Monday, January 18, 2016

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly Review

These Shallow Grave by Jennifer Donnelly
Published: 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

These Shallow Graves was the perfect blend of historical fiction and mystery.

The main character, Josephine, gets thrown into a world of secrets when she begins investigating her father’s death.   She believes there’s more to it than anyone’s letting on.  And so, through her determination and wit, she beings uncovering the truth about her father’s death little by little. 
I really loved Jo.  This book takes place in 1890, and so in that time young women like Jo weren’t supposed to be investigating and running around the city.  Especially as Jo comes from a well-off family, what she is expected to focus on is her impending marriage to Bram Aldrich and producing heirs. 

She had such a determined and spunky personality.  Especially this being set in a different time period, her thinking was very forward to women of that day.  Jo aspires to become a journalist and write about important issues – things that she feels are important and need to be heard about.  She writes articles on things like "the abuse of girl laborers at Fenton's Textile Mill" and seeing as she’s a woman, this is especially forward. 

I really admired Jo – she comes across so many obstacles in her quest to find the truth.  However, she doesn’t give up, even when everyone is against her.  The one thing she really wants is the one thing she can’t have – independence.  I enjoyed so much seeing Jo experience and learn things and especially loved her eager personality.  She was always having to sneak out of her house and make up stories in order to be able to go anywhere by herself. 

Jo allies with a reporter named Eddie, and together they begin an investigation into her father’s death.  Again, for this time period, a woman (especially of Jo's standing) would never be allowed to be alone with a man, especially someone like Eddie.  I loved seeing her relationship with Eddie grow and change, and with Eddie, there’s definitely more than meets the eye.  Though previously, Jo had lived a sheltered life, she learns so much and really becomes street smart through her adventures.  I loved the mystery in this book and was always on the edge of my seat.  Just when you’d think that you figured things out there was another crazy twist. 

Even though this is primarily a mystery book, the characters are faced with many other things that really make them relatable – and give These Shallow Graves a deeper quality.  While in a different time period, Jo struggles with many things that are still relatable.  She longs for independence and a career as a writer, though she knows that for someone like her, in that time, it isn’t really possible.  She develops feelings for Eddie, yet she knows that they can never really be together.  Her family is pushing her towards marriage with someone else – who she’s practically always known she’d marry.  In that time, Marriage was about business, especially coming from a rich family, and Josephine didn’t really have any control over that.   Her family is rather unsupportive and always underestimate her.  They won’t talk to Jo about anything, thinking that she can’t handle things because she’s a woman. The thing that I love about Jo is that despite the challenges that she faces and the impossible situations, she never really gives up hope that somehow her dreams will come true. 

Jo is a strong, independent woman, who’s personality and forward thinking really belonged in a different time.  I highly recommend These Shallow Graves for anyone who enjoys mystery, historical fiction, and a strong female protagonist.  I really adored this book and definitely look forward to reading more things by Jennifer Donnelly in the future.  


Friday, January 8, 2016

2015 End Of Year Book Survey

This is the 2015 end of year book survey, created by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner.  Credits go to her for the questions and graphics.  I love this survey and am so excited to be able to look back on my wonderful year of reading!  Also, I'm going to try to not use the same book for more than one category.  So, we'll see how that goes! 

Number Of Books You Read:  111

Number of Re-Reads: 2?
This is a bit tricky. I used to LOVE rereading, however, in the past couple of years have tried to turn my attention to reading new books.  There’s so many great book to read, and so little time.  So, lately, I’ve dedicated by time to discovering new stories.  I haven’t been rereading much at all. 
I did a Throne of Glass reread (first two books) before reading The Assassin’s Blade and Heir of Fire. Other than that, i've only reread bits and pieces of things here and there. 

Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary
In reality, I read the most from the “contemporary” genre, even though it is probably my least favorite.   This year, I definitely read more Fantasy and Sci-fi books then I had in past years,  Fantasy has become my favorite genre, though, it is not my “most read”.  

1.    Best Book You Read In 2015?
I was tempted to use multiple books for this question.  But, I picked just one.  
I feel like overall, this one was just spectacular.  It's one of my favorite books ever and i'll definitely be rereading it into the future. 

 2.    Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Darkest Minds, Fangirl, and Legend are all really well loved books.  I did like all of them, and I would even recommend them.  I just didn’t love them.  Which really disappoints me.  Where it went wrong with each of these, is the Main Character, or female protagonist.  I couldn’t connect to Cath, Ruby or June and that really caused a problem.  They made me angry and I couldn’t relate to them, so I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted to.  I loved the stories of each of these, and the male protagonists.  However, when I can’t connect to a main character it majorly affects how much I enjoy the book.  

  3.    Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Something Real by Heather Demetrios.  I didn’t expect anything more than a fun, light contemporary but it really surprised me.  This book punched me right in the feels.  Sometimes it was downright painful.  I didn’t expect to connect to it as much as I did.  This one really surprised me and it’s the reason I picked up more of her books and hope to keep doing so in the future.  

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

 I'm the student president of my school’s book club.  So, I pick all of the books that we read.  This is a great way to get people to read amazing books.  For this one, I’ll say either All Fall Down by Ally Carter or Magnus Chase: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.   

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Best Series Started: The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel
Best Sequel: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Best Conclusion: Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

 I talked a little about her above, but Heather Demetrious.  Such a wonderful author!  Her books always really hit you and there always so much more that I’m expecting. Usually, I’m not the biggest contemporary fan, but her contemporary books really stand out and make you feel something.   

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Popular by Maya Van Wagenen.  I don’t read non-fiction, so this was definitely a jump for me.  However, it’s written in a way that doesn’t feel like boring nonfiction.  Maya is such a wonderful girl and it was fantastic to read about her social experiment!  I had such a great time discussing this with my book club.  

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Illuminae by Amy Kauffman and Jay Kristoff.  The way this book was told, in multiple formats, and the plot. kept me on my feet the whole time.

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Since I finished Night Film by Marisha Pessl, I’ve been wanting to go back and reread.  It was a great book and I feel like I probably missed many details the first time around.  

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.  This is a beautiful cover, the design, the typography, and the little doodles.  Plus, the actual hardcover has beautiful engravings.  

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

I absolutely adore The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  And Adelina is one of my favorite characters.  She's so complex, and I appreciate so much that The Young Elites is narrated by the villain. 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  It’s one of my favorites of the year, hands down.  The writing was just incredible and captivating.   

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.  Can’t say much because of spoilers, but it’s definitely a must read!  

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Poison Study has been out since 2005!  Where have I been?  I absolutely loved Poison Study and discovered another amazing fantasy author to add to my favorites.  If you’re a fan of the Throne of Glass series, Poison Study is a MUST read!  

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

ALL the poems in Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone.
And my favorite “passage” has to be the scene at the end of Heir of Fire with Dorian, Chaol, Aedion, and the King.  I just love it so much.  It has to be one of my favorite scenes ever (despite what happens). 

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
Longest: The Well of Ascesion by Brandon Sanderson at 784 Pages 

Shortest: New Music by Paula Stokes at 31 Pages (as you can guess, this was a short story)

As for actual shortest book, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams at 107 or A Study in Scarlet By Arthur Conan Doyle at 108

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
PERCABETH.  Wait.  From this year? 
Okay, then.  Han Solo and Princess Leia from Star Wars A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farm Boy.  ;)  (It totally counts!)

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Chaol and Dorian from the Throne of Glass Series.  Those two are my BrOTP.  

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen.  Her books were some of the first Young Adult books I’d read.  I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time and her latest novel did not disappoint. 

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don’t venture into middle grade much anymore, so I would have never discovered this series if not for a recommendation from a friend.  I’m SO GLAD that I picked it up because it was wonderful!  It’s one of those series that I feel can be enjoyed no matter what age you are.  

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Liam from The Darkest Minds!  I just finished this so Liam is definitely a NEW crush.  But, I get it now!  I love Liam so much.  

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
I still can’t believe that Red Queen is a debut novel.  

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The world of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
I just had a fantastic time reading this!  I loved getting to delve into a new world and mythology, Riordan style.  This book made me laugh out loud more than any Percy Jackson book.  Reading this book was just a great time.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
 I don’t usually cry when I read books, but Something Real actually did make me cry (even though I don’t think it was supposed to)
Heir of Fire and Every Last Word made me quite emotional, too. 

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Here, I’ll give some shout outs to books released this year that I didn’t get to mention but are definitely must reads!

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines was much more than I was expecting and I loved it! 
The same goes for Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry.  I’m not the biggest fan of Contemporary Romances, but these two were amazing! 
And, OF COURSE, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Wasn't a 2015 release, but definitely a can't miss novel!

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
As you can probably gather, every Heather Demetrious book crushes my soul.  But, since I’ve talked a lot about Something Real, I’m giving a shout out to I’ll Meet You There, which was wonderful and loaded with feels.  

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Splintered by A.G. Howard.  Such a unique, quirky world!  It took me a while to catch on, but once I did I couldn’t put Splintered down!  

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

I thought I’d ADORE A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray.  However, I really did not end up liking it.  At all.  It’s very disappointing because I was anticipating it so much and I thought it would really be my cup of tea.  It’s such an interesting premise with so much room to explore and expand.  However, so many things in this book made me angry and I just did not have a good time. 

1.    New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Anjie at Love ThyShelf.  I always enjoy her reviews and discussions! 

2.   Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
That’s hard.  But, it would have to be my review of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.  It ended up being enormous, but I love it.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
 I really like my discussions on Settings in YA, and Friendships in YA.  I also just posted a wonderful discussion on Reading Challenges.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
 I was able to go to my first book signing this year.  It was a Maria V. Snyder (author of Poison Study).  I had a blast.  And, Maria took time to sit down and talk with my book club before the signing – it was an amazing experience.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Well, probably meeting Maria Snyder.  But, really just starting a blog in general.  I only started blogging this year.  And while I’ve had my share of challenges, It’s something that I’m going to continue doing.  I thought about blogging for such a long time, but this was the year I actually started it.  It’s something that I love to do and it makes me so happy and I’m not going to give that up. 

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
I’m a senior in high school, so that in itself was a challenge.  It’s been really difficult to keep up with my homework and blogging. And, unfortunately, because of that, my blog suffered.  In the end, doing school and graduating is what I need to focus on.  However, I’m trying my hardest to become better at managing my time.  I’ve also had my fair share of slumps.  Because of school, my reading suffered, and that stinks. 

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

 My Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Fantasy/Sci-FiUpcoming Releases had the most views (That was such a fun list to make) and my Top Ten Tuesday: Books into Movies & TV Shows followed closely. 

My Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Reads had the most comments. 

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I appreciate each and every view or comment, so I’m happy with the attention my posts get.  I always especially love comments on my discussion posts, so those I suppose.  However, I did notice that my review of The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh had no comments, so that one specifically.  I will agree, I had a hard time reviewing that one.  

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Not any discoveries in the way of stores or sites.  However, I LOVE this bookish tote bag that I got from my local bookstore that says “I like big books and I cannot lie”.  I also love the wonderful set of Throne of Glass pins that I got sent by the wonderful people at Bloomsbury for pre-ordering Queen of Shadows. 

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Sadly, I was not able to complete my Goodreads challenge for this year. However, I’m still more than happy with all of the things that I was able to accomplish this year – starting a blog is pretty big!

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Just be able to read and review more consistently.  Even if I don’t read large volumes of books, I want to be able to review the books I read.  Quality over quantity!
I also want to attend more book events/signings.  

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
Sadly, I haven’t read any 2016 releases yet.  However, I do have Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and I can’t wait to start it!

This was a great reading and blogging year, and i'm looking forward to 2016 being even better!