Book Review: The Austere Academy by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket #5Title: The Austere Academy
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #5
Publication Date: August 31, 2000
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Summary

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are at first optimistic–attending school is a welcome change for the book-loving trio, and the academy is allegedly safe from the dreaded Count Olaf, who is after their fortune.

Dear Reader,

If you are looking for a story about cheerful youngsters spending a jolly time at boarding school, look elsewhere. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire arc intelligent and resourceful children, and you might expect that they would do very well at school. Don’t. For the Baudelaires, school turns out to be another miserable episode in their unlucky lives.

Truth be told, within the chapters that make up this dreadful story, the children will face snapping crabs, strict punishments, dripping fungus, comprehensive exams, violin recitals, S.O.R.E., and the metric system.

It is my solemn duty to stay up all night researching and writing the history of these three hapless youngsters, but you may be more comfortable getting a good night’s sleep. In that case, you should probably choose some other book.

My Thoughts

First of all, I have to say that I hate the fact that my first review on my blog from this series is of the fifth book, but reviews 1-4 are on my Goodreads from before I began blogging.

That being said, let me catch you up on why I’m reading these books in my mid-twenties. When I was younger, I read the first nine books in the series, and let me tell you: I LOVED THEM. Then, last November, I heard tell that there would be a NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES based on these books, and I was there for it. I decided to to binge reread the first four books in the series in preparation for the show, which covered those four stories.  The second season should come out sometime in early 2018 and will cover books 5-7.

I know a lot of people don’t like these books or think that they’re just for kids, but I strongly disagree. I think they’re hilarious and witty for people of all ages. Are they the most literary books ever written? No, but they’re pretty dang entertaining. I will say, however, that you have to be in the right mood to enjoy them. I really can’t read more than two or three in a row without getting tired of them.  The basic outline of the plot is the same for books 1-5 (I think it starts to change a little after that), and it can get a bit tiresome and repetitive.

Earlier this week, I read the fifth installment of this series, The Austere Academy. This one wasn’t my favorite or the funniest, but it wasn’t bad.  This book introduces some new characters and a new subplot, which adds some more interest and depth to the storyline to keep it going.


Is anyone else excited for season two of the Netflix series?!

Book Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Charles DickensTitle: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Series: Stand-alone
Publication Date: December 19, 1843
Genre: Fiction, Classics
My Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Goodreads | Amazon


Goodreads Summary

The story of Ebenezer Scrooge opens on a Christmas Eve as cold as Scrooge’s own heart. That night, he receives three ghostly visitors: the terrifying spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Each takes him on a heart-stopping journey, yielding glimpses of Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit, the horrifying spectres of Want and Ignorance, even Scrooge’s painfully hopeful younger self. Will Scrooge’s heart be opened? Can he reverse the miserable future he is forced to see?

My Thoughts

I read this for the first time in high school, and then after reading it again last year, I decided to start a personal holiday tradition and read it every holiday season.

Even when considering the length of this short book, the characters never seemed shallow or flat to me, and the development of Scrooge’s character is perfect. Dickens’s writing is beautiful and full of unexpectedly dry humor.

There is such a poignant moral message at the end of the story that really does evoke a positive and joyful outlook from the reader without seeming cliche or cheesy at all.

In Conclusion

This is such a classic Christmas story that never gets old and never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit (pun intended).

What is your favorite Christmas story?

Book Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

AgathaChristie#2Title: And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: Stand-alone
Publication Date: November 6, 1939
Genres: Mystery, Classics
My Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Goodreads | Amazon



Goodreads Summary

First, there were ten — a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal — and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion.

My Thoughts

I first read this book in 2007, and I remember that I really loved it but couldn’t quite remember any details. Therefore, I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while now but just never got around to it. Finally, after reading Murder on the Orient Express (you can read my review here), I decided to stick with reading Christie’s books and pick up And Then There Were None. I loved this story just as much as I did the first time I read it ten years ago. It was full of suspense, a unique cast of characters, and plenty of plot twists.

One of the most unique things about the book to me was that all of the characters were all pretty terrible people. There was no hero or detective that the reader could root for or trust — it’s all told from the various points of view of the ten people in the house (except for a small bit at the end). This created a really unique narration because all of the narrators were extremely unreliable.

There were a few elements of the story that were really a bit too convenient and were clearly there just to tie everything together perfectly, but it didn’t really bother me too much because that’s kind of what you pay for with this type of classic murder mystery.

In Conclusion

Overall, I found this to be a quick, enjoyable read that was full of good old fashioned murder, intrigue, and quite a bit of humor, and I highly recommend it (I’m still trying to get my husband to quit playing video games and read it). Honestly, I have really enjoyed both of Agatha Christie’s mysteries that I’ve read so far and I’m excited to read more.

Which Agatha Christie novel should I pick up next? 

Book Review: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

MurderTitle: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Publication Date: 1934
Genre: Mystery, Classics
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Goodreads | Amazon



Goodreads Summary

“The murderer is with us – on the train now…”

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again…

 My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this classic Agatha Christie mystery! This was my second Christie novel (I read And Then There Were None years and years ago, but plan on rereading it soon), but was my first Hercule Poirot mystery.  My reason for finally getting around to it now was because of the new movie that came out about a week ago — which I really need to go see ASAP!

In true mystery novel form, there wasn’t much character development or background stories — except for what was needed to move the plot along. This was okay with me because character development is not the main focus of most mysteries. I haven’t read a classic “whoddunit” mystery in quite some time, and I found it refreshing!

I enjoyed the way that the book was structured: most chapters were dedicated to the evidence of the passengers, in which Poirot would interview the suspect. This moved the story along in my opinion, but I could see how some readers might find it a bit repetitive.

I felt that Poirot made some miraculous leaps and guesses when solving the mystery and, even though he ended up being right in the end, it was highly unlikely that a detective would have made the assumptions that he did. I suppose it’s possible, just not very probable.

In Conclusion

Overall, I found this to be a quick, enjoyable read that was full of good old fashioned murder, intrigue, and quite a bit of humor, and I highly recommend it!

Have you read this or any other Hercule Poirot mysteries? Do you have any suggestions for me? Have you seen the movie yet?

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow RowellTitle: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: Stand-alone
Publication Date: July 8, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Romance
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Goodreads | Amazon


Goodreads Summary

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

My Thoughts

“Nobody’s lives just fit together. Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen – because you love each other.”

Ehh, this book was okay. It was a quick read, and I wasn’t bored, but at the same time, I didn’t love it.

The single reason for my low rating was Neal. In my opinion, he was a pretty horrible person, yet we were supposed to like him. He ignored Georgie before they start dating, he pouted when he’s not happy with a situation, and he had no problem telling her that her dreams are stupid. He is described as short and pudgy, and he purposely never smiles or laughs. He is self-righteous and, in my opinion, emotionally abuses Georgie.

The writing was fine, but the character development left something to be desired. Georgie changed a bit for the better, but I don’t think Neal did any changing or growing up, which was disappointing. I don’t really understand what Rowell wanted her audience to get from this book, but what I got was that we should put everything aside for our relationships (which I agree with), even when the person we are in a relationship wouldn’t do the same for us (which I don’t agree with).

In Conclusion

This is the first Rainbow Rowell book that I’ve read, but from a negative review of her book, Attachments, I am wondering if this is a theme that she has in a lot of her books. I just didn’t like the way she portrayed Georgie’s and Neal’s relationship, and I’m not sure I’d feel any different with any of her other books.

“It’s more like you meet someone, and you fall in love, and you hope that that person is the one—and then at some point, you have to put down your chips. You just have to make a commitment and hope that you’re right.” 

Have you read Landline? What did you think of it?
Let me know!

Book Review: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard BookTitle: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Series: Stand-alone
Publication Date: September 30, 2008
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Goodreads | Amazon



Goodreads Summary

After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…

My Thoughts

“You’re always you, and that don’t change. And you’re always changing and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

This is probably going to be a shorter review because I really don’t have that much to say about this book — good or bad.

One of my favorite things about Neil Gaiman is that he always has these little nuggets of wisdom tucked away in all of his stories. He has a knack of wording things in such unique, thought-provoking ways, which I really enjoy. Gaiman’s overall writing style in this book was beautiful and eloquent as always. I noticed strong similarities between between The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Coraline, both of which are books that I really enjoyed.

The plot was definitely unique — a boy who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts and spirits. This is a bit of a coming-of-age story, and the overall message is, I think, that one should not hide just because they are different, which is a nice sentiment that is taught in a unconventional way.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, I didn’t have any issues with the characters or the storyline, and I enjoyed reading it, but I don’t know if the story will stay with me for very long — it just didn’t blow me out of the water. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it and would enjoy it if I revisit it sometime in the future.

“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

Have you read this book? If so, what were your thoughts? 
Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: It by Stephen King

ItTitle: It
Author: Stephen King
Series: Stand-alone
Publication Date: September 1986
Genre: Fiction, Horror
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Summary

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered, a good place to live. It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, It lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each person’s deepest dread. Sometimes It reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of It was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until the grown-up children were called back, once more to confront It as It stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality.

My Thoughts

The overall idea behind this story was a good one. A creepy clown who lives in the storm drains and sewers and terrorizes/kills children — yeah, I can get behind that. Within the first twenty pages, something creepy happens and I was excited. Ohhh, this is gonna be good, I thought. I was wrong.

First of all, let me say that the characters in this book were excellent. I really felt like I got to know the kids pretty well throughout all 1,500+ pages of this book. King did an excellent job of making their actions and thought processes very reminiscent of childhood, and I enjoyed that. He also did a good job developing the characters smoothly into adulthood.

King’s writing style is very good — I think that he has the ability to write eloquently, while still adding in colloquial elements to make it relatable and enjoyable. I’ve read a few of his other books (The Shining, Carrie, and “The Children of the Corn”), and I enjoyed all of them. I really do think that King is a good writer who has really creative ideas.

The problem with this book that I had really had nothing to do with the plot, character development, or writing style. Ultimately, the reason behind my low rating comes down to two things that go hand-in-hand: the length and the wordiness. This book could have been trimmed down to about 400 pages and it could have told the same story just as effectively — if not more so. The other issue that I had was that there was WAY too much extraneous information that didn’t need to be said (no, Stephen, I don’t need to know who that random kid passing by on his bicycle marries when he grows up, or how and at what age he dies). Oh, and then, of course, there was that one scene towards the end…

In Conclusion

I think realistically this book should have been split up into two — like the recent 2017 movie is going to be. I don’t necessarily regret reading this iconic horror novel, but I am pretty disappointed in it. However, this is the first King novel that I haven’t liked, so I will continue to read his books. After reading the book and seeing the new movie, I can honestly say that this is the first movie that was actually better than the book.

Have you read It? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you agree with my reasons behind my rating? Also, how did you think it compared to the recent movie adaption?