.

I'm sad that I felt this way about this book because I loved the first one so much. Maybe I'll go read that one again and pretend it's a standalone. 

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Dead-Tossed Waves
Author: Carrie Ryan
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Tea: English Breakfast, a good traditional black tea, but lacking the intensity of other black teas.
Rating: 2 out of 5

*Warning Spoilers Ahead!*

After finishing The Forest of Hands and Teeth I couldn't wait to dive right into The Dead-Tossed Waves. When I read the synopsis and realized it wasn't really more of Mary's story, it was her daughter Gabry's, I was a little disappointed. I loved Mary and wanted to know more about her life, but I figured if it was as good as The Forest of Hands and Teeth, it would be okay.

The story starts with Mary's daughter, Gabry, sneaking off with her friends over a barrier that protects the town from Mudo (the names for the Unconsecrated in this book). Gabry does not have the courage that Mary does, nor the drive to see what is beyond her own backyard. Ms. Ryan starts the book off instantly with action and death at the hands (or shall I say teeth) of the Mudo. I was excited and hoped to see it move forwards like TFHT did, but sadly after the attack it started to slow down for me.

Gabry would take a step forward toward bravery, but then be too scared and turn back. It felt like it was the same thing going on over and over for awhile. Frankly one of the only reasons I kept reading was Elias, he interested me. I had to know why he looked at Gabry with such familiarity when he saw her. I had to know where he came from. Honestly other than Mary, who we see very little of in this book, he was the only character that really kept my interest.

Compared to Mary, Gabry almost seemed lifeless and I didn't feel that she would embark on an adventure to find what was beyond Vista (the town). Catcher and Cira annoyed me and just felt like they were there for filler. Even their trek through the Forest on the fenced in paths was not as interesting. Where Mary and her friends would do whatever it took to survive, whether it be sacrificing another group member or setting something on fire, this group often felt like they were just giving up and would stand and watch while maybe one person would do something about the problem.

My favorite part was when they reached the village from TFHT and found Mary and Harry, with an offspring of Argos! In this scene we learn more about the Sisterhood and the village and what happened in the past. It's thrown in a little too quickly for my taste and just brushed aside. Personally I would've loved another book from Mary's view learning this and getting more detail.

Oh yeah, at this point the "authority" from Vista is after Catcher because he is immune. Once I started the third one I see why this was put in here, but it wasn't nearly as interesting as watching them flee from the Unconsecrated (I didn't like calling them Mudo).

We also see more of Elias at this point and we learn his connection with Gabry and her *gasp!* twin sister?! Gabry's real name is Abigail and she's from the village that her (adoptive!) mother, Mary, is. She and her sister, Annah, got separated when they played on the paths with Elias. This was interesting as I would've liked to read about how these small children fared on the paths through the Forest. So many things that were just mentioned or touched upon were far more interesting that the things that I read about for pages.

And of course, in Ms. Ryan fashion, Elias gets injured just after he and Gabry confess their feelings for each other. That made me sad. He sends Gabry on to find Annah and bring them all back together.

I think that if the first book was really going to be as separate from this book as it was, the third should be from this one. To me the series felt strange. The first one could really be a standalone novel, while the second and third connect. It bothered me for some reason. This one (and the third) are completely different than the first.

These are more in the vein of the mass market dystopian books that populate the shelves today. I can see why the ratings were higher for those, considering that's what people are used to reading. It makes me sad that they don't see how fantastic and different the first one was. Maybe if I had been able to read this without reading the first one I would've enjoyed it more, but the first one just stuck with me and this (and the third, read my review) paled in comparison.

Ms. Ryan I loved The Forest of Hands and Teeth, please write more like it!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Title: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Author: Carrie Ryan
Type: Young Adult
Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Tea: Teavana's Golden Monkey, a strong black tea that has fantastic taste, but doesn't use gimmicks to get your attention.
Rating: 5 out of 5

*Warning! Spoilers Ahead!*

So I was originally going to wait to write this review until after I finished the third book in the trilogy, but for me, the second two don't even compare (even just upon starting the third one) to The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I could not put that book down, bravo Ms. Ryan, bravo.

So The Forest of Hands and Teeth (from now on known as simply TFHT) had me straight from the beginning. I've been planning on reading it for quite awhile, but for some reason hadn't gotten around to it. So here I am at work, sitting and trying to find something new to read (and "Where do you work that you just get to read?!" you ask, jealously, but that's for another time) and I flip through my books on my iPad and I spot TFHT. I think, "Y'know what, it's fall and getting closer to Halloween, time for zombies!" Thank goodness work wasn't busy, I could not get Mary's world out of my head!

The book starts off sad, with the death and Return as an Unconsecrated of Mary's father, but the author does not even give you a breather. Then there goes Mary's mom. Then there goes Mary's brother, Jed, not allowing her to come home. This poor girl! That would've broken many a person, but not Mary. Her goal, which would not be deterred, was to find the Ocean, which she knows exists beyond the Forest.

So Mary is living with the mysterious Sisterhood. So I knew these ladies had something going on from the start. They control everything in the village and they are not even questioned. They might not seem a threat, as they're women of faith with healing skillz (can't help it), but they are not to be messed with. While living with these women Mary is threatened, lied to and locked away. Mary comforts herself by visiting her (unrequited? She doesn't know yet) love, Travis, who is injured and healing with the Sisterhood. Then she learns of Gabrielle.

Gabrielle. Oh Gabrielle how you started Mary's descent into madness.

Gabrielle is a sign that, yes, there is a world either in or beyond the Forest and Mary will do whatever it takes to get there. She sees Gabrielle in a window, but then she mysteriously disappears. Did the Sisters take her? Is she hidden? Next thing you know, there's a new Unconsecrated wearing the same red vest Gabrielle was, but she's different, The Fast One. And she ultimately brings the village, at least for that point in time, to it's knees.

Once the Unconsecrated breach the village; Mary, Travis, Harry, Cass, Jed, Beth, Jacob and sweet little Argos escape down a forbidden path lined by chain link fences and just on the other side of those fences...hundreds of Unconsecrated. This is where the real madness sets in.

Mary in her determination to find the Ocean and prove that there is life beyond the village pushes her group onward. She also needs to solve the answer of the mysterious letters (or as us before the Return know, numbers) that Gabrielle left behind: XIV. Along this path Beth dies, Cass loses her happy demeanor and Mary loses her mind. Between being torn between Travis and Harry, she is torn between love and the truth of the Ocean.

They find a village, Gabrielle's village, but it is overrun by Unconsecrated. Mary and Travis hold up in a house, where everything really starts spiraling out of control. Mary obsesses over the lives the people that once lived here and pulls away from Travis every day. In the end Travis sacrifices himself to save the group and encourages Mary to find the Ocean, no matter what.

While on the path they come to another dead end, and Mary in her culmination of crazy, steps off the gated path and runs through the Forest alone, leaving her friends and brother behind. Jed, her brother, comes with her, but doesn't make it through.

Mary, after being tossed in the water with hundreds of Unconsecrated, finds herself on a beach. The Ocean. She found it. She got that answer. But what about all the other questions? Who are the Sisters? What other villages might there be in the Forest? What of her friends she left behind? I couldn't wait to read the next one after this one.

This book was fabulous. I was like an Unconsecrated myself, pressed up to my iPad and moaning when it ended, hungering for more. 

I loved this because it isn't the typical dystopian novel you'd find today. Yes, it's set in the future, but it's a future that has reverted, rather than moved forward. The thought of a village stuck in the middle of the forest, thinking they're all that's left of mankind, fascinates me. Instead of a high powered, evil government, we have women of God calling the shots, but perhaps doing unspeakable things for the good of the village? Instead of everything taking place on some grand scale, we have the characters going through everything on a dirt path through the woods. And, frankly, I haven't read a good breakdown of a character in awhile. I was tired of all the whiny girls that seem to permeate YA novels these days. Yes, Mary went insane, but she never gave up her dreams and did what she had to do to accomplish them and just wanted the truth. And there was lots of zombie action. Lots. Thank you Ms. Ryan. This group of people was not afraid to do what they had to do to save their lives.

Mary, even in a crazy downward spiral: 1
Unconsecrated: 0
Ms. Ryan: 10! 

Big News!

New Blog Starting!


Hey everyone! So it's not news that my last blog, A Good Yarn, went the way of many a blog...abandoned, poor thing. But I have decided to take my blogging seriously this time in that I'm focusing on strictly one thing (at least in the beginning) for this one, so maybe I won't be so overwhelmed. "t and a book" is going to be my book reviews (mostly on books that I have currently read, I may go back and post some reviews I've previously written or write some for books I read awhile ago) and in each review I will include a tea that I would drink while reading that book. I'm combining two of my favorite things, books and tea. So here it goes and thanks for coming along for the ride! :D